AVALON'S SOUTH EASTERN COAST
After my visit to Cape Race I'm back on the road heading northwards towards St John's. It's round about there where I hope to be spending the night.
I was told that at Cape Race there was a Loran C radar set-up, but I couldn't find it. it turns out that it's not at Cape Race at all but back on the main road in the direction of St John's.
One thing that I found unusual was that it was said that the station was operated by the United States Coastguard Service. Now what are they doing on Canadian soil? Can you imagine what the response might be if another country asked to station its officials to work on United States soil?
And you probably noticed that I used the past tense too when talking about the Loran C. The system has been superseded by GPS navigation and is no longer operational. The Americans closed down their system in February 2010 and the Canadians closed theirs in October 2010 - just as I was passing by in fact.
And do you remember that while I was out at Cape Race and bemoaning the total absence of wind turbines along the Newfoundland coast? Well how about this at Bear Cove?
Yes, it was nice to be eating my lunch in the company of such envirommentally-friendly friends such as these, and a whole row of them too. I can't remember when it was the last time that I saw such a collection, and all of this wind going to waste too.
And lunch? It's not far short of 16:00 but then again I've been very busy today, haven't I, what with one thing and another? And of course once you start, you'll be amazed at just how many other things there are.
If you were with me on my drive around the Trans-Labrador Highway you will recall that I had a very enjoyable time in the company of various porcupine, moose and even a black bear. But there has been nothing in the way of exotic wildlife for a couple of days.
Until just now, that is.
Seeing this person reclining on a rock in the late afternoon sunshine has really set the seal on my journey around the Avalon, and of course he gave me his seal of approval, which was rather thoughtful.
I'd been steaming along the road up the coast just here and come round the corner into a bay, the name of which I have forgotten just now. I noticed that one of the rocks just offshore had a rather unusual shape and as I drew closer (I'm not very good at drawing though and so it wasn't much of a likeness of closer) I noticed that part of the rock was moving.
Obviously that called for the preparation of the Nikon
I was lucky - and so was the seal - that it wasn't winter. We all know of the sport known as the "Canadian Biathlon", which is where people skate across the ice, stopping every 200 metres or so to club a seal pup to death.
I was also lucky to see it. As the Finnish geologist Vaino Tanner said, "It is not easy to discover the animal. He looks just like one of the rocks close by. The mimicry is perfect in the autumn"
This likewise brought me shuddering to a halt just a little farther along the road - at Tor's Cove if I remember correctly.
The majority of my readers are Europeans and so the thought that will be running through their heads, just as it was running through mine, that
"what on earth is a Ford Sierra (or to be more precise, a Ford Sierra XR4) doing here in Canada?"
Well, as it happens, although we are right in principle, that it is indeed a Ford Sierra, that's not what is written on the back of the vehicle.
It appears that in the mid-1980s Ford of North America tried a little experiment in importing European Fords. The cars that they chose were the Sierra and the Ford Granada of that particular era, and they were inported into North America and badged as "Merkur". Why, I have simply no idea, unless the names are protected over here. I do know that there was once an Oldsmobile Sierra
European motorists have a different level of expectation than North American motorists, and no matter how well the Sierra and the Granada performed in the European market, they did not really correspond to North American expectations. I suppose that that is the kindest way of putting in. The experiment came to a shuddering halt after just two years
You might already know that this is not the first time that Ford North America has imported European vehicles. In New Jersey in 1999 I met a guy called Bob Hess who used to race British Fords of the 1960s which he bought fairly locally, and you might recall that a couple of weeks ago when I was in Ontario I saw a Ford Cortina II from the late 1960s.
And even today, you'll see the little Ford Transit van (the smaller cube, not the Caliburn-sized one) that is made in Turkey and imported into North America.
And the Sierra or Merkur or whatever you might like to call it was not the only interesting item here either. A quick glance down the back of the yard at tha back of the garage made me likewise reach for the camera.
I've no idea what this vehicle might be just here, but I do recall that I have seen plenty like this before. In 2002 for example, when I was passing through Chugwater in Wyoming for example.
There were also a few other interesting cars in that yard too, such as the one down there in the bottom corner, and it was well-worth a photograph too.
If it had been broad daylight or there was someone around to ask, I would have gone for a wander down there with the camera. But it was going dark and there was no-one around, and the way that over the last 10 years or so the Fascist Governments of North America have transformed the easy-going nature of their citizens by frightening them to death with spurious tales and distorted lies and dubious half-truths, then it probably isn't a good idea to go a-wandering and I'll leave it until next time.
Much of the evil that is happening in the Governments of the Western World right now was foretold by many of us long before the events of 2001 and it wasn't surprising at all that once these started to unroll that I was ... errr ... retired from my special position in a major pan-Governmental Organisation. After all, when someone tells you things like
"You can't expect the Rapid Reaction Force to be ready immediately"
you can't really do anything else but laugh. That doesn't go down very well in those kinds of circles.
