Phase 1: Part 5 – Newfoundland & Labrador Edition; North America

After returning to the states from Colombia in Oct 2015, it was planned to drive to Newfoundland & Labrador. Many of you may recall, the previous roadtrip in August and after a successful tour, I was stoked to yet again explore the off-beaten path!

Jessica & Iceberg; Red Bay, Labrador; Phase 1: Part 4 Newfoundland & Labrador Edition; 2015
Jessica & Iceberg; Red Bay, Labrador; Phase 1: Part 4 Newfoundland & Labrador Edition; 2015

 

A total of 5,000 photographs taken, 100 videos filmed, and many travel stories were accumulated for this portion of the world tour. And, that is why Phase 1: Part 5 – Newfoundland & Labrador is broken down into 3 segments.

Fall Reflections; Gros Morne National Park, Canada; 2015
Fall Reflections; Gros Morne National Park, Canada; 2015

 

Segment 1  looks closely at more UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Canadian National Parks, and endless trails of off-roading.

Fundy Sign; Fundy National Park; 2015
Fundy Sign; Fundy National Park; 2015

 

Segment 2  goes in detail about hanging out with the Discovery Channel’s Cold Water Cowboys, taking in the most breath-taking view of the Pinware River, trying moose burgers for the first time, interviewing a Biologist/Mathematician on his conservation efforts with Bonnet Bay Marine Station in Gros Morne National Park, and driving the Trans-Labrador Highway. This segment focuses on Newfoundland & Labrador.

Rick Crane & Josh; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015
Rick Crane & Josh; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015

 

Segment 3      COMING SOON!

 

Recap of Canada’s Phase 1: Part 5

After 6 months of preparations for this particular road trip and battling rain, sleet, fog, ice, and snow I have completed the Trans-Labrador Highway! This Canadian highway is located in the province of Newfoundland & Labrador and a total length of 774.66 mi (1,246.69 km). Due to the harsh winters and sparse population in most of Labrador, most of the road is a well-packed asphalt/gravel surface with heaps of pot holes along the way. Not to mention, few gas stations are in route, no cellphone reception (had to pick up a stat phone), minimal wifi, and the landscape flows with lakes, rivers, streams, and endless dirt roads. With a full tank of gas and a few spare fuel containers filled up, I was able to complete this treacherous terrain.

Cities Distances; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015
Cities Distances; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015

 

Ironically, I was on the highway for the first official snowfall in Labrador, and it has continued to follow me (the photographs speak for themselves!)!

Snowy Road; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015
Snowy Road; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015

 

Words cannot describe how much of an amazing journey traveling around the Eastern Part of North America has been. Even better was to have my younger brother, Josh, along for the ride! I want to thank all of those that I have met, interviewed (these articles will be on my website), and had the pleasure to learn more about the cultures within each region, taste the unique foods (moose burgers), and have the opportunity to meet more kick-ass people in the world. There is a bit of awesome everywhere, and I was fortunate to have discovered this on my exploration of Eastern Canada.

Moose Burger; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Moose Burger; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015

 

During my arrival in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador I did a follow up interview with CBC radio broadcast station and this will air on Tuesday for all my Labradorian friends!

CBC Radio; Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador; 2015
CBC Radio; Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador; 2015

 

An amazing voyage, to say the least, and a 3-day adventure filled with many mixed emotions – since I have finished this road trip, it is time to move on further west of Canada. I will never forget the people and my time in Red Bay, Port Hope Simpson, Cartwright, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Churchill Falls, Labrador City, Manic 5, and Baie-Comeau. Thank you to everyone for making “The Voyage of Discovery” a more unforgettable adventure!

Reflection Pond; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015
Reflection Pond; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015

 

One last note, it was lovely meeting Discovery Channel’s Coldwater Cowboys and learning about their show and ambitions for their 3rd season! And, thank you Dr. Bob Scott for a look behind the scenes at Bonne Bay Marine Station in Norris Point, NL – it was incredible hanging out with a professor for the afternoon and learning about the uniqueness of the marine station.

Dr. Robert J. Scott & Jessica; Bonne Bay Marine Station, Newfoundland; 2015
Dr. Robert J. Scott & Jessica; Bonne Bay Marine Station, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Next stop: Watching my youngest brother, Jake, play a soccer match at Reading, PA.

Road Home; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015
Road Home; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015

 

Join Me in Costa Rica for an Adventure of a Lifetime!

The Landscape; Costa Rica; 2013
The Landscape; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Theme: The Adventure Tour of Costa Rica          Country: Costa Rica  Languages: English & Spanish        Unit of Currency: Costa Rican colon    Locations: Jaco Beach, Monteverde, & San Jose           Year: 2016  Bucket list: Zipping high above the clouds in “Cloud Forest”

Join Me in Costa Rica!

