Canada By Car: Leg 3 – Newfie Newfoundland Part 1

On little to no sleep after a shocking boat ride, we arrived in Newfoundland. My eyes widened as the beautifully stunning, rocky cliff faces and mountains appeared around us as we drove getting off the boat. We got as far as Corner Brook and spent the afternoon relaxing in the sun on the lawn with the locals and taking a nap.

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The stunning views driving off the boat at Port-aux-Basque, Newfoundland.

We continued on driving from here to Pasadena where we were looking for our campground. We got a little lost but in turning around in an old guys lane way we were greeted local style with a guy yelling at us to get out of his drive way or he would kill us and he was going inside to get his gun. Just a touch scary….

We drove the next day through to a place called Leading Tickes and camped on the most spectacular beach . There was black rock sand and mountains jolting out of the water. We sat and took it all in as we ate raspberry and apple pie for dessert and watched the sunset. Life doesn’t get much better. Except for with a crossword puzzle by the fire.

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The stunning black rock beach at Leading Tickles

The following day was off to Twillingate after a short hike up the mountain in the morning at Leading Tickles. We stopped in to see the giant whale skeleton and I was greeted by a man who had a lagerphone, a giant broom pole with bottle caps nailed to the side of it and a gumboot on the bottom. It is a makeshift musical instrument that they play by stomping the boot on the ground and hitting the broom stick with another smaller stick. We have them in Australia as well so the guy in the shop was super excited to pull one out and play it for me.

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The Newfie Lagerphone

We bought a cod for dinner from a local store and set up at the campground for dinner. Then we went off to go and watch the local entertainment for the evening, The Split Peas. The band consisted of 7 Newfie women and they were incredible as they went through a whole bunch of traditional folk songs from the area and some they had written themselves. They fed us with traditional toutons and partridge berry jam. I was singing songs for the next week afterwards I loved it that much.

I spent the morning talking to our Aussie camping neighbours. They managed to entice me over the fence with the jar of Vegemite they were sporting and we chatted about home things. It was nice to have that familiarity for a while. From here it was on to check out the Long Point Lighthouse before driving down to Eastport where we had arranged a work for stay for a week or so. Of course stopping off to have a crack at eating my first moose burger.

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Mmmm…. Moose burger!

I was excited as it was the first time I was going to be doing a work for stay and who knew what it would hold. Little did I know as I was driving up the laneway that it was going to be one of the most amazing adventures that I would have.

Check out my stay at Eastport Organics in the next installment!

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Canada By Car: Leg 2 – Through New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

After three weeks in Quebec we moved on into New Brunswick. After passing through the point in Caraquet we went to the Arcadian Historical Village for a visit. They had a set from the 1600’s with actors playing characters from the era. It was really cool to see how the place operated when it was in its original day.

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Traditional bread making at the Arcadian Historical Village, Caraquet

On the way south from here we arrived in Miramichi to torrential downpours and decided that there was no point trying to pitch a tent in this kind of weather so we went to see a movie in the cinema, parked the car in McDonalds and slept in the car close to wifi access.

After another day of driving in huge torrential downpours through Moncton, we decided to continue on to Picton, Nova Scotia. We were kindly graced with a free campsite by a kind man who took pity on us pitching a tent in the ridiculous weather with all of the puddles about, so we crashed out for the night and continued driving until we got to Cape Breton Island.

Dunvegan was where we landed when the storm finally cleared. We set up camp in a stunning spot right on the beach that reminded me of home. I picked some wild raspberries from the bushes and we set up and ate dinner by the beach.

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Beautiful sunset over the beach at Dunvegan

We continued driving north and made it to the the Cape Breton Highlands National Park where we did the Skyline hike out to the point. I ate wild raspberries and blueberries along the boardwalk all the way out to the point. From here there was more blueberries and raspberries eaten along the Neils Bay coastline hike along the beach. I got pretty bad sunstroke and spent most of the afternoon sleeping in the car on the way to Sydney, Nova Scotia.

