Linda Ginenthal

Joined December 2017Living in: Victoria, Canada
  • Day34


    August 15 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Labrador is beautiful. Different than Newfoundland with a landscape littered with boulders on low-land boggy expanses and small alpine-like short evergreen forests. I saw a brilliant blue-white iceberg floating around on our way up to Red Bay.

    The central question is , why would you live here? Fishing has mostly dried up. Trees are too slow-growing to sustainably harvest. It’s cold and windy - yesterday I wore a long sleeve shirt, sweater, fleece jacket, rain jacket, and gloves for our morning hike on the small island across the bay. In the afternoon the weather was a bit warmer and the wind died. That’s when these teeny tiny black flies came out. We took a drive to an amazing overlook. We were out of the car for maybe a minute and were overrun by the little bastards. We dashed back to the car and a good hundred of them followed us in. We smashed dozens and dozens of them into the windows. A few landed on the only exposed flesh on my neck and feasted. I have about five or six small welts and blood-strained smears on the windows as evidence of the attack.

    So the bugs rule.

    We drove around hunting for birds and were rewarded with a few. The Northern Gannets dove bomb for fish, and we are seeing Artic Terns, Common Murres, Black-legged Kittiwakes and this morning three beautiful loons.

    Next door to our hotel is a museum that talks about the history of whaling by the Basque. It sounded grim but a lucrative way for a man to make a living during the 8 month trip harvesting whale oil.

    The locals talk about all the changes they have seen with the record snow and lack of snow, fish and no fish, and now the three buses full of tourists every day that come to visit the museum and shop for souvenirs here in Red Bay.

    And the accents - two men were talking with each other on the ferry ride over, and we could hardly understand them. You could catch a word here and there but, wow! The fellow in the museum sounded like he was straight from Ireland. Everyone has been really nice and eager to share about this place they call home.

    Power was out this morning and the water is in a state of perpetual boil alert and smelled not so fresh. The tourist industry seems not quite... ready. With so many tourists like us venturing here it will change fast.
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  • Day31

    Gros Morne, Newfoundland

    August 12 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    After 8 hours on a ferry, we arrived in Newfoundland and drove another 3 hours up to Gros Morne. The last hour we were on high moose alert. Signs are posted everywhere which we heeded with both of us scanning for these giants. We made it safely into our Old School House AirBnB. It is as it says, an old school house on Bonne Bay near the Tablelands. It seems that this is only one of two places on earth were a chunk of the earth’s mantle was squeezed up instead of down creating some stunning landscapes and haven for earth science lovers.

    Weather predictions meant we needed to get out on our first day before the thunderstorms hit. We took an easy hike along the Tablelands with the help of an iPad self-guided tour to interpret what we were seeing. The stark beauty of the rocks, small streams and falls plus lots of wildflowers including a carnivorous one were wonderful. We spent the afternoon hiking along Trout Pond - which should be called a lake - and got pretty damp with constant drizzle and vegetation up to our knees at the edges. It was pretty and not cold so... we enjoyed it.

    Thunder and lightning put on a loud and kinda scary show that night. Buckets and buckets of rain. Cool - while tucked in bed.

    A geologist’s heaven, we went up the Lookout trail to view the Tablelands, Gros Morne and mountains, Bonne Bay and Arms, and the wide open waters of St. Lawrence Bay. Goat trail. Straight up for 300 meters in a mile and a half. Like climbing up to Council Crest - fast. With the weather report looking dicey, we booked it pretty fast (for us). It was hot. Hot and humid. I was sweating like a pig. The views up there were totally worth it. Alpine meadows, more flowers, and a spectacular view of the whole area. The afternoon turned out to be warm and sunny. We went back to Trout Pond and took a dip. Nice.

    Our host offered moose stew with homemade dumplings for dinner. OMG that was delicious. Not gamey or sour. Like a tender beef only different. We also ate Partrigde Berry jam, seaweed-infused gin and an actual iceberg! Greg, our host had a chunk that he broke off (not sure where). It fizzles! Bubbles from thousands upon thousands of years ago trapped in the compacted ice. I called it dinosaur breath.

