Peterborough Casino

THE CASINO DEBATE

                It has been interesting, to say the least, watching the city of Peterborough debate the location of a new casino.  Some thought was apparently even given to locating it downtown.

Why would anyone in their right mind suggest that it should be located in the downtown core?  That would be, without a doubt, the worst possible location.  The traffic congestion would make the downtown even less attractive than it is now for anyone to consider shopping there.

People who would be going to the casino would not patronize the downtown businesses and in that location it would be likely to attract an undesirable crowd to the downtown.

It is also interesting to hear members of city council claim how it will create hundreds of new jobs.  Will it really create new jobs?  They seem to be missing the point that the existing casino in Cavan Monaghan is a major employer.  Those jobs will be eliminated or simply transferred to the new location, so there will not likely be any new jobs and most of the employees at the current casino are likely residents of Peterborough.

They are speculating that it will generate a considerable income for the city.  That remains to be seen.  In Cavan Monaghan the casino has generated a very nice windfall for the municipality over the years it has been located there.

Even if it was to stay where it is there is no guarantee that the level of funding for the municipality will remain at the current level.

When it was run by OLG there was an agreement that 5% of the profits would be paid to the host municipality.  The property owner and the horseman’s association each got 10%.  The horseman’s association has since been cut out of the picture.

The whole purpose of locating the original slots facilities at race tracks was because there was already gambling allowed there.  That made sense.

It is also important to remember that the municipal percentage was on slots.  There was no mention of table games should they be added to the facility.

Now that the casinos have been turned over to private enterprise it wouldn’t surprise me if the profit margin decreases, that’s how business works.  It is easy to reduce the profits by paying bonuses to executives and other legitimate accounting practices.

At the current location there is more than ample parking and an additional 100 acres to the north that could possibly accommodate any future expansion.

A casino in the city will make it easier for people who can least afford to gamble to take part in such activity on a regular basis.

Traffic congestion at any location in the city will be annoying at best.  It’s too bad the city could not get along better with their neighbouring municipality and stop playing the bully.

Only time will tell but it will be interesting to see how the city officials will spin the details and claim how good it all is for the city.

They have already guaranteed $150,000 a year to the DBIA for twenty years.  What else will they do with the money even before it materializes?

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New Community Centre

WHAT IS THE TRUE COST OF A NEW COMMUNITY CENTRE?

                There is much talk about a new community centre for our municipality and the Cavan Monaghan Council would have us believe that they are going to build a new $15 million facility and it won’t cost the tax payers a dime.  Does anyone really believe that?

Funds, they say, will come out of reserves.  No matter how you spin that, it is still tax payers’ money.  Whether it came from property tax, the slots or any other source, all funds in the care of the township belong to the residents of this community.

There is no doubt that the current facility leaves much to be desired.  The dressing rooms are deplorable; the upper hall is not accessible and the facility does not address the needs of all members of the community.

Any new facility must allow for programs and activities for all members of the community.  The problem lies in the way the township is proposing to approach the project.

In my opinion the only way to achieve the desired result is to have serious partners involved.  That should include local organizations corporate partners and the public in general.  There are several potential partners I believe should be approached and their needs taken into consideration if they are interested in becoming partners.

It is not only the cost of building the facility that has to be considered but also the ongoing operating costs.  There are ways to create a facility that can cover at least most of the operating costs and perhaps even turn a small profit.

It is also important to keep in mind that there is a real need for a new fire hall and a new works depot, both of which will require extensive funding.

If the reserves are depleted for one project it will mean tax increases to fund the others, so directly or indirectly it is the tax payers who will foot the bill.

Is the proposed plot of land large enough to accommodate all the possible uses?  All those uses will not be known until it is determined what partners might be involved.

A large enough parcel of land could accommodate not only the new community centre but also the new fire hall and works depot.  Building them as a municipal complex would mean in the end that the total cost would be less than doing each separately.

All facilities don’t have to be built at the same time but planning for a complete municipal complex would make the future construction more affordable.

We should also keep in mind that the city of Peterborough continues to insist on annexing more land from North Monaghan and that will cause our tax base to shrink, meaning less tax payers to share the cost.  All of this must be considered before moving forward with any major project.

With the slots funding disappearing in the very near future we will not have that source to draw on to build the reserves back to a desired level.  It took many years to build the current reserve and repeating that process without the slots will present a great challenge.

Let’s hope the Council and the staff thinks this trough thoroughly before making a commitment that digs us into a hole from which we may never emerge.

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Cancelled flight compensation

Flight cancelled? Got bumped? Here’s what your airline owes you

There are few things as defeating as rounding the home stretch on the last leg of a trip and finding out your flight has been cancelled or you checked in a few minutes too late and now you’re bumped from the flight.

But don’t despair; you’re protected says the National Airlines Council of Canada – an industry organization representing carriers like Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation and WestJet.

“NACC member airlines recognize the importance of consumer protection and have adopted the responsibilities and obligations outlined in Flight Rights Canada, the Government of Canada’s air travel consumer protection initiative,” Marc-André O’Rourke, executive director of the NACC told Yahoo Canada via an emailed statement.

O’Rourke is referring to the passenger-geared initiative launched in 2008, which requires carriers to address concerns including denied boarding as a result of overbooking, delays, cancellations, passenger re-routing, and lost and damaged baggage. “(Except for) weather‐related incidents or events caused by a third party, our member carriers honour the rights of passengers outlined in the code of conduct,” he said in his statement.

Although the code of conduct is voluntary, in 2009 major Canadian airlines including Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat, abide by the guidelines and have fine-tuned their tariffs (official speak for the agreement between airlines and passengers.)

Get what you paid for

According to the code, passengers have a right to information on flight times and schedule changes and airlines must make reasonable efforts to inform passengers of those changes. Passengers have a right to take the flight they paid for.

“If the plane is over-booked or cancelled, the airline must find the passenger a seat on another flight operated by that airline, buy the passenger a seat on another carrier with whom it has a mutual interline traffic agreement or refund the unused portion of the passenger’s ticket,” says the FRC.

When a plane is overbooked, the major carriers will usually call on volunteers to take an alternate flight. But either way, whether you’re a volunteer or involuntarily bumped due to a cancelled flight, the airline needs to compensate you in travel vouchers or cash – your choice.

Time is on your side

The code also looks at the punctuality angle.

“If the passenger is already on the aircraft when a delay occurs, the airline will offer drinks and snacks if it is safe, practical and timely to do so,” says the code of conduct. “If the delay exceeds 90 minutes and circumstances permit, the airline will offer passengers the option of disembarking from the aircraft until it is time to depart.”

When a flight is delayed and the departure is more than four hours after the schedule time, passengers should be provided with meal vouchers. If that delay slips beyond eight hours and requires an overnight stay – the airline will comp the hotel and airport transfers for passengers.

The price is right

Monetary compensation varies from carrier to carrier.

For instance, Air Canada offers $200 to any bumped passenger who is delayed reaching their original destination by two hours, $400 for delays between two and six hours and $800 for delays over six hours.

WestJet uses a higher buffer when a passenger is denied boarding on a plane they were confirmed a seat. If you get to your destination an hour late but less than two hours after the planned arrival time, they will be compensated 200 per cent of the total price of their ticket up to a maximum $650. When that delay climbs to more than two hours, WestJet will compensate 400 per cent of the total price to the passenger’s first destination or stopover up to $1,300.

With international flight delays, both Porter and Sunwing comp up to $650 for flights between one and four hours and up to $1,300 for delays over four hours.

In the U.S. the Depart of Transportation requires airlines to compensate bumped passengers. It’s more or less in line with the FRC and is just as relevant whether you’re taking off from Chicago’s O’Hare or LAX.

