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Monday, July 10, 2006

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

A few nights ago my wife and I had an opportunity to attend the Spirit of Newfoundland’s traveling dinner theatre production of the play, “Every Joan, Dick and Harry” and I have to say I’m eternally grateful that we did.

“Every J, D& H is a rousing two act play filled to overflowing with the music and songs of three of Newfoundland and Labrador’s greatest musical icons, Joan Morrissey, Dick Nolan and Harry Hibbs. It’s a romp down memory lane that I’m sure must have stirred the same feelings of nostalgia for everyone in attendance as it did for me. Scenes in a CN bus station, a chat about the Flier’s club in Gander, Ron Pumphry hosting the VOCM Open Line program and the wonderful music of those great performers could do nothing less.

The experience started me thinking back to when these fine performers were in their heyday. Being just a boy at the time, it reminded me of being in elementary school, more years ago than I care to remember. In those days, returning to class each September meant two things. The end of summer and being assigned, I suspect because the teacher was in the midst of recovering from some big Labor Day bash, the job of writing and essay on what I had done during my summer vacation.

Many of you have likely had the same experience and I suspect the ritual still exists in schools today. I don’t know how you felt about that little task but I can tell you with all honesty, I hated it with a passion. Honest to God it used to make my stomach churn and I can’t even begin to tell you what it did for getting the new school year off on the wrong foot.

Unlike many people in our area my Parents were not travelers, not at all, so while other kids wrote about their trip to Disneyland or visiting relatives in Ontario or Boston or some other far away place, I was forced to sit and think about what I’d done at home in dumb old Newfoundland. On occasion I recall even making things up so I wouldn’t look like an idiot. I’ve since stopped worrying about looking like an idiot as anyone who reads my column regularly will attest. Little did I understand about the time or place where I lived at the time. Little did I understand at all.

Boy what a difference a few decades can make to your attitude. Now, after having traveled throughout many parts of North America and as far away as the Orient I’ve reached a point in my life where I, like my parents before me, feel absolutely no need to travel outside my homeland for pleasures sake. In fact I can’t wait to visit different parts of this Province each summer. In addition to that, these days it actually feels good to write about it and why shouldn’t it?

It may have come to me decades later than I would have preferred, but I finally understand that the Colony of Newfoundland and Labrador is like no other place on earth. This year the Canadian government even admitted as much by naming it Canada’s Cultural Colony, err ah oops, I mean Canada’s Cultural Capital. I could say a lot more on that subject but since I’m in a good mood today I’ll just continue on with my original train of thought.

They say that you never really know what you have until you lose it. I guess it was that way with me. It wasn’t until I’d lived away from the Province for about ten years or so and wound up moving back that I realized what this place really had to offer. Since then I’ve tried to take every opportunity I can to rekindle my love affair with my homeland and believe me it has to be the easiest job in the world.

This summer our vacation plans include driving into the beautiful Exploits Valley to spend a few days with friends, maybe do a little salmon fishing and, I hope at least, to take a dip in the refreshing waters of Pine Camps. I remember as a child standing on the bridge over the river gorge there and looking down at the pure black water so far below that it looked about the size of a postage stamp. Unlike many others, I never found the courage to actually dive off that bridge and as nostalgic as I get, I doubt I’ll ever try to remedy that missing part of my childhood. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere after all.

Our next stop will take us a few hours down the highway to Grose Morne, where we hope to see as much as possible of this world heritage site. Our plans include taking the Trout River boat tour, hiking in the tablelands, walking on the beach at Cow Head and attending a couple of new plays being offered as a part of the local Theatre Festival.

After a few days in the area and if our schedule permits we hope to drive up to the ferry and cross into Southern Labrador for a day or so. I fished the Pinware River a few years back and I’d love nothing more than to try it again. It was an experience of a lifetime. I won’t even try to describe it to you because there is no way I could do it justice. When you catch sight of a salmon that has to be well over sixty pounds, words simply fail you.

To cap things off I’ll be back in the St. John’s area for the remainder of the summer taking in the sights and sounds of the countless festivals, concerts, museums, beaches, nightclubs garden parties and wonderful musical talent in and around the city. Of course I’ll need to leave a day or two free to catch a few cod, now that Ottawa was nice enough to grant me permission to do so this year. I wouldn’t miss that for the world. Oh, just in case I forget it later, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the fine folks at DFO for permitting us to catch a few of THEIR fish this summer.

