Leah Von Hagen

Joined September 2019Living in: Victoria, Canada
  • Day15

    So long for now...

    September 22 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 7 °C

    Departure day dawned bright and sunny! As always, we are early to rise and a few last minute things to pack. A big pot of oatmeal compliments of Alan! Then to the airport with last minute hugs of goodbye! Then time to reflect while waiting for the flight!

    What an amazing trip we have had! We never tired of looking at ocean and coastlines…there was no end of beauty and awe to stand at the edge of a cliff and look out over the water and rock. We loved the music, clapped our hands to the beat and even tried playing the spoons. We loved the sayings and had fun either trying to understand them or use them appropriately! We so enjoyed the people we met along the way- always so welcoming and always making sure we were okay and experiencing the very best of what Newfoundland has to offer. We loved the seafood and ate as much as we could whenever we could- mussels, cod, scallops, cod, squid, clams, cod, fish cakes and more cod! We were surprised by the weather; everyone told us it would be cold and wet and cold and wet again! But even with Hurricane Dorian, we had fantastic weather. Sunshine, warmth, beautiful sunrises and sunsets and enough rain, fog and drizzle to show us what it can be like for those who live here year round! We loved the Newfoundland Chocolate shop…that one speaks for itself. And, we love that we were screeched in and are now honorary Newfoundlanders!

    Most of all we loved sharing this trip with dear friends- Diane, Gary, Heather and Alan. It was made so much better with friends around us. There is a saying “Life is made for good friends and great adventures.” So blessed that we shared this great adventure with our good friends. Special thanks to Heather and Alan for helping plan the adventure and sharing their home and love for Newfoundland with us. Thanks to Kirby and Colin for lending us their van to travel in- so very gracious and kind of them!

    We thought back on the supplies we needed for this trip. In addition to hiking gear- hiking boots, rain jacket, micro down jackets, hats, wool socks, gloves and so on, the following were also deemed necessary:
    -endless supplies of great wine,
    -bags and bags of Hawkins cheezies,
    -chocolate bars,
    -fudge,
    -coffee,
    -wine gums,
    -Twizzlers liquorice,
    -Jujubes,
    -G&T…

    I probably have forgotten a few items but you get my drift!

    This trip has left us thinking about when we can next visit…maybe iceberg season.

    But for now, this adventure has ended and we leave this place so much richer for our experiences here. Thank-you Newfoundland and thank-you Heather and Alan! You are extraordinary hosts and thank-you hardly seems enough given all you did for us over our time with you.

    So long for now....
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  • Day14

    Last Days, Lasting Memories

    September 21 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    Well, we woke to rain and cloud so berry picking did not look so promising. After a hearty breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, toast, coffee and juice, we made a plan to pack up and head back to the city but with a stop at La Manche Village to do a hike in to see the suspension bridge. Although the hike was only about 4 km in all, it was a very wet trail with water flowing right down the middle of the trail and some parts required us to go off path quite a bit to avoid deep puddles. Parts of it were slippery and mucky along with climbing up and down several rocky paths. But, it was well worth it! There was a nice waterfalls close to the suspension bridge that Alan said he has never seen flowing before and he has done this hike about 30 times. We saw the remnants of La Mache fishing community which was hit by a powerful winter storm in January 1966. The high tide and waves destroyed a lot of the homes and boats in the area; so much so that it was enough to make the folks in the area relocate. The suspension bridge was built in 1999. Again, beautiful views of the ocean and coastline. As we were walking back on the trail, we passed a few people who were hiking in dressed in sneakers- even white sneakers. We talked with them about the condition of the trail and cautioned them to be careful. Hope they made it in and out okay!

    Once home it was time for Kern and I to start packing up. Tomorrow is the end of our time here in Newfoundland and we head to NB to see family before going back to Victoria.

    We had our final meal with Alan and Heather at one of their favourite restaurants Olivers and enjoyed more good food followed by a taxi ride home with the most entertaining cab driver I have ever met. He had us in stitches all the way home.

    Great to end a day with such good friends and lots of laughter. We are blessed!
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  • Day13

    Off to a place in the country...

    September 20 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Today’s sunrise was amazing and for today’s adventure we headed to Alan and Heather’s country place in Admiral’s Cove located on the Avalon Peninsula of southeast Newfoundland. Enroute we also visited Ferryland which, I was so nicely corrected, is pronounced Furrylund. We did a nice hike up to the Town’s famous lighthouse at Ferryland Head. It was built in 1870 and automated a century later. We did not do the famous Lighthouse Picnic but saw lots of folks with blankets and baskets spread out on the grass and hills surrounding the lighthouse.This area is known as the “Irish heart” of Newfoundland.