“If the airline is not able to get you to your final destination within one hour of your original arrival time, the airline must pay you an amount equal to 200 percent of your one-way fare, with a maximum of $650,” states the DoT’s website.

With most carriers – U.S. or Canadian – compensation is to be made at the moment and place the denied boarding occurs, so start with the gate agent. If you catch an alternate flight before the compensation takes place, you have a right to get compensation in a timely manner from the airline so be sure to call customer service as soon as possible and notify them of the situation.

While tariffs vary, it might be wise to ask the airline for a printed copy of its tariff to review before you agree to any handouts. In the event that it’s a Canadian carrier and you still feel shunned by the delay or cancellation, escalate it by taking your complaints to the Canadian Transportation Agency.

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7 scams every traveller needs to know about

Tie me up

Where: Paris and Rome

Scam: As you’re walking near the famous Sacre Coeur or Spanish Steps, a charismatic man strolls up to you and starts a conversation. Before you know it, he’s tying a bracelet around your wrist or finger and double-knotting it better than a Boy Scout. Then he demands payment. Of course, you can say no. But if you do, he’ll scream that you are stealing his bracelet and embarrass you in public. Most tourists give in to the pressure and pay just to prevent a scene.

Tip: Don’t get too close. If someone is being super friendly, you have the right to be suspicious. And if he or she gets close enough to put a bracelet on your wrist, don’t be afraid to just walk away.

The diversion

Where: Airports and train stations

Scam: This scam comes in many different forms. One is the “hot dog trick,” whereby a stranger accidentally squirts mustard on you while eating a hot dog. As he apologizes and tries to help you clean up, an accomplice grabs your bag and slips away. Another form of this scam involves an old lady falling in a public place. As everyone runs to her assistance, her partner swoops up as many bags as he can carry and disappears.

Tip: Whether you’re sitting or standing, always be in contact with your bags. Keep a hand on your carry-on, or place it between your legs, if you want to keep it from going missing.

Security line switch-up

Where: Airports

Scam: Picture this: You’re about to walk through a metal detector when the person behind you cuts ahead of you. Annoyed, you let him go, but your frustration builds as he repeatedly sets off the alarm. He’s forgotten to remove his watch and loose change, so he is holding up the line. What you don’t know is that on the other side, his accomplice has snagged your belongings and is already in another terminal.

Tip: Wait until the last moment to put your stuff on the conveyor belt; this way no one can slip in front of you. Also, keep an eye on your stuff if you get held up at the metal detector. If you see some fishy business, alert the TSA agent.

The drop and swap

Where: Istanbul

Scam: You’re a tourist in the country and just getting the hang of the foreign currency. You take a taxi, and when you arrive at your destination, you pay the fare with a 50-lira note. Without your noticing, the driver switches your payment with a 5-lira note, which, unfortunately for you, looks quite similar. He accuses you of shortchanging him, and since you’re not totally sure he’s wrong, you give him another 50-lira note.

Tip: Be a confident traveler. Familiarize yourself with the currency before you go, and pay attention when you pay for services. If you think you’re getting duped, threaten to call the police. Local law enforcement officers know about this trick, and the driver probably won’t want to lose his license.

Bait and switch

Where: Everywhere

Scam: You’re planning a vacation on a budget, and you find an amazing-looking hotel in your price range. It seems too good to be true, but the pictures on their website look idyllic, so you enter your credit card info and book the room. Unfortunately, when you arrive, you discover that the hotel is a dump, and they won’t refund your money. In some countries, one-star hotels will even copy the name of a popular hotel just to lure tourists to their location. Tricky!

Tip: It always pays to book through a reputable tour operator because it will take responsibility for the booking and guarantee that you don’t lose money. Sites such as Oyster and TripAdvisor are also great resources for checking out reviews from customers who have stayed at the hotel.

Wi-Fi data skimming

Where: Airports, hotels

Scam: Let’s be honest, no one ever turns down free Wi-Fi. This fact has made the practice of “skimming” all too common at hotels, cafés, and other public venues. A free W-Fi hotspot is set up and made public for anyone to access. Sure, the Internet is free, but while you’re checking Facebook, your data is getting sent to the host’s computer. Just like that, they have access to your usernames and passwords.

Tip: Only connect to legitimate networks. Check out this list of airports with free Wi-Fi so that you know you’re connecting to a secure network. At a hotel, don’t connect to another guest’s Wi-Fi hotspot. Instead, ask the front desk for the hotel’s preferred network and use it!

Tricky exchange rates

Where: Western Europe

Scam: You find a great souvenir at a shop overseas, and as you hand your credit card to the merchant, she asks if you’d like to convert your credit card transaction to U.S. dollars. You oblige, because it sounds easier, but actually it’s not. It’s called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), and by using a conversion rate that is higher than the going rate, the merchant is making an extra profit off of your purchase. She pockets the money and you’re left in the dark.

Tip: Always pay in local currency. Also, DCC fees can be added only to Visa and MasterCard credit and debit card purchases. American Express cards use a closed system.

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Printing Services

If you have a need for any type of printing services from business cards to large signs and everything in between including flyers, brochures and post cards check out Designer Signs for quality workmanship and very competitive prices.

Designer Signs provides a wide range of printing and design services.

With their full service design and manufacturing, they specialize in the fabrication of Vinyl Graphics, Pylon Signs, Store Signage Indoor & Outdoor, Vehicle Graphics, Full Colour Digital Prints and Banners, Business Cards and much more.

They have Laser printers for smaller run jobs, Vinyl cutter, 64″ Roland printer and a 54″ laminator and they work with different trade printers to make sure they can give you the best deal available.

No job is too small, so they will work with you on your specific needs and customize the product to suit your requirements.

Some examples of their work:

pizza signLeon's sign

 

Call:  705.761.0443 or 705.657.2496

email: dsp@bell.net

For more details visit www.designersigns.ca

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DRINK WATER FOR HEALTH

DRINK WATER ON AN EMPTY STOMACH

According to the website www.SocialMeems.com there are definite health benefits to drinking water on an empty stomach.  Although I would question the claim that it is a 100% cure for a number of diseases, it certainly is worth a try and definitely makes sense that cold drinks can solidify oils and grease in the stomach from foods that have just been digested.  Note that 160ml of water is only about 5.5 ounces, so the four glasses referred to is actually about two and three quarter 8 ounce glasses.

Following is the claim made by this website.  This is provided for information only and everyone should use their own judgement but there is certainly nothing to lose from trying this method.

It is popular in Japan today to drink water immediately after waking up every morning. Furthermore, scientific tests have proven its value. We publish below a description of use of water for our readers. For old and serious diseases as well as modern illnesses the water treatment had been found successful by a Japanese medical society as a 100% cure for the following diseases:

Headache, body ache, heart system, arthritis, fast heart beat, epilepsy, excess fatness, bronchitis asthma, TB, meningitis, kidney and urine diseases, vomiting, gastritis, diarrhea, piles, diabetes, constipation, all eye diseases, womb, cancer and menstrual disorders, ear nose and throat diseases.

METHOD OF TREATMENT

  1. As you wake up in the morning before brushing teeth, drink 4 x 160ml glasses of water
  2. Brush and clean the mouth but do not eat or drink anything for 45 minute
  3. After 45 minutes you may eat and drink as normal.
  4. After 15 minutes of breakfast, lunch and dinner do not eat or drink anything for 2 hours
  5. Those who are old or sick and are unable to drink 4 glasses of water at the beginning may commence by taking little water and gradually increase it to 4 glasses per day.
  6. The above method of treatment will cure diseases of the sick and others can enjoy a healthy life.

