It seems I'm slacking quiet a bit. Since my last blog we have traveled and stopped three times. So let me catch you up on those parts of our trip:
Another 387 km of road brought us from the Gros Morne National Park to Gander. This very interesting city was built in the middle of nowhere when man started to fly. After the pioneers of that new way of moving got better and better at it and had crossed the Atlantic ocean in "flying boats" with stop-overs along the way, the race was on for the first non-stop transatlantic flight. Newfoundland happened to be the closest to Ireland e.g. Europe and after exploring the different possibilities a location was found to become the jump-off point. Nothing was there but fairly secure weather conditions, enough land to build a runway and a lake close-by where the flying boats could land and take off. Work crews moved in, first living in tents and then building barracks and houses and started to clear the bush and build the airport. Gander had been founded. Up to 9'000 workers lived and worked in the new town at the peak of construction and the airport was stamped out of the ground in record time.
When World War I started Gander once again became most important. Newly built aircraft had to be brought to Europe from the US and shipping them by sea and then assembling them over there was too expensive and slow. Though the season was all but ideal when the first group of 7 planes took off from Gander, they safely reached the old world and by the end of the war over 10'000 planes had come through the town on their way to the war zone.
Gander also played a huge role after the attack of September 11, 2001 when all incoming flights to North America (not just Canada but also the US) which could not turn back were banned from entering US airspace and forced to land at the first available airport on the continent. Within hours and with no forewarning at all, the residents of the city and surrounding areas (about 10`000) saw the arrival of close to 7`000 passengers and crews. The airport was packed with planes and all those people had to be fed and housed. The people of Newfoundland stepped up to the plate: hotels, motels, B & Bs and makeshift shelters were soon overflowing and people started to open their homes to total strangers, giving them a place to sleep, food and what else they needed. A big party was held for everyone who had a birthday during their stay at Gander and friendships were built that will last a lifetime. Gander had always had a special relationship with aviation but who would have thought that this still hold true today as much as it did when the city was built?
Check Gander, the North Atlantic Aviation Museum and Gander's role in 911 out on their web sites.
From Gander we continued to Bonavista. We had heard so many great things about the Bonavista peninsula that we just had to go check it out. What we found is a nice little town with yet again a rich history and many attractions. We spent quiet some time there but also in Sandy Cove where we had found a campground directly on the sea. Once again we were welcomed by everyone we talked to with a smile and great hospitality. The young woman in the Elliston visitor center not only answered our questions but gave us great ideas and advice. She was the one to point out to us a little spot where one can watch the Puffins and so we went there, too.
Puffins are little black and white birds with bright red feet. They fish in the ocean and live in caves they dig into the ground, usually on cliffs where they are not disturbed. The place from where we watched these funny flyers was separated from their "rock" only a few meters which gave us a great look at them and their activities. Check out these pictures.
Now we are just outside of St. John's. where we will stay for at least a week. The first day we made a rest day. Today we took a drive along the coast on Hwys 70 and 80. This is the road along the coast of the peninsula northwest of St. John's. I just can't resist those little seaside towns with their harbours, fishing boats and mostly colourful houses. Simply gorgeous!
We will keep you posted on what else we will see and do here in St. John's and area as we go.
|Writing a blog in St. John's|