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End of the RV voyage

From the RV Desk of Melanie Chambers

For two weeks and 3,207 kilometers, through storms that shook its walls, and roads that rattled its core, my RV has become my home-away-from-home. And Newfoundland, well, Newfoundland has been waiting for me, for a long time.

Not surprizingly, I only wrote a fraction of what I saw and did. 

Skelwink Trail, Trinity Bay.

As I drive back to Ontario, stuck with my thoughts for 20 hours, my heart is aching. I was born in Grand Falls, but left when I was three years old. For me, coming back to Newfoundland was like having lunch with a good friend I hadn't seen in decades: changed but essentially the same at heart. Familiar. 

For instance, when someone at the gas station gives you change in Newfoundland, the woman replies, ‘thank you, my love. My grandfather used to call me, my Ducky.’  This really means, I love you.

I also ate my fair share of meals from my childhood, but with a twist:  Jiggs dinner in an egg roll at Bacalao in St.John's.  Innovative and fun. I also discovered a berry. The sort of berry that makes life just plain dull without it. I suggest daily doses of partridge berries on toast, cake and steak. Below Erikson's Premises, Trinity where I stayed for two nights. 

The berry to end all berries in Bonavista.


When I first arrived at the beginning of August, the partridge berries were hard and white, inedible. Stepping on top of Bayview Hill in Bonavista, jackpot: the hillside is covered in deep burgendy berries, ready to eat. So, I sit and pick, berry after tart berry. The wind is picking up. Weather calls for rain. The air is decidedly cooler than a month ago. Soon it will be winter.

A cemetary in Trinity. Spooky, eh?

Outside the town, near the harbour, crab traps are stacked next to wood shed; the season ended weeks ago.

One more week and the tourists go home and towns like this will tally up their seasonal earnings. How did we do this year, they will ask?

I wonder if Newfoundlanders become immune to the beauty? One such place that struck me particularily deep was Skelwink Trail outside of Trinity Bay, just down the  #230 highway on the right hand side. Apparently, Travel & Leisure Magazine named it one of the top 10 trails in Canada. Hands down it’s on Melanie Chambers’ top 10. 

The 5.3 kilometer loop starts with a wee gravel path, that cuts into the woods, and then without warning opens up to this jaw dropping view. I was jogging along until the view froze me in my tracks; out loud I kept repeating: “oh my god, oh my god.”




Dungeon Cove

Another OMG place in Bonavista, a half hour drive from Trinity.  

A gravel road leads out to a ragged coastline with splinters of rock islands—big enough for only birds. Sure enough, I spot an eagle. Creeping tippy-toe to get a closer picture, I don't want to scare him. He turns and looks at me. Do they attack humans? I get a series of shots; he doesn’t move. Walking back to the car, I find a single white eagle feather on the path. Picking it up, I smile. Lucky me. 

I want to leave you with my two favourite traits, observations, about Newfoundlanders. It’s a few things you need to know, if you don’t already. And, it you haven't already guessed, their humour is also part of their resilence. You can't have one without the other, really.

Sharp witted humour. When I was small, oh, not even three or so, I was eating my supper in my high chair. Apparently I was mumbling away, blah-be-de-blah. My aunt looks at me and asks: "I bet you can't say that backwards." To which I turned around and said: "blah-be-de-blah...."  I know where this comes from now. Newfoundlanders are some of the funniest people you will ever meet. "Well suck me dry and call me dusty," an old friend says when she sees me. The phrases and metaphors pour out of them faster than hot molasses. 

Resilence. In the Play Teresa’s Creed, a widow living in an isolated community with mouths to feed recounts the moments of her life. Sometimes she’s laughing hysterically; sometimes she’s sobbing. From the audience, you feel her pain. The death of her husband, the fishery, the storms, the loneliness, the poverty—she endures. “It’s not to say she doesn’t feel, but she decides not to indulge those emotions, she has to move on,” says Donna Butt, the actor who plays Teresa and the artistic director of The Rising Tide Theatre in Trinity, Newfoundland.

 Newfoundland--I won't leave it so long next time. 

Thanks to Jimmy, Donna, David and Trev for showing me Newfoundland hospitality.