Brazil

March 11, 2014

Hello!
First of all, if you have helped me get to Brazil in any way, such as; letting me collect your recyclables, buying things from my fundraisers, or any thing else that you can think of… I can’t thank you enough! Brazil has been a blast already and today is only our second full day here! I can’t wait to see what will else will happen over the rest of this wonderful adventure.

The total travel time was somewhere around 17 hours. Which was kind of boring but at the same time, was also really fun! The first thought in my head while landing in Brazil was, “WOW!” Because the city that we landed in (São Paulo) is the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere!!

After ten hours in the São Paulo airport we finally made our way to São Luíz with one quick stop in Brasilia. It was a great feeling to know that this would be the last plane that we would be on before starting our wondrous adventure!

So far we’ve gone to a barbecue, toured the school, and had an orientation at Viamundo which is the travel agency that is helping with our trip.

Once again thank you (Obrigado) to all that have helped me over the past few months to get me where I am now. I can’t wait to update you more as the trip goes.

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The long way home

August 25, 2011

The sun began to shine just in time for us to board the ferry to go back to Newfoundland from St. Pierre.  “Boss”, the guy who lost it with his sick family on the way over, was also on our ferry on the way back.  Alex was incredulous as he listened to him telling other passengers about the harrowing crossing the day before.  He told everyone that they had been “deathly ill” and all he could do was run back and forth between them, saving their lives…

We chose to sit outside because the weather was finally so nice.  The temperature hit a balmy 14*C.  The island of St. Pierre was just beautiful from the water.  We were able to see seals, and the captain drove the ferry close to the other islands so that we could see the puffins.  The sky and the water were full of them!

St. Pierre, France

The Cathedral is in the middle of the photo, and the apartment building on the right is where the Gendarmes live.

We bought a magnet that looks just like these two!

Filling out the Customs sheet - they had to give me two because we don't all fit on one form!

All those black specks in the air, water and on the cliffs are puffins!

As we left French waters and entered Canadian waters, the crew took down the French flag and raised the Canadian flag.  (Something we didn’t notice traveling inside on the way over!)

We stayed outside the whole time and saw some dolphins.  We enjoyed the sun and passed the time playing cards;  Olivia & I were partners.  It took about an hour-and-a-half to get back to Newfoundland, but then we had to go through customs.  We had only brought back $50 total in souvenirs although we were allowed $50/person.  We also hadn’t brought any alcohol because we hadn’t been gone long enough.  Once we got to the front of the line, we sailed through customs.  None of our bags were checked.

D’Arcy had to go and pick up our van and then come back to get the rest of us.  By the time we hit the road for Argentia, it was close to suppertime.  We put in a movie for the kids and set out on the two-hours-of-nothing road from Fortune to Goobies for the 4th time!  Not far down the road, we saw a woman hitchhiking and recogized that she had been sitting near us on the ferry, so we stopped to pick her up.  Her name was Geri and she was from Alberta.  She was traveling across the country on her own and we hope that she might stop in to the B&B when she’s in Nova Scotia!

Every child but Sarah fell asleep during the drive and about half-way into it I realized that there was no way we would make it to Argentia that evening.  Because of the potential of moose on the road, we didn’t want to be driving in the dark and we knew it would soon be dusk.  I suggested that we try to find a place in Clarenville, about 15 minutes from Goobies.  We dropped Geri off in Goobies, as she was headed to Come By Chance, in the other direction from where we were going.  We drove to Clarenville and called around to some motels.  They were either full, had only smoking rooms, or cost over $200 for the night.  We knew we could set the tent up, but didn’t really want to; we had to be at the ferry to Nova Scotia by 1:30 and had hoped to get to Cape St. Mary’s in the morning.

D’Arcy looked at the map to see what there was in the other direction.  We called a motel in Arnold’s Cove, just a 30 minute drive, and booked a room.  The price was right – only $70.  (You get what you pay for!)  We checked in and realized we had been given a room next to three girls who looked ready to party.  One of them was standing out on the deck having a cigarette.  D’Arcy questioned the woman at the front desk who told him that it was just three girls and there shouldn’t be any noise.  We hadn’t even taken anything out of the van when three guys pulled up and the noise level increased.  The walls were quite thin and I was tired.  D’Arcy & I went together to the front desk to ask if we could have a different room.  The girls from the room next door were ahead of us, asking if there was a shot glass they could have.  Needless to say, we were moved to an efficiency unit at the other end of the motel for no extra charge!

We spent some time checking for bed bugs, then brought our things in.  The room was adequate for our needs, and I actually slept quite well.  D’Arcy ended up on a futon with Sarah, so his sleep was not as good quality, and the boys each had an air mattress & sleeping bag on the floor.  We got up early in the morning and checked out as soon as possible.  We drove to a grocery store to buy some cereal and picnic supplies for lunch, then made our way to Argentia, but not before stopping to find a geocache in Arnold’s Cove!

Arnold's Cove, NL

Found the geocache - this makes 10 in Newfoundland!

Our original plan was to go to Cape St. Mary’s for the morning and then return to the ferry by our 1:30 check in time.  However, with the fog and because of all the rain, we were advised at a lovely cafe in Argentia that we shouldn’t try it.  I had wanted to go to Cataracts Provincial Park, but the road was bad and the weather wasn’t great.  We ended up souvenir shopping in Argentia and then going to Castle Rock National Historic Site in Placentia, where we toured the facility and did a quick walk of the fort’s remains.  I’m sure it was beautiful, but the fog was so thick, we didn’t get a feel for the view.  We had fun exploring, but I had what I assume was a drop in my blood sugar.  I got the shakes and had to go back to the van and eat a granola bar and have a drink of juice.  It wasn’t long before the others came to the van and we drove to the ferry.

