I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Two last pictures of foggy Halifax

Boats in the fog

More pictures from that foggy evening in Halifax.

Saturday reflections

I'm home, and very much enjoying the fact that I don't have to pry my lazy ass off this bed if I don't feel like it. I'm daunted by the more than 600 pictures I have still to go through from Newfoundland and don't feel like hunting through them, so here's another picture from the ride back to Cow Head, just over a week ago.

Friday, August 30, 2019

A change in the weather is known to be extreme

Seating along the waterfront on Wednesday afternoon, and after the fog set in yesterday evening.

I have time for one more walk this morning, then I head to the airport. Halifax is a pleasant place for a stopover, but I'm ready to go home.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Another side of Halifax

That's my hotel seen from the next pier over earlier this evening. It was overcast and drizzly most of the day, but a truly impressive fog rolled in late this afternoon.

Urban poetry

Halifax isn't a large city -- the population is around 400,000 -- but the entire island of Newfoundland has only around 500,000 inhabitants, and after two weeks in very small towns and one small city, I definitely feel like I am in Metropolis.

I got here late in the afternoon yesterday, and took a long walk along the waterfront. It was hot and crowded and touristy, but I enjoyed these hammocks strung along one of the wharves. Unfortunately, they were all occupied.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Goodbye to Newfoundland

Here's a joke I heard tonight:

Three men -- an American, an Albertan, and a Newfoundlander -- commit a robbery. They flee from the police into an alley where there's a pile of empty burlap sacks. So each of them hides in a sack.

A policeman kicks the bag with the American in it, and the American says, “Meow!“ ”Aw, that's just a bunch of cats in that bag,” says the policeman.

Another policeman kicks the bag with the Albertan in it. “Woof woof!” “Aw, that's a great big dog in that sack.”

A third policeman kicks the bag with the Newfoundlander in it. And the Newfoundlander says, “Fish!”

I'm spending two nights in Halifax on the way home, and I'm sure I will enjoy it, but I will miss this beautiful, quirky, completely charming island. I already want to come back.

(This dock was in King's Point.)


The whale is a little blurry, but I love this picture because you can see some of the fish that got away flung through the water behind that big mouth.

The humpbacks along this part of the coast come very close to the shoreline, which is why we were able to see so many of them. They herd the fish against the rocks and then feast.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Synchronized swimming

Humpback whales near St. Anthony.

We got very lucky today on our whale-watching excursion. Not only did we actually see several whales, but we had warm, sunny weather, so just being out on the water was wonderful. We had a boat cruise in Gros Morne National Park a few days ago, and it was so cold and windy I had to abandon the top deck and watch the scenery from inside the cabin. Today I was actually removing layers because I was too hot.

Plus, there were whales!

L'Anse aux Meadows

Yesterday we hit the Viking trail. We're on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland now, and Labrador is a blue smudge on the horizon. Today we start making our way back south to Deer Lake, where we fly out Wednesday.

This is the view from L'Anse aux Meadows, the only Viking site in North America apart from Greenland. It was a beautiful day, as you can see in the picture. What you can't see are the very robust winds, which made me wonder why even a Viking thought this was an attractive place for a base camp.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

Two kittiwakes, an adult and a juvenile.

The youngster is almost as big as the parent; it's only the black markings that show it isn't fully grown yet.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Saturday reflections

I took this picture through the bus window on the ride back to Cow Head yesterday afternoon. Even on a dismal afternoon, Newfoundland is strikingly beautiful.

Friday, August 23, 2019

More fun facts about Newfoundland

You're probably pronouncing it incorrectly. I was taught to say NEW-fun-lÉ™nd, with the vowel in “land” smooshed into a schwa, as in Iceland or Scotland. But Newfoundlanders say New-fun-LAND, with an emphasis on the last syllable, and no wishy-washy schwa. The hint to remember the correct pronunciation is I understand Newfoundland.

 I've also heard Labrador pronounced with the accent on the last syllable, but it varies, so probably no one will be offended if you continue to say LAB-rador.

