Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Weekend in Port Elgin

Atty and I were fortunate enough to receive an invitation from some friends of ours (Colleen and John) to spend the weekend with them at John’s cottage in Port Elgin.  Although the weather was a bit blustery (typical for late September) we had a great time in large part due to our hosts.  We did a beach walk from the cottage to Port Elgin on Saturday and a short hike through MacGregor Point Provincial Park on Sunday.  The weekend went too quickly and we were sorry to have to leave on Sunday evening.

A little bit of information about Port Elgin.  Port Elgin is located on Lake Huron near the base of the Bruce Peninsula. It is a charming small town nestled between Southampton to the north and MacGregor Point Provincial Park to the south.  The Port Elgin area was first settled by the Huron Indians with evidence of their settlements dating back to the 1300’s.  It was settled by Europeans in the 1800’s and became an important trading and supply hub for the region because of the natural harbour.  Agriculture played an important role in the region as well.  These days it’s more of a tourist and vacation destination with many cottages dotted along the coast.  The combination of water, sandy beaches, parks and hiking trails make it a very picturesque area worthy of a visit.  Below are some photos taken during our weekend visit.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 24: Onward to Quebec City

We headed out from Fredericton looking forward a nice dinner in Quebec City.  The route took us along the south shore of the St. Lawrence which was quite picturesque.  We arrived in Quebec City  later in the afternoon.  After checking into our hotel we headed out for dinner in Old Quebec.  The light from the setting sun along with the old architecture made for some excellent photo opportunities.  We spent our time wandering the old cobblestone streets checking out the shops and restaurants.  We eventually found a charming small restaurant and dinner was great.

The north shore of the St. Lawrence enroute to Quebec City

Quebec City in the late afternoon

A church spire in the late afternoon light

The Chateau Frontennac

The small house in the center is the oldest in Quebec City and a restaurant

Day 23: Onward to Fredericton....

Today was a travel day as we had over-nighted on the ferry before returning to N. Sydney in the early afternoon.  As our ferry was delayed we missed out on dinner at a nice restaurant in Fredericton called the Blue Door which we had discovered on a previous trip out east.  Instead we arrived in Fredericton around 11pm just in time to check in at our B and B and go to bed.

The bar on our ferry provided some entertainment for our 14 hour voyage back to NS

Me after a night on the ferry....
Atty showing position '99' in the sleeping lounge

Getting some air on deck

View from the road in New Brunswick

Day 22: Cape St. Mary's and leaving for home

Today unfortunately we had to pack up and say our goodbyes to Patrick.  We enjoyed our time with Patrick at the cabin immensely so we really didn't want to leave.  Leaving Patrick's cabin meant we were at the start of our long trip back home and the end of our vacation.  Our agenda for the day was to head out to Cape St. Mary's.  The bird sanctuary at Cape St. Mary's is the 2nd largest colony of Northern Gannets in North America.  On our last visit to Newfoundland we tried visiting the site but it was raining quite heavily so we never did see the birds.  We crossed our fingers that this time we'd have better luck.  After visiting the bird sanctuary at Cape St. Mary's we'd travel on to Argentia to take the evening ferry back to the mainland.

I really didn't know what to expect we arrived at the bird sanctuary.  From the visitor's center you need to walk about 1 km to the site of the bird colony.  The colony is situated on some coastal cliffs which tower about 300 meters above the sea.  As we walked to the site I noticed that the cliffs appeared to be white on top and there were what appeared to be flies nearby.  As we got closer it became apparent that what I saw were birds - thousands of them.  As we got even closer there was a load humm which was the collective noise from the thousands of birds that were nesting on the cliff!  It was quite an amazing site to behold and something that I had never seen or experienced before.  We spent a few hours at the bird colony taking pictures and enjoying the view from the clifftop.

Atty and Patrick at the cabin

Me and Atty at Patrick's cabin

The view from Patrick's cabin

On the way to the birds at Cape St. Mary's

A closer look at the Northern Gannet rookery

Another view of the bird colony

Yes that's Atty near the edge of a cliff taking pictures

This gives you an idea of the numbers present

A Northern Gannet in flight

If you look closely you'll see the chicks.

Another shot of the birds in flight

A view of the cliff (about 300 meters above the sea) by the bird colony

Day 21: Tinker's Point Path

Today we had the opportunity to meet one of Patrick's close friends, Mike.  We started out first by taking a hike on the East Coast Trail with Mike and his four legged friend Spongy.  The trail which we hiked is called the Tinker's Point Path and is about 5 km long.  This hike started off damp as it was drizzling.  However, the drizzle soon stopped and then it just stayed foggy which is fine for hiking.  Mike charmed us with his esprit de corps, his sense of humour and his accent (although I'm sure he'd say it was Atty and me that had the accent...).  In spite of the weather this was a beautiful hike from beginning to end.  We hiked through wonderful treed areas which hugged the shore, walked along the beach in sections and had some beautiful views of the coast.  Mike made a point of stopping periodically and explaining items of note along the trail.  At the end of the hike we headed back to Mike's home to meet his wife Alice and son Chris.  Alice cooked up a feed of fresh fish and chips followed by a wonderful dessert.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Mike and his family who charmed us with their hospitality.  They say that one of the measures of a man are the friends he keeps.  I don't think Patrick has anything to worry about!

Atty blending into the background.....

A view from the trail of what appeared to be a typical Newfoundland day

Mike, Atty and Patrick

Another view from the trail of what appeared to be a bleak day

Me, Atty and Patrick

A view from the trail down on the beach

Spongy our four legged companion on the hike

A view of the beach we crossed near the end of the hike

Atty, Alice, Chris, Patrick and Mike

Day 20: Hike from Cape Spear to Maddox Cove

Today we hiked the East Coast Trail from Cape Spear (the most easterly point in North America) to Maddox Cove which is about 11 km.  The group (Gil, Ruby, Catherine, Patrick, Atty and me) assembled at Gil and Ruby's place, crammed into Gil's pickup truck and headed out.  Our starting point for this hike was by the lighthouse at Cape Spear.  The day was overcast with some fog but fortunately it never rained.  This afforded us a different hiking experience compared to what Atty and I experienced 4 years ago when we hiked the trail last.  The trail was for the most part wasn't too bad but it did have a few tricky sections near the end where the footing was challenging.  The hike was a lot fun in large part because of the company present!

Gil and Catherine

Gil and Atty following the foggy trail

Our stop for lunch

The trail had boggy sections which fortunately had a boardwalk

This solitary tree stood out

Another seaside view from the trail

A section of the trail littered with rocks

Atty traversing a stream

Taking a break

Another view from the trail.  Inspite of the fog the views were still stunning.

Gil taking a break