Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer Cruise to the Head

Each year we take our 24' Bayliner out of the chuck (ocean) and bring her up the lake for a winter in fresh water. There are several advantages in doing this. The fresh water is good for the hull and every other exposed and internal part, the growth of algae and sea critters is brought to a screeching halt, and we have a bigger boat for lake cruises and for an added measure of safety during rough winter water.

This weekend we took the Bayliner for a summer cruise to the head of Powell Lake. Powell Lake is a glacial carved fjord that is 51 kilometres (32 miles) long with 480 kilometres (300 miles) of shoreline. From our cabin at Hole in the Wall it about 36 kilometres (22 miles) to the head. Our first stop was the logging dock. We hiked through the log sort and found it full of fresh cut trees ready to be dumped into the lake for transport. We were surprised to see so much action because of the summer and economic slowdown.

Next we passed through the camp built by Plutonic Power to support the construction of hydro lines from their run-of-river project in the Toba Valley. We continued up the logging road to the bridge that spans the Daniels River. During dry summer months, this is the main source of water for the lake. As you can see from the exposed stumps, the input isn't keeping up with evaporation and the outflow at the dam.

We then took the Bayliner to the east side of the large bay and anchored where we would catch the last rays of the setting sun. There aren't many places on this steep sided lake where you can anchor, but we found one near Jim Brown Creek. We lowered Mr. Bathtub (our dinghy) and paddled to shore for a hike up another logging road. On the way we found tracks from elk reintroduced here last year. It's good to see they are flourishing in the lush environment.

After a refreshing swim, we headed back for a shipboard BBQ of chicken and sausages. And boy was I hungry. The weather was warm and calm all night. Just a gentle rock and lapping sound on the hull. On our way back home in the morning, we saw lots of people enjoying the lake. Some were at their cabins, others camping along the shore. There's still a bit of summer left, so why don't you join Wayne and I up the lake. -- Margy

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Night of the Woodrat

Looks like fall is coming early this year. Typically, it's October before Mr. Woodrat appears. That brings to mind a funny story I call "The Night of the Woodrat." The second year we had our float cabin, I was able to go up the lake by myself the week before Thanksgiving. Even though I grew up in Los Angeles, I had lots of experience outdoors and camping. I was confident my solo trip would be a piece of cake.

Sleeping upstairs in the cabin's loft is usually peaceful and quiet. I built a fire in the wood stove to keep warm and turned in early to read. Before long, I drifted off, only to be roused by a racket downstairs. I keep a flashlight next to the bed, so I grabbed it and looked over the railing. At first there was no sound and nothing in sight. Then the quick scurrying of little feet caught my attention and a small furry critter scampered out of the darkness to appear at the foot of the stairs. There, as bold as could be, staring up at me was a woodrat (packrat). His large dark eyes and perky round ears were inquisitive, and his bushy tail twitched up and down with excitement. Now I must admit, as comfortable as I am with nature, sleeping in confined quarters with a small rodent isn't high on my bucket list.

My first thought was, how in the world did he get indoors. My second thought was, how in the world was I going to get him back outdoors. I cautiously climbed downstairs and opened the sliding glass door. Of course, he didn't cooperate and exit on cue. I tried chasing him, but he avoided going anywhere near the door. Then I thought I was so smart. I piled firewood into a barricade to encourage him out on his next circuit of the living room wall. I tiptoed behind and chased him back towards the open door. But he ran right on past and over the wall like an Olympic high jumper. By now I was pretty tired and exasperated. On his next pass from the kitchen back to living room, he stopped at the wood stove, dove underneath and up inside. That did it. I left the sliding door open and went back to bed. I figured if he wanted to be indoors that bad, I could share my abode for one night.

The next morning there was no sign of Mr. Woodrat. I'm sure he wasn't a dream (nightmare?) because the sliding glass door was open, it was a chilly 10 degrees inside, and there was firewood stacked in a tall pile leading to the doorway.

Each year, Mr. (or Mrs.) Woodrat has returned when there gets to be a chill in the evening air and the leaves begin to turn. He hasn't come inside again, but loves to harvest my flowers and vegetables for his winter stores. He also likes to set up house in our wood shed. Neither of these activities are appreciated, so we use our Havahart live trap to catch and relocate our occasional bushy-tailed visitors. Last year there were three. So far this year, the count is one. Hopefully it will be the last. -- Margy

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Powell River Turns Out for a Star Party

Tonight was the second Star Party hosted by Powell River Books at the Town Centre Hotel in Powell River, BC. Wayne (with a little help from me) set up two telescopes in the hotel's courtyard. The goal was to introduce people to astronomy and the availability of affordable telescopes. The Star Party was part of our contribution to the International Year of Astronomy. Around the world, amateur and professional astronomers have been hosting similar events.