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View along the trail at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park

North Sydney sucked as a town. There wasn’t much to do there. But in the glorious graces it turned out to be lobster season so we drove down to the lobster shop and ordered a lobster for them to cook for us. I sat on the pier and cracked the lobster claws with a multitool…. my first ever lobster. I have eaten Tasmanian rock lobster or as we call it ‘crayfish’ at home but they look nothing like these lobsters and as such I was excited.

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Playing with my food! My first ever lobster!!

After the lobster dinner by the water, we snuck in to watch Ted and The Watch at the movies with plenty of time to kill before catching the ferry to Newfoundland. After the movies we drove back to the ferry dock and found a stray dog running all over the road. He appeared to be lost and we were worried he was going to get hit by a car so we sat and stayed with him and called the RSPCA to come and get him to find out where he lived. After a couple of hours sitting with the pup, we said goodbye, and we went to catch the ferry to Newfoundland, the province I was most excited about seeing….

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Lost puppy 🙂

For the next installment of Canada by Car stay tuned…..

Canada By Car: Leg 1 – Driving through Quebec

For the next couple of weeks I will be busy hiking in some of the most spectacular mountains in the world through the Himalayas,  wifi-free of course, so the next couple of weeks are going to be like a Throwback Thursday on Saturdays. Here’s my adventure across Canada! Enjoy and there will be mountain blogs when am off the mountain! Nameste!

I have been fortunate enough in the time that I spent in Canada to be able to have made it from the eastern most point in the country in Newfoundland, to the western most point of Canada on Vancouver Island. After living in Ontario for most of my time in Canada, my first other province to visit was Quebec and I spent three weeks here gallivanting around and having a fabulous time. So because we always start at the beginning, I will start at the very beginning of my Canadian exploration and we shall continue on through the provinces in coming weeks.

It all started in Montreal with a visit to the Red Path Museum of Natural History at the McGill University, which I really enjoyed. But the thing that stood out to me the most at this time in Montreal was the Jazz Festival that was kicking on with much craziness in the streets. I went down with a bunch of people that I didn’t know and started dancing with randoms to this incredible brass band playing their instruments in the street. My road trip had started with a party! The best possible way to start!

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Loom weaving in the streets of Montreal

The party continued as we drove into Quebec City. For some reason that we did not know at the time, as we drove into the old quarters to our accommodation and was greeted with a shower of streamers falling from the sky. It turns out that the Festival d’ete’ du Quebec and I had arrived at the same time and we were in for a huge party. After checking into the hostel, we walked down to the highway underpass where they had strung up a stage and a huge lighting set up for the free Cirque du Soleil show for the evening. It was absolutely incredible and I was on the biggest high.

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Cirque du Soleil show under the highway underpass

The second day in Quebec City was spent wandering around and checking out the citadel, the Notre Dame Basilica where we visited the crypt under the basilica, danced through the streets to numerous bands that were playing and went to the giant movie projected on the windmill down by the river. Of the most interesting and yet naughty behaviour that I got up to that day was when I visited the Chateau Frontenac, the most expensive hotel in Quebec. We managed to sneak in and up the elevators and were wondering around the floors of this amazing old building and looking out of the windows at the ends of each of the corridors at the views when we pass a maids cart. In these maids carts are very expensive Le Labo 31 New York designer shampoos, conditioners, body washes and soap. Being a pov traveller, the handbag opened up and more than a few samples went shoveled in and then off we go. I must have been the most fabulous smelling backpacker in the world for the next month. It was also in Quebec City that a seed was planted for quite an amusing make a buck scheme of bottle return. While it did not have any use in Quebec City of much, it came to become quite a fruitful idea which I will discuss more in future posts.

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The famous Chateau Frontenac

So onwards from Quebec City to the Jacques-Cartier National Park. We set up our camping gear at the Hirondelle camp site and then went on a hike around the Les Loup track to the top of the mountain for the most spectacular view. After an awesome camp cooked dinner, we packed up our stuff and went to bed. This sleep was short-lived however. At 1am there is something outside of the tent throwing things around and twigs are snapping…. Hysterical… “What the hell is that?? Is that a bear?? OH SHIT! I left the toothpaste in my backpack and forgot to take it back to the car! OH SHIT! OH SHIT!” So trying not to breathe, and laying very still, we sit and listen to the bear. Eventually it disappears. Eventually I get to sleep.

