Sweet baby Jeebus we made it and “The wind has a bit ah bite innit y’a” But it’s quiet and peaceful with a minute to write while the kids scream and run around like hooligans with a bunch of other camper kids who’ll be gone in a couple of hours leaving us alone again to entertain Prince Anderson and Princess Sabine. The reality of my plan for this year to feed their independent spirits, have them discover the world at large and have them fall in love with travel has fallen a little short. The gauzy and rosy dream travel where we wake up excited for a new day of adventures and learning has blown away to reveal the same old demands for screens and sugar cereal, and surprise surprise they still expect us to do everything for them. I mean we only have four plates to wash but it’s like I’ve asked them to clean up after a convention. The reality of actual camper travel – where the laundry is only finished if someone is naked and the others are skinny dipping – it’s way more annoying to lose a sock when you only have three pairs – there is a lot of organizing, like, all the time organizing – is less idyllic. One pot cooking is wearing a little thin since my children don’t actually like any one pot meals that do not involve noodles and cheese and that contain any vegetables or spice. Of course, I know I shouldn’t be surprised. I do not remember a single time during my childhood when I thought “hot damn my parents sure are moving the earth for me” – they are just kids and when it is all working and humming along it can be exhilarating- even the smallest moments – like watching Sabine play by herself on a patch of grass outside the camper with the waves crashing in the distance or an unexpected round of mini golf at a roadside restaurant in Nova Scotia – help to remind me of how lucky I am to have this year. Just have to keep the mantra going when real life kicks in.
We arrived In Channel Ports aux Basques Newfoundland yesterday on the night ferry from Nova Scotia (we blew through after leaving Îles-de-la-Madeleine and will saunter our way back spending time in Nova Scotia) The enormous ferry that takes two full hours to load slipped like a thief into the harbour. The light was just touching the clouds with warm oranges and pale peaches, the water was mercury and the wooden houses perched on the rocks had dark windows. We were lucky enough to get a berth – thank the lawd! – the “quiet” seating area with our reserved seats was beyond freezing and bright as the starship enterprise deck complete with weird light fixtures that curved out of walls that were dotted with soundless television screens screaming with light and movement. We were on the waiting list for a berth because as “seat of your pants travellers” we never book enough in advance. The nice thing about an upgrade is that even though the berth was teensy and smelled a little like bleach and a latrine it was super lux after the cold starship lounge. Chris and I woke up early to see the sunrise. Then I got Anderson up so he could see it and watch us come into the harbour. It was beautiful but cold so we snuck back in to get hot chocolate and coffee. As soon as we got back to the berth Chris hopped into the shower and as he steamed away the announcement was made to get back to the vehicles. Sooo long story short I became a sweaty and stressy mess while trying to pack a ridiculous amount of pillows and blankets into a sparkly mermaids tail. It is one of our classic marriage hot spots – departures – I need to be at the airport hours before departure – I want to be through security and having a glass of wine well before the flight has been called, whereas Chris is happy to hear his name called as he heads to security and then make a pit stop at bathroom before strolling onto the plane to have them slam the door behind him. So yes we have a year of departures to get through. This one was only a success because neither of us yelled or sniped at the other but none the less we did hear Ole Smokey’s license plate called and when we arrived on the vehicle deck we find it half empty and ole Smokey blocking a lane of traffic. The mad scramble to get the freaking sparkly mermaid tail into the truck along with ourselves. It was classy. There is nothing worse than being the assholes who are late and hold up everyone else.
Newfoundland is majestic and stunning – colours reminding me of the Rockies and long long roads running past deep and crystal waters, short pines and thick alpine brush it’s sagey blue under belly barely moving in the strong winds.
Nestled into our finally electrically powered camper! The stars are bigger and closer in the frosty air.
We woke up to an equally frosty morning – wearing my toque and digging out my uggs – happy we made a stop at the Walmart in Corner Brook to get Sabine some long sleeved shirts. We head out to Bonne Bay Marine Station for the requisite starfish petting and get a bonus five otter show at the dock outside the station. Bonne Bay is in the gulf of the st Lawrence with two arms that extent east and south into the island – they are glacier fjords with towering cliffs and waterfalls. The Bay contains species at the outer temperatures for both the southern waters and northern waters so there is a ton of diversity. The water reminds me of the winter ocean around Kauai, Hawaii it is the deepest darkest lapis seemingly lit from underneath.
After our marine station we ask around for a grocery store and are directed to knock at the green house across from the gas station for fresh garden produce. Then we head to Rocky Harbour and hit the pier for halibut caught that morning. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
Back at the camper Chris and Anderson head out to the paddle boats, Sabine chills with some paw patrol and I listen to Emmy Lou Harris and make some dinner and not just a one pot wonder but a good campfire cook up with butter fried halibut, green beans, noodles and salad with snap peas and the freshest yummiest tomatoes of my summer. I’m feeling great – everyone is in the groove no one is whiny (by no one I mean Sabine). The kids LOVE dinner and eat it. Life is grand.
In full family style we got home from our day later than planned and it’s already bedtime. The only downside to this campsite is that the wash up spot has no hot water and a cold water dish wash is a total pet peeve – freezing hands and greasy dishes. But luckily I’m not doing the dishes because I cooked so Chris leaves them outside while he reads to Anderson. I crawl into a nice warm bed. Gotta love the electricity with our plug in warm up mattresses!
At midnight I wake up to Chris saying “Something is licking our plates.” And I can hear it, slurping noises. Sounds bigger than the annoying chipmunks, a raccoon (showing our city slicker side) Surely not a bear? Yep it’s a bear – maybe the same bear the maintenance guy mentioned, “Issa up on d’hill ya near the garbage”. The bear that smelled the amazing fresh halibut fried in butter and wandered on by to help himself to the plates we left sitting JUST OUTSIDE THE DOOR OF OUR POP UP CANVAS TRAILER. OH MY GOD and I’m from Alberta and should know a little better about Bears. Now I am on high alert as I listen to the thick heavy tongue swipe across our camper plates. JUST OUTSIDE MY DOOR. We put on some music – loud. But it seems the Newfie bear is charmed by Father John Misty and it lumbers back into our campsite. It’s circling around our camper. Call 911, I demand. So dutifully Chris does and we get put through to the night ranger who doesn’t seem too phased – he claims that the bears are very docile and will most likely wander off. But what if it doesn’t – what if it really likes my yummy and fresh halibut and decides that there might be more inside this little balloon that it can pop open with ease? Then the bear will get stuck and get aggressive. I am now shaking – actually shaking like a leaf. We yell, “ GO AWAY BEAR!” Well Chris does and he makes me yell to try to dispel my tension. I hear a branch crack beside our bed. I jump and hiss – CALL THE RANGER BACK! Chris does and the ranger says – just get into bed and go to sleep the bear will be gone in the morning. What? Who is going to sleep? Ha. We end up calling the ranger about four times and the bear hangs around the campsite making low growling sounds and listening to our music for an hour and a half. Finally Chris unzips the window and bangs some plates together and the bear ambles off and stays away. The kids sleep through the entire incident and I won’t sleep again. Ever. In the trailer.
The next day we are firmly the city slickers who called 911 after leaving dirty plates outside our door. The campsite attendant is sympathetic saying, “No feeling bad luv – ya gots to let the ranger knows what’s happening.”