360-Degree Whales

Who knew St. Anthony was the capital of humpback whale feeding? And the season happens to be NOW. Many of you have no doubt seen these big guys before, in Iceland, California, Cape Cod, etc. But the Hudsons had never seen so many blowholes from the shore, or so many breaching, jumping, showing-off whales from a boat. Honestly, they were 360 degrees and CLOSE, within 200 feet of the boat…often 4-5 at a time. No killer whales here, just the huge cute ones with no teeth (just baleens for filtering fish). Zeke would have gone wild.



Past and Current Vikings

L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland

Way, way up here on the North Atlantic Coast, Leif Erickson and Gang stormed ashore 1000 years ago. L’Anse is a place you may remember from elementary/high school history – because this was where archeologists found in 1960 definitive relics of a Viking village in N. America. The Norse bad boys (and some women too, turns out) made forays to Labrador and New Brunswick for wood, fur, and iron, but home was L’Anse. Well, at least for decade, when they decided that the Native Americans were too hard to deal with and they went back to Greenland.

This is a very very cool UNESCO site with sod long houses, etc. But rather than prattling on, I’ll leave you with some pix from Randy and a great piece on the Vikings in National Geographic you might have seen in March 2017.

Let’s move on to the Current Vikings on this tip of Newfoundland – the men that tame the seas to bring us shrimp, crab, and turbot. We came upon Chad and Gang while prowling the dock in St. Anthony and asking – of course too many – questions. Cleaning their nets for shrimping, they were getting ready for a 3-day trip and were happy to yak.


Fishing in the North Atlantic is dangerous work AND highly regulated. But at least it is now diversified. This wasn’t the case when we visited in the 80’s, when cod fishing was all-important (as it had been for 5 centuries). In 1992 the Canadian government shut the cod fishing industry down due to overfishing and it still hasn’t come back.

So Chad’s father and now Chad have shifted to other fish we love to eat. Regulation is still a sensitive topic here, since the moratorium put 30,000 out of work with “the stroke of of a pen.” I was tempted to ask Chad why they didn’t just try a Viking raid on the feds. But instead I told him I was glad they were now fishing for crabs, too, since the crab nets are really cool – they look like lampshades. See below.

_H7A4491_H7A4622_H7A4506Diversifying has helped saved the day for these fisherman. Wonder if they might consider a Chinese flight training school?



Cod Tongues, Screech, and Other Island Oddities

St. Anthony, Newfoundland

In case you’re wondering, here’s where we are – see the blue dot. On the northern tip of this godforsaken island. Even the timezone is odd – 1/2 hour ahead of Atlantic Central, so 2.5 hours ahead of KC. We were introduced 35 years ago to cod tongues ( fried tender upper mouths of codfish) when we visited the southern parts of Newfoundland. We have wondered since about the even more wind-swept desolation and Viking heritage of the northern peninsula and Labrador. And we recalled that the screech (newfie rum) was warm and comforting during the relentless cold, rainy days.

So yesterday we drove 300 miles north out of thriving Deer Lake, population 5300 to St. Anthony, an outpost fishing town dating from the early 1500’s. The drive? Pine trees, then tundra, then more pine trees, punctuated by a fishing village or two. Starkly beautiful, great walks and only a little rain.


Cod tongues for dinner were better than we remembered. More tomorrow about Lynn, a colorful 77-year resident of this hamlet.



A Big Hiccup but Movin’ On

Everyone deals with unexpected stuff on trips. But this is big. Got an email last night: a check/recall notification for the plane’s (just replaced) engine. And of course we are a million miles away from a Mooney specialist. Need to abort the original trip (and who the hell knows how we will get the plane home from New Brunswick).

But have decided to press on – fly commercial to Newfoundland and figure out the rest later (can’t drive – it’s an island). Thankfully bought a bottle of gin yesterday and the G&T tastes pretty damn good.

We are channeling this guy’s attitude – watched him surf on the “bore tide” – where strong tide of the Bay of Fundy meets Petitcodiac River flow.

P.S. Realized we were leaving New Brunswick with very little visual record of what the heck this place looks like. Will post a couple of pix soon.


West Meets East: Reinventing a Business

Moncton, N.B.
Enough fish and tide tales. Let’s get back to business – an impressive entrepreneurial “pivot.” There’s tiny aviation college on the Moncton airport field. The sign said  “founded in 1929,” and  lots of small plane pilots no doubt trained there over the years. But,  along with general aviation/small plane decline all, this kind  of operation is dying. Netjet is what it’s  about today.

But instead of the dusty, paint-peeling general aviation outfits we usually see when refueling, Moncton Flight College was an amazing beehive of activity. Racing around were dozens of young, white-uniformed Chinese pilots in training.



Turns out the owners of MFC decided NOT to let the town go off the map. So they researched and found a hungry market in China – which desperately needs trained pilots. They forged relationships with several Chinese schools and now have 200-300 pilots training 1-3 years in a fleet of planes. The students live right on the field in dorms and bicycle into town. We talked with several students and they were full of energy and excitement. An instructor told us they pay as much as $50k each for a fairly basic pilot certification. That’s a lot of clams in an otherwise dying business – and impressive for the hinterlands of Canada.