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Jacques-Cartier National Park

The next day was another fifteen kilometer hike up a mountain and chilling out with dinner and crossword puzzles before heading ouf to the next destination of Saguenay. There wasn’t really a great deal to do in the Ville Saguenay/Chicoutimi area so we continued on to Tadoussac, famous for its whale watching and set up camp there for the evening. As the thunderstorms set in, we hid in the laundry of the campground in the hope that the tent would withstand the literal hurricane going on outside. Lucky for us, it had calmed down by midnight and the tent was still standing.

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The fountain in the river at Ville Saguenay/Chicoutimi

The morning was not the best weather and it was too foggy to see very far, but we went out on the boat whale watching and saw a heap of dolphins, porpoises, seals and minke whales. It was really cool. A little bit sad that we did not get to see one of the famous blue or humpback whales that frequent this region but it was still an incredible day!

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Down the main street of Tadoussac

After the whales it was back on the road again to St Simeon where we took the ferry over to Riviere-du-Loup. After taking in the Parc du Chutes and seeing a few bands in the street for a festival that they had on we moved on to Rimouski. Just out of Rimouski is the Parc du Bic, one of my most favourite places in Canada. While we were there along the stunning, rocky coastline, we were fortunate enough to see a fox wandering around where the people were eating their lunches. At one point it pounces into the bushes and arises with a mouse caught in its mouth. He went over and buried it in the amphitheater for later. Very cool to see.

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Mouse-hunting fox in the bushes at Parc du Bic

The next stop was St. Anne du Monts, hands down one of the coolest places I have stayed in the world let alone Canada. We set up our tent on the beach at the hostel and then had a chill out session in the hostel hot tub that sits outside overlooking the ocean while watching the sun set. It was a great place to just laze about and have relaxed days and evenings however the bar can lead one astray and you might be finding yourself getting to bed as the sun comes up as it is too easy to sit around talking to new people in spas and hammocks.

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The view of the beach from the hot tub at St. Anne-du-Monts

The following day was to be a huge one for me. I had been in Canada for almost two years and was yet to see a moose. It was my day. We were hiking through the Gaspesie National Park and chattering away down the path when all of a sudden I gasp and come literally face to face with a moose. It is about two meters away from where I am standing chewing down on a leaf. Behind it (thankfully) was its baby. For a good half an hour I stood there in awe. I named her ‘Lucy the Moosey’ and I took a million pictures. The word excitement didn’t even cut it! Eventually I had to say goodbye to Lucy and continue on my way before it got too dark, all the while, munching on the wild strawberries I picked from the path along the way.

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Lucy the Moosey! Isn’t she pretty!

From here we drove to L’Anse Aux Griffon from the sea shack. It was bad weather again so we set up the tent and spend the evening inside listening to a spanish/latino band play music and hanging with the people. It was only a hop from here over to the Forillon National Park where we hiked the last 7 kilometers of the International Appalachians Trail to the Gaspe lighthouse. The path had some amazing flowers along the way and was just a beautiful trail.

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The lighthouse at the end of the International Appalachians Trail.

The last stop of in Quebec was Perce. We hiked over the sandbar in the water to the Perce rock and I found a fossil there that I took home with me. I spent my last evening in Quebec foraging around for the abundant wild raspberries around the campground. This became a huge thing for me in my Canadian travels. I love berries, I love wild ones even more. From here it was on to New Brunswick… and so the journey continues….

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Perce Rock

Chill out for the next installment in my travels across Canada…. 

Westerners’ Don’t Walk…. And Other Indonesian Musings

At first it really annoyed me. The constant harassment in your face with people yelling at you ‘You want transport?’, ‘You go on moto?’, ‘Where you go?’. It wasn’t until I was in a car driving with a local for the day around to Tanah Lot and Uluwatu in Bali that I realised just how much of a game it is to them. I realized when our driver started yelling out of the car window to his friends ‘Haaalloooooo, you waaaannt transpoooort?!’ and then laughing. Then they would call him on his phone and they would laugh about it some more. The whole thing was just obscenely funny to them. And so I decided to make it obscenely funny to myself.