There you have it folks. Newfoundland and Labrador may not be Disneyland, but who the hell wants it to be. Yes indeed, it should be a great summer. I wish you could all experience it with me. Well, not really since my car only seats five and besides, the wife might get a little ticked if a crowed showed up, but you know what I mean.

So, what am I trying to say today? Simply put, if you are fortunate enough to live in this place, please don’t ever take it for granted, not for a second. If you hail from away and have an opportunity to visit our fair land this year, you are in for a treat like no other. If you can’t visit us this year, then you might want to start planning for the next year and if you don’t ever plan to visit, for some unknown or misguided reason, it’s your loss, but don’t ever say I didn’t let you know about the place.

Wow, will you look at me! I’ve already written an essay on my summer vacation and it hasn’t even started yet. Just imagine how much easier things would have been for me as a child if I only knew then what I know now.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a nice place to visit ....but I wouldn't live here.

Oh crap. I do!

Anonymous said...

My feelings about this province are so much like yours. Matter of fact they could be a little stronger. When out of this province on any sort of commitment, I cannot wait to get back home. As a result I know I am wishing my life away, as I am always longing that the day was at hand when I am going back. Every minute spent outside of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, no matter where I am, to me is a wasted one. I always wish those minutes could be replaced by being granted extra life. My wish is that I see every community of this province before the day I die. Every year I add more and more communities to my schedule, and fortunately I have gotten to see every one of them.

If I am granted enough life time, I will see every town in this beautiful province. I have already seen many, and I am never disappointed with the place or its people.

Ironically, when I was a teenager in school I couldn't wait to get out of here, but it didn't take long for my whole outlook on that aspect to change. After moving to another province because of my spouse's job commitments for just 3 years, the first chance we got to be gainfully employed back in this province, with an equivalent job, it meant that we were back home to stay. That was 30 years ago. We are forever grateful that opportunity rose its beautiful head and presented itself to our family. I still cannot believe our good fortune.

Intcord said...

Guys, take if from a guy who moved away 30 years ago and would move back there again tomorrow. If only I could get it through my head that the lifestyle you have down there is worth a lot more than the money one makes on the mainland. Ah yes, money. It's like CRACK ain't it? I never knew I was poor when I was poor. I just know in my heart that I could never give up the CRACK that gives me all of the things that my current lifestyle says I need. Of course, I know that on my deathbed I'll be wishing I'd gone back home. Wouldn't it be great for someone to find a way to allow all the Newfies to come back home and still make the big buck?

WJM said...

It's sad how so many more Newfoundlanders have travelled for pleasure to Florida or the Dominican Republic than in Labrador. Pathetic, really.

MrChills said...

It's sad how so many more Newfoundlanders have travelled for pleasure to Florida or the Dominican Republic than in Labrador. Pathetic, really.

What is pathetic is your unrelenting view of how everything in the world somehow relates to Labrador. It’s truly amazing how you seem to find everything and anything written about Newfoundland & Labrador to be in someway a dig to Labrador. Get over yourself.

For right or wrong, it would probably actually be cheaper to fly to Florida or the Dominican for a vacation than to head to Labrador. Something also tells me that Miami or Punta Canta would be nicer than Cartwright or Hopedale to spend spring break.

Patriot said...

To Mr.Chills,

I won't argue your points on WJM or spring break, I'll leave that between you both. Having said that, if you are looking for some of the most beautiful and secluded sand beaches on bathtub warm fresh water beaches you can't find any better than the ones in Southern Labrador.

Atikonak said...

In part I have to agree with WJM. My first trip to Labrador was forced as my wife and I moved there for work. I had always wanted to travel to Labrador but the cost and the timing always seemed to be wrong. My personal opinion is that every person in this province should travel to Labrador at least once, just as Labradorians should be more familiar with the Island portion.

I have heard the arguement that Labrador is simply a region of Newfoundland just like the Burin Peninsula but I disagree. If Newfoundland is a special part of Canada than surely Labrador is a special part of Newfoundland. Having lived in Labrador I have a much better understanding of why Labradorians feel as they do. St. John's deals with Labrador as poorly as Ottawa deals with Newfoundland.

Recently I have thought about how Newfoundland and Labrador are somehow two places yet the same place. I'm not sure that renaming the province including Labrador did anything more than increase the seporation between the areas.