Exploring the fort in the fog

The view of Placentia Bay - I'm sure it's beautiful...

The kids on the cannon at Castle Rock

We left and went back to Argentia to catch the ferry.  Again, as we checked in, they commented, “We’ve been waiting to see who the peanut allergy is!”  We had our van washed to remove all soil from Newfoundland.  The kids thought it was fantastic to watch the women with the fire hoses washing our van!

We boarded the ferry and found out we had the same cabin that we’d had on our crossing to Newfoundland.  We dropped our few things off (the girls were dressed in track suits that they could sleep in) and we went out onto the deck – in the sunshine – to eat our picnic lunch.  We had eaten and cleaned up and there was still time before we sailed.  We positioned ourselves on the deck and watched as they prepared the ship for sailing.

Alex & D'Arcy

Alex & the girls, chatting during our last few moments in Newfoundland

Removing the line from the buoy so we could set sail

Evan & Sarah

Before long, the kids all wanted to go inside.  We sailed at 3:30 p.m. and grabbed a seat in the lounge where the entertainment was and started to play games.  Sarah, Evan, Alex & I played Monopoly while D’Arcy & Olivia played My Little Pony Memory.  We stationed ourselves in one spot and went back & forth to the cabin, the playroom, outside, etc.  We had some snacks, but had thought that since they were so accommodating about Olivia’s allergies that we might be able to have supper in the restaurant.

A big move in the My Little Pony Memory Game...

Getting the Monopoly game started.

Admittedly, I was tired by this point. We went into the restaurant at about 7:30 when the crowd had died down.  As we walked in, there was a woman working at the bar.  I asked if they were still serving and she replied, curtly, “For what?”  Now I know that she probably meant for the restaurant or for the buffet, but her tone implied that we were not welcome.  We stood at the doorway of the sit-down section of the restaurant without being acknowledged.  There were about five tables that had guests still eating, but the rest of the tables were dirty.  Servers walked by us without even making eye contact and we left to check out the buffet side.

Now anyone with food allergies knows that a buffet is dangerous territory – especially with the chance that people will use one spoon in more than one dish.  Before we were seated, we asked the hostess if we would be able to get something safe for Olivia to eat and she went to check with the kitchen.  We waited and she came back to say that they could feed her macaroni & cheese bites from the buffet.  I explained that she can’t eat from a buffet and that the macaroni & cheese bites were probably made with egg.  I suggested that perhaps she could have some steamed veggies & ham – if the ham had not made it to the buffet yet.  Long story short, the chef did not feel comfortable feeding her, so we all left the restaurant.

We bought the kids hot dogs at the take-out place and fed Olivia from our cooler.  She had turkey, cheese, mandarin oranges and cereal and we got her some chocolate milk.  We played some more games and bought a fun new game, “ImagineIff” from the gift shop.

We went to our cabin to put the girls to bed and had intended to keep playing the game, but I realized I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.  I knew that we’d dock by 6 a.m. and remembered what it was like when I worked on the Scotia Prince and we docked at 8 a.m.!  I knew it would be an early morning.  I don’t know how long the rest of them stayed up, but Olivia & I curled up on our top bunk together and let the swaying of the ship rock us to sleep.

It was morning before we knew it and we just got up in our clothes and went to the car.  It was a beautiful morning and none of us were quite ready to be home.  I sent my parents a message, asking if we had anyone booked for the night.  (When we had left, there hadn’t been anything booked.)  I left them a message that we were going to drive the Cabot Trail, so they should leave the mess and we’d look after it when we arrived home in the afternoon.

We took the Englishtown Ferry to the Trail (We had to borrow cash from the kids for the $5.25 crossing!) and started around.  The scenery & weather were beautiful.  D’Arcy, Alex & Sarah searched for a geocache right when we got off the ferry, but didn’t have any luck finding it. They finally gave up, figuring that it was no longer there.  We stopped for coffee  at a cafe in Ingonish and at that time it was still only eight-ish.  The weather was gorgeous and we stopped at some of the look-offs for photos.

Cape Breton Island

Cape Breton Island

View of the Skyline Trail. If you look on the top of the mountain, in the centre of the photo, you can see a couple of tiny people walking the trail. We hope to do that with the kids - maybe in the Fall? Probably next year... I can only imagine how beautiful the view is!!

Heading towards Cheticamp, Cape Breton

We stopped in Cheticamp for lunch, although it was not quite 11:00.  (When you’re on the road by six, you’re ready for everything early!)  We looked for a place that was open that we thought we could find something safe for Olivia since there is not much traditional breakfast food that would be safe.  Even things being cooked on the same grill as eggs are a problem.  We found a restaurant and she was happy to have another pizza – our go to “safe” food.  Sarah wanted to buy some candy, but I wasn’t sure if it was safe and I was getting anxious to be on the road, not knowing if my parents had left the rooms for us to finish when we arrived home.

I drove from Cheticamp and D’Arcy had a nap.  We went through the Margaree Valley and stopped for gas after we crossed the Canso Causeway.  We high-tailed it for home, arriving around 3:00.  My dad was sitting on the front step reading a book and my mom was just pulling into the driveway.  We were tired and dirty and grungy so turned down their offer of hodge-podge for supper.  No one was really hungry at that point.  We chatted for a bit in the driveway while D’Arcy unloaded the van.