The first time I really decided to make it a source of entertainment was when I was drunk coming home one night from the Sky Garden Free Flow (two hours of horrendously bad, strong and free alcohol).  They see me, go to open their mouths and before they can respond any I am all over it ‘Hey! You want transport? I carry you while I walk?’ They look at me like I am nuts, laugh and I keep going. And then I yell at cab drivers ‘you want transport?’ and they look at me strangely before they start laughing and so the game continues……

It became evident pretty quickly that as a westerner, it is expected that you don’t walk anywhere. I could have 100m to walk down a one way street opposing traffic flow and the locals would try and convince you that it is too far for you to walk and that they should take you on a 3km round trip around the block on their moto to save you having to walk 100m. The idea of walking anywhere is just absurd. The look of shock and horror on the faces of people when you tell them you are walking somewhere is priceless.

Take for example Baluran National Park which I visited on the east coast of Java. I got to the front gate, paid the entrance fee and asked about transport in and out of the park. They told me it was either motorbike or ojek. You weren’t getting there one way for less than $5 and I had all day to kill and a Mount Everest Basecamp to train for so I said to the guy, no transport there. I will walk in. He says to me ‘NO!!!! You can’t walk?!’ I said to him “Why not?!” He says to me, “You HAVE to take moto! It is too far! It is 15 kilometers!!” I laughed at him and said to him ‘It’s only three hours and it is flat. It is fine. I will walk’. The entire staff look at me like a mental person as I start out along the road. And sure enough, after 3 hours of walking I got there. And had a great time along the way being surrounded by butterflies and interacting with the nature around me.

Of the most entertaining times that we embraced the ‘Westerner’s Don’t Walk’ policy was when I got up at 3am to hike to the top of Mount Pananjakan for sunrise over the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park. The lovely men outside the front of the hotel were trying to again convince me that 5km to the top was ‘too much’ and that I couldn’t get that far. I told them I walked 15km two days ago and I would be fine. They looked at me cautiously before also trying to convince me I needed a scarf and a hat because 15 degrees was also ‘too cold’. Ha! Try -40 in Canada… I am fine!

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OMG! Look! I am walking overland through the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park instead of taking one of those jeeps behind me that all the tourists take!!

On the way up I met a couple of cool guys I started walking with and between us we got to the viewpoint 1 for sunrise and then up to viewpoint 2 later in the day after the tourists had re-embarked their jeeps and had gone home. We found a stand of fried banana and I bought two, one for each hand. As the incessant questions ‘You want moto?’ started up, I had a stroke of genius. I said to them ‘No, I don’t need moto. Too fat from fried banana! Must walk!’ The women had a quiet chuckle. The men stared carefully at me as they were not sure as to what the correct response to a woman calling herself fat is and they said ‘OK’ and left us alone. So I employed this for the rest of the day. By the end of the day we had clocked up 3 mountain tops and approximately 25km of walking in around 13 hours. When I got back to the hotel and saw the men trying to sell me hats and a moto I told them where I had gone and walked the whole way. They looked like they were about to die of shock. And then they applauded me. Not a bad effort for a girl about to hike Everest Basecamp. I wonder if they will have me a moto to take me to basecamp…?

So it is about a week later that I discover why I have such looks of confusion on the faces of locals when I met a local in Sidoarjo who literally myth busted quite a few of my ideas. It turns out that fat in Indonesia is a compliment. If you are fat it means that you are healthy and rich and have lots of money to eat. On the contrary if you are skinny you therefore must be sick, having money problems, anxiety attacks, broken up with your significant other or have some other serious issue in your life that needs dealing with. Fat is good. As such, why would I want to be losing weight by walking….??? OK, I think now I understand.

The second thing that he pointed out was something that after about a month I started to realize all on my own…. it isn’t the westerners that don’t walk. It is the Indonesians. They literally can never be seen walking anywhere. They will ride a motorbike 100m down the road to the shop if it saves them from having to walk anywhere. The whole time I figured they were trying to convince me that I needed transport so that they could have my business because I am white and as such I must have money. But no. It turns out that again these horrified looks of ‘What? You are walking 15km?’ are sheer looks of concern given that this is not a concept they can fathom. Turns out that it isn’t the Westerners, but the Indonesians that don’t walk…..