The following list gives the number of days of treatment required to cure/control/reduce main diseases:

  1. High Blood Pressure (30 days)
  2. Gastric (10 days)
  3. Diabetes (30 days)
  4. Constipation (10 days)
  5. Cancer (180 days)
  6. TB (90 days)
  7. Arthritis patients should follow the above treatment only for 3 days in the 1st week, and from 2nd week onwards – daily.

This treatment method has no side effects, however at the commencement of treatment you may have to urinate a few times.

It is better if we continue this and make this procedure as a routine work in our life. Drink Water and Stay healthy and Active.

This makes sense. The Chinese and Japanese drink hot tea with their meals not cold water. Maybe it is time we adopt their drinking habit while eating!!! Nothing to lose, everything to gain…

For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable to you.

It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion.

Once this ‘sludge’ reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine.

Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.

A serious note about heart attacks:

  • Women should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to be the left arm hurting,
  • Be aware of intense pain in the jaw line.
  • You may never have the first chest pain during the course of a heart attack.
  • Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms.
  • 60% of people who have a heart attack while they are asleep do not wake up.

• Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let’s be careful and be aware. The more we know the better chance we could survive.

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EFFECTIVE MEETING MANAGEMENT

 

This seminar is designed to help organizations make the most of their time spent in meetings, which have often been described as a place where minutes are kept and hours are lost.

An effective meeting begins with a proper agenda, one that is distributed to members in advance.  This helps participants properly prepare for the meeting.

We will discuss the importance of the agenda and how to develop a format that works for your organization.

Various types of communication, problem solving and decision making will also be part of the agenda for this seminar.

Fundraising in some form is part of most organizations and this can be dealt with in an appropriate way for your particular organization.

The goal will be to make your meetings shorter and more effective and to help you avoid many of the pitfalls that sabotage many meetings and make many organizations ineffective.

E-mail: info@jimchaplin.com for more details on this and other seminars.

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LIFE LESSONS

In March 2004 my son and daughter-in-law presented my wife and I with a beautiful granddaughter named Meredith.  This was about two and a half months before my sixty-first birthday. Although there was no intention to do so, her name contained the name of my paternal grandmother, Edith. This has caused me to recall my life with my grandmother, by whom I was raised from the age of two months, coincidently an undertaking she embarked upon just prior to her sixty-first birthday. Although I always had great affection and admiration for my grandmother it was not until years later that I truly understood and fully appreciated the sacrifices she had made. Now that I was the age she was when she took on the task of raising me and I had a grandchild very close to my age at that time, it became even more apparent how onerous her sacrifice was. In retrospect I recall a particular event in the life of my grandmother and one that deeply affected me. It was a typical fall evening in late November.  A frosty chill hung in the air.  As I prepared to retire for the night, I entered my grandmother’s bedroom to say goodnight, as I did each evening. As I crossed the room I could sense a strange presence, not apparent elsewhere in the house.  It was not something I could see or hear, yet I knew it was there, as if someone else was in the room.  It was an eerie feeling but I gave it little thought, choosing to ignore the experience. Rays from a streetlight shining through the window dimly lighted the room. I could make out the frail old woman’s torso, as she lay almost motionless on the bed, the silence broken only by her shallow breathing. As I approached her bedside, in almost a whisper, she asked, “Are you alright?” “I’m fine,” I said, “how are you?” “Tired,” she replied, in a feeble voice. “I won’t keep you then, you need your rest,” I said, as I knelt to say a brief prayer, the same one I had said for as many nights as I could remember. Then, rising to my feet, we said goodnight to each other and I left the room. Nineteen years earlier, my father, prompted by my mother’s inability to cope with a newborn, had brought me to live with his mother. Although she had raised her family and was approaching her sixty-first birthday, she unselfishly accepted the task of starting over with a two-month-old grandson. Now she was completely bedridden, unable to perform even the simplest of tasks.  She could not sit up in bed without assistance or even feed herself.  Her mind, however, remained sharp, which must have made her situation more difficult, but she voiced no complaint. This tiny but once robust woman had wasted away to skin and bone, her body wreaked by the pain of severe arthritis.  Yet, for over a year and a half, she had clung tenaciously to her meagre existence. Life had not been easy for her but being a woman of great faith and courage; each day had always been taken in stride. Born in 1882 she had witnessed the turn of the century, two world wars, and many life-altering events. As a young girl she took piano lessons and in later years her piano would be her one source of comfort but that too eventually fell silent, as the arthritis rendered her fingers unable to play. In 1902 she married and over the next forty years raised nine children and lost three others at birth, including a set of twins. She had lived through the great depression and experienced the loss of a family farm. A few years after that loss my grandparents acquired a small piece of land on which they built a modest home.  It had no indoor plumbing, not even running water.  Heated with wood and coal and poorly insulated, if at all, it was drafty in winter.  There was often frost on windowsills and sometimes even on furniture when we awoke on cold mornings. It was, however, one of the warmest homes that have ever existed. From my grandmother I learned that I could do anything to which I set my mind.  “Can’t is a cowardly word,” she would say, when I indicated I was unable, or perhaps unwilling, to perform some task. She admonished me to “be a leader, not a follower,” words of wisdom that have served me well over the years. When I was eight years old my grandfather died.  After his death and on a meagre government pension of only forty dollars a month my grandmother managed to maintain the home and to keep me fed and clothed.  I can only imagine the personal sacrifices she made. Within a few years her own health began to deteriorate but she did not complain and continued the necessary daily tasks to maintain a warm and loving home. When she suffered a gallbladder attack and had to be hospitalized for surgery, my aunt, one of her daughters who had never married, returned home.  She assumed the daunting task of helping to raise me and to give the home care that my grandmother so greatly needed and deserved. Grandmother’s health continued to decline and the arthritis took its toll, finally confining her to the bed in which she now lay. Her main goal in life was simple.  Oft times I had heard her say she wanted to live to her eightieth birthday. The true reasons for that goal I will never know but it was a goal she seemed determined to achieve.  Not a lofty one by most people’s standards but under the circumstances of her life, possibly out of reach. However, can’t was not a word in her vocabulary; that night, without a whimper or complaint, the one who had so little but gave so much, quietly passed away, one day after her eightieth birthday. It was in 1962 that my grandmother died and I have relived that night many times in my mind.  To this day I wonder who the unseen stranger was whose presence I felt in that room that night. When it comes my time to leave this world, perhaps she will be the one who is the unseen and unexplained presence in my room.

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NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR:

A ROAD TRIP TO REMEMBER

For many years I had been trying to plan a road trip to Newfoundland but had been unable to coordinate with anyone willing and able to make the journey with me.

My wife, being a dialysis patient, was unable to undertake such a trip because it would be impossible to arrange for her regular treatments while being regularly on the move.

Finally my youngest son was able to get the time to accompany me, as he had done twenty-four years earlier on a road trip to the west coast of Canada. In fact it was he who suggested we include Labrador City as part of our itinerary.

It was very late in the afternoon of July 5, 2010 when we finally got on the road from Peterborough, Ontario for what would be roughly a month long journey.

We had wanted to get well past Montreal on our first day but that was going to be a challenge, given the lateness of our departure.

The first leg of our journey was uneventful and we were making very good time but as we traversed through Montreal we encountered traffic backed up on the highway and had to detour through city streets.

As we passed the scene we could only partially see the tangled mess blocking the highway and were thankful we had not been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It appeared this was a major accident involving at least three tractor-trailers and a small car, resulting is major damage and, we suspected, serious injury, if not worse, although we never did hear a report.

