Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thank you, Newfoundland

Deb: As our trip to Newfoundland stretched out before us, I knew I would blog about it and I knew instantly that the theme would be gratitude to the people of Newfoundland.

So it’s serendipitous that in the last few days I started reading so many words of thanks to the people of Newfoundland from the stranded passengers of 9/11 who were taken into their homes and made to feel like family.

You have to understand something about Newfoundlanders. They are funny. They are warm. They are fun. And they are the kindest people I have ever met in my travels, bar none.

When I was growing up in the 60s, Newfie jokes were de riguer and I never understood them. It was a stereotype of the time, but one that never resonated with me. But unlike other stereotypes, it seemed to become accepted––it was “harmless, all in good fun.”

I only lived in NFLD for a few years and I was very young, five and six. But my warm memories are so deep in my psyche that my dreams oft time burst with snippets of that tiny recollection.  And I know that my memories are partly Super 8 film and partly stories and slides, but returning has always been a yearning in me. I have wanted to go back and I did with my boys and joined by a girl.  So a heartfelt thanks, Newfoundland, from the Mochrie/McGraths for absolutely everything.

And Specifically:

The chef and the waitress at Ryan Mansion for their charm and fabulous food.

Buddy who chased us out of the restaurant to give us directions when he overheard us asking someone.

The lady we met at Lighthouse Picnics who, when I told her I used to live in Cornerbrook as a child, walked with us and charmed us with her family history. “My grandfather was born in Cornerbrook, his Dad in Deer Lake where my father’s people were ... now he was an Archer and my Mum’s family was McCubbin. I was born Archer and now I’m a McGee, but my husband’s people on his mother’s side are Toohey’s.” And on it went, only silenced by someone shouting “Whale!”  I know that millions of people every day see whales. I know that. But why is it, that when you see a whale you must scream WHALE!!!!!!!!! as if you were the first person to ever see one? Because IT’S A WHALE!!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me????? I am walking along chatting about the lunch we just had and “oh, look there’s a ....WHALE!” I giant stupendous mammal is leaping out of the water. He is bigger than our house. So YEAH, WHALE. You bet I’m shouting. Shout out to the WHALE. 

The two gals we met in Quidi Vidi who were picking blueberries to make muffins. Not only did they give us great advice about climbing Signal Hill, but they offered their blueberry stash and insisted we eat some, which we did.

The staff of every restaurant from Raymond's, to the spot on the pier in Trinity Bay where we had fish and chips. Thanks for wonderful warm personal service to delicious meals.

The Rock of the Rock radio station that provided our theme music for the trip.

Fisher’s Loft Inn for their view, their warmth, the details. Rooms with little flashlights, walking sticks and binoculars, great food and a games room that we used every night, allowing me to beat the pants off Luke and Colin consistently with Taboo and Scattergories!!!

Okay, whatever, this is my blog and I am telling the story.

Blue on Water for Sullivan, our host, who pretended my suitcase weighed one pound as he carried it three floors as a result of a broken elevator, smiling and chatting as he went. And to the funkiest en-suite bathroom we have ever enjoyed.

To the gorgeous wait staff at Blue who charmed us through two dinners and three breakfasts, graciously making some of us feel that fish and chips for breakfast was as normal as pie.

To Randy our guide in one of the historic homes in Trinity who was engaging, warm and informative with a stunning accent.


To Lighthouse Picnics themselves for an innovative idea, delicious picnics, homemade lemonade in glass jars, gingerbread cake and cozy blankets.

To the walk-in clinic in St. John's that I went to on day one and who had me sorted and shipped off within fifteen minutes. Within that time I found out a good deal about the doctor’s life and how he came to live in and love this town.

To the handsome young blond man at the roadside diner and grocery store, who came out of the woman’s washroom, as the men’s was full, and said to me as I waited, “A tounsand pardens, me darlin’, but despert times caal for despert messures,” and tipped his cap.

To every single person we met, be it Newfoundlander or tourist, who happened to share the same journey with us as we met at hotel after hotel and shared our stories and mutual love of the place we were discovering together.

