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Driving, ferry, more driving...hooray, we're here!!!!

July 10

The journey begins...M had the best setup, with her nest of pillows in the back seat!

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After a round of big hugs with Sara, we left our house around 4pm, allowing six hours for the drive to North Sydney. Check in was at 10pm for the 11:30 ferry, and we wanted to have time to stop for supper and stretch our legs along the way. Good thing we didn't cut it right close because our crossing was bumped up to 11pm, and check in moved to 9:30. Now I don't really know how strict they are with the "check in 90 minutes before crossing or we'll give away your reservation and you'll have to go on a waiting list for the next ferry" policy, but...I wasn't about to take any chances - I wanted to be there on time! In the end, we drove straight through to North Sydney without stopping, which was about a four hour drive. Saw a black bear on the side of the road near Pomquet, Antigonish County. Very cool. The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful though. We got to N. Sydney and went to the local Subway for a bite to eat, then joined the queue for the ferry. We were on board the boat by 8:30pm, so had tons of time to spare and were able to settle in for the night long before the boat sailed.


Farewell to Nova Scotia (North Sydney harbour from the ferry):
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The crossing took close to seven hours. I didn't really sleep, although suppose I likely dozed off a couple times during the night. M and Dave seemed to get a decent sleep though. But I was so full of excitement and adrenalin that the lack of sleep didn't slow me down at all!

July 11

M watching the sunrise from the ferry deck (around 5 am):
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Hello Newfoundland!! (Port aux Basques harbour from the ferry):
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I started out in the driver's seat on the way from the ferry to Val's house, but I took one little photo out the window while driving and Dave made me pull over so he could drive. Seems he didn't care much for my multi-tasking! Go figure...
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The scenery in Newfoundland most definitely did not disappoint!! I wasn't expecting it to be so mountainous (you'd think I would have known that from watching the tourism ads, but somehow it still took my breath away!) I wrote this in my journal as we drove:

"The landscape continues to amaze me. I feel the wildness of the land, the untamed immensity. A sense of the history of those who first survived in this place rushes through me. I am impressed, inspired, awestruck, deeply respectful of their strength and tenacity for settling here. I can see why people love this place with a fiercely rooted love. Adversity really can create such strong bonds. I am an hour into Newfoundland and already under its spell."

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We stopped in Deer Lake for food/gas/pee break, then continued merrily on our way, with me again in the driver's seat (having promised not to try to take any more photos while driving!) The drive from the ferry to Mark and Val's house is about five hours, plus the hour's rest stop, which meant we arrived just before lunchtime. We did see one young moose on the side of the road during our drive over, the only moose I laid eyes on in spite of the fact that Nfld is well known for having a plethora of moose...not that I'm bitter or anything! lol

We had no trouble at all finding the house from Valerie's directions. And wow, what a gorgeous spot, no wonder Mark and Valerie love it here, it truly is a piece of paradise as they both described! The house is the one she grew up in, and is right on the banks of the Exploits River. The water is literally just a stone's throw from the house...the view across the river is spectacular...and dragonflies abound around the house and beach...kingfishers and loons and bunnies put in appearances as well.
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Wooohoooo!!!! We're here!!! Shame we were not more excited, isn't it? ;)
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We arrived to find Mark and Kees (Mark's best friend) in the yard but no sign of Valerie or K...Mark had no idea where Valerie was, but thought K had popped over to her cousin's place, which is nearly next door. And sure enough, just a minute or two later, K returned. Still no sign of Valerie. Hmph, went my inner child, apparently my best friend isn't as excited to see me as I am to see her. Someone caught my pouting inner child moment on film...too funny.
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As it turned out, Valerie was just down on the beach...no doubt if I'd yelled, she would have heard me. It was so great to see her again. M and I quickly put on our bathing suits too, and we went for a swim, followed by a stroll down the beach, talking and enjoying being together...we wandered down to "the channel", which is the mouth of Rattling Brook, that feeds into the Exploits. The banks are compressed sawdust from a mill upstream (hasn't been in use for years though) and the water was cool and refreshing.
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Dave didn't swim (or even don a pair of shorts the whole vacation, crazy man!) but what a lovely spot he found to sit and contemplate life, the universe and everything!
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After supper there was a brief rain shower and then a gorgeous double rainbow appeared, and hung in the sky for a half hour or longer.
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Mark struck a pose with the rainbow coming out of his hand...not to be outdone, Valerie held up both hands with a rainbow coming from each...and then Mark pretended it was coming out of his beer bottle...and the rest of us just cracked up, while Kees captured this goofiness with his camera. I so need copies of his photos!