It was hard to imagine that the two weeks had flown by so quickly!  We realize how fortunate we were to have that time together – despite the hiccups along the way!  My Facebook status updates were few while in Newfoundland, but the day we arrived home, I posted the following:  “After 13 days, 3400 km of driving, 562 km of water travel on three different ferries, 39 different bathrooms, and 11 successful geocashes, we are home safe, sound and still speaking!”

It was a family vacation that I’m sure none of us will ever forget!

 

D’Arcy & I both slept through our 5:30 alarms.  I awoke with a start at 6:50 a.m. and realized we were LATE!  We flew around getting everyone up and the van packed, and were out the door and on the road by 7:10.  We knew that our 6:00 starting time had allowed us time for delays, but our stress level was high that we wouldn’t get to the ferry terminal on time.

We made it to Goobies before we stopped to drain the kids and fill the van.  We had put Sarah, still sleeping, in the van in her pyjamas, so got her dressed at the gas station.  We got the kids each some juice and they ate cereal while we drove.  This was one time we hoped we would not see a moose!  All went well and the little traffic there was flowed steadily until we got just outside Marystown.  A woman pulled out in front of us and drove between 30 and 50 km/hr.  We couldn’t pass her, and I eventually started to giggle because what else could we do? Marystown is one place we will never forget!  I called the Tour Company and told them that we were coming and would be there shortly.

It turned out that we arrived at the ferry terminal in lots of time.  The ferry wasn’t scheduled to leave until 11:30 and we were there at 10:45.  We got our tickets and boarding passes and went to the dock.  There, the kids & I sat with our luggage while D’Arcy took our van to a secure parking lot for the night.  The ferry was late coming in from St. Pierre and everyone was already lined up to get on board when it docked.  I gave each of the kids Gravol – just in case, knowing that this crossing would be much rougher than the ferry to Newfoundland was.

We chatted with a father & son from the Miramichi while we waited.  They had driven from Bonavista that morning. The captain came over to the gate and announced that they were considering cancelling the crossing due to high winds and rough water.  He said that they would make an announcement at 12:30.  I could see look of panic on Alex’s face as he asked, “You mean we might not get to go?”  We went in to the information centre and had some lunch while we waited.  It was out of our hands.

Before long the word spread that the winds had died down and the boat would cross.  We gathered up our things together and off we went.  It was windy with light rain, so we went downstairs into the cabin.  The captain announced that it would be a rough crossing and would take longer than normal.  We settled in and played cards, watching for whales.  The girls drew pictures on the barf bags.  The crossing was definitely rough and the kids described it like being on a roller coaster.  There was a family on board that three out of four were sick.  Also, there was a kids’ soccer team from Miquelon and a number of them were sick as well.  The family was made up of a man in his late 20’s or early 30’s, his mother, his pregnant girlfriend and his pre-teen son.  He totally flipped out when they were getting sick and every other word out of his mouth was the f-word.  He did absolutely nothing to help them , and it was the coach of the soccer team who took over and aided them.

Our family fared well, but by the time we docked, Evan told me that he was starting to get a bit queasy and was sweating.  Olivia slept through most of it!  We docked and went through French customs and got French stamps in our passports.  The kids were so excited to have finally arrived!  We headed towards our B&B which turned out to be right at the top of the hill.  We had a map which wasn’t very good (no street names!), so we did stop at a hardware store to ask directions.  The kids are good walkers – I have to give them credit – they didn’t complain, even when carrying things.

We made it to St. Pierre - Finally!!

We got to our B&B, Auberge Quatre Temps, to discover that they had us in two rooms which were not connected, but were side by side.  The rooms were small and each had a double bed and a set of bunk beds.  They weren’t fancy, but we decided that they were adequate as we would only be sleeping there for the night.  We showered and got ready to go exploring.

We walked back downtown and went to the Visitor Information Centre.  As we opened the door, I noticed that they were TIANS members!  We got some information, along with a better map of the town and set out to find a place to eat.  I already had a restaurant in mind, La Feu de Braise.  We stopped at a bank machine and got out some Euros so we would have cash, and realized that the restaurant was right there – but didn’t open until 7:00.  We made the decision to go on the bus tour of the Island to pass the time, and then come back for dinner.

The TIANS membership sticker, although hard to see in this photo, is located between the two "Hours of Operation" signs!

The bus tour was run by a man named Hubert and his granddaughter Emilie.  They were 4th & 6th generation of their family to live on the Island. We were glad we took the tour and learned some interesting information.  There are just over 6,000 people who live in St. Pierre and over 4,000 vehicles! Over 90% of the population is Catholic. Over 65% of the population works for the government and the rest work mainly in construction or tourism.  There are over 400 horses on the Island, used purely for the pleasure of horseback riding.  Most of their food is delivered to the island via Halifax, Nova Scotia, once a week.  They start school at the age of two and if they wish to go to university in Canada or in France, their education is paid for.  The government gives them an allowance of 450 Euros per month and pays for a flight to return to St. Pierre once per year.  The French Gendarme are responsible for policing and come from France with their families for three year terms.  (We didn’t see any while we were there!)  The jail on St. Pierre has only five cells and only one prisoner!  (We were wondering what he did…)  The crime rate is extremely low. I think one of our favourite facts was that they paint their houses such bright colors because they have so much fog and bad weather that they need something to cheer them up!