    We have been particularly lucky with the weather but didn’t want to test fate so we left the School House in the morning to set up our tent at Green Point - on the other side of Bonne Bay. We were rewarded with sunny or overcast skies and only a little drizzle during the days. Our first night camping proved the meddle of our tent with torrential rains and wind. We escaped with only a few wet spots.

    Camping in Nova Scotia and here in Newfoundland is a luxurious affair. Hot private showers and here with heat lamps, dishwashing sinks also with hot water, flush toilets, covered cook areas and picnic tables you don’t mind putting your things on top of. They even have recycling centers. I don’t know if you are seeing all the ads to come to Newfoundland but I think these upgraded facilities are a part of Canada’s plan to boost the economy here.

    The parks offer lots of free guided tours too. This morning we learned about the formation of rocks along the shore that are still a mystery to the scientists who try to figure these things out. In the afternoon, we spent time learning about the fishing families who harvested cod, salmon and lobster until the three brothers got too old to fish. One of their daughters donated all the old fishing equipment for the exhibit housed in their original fish house. She also gave furniture and such in the teeny cabin housing all three brothers, their wives and children. Each one of three bedrooms were just large enough for a small double bed. The main room had a two stackable twin beds for the older kids and shelves were built above the parents’ beds for the little ones. Tight quarters, indeed. The guy giving the tour had a delightful yet understandable Newfie accent dropping Hs and clipping his sentences.

    Tomorrow we head up to Labrador for a few days.
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  • Day26

    Cape Breton Camping

    August 7 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    We camped for one cramped night in Ingonish after a day of driving/meandering up to Cape Breton. The next three nights we camped further up the island in Dingwall. It was pretty exposed but who can argue with hot showers, a dishwashing station with a real sink, flush private toilets, and delicious snow crab on site? The view was pretty sweet too. We overlooked a cove and out.

    Cape Breton is gorgeous. We hiked up on a cloudy day to an open area that had alpine habitat. Nothing was taller than knee height for most of the hike. The wild flowers all over the area are in their full regalia popping with purples, pinks, yellows, and reds. Given the cold environment and how long winter and wind lash this coast, it is a wonder they survive at all.

    We splurged on a whale watching tour and were not disappointed. A dozen or so pilot whales swam around the boat. With their round faces they are the super cute whale variety. The ship captain took us close to cliffs spying on seals and more gorgeous rock formations.

    We found ourselves back on the water in a canoe - Sheryl’s favorite. We wandered around dipping in an out of grassy lakes spotting a family of kingfishers, cormorants, a great blue heron and more bird life.

    You would think the water was too cold for swimming but it was wonderful! We swam in the Asby River and one other beach on the St Lawrence Bay. I just loved getting in the water. A real treat.

    On our last day in the Cape Breton area we drove around with west side to the more popular area. It was nice but I liked the east side with fewer tourists, fewer shops, and fewer houses abutting natural areas. Still it was none too shabby.

    Tomorrow we take the 8 hour ferry to Newfoundland and drive another 3 hours to Gros Morne Provincial Park.
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  • Day22

    Tangier and 100 Islands

    August 3 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    We dashed back across Nova Scotia to a tiny town called Tangier. We stayed at a place called Paddlers Retreat. They run kayaking trips all over the area and also up into Newfoundland. We opted to paddle around for the day by ourselves.

    The coastline here is dotted with dozens and dozens of little islands and soft sandy beaches to land. The weather was a little windy but not enough to preclude getting out on our own. Getting in is always tough. We don’t know the equipment and as it was the highest of high season and we were only renting and not taking a tour, we didn’t get the sleekest of their fleet. It was more than serviceable but required some patience with the spray skirts and feathered paddles.