    Heather and Alan’s country place is beautiful. Situated right on the edge of a cliff, it has a view second to none of the Atlantic Ocean from the back deck and the sun bathes the living room and deck for most of the day! It was hard to leave it but Alan had another hike in mind so off we went. This time to part of the East Coast Trail specifically Brigus Head South. Rated a moderate hike it had a few good climbs in it but we needed the exercise given all the good food and wine we have been enjoying. The views along the hike were again stunning and the rock outcrops so amazing!

    Later that evening we were treated to a fabulous sunset that made the sky look like cotton candy. A salmon barbecue and a few special wines made for an unforgettable evening.

    Today’s activity rated pretty good- 11,726 steps; 7.1 km and 36 floors according to the app on my phone. I wish it could also register smiles as I am sure there were thousands of those!

    Hoping for sunshine tomorrow as we plan to go berry picking!
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  • Day12

    The Yellowknife Connection

    September 19 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 4 °C

    Our party of 6 is now down to a party of 4 with Diane and Gary departure’s this morning. We were really sad to see them go but are already talking about next year’s gathering!

    Heather and I booked manicures followed by a little down time today to do laundry and catch up on emails and so on.

    Kern and Alan left for a hike along the Trans-Canada trail…just in case Kern wants to plan doing the whole trail at some point in the future!

    Today’s highlight was dinner at John and Delores Dooley’s home here in St. John’s joined also by Lillian and Alan McOuat who are in Newfoundland for a few weeks visiting family. Lots of reminiscing and even more belly laughs about "life in the Knife". So much so that I forgot to take some photos of us all together so no photos to post with this entry.
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  • Day11

    Rainy Day Exploring

    September 18 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 7 °C

    More rain and drizzle today so our plans to go to Bay Roberts are on hold and we decided to do things closer to home. We drove along Marine Drive and saw many beautiful homes with spectacular views. We stopped at Otter Cover which is the place where, on April 12, 1980, Terry Fox filled a glass jug with water from the Atlantic Ocean. His intent was to add that water to the Pacific Ocean when he finished his Marathon of Hope but sadly he never finished the marathon.

    We also stopped at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto and saw a plaque marking the spot where John Paul II knelt and prayed of September 24, 1984.

    We did a short hike at one of the East Coast Trail entry points but the wind and the rain was pretty hectic. This trail also marked an area, the Loss of the Waterwitch, where a schooner on November 20, 1875 went down. A hero, Alfred Moores, had himself lowered down the cliff and he was able to save 11 of the men on board the ship. Sadly 9 men did die that day. We saw the cliffs where he would have been lowered and it would have been quite a feat given the size and the angle of the cliffs!

    We also visited Heather’s brother and had a cuppa coffee with him and his new pup, Lila. He lives in a place called Pouch Cove but it is pronounced Pooch Cove. We also went for lunch at this fabulous little cafe The Traditional Cafe and Deli where EVERYTHING is homemade and done right there on the premises! Bread, cookies, cakes, lasagna. soups, salads…you name it! I chatted up one of the waitresses and found out they cook 2-3 turkeys a day just to keep up. Open 7 days a week and music on Thursday nights!

    And to cap off our excursions for the day, we stopped at the Newfoundland Chocolate Shop and stocked up on all things chocolate.

    Back at the ranch, we sat and talked about our last few weeks together as Diane and Gary head for home tomorrow. Kern and I depart on Sunday. We will really miss them. Over dinner (Heather’s yummy pot roast with sticky toffee pudding for dessert!) we talked about what we liked most about our trip, what surprised us during our trip, what we learned that we did not know before and so on!

    Another day blessed with adventure and friendship! Life is good!
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  • Day10

    Screeched In- Honorary Newfoundlanders

    September 17 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

    Tuesday dawned rainy and a bit foggy but did nothing to dampen our spirits! First off was a yummy breakfast at Rocket’s where we enjoyed lattes, scones, croissants and so on…topped off by macarons- partridgeberry, vanilla and blueberry! Followed then by a tour of local art galleries where we saw fabulous art by so many talented artists- Christopher Pratt, Mary Pratt, Barbara Pratt, David Blackwood, Kym Greeley (Heather’s cousin), JC Roy…

    We also went to The Rooms which is conveniently located across the street from Heather and Alan’s place. The Rooms is Newfoundland’s largest public cultural space and what a space it is! The design mirrors the fishing rooms where families came together to process their catch. There were lots of different exhibitions. A fun one was called A Job to Say: Newfoundland and Labrador Expressions where many local sayings were explained so people understood what was meant by them. As well, there was an exhibition called Beaumont-Hamel and the Trail of the Caribou which showed the impact of the 1st World War on Newfoundland and Labrador. A very compelling exhibition.

    And, Barbara Pratt was painting in the foyer so we were able to watch her paint and talk to her about her process. Very special!