Zazpiak-Bat, a wall in the centre of town where three different handball-type games are played. This comes from the Basque culture.

The cemetery. There is no cremation, nor embalming. Family members' are buried four deep, the caskets one on top of another.

Just one example of a brightly coloured building!

One of the 4000+ cars on the Island! (They also drive very quickly!)

Normally, the bus stops at four different places along the route for photo opportunities, but it was so foggy that we only stopped at one.  Sarah fell asleep early on in the tour, and Alex napped through the second half.  After the photo opportunity, Olivia was pretty pleased to go sit in the very back row of seats.

Beautiful St. Pierre - This was taken on the west side of the Island

Sarah, so excited to go on the bus tour, fell sound asleep for the entire ride!

Olivia at the back of the bus

After the bus tour, we woke Sarah and walked up to the restaurant.  The girls each had pizzas (after we were assured that the dough was safe for Olivia), Evan had a calazone, I had scallops in puff pastry and D’Arcy & Alex shared prime rib for two.  It was delicious and the setting was wonderful.  After so many barbeques and ready-made meals, we were happy to have a decent dinner made for us!  D’Arcy & I even shared a bottle of French Beaujolais.  We talked about the adventures we’ve had on the trip so far.

At dinner

After supper, we explored more of St. Pierre as we walked back up to our B&B.  At the B&B, there was no one to be found.  D’Arcy rang the bell to get some ice and we went to our rooms and got ready for bed.  Earlier in the day, we had thought that the boys could share a room and we would share the other with the girls, but then Olivia decided that she wanted to sleep with me.  Alex went back & forth between rooms and ended up pulling out his tooth in our bathroom!  It had been loose the whole trip, but he was determined to lose it in France. D’Arcy went in to one room with the boys and I slept in the other room with the girls.  It was really warm and because there was no screen, I couldn’t open the window.  We watched a couple of the girls’ favourite television shows in French, and Olivia and I were asleep very quickly.

In the morning, Alex was quick to come in to tell me that the Tooth Fairy had come and had brought him Euros!  How exciting!  We got dressed and went to the B&B’s restaurant for breakfast.  We had coffee, juice and chocolate milk along with bread, jam and pastries.  I was pleased that they had made up one basket with bread that was safe for Olivia’s allergies and another basket (with croissants!) that was not safe for her.  We used our french and chatted with the girl who was serving us.  There was a huge rack of postcards, so the kids were excited to choose and buy some with their Euros!

Check out time was 10:30, but we were packed up and ready before that.  We walked back down to the Visitor Information Centre (And Olivia lost some of her money in someone’s long grass along the way!) to store our bags until we caught the ferry in the afternoon.  We spent time there writing postcards and looking up postal codes on the Internet.  D’Arcy also looked up a couple of geo-caches on the Island.  The girls – of course – had to go to the bathroom, but they were not located in the Visitor Information Centre.  We went on a wild goose chase to find the public bathrooms, located across the street! When we met up with the boys again, who were starting to worry about us, we realized that unless we rented bikes or took a taxi, we would not have time to get to the geocache.  We took our postcards to the Post Office, bought stamps and mailed them.

The wall of the soccer field.

Writing Postcards at the Visitor Information Centre

Looking up information at the VIC

Mailing her postcards!

We explored the town, stopping in at many shops along the way.  The streets and sidewalks were very narrow and it was difficult to hold the girls’ hands.  We ran into the ladies from our B&B, dropping the laundry at the laundromat before lunch, but they weren’t very friendly!  (We wouldn’t go back there again!)  Everyone was starting to get hungry and we realized that it was almost Siesta time (12 – 1:30) where all shops, museums, etc. close and only restaurants & pubs are open!  We happened to run into the baker from the bakery who was very friendly and gave us options & directions for lunch.  We ended up going to the Hotel Robert for lunch, which was near the VIC.  As soon as Alex & Sarah heard “Creperie”, the restaurant was decided!!  Olivia was able to have a plate of french fries that were safe while the other kids had hamburgers, D’Arcy had a sandwich and I had Coquilles Sainte Jacques and a salad.  They made sure to save room to have crepes for dessert!

With Alex at lunch

Crepes! Alex & Evan shared one filled with bananas, whipped cream & chocolate sauce; Sarah's had maple syrup and whipped cream!

We went back out into the town.  I really wanted to go to the supermarket to see how it differed from ours, but we had to wait for it to open.  I peeked in and then we started back towards the ferry terminal.  The kids really wanted to do some souvenir shopping.  We walked back downtown and picked up our belongings which we had stored at the VIC.  We went into a couple of stores and then ended up at one close to the ferry terminal where we bought a flag, some stickers and badges for the boys’ campfire blankets.  We had to go to catch the ferry, but the girls had really wanted to ride the carousel and it was finally open.  D’Arcy took them for a ride while the boys and I kept our place in line.  Sarah tells us that the carousel was one of the best parts of the entire trip!!

A view one part of town from the running track.

We think this sign means "no parking" but we didn't ever find out for sure!

Amusing themselves with the telephone, waiting for the supermarket to open after siesta.

The "best part of the trip"!

After the carousel ride, D’Arcy & the girls came back to meet us in line and we waited to board the ferry back to Newfoundland.