In order to put some distance behind us we continued well into the evening and then got a motel room for the night near Berthierville, Quebec.

The next morning we headed out along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, through Quebec City.

We had visited this historic city on several occasions, including a visit during the famous winter carnival held there each February. The city has a rich history and is well worth a visit, either for the winter carnival or during the summer.

We made a short stop in St. Anne de Beaupre, located about 30 km east of Quebec City. Again we had made stops there on a couple of other trips.

The main attraction in St. Anne de Beaupre is the Basilica. This is a spectacular site and a huge tourist draw, attracting about a million visitors annually.

As you enter the building you notice that the walls are lined with crutches and braces. The Catholic Church credits the basilica with numerous miracles of healing.

It was in the afternoon when we crossed the Saguenay River by ferry from Baie-Sainte-Catherine to Tadoussac. There is no bridge crossing unless you go all the way up to Chicoutimi.
Saganey ferryWe now entered a part of the province that we had not visited before and the scenery in the eastern part of Quebec is breathtaking.

We made it to Baie Comeau late in the afternoon. There we stocked up on supplies, filled the tank with gas and headed north on highway 389.
Before long we approached the Manic 2 Power dam and just around a bend past the entrance to the dam site there was a campground, where we decided to stay for the night.

Early the next morning, after a hearty breakfast in a restaurant across from the campground, we headed out on what would prove to be an unforgettable part of our adventure.

We made it to the Daniel Johnston Dam, also known as the Manic 5 power dam, in time for the first tour of the day at 9:30.Manic 5 dam

Located on the Manicouagan River, (the origin of the manic reference to the several dams built on the river). This is a massive structure about one mile (one and a half kilometers) wide and 702 feet (216 meters) high. It is the world’s largest multi-arch-and-buttress dam and it is stated in their literature that the entire Place Ville-Marie office tower in Montreal, a 46-story office tower, would fit inside the main arch.

This river had long supported a huge pulp and paper industry and drains more than 16,000 square miles (41,000 square kilometers) of a heavily forested region.

Construction began in September 1959 on the road from Baie-Comeau that would service the dam. Construction of the dam itself was completed in the spring of 1964. The entire project was completed in 1968.

The project took about seven years to complete and during construction employed over 3000 men. A town was built to accommodate them and their families, including an on site hospital.

The structures were later moved to a new location after completion of the power facility. The dam contains 2,200,000 cu. meters (2,900,000 cu. yards) of concrete.

A guided tour takes you inside the dam, as well as on top and lasts about two hours. Tours are in French but English tours are available for groups of 10 or more if booked in advance. Call 1-866-526-2642 for information and tour bookings.

There are two powerhouses. The first has a capacity of nearly 1600 megawatts of power and the second almost 1100 megawatts. The facility supplies power to much of Quebec and parts of the northeastern U.S.hydro distribution center Manic 5

On our way to the dam we passed a transfer station that distributes the electric power from the facility. This is an enormous distribution center that literally emitted a loud humming sound as the millions of watts of power passed through it.

The dam is located at km. 216 along the highway and as we drove north we observed that the reservoir continued on beyond km. 288. In fact the provincial map would indicate that it reaches possibly as far as km 400.

Between km. 317 and 318 there is a gas station where it is wise to top up the tank, as it is the only one between Baie Comeau and Fermont, Quebec, just short of the Labrador border and it is over 600 km. through the bush from Baie-Comeau to Labrador City.

Between km. 393 and 394 is the southerly boundary of the former mining town site of Gagnon, which at its peak had a population of more than 4000, although at the time was only accessible by air.
Gagnon town siteThe town was dismantled in 1985, including most streets but curbs, sidewalks, sewer covers, a center median and street and driveway entrances are still in tact along the main street, which is now part of highway 389.

The road is gravel but quite straight from Manic 5, with paved sections from Gagnon north for approximately 90 to 100 km.

There is a gravel section from Fire Lake to just before Fermont, which is very winding and there is a lot of loose gravel. This is the worst and most dangerous section of the highway.

It is also important to note that it crosses a rail line on frequent occasions and that one must also be alert for the many heavy trucks that travel this highway. The logging industry is still very active in the area.

In the course of the trip along highway 389 we crossed the 50th, 51st and 52nd parallels. This puts you as far north as the southern part of James Bay.

At km. 516 we got our first view of Mont-Wright, which at this point is still about 45 km away and is being mined for iron ore, a project that began in the 1970’s after the depletion of the mine at Gagnon. This is a mega project that has over 1000 employees and extends over 24 square kilometers. It is estimated to have a capacity of one billion tonnes of crude ore. The road passes very close to the operation; in fact there is actually activity on both sides of the highway. The road improves at this point and continues on to the Labrador border.

We took a brief side trip into Fermont, which translated from the French literally means Iron Mountain.

The most notable feature of the town is a huge self-contained structure, which is made up of apartments, schools, restaurants, bars, a hotel, a swimming pool, a super market and other stores.Ferment park with truck

It is 4300 feet long and 160 feet high and serves as a windscreen for the rest of the town, allowing many of the residents to avoid going outside during harsh winter conditions, except to go to work at the mines.

In a park at the entrance to the town there is a huge dump truck on display that had been used in the area iron mines. This monster truck is capable of carrying a payload of 190 tonnes.

We would later find that the trucks now used in the mine in Labrador City are even larger. Those trucks, worth $3-million each, weigh over 385,000 kilograms and have a load capacity of 218 tonnes. They are over 44 feet long, 24 feet wide and 23 feet high with a 2,500-horsepower Cummins V16 diesel engine. We were told that each tire on these monsters costs about $50,000.

As we crossed the provincial border into Labrador we started looking for Duly Lake Newfoundland signCampground, which we had read about in our guidebook. It is located a short distance to the south west of the city limits but we missed the turn and had to seek directions in town.

As it turns out there is no sign on the highway directing one to the campground, much to the chagrin of the owner. He explained that he is not allowed to place a sign along the highway. However, we were able to find it with the assistance we received from a convenience store employee.

We stayed there for two nights and were able to arrange for one of the tours of the Iron Ore Company of Canada mine. This is a massive facility where a former mountain is now a hole in the ground and other mountains are undergoing the same treatment.Lab City mine

It is a 24-7 operation and we were told as many as seven trains per day leave the facility loaded with iron ore pellets and/or concentrate.

According to the company’s web site, each train can have up to 230 cars and haul up to 24,000 tonnes of product, which it says is loaded at a rate of one car or 100 tonnes per minute.

Since 1962 the mine has produced 1.3 billion tonnes of crude ore and has the capacity to continue for years to come.

They have nearly 2000 employees working at the mine site, the shipping facilities in Sept-Isle and offices in Montreal.

On July 9 we gassed up and headed out on the trans-Labrador highway for Churchill Falls, 245 km. to the northeast. Along this route, although we didn’t see a sign indicating that we had crossed the 53rd parallel, the map would indicate that in fact we did or at least came very close to doing so.

The highway is mostly gravel but was being paved at the time of our visit. About 50 km had been completed eastbound from Labrador City.

We had purchased fishing licenses in Labrador City and made a couple of brief stops to fish along the way but with no luck.

Arriving in Churchill Falls just around 1 p.m. we had lunch in a nice little restaurant, housed in the town’s shopping complex.

Arrangements to tour the power facility in this west central Labrador town had been made in advance; however, upon checking in with the town office we were informed that the elevator was broken down and would be out of commission over the weekend and it would be early the following week before we could take the tour.

This was unfortunate because this too is an impressive facility, being the largest underground powerhouse in the world.

The heart of the project is a 5,428,500 KW power station. The elevator descends approximately 1000 feet below the surface.