The moon slipped below the horizon before darkness set in, so we set up Wayne's more powerful Meade LX90 to focus on Jupiter. Jupiter is currently as close as it gets to the earth, and viewing is excellent. The four largest moons were lined up in a row, and the bands were quite evident. Thanks to the computer driven controllers on today's modern scopes, we were able to easily find and track the evenings best celestial objects.

Participants of all ages had a good time, and they especially enjoyed their free commemorative hand painted constellation paper weights. Wayne and I want to thank Shelly, the manager of the Town Centre Hotel, for her ongoing support of events like these and Powell River Books.

Wayne is an enthusiastic amateur astronomer. He has three telescopes, a Meade ETX125 (125 millimeter) Maksutov-Cassegrain, a Meade LX90 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain, and a Edmond Astroscan (for fun). For newbie amateurs astronomers, here are a few of his recommendations:

I am amazed at how dark and clear the sky can be here in Powell River. It's a perfect location for night sky exploration, even from the corner of our float cabin up Powell Lake.

Do you have a favourite night sky viewing spot? Let us hear about it. -- Margy

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Available Online - Echo of a Distant Planet

by Wayne J. Lutz

How would a distant intelligence contact earth? Shawna is an Air Force officer with remembrances of the future. Trapped in a structured military world, her unearthly memories persist for nearly three decades, culminating in a message from the stars. Meanwhile, on a distant planet, alien life is struggling to communicate with life on earth. Shawna is their target. The author of six books in the series Coastal BC Stories ventures into an exciting new genre, military aviation science fiction, where the C-130 Hercules is the biggest hero. Click here for a look inside.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Three's a Charm

Early in July, I wrote about the tragedy that struck our Barn Swallow nesting pair in And Then There Were None. All five chicks were either pushed or fell to their deaths from their nest under the peak of our cabin roof.

On July 12, I wrote a Barn Swallow Update in which we built a "safety net" for future chicks. Shortly after, Wayne and I left for our vacation trip to Newfoundland. When we returned to the cabin last week, we were greeted by our nesting pair and the chirping voices of three new chicks. We were amazed at how big they were already.

The other thing we noticed was how crumbly the nest appeared. This is its second season, and the second brood this year. The dry weather and heavy use was really affecting its stability. Yesterday morning when I went out to check on the chicks, the nest had broken loose on one side. One chick was still clinging to the left side, but the other two were nowhere to be seen.

Wayne went up on the ladder, but there were no little bodies on the pad (thank goodness). The mother returned to the one chick several times. She would land on his back and give a nudge with both of her feet, like she was encouraging him to fly. After watching for a while, I went inside to cook breakfast. When I returned, the last chick was gone. The broken nest may have accelerated the three chicks' flying lessons, but it wasn't the disaster it could have been.

The family spent the morning soaring, gliding and dipping into the water for tasty insect treats. Later in the day, the three chick returned to the cabin porch to rest together. Then this morning, they ventured out as a team to the swim ladder. It has been lots of fun watching them. I hope Mom and Dad return next year and rebuild the nest, only a bit stronger this time. -- Margy

Friday, August 21, 2009

Summer Skies

This summer has been unusually sunny, hot and dry here in British Columbia. There is obviously an up side to this. The weather is good for camping, outdoor activities, tourism and, of course, heading up the lake. The down side is disastrous fires in the interior. Here on the west coast we've been both careful and lucky.

Summer brings some pretty interesting clouds. Here are a two captures from our cabin in Hole in the Wall on Powell Lake. The first is some high altitude cirrocumulus clouds. They looked just like puffs of cotton floating in a bright blue sea.

The second is high altitude "mare's tails," icy cirrus clouds blown wispy by winds in the troposphere. I just love watching the changing skies. -- Margy

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Strawberry Refrigerator Jam

When I got back to the cabin, my strawberry plants were loaded and there were lots of over ripe berries. I hated to throw them away, so I decided to experiment with some easy refrigerator jam.

Small Batch
Strawberry Refrigerator Jam

1 cup mashed strawberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar

I picked, cleaned and mashed all of the over ripe berries. I then added some less ripe berries to bring the mashed mixture up to one cup. Actually, my recipe book recommended this as a way to elevate the natural pectin content. Then I added one tablespoon of lemon juice and one cup of sugar.