We wished we’d had more than just the one day in St. Pierre.  It was definitely a highlight for all the kids and we would have liked to have explored and learned more.  D’Arcy would have liked to find at least one of the geocaches hidden on the island as well.  Another reason I think we’d have liked to stay longer is because we knew that as soon as we got back to Newfoundland, we were essentially on our way home, and none of us was ready for the trip to be finished!

One of the things I really wanted to do while in Newfoundland was to have a picnic at Ferryland Lighthouse Picnics. Back in October, during Atlantic Canada Showcase, I had eaten lunch with Jill, who owns the Lighthouse.  I fell in love with the concept and put it on my must-do list.

Brianna was scheduled for heart tests, so we had already made plans to take Nate with us, meeting up with him after he finished gymnastics in the morning.  It turned out that Shelley has known Jill for years and when I told her we were going to the lighthouse for lunch, she decided to join us.  The weatherman was calling for the fog to lift during the morning to reveal sunny skies with a high of 12*C.

It did brighten for a short bit during the drive and Nate told me he could see the sun out his window!  However, as we got closer to ferryland, the fog got thicker and the wind picked up.  When we got to the lighthouse, we realized that the girls’ skirts had been optimistic and they changed into jogging pants in the van.  We hiked up the 20 minute walk through the trees to the lighthouse and placed our order.  It was windy and cold, so we decided to eat inside.  We got ourselves set up at a picnic type table downstairs in the old coal room.  It was dark and smelled damp.  We saw some other families go past the window with their picnic blankets, and I made the decision that we would find some sheltering rocks and give outside a try!

In the shelter of the trees, hiking to the lighthouse

A beautiful day to picnic by the ocean!

Ahhh.... peace!

We all trooped out, and Sarah immediately started complaining about being cold.  We got her another blanket and wrapped her up in it.  The food was delivered to us in a giant wicker basket and our lemonade in mason jars.  Sarah was starting to come around when her tooth came out in her first bit of sandwich!  Disaster!  There was a fair bit of blood and she started to wail!  She refused to eat the rest of her sandwich. I had to break it into the tiniest bites and she still only consumed half of it.  But my piece of gingerbread cake?  That went down just fine and finally stopped the whining!  Evan declared his the best grilled cheese sandwich he’d ever had had – even better than his friend Alexander’s mom makes!  That’s quite a compliment!

Comforting a cold & starving Sarah

Here comes lunch!

The food was amazing!

Another lost tooth!

Traumatized again!

Nothing that gingerbread with vanilla sauce can't cure...

We went back into the lighthouse to warm up and visited with Jill while D’Arcy & the boys went geocaching.  They had to give up when the battery on D’Arcy’s phone died.  We bundled back up and hiked back to the van.

Time to go

Looking at the sheep on the nearby Island while walking back to the van

D’Arcy had just plugged his phone in to charge (Mine had no service once we were outside St. John’s) when it rang and Dave asked to speak to me.  Sandy had mentioned at Brianna’s appointment how miserable she was and when they checked her, they discovered she had a 6.5 cm abcess which had to be surgically removed – immediately.  We told Dave we would keep Nate with us until we heard from him again.  We kept quiet to Nate about what was happening and headed back toward Torbay to visit with another friend, Krista, whom I met on the ferry from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia in 1981.  We have kept in touch and visited over the years.  It was her wedding last summer that prompted us to plan this trip originally.

We had plugged her address into the GPS, but chose the wrong street type and ended up at the wrong address.  When we realized what we had done, we had another 22 minute drive to get to their place.  We finally arrived and started to visit.  She had dug out photos from some of our visits over the years and even a copy of my Grade 6 yearbook that I’d sent her!  What fun to go through that!!  The kids all had fun playing with her son Dylan in their backyard.

An oblivious - and very tired - Nate

With Krista - friends since 1981 when we met on the Ferry!

The kids with Nate & Dylan

While we were visiting, Dave called to say that Sandy was out of surgery and was being discharged.  He needed us to meet him right away to help look after Brianna.  We said hasty goodbyes and went back to the Pearces’ house.  I went into the house with Sandy & the baby to get them settled while D’Arcy and the kids took Dave back to the hospital to pick up their other car.  Because she’d had Demerol, Brianna had to have a few feedings of formula.  I started to sterilize the bottles and give Dave a lesson in bottle feeding while Sandy went to bed.  The kids all stayed in the van watching a movie, and I’m begrudgingly admitting that the built in DVD player has come in handy a couple of times this trip!

We got Brianna fed (By the way, all her appointments had perfect results and she’d gained a whole pound in two weeks and is now 8lbs, 2oz.) and took Nate back to our place to feed him supper.  D’Arcy hung the tent out on the line to air it out and got the sleeping bags rolled back up.  He played catch with the kids in the backyard while I barbequed the end of our sausages, carrots & potatoes.

Having our last dinner in St. John's - with Nate!

We took Nate back to his house after we all had supper and the girls & I got to feed Brianna a bottle and put her to sleep while Dave got Nate settled.  We said our goodbyes, and I left feeling guilty that we were leaving in the morning.  I’m glad that we were at least able to help out for two days.

Olivia fell asleep in her car seat on the way back to Dave’s mom’s and we just transferred her straight into her bed.  Sarah had a bath and made sure her tooth was ready for the tooth fairy before going to bed and the boys went shortly after.  D’Arcy & I scurried around getting everything packed up and organized for St. Pierre, and set our alarms for 5:30 so that we could be on the road to Fortune, a four hour drive, at 6 a.m.

