Sunday, May 30, 2010

De-quilling services needed? Contact my team of professionals!

Well, after one summer of being totally porcupine free... let's just say that streak has ended. Thanks to five of my yahoos running into one in the woods the other night, I (and two of my very best friends, lucky aren't they!?!) got to unexpectedly bond over beer n' pulling quills for a couple hours! I have to say - one porcupine, five dogs, hundreds of quills in TWO hours - we rock!


She had the thickest porcupine quills ever right near her eye. How these things have gotten so close, but missed their eyes after all these years of porcupine incidents is nothing short of amazing!

Lucy, after the first attempt at de-quilling. She is in pain, bloody, but still happy! (or oblivious)

Hi there! Hey, one question... any idea why my face and mouth kind of hurts??

So, off we went, the six of us in the truck headed to town. I can only imagine what the oncoming vehicles thought as they saw the dogs quill-heads sticking out the windows.

George, on the other hand is NOT a happy camper. She got the worst of it - couldn't close her mouth or swallow, she was drooling everywhere. Some would say "poor thing...", I say "suck it up!" If only they would learn from their mistakes, but nooooooo.

Jack & Harris

Quite possibly the HAPPIEST dogs ever with quills in their faces and mouths. Although it's a close one with Lucy. They have an excuse to be so happy, they *think* they're going on a road trip. After attempting to pull quills on Lucy (got most of them by myself) and Gracie, I quickly realized I needed to rally the troops! You know you have GREAT friends when you can descend on them unannounced with a truck full of quill-infested dogs and get help! (and beer!)

Not only that, they (Steph, Heather and Dave) came to rescue an escapee while I was away on vacation. The cavalry arrived within an hour after my request from 8000km away! They rounded up a skittish Ivy in record time!! What would we do without awesome friends like that?!?! HUGE thanks to you guys! You can collect your Newfoundland Screech anytime... :)

Why you need really good, springy small pliers for pulling quills. The big ol' fat pliers give you blisters! Ooh, my dogs never better say I don't suffer for them.

Everyone is all de-quilled now and the dogs are on LOCKDOWN! That means no frolicking in the woods... until snow hits the ground! Or until I fortify the property with concrete walls.

Meanwhile, just when you think things have settled down and your problems are over:

Ripper decided it would be fun to chew on a package of bullets! This is quite possibly the stupidest item he has ever chewed on.

But, then I guess that's what I get for leaving my bullets on the porch!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Found some dogs

I found a dog!

This is Jake, the wiry-haired little cutie who spends his days hanging out at "The Doghouse" in St. John's.

Things are very casual around here, the woman running the store that day ran out to plug her metre and asked us to "run the store while she's gone" then told us we were hired when she returned some 5 minutes later. What a riot.
Me getting some Jake loving. It felt SOOOO good to smell a dog after a week. I've missed that!!

More dogs I found downtown. The official dogs of Newfoundland and Labrador:
The Newfie!

And Zombie-Cujo dog, aka: the Labrador. How creepy is that thing?

...and he's even anatomically correct!

Things we can learn from dogs:
We should ALL live by these few simple rules!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cape Spear

What an amazing trip out to Cape Spear! I'd suggest everyone make this trip at least once in their lives. The history, the scenery, the windy roads and unforgiving winds will be something you'll never forget.

Hello Atlantic Ocean! All I have to say is: holy crap you are one raging sea!
I really really really wanted to dip my toe in the Atlantic, but with all the signs about being "swept out to sea due to crashing, unpredictable waves" and "you will die if you come any closer, we really mean it" type warnings... I decided against it.

Having never been to the Maritimes, or East of Ottawa for that matter, I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I tell ya, I have a newfound respect for Newfoundlanders because of the weather they endure. Freakin' cold and rainy and snowy and Oh. My. Goodness. The wind. The relentless wind. That's just spring. I've heard stories of Newfoundland winters, and well, it would be a whole other "experience" to be here in winter I'm sure. I can handle the -40(briefly), regular -20's of the Yukon, but the freezing rain and wet snow and icy streets on these killer hills they have around St. John's... yikes! Not surprising then that St. John's is referred to as "Canada's Weather Champion" - because of all the major cities in Canada - it is the cloudiest, snowiest, windiest and has the most wet days per year!

We headed to the easternmost point in North America... just because we HAD to! It seems to be windy everywhere around St. John's so we figured, how much windier can it get out at Cape Spear?

Well, really freakin' windy is the answer. But, the trip was still worth it!
Me n' mum at the entrance to Cape Spear.

Here's a video of the wind and my mom waving to Laura across the sea in Scotland. A mere 2000km away:

The bunker. It's amazing trying to imagine what life was like here when this was in use.
Because of its proximity to convoy routes during WWII, a gun battery was installed to defend the entrance to St. John's harbour. Barracks and underground passages leading to the bunkers were built for the use of troops stationed here.

The big gun!

More bunker goodness

For those of you interested - a detailed description (and pretty pictures) on the guns used.

