St. John is keeping me way-a-a-a-ah-tin’

“We can never know about the days to come. But we think about them anyway.” The anticipation of leaving is a reminder that the end of the journey is near. When the ferry is finally ferrying, we’ll board the slow boat to Nova Scotia, say goodbye to maple leaf skies, and fly south down I-95. That’s how life in a tent goes. The weariness from roughing it builds anticipation. Anticipation builds appreciation; for the few Newfie days left, for the days to come at home.

Road weary on the TCH

St John’s is a reminder city. The steep streets remind us of San Francisco, the downtown bar district of New Orleans, the colorful houses of the Caribbean, the grey sky grunge of Seattle, the coastal beauty of San Diego, the attractions of St. Augustine. There’s a signature museum and a fort on the hill; fish-n-chips, chowder, iceberg breweries, and the summer folk festival going on this weekend.

Spooky nights on the ground in thick forests where the sun barely sets.

The smart move was to back track the 400 km from Twillingate to the working ferry at Port Aux Basque. The Viking move was to bet that the thrice delayed ferry start date holds and sack St. Johns in the meantime. Out of T-gate, we turned east and leap-frogged over rock causeways isle to isle into Gander until we reached the Trans Canadian Highway leading to St. Johns.

You’ve got a friend and a stylish airport in Gander (if your transatlantic flight ever diverts).

Gander is a hard-working town with a big heart billed as the crosswords to the world since so many trans-Atlantic air traffic routes pass overhead. Home of a 9/11 diversion, 38 airliners flying thousands of passengers made emergency landings there. According to memorial plaques, they came as strangers and left as family. The event inspired a Tony award winning musical and a museum in the mid century modern airport. We came to the Gander public library to post a blog, and left as family. We are working on the musical score now.

A classic Dreamworks moon rises over Provincial Park Butter Pot(holes).

Eventually, we pull up short of the city in Butter Pot(holes) Provincial Park to prep. It is a locals-only camping outpost; a 30 minute drive into St.John. We adopt a chipmunk to take care of the camp while we are exploring. Scurry likes potato chips and bread but not croutons. He loves to scurry in and out of the clam, under the walls and out the front door. We are making do with our declining provisions but Scurry doesn’t seem to mind. Italian meatballs too long thawed and vacuum packed udon noodles are combined with the remnants of a Thai dish to make a world fusion bowl of hot food. This is when cooking finally gets interesting for Sheri.

Fusion bowl

The first place we sack is a trendy hair salon, and by “sacking” we mean showing up without an appointment. Stylist Kany is ready it. Originally from Kazakhstan, she moved to Qatar when she was 20, spending 8 years in high end salons, styling for magazines, models and private clients. She met her husband and had a son. Newfoundland and Labrador have a fast track immigration path for those who will make the province their home. In Qatar, Kany was at the top, but it was indoor living with no future for her family. Starting over is tough, but she’s got mad skills, giving Sheri a trending Princess Di throwback. Love it!

High style via Qatar via Kazakhstan.

With a stylish cut, we were ready to culture-up at The Rooms, a 4-story museum of Newfie history, culture, environment, and wildlife. Sheri mostly wanted to see Altocumulus, a large scale installation of inflatable puffy clouds. One room was an apology to the resettlement of the indigenous inhabitants. One room was a confusing performance piece on gender roles and auto racing. Yet another giant room showcased the finest in taxidermy. It was an eclectic, thought provoking and at times head scratching mix of Newfie-ness that also had a commanding view of the city. We left it mostly intact.

Art: ready to entertain and challenge room by room.

Sacking a city can make you hungry. We drop into the trendy inlet of Quidi Vidi, home to Iceberg beer. There is not much to pillage because the craft shops are mostly closed on Monday. Quidi Vidi brewing looks promising but too-many-tourists-to-fight have taken all of the tables. It is a long wait for an expensive beer so we pull a Plan B and take the strategic high ground in St. Johns.

Quidi Vidi Brewery in back without an iceberg in sight. You will have to trust them on that Iceberg Beer.

St. Johns ultimate high ground is Signal Hill. It is the place where Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless communication making the world a far smaller place. We break out our plundered (actually purchased) goods from the bed of Boss, and throw together a classic tailgate buffet. We nosh on tailgate Tuna with Miss Vickies kettle chips and chug clandestine Molson XXX in Yeti tumblers at the top of St. Johns just like Marconi probably did.

A bench with a view. A tumbler with a va voom.

From Signal Hill, you can see everything on the eastern coast including Cape Spear, which is the first point in North America to see the light of each new day. We discussed making the 2 hour drive at 2:00am to see the sun rise, but then we laughed about how dumb that sounded. So we admired the view of Cape Spear from where we sat and toasted with our Yetis to the sun already high overhead. Call that a win.

We finally spotted a cariboo. It held perfectly still for the photo.

The rain is on a temporary break and a heat wave, taxing the locals to no end, has driven temperatures into the upper 70’s. Pale skin barely covered in cut-off clothing is seeing the sun for the first time in months and it’s not always pretty. But Newfies know, in Newfoundland you make the most of what sunny days you get. Even though we are humming “Anticipation” in our head, we are going to follow suit and take what we can get. Like Vikings. But with a credit card.

Head in the clouds as usual.

St. John is keeping me way-a-a-a-ah-tin’