We were lazy our first morning at Dave’s mom’s home.  The kids played and watched television while we continued to clean and organize.  We can’t thank Peggy enough for the use of her home.  It felt SO good to be clean and do laundry!  D’Arcy took the van to a garage to vacuum all the sand, cereal, crumbs, dirt, etc. out of it.  We ate and headed out to Signal Hill after lunch.

As we were driving through downtown, D’Arcy had the radio on 97.5FM and I heard a familiar voice.  Is that Chris Batstone, I wondered?  It turned out that he was the radio personality!  (Are they still called DJ’s on the radio?)  Chris & I go back to the early 1980’s when we met and became close at various functions put on by the Nova Scotia Choral Federation.  I haven’t seen Chris since 1990, but he is on my Facebook.  It’s too bad we didn’t get a chance to visit in person, but the timing didn’t work out.

Signal Hill gave us a beautiful view of St. John’s and we climbed to the top of the tower.  There were two geocaches that we were searching for.  One had specific instructions that we were to take our photo on the Duke of York Observation Platform with St. John’s harbour in the background and our GPS had to be visable.  We had much discussion about which platform was the Duke of York Observation platform.  We hiked one of the trails down to the cannons and buildings and then back around.  We found a second cache on our way back up the hill.  Sandy called at that point and I asked her if she was up to joining us at the barbeque which Shelley, one of my university friends had planned for us.  She wasn’t feeling well at all, so I offered to take Nate along with us so that she could possibly sleep.

St. John's Harbour

The failed geocache photo - the harbour had to be showing in the background, but we were too polite to ask the stranger to re-take the photo. (You had to stand on a bench to get the harbour in!) A whole family photo nonetheless!

Fun among siblings - I think Olivia was the instigator of this fit of laughter!

Trying to recreate the "Louisbourg photo" of 2007 - we didn't quite manage it!

The scenery was amazing!

We picked Nate up and went to Shelley’s.  She has two little boys, Patrick who is 5, and Gabriel who will turn one at the end of the month.  The kids had a wonderful time playing together while Shelley & I got caught up.  We figured that it had probably been 16 years since we’d seen one another.  We had a feast of hamburgers, hotdogs and salads. Shelley had done a fantastic job of accommodating Olivia’s allergies and even sent us home with some safe gingersnaps.

With Gabriel

The girls with Gabriel. Nate, Patrick, and our boys were all busy playing in the playroom or outside, so I don't have any photos of them!

We went back to our home-away-from-home and Sandy & Dave came over to visit for the evening.  It felt good to get lots of newborn baby snuggles in and by the end of the evening we all had held her. Brianna was very good for being passed around so much!  Olivia and Nate were both exhausted and had one of their first real squabbles over a toy chair set.  When the Pearces left, the girls went up to bed and the boys and I played crib while we decided what to do during our last few days of vacation.

Nate, checking out Olivia's headphones on the way home. Does he look tired?

Sandy, opening the outfit that Ginna knit for Brianna

D'Arcy holds Brianna under Olivia's watchful eye.

Dave, Evan & Alex playing crib while a very tired Nate looks on.

Terra Nova Fun!

August 9, 2011

We arrived at Terra Nova at about 5:30 p.m., slightly behind schedule.  Once we got into the town, we realized that the directions to Krista & Stefan’s cabin were on my phone which had no service.  We stopped at a convenience store to ask if the clerk might happen to know them.  The clerk didn’t, but said that we should go to the top of the “sand pit”, which was where the best cell phone service was located.  We went up there and called them and it turned out we were only a minute away.

We came in, got settled and the kids all began playing together.  Krista & Stefan got supper started and D’Arcy went back up to the sand pit to call the St. Pierre tour company.  It turned out that the passport had not been delivered, and the mail doesn’t come in until after the boat leaves on Monday.  We decided it makes the most sense to continue our trip to St. John’s next and then go to St. Pierre at the end of the week, before setting sail to go back to Nova Scotia.

Playing cards

We had tacos for supper, a meal which all ten of us devoured happily! Thank you Krista & Stefan for coming up with something to eat that was safe and loved by all!!  After supper, we sat down and realized how exhausted we were.  D’Arcy was falling asleep, so Krista & Stefan told him to go lie down in Gabriel’s room for a bit.  They told me that they realized we were tired and that they wouldn’t normally ask us to go out, but they had something planned for us.

We woke D’Arcy after about a half-an-hour and went to their friends’ cabin.  Tracy & Wade had a house full of family.  The kids all played with their girls who were 13, 11 and 10 while we visited inside.  Krista & Tracy disappeared for a little bit, and D’Arcy went outside to check on the kids.  Olivia was just on her way in to find us.  She was happy to play inside with their dog, Razor, a cock-a-poo with an insatiable desire to catch balls.

The next thing we knew, out came Tracy & Wade with the (semi- frozen) head of a HUGE cod that Krista had caught earlier in the week, a so’wester and some Newfoundland Screech.  They then began to make us honorary Newfoundlanders by “Screeching us In”.  We had to wear the hat, and when Wade asked us if we were honorary Newfoundlanders, we had to say, “Yes I is me old cock – and long may your big jib draw!”  Then we had to kiss the cod fish and take a shot of Screech.  I was wishing at that point that I got to drink the Screech first!!  Both D’Arcy & I did it, and then it was Wade’s sister-in-law Ana who was visiting from Calgary’s turn.  After that, each of our boys performed the whole ritual, and the girls just drank the “Screech” (Purity Syrup for all of them!) There was no way they were going to kiss that fish! It was great fun and we were happy that we had come back out, despite being tired.

