When the in-laws were in town, the Pie and I decided to take them to Bell Island. It was a day that promised rain, but we figured, what the hell, and we went anyway.
Boy are we glad we did. There was so much to see that we hadn’t seen before on our trip with Cait and iPM, and it made for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. You can see the full set of photos here, but I’ll give you the highlights.
During our crossing we got to watch some minke whales frolicking between two small boats. I didn’t take pictures because they were too far away for a good shot, and it’s hard to predict when their tails are going to come up. The whole time we were watching the whales some old guy next to me kept pointing them out to me every time one came up for air, nudging me and saying, “Did you see that? Did you see it? That’s a whale.” Like I didn’t know what I was looking at. Eventually I moved around and hid behind my father-in-law, who was clinging like death to one of the poles away from the railing. And my mother-in-law wouldn’t let me hang over the railing, either. I know where the Pie gets his fear of the ocean from. Too bad I made him live on an island in one of the harshest oceans in the world.But at least I got them all to smile. Sort of. To be fair, it was raining in their faces so that’s why they’re all squinting.After a short interlude, Bell Island emerged from the fog.Our first stop was the Bell Island Lighthouse, which was built in 1939. This afternoon the lighthouse keeper was actually there, and he let us go up the ladder!It being one of the shorter lighthouses I’ve seen, the view from up there was a slightly more rain-spattered one than the view on the ground, but the Pie took this nice one of the lamp itself for me.
The lighthouse keeper was kind enough to explain to me something that had been puzzling me for some time. I’d seen brown paper bags, filled with air or paper to fluff them out, hanging over the thresholds of various businesses when they left their doors open. There was a similar one at the lighthouse, and the lighthouse keeper told me that it’s called a “Newfie Screendoor.” The paper bag mimics the size and shape of a wasps’ nest, and therefore discourages other wasps, as well as bees and flies, from coming into the building. He said it’s about 80% effective, which is about what you’ll get from a real screen door. Pretty clever!
Then of course I went and draped myself over the edge of the cliff to take pictures of the rock formations (I was actually about two metres back from the edge but not according to my family). The entire in-law family was not impressed.Mrs. Nice, a photographer herself, could understand my desire for the perfect shot, but she still wouldn’t come any closer than ten metres from the edge.They were all only content once I was satisfied and stooped to taking pictures of wildflowers that were on safer territory.Then we hit up Lance Cove Beach, which was where, last time, Cait and her shiny red boots saved me from an exuberant mallard.The gentlemen skipped rocks while the ladies took pictures of rocks.And boats.And wharves.We found some fossils.And a butterfly.And a SHIPWRECK!Not bad for a day at the beach.
Then we headed off to see one of the abandoned iron ore mines. The reason rocks are red in Newfoundland is because they’re rusty with iron.The rust tends to get into other things as well.Anyway, at the end of a long rusty trail there was a weird, rusty shed.And behind the shed (and down a slippery, precipitous climb) there was a rock.That tiny yellow sign is actually about a metre by a metre and it reads KEEP OFF: FALLING ROCKS.
The sun took an opportunity to disappear for a while behind the clouds as we slipped and slithered our way to the beach. It took about ten minutes to get down there. When the terrain looks like this, however, you can’t really blame us for exercising caution. Mrs. Nice remained at the top and waited for our impending deaths, but Papa John gamely followed us down.Why attempt such a harrowing climb, you ask? Well, because of this.That, my friends, is an abandoned mineshaft. HOW COOL IS THAT?
Still, once we were down there, the looming cliffs and their attendant minor landslides put a little bit of a damper on our high spirits. There’s no sense of scale in this shot. But the closest piece of fallen stone is about the size of my leg. You can see from the above shot how far down it really is.And here’s the mineshaft.We’re not stupid: we didn’t go in. The whole thing was raised about 2.5m off the ground and the way up was slippery and showed signs of recent landslides. Plus who knows how stable those supports are?
Not that way. There was a better path we hadn’t seen before.