    This was day four of kayaking and our backs and arms were really just fine! I had expected to be sore or at least stiff from the last 3 days on the water. Nope. It was comfortable. We paddled across to several islands with a bunch of inlets and coves to explore. The water is so clean and clear here that we could spy treasures both under and at the water’s edge. We had packed our lunch and pulled in to this decent sized sand beach where we ate and then swam in the cold, but not too cold, water. Again, we were out there pretty much on our own. Very few boaters or kayakers to be seen.

    I remember traveling to Costa Rica 25 years ago and people said that Costa Rica was just so overrun with tourists. This was a little like that. Nova Scotia is supposedly super touristy. I know Sheryl does a great job sussing out places to stay that are wonderful but I just can’t be worried about “overrun” when it means you might see one or two other tourists on the beach or out along a hiking trail.

    Pancakes. I haven’t had pancakes for an age. I had them both mornings at Paddlers Retreat. With honey-sweetened yogurt, strawberries and a splash of maple syrup. A splurge worth it. It left me fortified for the next four days of camping at Cape Breton.
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  • Day19

    Cape Chignecto Provincial Park Kayaking

    July 31 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Three amazing days paddling off Cape Chignecto Provincial Park. It had been about 15 years since Sheryl and I had taken a week long kayaking trip in Alaska in Prince Williams Sound. We paddled along the rocky coast decorated with pillars of igneous rock and wind-swept sandstone cliffs. We poked into caves, snuck under waterfalls and maneuvered around the seemingly random set of rocks sticking out - a little like Haystack Rock but skinnier. Mr Sunny was out for a good portion of the time but we also paddled in thick fog, light rain, and strong breezes. The trip was organized to capture just the right tides at the right times so we would be able to land somewhat close to the high tide for beach camping at the end of the day and launch at to catch the right currents and wind around the point of the peninsula without getting tossed around (too much). We were in doubles which are very, very stable. You would have to work hard to tip it.

    It always takes longer than you think to sort the stuff for the dry bags, gather the equipment, “suit up” and launch. It is always shocking how much you can get in a double kayak too. We were each given two medium and one small dry bags for our clothes, toiletries, sleeping bag, and miscellaneous. On top of that we had tents, food coolers, water bags and filter, cook stoves, and tent, kayak and people first aid kits. Each boat has an extra paddle, bilge pump, tow rope plus our spray skirts, PFDs, paddles and hats. Yeesh. We were lumbering around out there with lots of ballast.

    Sheryl and I were joined by Rachel and her partner Dave from Seattle, Hedy, Patrick and their 19 year old daughter Ariel from Toronto, and James, our 21 year old guide from London. He has been paddling these shores for 5 years and longer exploring the area from his grandparents’ summer home nearby as a younger lad. We had a blast connecting with these folks. Dave and Sheryl had a banter going - he teaches middle schoolers so has an adventurous spirit. Lots of laughing and goofing around after a day of paddling. Rachel is also a teacher for youth who need to learn English as a second language. They had lived in Portland for a while in the early nineties back when Portland was more of a backwater. (Sorry my Portland friends, but it is true.)

    Hedy Ginzburg is a pediatric doctor. Her husband, Patrick is a pathologist. Ariel is in school. They were all bright and fun. Ariel was a bit strange. It was hard to put my finger on why until late in the second day when she got her long hair caught in the zipper of her tent - for the second time. Hedy had been insisting that Ariel place her tent closer to their tent. I thought that was rather controlling and silly since there were only a few flat spots along the beach to pitch tents and none right close to the other. Now I know why. Patrick and Ariel paddled their doluble kayak and kept up a non-stop chatter laughing and singing and enjoying each other’s company. That was delightful to see but also kind of annoying as we sailed by some of the majestic and magical rock formations.

    We didn’t see any other kayakers out along this 23 km stretch of shoreline. I’m not quite sure why because it was stunning. Around every corner was another breathtaking view. In places the cliffs had stripes of different kinds of rocks formed by different earth forces. It made for some dramatic scenery. Sheryl and I are a great paddling team. I sit up front and set the pace. Sheryl steers. We both like it that way. It means we can concentrate on taking in the beauty of the place.