D'Arcy, kissing the cod

Alex, looking hesitant...

Evan was next.

The girls with their "Screech" - no way they were going to kiss a fish!

The whole family of honorary Newfoundlanders!

Back at Krista & Stefan’s cabin, we got the air mattresses and sleeping backs set up and went to bed after midnight.  Sarah slept with Lily and the rest of us slept in the living room.  D’Arcy got up early and went for a run, but the rest of us slept until 9:35 a.m.  We had a light breakfast of cereal and yogurt and then got ready to go to the community hall for the Terra Nova Day celebrations.

Usually the celebrations are held outside, but because it was so cold and wet, they held it in Eddie Eastman Hall.  He hails from Terra Nova and both of his Junos are on display at the Hall.  The volunteers had games set up for the kids like bowling, golf, hit the balloon with the dart, a fishing pond, bean bag toss, etc.  Each game was 50 cents to play and the kids were given a Dollar Store Prize at each one. What a fun way to spend the morning!  We had lunch there as well – hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, and smoked meat sandwiches.  A meal and drink was just $2 each!  We played a couple more games after lunch and then went back to the cabin to get a few things ready for supper before heading back out for the afternoon.

One of Eddie Eastman's Junos.

We came all the way to Newfoundland for Montreal smoked meat!

Our first stop in Terra Nova Park was at Ochre Hill, where we set out to climb to the top of the fire tower.  We got about two flights up and froze.  I had visions of the girls falling through the open risers and led them back down.  D’Arcy got up another flight further than I did, but it was windy and he also quickly made his way back down.  Stefan took our boys and went up the fire tower as far as they could go.  Alex froze at one point, but I have to give him credit – when Evan and Stefan kept climbing, he went too.  The views were spectacular, I’m sure.  (They were even from the second flight!)  We continued along the trail and set the cameras up on timers to try to get a group photo with the ten of us.  We were amazed at how well it turned out and had some laughs as D’Arcy & Stefan tried to scramble down the rocks before the timer went off!

The fire watch tower

The view from the second landing!

Olivia, Gabriel, Lily & Sarah - do you think Olivia's having fun?

Checking out the view with a little help!

The two families together

After Ochre Hill, we drove to the Information Centre to warm up and play in the touch tank.  Krista works at the park, so she was a wonderful tour guide!  The biology teacher in D’Arcy came out and he was teaching the kids all kinds of information about the sea creatures.  They had a lot of fun exploring – Olivia picked up a starfish and Alex was even brave enough to pick up a crab!  The park staff put on a video for the kids of Buddy Washisname and the Other Fellows exploring Terra Nova Park and searching for Moose.  We spent some time at the playground and then went on another hike with a GPS which told the story of people who had worked the land at the site of the park in the early 1900’s.  They were loggers & ran sawmills, but fished all summer.

The real iceburgs were too far north, so we haven't seen any

Touch Tank

Alex and the crab

The biology teacher emerges

Sarah the acrobat

The boys

Poor Olivia - not having any fun at all!

We decided we still had time and energy to fit in one more short hike, so we drove to a trail which ran along a brook to a waterfall.  It was a trail that Krista had hiked in September to assess damage from Hurricane Igor.  Everywhere we’ve been in the past few days, we’ve seen signs of the destruction and rebuilding from the Hurricane.  There are new culverts being built everywhere!

The waterfall was beautiful and we took the opportunity to get a few more photos taken.  The kids loved throwing rocks into the water and we found some moose droppings!  We still haven’t seen an actual moose yet though.

Some of the trees down from Hurricane Igor

With Krista

Playing at the water's edge

Fast friends!

The only sign of moose so far!

We noticed the bear warning on our way out...

We went back and the girls played outside on the trampoline while the boys played Uno with Gabriel.  When the boys joined the girls on the trampoline, the arguments started and the trampoline time was over.   Tracy, Wade & their girls arrived, bringing traditional Newfoundland “cooked dinner” (Salt beef, carrots, turnip, cabbage & potatoes) complete with Peas Pudding!  It was delicious – and safe for Olivia!!

Deep frying the turkey

Trampoline fun!

After supper, the adults sat around the table talking & laughing while the kids played and did crafts.  Evan, Alex & Wade played a game of crib together and the boys both skunked him!  Apparently Stefan will be bringing this up many times in the future…  Olivia ended up falling asleep in the midst of the chaos and the rest of the kids watched a movie while Olivia slept on Alex’s lap.

The infamous crib game!

Crafts!

Safe & cozy with Alex

It was close to midnight again when everyone finally got to bed, but what a fun day.  The kids love hiking and exploring outside.  Evan declared the day to be “awesome”.  The Muellers are very easy to be around and we enjoyed meeting and getting to know their friends as well.

Our final morning in Terra Nova, we got up after nine again.  Krista & Stefan made breakfast of strawberries & yogurt, toast, potato wedges, bacon and fried bologna while we got the van packed up.  After breakfast we went outside to plant the trees that we had picked up the day before at Terra Nova Days.  Olivia had a meltdown when we allowed Alex to help her dig her hole.  We were certainly seeing signs of late-night hangover from her!  We got photos of the kids with the trees and we’ll look forward to seeing how big they are the next time we are able to return. We said our goodbyes with hugs all around.  Hopefully they will be coming back to Nova Scotia next summer to meet their new niece or nephew and we’ll get to see them then.