There are 2 tour dates, back to back, that I am hosting. After having an amazing time during my travels in Costa Rica, venturing around Central America for the following months, and integrating with cultures all over the world, I am happy to say that I am returning to Costa Rica this spring! And, I am bringing some friends along for the ride!

Tour 1: March 11th-March 18th (8 days)

The Adventure Tour of Costa Rica kicks off on March 11th with a week packed of adrenaline, conservation, education, and loads of fun! For my personal world tour, “The Voyage of Discovery” it highlights all the above, and I am stoked to bring these elements into hosting my own group tour!

Location of Costa Rica in Central America
Location of Costa Rica in Central America

Routes: Jaco Beach, Monteverde, San Jose, and a surprise location!

 

Day 1 & 2

Everyone will arrive Friday in San Jose, Costa Rica, where we will stay here for the weekend and head for a day trip on Saturday for a surprise location. Hint: Monkeys, monkeys, and more monkeys!

Monkey; Costa Rica; 2013
Monkey; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Monkey Street Art; San Jose, Costa Rica; 2013
Monkey Street Art; San Jose, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Day 3

After exploring the country’s capital city, it is time to scope out some of Costa Rica’s most invasive animals, plants, and trees! Add in adrenaline, then we have Monteverde, a majestic land known as “Cloud Forest.” On Sunday a mini bus will take us on a 4-hour ride from San Jose to reach this remote destination.

Sloth in a Tree; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Sloth in a Tree; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Day 4

Zip lining over the forest, hanging out on the suspension bridges, and spending Monday up close and personal with Costa Rica’s wildlife will have you saying, “Let’s do it again!” There’s an option to check out the Frog Pond (the home of 25+ species of native frogs) or the Bat Jungle (an exhibit of 95 bats and 8+ species). If you are interested in both, we can plan accordingly.

A Look at a Canopy Tour's Adventure Cables; Costa Rica; 2013
A Look at a Canopy Tour’s Adventure Cables; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Day 5

The next day on Tuesday we will hike 45 minutes to San Luis Waterfall, where one can jump, dive, and submerge into this 100 metre (330ft) waterfall buried deep in the rainforest.  Monkeys, birds, lizards, and other animals are likely to be spotted here.

Waterfalll; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Waterfall; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Day 6

After all the adrenaline pumping through your body, it is time to chill out at a beach! On Wednesday we head to one of the Pacific’s most beautiful white beaches and my personal favorite, Jaco Beach. Beach volleyball, surfing, snorkeling, etc. are just a few activities that are available.

Hanging Out with a Few Fish; Utila, Hondruas; 2013
Snorkeling in Central America

 

Day 7

After traveling to 60+ countries, and 48 US states, I know how important it is to relax before your flight departure out of the city to your hometown. Thursday can be spent chilling by the pool, exploring the city, or doing absolutely nothing. The choice is up to you, and I will have a few suggestions for those feeling a bit more adventurous that day.

 

Day 8

Sadly, Friday is our last tour day and departure from San Jose. This will not be a good bye, but a “see ya” later! I am sure that our paths will cross again!

Street Art; San Jose, Costa Rica; 2013
Street Art; San Jose, Costa Rica; 2013

Tour 2: March 18th-March 25th (8 days)

This Adventure Tour of Costa Rica starts on March 18th and runs through the same locations as Tour 1. If you cannot find the time to join me on Tour 1, I would be excited for you to come along on Tour 2.

Included in Tours:

  • All accommodations (mixed dorms) – these hostels have free breakfasts
  • All dinners
  • Transportation costs – Important: You will have to arrange your arrival and departure costs. I can help negotiate prices!
  • Zip lining, suspension bridges, and other adventures in Cloud Forest
  • Entrance fees to all exhibits
  • Entrance fees to hike San Luis Waterfall

Not Included in Tours:

  • Flights – I suggest going on cheapflights.com to find the best deals
  • Visas on arrival and fees for departure
  • Alcohol
  • Lunches – Here, we will take advantage of more inexpensive local meals
  • Souvenirs
  • Travel Insurance – As mentioned below, this is part of the  requirements for these tours

Recommendations:

  • Mosquito repellent (DEET is best)
  • Suntan lotion
  • Shower shoes (for hostels)
  • Dry towel (perfect for a bath towel)
  • Comfortable sneakers (for adrenaline activities)
  • Carry on-sized luggage (smaller luggage is better for modes of transportation)
  • Small flashlight (Always come in handy)
  • Sense of adventure

Requirements:

  • Travel insurance – I recommend World Nomads, they have great plans including an explorer package! Please provide proof of insurance on your arrival.

Tour Prices:

    • $900 USD- Deposit of $450 USD is due to book a spot on tour, and an additional $450 USD is due 10 days before the tour starts. This service is through Paypal. Important: If you are unable to make the tour date, then we can discuss a partial refund, full refund, or other options. Please refer to the Q&A portion of this post.