 To the Puffins who we visited and who looked all the world like plush animals in frantic flight and with whom we fell in love.

To the volunteers who take care of the Skerwink Trail and keep it groomed and safe so that we can enjoy it’s unbelievable beauty.

And to our son who turned 21 with a glass of champagne at Raymond's overlooking St. John’s harbour and his lovely girl, Megan, who shared this trip with us in whole and in part, and who made it more than a vacation.

And finally to the owner of the Qidi Vidi Brewery who was giving us our tour and who told us this joke:

So a Newfoundlander and his hard-of-hearing wife were taking a road trip in Ontario.
A cop pulls them over. “Can I see your license and registration, sir?”
The wife says, “What did he say?”
The husband says, “He asked to see my license and registration.”
The cop says, “Where are you from, sir?”
The wife says, “What did he say?”
The husband says, “He asked me where we’re from.”
The cop says, “ Newfoundland, are ya? I had the worst sex of my life in Newfoundland.”
The wife says, “What did he say?”
The husband says, “He thinks he knows ya.”

I am convinced Newfoundlanders possess the secret of life.  The jokes on us.

Barbara: What can I say, me darlin’, you weave a magical spell of a wonderful land. You know already, Deb, that Newfoundland is on my Wish List. When I look at those images and hear your story it makes me want to go there all the more. Man, the world is a wonderful, surprising, complex, exhilarating place!


  1. Oh my goodness!! What a lovely looking trip! Reminds me of the Highlands; all the green mountains!!!!! You have such a wonderful looking family :]

  2. Thanks Kelly it was wonderful. It reminded us of the highlands too!

  3. Wow!! Beautiful post Deb. i went to Newfoundland 5 years ago and fell in love with it and mostly the wonderful people. Great shots of the stunning countryside, and YOU SAW A WHALE!!!! You are so lucky!!! I am sure that trip will stay with you for a long long time and what a wonderful place in our country to celebrate your son's 21st birthday (one, I'm sure, he won't forget) Thanks for sharing such a lovely family loved the nautical outfits :)

  4. Mary-Jo, it was the perfect place to spend the boy's 21st it's true. And having been there yourself you know just how unforgettable it is.

  5. Deb, I now want to go there. To me Newfoundland was always someplace I couldn't place on a map somewhere up north in Canada. Beautiful story and gorgeous photos. Congrats to your son on becoming 21 and still being willing to go on a trip with his parents.

  6. Looks like you all had lots of fun. I don't remember what I did for my 21st birthday, I'm sure your son won't ever forget what he did. I love the colors and beauty of Newfoundland in these pictures it just seems so very full of life. I've done a road trip from Winnipeg to the west coast and the east is up next. I can hardly wait to see this place in person. After that it's on to the northern territories!

  7. Seems like you all had a wounderful trip. The pics were just beautiful and it does seems like one of those places were it just sticks in your mind forever, and the fact that you got to spend It with your family made it even better. Glad you all had a great time on your trip. Anytime that you are on a get away and can sPend time with your family is always a great time.

  8. oh crap. Now I need to add NEWFOUNDLAND to the places I must go list. *breathes* *adds*

  9. Thanks Madge, yeah ain't the the truth. The fact that he still wants to come with us. May it always be so. But yes, do yourself a favour and go!Erin it sounds like you are seeing some gorgeous pieces of the country too. Gae you're funny. That's how I always feel as I come to realize that I will never live long enough to see every single place I want to see.

  10. Ok, hi, hello, hi!

    I love the pictures!
    I love your family!
    I love accents!
    I love fish and chips!
    I love insanely nice people!!
    I love Scattergories!

    This was so great! Definitely on my list of "must-travel-to-places-before-I-die!" :)

  11. Holly, I love that you ended it with I love Scattergories! And yes, you MUST go! Everyone must.

  12. What a beautiful place. Oh how I miss the green. I wasn't meant to be a desert gal. Thank you to you, your husband and son for sharing some of your beautiful vacation photos. Looks like a great time was had in a gorgeous place.