    Other than getting my feet wet getting in and out of the boat, kayaking was pretty dry. I discovered the usefulness of those Lands End long-sleeve swimming shirts. They dry instantly and kept my skin from frying in the sun and getting chilly in the fog. I had to stick my gloved hands in the water from time to time to cool off some. My big floppy hat kept me from getting burned too. Out of the boat I was brave enough to take a dip in the cold river on day two.

    The last night got wicked windy and it rained overnight and sporadically in the morning before we headed out. It was fun. I got out to the river to wash up before anyone woke up - I love that part of camping. It is a little bit of naked outside and quiet time. Just as I finished, the rain started up. I crawled back in the tent until it blew over when everyone appeared for our coffee and breakfast. Another shower just as we finished our meal had everyone scrambling back to put all their stuff in the dry bags for stuffing in the kayaks.

    I was so happy. I love kayaking and since Sheryl and I had taken lessons again just this last March, our paddling technique and understanding of the water had proven to make the trip so much better.

    Next we go to the other side of Nova Scotia (again) to paddle on our own.
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  • Day18

    Parrsboro and Band Day!

    July 30 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    We arrived in Parrsboro, a small town on Fundy Bay, in time to catch the last hour and a half of Band Day! The local band was playing in the aptly named town bandstand. Satin Doll, some Beatles, and a couple other standards I just don’t recall were performed. They had lots of heart. I guess this is what a local band practices for all year - Band Day.

    Parrsboro has clearly had a commitment to add arts and history throughout the town. It was surprisingly rich. There were small art installations between and on lots of the buildings. They had plaques all over with stories from many of the buildings’ histories and what they use to be or who they housed. Unfortunately, they had this giant wooden statue of a local First Nations person next to the bandstand. It was weird with a mop-like thing draped over it for hair and ochre red painted skin. It had a sign talking about the indigenous peoples who lived and continue to live in the area but... it didn’t quite sit right.

    The geological museum was excellent with one of the best displays of how the earth’s land masses have moved around over millions and millions of years. Parrsboro was once attached to Morocco. Imagine that. We took a walking tour and saw actual dinosaur bones (teeny tiny bones) imbedded in the sandstone at the dig site. This is the location where they unearthed the oldest dinosaur bones in all of North America. Pretty cool.

    Fundy Bay has tidal fluctuations of upwards of 5 meters leaving slim to no beach or long muddy flats to reach the water’s edge. Given the position of the moon and time of the tides, we were there for some of the highest highs and lowest lows. They described it like water sloshing in a bathtub. It creates these giant waves up the bay. You can “ride” these in special raft trips. Given the extremes, we opted for less bone-jangling activities. After spending so many days strolling with Jeanne in Halifax, it was good to get out and hike a little bit along the beaches.

    We stayed at a very old Victorian home that had been preserved by the great-grandson of the original owners. We had all of the upstairs to ourselves with a parlour/sitting room, two bedrooms with a double and three quarter beds (we love the smaller beds), huge bathroom with a walk-in bathtub (over-rated), and every wall covered with original wallpaper. It was also stuffed with Victorian antiques. I can’t say it was beautiful but it certainly was interesting. The guy had I Love Lucy memorabilia all over the house including Vegivitavetamin bottles. We thought he was gay - but he mentioned his girlfriend about a zillion times. He nearly always had a glass of red wine in his hand. Fun times.

    Next up will be three days kayaking and camping on the beach.
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  • Day16

    Made It To Halifax

    July 28 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    We arrived! We had a half day to do a bunch of things before heading to the airport to pick up Sheryl’s mom, Jeanne, who is joining us for this first leg of the trip in the Maritimes. We shlepped most of our camping gear and bought a cooler, camp chairs, mosquito shelter, extra tarp, and pillows (car camping can be so luxurious). We filled the frig and scoped out the apartment amenities. Jeanne arrived without her suitcase - it is a direct flight from Philadelphia to Halifax and her bag went to Dallas and then Boston. American Airlines was horrible about it. They knew the bag got to Boston that night but didn’t know where it went after that... We finally drove back to the airport the next day to discover it sitting in the baggage office. Sigh. One job, people. One job.