Costa Rica Tour Payments
Dates




Ways to Book:

  • Email my personal account – jrbenford0518@gmail.com (0518 are all numbers) and we can discuss further payment.
  • Leave a comment to this tour page, but please remember to email me so that I have your email address for my records.

 

Questions & Answers for the Tours:

  • Is this the right tour for me?

If you have a keen sense of adventure, adrenaline, conservation, education, and fun then this is the absolute best way to go! It is encouraged to be over 18, and is suitable for a first time traveler, a world traveler (like myself), or one that has completed a handful of trips.

  • Am I tour group material?

I will admit that I was part of my first group tour in March of 2015 traveling in El Salvador and Guatemala. I love meeting new people, sharing common interests with others, and above all else, exploring foods & cultures. I was nervous at first to join a group tour, but realized that on occasion, it is nice to travel with others and not plan my own itinerary.

My experience after the tour is what has led me for the past year contemplating to run my own tour groups around the world. I love educating others and am a huge adrenaline junkie. I hope that my tours will persuade you in either trying your own first tour group out for size or adding another tour group to your CV.

  • The total amount of people in each tour?

Each tour will consist of no more than 11 people, 12 including myself. All modes of transportation can hold up to this amount, with luggage, so I wanted to keep the groups personal and small enough to fit into a pub.

  • You mentioned adrenaline activities, what is the proper attire for this?

The best gear to wear for adrenaline activities are sneakers (able to hike in), non-tight fitting shorts, capris, or pants, and shirts (I recommend button down shirts that have mosquito repellent built into them). As an advocate for anything travel related that you can purchase, try REI for dry towels, mosquito repellent, clothes, shoes, flashlights, etc.

  • Is it best to carry credit cards, ATM card, or cash?

After traveling around the globe, I find myself carrying all 3 methods of payment. In Costa Rica, there are ATM’s, please remember to let your bank know that you are traveling outside the country, along with the dates, and the locations where you will be at. Some places will take American dollars, while others only want Costa Rican colon. And other places will take cards.

  • What is the climate in Costa Rica?

For those bundling in winter jackets as you read this, I am happy to announce that you will leave those at home. The weather is going to be hot, sunny, and anxiously awaiting your favorite tank tops, board shorts & flip flops. Costa Rica is known for its quick rain showers throughout the spring and summer months. At night, it is best to bring a long pair of pants and a long sleeved tee for cooler evenings.

  • What if I have an emergency and cannot make the tour?

As soon as you notify me of an emergency situation and/or that you cannot make the tour, then depending on the date you can get a partial or full refund. If it is past the below dates that I am notified, then we can discuss further options.

Tour 1 – In order to get a full refund ($450 USD), you have to cancel by February 14th. After February 14th until February 28th, you will get a partial refund ($225 USD).

Tour 2 – In order to get a full refund ($450 USD), you have to cancel by February 21st. After February 21st until March 6th, you will get a partial refund ($225 USD).

  • What other tours are you planning this year?

I cannot tell you how stoked I am to host these group tours in Costa Rica! And, with my love for Central America, I am definitely in the process of planning more trips within this region. Spoiler alert: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica (more destinations for adrenaline)!

  • What qualifies you as an expert in Central American travels?

I have spent the last 6 years touring the world.  I always find myself submerging, plummeting, diving, abseiling, hiking, etc. into the vastness of Central America’s jungles, lakes, and oceans.

In between my career as a Marine Mammal Scientist and my own world tour of driving my Jeep around the world, “The Voyage of Discovery,” I have made time to explore many of Central America’s countries and cultures. From the conservation projects I worked in Guatemala and Costa Rica, to the adrenaline activities all within this region, and the educational lessons that were taught to children in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, my love affair for Central America is deeper than I had ever envisioned. Central America is the perfect hub for sunshine, molding great friendships, eating local foods, breathing in the wildlife and beauty of each region, and overall just having a brilliant time exploring each country.

I will admit, the only country that I have not visited is Panama. I hope to change that this year!

  • Why should I join you in Costa Rica?

I could give you a million and one reasons why you should join me on my first and second official tours; however, I believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are a handful of photographs to help persuade!

Here’s a look at your guide exploring the Best of Costa Rica:

Waterfall Repelling; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013
Waterfall Repelling; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Superman Harness; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013
Superman Harness; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Welcome to Manuel Antonio; Costa Rica; 2013
Welcome to Manuel Antonio; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Class V Rapids; Costa Rica; 2013
Class V Rapids; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Posing during Hiking; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Posing during Hiking; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Basking in Lake Chetal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Basking in Lake Chetal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Volcan Arenal; Costa Rica; 2013
Volcan Arenal; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Lake Chetal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Lake Chetal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Blue Jean Poison Dart Frog; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Blue Jean Poison Dart Frog; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Dead Green Sea Turtle Hatchling; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Dead Green Sea Turtle Hatchling; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013

 

GET READY FOR AN ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME!