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As the evening wore on, and the sun began to set...
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We gathered around a bonfire, made by Valerie's brother-in-law, Cal (he and Val's sister Juanita, aka "J", live just next door - actually in the "woohoo, we're here" photo above, J's house is the grey one in the background, and the white building is Valerie's cabin, where she and Mark sleep instead of in the house...it used to be her dad's woodshed years ago.) Here is Kees relaxing by the blaze:
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And standing on the bank, admiring the glorious sunset:
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Best friends with two wonderful weeks of shared family vacation stretched out ahead of us...yup, I'll drink to that!!
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Comments (16)

What a beautiful place. Your photos are gorgeous! Pretty incredible to ride a ferry for that long. I love the name Exploits River!

Glad you got to see a moose!

P.S. Forgot to say, awesome double rainbows!

Anne:

Thanks Annie, it truly is a stunning place. I like the name Exploits too. Nfld is full of great place names - one of my faves is "Leading Tickles", although we didn't get there this time...oh well, maybe next year! And thank goodness I don't have to go down in history as the only person ever to visit Newfoundland and NOT see at least one moose!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Anne, Welcome back! Wow I enjoyed looking at all of your wonderful photos! Great description of your trip over to New Foundland. What a beautiful and peaceful place to live. Your inner child pouting photo made me smile. :)

It was fun to read about your excitement, to see two good friends and their family together having a good time and to learn about this beautiful part of the world.

Thank you so much for sharing. I am looking forward to reading more about your trip. Have a great day today.

Anne:

Thanks Kathy, I too laughed when I saw the pouting photo! I totally get why Valerie is always looking forward to returning here each summer, it's heavenly. I can't wait to go back myself! I'm liking the idea of posting an entry for each day, will be a great way for me to relive the experience down the road.

What a fun first day in Newfoundland! The photos are stunning. I love the silhouette photos taken at sunrise and sunset and the double rainbow photo. I have only seen a double one twice and don’t know why but both times they took my breath away. I can only imagine how amazing it was to see them in such a stunning place.

Your pouting photo is priceless! I can’t wait to read more about your vacation and see your fabulous photos.

p.s. Love your new profile photo!

Anne:

Ah Maria, a double rainbow on our first evening in this amazing spot was a harbinger of things to come. What a delightful vacation we had with our dear friends. (They might be sorry they ever introduced us to their stunning Nfld retreat, though - they'll never be rid of us now! Muahahahaha...)

The profile pic is one Valerie took in Little Harbour, which is where her maternal ancestral homestead was...very cool to share her history ♥

Welcome back and it is great to hear you had wonderful vacation and reunion. Your pictures really show the beauty of the island. I love the sunset shot. I had to go look it up on a map. I didn't realize it was so far that you had to do an overnight ferry.

I'm looking forward to reading (and seeing) more.

sandrac:

Anne, your photos are wonderful! I didn't realize that one needed to book ahead to take the ferry, but of course that makes sense -- there would be a lot of traffic, especially this time of year!

I love your new sidebar photo.

And I loved your headline: Farewell to Nova Scotia. This will sound ridiculous, but that song brings tears to my eyes every time! I vividly remember Catherine McKinnon singing it on Don Messer's Jubilee on CBC (my Dad loved that show, although you might be too young to remember it!)

Anne:

Marta, it is a surprising distance, isn't it?! I hadn't thought about it before travelling there myself. There's another ferry route to the other side of Nfld that takes roughly 14 hours! So our 7 hour trip's not so bad by comparison. Great that there are overnight crossings, too. We took an afternoon one back, and I'll not intentionally do that again...really messed up my sleep!

Sandra, I wouldn't have known to reserve in advance either if Val hadn't told us. I think it's mostly the cabins that get sold out, but not sure. There are also public lounges with chairs similar to airplane or train seats, so lots of people just use those instead of cabins. I liked having a cabin myself.

I love that song too. Yes, I do remember Catherine McKinnon and Don Messer. When I was little, I used to watch Singalong Jubilee with my grandparents! Good times :)

Anne,
Your photos are just gorgeous! The place looks so wonderful!I love that double rainbow!

Anne:

Thanks Candi, it really is a wonderful place, and doubly so to share it with dear friends.

nancyhol:

What great photos!

It sounds like this first day there was everything you had imagined and more.

Looking forwarding to reading about the rest of your adventures.

Anne:

You're right Nancy, it definitely was all that and more. What an amazing vacation!

This was so much fun reading about your travel to Val's house. It certainly is a long trek! Gorgeous photos!! I can see why she loves it so much!! (and you too :)

Anne:

girasoli, I fell in love with this lovely, peaceful place. Definitely intend to go back, hopefully next summer, and the one after that, and... ;)

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