These equally fun primary colors were also in Woody Point, in Gros Morne National Park.

Urban poetry

OK, not in any sense urban maybe, but the sign over the door does welcome you to Downtown Woody Point, so I'm going to count it.

I spent a very pleasant half hour in this establishment, sipping a coffee by the window. It was a welcome bit of down time in yet another busy day which involved a lot of geology in the rain. I did have time to explore the sights of Woody Point, which as in most Newfoundland towns consist of a lighthouse, some boats, and a lot of seabirds.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Have I mentioned the scenery?

Here's a sample -- this view, near Elliston, is typical of the rocky eastern coast.

I'm on the west coast now after a long drive across the island today. We're staying in a town with the improbable name of Cow Head, in Gros Morne National Park. It rained all afternoon, so all I've seen of the park so far is shadowy gray mountains fading into the distance on one side of the road and gray ocean on the other.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


This beautiful cemetery overlooking the sea is in Twillingate, on an island in Notre Dame Bay in northeastern Newfoundland.

It was another very busy day, with two museums, a winery, a lighthouse, and making partridgeberry jam over an open fire on the beach. I'm very impressed with myself for managing to post even one photo.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Fun facts about Newfoundland

I have probably taken a hundred pictures of the houses here. This one from yesterday was near Elliston, where we stopped to see more puffins.

I will write about my adventures in detail when I get home; the history we're learning and the culture we're experiencing deserves more time than I have right now. Last night I kissed a cod, and did the Mexican hat dance in a community center; obviously my wild Newfoundland social life is going to take priority.

So here's a fun fact: Newfoundland didn't become part of Canada until 1949. Before that it was a British colony. Labrador, the non-island part of the province, didn't get name recognition until 2001, when the province name was changed from Newfoundland to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Really, I'm still in Newfoundland

There's been very little time for posting or going through pictures, but here's a lovely pastoral scene from Trinity Bay yesterday. We had dinner there, then saw a musical from the Rising Tide Theatre company, then stayed for fireworks celebrating Trinity's annual festival.

So it was after ten when we left to drive back to Port Union. I was half-dozing, looking out the bus window at the dark featureless highway, enjoying the way my mind was wandering to surprising places, when suddenly the bus swerved and braked and there were screams from the front. A moose had suddenly appeared in front of the bus, but our unflappable driver Daphne managed to avoid hitting it. I was definitely wide awake after that.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Bonus bird blogging

Another puffin. I got better pictures of some of the other birds, but I can't resist those little clown faces.

Sunday bird blogging

A puffin in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve.

We drove up the coast from St. John's to Port Union yesterday, stopping for a cruise in Witless Bay. We didn't see any whales, but there were thousands of seabirds, including these adorable creatures.  It was overcast and the boat was bouncing around so my pictures aren't that sharp but I think the cuteness shines through.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Another view from Signal Hill

From a slightly different angle, you can't even tell that there's a harbor there.

Unfortunately we didn't get much sun today -- a forecast of partly sunny in Newfoundland apparently means that a few square inches of blue will occasionally poke through what is otherwise an uninterrupted expanse of gray. But at least it wasn't raining.

The Narrows

Here's another view of the entrance to St. John's harbor taken from Signal Hill today. You can see why it's called the Narrows. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Greetings from St. John's, Take 2

The entrance to St. John's harbor, seen in evening light yesterday.

I resolved my technical issues, and there will be photos when time and wi-fi allow. Tonight the wi-fi is barely two bars, and after two long bus rides across parts of St. John's tourists rarely see, I'm also pretty feeble. I did not expect that the highlight of my first day in Newfoundland would be a Best Buy.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Greetings from St. John's

I'm in Newfoundland -- or am I?

You'll have to take my word for it, as there won't be any photographic evidence, at least for today, possibly not until I get back to New York.