The potential for electrical generation was recognized as early as 1947 but it was nearly 20 years later before construction on the project and town site began and like the Manic 5 project in Quebec, employed over 3000 workers during the construction phase.

After many years of planning and five years of non-stop fieldwork, employing approximately 6300 workers over that time, the first two generating units began delivering power on December 6, 1971, almost six months ahead of schedule and under budget.

The powerhouse consists of eleven turbines generating the nearly 5.5 million kilowatts of electricity, most of which is distributed to the Hydro-Quebec grid.bear

There are spaces in town where we could have pitched a tent but we were warned that bears often wander into town at night.

Unable to take the tour we decided to move on to Happy Valley-Goose Bay (HVGB) but not before making a stop at the local landfill site, which the local children refer to as the Churchill Falls Zoo. There we saw several black bears rummaging through the garbage. We also encountered one large bear on the roadside.

Arriving in HVGB in the early evening we had no time to explore the area that evening and rented a campsite just north of town.

The next day we drove the short distance to North West River, which claims to be Central Labrador’s oldest community. There we visited the Interpretive Centre and the old Hudson Bay Company Store, now known as the Labrador Heritage Museum.Hudson Bay Co. 1670

This small town has a rich history rooted in the fur trade dating back as early as 1743, see www.townofnwr.ca/home/5 for more details.

Back in HVGB we were fortunate to have the Mayor, Leo Abbass, give us a guided tour of the town and it was interesting to see the amount of construction taking place in the HVGB area. The cost of an average single-family dwelling is about $300,000.00, comparable to most Canadian towns and small cities.

According to the Mayor, who obviously has great pride in his community, Happy Valley-Goose Bay “has an abundance of recreational, cultural and social qualities that would be difficult to find anywhere else in a town our size.” The town web site, www.happyvalley-goosebay.com also has a similar statement posted.

Although the Canadian Forces Air Base is not as active as it once was, it still plays an important part in the town of approximately 7500.

The airport, which operates within the confines of the military base, is a major international airport and handles an average of 95,000 passengers a year.

On the morning of July 11, before moving on, we drove out to a site along the highway and Muscrat Fallshiked to Muskrat Falls.

This appears to be more like a set of very impressive and dangerous rapids but has a drop of about 15 meters (nearly 50 feet) on the Churchill River and is one of two sites along the lower Churchill being considered for major power plants.

It is an unspoiled wilderness area and there have been cases of individuals being swept over the falls, with undesirable results.

The trail is easy to follow but not maintained to any particular standard and one must be careful, as there are damp and slippery sections.

Here, as we found in most areas of the province, the onus is on the individual to make responsible decisions. Rarely are there any guardrails or barriers to prevent people from approaching dangerous cliffs, etc. Common sense must be employed and people are expected to take responsibility for their own actions.

From here we headed through the new highway that was being constructed to link HVGB to the southeastern part of Labrador. Until now it was necessary to take an over-night ferry from HVGB to Cartwright.

The connection had been completed in December 2009 but major work was still underway. Although the highway was not yet officially open, it was possible to drive, however, there were a couple of areas where we had to travel about 5 km per hour over rocks.

Picking our way carefully over this long awaited link, we emerged onto the Coastal Highway that runs from Cartwright to the south shore at Blanc-Sablon and the ferry to the northern peninsula of Newfoundland.

Arriving in Port Hope-Simpson, where we camped for the night, we encountered the worst infestation of mosquitoes I have ever seen. This has to be the mosquito capital of the world. We ended up sitting in the car to eat our dinner but managed to keep most of the little pests out of our tent, although it was a real challenge pitching the tent.

On July 12 we took a side trip into the small town of St. Lewis in an area known as iceberg alley.ice berg remains

In 2010 there were not a lot of ice burgs present but we did see the remains of a few small ones in the harbor area and in the cove.

Driving up a narrow, rough and steep gravel road from the town, we made our way to a lookout at the top of the hill.

This area was settled originally by some very hardy souls but the winters proved too harsh and they later moved inland to the present town site.
early eastern settlement

There is a boardwalk and trail that leads down the hill to the shore. This is the most easterly point on the North American mainland.

As we drove on to Red Bay it began to rain, which made it difficult to engage in any outdoor activities.

Red Bay is now a World Heritage Site. A Basque whaling boat, like those used in the 1500’s was discovered in the harbor of this small town of about 200, which was built inadvertently on the site of a former Basque whaling village.

We made a brief stop at the museum and then decided to carry on and see if we could catch the ferry to the northern peninsula of Newfoundland, a day in advance of our booking.

We were too early in the year to experience the annual bakeapple folk festival in L’Anse-au-Loup, which is held the second week of August. I’m sure it would have been an interesting experience had we been able to attend.

Bakeapples are a popular berry in the area and the name originates from the French baie qu’appelle. They are a small berry much like a raspberry or mulberry and grow on small plants somewhat like a strawberry plant. They are a light orange in color when ripe and are used in jams and various other preserves, as well as consumed in the natural state. We were able to purchase some jam made from these berries and found it quite appealing, not too sweet and easy to spread on toast.

Arriving at the ferry terminal after dinner we were in luck, as there was room on a sailing that was to leave in about a half hour. As it turned out the ferry had to wait for an ambulance and our sailing time was delayed for about a half hour.

This put us a bit late reaching St. Barbe on the northern peninsula, yet we decided to drive on to St. Anthony.

The rain continued and darkness fell, which is a dangerous combination with all the moose that are present along the roads.

Vehicle collisions with moose number around 700 annually in Newfoundland, some fatal, and the summer months have the highest percentage of collisions.

A cost estimate for vehicle damage alone is in excess of $1 million a year, not to mention the medical costs and lost time from work resulting from injuries sustained in these collisions.

Since these animals can weigh up to 700 kilograms (over 1500 lbs.) it is not surprising the damage a collision with one of them can cause.

We saw many of these creatures on the roadside, fortunately none of them so up close and personal as to cause any real concern.

Moose are not native to Newfoundland. A pair of them was introduced to the island by the government in the early 1900’s. Officials lost track of that pair and a second pair was introduced. They have thrived and the population is now estimated to be between 120,000 and 150,000.

We were interested to learn that there are also no snakes or skunks in Newfoundland and I doubt that the government will introduce those species to the island.

It was late when we arrived in St. Anthony and the rain continued to fall, not the best weather for pitching a tent, so we attempted to find a motel, only to discover that there were no rooms available anywhere in town.

This is the area of the famous L’Anse Aux Meadows Viking settlement often advertised on TV and many tourists visit the town and surrounding area every year.

The Vikings were the first European settlers to set foot on Newfoundland soil more than 1000 years ago, or as they then called it, Vineland.

At one of the motels we encountered a desk clerk that said she knew someone who had a trailer that they sometimes rented out. She called the gentleman and we were able to arrange to meet him to view the trailer. Our expectations were not very high at this point but we really had no other choice.

When we arrived at the trailer we were pleasantly surprised. It turned out to be a new double wide, completely furnished home with a washer and dryer, stove, fridge, satellite TV, two bedrooms and all the comforts of home, all for a very reasonable price.

Taking advantage of this luxury we purchased groceriesViking site St. Anthony then cooked and froze meats for the next leg of our trip.

On July 13 we visited the Viking settlement site at Lance aux Meadows and took the tour. A new interpretive center was under construction but the area was still accessible.

This too is a rather harsh location and I’m sure those early settlers endured some very challenging times.

That evening we attended the Great Viking Feast in St. Anthony and this I would recommend to anyone visiting the area. It is a one of a kind experience.