 


Costa Rica Tour Payments
Dates




Phase 1: Part 5 – Newfoundland & Labrador Edition; North America (Segment 2)

The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 5 Route in North America
The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 5 Route in North America

 

A Close-up of The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 5 Route in North America
A Close-up of The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 5 Route in North America

 

Theme: The Voyage of Discovery    Phase Phase 1: Part 5 (Segment 2) Country: United States of America (USA)  & Canada    Language:   English & French      Unit of Currency: Canadian dollars    Location:  Canada: Labrador & Newfoundland    Year: 2015   Bucket list: Driving the Trans-Labrador Highway and Meeting a Discovery Channel team filming

Night Driving; Trans-Labrador Highway, Canada; 2015
Night Driving; Trans-Labrador Highway, Canada; 2015

ADRENALINE:

  • Continuing the Viking Trail in Newfoundland

Phase 1: Part 4 – Newfoundland & Labrador Edition; North America highlighted the UNESCO World Heritage Site, L’Anse aux Meadows and touched base on the history behind the famous site.

This time we re-visited the Leif Erikson statue and followed the Viking Trail until we could not go any further (the rest of the way led us into the ocean!).

 

  • Driving and ferrying to Newfoundland & Labrador
The Road Ahead; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
The Road Ahead; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Ferry Route #2:

This ferry route was from St. Barbe, Newfoundland to Blanc Sablon, Quebec.

 

 

  • Photographing the remnants of the Appalachian Mountains

 

  • Reflecting the beauty of Gros Morne National Park
Fall Reflections; Gros Morne National Park, Canada; 2015
Fall Reflections; Gros Morne National Park, Canada; 2015

 

Gros Morne National Park had the most incredible views of lakes and rivers. I found myself restlessly looking over the lake and gazing on the reflections of the fall leaves dancing off the water. The colors of red, orange, and yellow swayed back and forth on the lake’s surface.

 

  • Roadtripping to St. John’s, Newfoundland from Port aux Basques in moose territory

 

 

 

The drive to St. John’s was filled with wildlife. Josh and I managed to view 3 moose on the 10-hour drive from Port aux Basques, to St. John’s, Newfoundland. I swear the moose were bigger than the Jeep! Luckily, the 50-inch Rigid Industries light bar scared away all the moose running towards the vehicle.

The Road to St. John’s; St. John’s, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Once we arrived at HI City Hostel St. John’s, we were greeted by old friends, as well as new ones. We later met up with Igor, who joined us on the jaunt to reach Eastern North America’s farthest point, Cape Spear.

Jessica, Joshua, and Igor; St. John's, Newfoundland; 2015
Jessica, Joshua, and Igor; St. John’s, Newfoundland; 2015

 

The surprise of the night was that Sarah and Bridget, two of our old good friends, was singing in a karaoke competition. My favorite cover of theirs was “Riptide” by Vance Joy. This reminded me of my upcoming concert of Shawn Mendes, Vance Joy, and Taylor Swift!

Sarah and Bridget; St. John's, Newfoundland; 2015
Sarah and Bridget; St. John’s, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Here’s a clip of them singing Vance Joy’s “Riptide”

Jessica, Sarah, and Joshua; St. John's, Newfoundland; 2015
Jessica, Sarah, and Joshua; St. John’s, Newfoundland; 2015

 

 

  • Tackling the Trans-Labrador Highway

 

Before the Trans-Labrador Highway venture began, Josh and I were advised to try Dot’s Bakery, with their selection of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, donuts, cookies, and famous chocolate bakes. Our friends, Andy and his family that we met in St. Barbe, Newfoundland told us about this delicious bakery that we must try! I am sure Josh can agree, and we are so glad that we did!

Our favorite chocolate bakes consisted of chocolate and coconut, and chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers. Between the hot chocolate and the chocolate bakes were officially ready to tackle the Trans-Labrador Highway!

Dot's Bakery Goods;  L'Anse-au-Loup, Labrador; 2015
Dot’s Bakery Goods; L’Anse-au-Loup, Labrador; 2015

 

It was the first snowfall in Canada for the winter season. The weather ranged from 18-34 degrees Celsius and the vinyl of the Jeep Wrangler started to freeze. We had encountered many different elements of weather, ranging from rain, sleet, ice, hail, wind chill, and snow.

The towns that were in route of the Trans-Labrador Highway were Port Hope Simpson, Cartwright, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and Labrador City. The furthest North that we could physically drive was Cartwright, anything past that was all ferry routes to the local Inuit towns. Torngat Mountains National Park is the only preservation in Eastern North America that requires a few helicopters to reach there. Further past Cartwright was a valley of all woods with no roadways, and eventually that led into the Torngat Mountains National Park.

