Sunday, February 15, 2015

Waterloo to Port-aux-Basque

Back in Waterloo - Feb 2014
 
I was astonished at the amount of snow in Waterloo.  Snow banks at least 6 feet high framed the sidewalks!  The house nestled into giant snow drifts.  I crept silently into the house and as I removed my boots, Tucker peeked at me around the corner, I crouched down and invited him into my arms … I’ve never seen his tail wag so hard.  But my reunion with Tuck didn’t last long.  Moments later Syd wiggled down the hall crying in excitement.  She dashed past me to grab a shoe, and turned to give it to me.  And then … Alfie.  He never does anything by halves.  He barked and jumped and then jumped some more.  What a welcome.  I sat on the sofa with Steve, who had developed a bad cold, and the cats soon joined us.  Ahhhh, to be home with my family!
 
Over the next 3 days Steve and I worked to get the house ready for the packers.  Because it was winter, the moving company refused to move liquids.  So we selected ~60 bottles from our wine collection  which we would move in the van.  Much of what remained was consumed during our dinners with friends to welcome me home … and then again to say good-bye.  It was a torture to leave all my canned goods behind.  All the work in the gardens, all the work to process and can it … but we just couldn’t bring it all.  I put aside 20 mason jars to bring with us, and I gave the rest to Jean.  We cleaned out the fridge and freezers and gave away or donated what we could.  Steve put together a box of clothes and another full of our camping gear.  We needed the bare minimum at the house in Newfoundland until our household furniture was delivered.  In the end we had a huge pile of stuff to move in the van.  Somehow we would have to get it all in!
 
The packers arrived … 4 guys.  At the end of the first day they announced that they would return the next day with 6 guys … and they did.  At the end of the second day all was packed except for our bed and window treatments. 


All Packed
Two days later, our stuff was loaded into the biggest moving van I have ever seen, filling it about 1/3rd full.  Apparently 3 other homes would be loaded into the truck with our stuff, and the whole lot moved to Newfoundland.  I was very surprised that 3 other families were moving to Newfoundland in February!
 
Don't forget the canoe!
That night we headed to the Waterloo Inn.  A treat, so we thought, a chance to get a good night sleep before the long drive began.  Well, the room was tiny … and the d├ęcor dated, and not really all that clean!  Steve was still quite sick and he dropped into the bed and fell asleep right away.  I lay on the bed, my mind going a mile a minute, listening to a party rage in the next room.  I didn’t sleep, couldn't sleep.  Outside the snow fell ... in the morning we'd pack up the van and follow the storm east.  After a sleepess night (for me) we left the pups in the room and headed to the dining room for the $5 dollar breakfast buffet.  It was fantastic!  We ate our fill, and even sneaked out some toast and eggs for the pups back in the room.
 
The snow had stopped during the night, and it was clear and cold.  We hurried back to the house and packed the van to bursting with all our stuff … our wine plus everything that we’d need to survive until our furniture caught up to us, including our coffee maker.  Then, we loaded the cats ... poor kitties, they cried and yeowled in their kennels as we used bungee cords to tie the kennels down … they were terrified!  Then we stuffed in the dogs ... there was barely enough room for them to lie down ... yikes!
kitties
 
We quickly visited our neighbours … our friends … and said our tearful farewells.  It was just after 1 o’clock in the afternoon when we pulled away.

Heading East
The sun shone bright in the clear blue sky as we headed east.  When we finally got through Toronto I fell asleep for an hour … thank God!  It was a perfect day for a road trip.  After about an hour, the cats finally settled.  Every now and then Miss Myst or Phynn would yeowl, but mostly they were quiet.  We had put the kennels where the cats could clearly see the dogs, and I think that helped a bit.
 
401 through Toronto
We stopped at a service center to get more coffee, fill the thermos and use the rest rooms.  Steve walked the dogs while I checked on the cats.  Rae was quiet, he’s a good boy, but he’s normally very talkative.  Phynn had destroyed everything in his kennel.  The litter box was upside down, his water dish spilled everywhere and his blanket a soiled, wet and disgusting mess.  Miss Myst was more herself, complaining at me as I fussed. 
 
The van Packed Full

Sunset behind us
We drove through the night, the roads through Quebec were excellent; clear and dry.  The animals slept quietly.  In New Brunswick it snowed, the roads were a bit slushy, but we kept going, a lone vehicle in the snowy night.  We watched for moose along the highway, but we only saw a single hare.  And then the snow stopped, the sky cleared and the stars glowed brightly in the dark sky.  And as we continued east we were treated to a beautiful sunrise! 
 
Crescent Moon over New Brunswick

Bright Sunrise
We stopped again just outside of Moncton to walk the dogs, check on the cats and eat a little.  We were both feeling a bit ill.  But after a good breakfast and a little rest we got back into the van.  The sun was warm and bright when we crossed into Nova Scotia. 
 