Looking out to sea

The Thinker. Is she thinking about how to solve the world's hunger issue? Pondering possible solutions to all of the unnecessary wars? Evaluating how to live in a sustainable, renewable world instead of depleting the oil sands?
Nah, more likely that she's thinking of what kind of local beer to try that night.

The Lighthouse! Lighthouses are very exciting y'know!
This is the newer lighthouse on Cape Spear.

This looks down from the old lighthouse to the newer one.

The old lighthouse, built in 1836. It's since been restored and is now a visitor centre. Mom and dad were waiting while I was frolicking around the lighthouses so I had no time to visit the visitor centre, oh well!

It looks like she found a bunker full of hot, muscular soldiers with that look of excitement! No such luck, although they did seem to be infiltrating the hotel later on... hummm.... :)

And just for fun! A awesome video I found on Youtube of whales hanging out with a few kayakers at Bay Bulls, NL(south of Cape Spear). The commentary is priceless:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's Official!

9 out of 11 of you would rather kiss a dead fish than kiss a dead toe. Hm, I would have thought there'd be more toe fans out there...

But maybe you googled it, 'cause looking at that black, wrinkled rotting extremity, I wouldn't go anywhere near it, even if it IS soaked in alcohol!

Friday, May 14, 2010

More sightseeing!

There's a lot to see here! Having the hotel close to the Signal Hill road is great, I can head up there quickly - it's a wicked steep hike though! I think there's a reason you don't see a lot of bikes around here... or maybe it's because of the weather and SNOW we experienced today!

More colourful houses

This town totally has character.

Cabot Tower on Signal Hill

Built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot's discovery of Newfoundland. Signal Hill is Canada's 2nd largest historic park. More on that later when we get closer to it!

Newfie dogs in Newfoundland!

The canon! In summer, when it's not SNOWING, here the "Signal Hill Tattoo" portrays the duties of the Newfoundland Regiment of the 1790's. Complete with canon, mortars and musket fire, and the stirring sounds of the Fife and Pipe band, I bet it's an awesome sight!

They say it's often windy on Signal Hill

I concur!

Regardless of the wind, what a view of the harbour!

Interesting fact: when my prairie land-locked brain hears the ships horns blow, it automatically thinks... "Train!" Um, no.

The Johnson GeoCentre is a amazing building, built underground, with the natural rocks of Signal Hill protruding through the Centre(you can see them on the left in the photo below). On rainy (and snowy!) days, melt water actually flows down the rocks, inside the Centre.

This is a very cool representation of the comparison of (right to left) timelines of the earth, dinosaurs, ice ages and humans. All represented by grains of sand. The earth column went from floor to ceiling but the true representation would have it 200ft over the top of the building!! We humans really are just a wee blip on the map.

The GeoCentre received some exhibits and games from a science centre that closed down... thus the science-y games. They were fun. And loud.

The Laetoli Footprints: 3.6 million year old footprints.

Even though they're replicas, it's still pretty cool! I've never seen these in a museum before.

Luuuuuucy!! The famous hominid my dog is named after. Seriously. She is of the species Australopithecus afarensis, and although not my favourite of the Australopithecines (that honour goes to the robustus species because of their cool big-assed heads), she is still pretty cool.

Ooh, science-y stuff!

Maritime spear points

Hello lobster dinners!!!

Now that was a GREAT dinner!!!!

Hitting the streets of St. John's! That was a fun night.

Me and my gigantic $10 glass of Stella! Yikes! And look at those shot glasses...hmm... not mine!

My parents have now arrived and I shall have plenty of entertaining photos of them soon too! We are just hiding from the SNOW today, hoping tomorrow brings less precipitation. Regardless, we'll get out and see the sights for our last few days in St. John's - the city with the craziest streets for driving!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Party at The Rooms!

The Rooms is a beautiful space - it's a fairly new building that houses a triple threat - the Provincial Archives, Art Gallery and Museum. It's huge and spacious with plenty of windows to take in the amazing views.

And, we whupped it up there last night, at a party called the "Scoff n' Scuff" - we "scoffed" the food down and "scuffed" our feet, by dancing! The food was freakishly amazing, seafood everywhere, wine, local beer, so much seafood I think I might have od'd on it. I had fishcakes, cod tongues, many things that were offered to us (again, had no idea what they were called because of the newfie language), shrimp and the best invention ever - mussels in SCREECH!! Oh. My. God. That was simply amazing. And the local beer (again, no idea of the name). Luckily the bartender sort of remembered what I ordered so I didn't have to figure out the name! (not that I visited said bartender that many times... noooo....)

The Yukon contingent! There is like a thousand of us here. At least.

Morgen was teaching Casey to waltz there in the middle of the photo. They did a great job! Sure none of us visitors knew ALL the songs by heart like many people here, but we could pretend.

And this! Holy impressive sight... literally!
St. John's Basilica - opened in 1855(!!), some 20 years after the building started. Amazing.
The shadowy statures were quite imposing and a wee bit freaky in the dark.