As a province we should be much more diligent with regard to our understanding of the various areas of our province. It is for that reason that for the next few years I plan to vacation withing the province to get a better understanding of our province.

As one last comment I would like to say that both Cartwright and Hopedale are far "nicer" that many southern destinations. They may have more ammenities but thats where the advantage ends. As for the price of travel to and in LAbrador the infristructure is lacking due to lack of govt commitment.

That's all for now....

Patriot said...

Well said Atikonak.

Labrador is a special place and is mis-treated by the Provincial government just like the entire Province is mis-treated by Ottawa. This is an issue that I have spoken on before and no doubt will again.

Just by way of explanation for why I plan to visit Southern Labrador rather than other areas you hit the nail on the head again. Like everyone else I have a budget that I have to live within. Since I'll be on the Northern Peninsula anyway, it's much easier (and less expensive) for me to take the ferry rather than fly up.

It's a terrible thing when you can't even get to see parts of your own Province because travel costs are prohobitive. I can fly to other parts of Canada cheaper than getting to parts of NL. There is definately something wrong with that scenario.

MrChills said...

I am in no way, shape or form saying that Labrador is not a good tourist destination. I feel ashamed that I have never been there and long to get the chance someday to get up there.

My grandfather was a fisherman and spent most of his time “Down the Labrador” and he has often told me that Labrador is like Newfoundland in most ways except everything is a little bit bigger; the people have bigger hearts, the mountains are bigger, the landscapes are bigger and of course the fish were bigger. However, comparing it to Florida or Dominican Republic doesn’t make sense; they are totally different locations with totally different reasons for vacationing, most people go there as an escape from the cold miserable weather. Saying that it is pathetic that more people in Newfoundland have been to New Brunswick would make more sense.


What kills me is how hard it is to actually get to Labrador. When I lived in Newfoundland the cost of a flight there was OUTRAGEOUS!!! And the ferry service was pathetic. I wonder if the Provincial Government (this is one thing that you can’t blame on the “Feds”) will ever address this.

WJM said...

What is pathetic is your unrelenting view of how everything in the world somehow relates to Labrador. It’s truly amazing how you seem to find everything and anything written about Newfoundland & Labrador to be in someway a dig to Labrador. Get over yourself.

Some people manage to make everything about Newfoundland and the glorious republic it should be.

Do you bitch at them?

For right or wrong, it would probably actually be cheaper to fly to Florida or the Dominican for a vacation than to head to Labrador.

Absolutely. And what does that have to do with anything?

Something also tells me that Miami or Punta Canta would be nicer than Cartwright or Hopedale to spend spring break.

I thought Newfoundlanders loved the outdoors in winter? Our winters are more reliably winter-y than yours.

In any event, something else tells me that Cartwright or Hopedale are nicer places to visit than the south in the summer, which is what I'm getting at.

WJM said...

If Newfoundland is a special part of Canada than surely Labrador is a special part of Newfoundland.

Labrador isn't part of Newfoundland. Labrador and Newfoundland are two separate places, parts of the same province. But Labrador isn't part of Newfoundland, any more than Newfoundland is part of Labrador.

Having lived in Labrador I have a much better understanding of why Labradorians feel as they do. St. John's deals with Labrador as poorly as Ottawa deals with Newfoundland.

I wish!

There is nothing wrong with how Ottawa "deals" with Newfoundland. I wish Labrador had as rotten a deal from Newfoundland as Newfoundland supposedly has from Canada.

I'm not sure that renaming the province including Labrador did anything more than increase the seporation between the areas.

That separation already existed. What is really separating is to insist that Labrador and Labradorians are just Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders.

As for the price of travel to and in LAbrador the infristructure is lacking due to lack of govt commitment.

Lack of PROVINCIAL government committment, at that.

WJM said...

However, comparing it to Florida or Dominican Republic doesn’t make sense; they are totally different locations with totally different reasons for vacationing, most people go there as an escape from the cold miserable weather.

I'm not comparing Labrador to Florida or the Dominican Republic.

I'm comparing the willingness of Newfoundlanders to spend money to get to the two former destinations, in their season and for their reasons, to their unwillingness to spend money to get to Labrador.

Hell, I've even heard Newfoundlanders say that resources like Labrador's iron ore or nickel or wood should be processed in Newfoundland so that they wouldn't have to "leave the province" for work!