  13. I'm loving that lighthouse. I want to move in! What a sweet story. Your little family looks marvelously happy and beautiful. Newfoundland sounds wonderful except I might explode from everyone talking so much and me being so introverted. I suppose if they waited until after my 2 cups of coffee and blueberry muffin/pancakes I could take it. :)
    All in all it looked like a wonderful celebration. It says a lot about you and Colin that Luke wanted to spend his 21st birthday with you guys instead of flying off to Vegas. Good job. :) (okay, so if he's there now I don't wanna know. don't burst my happy little family bubble) :)
    HUGS, (jealous) Karen

  14. Thanks Molly, yeah I love the desert but I crave the green too. Yeah the lighthouse Karen is on the easterly most spot in North America. And no, we are still all together at home. :-)

  15. One word: WOW!
    Newfoundland, at least from your pictures, looks like such a lovely, serene place to visit! I may have to make a trek up there, but I'm still trying to get to Toronto!
    (On a slightly unrelated note... does Colin wears glasses now? I thought I saw him wearing them in your pics! I like 'em!)
    Glad you guys had a blast (as I like to say!) :)

  16. WOW. this just looks fantastic. and what I love most about how it seems is the rugged remote, oceanic coastal views which makes the perfect "backdrop" for family life.........this just went on my travel bucket list.

  17. How'sha gittin' on? That's Newfinese for, "how are you doing?" Thank you so much for your kind words about our beautiful island in the Atlantic, an island we love to call home! Heaven above was showering down its love for you the day you visited Ferryland for a lighthouse picnic! You had a sunny day, a rarity! It's very common for Ferryland to be fogged in when the communties around it are experiencing sunshine!

  18. Scattergories!?!

    Bring. It. On.

    *sets the timer*

  19. Yeah Beth, wow says it for sure. And yeah he does wear glasses but not all the time. Lori you are so wise to put it on the travel bucket list. Leanne everyone we met said how lucky we were with the weather, although we would not have minded if the sun did not shine, it was just that beautiful. Rigel, the timer is set!

  20. Deb -

    Seemingly ages ago when was 21-22 and living in Charlotte, North Carolina, (such a good year: my 1st apartment, my 1st time living in a big city, my 1st real taste of that delicious potion that is pre-marriage/pre-child adulthood *happy sigh* So much freedom!), I had a lot of daydreams about what I wanted to do now that I was officially a grown up.LOL I'd claimed for myself a gap year. After spending 4 years cramming in 2 B. S. degrees w/honors along with research and tons of volunteer work and pay work, I swooped myself off to the city to, for the first time since young childhood, go about the business of really playing. For a whole year. Before whatever big what's next sucked me into a new whirlwind. This was completely out of character for my young, overachieving, ultra-type A self, but it ended up being the best year of life. Go figure! It's a dangerous thing when Little Miss Uptight unwinds! LOL I had a full time day job and a tiny little part time night/afternoon job 2 evenings a week. But, still, I had plenty of time to play, daydream, wish, and reach. I read good books, loved good friends, played in many a raucous game of water volleyball in the apartment complex pool, and was deliciously spontaneous. Mind you, my rent ate up half of my income, and my phone bill from keeping in touch with my friends back down South ate up most of the rest. LOL My discretionary spending highlights of any given week were IHOP or Ben & Jerry's with Erica after Sun. evening church, 2am Denny's with the whole crazy gang of missionary kids and Chik-Fil-A employees who hung out every weekend at Charlotte and Kristy's rental house (the most aggressive Monopoly players and silliest dance-around-the-room folks I have ever been blessed to join in with), catching a Legally Dead Parrots sketch comedy show in the ratty old theatre upstairs from the Superior Feet shop at 10pm on a Friday night, or catching 3-D Laser Pink Floyd in the IMAX/planetarium at Discovery Place at midnight on Saturday - none of these things costing more than $10 a pop. It's not like I was in any position to do big things like a proper vacation. LOL But, I had this great optimism, this wonderful energy, and I believed that daydreaming wishes (however frivolous and impractical) was not only just fine but also the seed of a possible, or even probably, reality I could create more sooner than later. (Silly young me!) Anyway, I have always loved the ocean. And, while I have a long history of hanging out with the dolphins, the fish, the craps, and my other aquatic buddies, my long fascination with whales has, to this day, never been sated. So, one day when I lived in Charlotte, I called an official Canadian tourist thingie place in Newfoundland and requested their come-visit-us packet. I had this fabulous daydream of someday driving up the coast and ending up in that corner of Canada with its tiny oceany provinces and getting to see lots of whales doing their frolicsome whale stuff wild in the ocean, not only from shore but on the decks of whale watching boats. I read and reread that packet, unfolding and refolding the map and booklets until they were falling apart. I imagined it so vividly that I could almost smell the salt air and hear the BWOOOSH! of a surfacing whale exhaling through her blow hole.