    Halifax is a nice city. Heritage and history are the thing here. Older buildings, the Citadel - a fort that was surprisingly interesting, and sailing/fishing ships. Halifax was one of the places where many landed immigrating to Canada. The Immigration Museum is much smaller than Ellis Island for sure but with a similar process. I looked up my ancestors on my mom’s side - according to Canada’s records it seems that Pierre Hyacinthe’s son was the first to emigrate from France in the 1700s. I got a copy of his death notice written in a bible in 1790 with the name Joseph Hyacinthe Bellerose. Online records have his name as Hyacinthe Bellerose and my family tree booklet has Pierre as the person who emigrated from France. It can get so confusing. I’ll need to do even more digging to get it all straight.

    Halifax has a pretty boardwalk which was steps away from our apartment. We could walk to most places from there. They have a nice farmers market on Saturdays but the growing season is quite short. Blueberries had not yet come in yet - sad face - but who could be sad when Jeanne brought me my Jagielkey’s box of chocolate? We got a walker with a seat for Jeanne to use while we toured around. At 94 years old, she gets around pretty good without it but this gives just a little more support and stability. We walked for miles with it.

    It seems that Canada is experiencing the same crazy heat in the east as the west which gave me the opportunity to do some shopping. I hadn’t packed enough t-shirts anticipating a cooler forecast. I got a nice, light shirt for a deal. As I get older and live in a smaller house, I find browsing in the shops kinda boring. It is nice to see the crafts and art, but I don’t want to buy anything. Jewelry is a possibility but even that is not all that interesting. Not to say that shopping here is not great - I’m just not all that entertained by it. We went to the Art Gallery (what they usually call an art museum in Canada - another fun fact) which was small but had excellently curated exhibits.

    We took a 2 ½ hour boat tour which was fun. The coastline is rugged and also soft. Some cliffs and rolling hills. Beautiful. We saw Northern Gannets diving for fish. I don’t think I have ever seen one before. Adding that to my life list. Speaking of boats, both the Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mary cruise ships were docked together a couple blocks from our apartment. They are huuuuuge! Floating cities really. The only good thing about a cruise (to me) is that you don’t have to move your stuff every few days to see new places. I just don’t think I want to be trapped in a hotel for hours at a time though. We watched as they left harbour seeing them release giant ropes and rigging. Fireboats followed behind spraying big arcs of water creating rainbows.

    We dropped Jeanne at the airport and headed up to Parrsboro on Fundy Bay next.
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  • Day9

    North Van & the Vancouver Folk Festival

    July 21 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Our annual Vancouver trek to the folk festival was soooo much easier and faster. No border crossings and Seattle traffic. The ferry from Nanaimo over to Horseshoe Bay also avoids driving through the middle of Vancouver. We stayed at our friends Rhonda and Stephen’s home in North Vancouver (again). Stephen was stuck in Argentina getting papers settled so it was just Rhonda. She is a lovely host. We also got to deconstruct and repack our stuff (again) so it would all fit in our bags for our flights to Halifax. All necessary.

    The festival was great. It was hot, hot, hot in the sun and rather cool in the shade. We traipsed back and forth from one stage to the next with our chairs, sarongs, water bottle, and the festival program all marked up with our picks. There are several competing strategies I have employed over the last 20 or so years of coming: See Everyone - this is usually impossible and leads me to feeling rather scattered; Follow A Few - this leaves me feeling hemmed in and stuck hearing the same kind of music for the two and a half days, bleh; lastly, It’s a Workshop! - I find these collaborations to be some of the most interesting. Only good musicians end up thriving in these cause they have to understand music, harmony, rhythm and have a decent repertoire to join in. This suits my spreadsheet mentality as well allowing maximum saturation of artists and a bit of serendipity. I end up doing a combination of all three.