A book could be written from our experiences on the Trans-Labrador Highway, the 774.66 mile (1,246.69 km) road stretched from dirt, gravel, paved, to semi paved. When sleet mixed with these unique road systems, the roads got quite treacherous. On top of this, there were few gas stations between each town, and timing had to be just right in order to fill up right away and continue the journey. Accommodations were very limited, in fact, we came across a handful of hotels mainly in the larger cities (i.e. 1 in Cartwright, and few in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador City).

With a strategic stop in Cartwright and filling up my 2 spare fuel containers, the longest I drove on 1 tank of gas was 5 hours. Believe me when I say that I stretched that full tank of gas to the max! I told myself in the beginning that I would not night drive as frequently as I did, but on occasion I found myself in very remote locations exploring the towns and finding the road to continue towards Labrador City. Due to no cell reception, a satellite phone was needed for this particular trip, and mostly hotels and gas stations have these on standby. I was fortunate to pick up one in Cartwright!

After 3 days on the Trans-Labrador Highway, and a quick interview in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, I finally reached our destination of Labrador City.

Once we continued our voyage South towards the border of Quebec, we knew that the the Trans-Labrador Highway would be finished. As I crossed the snowy border of Quebec in the early morning hours, I shed a few tears remembering all the preparations I made for the year and the 3-day drive was soon to be a distant memory. And, in the blink of an eye my voyage of the Trans-Labrador Highway was officially finished and Josh was all smiles.

The climatic conditions, wildlife, and adventure added to the unique experience and if provided the opportunity, I would surely do it all over again! More in depth stories of our time on the Trans-Labrador Highway may be found here.

 

  • Trying moose burgers for the first time
Beautiful Fall Day; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Beautiful Fall Day; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015

 

Throughout my world travels, I have always been keen to try new foods. The opportunity to try moose burgers was not as frequent as I thought it would have been driving in the region. Josh and I witnessed a few sightings of moose and the locals told us that we have to explore the taste of this unique animal to truly appreciate the flavor of the burger.

The time had finally arose, and “Shells Meals on Wheels” was poking out from the distance as we made our way towards Dorset Trail. Dorset Trail lit up with Fall vibrantly colored leaves, various native rock types, and a trail leading down the valley.

The different rock types were sedimentary, virginite, massive sulfide, and altered gabbro. The Baie Verte Peninsula was home to tectonic elements and a famous geological site in the Eastern Part of North America.

Native Types of Rocks; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Native Types of Rocks; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015

 

The motorhome turned food truck, offered a variety of drinks, pub food (finger foods), seafood, and a mini latte bar.

 

The words, “moose burger” caught our attention, and quickly we ordered a moose burger, french fries with vinegar, BBQ chicken taco, and a honey mustard chicken taco.

Moose Burger; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Moose Burger; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015

 

Luckily, we met Roy Richards (he was very enthusiastic about pronouncing his last name as well), an older kind-hearted man who has spent his entire life working with the electricity lines that ran through the Eastern Part of North America. He explained how things were before electricity made its way through Newfoundland & Labrador. It is amazing to think that many locals did not have the ability to communicate with each other or watch TV during that particular period.

Roy Richards & Jessica; Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015
Roy Richards & Jessica; Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Roy Richards spoke non-stop about his admiration for traveling and cultures, his career in the electrical department, his family, his adventures in Labrador, his open-mindedness to meet new people, and his love for calamari. And, to top off the day he shared his calamari that he brought from Shells, and spent the next hour or so talking to us about our world tour. We both agreed, after we had eaten and continued driving, that we hope that all the people that we can encounter on this world tour are as incredible as he is.

Lonely Shed; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Lonely Shed; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015

 

In Josh’s words, “He was a really nice guy.” Roy Richards you are amazing, we hope to cross paths again in the future!

Shells Meals on Wheels & Oakley; Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015
Shells Meals on Wheels & Oakley; Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015

 

  • Venturing to the Point Amour Lighthouse

The sun was quickly setting and the last destination on my list was to visit the Point Amour Lighthouse in L’Anse au Clair before hitting the Trans-Labrador Highway. This specific lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada, and the second tallest one in all of Canada.

Darkness was peering outside the clouds and it was evident, that this was my last chance to explore Point Amour Lighthouse. I snapped a few photographs of the surroundings, lighthouse, and my Jeep positioned within the lighthouse. A solid 30 minutes had passed, and it was time to move on for the next adventure – starting the journey on the Trans Labrador Highway!

Point Amour Lighthouse; Labrador; 2015
Point Amour Lighthouse; Labrador; 2015

 

Below are a few creative shots that were taken in a dramatic and pop setting on my camera.

