Why I love this place

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE -

Two years ago, my hus­band and I bought a lit­tle house in New Chelsea, on the Bac­calieu Trail, a part of the Avalon with which nei­ther of us was very fa­mil­iar. Since then, we have been out ex­plor­ing the many hik­ing trails and vis­it­ing the small com­mu­ni­ties that are threaded around the shore­line.

Ever since we be­came sea­sonal res­i­dents, my hus­band and two sons have wanted to hike across the bar­rens from North­ern Bay to New Chelsea. July 28 promised to be a good day for such an ad­ven­ture, with tem­per­a­tures of low 20’s, slightly cloudy, enough wind to keep the flies away and no rain in the fore­cast. So I vol­un­teered to drop ev­ery­one off in North­ern Bay, and then pick up cold re­fresh­ments for their re­turn home. My plans then were to go home and spend a quiet af­ter­noon read­ing a mys­tery novel out on the deck.

But those plans soon changed. It was a beau­ti­ful day. Af­ter drop­ping off the boys, I went to Sandals’ Cafe in North­ern Bay, and while com­muning with my freshly-brewed cof­fee I de­cided that, since I had my binoc­u­lars and hik­ing boots with me, I would take a more leisurely jour­ney back home. On my drive north, I de­toured down many coastal side roads in Gull Is­land, Burnt Point, Job’s Cove and Lower Is­land Pond Cove. I was con­stantly as­tounded at the rugged beauty of the coast­line.

In many places, I was able to walk along the coast for miles, pick­ing the sweet wild straw­ber­ries, smelling the in­tox­i­cat­ing wild roses and, it be­ing the first week of the recre­ational fish­ery, gaz­ing upon the boats that were float­ing in liq­uid sun­shine upon the calm wa­ters of Con­cep­tion Bay.

Just be­fore I got to Caplin Cove, I stopped at the Look-out, join­ing a hand­ful of other ve­hi­cles there, all from out-of-prov­ince. Two folks from On­tario were mar­vel­ling at the land­scape, and were ec­static to have their first sight­ing of whales. It brought home to me just how beau­ti­ful this prov­ince is. I could not think of any other place I would rather be.

When I got to Old Per­li­can, where I bought the re­fresh­ments for the cross-coun­try hik­ers, I made a de­tour from high­way 70 to Grates Cove. There, I climbed the look-out with views of Bac­calieu Is­land. I lunched at Be­yond Bac­calieu Café, which over­looks the har­bour with the lit­tle fish­ing boats all in a row. For lunch, I had their de­li­cious cod chow­der, a home­made scone and fresh cof­fee.

Next stop was Bay de Verde, one of my favourite places. As I was com­ing down into the town, a huge splash caught my eye off to the right. I pulled over, fixed my eye on the spot, waited a few min­utes and, as I had hoped, a huge hump­back whale raised it­self out of the wa­ter, turn­ing, catch­ing the sun on its skin, and re­turn­ing to the ocean with a splash. This was re­peated sev­eral times more be­fore all was quiet again.

Bay de Verde is al­ways high on our list to take vis­i­tors. With the ocean on both sides, small, steep roads, and houses that cling to the rocks and hill­sides, it makes for a very unique and pic­turesque place.

I have been to Cinque Terra, in Italy, and Bay de Verde is much like one of the vil­lages of the World Her­itage Site, which con­sists of five hill­side vil­lages on a steep rugged coast linked by a hik­ing trail. In Bay de Verde, the view is just as spec­tac­u­lar, es­pe­cially from the faith­fully-re­stored Her­itage House (the Blun­don House), where the en­trance fee is just $4 and in­cludes freshly-brewed tea or cof­fee and a raisin bun. Vis­i­tors are wel­come to come back at no ex­tra cost.

But we have more. On the deck this day, I re­ally didn’t know which way to look. To my right there was a huge splash. Keep­ing my eye fo­cused on that spot, I was re­warded with the sight of a hump­back. In fact, there were whales on both sides of the com­mu­nity, along with hun­gry gan­nets from Bac­calieu Is­land. A feast for the eyes!

And then, I went to the lo­cal fish plant and bought fresh crab, to take home to the hik­ers. Throw in New­found­land hos­pi­tal­ity, which is sec­ond to none, and you are amazed that un­like Cinque Terra, we do not have the prob­lems of too many vis­i­tors.

I headed back home to New Chelsea, with the re­quired, and un­doubt­edly an­tic­i­pated, re­fresh­ments. But the hik­ers were not yet back. So I went to the small sandy beach in my com­mu­nity, where I had a re­fresh­ing swim in the salty pris­tine wa­ter and met some friends, whose chil­dren were mak­ing sand­cas­tles.

So that was my un­planned day on the Bac­calieu Trail. I know, now, why I love va­ca­tion­ing in this prov­ince and why I love liv­ing on the Bac­calieu Trail.

And yes, the hik­ers made it out for their re­fresh­ments by 4:30 p.m., af­ter a lovely day on the bar­rens, tired but with the sat­is­fac­tion of hav­ing com­pleted the hike they had planned.

Ser­ena Han­cock is a res­i­dent of St. John’s, but lives sea­son­ally in New Chelsea, Trin­ity Bay. She can be reached at ser­ena.h@nf.sym“ patico.ca

Ser­ena Han­cock looks to­wards the ocean from the deck of the Her­itage House in Bay de Verde.

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