Planting trees

We set off just before noon and went to find one of the geocaches hidden in Terra Nova.  We were hardly out of the yard when Olivia asked if she could take a nap.  We gave the kids the option of staying in the car if they were too tired to go, but they all jumped at the opportunity.  We hiked across a bridge and about a kilometre down a trail.  We went out onto a beach and realized we were on the wrong side of the water.  The girls, again, occupied themselves by throwing rocks into the water while the boys searched through the bushes.  By the time we went around to join them, the boys had already found the cache!  We took a Canada Flag lapel pin and left the glass traffic light and another business card – wondering if we can write the trip off as an advertising expense now?! Evan ran all the way back to the van while the girls took turns getting piggy-backed by their father.  Olivia announced that she needed to go to the bathroom, so we took the quick trip back to Krista & Stefan’s, knowing that the next gas station was quite a distance away.  After all, they did tell us that we were welcome to come back at any time!

Exploring parts of Newfoundland we might not have otherwise seen!

We had more hugs, got a bag of strawberries for the road, and said our goodbyes before heading out towards St. John’s and our next adventures!

Although I have been sleeping well in the tent, I have to admit that it felt good to sleep in a bed and have a hot shower this morning!  I was the first one up – around 6:30.  I got up to finish adding photos to the blog.  The internet was spotty and taking a long time, so I had given up last night.  Because I don’t have to look at the computer to type, I’ve been multi-tasking and typing in Word while we drive and then copy & paste then add the photos.   Isn’t technology great?!  If I don’t write it down right away, I forget everything that’s happened…

Everyone got up around eight and we had breakfast and got cleaned up.  We repacked a fair bit of our stuff, putting our camping stove, etc. at the bottom of the trunk, since we won’t be using it anymore. Packing & unpacking for six people is a lot of work!  We were finally ready for the day’s adventures around 10:30.

As we were trying to get out the door, we realized that Sarah’s sneakers were still soaked from last night. We stopped at the bank to get some cash and I ran into the discount store to pick her up a pair of crocs.  We were planning more hiking and geocaching and her flip-flops would not cut it!

The rain had stopped, but the wind was bitter.  I think the temperature is only 12C, and when the wind is blowing off the ocean, it cuts right through your clothing.  We went to Dungeon Provincial Park which was amazing. As we drove up the road, there were horses, roaming wild, and grazing in the pasture.  There are two geocache sites there. The first was to calculate the diameter of the dungeon.  D’Arcy & the boys did it by walking around measuring their paces and then using a calculation to find the circumference of a circle to find the diameter.  (One of those times it’s handy to have a math teacher along…)  The girls and I wandered along, staying away from the edge!

The Dungeons

Learning about how the Dungeons were formed. Sarah is loving any interpretive signs, now that she can read!

Trying to figure out the Math

So beautiful and rugged

A tender moment

Olivia's "Clubhouse"

The Dungeons, NL

Geocaching

Geocaching - the cache we finally gave up on.

We never did find the second one.  Evan & Sarah gave up and went back to the van to read and get warm.  D’Arcy thinks he knows where it is, but the kids (and I) were nervous about him getting too close to the edge of the cliffs.

From the Dungeon, we went back to the Bonavista Lighthouse.  My father gave Sarah some spending money for the trip and she was determined to buy postcards.  We were also hoping to see some whales now that the fog had lifted.  As we drove up to the lighthouse, we could see the whales spouting in the water.  In the parking lot, a couple from British Columbia told us that there were five whales playing.  We climbed up to the top of a rock and there turned out to be a whole pod of whales, probably a dozen, spouting and breeching.  It was fun to watch and the kids were excited.  A family from Saskatchewan were there and told us that the whales were feeding on capelin.  When the kids got tired & cold, we went into the gift shop and Sarah found postcards – a package of ten for $5.00.  You’d think she won the lottery!

Two of the whales in Bonavista

Bonavista Lighthouse

We had a late lunch of leftover pizza and chocolate milk in the van before going to see the replica of the “Matthew”, the ship that Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) sailed on and landed in the New World.  While we were there, D’Arcy had a call from St. Pierre Tours to tell us that the mail had been delivered, but Alex’s passport wasn’t with it.  We went to the library to find a C@P site so that D’Arcy could try to track the package.  He was able to call someone at Canada Post who told him that it will be delivered today by courier.  We are trying not to panic.

Model describing The Matthew

Description of John Cabot landing at Bonavista

Exploring The Matthew

Alex

In the Galley

On our way out of Bonavista, we stopped at the Old Bonavista Boardwalk for a final geocache.  The boardwalk runs 1km around a pond.  The girls were excited to see ducks, since they’ve been keeping a “wildlife list”.  We all got out of the van and searched for the geocache, but it was D’Arcy who found it.  For this one, we took out a glass traffic light charm and left a small toy turtle.  The kids think this game is great fun – and so do we!  What could be better?  We’re outside, working together as a team, using our brains to solve problems and – best of all – it’s free!

More geocaching

Ducks!

Found it!

From Bonavista, we drove to Terra Nova to stay with our friends Krista & Stefan at their cabin.  Their children, Gabriel & Lily are the same ages as Sarah & Olivia.  They stayed with us just last week on their way home from a vacation in New England, so the girls had been asking how long it would be until we get to go to Gabriel & Lily’s?  We’re all looking forward to having two nights in the same place and having a great visit!