adventures in the far east β€” of canada!

The Irish Loop, pt. 1

In culture, st. john's on June 16, 2009 at 2:02 am

It sounds like a crazy mix of Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms cereal, but it’s actually a popular scenic drive around the area of St. John’s.

First off–did not go see anything but the Loop, today (um, by “today” I mean Saturday, June 13. A little behind on the posts). We were advised not to–that the Loop would take some time, while The Rooms, the Geo Center, and the Basilica church are in the city. It was good advice, because while you can drive around the Irish Loop and return to St. John’s in a little over 3 hours (311 km total round trip), there’s a lot to see all along the way. So that stuff will be another adventure tomorrow.

Anyway, the Irish Loop is what my brother and I settled on with the recommendation of Karen. We wanted an out-of-city adventure, and had a tourism booklet–we found a Viking village national park thing, the only place you can find a re-created Viking settlement that is “alive”–think Heritage Park, but your heritage is full of sailors, explorers, and VIKINGS!

But it turns out Newfoundland (AND Labrador–that’s the official name, but everyone not in the province forgets that large piece of land connected to Quebec, and just call it all one thing) is a much larger province than we thought–it’s a 16 hour drive to that Viking park! 😦 St. John’s is on the Avalon Peninsula, one tip on the large island in the east, and this place was a west peninsula. Further research revealed that such a trip, to properly absorb and appreciate, was recommended from 2-10 days!

Well, scrap that, so we took Karen’s suggestion of the Irish Loop, a scenic drive that begins in St. John’s and goes in order to: Bay Bulls, Witless Bay, Cape Broyle, Calvert, Ferryland, Renews, Trepassey, St. Vincent, Riverhead, Salmonier, and then back to St. John’s. A few of those places are official parks, some are small farming communities, and some are small fishing communities. The range of scenery you can experience on this trip is extraordinary–don’t believe me?–a teaser: one stretch of area was once used to simulate moon walks!

Let’s begin, and I’ll try to keep it brief. It began with a muggy day, grey but warm:

Bay Bulls
A small fishing community; Karen said there may be an iceberg around. There wasn’t. The little towns of St. John’s have a more quaint quality to them for whatever reason; there’s always this pier, the big ocean beyond, and a scattering of little islands, jutting rocks grown green with grass and trees, pounded by frothy water, and uninhabited but for many birds. I have come to believe that the ocean makes people humble; it makes you feel small and weak, so there is an impression of a more communal society.

Anyway, Bay Bulls was all-in-all a slow start to the trip.

Bay Bulls pier

Bay Bulls pier

Witless Bay
Yeah, it’s a funny name. Another small fishing village, and I think the first place my brother and I were attacked by mini-flies that seem to mass around the edge of water, near short grasses and washed up seaweed. I thought at first they were deadly mosquitoes and I was soon to become one giant, swollen lump, but they were harmless flies–that just wanted to stand on your face and body all at once. Witless Bay wasn’t in itself interesting, but is still a point you can track your progress through the Loop. What’s more interesting is what lies after, in between here and the next point, Cape Broyle.

Witless Bay old pier

Witless Bay old pier

Witless Bay islands

Witless Bay islands

in-between: La Manche provincial park
A very pretty place with lots of hiking trails; I got all muddy going through a bunch of them with my brother (it felt invigorating, like a kid again)! The scenery is so lush there. It reminded me of your typical Banff trip, with one crucial difference–when you hike around Banff, you just don’t take a lot of pictures of the landscape (or maybe it’s just me). One tree is much the same as another. But come Lake Louise, it’s featured everywhere as a body of water. Water makes every picture better.

Well, being in Newfoundland, the hikes often hugged the coast of the province–so the views were often gorgeous! And unlike Banff, a tourist town, there was a sense of history here–one area was once the site of La Manche village, and scattered about were telltale signs of ruined buildings. It’s bridge was once destroyed, and the residents all settled in neighbouring places. In honour and memory of the original inhabitants, it was reconstructed, and protected within the park.

On the East Coast Trail, you can see The Big Gulch, a giant cleft between two cliffs. It was pretty deep, dark, and cool, really sheltered. There was a lot to see, and given more time, I woulda liked to hike more of it.