But the final words on this kind of matter has to be these uttered by a group of ... errr ... Canadians, would you believe, who were 30 years ahead of their time when they first uttered these immortal words
"They say there are strangers who threaten us
in our immigrants and infidels
They say there is strangeness too dangerous
in our theatres and bookstore shelves
That those who know what's best for us
must rise and save us from ourselves
Quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand
Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand"
If you want to hear more of where that came from then go out and by a copy of Moving Picture by Rush.
The tragedy of all of this is just how many people have fallen for the Government hype. Most people in the west still believe that they are living in a free country. If only they realised .....
I remember back in the late 1970s and early 1980s when I worked in the tourism sector and I travelled frequently to the USSR and its satellite nations
"What is the purpose of your visit?"
"Where will you be going and where will you be visiting?"
I would have my list ready and I'd read it off
"Where will you be staying?"
I'd read off an address from my list "And now may I ask you a question?"
"Why are you asking me all these questions?"
"It's for reasons of national security"
and you could have knocked me down with a feather when I had exactly the same conversation, word for word, with an American immigration official at Denver Airport in 2005, and at almost every border crossing into the USA ever since.
After spending 50 years trying to demolish totalitarianism in the USSR, the Americans have installed exactly the same system in their own country. I'm waiting for an American politician or military leader (because it's the military, not the politicians who pull the strings in the USA) to stand up and admit that maybe the Soviets had a point.
You know, there's nothing at all that comes close to a really good rant when you are in the right kind of mood.
From here on, the light started to disappear pretty rapidly and there wasn't much else that it was possible to do in the way of photography. I programmed the Sat-Nav with the list of addresses of suitable accommodation, starting with the cheapest, and the very first one came up trumps. A good investment, that Sat-Nav.
And what an enjoyable place to stay it was too. Nice friendly people with plenty to say for themselves, and I can talk for ever "surely not" ...ed especially if I have a good audience.
Like most people from a rural background and planning on some kind of major leap into the unknown the two things that interest me most are the agricultural situation and the weather. Apparently the planting season for crops here in Newfoundland is the middle of June! They are still liable to have frosts up to that date, so I was informed. No wonder that all I have seen so far are cabbages.
The rainfall too was of interest to me. And here on the eastern coast of Newfoundland, the average number of days with rain each year is 216. Now that would just about finish me off. I thought that it was bad enough here in the Auvergne
One of the underlying currents that was running through much of the conversations that I'd been having in this part of Newfoundland, and here was no exception, was the level of dissatisfaction and discontent with the Federal Government. It's the national sport of most countries, of course, to criticise relentlessly the Government, but here there was much more that I was expecting. It was almost as if I was listening to some kind of undercurrent of Separationalism here.
Newfoundland did not join the Confederation until 1949 and some people still remember "The Good Old Days" when Newfoundland was still a British Colony. But the St John's area with its close connection to "The Mother Country", its strategic location on the edge of North America, its profitable maritime commerce and its high standard of living was always bitterly opposed to Union and the referendum just after the war was "won" by the Federalists who represented the more remote communities, whose standard of living was much lower than here.
Canadian welfare benefits were the key - they were much better than those that the isolated rural and coastal dwellers were receiving from St John's and it's true to say that the accelerated pace of redevelopment along the Labrador coast did not begin until after Newfoundland joined the Confederation although whether this would have happened under the general technological advances that occurred almost everywhere in the western world in the post-war years is a matter of some debate.
The popular opinion seems to be that Newfoundland is in a position to be able to stand on its own two feet again and it doesn't really need the Federal Government, but I remain unconvinced. Where the wealth comes from these days is from the minerals discovered up on the High Labrador Plateau and it it this that is driving the Province's economy along. But the only practical outlets for these are down the Québec and North Shore Railway and the Cartier Railway both of which run down to the St Lawrence coast in Québec. And recalling just how the dispute over the Churchill Falls hydro-electric power transmission was resolved I foresee an immediate problem with Newfoundland's separationism.
And so apart from intense agricultural and political discussions, I was given plenty of hints to help me out on my journey, which is always useful. This bed-and-breakfast was excellent value for money and I'll be going there again.
The food though was something else completely. I'm on the budget economy package as you know, and after my expenses around The Trans-Labrador Highway I need to watch what I spend. But the prices that I was expected to pay for a simple take-away meal were totally ridiculous. I could eat in a restaurant in many places I've been to and still have change.
I was expecting something out of the ordinary, bearing in mind the comparative isolation of Newfoundland from sources of food supply, but nothing quite like this.
That settles it. St. John's is a big place for round here and there is bound to be a way that I can resolve the question of my evening meals in a cost-effective manner. I'll be there tomorrow and I'll see what I can find.