Viking Feast siteThe feast is located in a building that is completely under an earthen mound. The menu consists of a number of interesting dishes and includes such things as cod tongue and moose stew. There is seating for about 100 patrons and advance booking is necessary to assure you will be accommodated.

After the dinner there was a mock trial where each table picked someone and charged him or her with some ridiculous offense. The accuser had to present their case against the defendant and the defendant then got to mount a defense.

The crowd voted them guilty or innocent by pounding on the table. If they were found innocent then the accuser was guilty of making a false accusation. Each guilty party was given an equally ridiculous penalty, usually to be served the next day. The entire evening was hilarious and immensely enjoyable.

At the end of the evening, as we were leaving, we were presented with certificates designating us as honorary Vikings. This was certainly one of the highlights of our entire trip.

Just across the road from the site of the Viking feast is Daredevil Trail and we made the climb up 476 steps to the top of a cliff overlooking the town and surrounding area. There is a panoramic view of the town and ocean.

Also in St. Anthony we visited a display, which, among other things, referenced the size of icebergs.iceberg sizes

Like snowflakes no two icebergs are identical and the shape can vary drastically but there are general references.

The smallest are referred to as growlers and weigh up to 1 ton. A bergy bit is about the size of a house and can weigh up to 10 tons. A “small” iceberg weighing up to 100 tons, is the size of a large church. Medium refers to icebergs up to 2000 tons while large ones can range up to 10,000 tons. Very large icebergs can be over 240 feet in height, over 670 feet in length and weigh in excess of 10,000 tons.

We didn’t witness anything more than a few growlers and possibly one or two small bergy bits on our trip.

We stayed in St. Anthony for two nights but could have stayed much longer and in a way hated to move on.

On July 14 we drove to Port Aux Choix National Historic Site on the west side of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula, an area that has been populated for thousands of years. Inhabitants have included many different groups of people. The remains of four ancient cultures have been found there. Archaeologists searched many years for a site like this, which sheds new light on the understanding of native peoples in this part of the world.

After our brief stop we moved on to Gros Morne National Park, where we camped for three nights.

Gros Morne covers 1805 square kilometers and, like Red Bay and Lance Aux Meadows, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There is much to do in the park for people with a wide variety of interests. Hiking is a major activity and can range from simple trails to one that requires participants to be accomplished hikers and prove they have the skill level to tackle the grueling terrain.

This trail is not for the faint of heart and definitely not for anyone lacking in stamina. There are areas of the trail where climbing skills are required, both ascending and descending. It takes several days to complete and you are in a total wilderness. There are no facilities along the trail and no accommodations. Camping gear must be carried.

Access to this trail is via a boat tour of Western Brook Pond where hikers are dropped off at a dock and immediately begin their climb up the first leg of the trail.
The boat tour of Western Brook Pond is a must for any visitor to Gros Morne; however, weather conditions do have an effect on the availability of tours.

The tour takes you into a fjord, which was once part of the ocean but is now well above sea level. The water is deep but contains no fish.Western brook pond boat tour

It was stated that if water ceased to enter the lake it would take about six years for the volume of water in the lake to drain at the rate of flow of the small stream that runs out of it to the ocean.

The views are spectacular with shorelines rising as much as a kilometer above the surface, often protruding into the clouds.

100_0943A number of waterfalls cascade down the rocky ledges and are some of the highest in the world, although not enormous in volume. This was definitely another highlight of our trip.

The hike into the dock is fairly lengthy, about 3 km, but is mostly over boardwalk and quite accessible.

The two boats used for the tours had to be transported into the lake, one by helicopter and one overland in the winter, as there is no navigable waterway connected to this lake.

Another area of the park that is interesting is called theTablelands tablelands. Here, over 1.2 billion years ago continents collided and bedrock was exposed from deep in the earth’s mantel. One can walk the trail and see this exposed surface on which there is no vegetation, yet virtually on the other side of the trail trees, grass and shrubs grow normally.

On July 17 we left Gros Morne and took a side trip into Sir Richard Squires Provincial Park, where we watched salmon navigate their way up the falls.

Again, this is a treacherous piece of waterway and a sign drove home the Newfoundland sense of humor.Warning sign

Beside the stairway that runs along the raging rapids below the falls it reads “swimming and diving not recommended.” Anywhere else it would say prohibited.

Anyone with common sense would immediately know it would be idiotic to attempt to swim in such waters.

From here we headed east towards St. Johns and got as far as Notre Dame Provincial Park, between Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander, where we camped for the night.

The MathewOn July 18, the end of our second week on the road, we visited Bonavista, a town 4000 and the landing site of John Cabot in 1797.

On display in the harbor is a replica of the Mathew, the ship that Cabot sailed to the new world.Bonavista Lighthouse

We also paid a visit to the Bonavista lighthouse.

On our way back down the Bonavista Peninsula we drove through Elliston, a town that bills itself as the root cellar capital of the world. Virtually every home has a root cellar in their back yard.Elliston NL

We also made a brief stop at the annual puffin festival. The area is the summer home to hundreds of nesting puffins and one of the best places to view these interesting little sea birds.

puffinsFrom there we made our way to Butter Pot Provincial Park, not far from St. John’s, where we camped for four nights and made several side trips around the Avalon Peninsula.

The first full day in the area we went to St. John’s, drove around the downtown and harbor area, familiarized ourselves as best we could with the city, then made a stop on Signal Hill.

2010_0708TripNFLD0040This is one of the many National Historic sites in the province and it got its name because many years before the advent of ship-to-shore radio signalmen perched on the hill would survey the ocean for approaching ships and use flags to identify those ships to the inhabitants of the harbor-front below.

It is also the site where Marconi received the first-ever transatlantic wireless signal in 1901.

This was a perfect day, very sunny and exceptionally warm for Newfoundland. The temperature was 30c. However, there was a brisk breeze, which made it feel quite comfortable.

A couple of days earlier an announcer on the radio had commented on the heat wave they were experiencing, saying that the temperature was 25 with a humidex of 28 and hoping the heat wave would soon be over.

Back in Ontario the temperatures had been consistently in the mid to upper 30’s with the humidity making it feel like more than 40.

The view from Signal Hill was spectacular and we saw several whales surfacing in the ocean beyond the outlet of the harbor.

Signal Hill offers an excellent view of the city and the ocean beyond the harbor entrance. It is also know for its propensity to high winds.

By the time we explored this area it was too late in the day to head for Cape Spear so we went for a nice dinner then headed back to our campsite.

On July 20 we drove to Bay Bulls and checked out some of the whale watching tours then drove what is referred to as the Irish Loop, stopping at La Manche, the site of a town that was wiped out by a major winter storm in January 1966. Fortunately there was no loss of life attributed to the storm.Suspension bridge

A number of the foundations were still visible and the original suspension bridge, which was also destroyed in the storm, had been replaced in 1999 with a new suspension bridge. The area is now a provincial park.

From the parking lot it is about a 2-3 km. hike to the town site. Part of the East Coast Trail winds through the former town site.

From here we drove to Ferryland, which has a current population of just over 500 but is one of the most historic communities in all of North America.

Founded in 1621 by Lord Baltimore it is said to be the birthplace of religious tolerance and freedom in the new world.

We drove up the point as far as we could, then hiked the 1.5-2 km. to the lighthouse.

Whales were visible off shore but too far out for any significant viewing. The temperature on the point was several degrees cooler than it had been further down the trail.

Fog began rolling in and remained the rest of the drive. We had dinner in a seaside restaurant along the way, but given the fairly heavy fog the ocean view was severely obscured.

The next day it started raining early in the morning, so we drove to St. John’s looking for a restaurant at which to have breakfast.