 
We could not have wished for a better day!  We had come this way before, on vacations and always in the summer.  Everything looks so bright and white in the sun!  We saw several Bald Eagles on Cape Breton Island. 


Cape Breton
Twenty-four hours after we left Waterloo, we pulled into the North Star motel, just up the hill from the ferry terminal in North Sydney.  We were booked on the midnight ferry and couldn’t board the ferry for another 9 hours, so we drove to a motel to rest … maybe even sleep.  We played with the dogs outside, gave them a good run.  The sun was bright and there was a strong, cold, biting wind.
 
I got all the cats into the bathroom and let them out.  While they checked out the room I cleaned their litter boxes and freshened their water.  I put down some food, but they only nibbled at it.  I murmured softly while I worked, happy that Rae responded, but the moment that I put his kennel back together he crawled in and huddled at the back.  Myst did the same, watching me from the very back of her kennel.  Phynn’s kennel was a mess, so I put in a clean blanket, more litter and more water and when I was done Phynn settled in ON TOP of his. 
 
I closed them in the bathroom … I had no appetite for chasing them around a hotel room, and went to relax on the bed with Steve.  We couldn’t sleep.  This was the scariest part of the journey … the ferry crossing to Newfoundland.  Outside, the wind continued to blow.  Steve checked for messages on his old phone ... my sister-in-law had left a message ... I had not hear for her for years, and out of blue, she called.  I called her back and let her know that we were in the middle of moving.  She was very surprised!
 
Finally, it was time, we loaded the van again.  I closed the doors on Myst and Rae as they watched from the back of their kennels, and then scooped Phynn into his cage.  He went crazy … within seconds he had flipped the litter-box into his water bowl.  I unlocked the cage and he popped out, all friendly-like … the little bugger.  So, I pulled everything out … everything … and shoved him back in.  He proceeded to toss the litter from the bottom of the cage out the door at me!  I cursed at him and loaded him into the van.  Miss Myst softly mewed at me when I put her kennel into the van, but Rae was silent.
 
We drove to the terminal, got our ticket and cabin key.  They also gave us a sign to put on the dash.  It indicated that our pets were in the van … so that we would be parked in a ‘warmer’ section of the boat.  I thought about Phynn, no blanket, and so I took his dirty blankets and crammed them into the cage with him.  I couldn’t stand the idea of his shivering through the crossing.  It was still cold … but the wind had died down.  The ocean was as smooth as glass, at least the crossing would be easy.  And then … we boarded the ferry, “The Blue Puttee” and parked with a group of people who all worked to make their cars comfortable for their pets before they left them.  We wrapped some baby Gravol in meat and fed it to the pups.  We closed the door and headed up to our cabin.  They were on their own for the next 6 hours … at least.
 
We found our cabin then we went to the cafeteria to eat a little before we took some Gravol ourselves … and then … as the ferry prepared to leave the terminal, I dashed down to the van to check on the dogs.  I just needed to know how they were doing.  I approached with stealth and peeked into the van.  They were all sleeping.   

Sneaking up on the van

Watching our old life slip away!
Feeling better, I met Steve at the bar and sipped some wine while the ferry pulled away from the terminal.  As the lights slowly receded into the night, we returned to our cabin, showered and lay down on the bunks ... exhausted. 
 
Our cabin
The bunks were sooooooo comfortable.  I was feeling lightheaded, all that driving and then the wine on top of that.  I listened to Steve sleeping in the next bunk … and then fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.  I awoke to loud banging and a strange jerking sensation.  I looked out our tiny window to see huge chunks of sea ice float past as the ferry shuttered and broke through.  Then suddenly the whole place jerked sideways and I fell into Steve’s bunk … his snoring continued.  Our cabin was several stories above the ocean, and I wondered how loud it was down on the parking level.  There was nothing to be done, I lay back down hoping that the dogs were still drugged and sleeping … and eventually fell back to sleep. 
 
Port-aux-Basque
We both woke up to the intercom “bing bong bing”, informing passengers that the ferry was about 30 minutes from the terminal in Port-aux-Basque Newfoundland.  Steve had slept straight through the night!  We scrambled to get dressed and pack up our bags.  We were about to embark on the last leg of our journey:  The drive across Newfoundland.
 

Six weeks in St. John's

Going back to Jan 2014 - I'm writing from the journals that I kept.  Once it's posted I'm less likely to forget or lose them.
 