    Once we get this flight over with, we can finally unpack and just travel for the remaining 6 weeks. We are ready.
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  • Day6

    Campbell River and Quadra Island

    July 18 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Vancouver Island is gorgeous. We left the folk fest and headed north to Campbell River. Since the town was nothing special, we went just out of town to Elk Lake Provincial Park to take a short hike where the government is removing dams and rerouting water to create better fish habitats. As part of that work, the company constructed this amazing but odd fortified suspension bridge that crossed over a raging river and waterfall. The odd part was that the bridge crossed over to nowhere. There was a small chain linked fence surrounding a deck on the other side - and that was it. I got a good shot of the waterfall but was too scared to capture the gorge and rushing canyon of water. Sorry.

    Quadra Island is just a 10 minute ferry ride over from Vancouver Island - not long enough to bother getting out of the car. I’ve made it a priority to learn more about the First Nations people here in Canada. This island boasts an important Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre. On First Nation’s land, generations of families have lived here and continue to live here. The descendants of chiefs dating back over a hundred years live right across the street from the centre today. (Nice house - I guess that is one of the benefits of being chief.)

    The culture centre is charged with maintaining and repatriate some of the sacred and important items that have been used for ceremonies especially for potlatches. They are also preserving stories and histories. It is truly devastating to read about how the British and now the Canadian governments have systematically and deliberately tried to eradicate Indigenous peoples. Banning potlatch ceremonies and gatherings; confiscating and selling off ceremonial and sacred items - a good number of which were collected by the guy who’s collection fills the American Indian Museum in Washington, D.C.; taking all the children and putting them into residential schools and forbade them from speaking their native language. The list goes on and on. This cultural centre eloquently told these personal stories with the names and faces of the people who were directly affected. They have begun to buy back pieces over the years from private collectors and museums. Tracking them down is tough though.

    On the south end of Quadra is another First Nations area that we visited (this is a little island) with a nice lodge. There were petroglyphs at the water’s edge, but I couldn’t make them out. The cultural centre did have a few that I could see. They were estimated to be 3000 years old.

    After a few days of sitting at a folk fest, it was nice to get out and do a bit of hiking. Quadra has lots of great trails. We went out on the Surge Narrows trail that ends at this incredible passage where the water squeezes through islands at quite a fast clip. It was a nice workout with a perfect reward over crystal clear water. It was a bit too cool and rainy for us to venture into the lakes on the island. We will definitely be back to do more hikes and swim in the lakes.

    Next stop - Vancouver for the other Folk Festival.
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  • Day2

    Vancouver Island Folk Festival Day 1 & 2

    July 14 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    I had two of the best stage experiences I’ve ever had at this smaller but not small Folk Festival. Three really disparate artists/bands played in the Curling Centre venue (yes, that kooky Olympic sport is all the rage up here) the Hamiltones from North Carolina who are part of the Muscle Shoals legendary music scene, Only A Visitor led by a Chinese Canadian with some quirky stories and rhythms, and finally Treasa Levasseur who is a truly gifted and highly entertaining performer. It was a spectacularly fun hour and a half where they played together, inspired each other, and showed off some of their fine musical talents.

    The second set involved song selections pulled from a hat collected from the assembled 5 artists/bands and the audience. MCed by Treasa Levasseur (I love her), the deal was if the folks on stage didn’t know the song, anyone from the audience could come up and sing it with or without the accompaniment from the stage. A remarkable number of folks got up to sing and well. Even some of the local kids got into the act - one kid sang Spiderman; another played the theme from the Phantom of the Opera on the piano and a third super talented girl belted a rousing tune. The artists on stage had a blast with the random set of songs too.

    What struck me most was the generosity of spirit and openness to participate. Everybody sang along. People clapped and danced at the suggestion of the performers. A genuine warmth.

    It looks to be a mud-fest over the next few days so we changed plans. Instead of camping, we will stay on Quadra Island east of Campbell River - about halfway up Vancouver Island. We’ll explore the town before heading over by ferry to our last minute cabin on a hobby farm. They have a Lop-eared rabbit. Oh boy!
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