CONSERVATION:

  • Hanging out with Professor Dr. Robert J. Scott of the Bonne Bay Marine Station
Newfoundland Map; Bonne Bay Marine Station, Newfoundland; 2015
Newfoundland Map; Bonne Bay Marine Station, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Another visit to Gros Morne National Park led us to a long conversation about the nearby marine station that brings in 15,000-25,000 annual visitors in 3 months during the summer. This particular station was called the Bonne Bay Marine Station.

Bonne Bay Marine Station; Norris Point, Newfoundland; 2015
Bonne Bay Marine Station; Norris Point, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Gros Morne National Park was beautiful, and expands into its own region. The mountains in the distance were breath-taking and led my eyes down a trail of wonder. One of my favorite times to travel is in the Fall, especially since the colored leaves rested in the water during this time of year.  With the leaves and the overcast,  my photography in this region brought out scenes that were more dramatic.

 

Before heading further north to L’Anse aux Meadows, I spoke with the staff of Gros Morne National Park to ring the marine station and let them know that I was going to drop by. Before departing Gros Morne National Park, the visitor center was packed with loads of information of the park and surrounding areas.

 

I arrived at the Bonne Bay Marine Station and it looked like an absolute ghost town, no one was outside and there were few cars in the parking lot. Josh and I drove through the town of Norris Point seeking signs of civilization. We remembered that we were traveling in the off-season for tourism, which later explained why we had met few people during our time there.

After circling around Norris Point a few times, I decided to see if the Bonne Bay Marine Station was open. There was a sign outside the building that said, “Closed.” After much careful consideration and realizing that we just drove thousands of miles to be here at this very moment, we decided to follow the blue fish and orange starfish path into the front of the building.

 

To my surprise, the doors opened wide and I walked into a room of aquarium tanks and a small personal desk to the right of the door. A woman, Jocelyn, approached me and quickly became enthusiastic as she asked if I was the Marine Biologist that Gros Morne National Park called her about. Without hesitation, I grinned ear to ear and said, “Yes, that is me!”

 

Jocelyn discussed her husband’s work as a local fisherman and mentioned about the lobster population in the area. The elusive blue lobster is one of the rarest lobsters in the world, with only 2,000 left.

 

In a deep conversation about lobsters, fishing practices, and the beauty of Norris Point, Bonne Bay Marine Station’s Director and University Professor, Robert J. Scott made my acquaintance. He was helping to provide organisms to different schools in the area, with the assistance of Cornerbrook’s Environmental Officer and another biologist named Dennis. All 3 parties were collecting specimens (i.e. sponges, sea urchins, lobsters, flatheads, starfishes, tetras, scallops, sea mollusks, etc.) for the touch pool for the elementary and high school students.

 

It is refreshing that Bonne Bay Marine Station takes great pride into educating not only the visitors that experience the marine station, but also students locally and globally that are interested in Newfoundland’s diverse marine life.

We spent late morning and all afternoon discussing Robert’s curriculum that he teaches to his university students referencing both Science and Mathematics. I went on a solo mini tour around the station and like a kid on Christmas Day, was super excited to find all sorts of marine-related display items! The whale bones and baleen were interesting to physically touch and admire.

It was a behind the scenes look of the entire Bonne Bay Marine Station, its history, statistical analysis of annual visitors, and the organisms in the surrounding waters. It was definitely a highlight being part of that experience. Thank you Dr. Bob for showing us all your hard work and strong efforts of conservation within Newfoundland!

Robert J. Scott & Jessica; Bonne Bay Marine Station, Newfoundland; 2015
Dr. Robert J. Scott & Jessica; Bonne Bay Marine Station, Newfoundland; 2015

 

EDUCATION:

  • Exploring the Pinware River

On the way to the unpaved road of the Trans Labrador Highway, as crossing a wooden bridge,  I stumbled into a green scenery of trees and a river known as Pinware.

The view was magnificent with the bright green trees and a roaring bold river underneath the bridge that followed into the salmon community of Pinware.

 

 

  • Meeting a team from Discovery Channel’s “Cold Water Cowboys”
Rick Crane & Jessica; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015
Rick Crane & Jessica; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015

 

While waiting outside the ferry to board, I noticed a team of 2 guys taking video footage of the semi trucks, plow trucks, cars, and other vehicles. I later found them on the ferry and asked them what they were filming. A film crew that showcases a reality TV show about Newfoundland’s fishermen heading far offshore in treacherous conditions on the high seas, looking for new species to fish in the post-cod world. Tallying 6 boats and highlighting the lives of 20 men.

Josh & Tyson Hepburn; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015
Josh & Tyson Hepburn; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015

 

I met Tyson Hepburn, the show’s mastermind behind “Cold Water Cowboys,” a really awesome captain named Rick Crane from Cox’s Cove, NL, and a few guys that made up the film crew. To follow Rick’s journey, check out his website.