On January 1st, I officially worked in Newfoundland, even though I was still in Ontario.  My flight to St John’s was booked for January 4th … at 6 in the morning.  Steve and I spent our last evening together with Jean and Joe, staying long into the night … I had a short nap, and the airport transit van picked me up at 3 in the morning.  At the Air Canada Desk, I checked in and wandered down to the gate … and then … my flight was cancelled!  Bad weather (snow, snow, snow) in St. John’s … so I was put on “Stand-By” and I sat in the airport with hundreds of others waiting.  Then we heard the news:  An electrical transformer had exploded in Holyrood, a small town in Newfoundland and the entire Avalon was plunged into darkness … and the storm continued to rage!  All flights into St. John’s were cancelled for the day … and I was (finally) re-booked on a flight on January 7th.  Air Canada really doesn’t do ‘Customer Service' well at all!  Exhausted, I searched for my luggage and then headed back to the Air Transport kiosk to return home. For 3 days Newfoundland worked to restore power with the temperatures well below zero.
Leaving for the airport - Take care everyone!
On January 7th I headed back to the airport.  The temperature in southern Ontario was brutally cold -28 degrees C … and when I got there, all incoming flights had been cancelled, and nothing was leaving either.  It didn’t look good!  After several delays … adding up to 6 hours, I was airborne and heading to my new life in Newfoundland.
Where's the plane?
I arrived after 10 that night (local time), rented a car and found my way to a Supermarket and then to my hotel; well, actually the apartment.  My company had arranged for me to stay in a small 1 bedroom apartment just below Signal Hill.  It took me some time to put my things away and fall asleep, in fact I slept-in the next morning, I didn’t leave for work until 8:00 am.  It took me almost an hour to find my new office … and it was only supposed to take me 11 minutes!  But I got a little lost, and with all the snow I couldn’t pull over anywhere to check my map.  When I finally zeroed in on the place, I passed it!  I couldn’t see it over the giant snow banks!  Finally I parked my car and struggled to the door … the wind almost took me down … twice! 
My home for six weeks
It was good to meet up with some old friends again, in fact I knew more people that I thought that I would.  During the days that followed, I learned the new systems, sorted through the new benefits program and attended day after day of training. 
 
St John's (from the top of Signal Hill)
 
Eventually I began working at Long Harbour itself, carpooling with old friends from my days at Research, lol!
 
At night I hunted around to find rental accommodation that would take dogs … three weeks later I found a place!  In Bay Roberts Newfoundland!
Our new home

This close to the sea!
Every single night I called home.  Sometimes Steve would hold the phone up to the dogs’ ears … and only Alfie knew that it was me.  He wagged his tail madly at the sound of my voice.  I really missed everyone!
 
I promised Steve that I’d wait for him to do any sight-seeing.  That promise was easy to keep.  The weather sucked!  But … since I was so close, I drove up to Signal Hill almost every day.  It was way cool watching the ocean and the sky, always so dramatic … and seeing bald eagles soar below me! 
 
Fort Amhurst and Cape Spear

St. John's

St. John's (again)

iconic Cabot Tower
And on one of the worst weather days I visited the Geo Center, just below Cabot Tower.  With winds screeching at more than 130 km/hr, I was one of seven people visiting the place that day.  I really enjoyed my visit and want to go back to walk the trails in the ECO-Park next door.  But there was no walking outside that day!  And I signed as a guest at the YMCA.  I worked really hard to look after myself.  I ate well, and went to the Y to ride the bikes and zumba.  I lost all the weight that I had gained since October.  Yahoooo!

I returned to the house in Bay Roberts to do some cleaning and take measurements for carpets and drapes.  Eddie, Katie and Brian dropped by to see me, and we all headed out to walk a nearby trail.

Brian, Katie and Eddie (All have worked in Research)

Funny pic of me emerging from an outhouse along the trail

what a place!

 
 Soooooo, I had a place to live and I had to find something else to obsess about.  Now I worried about the actual move, and the long drive ahead of us.  It’s been a hard winter … storm after storm … just relentless.  I was really worried about moving the pets … mostly Silver and Tucker.  Tucker hates car rides … he curls into a tiny ball … and vomits repeatedly.  Silver has a heart condition … and she’s so old.
 
And then … well, when I made the daily call home, Steve told me that Silver wasn’t doing well.  He was giving her some medication from the vet, but chances were slim that she would survive.  The next day, he cried when he told me that she had died.  It was her heart … and the stress of the move ... she died a week before I could come home for the move.  I’ll have to be content with the kiss and hug I gave her when I left … I didn’t think that it would be good-bye forever.  I really feel bad for Steve … he had to go though it alone.  So, good-bye my sweet Silver-Girl, you will be missed.
 
On the morning of February 14th, I went to work at the office in St. Johns … rather than the plant site in Long Harbour.  Outside a storm raged, and I was so afraid that my flight back to Waterloo wouldn’t make it out.  I checked the Air Canada site every 30 minutes, and shook my head when a plow piled snow all around my car in the parking lot.  The snow changed to rain around noon, turning the parking lot and the road beyond into a lake of slush.  And the wind blew!  I was able to dig myself out of the mire and headed to the airport … and amazingly … my flight was only delayed by 20 minutes.  The takeoff was a bit iffy, the wind battered the plane as we soared into the night sky. 
 
I was headed back to Waterloo for the next stage of the move.