We could not find a regular restaurant that was open for breakfast and ended up in a deli. The menu left much to be desired and they said they couldn’t do scrambled eggs, only fried eggs, obviously not fresh but precooked.

This was a day for inside activities so we went to the Johnston Geo Centre located on the way up to Signal Hill.

This is an amazing facility built into the bedrock. Displays of a geological nature

abound and there are also displays relating to the Titanic and to the off shore oil industry which has brought prosperity to the area.

We spent most of the day in this fascinating attraction and when we emerged at about 5:30 p.m. the rain had stopped and the sun was out, so we headed for Cape Spear, the furthest point east in North America.

Again we saw whales in the ocean out from the entrance to the harbour. These were closer than the ones we had seen the previous day but still at quite a distance.

July 22 was a beautiful day warm but not too hot. We drove to Mobile and took a whale watching tour on a small boat with only about a dozen people. This was much better than the larger boats because the larger crowds make it more difficult to move about the boat and actually get a good look at these enormous creatures.Whale

We saw lots of whales frolicking in the ocean very close to the boat. The whales put on a show that is entertaining to sightseers.

The captain explained that they are actually waiving their fins and slapping the water with their tails to warn intruders (us) that this is their territory and food source.

After this exciting adventure we drove the North Avalon Peninsula along Conception Bay and through Topsail, Pouch Cove and back to St. John’s via Torbay.

It was interesting to note the extent of development taking place in the area, obviously due in large part to the development of the off shore oil industry.

Back in St. John’s we paid a visit to the world famous George Street, home to numerous pubs, bars and restaurants in a short two block area. It is the center of the entertainment district in this city that is colorful in more ways than one.

After leaving George Street we played a round of mini golf before heading back to the campsite for the night.

On July 23, my 44th wedding anniversary, we packed up and left Butter Pot Park and headed west on the homeward stretch of our trip.

We took a side trip to Bay Roberts, Carbonear and Heart’s content. With names like Heart’s Content, Heart’s Desire, Dildo and many others, one has to appreciate the sense of humor and simple logic of the early settlers of the island.

Yet another side trip took us down the Burin Peninsula to Marystown and Grand Banks. We contemplated going to St. Pierre and Miquelon but decided against it due in large part to the cost and the lack of activities we felt would be of interest.

The next day was the opening of cod fishing season and we tried to arrange for a charter boat just to try our hand at the sport. Although it was difficult to find someone to take us out for the brief experience we were seeking, we did find a reluctant captain who was willing to accommodate us. However, the weather the next morning was not very good and the winds made the water very choppy, so we decided against it

We had stayed overnight at a motel in Marystown and headed back up the peninsula in the morning, stopping along the way to do a bit of trout fishing, catching half a dozen but releasing all but two.Crow Head Point

We stopped to camp again at Notre Dame Provincial Park. Since we arrived in the late afternoon we decided to take yet another side trip (everything in Newfoundland is a side trip) to Twillingate and Crow Head. Although all the shorelines of Newfoundland are rugged, the cliffs at Crow Head were spectacular.

On the way back to camp we stopped at a roadside food stand near Lewisporte where we had crab and lobster sandwiches. Even though seafood is not my favorite fare these sandwiches were delicious.

The next morning we headed west again on the Trans Canada Highway, which only opened in 1969. Prior to that there was no easily accessible route between eastern and western communities.Rattling Brook Falls

With a short visit to Rattling Brook Falls we arrived in Corner Brook in mid afternoon. A stop at the tourist information booth yielded little in the way of information about local attractions.

Most of the employees at these establishments are teenagers working summer jobs and like most teenagers, think there is nothing to do in their hometown.

However, just down the highway a sign for an adventure operator prompted us to exit.

It turned out to be an amazing place, offering everything from rock climbing to deep-sea fishing, white water rafting and even packages to fly you into a mountain lake for some spectacular fishing.Cave exploration

There was something for every level of interest. Since my son said his wife would never go into a cave we decided on a guided cave exploration.

The entrance to the cave was quite accessible but further in we had to repel down a steep ledge and at one point had to squeeze through a fairly narrow, sloping passageway to a large opening and an underground stream. The area was pitch black and without headlamps one would not be able to find their way. This was about a 3-hour adventure.

We were now on our way to Port Aux Basque, and were running a day ahead of schedule. We called the ferry and were able to move our sailing time up to the next day.

That night we stayed at a small roadside motel on the Trans-Canada near the exit to Stephenville and had an interesting conversation with the proprietor.

It was a little over an hour from there to Port Aux Basque so we didn’t need to get on the road too early the next morning. We arrived at the ferry terminal about 10:30. Our ferry was scheduled to sail at 1:30 so we had a bit of time to explore the immediate area.

There were delays in the sailing time and we didn’t get underway until 3 p.m., arriving in North Sydney at 7 p.m. (actually 6:30 p.m. due to the time difference between Newfoundland and the mainland).

We dove to Antiginish Nova Scotia, where we stayed for the night. The next day, the 23rd of our trip we drove all the way from Antiginish to Cornwall, Ontario.

Seems once you are on the final leg of a trip there is a desire to get home, especially when you are back in an area you have visited previously.

We did make one stop our final day on the road to visit briefly with my cousin near Trenton and arrived back in Peterborough at about 4:30 p.m. on July 24.

What an awesome trip filled with excitement and many memorable experiences. Given the opportunity I would do it all over gain in a heartbeat.

 

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TAIWAN TOUR

 

In 2007 our son and his family were living in Taiwan and I had the opportunity to visit this tropical island nation and travel fairly extensively, including a tour arranged with a private tour operator.  Following is an account of my adventure.

All material, including printed copy and photographs are the property of Jim Chaplin and are not to be reproduced without express written consent of the copyright holder.

Arriving at the Chiang Kai-shek airport in Taipei about 5 a.m. local time, after a total of 17 hours in the air and arriving at my sons apartment just when the grandkids were getting up for the day I decided to stay up but ended my day early, about 8 p.m.

The next day we wasted no time in becoming familiar with the city and start planning an itinerary for the next two weeks.

After getting somewhat familiar with the city and the subway system, which was very clean and impressive, the first trip we made was to take the train out of Taipei and connect with the Pingxi rail line at Ruifang, that travels into a former coal mining area, now a tourist destination.100_0032

Along this line are several small towns.  At Shifen we disembarked and walked around the village then to the Shifen waterfall, a major attraction in the area. 100_0034 We spent a considerable amount of time taking in the sights, especially the waterfall, which is about a 20 minute or so walk from the actual village before boarding the train again for the trip to the end of the line at Jingtong.

Again we did some exploring of the area and dined at the Palace Restaurant, located in an old Japanese-era house.  This is considered to be the best place to eat along the Pingxi line.

After dinner we partook in a tradition that dates back to the coal mining days, which is to release a sky lantern into the night sky. 100_0042

A sky lantern is a large paper lantern with a combustible piece of felt soaked in kerosene and attached to a wire holder at the bottom of the lantern.  100_0043

When ignited this creates heat inside the lantern and causes it to rise into the air.   They soar very quickly and become an almost invisible speck within a minute or so.100_0044

This tradition began generations ago.  Remote mountain villages were prone to attacks from bandits and marauders.  At the first sign of trouble women and children were sent into the hills for safety.  Lanterns were sent up to signal when conditions were safe again.

Lanterns can be purchased and sent into the air at any time but each year there is a Lantern Festival when thousands of lanterns are released, which we were told is quite an impressive sight.