    The day ended with Kern and I being “screeched in” at Christian’s Bar on George Street! What a fun time we had. There were 17 of us in all and Chef Loco (Brian the bartender) made it a unique experience by remembering each of our names more than once. So, we are now honorary Newfoundlanders and proud to say so!

    Dinner at YellowBelly Brewery where I had…you guessed it…fish again. Fish tacos! Another stop at Shamrock City for some music. Then home and to bed…tomorrow is another day!
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  • Day9

    Exploring Quidi Vidi and Cape Spear

    September 16 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    Another beautiful sunny day with a high of 18 forecasted! Quidi Vidi Village (pronounced Kiddie Vidi by most folks) is a small village close to St. John’s. We did a walking tour through it with our wonderful guide and friend Alan. The place is named after Quidi Vidi Lake where the Royal St. John’s Regatta is held every year in August. The village also has Newfoundland’s largest microbrewery- the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company where, of course, we stopped and sampled some of brews.

    While Alan, Gary, Kern and I hiked to the “gut” which is the local name for the harbour at Quidi Vide, Diane and Heather managed to score a table for lunch at Mallard Cottage, a quaint 18th century Irish style cottage. It is also one of the oldest wooden buildings in North America and recognized as a National Historic Site also. And best of all, the food was great! Even better, they have a Cake Table where you can fill a plate with desserts for $10.00. How sweet is that!

    Next stop- Cape Spear- the easternmost point in North America! It is also the trailhead and trail end for 2 parts of the East Coast Trail and we saw lots of folks hiking this trail. Maybe some day! The original Cape Spear lighthouse, built in 1836, is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland. A new concrete one was built in 1955. It was a beautiful day with virtually no wind and the ocean was calm. Alan, who has been there numerous times, said it was the 1st time he had seen the weather conditions so calm there! Lucky us!

    Then onto Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove, a small town of about 960 people but most famous for being the birthplace of Alan Doyle.

    Back home to Alan and Heather’s for dinner together and then we watched a documentary on the Gander response to 9/11 and the creation of Come From Away.

    A great day was had by all.
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  • Day8

    Hiking Signal Hill and spots in-between

    September 15 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Our day started with bright sunshine followed by a scrumptious homemade breakfast of eggs, croissants, bacon, toast, jams, jellies and fruit! It was nice to have a slow start to the day and not have to pack up or move camp!

    After breakfast, the table was cleared so we could look at a map of St. John’s and orient ourselves. Our plan for today was a hike to Signal Hill and a few historic stops along the way. Heather and Diane opted for coffee together while Gary, Kern and I geared up for a hike with Alan on a weather perfect day.

    We walked from Heather and Alan’s home to Signal Hill with Alan stopping at spots along the way to give us the history and background. The Signal Hill hike was spectacular and Alan made sure we covered all the nooks and crannies! Signal Hill is 167 metres above sea level and you get amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean, the city of St. John’s and the Narrows (channel through which all ships must pass when entering the harbour).

    The Health App on my phone registered 15,888 steps, 9.9 km and 49 flights climbed! Love my Namibian hips! All that climbing and walking meant we had earned a visit to The Ship pub highly recommended by Alan! So off we went to wet our whistles and meet up with Diane and Heather. Turns out the waitress was getting ready for a Caesar competition as the Mott’s Clamato juice rep was in town for this yearly event. Our waitress has participated for years and won a few years back! She would not share this year’s special concoction with us but told us the rim would be dipped with blueberry sea salt from Newfoundland as well crushed seaweed and a few other things I cannot remember. We wished her well and then headed to the car wash to clean up Kirby’s van before we returned it. Kirby, Heather and Alan’s daughter, so graciously loaned us her van for the road trip. We all decided to sit in the van as we went through the car wash…we even made that experience memorable!

    Back to the house for a rest and another great meal to end the day! Full bellies and grateful hearts…life is so good to us!
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  • Day7

    On the Road Again...

    September 14 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    With Willie Nelson's tune in my head, we loaded our stuff and ourselves into the van again for the trip to St. John's where we will stay at Heather and Alan's place. It was a 4 hour drive and we were glad to arrive especially knowing we were guests at Heather and Alan's fabulous home for the next leg of this trip.

    Kirby, their daughter, delivered dinner for us...lasagna and buns...so yummy!

    Then it was off to Iceberg Alley for an Alan Doyle concert which also included Shanney Ganock and the Celtic Connection! We really enjoyed the concert and the crowd. In Allan Doyle's words...it was a great Newfoundland kitchen party!

    Kirby asked us what we liked most on our trip so far...and she ended up hearing about each and every thing we did. It was too hard to pick one or even two!

    Having such a grand time...
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