This is probably information overload, but it was sobering for us to see what they have on their website to attract International students. Check out #4, 5, 6, and 10. Ouch.

Top Ten Reasons to Study in Canada!

1. Canada is ranked by the UN as one of the top ten places in the world to live
2. Canada’s educational institutions are world leaders in quality and value
3. Degrees and diplomas granted at Canadian institutions are recognized internationally
4. International students who graduate from a college or university in Canada can stay and work after graduation. Consult http://www.cic.gc.ca for more information
5. Canada is a safe country with a stable government
6. Canada’s health care system is one of the best in the world
7. Canada has two official languages and offers ample opportunity to learn and master both
8. Canada is proud of its multicultural population diversity is celebrated
9. Canada’s natural beauty is protected, preserved and picturesque!
10. Canada welcomes international students and is proud to be a study destination of choice for students from around the globe.

Kyle: Lobstering with Giant Tides

Alma, New Brunswick
Who knew? The biggest tides in the world are right here in the Bay of Fundy. They rise up and down as much as 40 feet, twice each day – more than a 4-story building. And life here revolves around these tides.

Meet Kyle. His lobster boat (below) was sitting in the mud at 9:00a when we first met him. But by noon his boat had risen high enough for him to go out and set the last traps of the season (season ends and fines start on Aug. 1). And by 3:00p his boat was back at the dock, sitting in tall cotton – um, seawater. He went out again a couple of hours later, but was due back well before low tide…when his boat would softly lowered itself into the mud as the water receded. The days’ rhythm changing with the phases of the moon.


So why the heck are the tides so grandiose here, creating deep canyons (below) and raising boats so quickly? The non-sciency answer: pull of the moon, rotation of the earth, and unique funnel shape of the Bay of Fundy. We loved the National Park here, too.


30 – ft tide canyons

No Wall Here!

Moncton, New Brunswick: So what does it take to get a small airplane into Canada? There may be no wall, but there are sure a bunch of hoops! Weeks/days before: Got a radio license for the plane (not required by U.S.) then filed with/got permission from CANPASS, the Canadian Border Patrol. But unlike our trip in 2010, not required to carry a gun (in case of engine failure – bears, etc. No joke)

Day of flight: Filed International flight plan, called CANPASS. Flew up coast of Maine and announced leaving US airspace. Then waited on the runway in Moncton, New Brunswick for the Customs guys. Officer McCawley was lovely and even let me take his picture! But this is weird: He mentioned that he and his sidekick Francois “had done a google search” and was “glad our answers to his questions matched up.” Wonder what would have happened if we had tawdry pictures posted on the Web.


We are in! Proudly displaying a Canada Customs and Border Patrol decal.

Blessings or Blasphemy

Kingston, NY: You have to be impressed with their vision. Artists Julie and Peter came upon this derelict 1859 Baptist Church 30 years ago. The dream grew organically and a home, studio, and a couple of extra bedrooms emerged. We stayed in the choir loft under a 20 foot window…I swear I heard angels.

Julie has one of those beaming faces and lilting voices that keeps you captivated: her stories of Dutch history on the Hudson and the art community she and Peter have built in Kingston were matched by her banana bread pudding.


Here are pictures and details about the place if you want more

Sully Hudson: Down the Hudson

I wasn’t going to start this blog until we were beyond the U.S. border but I can’t help myself – yesterday was way too cool. Randy had always dreamed of flying the Mooney down the Hudson River at low altitude, into Manhattan. But then came 9/11 so the idea of a single engine plane flying within a few hundred feet of millions of people seemed a little outlandish.

But low and behold – with some planning and the 123.05 frequency, he did it! And I bet you didn’t hear any news reports of an errant pilot and co-pilot crashing into buildings or the river!

So here’s the quick version of the adventure, and of course the photos tell the real story: 90 miles down the Hudson River into Manhattan, around the Statue of Liberty (twice), to Staten Island, back up to World Trade Center, Central Park, Riverdale, and Sing Sing(!) returning to Poughkeepsie. At an altitude of just 800-1000ft, you could almost touch the bridges and buildings.



A bit more detail if you’re interested: Like a highway, you stay on the right side and since there are no traffic lights in this busy airspace, voice becomes the signal. The aviation rule is to announce yourself at each of several landmarks as you pass them on the 123.05, so other pilots know where you are (“Mooney, George Washington Bridge, southbound”). Or Clock or Alpine Tower or Intrepid. That’s it! Just had to find The Clock, which turns out to be a giant clock across from the Battery that  was built by Colgate in 1924. It was all pretty surreal.

It was especially moving to be allowed to fly so close to the Statue of Liberty – no TSA, no special forms, no nada. The ultimate Freedom of Movement – what a country!


The world beyond the Heartland…

Hello! We are curious travelers with 45 years of adventures. We love to find unique people, environments and stories. We will try to relate some of these with Randy’s photos and Doranne’s short narratives as we take a six-month period in 2017 to explore Coasts and Characters from Newfoundland to Wales to Tasmania.

So why not just Instagram? Our hope (we are neophytes in the blogging world) is to curate and share some stories that seem interesting. Please drop us a note anytime with thoughts or questions or demands to stop!

iPadMyanmar 107Not in Kansas anymore! Dawn in Mandalay, Myanmar 2016