I gently heated the mixture in a heavy pot until the sugar was dissolved. Then I cooked it at a rolling boil until the candy thermometer reached 220º F (104º C). It cooked down a bit, but was still quite liquid. When it was cooled, it was still slightly runny, but oh so tasty! I put the jam in a sterilized jar, but did not complete the canning process. This jam is for immediate consumption and will be kept under refrigeration until gone.

I do want to try some real canning in the future, but for now this was a successful experiment with gustatory rewards. - Margy

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ride to Elephant Lakes

Today, Wayne and I came to town for a quad ride. The weather was warm, just perfect for riding. Thanks to a new quad trails book written by Dave, the president of the Powell River ATV Club, we feel more comfortable striking out on our own.

For today's ride we chose the Elephant Lakes Loop. Heading south on Highway 101 we exited on Stillwater Main (the first dirt road on the left after the bridge over the Lois River/Eagle Creek). At .9 km we turned right on Lois Main Forest Service Road (FSR) Branch 1 and found a wide turnout to park our truck and trailer.

This is a popular road to the Powell River Forest Canoe Route launch site and campground. We popped in to take a look and there were lots of people enjoying the lake and camping. Back on Branch 1 we continued to the junction with Lois Main FSR Branch 3 (at 3.9 km). Just after the junction you will see a road sign to confirm that you are on course. Ride on Branch 3 for another 5.1 km to an intersection. Continue straight ahead and you are on the Elephant Lakes Loop.

The trail follows old logging roads. There are lots of trees and it's cool underneath the green canopy. We did pretty well using the guide, but also had our Garmin Oregon 300 GPS with the topo maps installed. Several times we stopped to make sure we were on the right road. We made one wrong turn, but we got back on course after a quick lunch break next to the Sunshine Coast (hiking) Trail.

As you climb into alpine country, the road narrows and gets rocky. We turned off at the Sunshine Coast Trail marker pointing to Saltery Bay. The short spur ends at the hiking trail the follows the lake shore. We parked our bikes and hiked in for a ways. The foliage still had dew drops on the leaves late in the afternoon. And all along the path there were blueberry bushes with plump berries. I tasted a few, and they are almost ready to pick. Rather than continue on the loop, we back tracked to our truck.

This map is an example from the ATV Trail Guide for Powell River BC. Each trail has a written description, level of difficulty and GPS coordinates. If you would like one, stop by the Powell River Books booth at the Blackberry Street Fair on Friday, August 21, from 6:00-9:00 pm. Dave will be there to answer any questions you have about the ATV Club or Trail Guide. And a good complement to the Trail Guide would be Wayne's book Up the Main. See you there! - Margy

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Coming Home

I flew 3,992 nautical in an airliner, traveled 364 miles on a ferry, and drove 4,096 kilometres only to come home to Powell River BC to the most beautiful sunsets of all.

There's no place like home.

It's so good to be home, well almost! -- Margy

Monday, August 10, 2009

Camping by Airliner

That may sound a bit funny, but that's just what we did this last week. We loaded our tent, air mattresses, sleeping bags and other camp gear in duffel bags and flew by West Jet from Vancouver to Montreal to start a 10-day Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland camping trip.

This is the second time we've done it, and both trips were very successful. It's more economical than staying in motels and hotels. But more than that, we prefer camping as a way to get to see and experience new places. Flying to a distant location maximizes the time you can spend in your desired location, rather than spending most of your vacation driving to get there.

Here are some tips if you want to try it yourself:

Preparations
:

  • Make airline reservations well in advance to get the best deals.
  • Our camp gear and clothes fit in four duffel bags (2@24" & 2@28") and two backpacks.
  • Check with the airline for bag limits. We got 2 checked and 2 carry-on each.
  • Even though they weren't heavy, a cart at the airport made bag dragging easier.
  • Check with your airline for good deals on car rental.
  • Choose a vehicle with room to spread out wet items to dry while driving. We got a small SUV by accident and found it indispensable.
  • Rent a vehicle with unlimited miles if you are taking a long trip.
  • If you have a GPS with road maps, take it. If not, rent with the vehicle. Ours helped us out immensely.
  • Buy a travel guide and map for planning, then stop at tourist information centres once you arrive.
  • Make campground reservations before you leave. Most now have online services and you can cancel up to a day in advance to get a refund just like a hotel.
Camping gear we packed:
  • Small waterproof tent.
  • Small ground tarp for under the tent.
  • Two Thermarest air mattresses.
  • Two sleeping bags that stuff into small bags.
  • Two collapsible coolers and 2-gallon Ziploc bags to keep ice from leaking, one for pop and one for food.
  • Two small pillows.
  • Flashlight.
Other items we packed:
  • Clothing and personal items (1/2 duffel bag each).
  • Travel books and maps.
  • Inverters for recharging devices in the car.
  • Rechargeable reading lights.
  • Bug juice handy in the backpack.
  • Computers, cell phones, books to read, etc.
Things we bought at our destination:
  • Two inexpensive chairs that we gave away at our last camp.
  • Food and drinks for snacks and emergency meals.
  • Bottled water in large containers.
  • Lots of gas and ferry fees.
On the road:
  • Eat out (taste the local fare) or fix simple meals rather than elaborate cooking.
  • At least one motel stop for a shampoo is nice, but many campgrounds have showers.
  • There are enough free hotspots to stay connected.
We're already planning a return trip in the near future. But next time we'll fly directly to Newfoundland. The airfare is higher, but our costs for six days of travel to get there will be eliminated.

If you have any questions, I'd be glad to answer them here or via e-mail. And for your next camping trip, take an airliner. -- Margy

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Day 10: Back to the Beginning

Today we drove from Riviere du Loup back to Montreal


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At the Riviere du Loup Camping Municipal de la Pointe campground we stumbled onto the Pleins Feux sur la Pointe that was held at the park. We went to bed with music and a DJ (English tunes, French DJ). Then at about 10:30 the fireworks started. They were SPECTACULAR and we could see them from inside our tent!

We took an alternate route, Highway 20, following the south side of the St. Lawrence River to Montreal. It's nice when you can take a circle route and see different country.

We fly out of Montreal Trudeau International Airport early in the morning, so we are staying at the Courtyard Montreal Airport again. We've come full circle. This has been a great vacation. Even with all the driving, it has been a leisurely trip.

Here are some of my reflections:

  • It's a long but beautiful drive from Montreal to Newfoundland and back.
  • Everyone in Quebec made us feel welcome, even with us speaking English.
  • There are more people living in the Maritime Provinces than I thought.
  • Nova Scotia has lots of small family farms with cows, hay and produce.
  • Newfoundland was my favourite province to visit.
  • Even though the waits were long, the ferry rides to/from Port-aux-Basques were fun.
  • Sit in airline seats at the back of Atlantic Vision's Deck 8. Hurry, they fill quick.
  • The MV Caribou is older but has much better seating. A cabin isn't necessary.
  • The highlight of the trip for me was Gros Morne National Park.
  • Stop in small fishing villages and sample the local foods.
  • Get some hand knit socks or tuques as souvenirs.
  • Take time to hike and see the land up close.
  • Travel in August for fewer mosquitoes and no-see-ums, but still bring bug juice.
  • There are enough free hotspots to keep get connected.
Thanks for following our trip to the Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland. We are going to come back for more of Newfoundland and Labrador. -- Margy

FREE HOTSPOT WATCH: Free "wired" Internet at the Courtyard Montreal Airport. It's a good thing to carry a cable just in case.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Day 9: Byway Bypass

Today we headed to our last camping stop in Riviere du Loup, Quebec, before heading back to Montreal.


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We followed our previous course in reverse along scenic Highway 14 to Trans Canada Highway 2 in Truro, Nova Scotia. To break up the monotony of driving on the same roads, we took a scenic byway into Fredericton. It followed the St. John River all the way. It's very wide in some sections, but narrows somewhat as you near town. It looks like a great boating place with water almost slow enough to be almost lake-like.

If you remember, Fredericton is a free wireless town. Wayne and I headed back to Wilmot Park to check e-mail and upload a post using their Fred-e-Zone. It took about an hour and gave us a good break in a long driving day.

Highway 2 changed names at the border between New Brunswick and Quebec to Highway 185. It also changed from a four lane divided highway to a two land road with lots of construction. But it was still pretty easy driving. With Wayne and I taking turns, it isn't so bad having 8-10 hour days.

We arrived at Riviere du Loup before 5:00 and checked into Camping Municipal de la Pointe. It is a nice park at the edge of town near the ferry terminal on the St. Lawrence River.