Jessica & Tyson Hepburn; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015
Jessica & Tyson Hepburn; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015

 

For the entire hour of the journey Newfoundland to Labrador, we discussed Tyson’s methodologies on how he got his show debuted on Discovery Channel a few years ago, Rick’s greatest catches along Newfoundland’s coast, and the lobster and crab target specimens for the show. The crew was filming for Season 3, and my Jeep may have made an appearance.

Rick Crane & Josh; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015
Rick Crane & Josh; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015

Special Message for Josh’s 26th:

Happy 26th birthday to my younger brother, Josh Benford! It’s been an amazing journey traveling around the US and Canada with you for the past year on my world tour, “The Voyage of Discovery.” Jeepin’ around the world would never been the same without my side-kick gripping onto the passenger seat as we off-road in various destinations within US and Canada.

I have had the pleasure to watch you engage with people of all different cultures, interview some of the coolest human beings on this planet (including Rick Crane from Discovery Channel’s Coldwater Cowboys), experience your first hostel, open yourself to new friends and acquaintances, embrace the world tour as a way to help both humans & animals, remind others why we are traveling, and taste many new foods along the way (Moose burgers, escargot, and haggis, just to name a few).

Your French is coming along amazingly well, and before our travels end in Canada, I am sure that you will become bilingual. This is something that I have always wanted for you, since you have an art for learning another language. It’s been a wicked transformation to see you start out as someone is well-traveled in the US to someone who is now well-traveled in both the US and Eastern Canada. The best part is that we still have a ton of exploration to do in the US and Canada.

I cannot think of anyone else who I want to spend this Halloween with, and at Taylor Swift’s concert! And, I truly do appreciate you being such a sport and coming with me to see my musical icon.

The photograph above is one of my favorite moments of your travels – we had the opportunity to sail with Rick Crane on a ferry Newfoundland to Labrador earlier this month. This was the first time that I really saw your personality shine. You talked to him about the fishing industry, their fishing methods, locations of the best fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador, asked about Discovery Channel’s Coldwater Cowboys TV show, and inquired about their involvement with Discovery Channel. You were very confident speaking to him, Tyson, and the rest of the crew.

 

 

  • Studying the maps of Labrador

With a trusty GPS, Atlas, and our smart phones as resources, before driving around Labrador and getting on the Trans Labrador Highway, we felt that it was important to stop and take photographs of the maps of Labrador. These were the most up to date maps that we had found in the area.

The maps were found posted outside the Labrador Coastal Highway Visitor Center. The Visitor Center was closed due to the off-season, but we were able to take a few snaps of the maps outside the building. The most useful information, in my opinion, were the distance charts and icons of what resources are available in each town.

 

INTERACTIONS AROUND THE WORLD:

As the journey continues, new photographs of the friends and family, my Jeep Oakley, and exciting destinations are revealed. I have learned so much about myself, the road before me, locations that I have visited, and why traveling holds a place in my heart.

From time and time again, I am reminded of why I started this world tour, and continued my global travels. The locals and friends that I have met uniquely make each new and exciting experience. The world has so much to offer, and I hope throughout this world tour that I can inspire others, and even you to open your heart and soul to a world that you may have never known existed.

Roy Richards, Jessica, & Oakley (Jeep); Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015
Roy Richards, Jessica, & Oakley (Jeep); Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Roy Richards & Josh; Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015
Roy Richards & Josh; Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015

MEDIA COVERAGE:

It was incredible to be able to visit with CFBS radio station and catch up with the staff in Blanc Sablon, Quebec. After copying over my most recent radio interview in August 2015 on a memory stick, I spoke with the staff about keeping up with live interviews while I continued my travels around the world. I will keep you posted with this progress and for the next update!

 

The main focus of this segment was to drive the Trans Labrador Highway, and a lot of my attention and time went into prepping for this particular 3-day tour. Therefore, media coverage was minimal, but I did manage to re-visit our friends at CFBS radio station in Blanc Sablon, Quebec and attend an interview in Happy Valley-Goose Bay with CBC.

 

ENTERING LABRADOR:

It was hard to pass up an opportunity to take photographs such as entering Labrador. The big blue sign that read, “Welcome to the Newfoundland & Labrador, Home of the Big Land” caught my attention right away!
Signature Jumpin' Photograph; Labrador, Canada; 2015
Signature Jumpin’ Photograph; Labrador, Canada; 2015

 

Jessica & Josh Posing; Labrador, Canada; 2015
Jessica & Josh Posing; Labrador, Canada; 2015
I have to admit, I most likely took 100 photographs of this particular moment, and I am presenting you with some of my favorites! I used the settings on my camera, ranging from dramatic, pinhole, black & white, pop, and portrait. The results speak for themselves!

