Highway to Hell: Bonavista with the Teens Edition

Back by popular demand, Terra Nova Rover's first guest blogger, Heather Barrett, entertains us with a second adventure. Here's Heather:

Those Newfoundland and Labrador tourism ads make a road trip through our province look amazing. But if you’re a teenager in St. John’s, a driving holiday around the bay with your parents is a trip to Dullsville. So there was much eye rolling and grumbling at my house, when I announced we were taking an excursion to Bonavista.

Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland.

Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland.

Off we set - me, my husband, our 15-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl, mobile devices charged, up the Bonavista Peninsula.

Now, I love Port Union. So I insisted we turn off the main road and head into the historic district.http://www.historicportunion.com/en/index.html  Everyone agreed that was a good idea, because they could all use a bathroom pit stop.

We wandered into the red factory building. While the rest of the clan looked for a washroom, I chatted to the front desk ladies, paid the family admission, and turned us over to the enthusiastic tour guide.

Don showed us around the old-fashioned dry goods shop, machinists room, and Fishermen’s Advocate newspaper headquarters. He gave us the whole story: Sir William Coaker, fair wages for fishermen, electricity and education for all, yay, union!

Don tells two townie teens everything they need to know about the Fishermen's Protective Union

Don tells two townie teens everything they need to know about the Fishermen's Protective Union

The three of them just looked stunned, like a family of moose caught in headlights.

Once we got out to the car, the boy said, “Don’t you ever do that again, Mom.”

I got vetoed on the Sealers’ Memorial and Museum in Elliston, or anything else in Elliston. After the Port Union museum ambush, everyone was too suspicious to get out of the car. So, we took a quick drive, safari-style, through the town. All hands duly noted the famous Elliston root cellars from the safety of the vehicle.

By the time we got to our motel in Bonavista, the girl and my husband were Newfoundland cultured out.

So the boy and I went on a walk through town, past the Ryan Premises and fish plant. We stopped into a craft shop with what looked a bunch of chain link sculptures in the window.

Jason Holley, http://www.gardinermuseum.on.ca/pages/jason-holley the artist and shop owner, cheerfully showed us how he made each link from ceramic, and asked us where we were from. I explained we were out from St. John`s, doing the family road trip/Newfoundlandia thing.

Jason looked at my son and said, “Yeah man, I grew up in Gander, and when I was 17, I couldn’t wait to get out. Then when I was 21, I couldn’t wait to get back.”

The Bonavista Social Club http://bonavistasocialclub.com/ got a thumbs-up from everyone. It`s in tiny Upper Amherst Cove, at what seems like the end of the world. But what a funky end of the earth. The restaurant is tucked into the side of a hill, with terraced kitchen gardens below. Goats and sheep graze nearby. Both the restaurant and the farm are staffed mainly by young people, probably only a decade or so older than my kids.

The blackboard menu had something even our picky-eater girl liked, and the large, wood burning pizza oven and open kitchen made great meal-time entertainment. Oh yeah, and the food was fantastic.

The Bonavista Social Club was a hit.

The Bonavista Social Club was a hit.

The Skerwink Trail http://www.theskerwinktrail.com/ was also a hit. The five kilometre walk took us from a sedate gravel road to a steep path carved into a hill overlooking Trinity Bay. We saw stone sea stacks, capelin beaches, Port Rexton in one direction, Trinity in the other. No one complained about the rain, which cooled us off after hiking up several flights of steep wooden stairs. No whales in sight, but we did see lots of mainland tourists, clad in Gore-Tex and gobsmacked by the views.

We could have done lots more on the Bonavista Peninsula, but there were house league baseball games, tee-off times, and Grade 8 girl gossip to catch up on in St. John’s.

They will appreciate this excursion, I told the youngsters, when they are adults. Or they can work through it with their therapists.

Either way, I’ve done my job.

Thanks to Heather Barrett for contributing to the Terra Nova Rover blog.  If you'd like to unpack a story or two from a trip you've had, please get in touch. tnroverjane@gmail.com