I'd been congratulating myself on how smoothly this trip had gone so far -- how clever I'd been to fly to Montreal last night and stay in the hotel in the terminal before continuing on to St. John's today, how I'd managed to pack enough clothes for a two and a half week trip into a carry-on sized suitcase. So of course it turns out I managed to forget one tiny but critical piece of equipment -- the adaptor that connects the USB ports on my Mac to the USB plugs on every other electronic device. (Because of course the newer Macs aren't compatible with the rest of the world; even my iPhone needs the adaptor to connect to my laptop.)

I'll try to find an adaptor here tomorrow. If I can't, photo posting will be limited to phone pictures until I'm back home.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

When galaxies collide! These two galaxies, collectively known as Arp 87, will eventually, in a few billion years or so, merge into one.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI, AURA)

Monday, August 12, 2019

More of the Gardens

Meanwhile, back in Victoria

And, finally, circling back to the beginning of my recent Canadian adventure before starting the next one -- here are some more pictures from Butchart Gardens in Victoria.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Bonus bird blogging

A young loon being fed in Lake Beauvert.

This youngster, like Heather, actually had two mommies; our guide said probably one of them lost her baby, so she was co-parenting. While one adult was diving for food, the other was feeding the baby. By the time one Mama was done feeding and ready to dive for the next course, the other would be back with food, so the youngster barely had time to breathe between mouthfuls. I didn't have any basis for comparison, but I'm guessing that this was the fattest juvenile loon in Canada.

Sunday bird blogging

A gray jay, also called a Canada jay, caught mid-hop near Maligne Lake in Jasper.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Friday, August 9, 2019

Urban poetry

Colorful seating in downtown Calgary.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Last of the Rockies

Finishing the Canadian Rockies with one last shot of Lake Louise -- every bit as beautiful as I had hoped, but surrounded by so much I hadn't expected.

And I managed to get through the pictures before leaving on my next trip!

Random things I saw in the Rockies

Lake Beauvert; the eerie patterns left by leaf miner worms in aspen leaves; Lake Patricia; a tree in Maligne Canyon -- it probably once grew over a fallen tree that has since rotted away, leaving it standing on stilts.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019


On the last afternoon of the trip, we crossed back into British Columbia into Yoho National Park. It was raining so the visuals were not as mesmerizing but we got to at least see a cloud behind which the strange and wonderful fossils of the Burgess Shale were found above Emerald Lake, and learn more about the building of the railroad across Canada. 

This train near Kicking Horse Pass appears to be making an improbably sharp turn, but there's actually a very large spiral tunnel between the two sections of the train; the lower part is entering the tunnel and the cars above are emerging. (You can see a few more cars through the trees at the bottom of the picture -- this is one of those mile-long freight trains.)

The original track had been the steepest stretch of railroad track in North America, and there were frequent accidents. The solution was to dig two spiral tunnels through the mountains -- basically making a giant figure 8 of track, longer but not nearly as steep. Since they did this in 1909, without modern technology, it's a remarkable feat of engineering.

We'd stopped by the overlook on our way to Emerald Lake, learned the history, and admired one of the tunnel entrances through the downpour. As we approached the pass on our way back, there was a train approaching and our driver did a U-turn in the middle of the highway to get us back to the overlook just before the train emerged from the top of the tunnel. So here's one train times three in a single picture.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Mount Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell was an English nurse who was executed by the Germans in World War I for helping hundreds of Allied soldiers to escape from occupied Belgium. I never got an unobstructed look at her spectacular namesake mountain in Jasper National Park -- one more reason to go back.

Astronomy Tuesday

I'm in the mood for a nebula, and this does nicely: the Fishhead Nebula in Cassiopeia. And I can actually see the fish!

Image Credit and Copyright: Alan Pham

Monday, August 5, 2019


Two more pictures from Maligne Lake of a glacier in the mountains.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Back to Maligne Lake

My new fantasy is to spend a few months lake-hopping through Alberta.

Bonus bird blogging

The geese are a little blurry in this shot, but I like how the clouds reflected in the lake give the illusion that  they're marching along the top of some high cliff.

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