    I had totally forgotten about that long ago travel daydream until you started talking about your Newfoundland trip and WHALE. How odd that you should poke around in my squishy little brain and find that one remote protein chain to strum. What an odd memory to summon up!

    And, remembering that, for just a second, I could remember what it felt like to be that young 21-22 year old who believed in herself and believed in claiming adventures. And, I'm sitting here with the doofiest grin on my face because, for just a few seconds, I smelled that intoxicatingly spicy-sweet scent of freedom.

  21. A newfie's wifeSeptember 8, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    What a lovely post! It sounds like you had a great time, and your pictures are beautiful! I married a Newfoundlander, so we travel "back home" somewhat regularly to see family and friends. In all the times I've been there (by now, I can't even count how many), it never gets old for me! It really is as beautiful as everyone says, and the people really are as friendly as described. Friends who have visited on our advice have all fallen in love with it too. I hope everyone who's read this and added it to their "to do" list really does go! To say it's worth it would be an understatement!

  22. Beautiful, beautiful pictures! I'm so happy you had such a wonderful time. Emphasizing the friendly people more than such beautiful scenery says SO much.

    My mother's entire side of the family is originally from Newfoundland.This is definitely a trip I plan to take with my daughter. Her dad's family is all Italian, so she automatically considers herself Italian. I want to show her, and learn for myself, what "the other half" holds. All I truly remember is my grandfather and his brother going fishing, coming back with the fresh fish, and my grandmother making brewis. Then there's the hardtack bread. If you value your teeth, you wait til that stuff is VERY soft, and dripping with butter. :)

    Thank you for showing a small part of a heritage I want to learn so much more about.


  23. How lovely to hear from you "Newfie's Wife". You are indeed a lucky woman to have such a great guy from such a wonderful place. I hope it did influence people to go. Dawn what a gift for your daughter to give her the other side of her beautiful heritage. Italy,of course, what can I say it fantastic? We had a brilliant holiday there three years ago. But Newfounland, she will fall in love with forever. And she will be proud to call it home.

  24. I just read down through your blog and smiled the entire time! I live in St. John's and have been everywhere in Canada and a few places in the States and have to say, I agree with you 100%! I love the warmth that flows from people here. Strangers who invite you in for tea when you visit around the bay and insist you stay for a bite to eat! I feel safe here letting my children play on our street which, i have been told by many, is rare on the mainland and in the USA!

    I love sitting by the ocean and smelling the fresh air and feeling the moisture on my face as i watch for the whales and, i too, shout "WHALE"!

    I have heard so many stories that touch my heart, like yours, and make me so proud to live on this beautiful island; surrounded by mysterious waters and the most kind-hearted, genuine people i have ever meet!

    If you ever come by again, i would love to chat! Look me up in the phone book! LOL!

    Andrea Carter

  25. Andrea I will indeed look you up in the phone book. Not something you hear every day. WHALE!!!!!!!!!!

  26. I read this because Seamus posted it to his twitter, and being from Newfoundland I'd like to say thanks for the kind words. I am so glad to hear you enjoyed your stay and you saw a WHALE! Newfoundland would love to have you and your family back anytime! Cheers!

  27. God bless Seamus for posting it. Thanks for taking time to comment. We are already planning to go back. Felt like home.


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