Cape Broyle
What’s in Cape Broyle? Nothing much.

Calvert is a small town on the shore. Kinda pretty, very rugged terrain, and we glimpsed an iceberg further away. Ooh, the first we’ve seen here! Karen said maybe we’d see some in Bay Bulls, but we didn’t. Four stops in on the Loop is what it took.

Red home on the shore

Red home on the shore

Shore rocks

Shore rocks

Distant iceberg

Distant iceberg

A somewhat larger community. We didn’t find it particularly interesting, but it did offer a much better view of the iceberg we saw earlier! These apparently float down from the Arctic all the time, but mostly in winter, of course. Someone at work told me (because this part is written after my first day) that it’s a popular thing to go out and “mine” the iceberg some and haul it back. It apparently tastes great (remember what we learned about icebergs, kiddies, it’s all fresh water), people love to put it in drinks because it fizzles it a little (probably due to it being full of air holes as well), and they say it keeps drinks cool longer! I dunno, I thought it was such a wild sight to see in Canada. Well, obviously not in the northern territories, but we’re hardly in the Arctic, people.

Iceberg, straight ahead!

Iceberg, straight ahead!

A fair-sized town, because its docks were big enough to be called a port. A small port, but a port nonetheless. Port Kiwan, I believe it was called.

Port Kiwan

Port Kiwan

Landed ships

Landed ships

Trepassey and St. VincentLearn more about manual excerpts.
…will continue in part 2 of this post, because I want another gallery. 😦 WordPress only allows one gallery per post, you see…

  1. Simulated moon walks, eh? So that’s where NASA faked the moon landing…

    Awesome pics, by the way. Some remind me of our Gr. 9 sailing trip. πŸ™‚

  2. I thought the same thing while I was there in a fit of nostalgia!! lol, remember Peter? Yikes.

    I’m no photographer, and this is just a small portion. It’s too much a hassle to upload them all, and I don’t want to bore anyone senseless! SLIDESHOW!

  3. I could still remember the first time that I saw the ocean. I was in tears ( silly ?!) ,that feeling was so so special and mixed. It’s so imposing and marvelous. I was setting on a huge rock for long long time to watch the waves and seabirds and I felt inspired…..

  4. Haha Peter… I almost forgot about that guy. Oh, and by the way, your food descriptions are making me hungry!

  5. Fascination with the sea may be some primordial instinct from when we crawled out of it a long, long time ago… Strangely, there are fewer sea birds here than I would expect!

    I wonder where Peter is, what he’s up to? Is he still insufferably annoying, do you think? Even the teachers thought so!

    Guess I’ve become a food critic! πŸ™‚ Naw…now that my brother’s back in Calhary, I don’t suspect I’ll be eating out a ton. Great while it lasted, though–again, fantastic eats here.

  6. If we’re talking about the Peter that I’m thinking about..(god, how could I ever forget about him), then yeah, I heard that he’s still very annoying. I heard he’s got tattoos now too? But yeah…haven’t heard much else about him.

    • Really? If we’re talking about the same one…he like left Churchill, though (or was it Tom Baines? He was definitely there, but I don’t recall if he went to high school with us at least for a little bit). He’d apparently switched schools around because no one could stand him…

      How did you keep up with him and find out he got tattoos? He probably did it to compensate, he always tried to be cool…or are we thinking different people?

      BTW, thanks for dropping by Larry, thought you were not aware of this.

  7. We’re thinking of the same person. He was there for first year in churchill, but left after that. I think I heard it from other people, perhaps Suen, while we were looking through the yearbook and discussing what became of them.

    I found out about the site last week from PC when we were BSG’ing, but totally forgot about it until I was cooling off after a bad beat. =P

  8. Hmm… I hadn’t thought about it much before, but you’re right – water does make pictures more interesting! πŸ™‚ By the way, I don’t know if anyone else has this problem, but I can’t actually see any of the photos aside from the La Manche ones.

  9. Thanks for dropping by, Amy!

    That’s as I expected, I’ll fix those up when I can. It was on and off for me, and for a while everyone said they could see it, but now, even I can’t!

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