Problem-solving and the U.S of A.

Moncton, NB

Back on the Canada mainland, we still had our “plane problem.” The safety notice had not miraculously disappeared. Of course, we jettisoned our plan to fly to Sept-Iles, Quebec – 300 miles north of Quebec City on the St. Lawrence. Mingan Archipelago Nat’l Park with the weird rock formations will have to wait.

Instead, Randy made multiple calls to “people who know about these things” and we put together a gameplan that begins today: Doranne flies home commercial from New Brunswick to KC (complicated routing but what the heck). Randy waits for fairly clear weather (no IFR) and flies in segments at higher altitudes back to his trusted folks in KC.

An “ticklish” trip from start to finish. In the unlikely event you’re wondering about all the tickles here north of the border:

To a mariner, a tickle is a narrow, dangerous body of salt water where the current can change direction without warning and unseen water hazards lurk. To this day, people refer to a dangerous predicament as a ticklish situation. Newfoundland has more than 200 ticklish spots, while New Brunswick has at least seven, including Dark Tickle, Tickle Beach and Timble Tickle.“ (Heritage Dictionary)

Update: Both home today, Randy safe and sound through rows of thunderclouds on Lake Erie.


Thanks for reading/putting up with this blog! More Coasts and Characters from Wales in late August



Cape Onion, Goose Cove and Food Dreams


As our trip among the Newfies was winding down, we came upon hiking hotspots with great foodie names like Cape Onion and Goose Cove and Berry Hill. Maybe they named these because of some French culinary heritage (remember all the L’Anse stuff?).

Or maybe because it is so DARN HARD to find food around here. Honestly, there were so few restaurants that we ate dinner at this one place 3 nights (yummy cod tongues +) and had small grocer fixins’ every lunch. We started to dream about KC steaks. Thank goodness the walks were stunning (and check out the miniature village someone built at the end of a dirt road on a rock – go figure). Those helped divert thoughts from rumbling stomachs.



Into the Wild

Forteau, Labrador
Once the Hudsons were North, we wanted more North, despite some warning signs. The Lonely Planet Canada guide, which is normally fairly chirpy about adventure, noted that “Labrador is cold, wet and windy, and its bugs are murderous. Facilities are few and far between.” Another hint, from history: In 1909 the government apparently tried to sell Labrador for $9mm but there were no takers.

Not deterred by this negativity, we pressed onward, crossing the Straits of Labrador on a ferry, with no set plans or reservations. Luckily, we found a pickup truck to rent and we started driving up the coast on the one road in this huge, sparsely populated province. Take a look – what do YOU think?

Yep, Stark, treeless, boggy, (and buggy)….mile after mile. According to current maps, the main/only road though the province is paved just 65% of the way. And even “paved” is pretty rough – in an area the size of Montana. An old, towering lighthouse became a beacon of Fun History. Turns out the Strait’s “shortcut to Europe” was proving to be a mess for ship traffic in the early 1800’s with its icebergs, wind, and fog. So after hundreds of shipwrecks, the lighthouse was built in 1850 and life got a whole lot better for southern Labrador.



As for the Hudsons, the road stayed rough and the bugs got rougher…and we finally did what smarter people would have done long before: returned the pickup and headed back to the ferry, bound for more lovable Newfoundland.
P.S. Labrador mineral production is now $2B a YEAR – should have bought it when it was on sale for $9MM.


The Patey Clan, Icebergs, and Garbage Bins

St. Anthony, NF
The reason you know this is a small town is that most everyone is named Patey, including Lynn, the 77-year old energy ball we stayed with for 3 days. The cemetery is full of Patey graves and there are Patey streets and brooks in town. It’s one big clan and has apparently been around St. Anthony for 300 years.

Houses and plantings here are simple, uniform, and tidy. One communal norm we especially admire is their garbage Bins. No plastic dumpsters here…Everyone has one of these personalized gems out front. And don’t get me started on the tidy wash lines.


While I am sad that Lynn Patey did not want her picture taken, Clyde Patey, whom she claims she does not know, was happy to pose. At 84 he loves nothing more than cycling around this hamlet and chatting. Lynn and Clyde – in fact everyone we met – are hail, hardy, smiling folks. Surviving the brutal 8-month winter is not for wimps and people are pragmatic and calm. They laugh easily.

For example, Lynn thought it was hilarious that Randy wanted ice in a glass of water. She kept no ice cubes but insisted on something better: a piece of iceberg she kept in her freezer, 13,000 years old. This sounds preposterous, but it’s fact: St. Anthony is on Iceberg Alley, an area of the North Atlantic strewn with icebergs that chip off the glaciers in Greenland and float south. So Randy got a taste of ancient glacier and, when Lynn suggested he pour some “liquor” on it, he happily obliged with gin. She herself preferred Baileys.


When I asked Lynn what people in Kansas City should know about Newfoundland she said: “Tell them winter is long but life is slow and people trust each other. That’s it.” The dozens of carefully stacked woodpiles and lobster traps by the road on the outskirts of town (with no “keep out” warnings) is fine evidence.