We have been pleasantly surprised with all the help we've received as English speakers in this French speaking province. We feared the worst, but have found the best. And they even have wireless access right in the camping area. Not bad, but I have to quit before the mosquitoes eat me alive! -- Margy

FREE HOTSPOT WATCH: Fred-e-Zone is Fredericton NB's free citywide wireless service and we enjoyed using it again on our return trip. Our Riviere du Loup campground Camping Municipal de la Pointe has wireless right to the campsite.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Day 8: Long Rides and Big Tides

Today we started our trip back south heading from North Sydney to the world famous Bay of Fundy.


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We left North Sydney too early to stop for "The Best Tasting Chicken on the Island" (Cape Breton) at the Lick-a-Chick Restaurant in Bras D'Or. We saw it on our way north, but didn't have the time then either. You could smell the chicken cooking all the way out on the highway. The adjacent Lick-a-Cone didn’t look half bad either. Too bad, but we were looking for a breakfast stop.

We pulled off the road at Baddeck along the Bras d’Or Lake. This is a long lake that is open to the ocean at both ends. There’s a marina here with large sailboats and cruisers. We walked down to the docks and then up the street to the Yellow Cello Café. It had a good business going, but we got a table inside and our breakfast was ready in no time. Benneck has two claims to fame. In 1885, Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mabel discovered Baddeck and built a summer home here where they lived until their death in 1922. It is also the birthplace of Canadian powered aviation with the Silver Dart. Now it looks to be cottage country. Busy little place, then and now!

Our drive today is backtracking down Cape Breton on Highway 105 to the Canso Causeway. We had to stop and wait for the bridge to close after three boats made it through the canal. After we junctioned with Highway 102 towards Halifax we decided to try a byway instead. We turned onto Highway 14, a two lane road through farming country. The crops of choice are hay and corn. There were also some dairies along the way. Here they bale their hay in rounds covered in plastic. It they sit in the green fields like giant white caterpillars.

The coastal plain continues to be farm country. We saw vegetables such as broccoli, potatoes, onions, more corn and of course hay. The farms are small family operations with a house and barn near the road. Periodically there’s a small village with minimal services such as a general store and possibly a gas pump. Churches are important here. As you gaze across the green fields you will see a spire rising in the distance.


At Highway 101 (no relation to our west coast Highway 101 that starts in Lund), we turned west for the Bay of Fundy. We decided to stop for an early dinner in Wolfville. This is the location of Acadia University. It has a restored downtown with quaint restaurants and shops. We ate at Paddy’s Brew Pub. Since it was Wayne’s turn to drive, I had their Annapolis Valley Ales. It was smooth and rich, just the way I like it. We grazed on appies and then headed out to the Bay of Fundy.

Just past Canning we found our campground for the night, Blomidon Provincial Park. It's located right on the Bay of Fundy, the location of the highest tides in the world. Our campground was right on the edge of the Bay of Fundy. It’s perched on a cliff of red earth with sweeping views of the bay. We had reservations, but when we checked in they were still assigning sites to drop in campers. Our site is large and protected by trees and shrubs. At least in our section of the park, you don’t feel like you’re crowded up against another camper.

We hiked the Jodrey Trail to a viewpoint overlooking the bay. The cliffs are crumbling so you couldn’t get too close. The tide was just starting to ebb, so you can’t see much difference yet. In the distance we could hear thunderclaps, but so far all we have is a chilly breeze. This is only the second time I’ve had to wear my jacket on the trip. Think I’ll get in the tent and snuggle down in my warm, cozy sleeping bag. -- Margy

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Day 7: Hurry Up and Wait

We left the campground to go into Port aux Basques for breakfast since we had several hours to wait for the ferry back to Nova Scotia. We ate at the Harbour Restaurant just like last night. Then we got ice and Subway sandwiches to eat later for dinner on the ferry.


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I will never again complain about BC Ferries. I know the Atlantic Vision (one of two ferries on this route) had a heating unit fire on July 29, but this is ridiculous! It’s August 6 and they’re still running about five to six hours late. And that isn’t the worst of it. Marine Atlantic ferries are just plain disorganized. We arrived 45 minutes early for our 1:00 pm “required” check in, but were turned away by an attendant on the off ramp, telling us to return in half an hour. When we finally got in, there were four entry booths, but then everyone had to merge into one line for the Canada Agricultural Inspection.

After lots of confusion on everyone’s part, we were finally given a line assignment for our two-hour wait for departure. But we know it will be later than that because the ferry was at least half an hour late on their “delayed arrival time.” Are you confused yet? I know we are, plus a little bit frustrated since we lost one of our three planned days here on the “Granite Planet” and two camping experiences.