All one province, I thought.

All one province...

Patriot said...

Hey, this is great! I just love it. Where else but in NL could you start a heated debate over such a benign commentary as "What I Did on My Summer Vacation".

We're a special bunch I've gotta say!

NL-ExPatriate said...

I've actually pondered his problem of getting to Labrador as well. Especially in the winter when the ski-dooing is so much better in Lab than on the isl, but since the ferry service to Lab is seasonal the oportunity for the best ski-dooing is lost to most NL'ers. I kind of touched on it with a post suggesting the ferry across to Blanc Sablon be a hover craft thus allowing year round travel to Labrador or a fixed link with an intermodal Cable car setup.

I too have never been to Lab it was always on my list of posting preferences but since the military presence there is minimal I was never lucky enough and I didn't feel right by using the compassionate card like some of my fellow NL'ians did.

When my dad was on his death bed I did get a posting to Gagetown but by that time it was too late.

There is one suggestion I never blogged about and that was to make a trip to Labrador a manditory field trip for our students.

We really do need to be more vigilant on uniting our people. Either that or let Labrador become a territory if we can't do justice to our people there.

By following this route hopefully our ancestorial Labradorians would gain a voice and hopefully prosper in this federation.

I've always contended the future of this province is through Labrador. That is why I was so pleased to hear Danny commission a study into the feasibility of a fixed link. Unfortunately I didn't think the study had a very broad spectrum of study and was hand cuffed into studying only a tunnel, or Bridge. Which according to the study was to cost prohibitive which is why I suggested a intermodal cable car fixed link. While not ideal it would be better than a seasonal ferry link IMHO. A cable car would become a tourist attraction in and of itself not to mention the benefits of a year round fixed link.

NL-ExPatriate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Atikonak said...

A special bunch indeed!

wmj I'm trying to agree with most of what you're saying. Labrador is constantly screwed by the provincial government in most every way.

I happen to think that NL and Lab are some how the same place. Lab doesn't belong to NL. They are two distinct places that are forever linked by gegraphy, culture and people. They belong togather.

Much work is required to bring Labrador the recognition it deserves within the province. Labrador is barely a blip on the radar for most of the island. Even withing government departments. There are many stories of people on the island showing their ignorance of Labrador. My favorite is a gov't employee who phoned someone working in Labrador city and said that they had faxed it to them by accident and could they run it over to Goose Bay in the afternoon. And for those who don't realize these communities are seporated by about 6 hours of driving on the worst excuse for a road found anywhere in the province.

I'm not sure there is a solution but I like to think that if people on the island tried harder to understand Labrador then we could move forward as a much stronger province.

Later...

WJM said...

I'm not sure there is a solution but I like to think that if people on the island tried harder to understand Labrador then we could move forward as a much stronger province.

Agreed, and that also means ramming "understanding" down their throats from time to time too!

Patriot said...

I agree as well. We should all discover more about our entire Province. It would do us good.

As a side note, I see WJM still has that "I can catch more flies with honey" attitude we all love so much". ;-)

NL-ExPatriate said...

What deep is the Atikonak?

I'm surprised Wally J Mclean hasn't corrected you yet but NL is the new abbrev for Newfoundland/Labrador, as opposed to the old one of NF.

It is also the Abbrev for Netherlands so be sure to ensure your postal code is correct or you could be sending your postage to Europe.

I refuse to use AND in the name of my province because it is to divisive IMHO.

MrChills said...

I find the NL abbreviation for Newfoundland & Labrador somewhat useless, besides for the fact that it does reference the Netherlands, I would imagine a lot of people think NL = NewfoundLand

WJM said...

It is also the Abbrev for Netherlands

NF is also the abbreviation for Norfolk; what's your point?

so be sure to ensure your postal code is correct or you could be sending your postage to Europe.

Per postal regulations, there can be no confusion between NL and the Netherlands anyway, since other than USA, the Post Office doesn't recognize country abbreviations. Country names must be spelled out.

I refuse to use AND in the name of my province because it is to divisive IMHO.

How is it divisive?

WJM said...

I find the NL abbreviation for Newfoundland & Labrador somewhat useless, besides for the fact that it does reference the Netherlands, I would imagine a lot of people think NL = NewfoundLand

A lot of people do.

A lot of people are stupid.