By the time we returned home everyone was very tired but exhilarated from having spent an interesting and informative day.  However, the next day we were ready for the next adventure, which was to explore the city of Taipei.100_0057

100_0058While in Taipei we did visit several important sights, including Taipei 101,  a 101 story complex housing offices, commercial establishments and a restaurant on the 91st floor from where the view of the city is spectacular.100_0055

100_0062We also visited the Chiang Kai-shek memorial, with its meticulously kept grounds and expansive court yard, with a picturesque gate at its main entry point.100_0063

Part of our guided tour took us to the National Museum of History, the former residence of a major developer in the early days of Taipei, where members of his family still live and to a number of other interesting locations.

On our own we visited the Grand Hotel which was 100_0403commissioned by Madam Chiang Kai-shek.  The presidential suite in this hotel goes for $5000 a night.  There is also a very expensive restaurant on the main floor, as well  one at which we could afford to have lunch.
100_0401The lobby is spectacular and boasts white marble railings on the staircase from the lobby to a balcony and the second level.

No trip to Taiwan would be complete without a visit to one of the many night markets that exist throughout the country.  One of the largest  and most popular in Taipei is Snake Alley Night Market, which proved to be a very interesting experience and offered a wide variety of goods, including snake meat.  We didn’t try any.100_0081

On my fifth day there my daughter-in-law and I decided to take the subway to the end of the line after walking the grandchildren to school.

Because we planned to rent motor scooters and tour around an island that is mainly parkland I had taken my backpack into which I had placed my international drivers license as well as my passport.

We hailed a cab on a street corner and were dropped off at the subway.  As I went up the steps to the station entrance I realized I had left my backpack in the cab.  An attempt to get the drivers attention was unsuccessful and I watched my passport disappear down the street.

We contacted the front desk at the apartment building where we were staying and they in turn contacted the police who put out a bulletin to all cabs to look for my backpack, with instructions as to where and when we had been picked up and dropped off.

The next step was to contact the Canadian Embassy.  They said it could take up to 15 working days to get a replacement.  In a couple of days we were taking a guided tour around the island and I had a total of 10 days left in my visit.

They also informed me I should go to the Ministry of the Interior and report my lost passport, which I did.  They were very helpful and guided me through the process that needed to be followed.

Once this was done we got on the subway and proceeded to continue our plans for the day as best we could.

Just after arriving at the last station on the subway line, right around the lunch hour, we headed for a restaurant to have lunch.  Believe it or not, a McDonalds.  As we ate our lunch my daughter-in-law’s phone rang.  It was the people from the apartment building informing us that my backpack had been dropped off at a police station near where we had hailed the cab.

We returned to the city and found our way to the station where we found my backpack with everything in it.  The whole ordeal had lasted only three and a half hours.  What a relief.

Another trip to the Ministry to report that my passport had been recovered and all was back to normal and I was thankful for the honesty of the local cab driver, who I was able to track down and needless to say rewarded him for his kindness.

Before leaving Canada I had been given a contact in Taiwan through whom I could arrange a visit to Huafan University.

100_0111This visit was arranged on a day when our son was at work and our daughter-in-law was on a school trip with one of our grandchildren, leaving me on my own for the day.

The university sent a car to pick me up at about 8 a.m. and drove me to the facility, which was in the mountains about an hour and a half out of Taipei.

As was the case everywhere we went in Taiwan, the people were very friendly and helpful. 100_0103 The hosts at the university made me feel like an important guest and couldn’t do enough to make my experience one that I will never forget.

100_0100The structures at this facility were a sight to see.  One pagoda at the top of an elaborately adorned staircase, again with white marble railings, was just one of many.10 ton jade buddha, Huafan University,Taiwan

The most impressive, however, was a ten- ton jade Buddha.

All of this took place during my first week in Taiwan.  The second week was no less impressive.

Our tour of the island with Green Island Adventures was one to remember.  This company offers a number of tours, including snorkeling tours of Green Island, considered one of the top locations in the world for snorkelers.  See contact information at the end of this article.

Big Buddha

THE CHAPLIN’S TAIWAN TOUR

BY

Greenislandadventures.com

This five-day tour around the tropical & breathtakingly scenic island of Taiwan was originally developed for the Chaplin family, shown above in front of the Big Buddha in Taichung.  A 7-day version is also available.

The tour begins at the Taipei train station where your English-speaking guide will pick you up (other languages of your choice may also be available).

As you drive southeasterly out of the city you soon pass through a 12.9 km tunnel to emerge into the countryside and a drive along the eastern shore of the island.

Virtually the entire island is made up of majestic mountains, which tumble into the Pacific Ocean and the views overlooking the shoreline are spectacular.
Taiwan shoreline #2Taiwan shoreline

 

 

 

Heading back inland your tour takes you into the beauty of the Toroko Gorge, a national historic site, where you will have lunch overlooking this wonder of nature with it’s abundance of marble deposits.100_0161

You can stroll along the historic Tunnel of Nine Turns and visit other significant locations with ample opportunities for taking pictures.

The first night of your tour is spent in Hualien where you can visit the famous Jade and Marble Market and experience some of the city’s nightlife and you will enjoy a dumpling dinner, courtesy of the tour operator.

100_0196There is some flexibility built into the tour to accommodate individual interests and day two covers a wide variety of stops, including a visit to the Tropic of Cancer Monument.

There you can sample a wide variety of teas at an organic teashop. A rice museum is also on the itinerary and you can sample sugar cane and fresh pineapple from roadside stands.

Lunch is at the Taitung train station where you dine on a traditional boxed lunch. Then it is off, through the mountains, to Kenting, with a stop along the way at a Paiwan aboriginal store.

In Kenting there is yet another opportunity to visit a lively night market and sample more Taiwanese nightlife.

Your accommodations are across the road from a beach and you will have a western style breakfast before heading out on day three of your tour.100_0254

The first stop on this day is an amazing aquarium that you will not soon forget as you stroll through this underwater paradise and view numerous fish species, including an enormous whale shark.100_0279

Then it’s off to Sun Moon Lake where you have the option of either an evening or morning boat cruise or simply stroll along the boardwalk and relax over dinner on a patio overlooking this mountain resort lake.

Day four you can100_0290 choose from several sites, the Wenu Temple with its glittering rooftops, which overlooks Sun Moon Lake; an interesting and educational aboriginal village and amusement 100_0311park; the Puli Winery and the majestic and award winning Chung Tai Chan Temple, with its collection of historic statues and a seven-story indoor pagoda.
100_0324The day concludes with a drive to Taichung. Your accommodations here are next door to a large shopping mall with a variety of restaurants on the eleventh floor.

The final day includes a visit to several sites around Taichung then a drive to Lugang for a stroll down a historic alley with a variety of 100_0390interesting shops.

You can have a fan hand painted and personalized by a renowned artist, visit a quaint tearoom and choose from a variety of handcrafted articles.

As the day comes to an end you will be driven to the Taichung train station where you board the high-speed train for the journey back to Taipei.

Included in the price of this tour is dinner the first night, four nights accommodation, all breakfasts, admission to the aquarium, aboriginal village, a cultural centre, and part of your high-speed train ticket back to Taipei. Amenities are subject to change.  Contact the tour operator for the latest details.

The seven-day version includes two night’s accommodation in Taipei and a guided city tour.

For current pricing and more information visit www.greenislandadventures.com or book your tour by e-mail at greenislandreservations@hotmail.com

To purchase a 10% discount coupon for only $10.00, good for any Green Island Adventures tour, e-mail info@jimchaplin.com

Copyright of above materials, including photos belong to Jim Chaplin and may not be reproduced without the express written consent from the copywriter holder. Contact jim@jimchaplin.com or visit www.jimchaplin.com for more information.

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