Enough complaining. We did enjoy our brief (briefer than expected) visit to Newfoundland. We enjoyed the geology, different types of topography, sweeping ocean views, small fishing villages, food and friendly people. I even found some handmade wool socks and a toque for John. We want to return someday, but think we’ll fly direct rather than driving all the way from Montreal. The airfare will be more expensive, but cost less for ground transportation, meals, accommodations and the $278 ferry cost for two adults and a car to get here. Actually, in the end, it might be cheaper. We can spend more time in Newfoundland and then cross over to Labrador to see that province.

Because of our late arrival in Nova Scotia, we had to cancel our campground reservations for tonight. We didn’t want to backtrack into Sydney, so we are staying at the Clansman Motel in North Sydney. That’s where we ate before our departure a few days ago. It isn’t a modern establishment, but it’s well kept. Then we can get an early start to our camping destination on the Bay of Fundy. I’m excited about seeing that. It was one of the places we studied in school that really stuck out in my mind. -- Margy

FREE HOTSPOT WATCH: The Clansman Motel has three (count them) hotspots to choose from. Now my pictures are posted.

Day 6: M&N’s, But No M’s

We left Gros Morne National Park and returned to Port aux Basques, but had a few leisurely side trips today.


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After our dinner in Trout River, we headed back to the campground and set up our tent. After several nights of camping without problems, we’ve finally found the land of M&N’s, mosquitoes and no-see-ums that is. They both can drain a pint of blood and leave a nasty welt! We sat in our chairs outdoors for a little bit, but decided the best course of action was to get in the tent and close the doors. And fortunately that did the trick. We slept well with no more problems.

We took a short driving tour of Gros Morne National Park from our campground in Trout River to Rocky Harbour on the north side of the fjord called Bonne Bay. To get there, you first have to back track to Wiltondale. Glacial cut fjords abound here, but their sides are less steep than those back home in Coastal BC. Even so, they are beautiful and majestic.

We first stopped at the Tablelands to see the orange-brown rock, called peridotite, which is where a piece of the mantle layer was thrust up to the earth’s surface. It is an example of plate tectonics, and being a rock nut it was really exciting to see. About 470 million years ago two continental plates collided and the resulting fault pushed the inner earth upwards. The Tablelands is one of the most accessible examples of mantle exposure. Other rocks around the park formed from sediments that were once on the bottom of an ancient ocean that existed until 420 to 570 million years ago. Uplift and faulting twisted and raised them to form the land of today.

We stopped in Rocky Harbour for breakfast. Wayne went “normal” and I went “traditional.” I had something called toutons. They are fried bread dough. The outside was crunchy and the insides barely cooked dough, but covered in homemade Partridge Berry jam they were really tasty. If we had stayed for lunch, we could have stayed for the moose burgers. In fact, in the land of moose (over 4,800 here in the park alone), we didn’t even see one M. We even took Monsieur Argent off road a bit, but still no luck.

The drive south on T.C.H. 1 seemed quicker than up, but I guess that’s often the case when you know the route. Well, it was faster except when we got behind a “touron” in an RV! Our destination was J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park near Cape Ray, just north of Port-aux-Basques. We planned that so we could get to the ferry early, but things are still running late.

On the way to dinner in town, we took the back road to Cape Ray and went out to the lighthouse. This coast can be treacherous, and fog is an almost constant problem, especially early in the morning and late in the evening. Tonight, as we sit in camp, we can hear a foghorn sounding every few minutes.

In addition to some spectacular views of the rugged coast, Cape Ray was the site of a prehistoric Dorset Eskimo village. Wayne and I have read quite a bit about them in books about the arctic. Cape Ray was one of their most southerly sites. The Dorset came here to hunt harp seals in the early spring when they migrated to the ice floes for whelping. They also stayed into the summer to fish for salmon in the rivers and caribou in the nearby Table Mountains. Stumbling onto the display and interpretation site was pretty exciting for us.

Cape Ray is too small to have a restaurant, so we headed back to Port aux Basques to get dinner. We are traveling without cooking gear, so eating out has been simpler. Plus, we had a chance to sample some local dishes. But I think I enjoy that more than Wayne sometimes. -- Margy

FREE HOTSPOT WATCH: The Marine Atlantic ferry MV Caribou has a hotspot on board, but it's too slow to upload pictures.