As for the weather, well... it's been... rainy! And cloudy! And windy! And cold! Almost like the Yukon in spring! Makes me almost feel at home. I'm now officially adjusted to Newfoundland (AND LABRADOR) time. You guys are all soooo behind... haha.
And for the record, I've only seen one dog so far! But I am remembering what life is like with no dog hair, no hauling of water or buckets of dog food, running HOT water, ROOM SERVICE, someone who CLEANS UP YOUR ROOM EVERY DAY, quiet evenings where there aren't dogs inside and outside and stealing my spot on the couch and ooh! No PB! screeching! Agh, I just realized there has been no PB screeching in my ears for 3 whole days! Wow. This is what life is like with ears that aren't ringing constantly. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ah, Newfoundland!

What can I say? Newfoundland is beautiful! In a lot of ways, it reminds me of the Yukon. The cab driver who drove a couple of us Yukoners to the hotel had spent a lot of time in the Yukon and was the first to say how similar both are. After spending less than 24hrs here, I think he's spot on!

Why you ask? Oh you intrepid and curiously brilliant blog readers you....

We're both kind of on the "fringes" of Canada, both probably a little annoyed (but not surprised) when the rest of Canada leaves us out of the conversation, doesn't invite us to the parties or leaves us last to pick for the soccer team. But like any province/territory who's not the biggest or loudest, we're ok with that.

Those who live in both the Yukon and Newfoundland seem to be very proud of where they live. No, they're not only proud, they LOVE LOVE LOVE where they live. And they're not afraid to tell you! After one day here wandering the rainy streets for a few hours, I've heard many times "I'd rather be here than anywhere else!" from a variety of people. And this is just people randomly shouting (or singing) this out as I'm tying my shoes... or looking for deoderant in the drugstore...

Ok, no I'm kidding. We were having actual conversations.

The downtown is crazy busy, not what I'm used to, but man those crazy drivers are some of the most polite drivers when you're trying to cross the the various, confusing streets! Here I am, confused, and drenched from the rain because the amount of rain in the Yukon doesn't really warrant having a good rain jacket. Maybe they just felt sorry for me. The drivers honked at each other all day (seriously. LOTS of honking), but are very lovely to pedestrians.

Warning: 'scuse my chattiness this evening, I fear I might still be on Yukon time... 10:00pm here, 5:30 YUKON TIME! Agh! Ok, the Screech Rum will help me sleep eventually...

But let's start wayyyyy back at the beginning. Yesterday.

Vancouver! It's a gigantic, busy city but man it makes up for the massive population in terms of beauty.

Still scenic!

Love me some mountain scenery.

Fast forward to Ontario because darn you Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba for being cloudy and overcast!

Flying into Ottawa, gotta love all the freakin' POOLS everyone has. I think I've been in the north too long!

Signal Hill - or the road to Signal Hill. I'll be heading there later in the week.

In case you're wondering... Signal Hill is a National Historic Site. It was the reception point of the first transatlantic wireless signal by Guglielmo Marconi (well, duh!) in 1901, as well as the site of harbour defences for St. John's from the 18th century to the Second World War. I'm sure you all knew that.

Interestingly, Parks Canada is now working on a GPS based tour (called Explora) for visitors at the site. It's really cool! You can walk around with the GPS and find out various amounts of information, depending on what you're interested in.

Trapper John's on George Street. If I realized anything today during my 2hr walkabout, it's that this town has a LOT OF PUBS!!!!!

Another reason I like it here.

This is TOTALLY something we have to do. It's not unlike the "Sourtoe Cocktail" in Dawson City (which I haven't had the stomach to do yet), this one I think is a lot less... um... disgusting?

Let's see.... kiss a dead fish or kiss a dead toe and then wash it down with some booze. Hm, not sure which one emerges as the clear winner here. I guess if you're one of those people squeamish about feet, then you're going to go for the fish. However, if you find a slimy cod disgusting - a decrepid, fermented toe may be your choice

How about I put a poll up on the sidebar there for you to vote on!? That'll clear it right up!

THE SHIP! Not a surprising name in St. John's, this pub being located about a block from the ocean. There is a similar bar in Calgary - technically The Ship AND ANCHOR - where I spent, ahm... quite a bit of time in during my cowtown days. Hey, they do have the largest selection of draft beer in western Canada, so there was really no choice. It's located nowhere near an ocean. Or water for that matter. Wait, does the Bow River count?? :)

Either way, you can never have too many "The Ships" - landlocked or not.

Heading to the harbour. I have to get more pics of the steepness of some of these streets, they are unreal!

Dinner - cod n' chips and some local beer, that of which I have no idea of the name because I could not understand what the woman called it when I ordered!! I think every Canadian should get a Newfoundland translation guide in Elementary School. I've never had to ask people to repeat themselves so much in one day. Then when they do... ask them to repeat themselves again and slower please.... so I can understand them! It is quite entertaining!

Now I shall finish off my complimentary Screech and head to bed. At 6:30 Yukon time. In the dark. Oh yeah, the darkness! So weird at this time of year!!!!
Conference swag - the good stuff. A rock (iron ore), hand sanitizer(everyone is doing it these days) that you can, I guess, hang somewhere handy(??) and Screech! (rum, that necessitates an exclamation point!).