RECAP – CANADA’S TRAVELS IN PHASE 1: PART 5: 

It’s been a whirlwind of an adventure returning to Eastern Canada. With stumbling into limited wi-fi connections, coming across an increased abundance of moose, having grouse drop out of the sky (explain more later), hanging out with good mates that we met on the last segment of the world tour, introducing ourselves to new friends and acquaintances, trying moose burgers, capturing breath-taking photographs, and driving the open dirt/gravel/paved roads that lay before us.

Some of my favorite moments have been spent in a historic fishing village of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; watching the sunset over Terra Nova National Park; driving the red dirt roads in Prince Edward Island; learning about the tireless Acadians in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grand Pre; gazing at the reflections of the fall colored leaves over Gros Morne National Park’s lake; visiting the world’s largest globe, Eartha has been printed out via computer; and listening to my good mates,Sarah and Bridget singing their hearts out at open mic in St. John’s, NL. I must add, they did a beautiful cover of Vance Joy’s “Riptide.”

The most random event was driving earlier today from St. John’s to Gros Morne National Park, and a grouse literally flew out of the sky and landed right on top of my Jeep hood! Luckily, I have a hood jack that saved my windshield and left the grouse squeezed underneath it. It was definitely a heart-wrenching moment, and I was extremely thankful that it was not a moose or deer that hit me!

 

ROAD HICCUPS:

Imagine yourself driving down the highway. Traffic is minimal  and an array of sunshine is peaking through the clouds. You are rounding a turn, and “THUD!” a loud noise rickets across the hood of your vehicle.
Well, it was definitely a wake up call to have a bird (pictured), such as a Ruffed grouse fly out of the sky and land right in front of the windshield. Thankfully, my trusty hood jack prevented the grouse from actually hitting my windshield and possibly shattering it.
As I travel, I realize that roadkill may be encountered more often, and as a lover of animals, I am hoping that I do not run over these beautiful creatures. Cross your fingers (and toes!) for no more posts like this one!
Ruffed Grouse; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Ruffed Grouse; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015

Phase 1: Part 5 – Newfoundland & Labrador Edition; North America (Segment 1)

The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 5 Route in North America
The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 5 Route in North America

 

A Close-up of The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 5 Route in North America
A Close-up of The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 5 Route in North America

 

Theme: The Voyage of Discovery    Phase Phase 1: Part 5 (Segment 1) Country: United States of America (USA)  & Canada    Language:   English & French      Unit of Currency: US dollars & Canadian dollars    Location: USA: Maine and Pennsylvania | Canada: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island    Year: 2015   Bucket list: Off-roading Prince Edward Island’s red dirt roads and Eating lobster from New Glasgow Lobster Suppers

Jeep Starting Mileage for Phase 1: Part 5; 2015
Jeep Starting Mileage for Phase 1: Part 5; 2015

ADRENALINE:

  • Driving and ferrying to Newfoundland & Labrador
Welcome to Nova Scotia; Canada; 2015

 

With the upset of having my camera gear stolen on my last trip to Newfoundland and a dozens of souvenirs swiped out of my Jeep during that particular period, it was anticipated to re-visit the region of Newfoundland & Labrador. In order to not make this a “repeat” tour, we added in various new National Parks, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and remote destinations that we wanted to visit along the way.

Birthplace of Hockey; Windsor, Nova Scotia; 2015

 

Ferry Route #1:

One of the ferry routes that was on our schedule was from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Channel-Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland.

 

  • Experiencing the same rainstorm in 2 countries (USA and Canada)

As the journey progressed from the Eastern part of Maine in the USA and a border patrol visit within Maine and Quebec, Canada, a severity of rainstorms lit the entire East Coast. A 2-hour torrential downpour followed us into our final country destination.

 

  • Exploring Prince Edward Island

Phase 1: Part 4 – Newfoundland & Labrador covered a portion of traveling in Prince Edward Island.  The main agenda for this particular trip was to eat lobster at New Glasgow Lobster Supper, hike more of Prince Edward National Park, experience Cavendish with an emphasis on Anne of Green Gables, off-road on the red dirt roads laid before me, and stay at Charlottetown Backpackers Inn (HI affiliate). 

 

Charlottetown Backpackers Inn:

 

  • Off-roading Prince Edward’s Islands red dirt roads
Red Dirt Road; Prince Edward Island; 2015
Red Dirt Road; Prince Edward Island; 2015

 

The red dirt roads were found in various parts of Prince Edward Island. In order to drive on these particular pathways, it was recommended to have a 4×4 (just in case you get too carried away, and find yourself deep within the trails). Once I reached Prince Edward Island many convenient store clerks explained that a “must do” was to find a handful of red dirt roads and explore them.

I jumped at the opportunity, and as soon as daylight hit Josh and I were driving around Prince Edward Island’s trails and back roads in search of these beautiful bright red roads that made the land of Prince Edward Island more appealing. I have to admit, I found myself deep within a few of the trails, and contemplated which way to drive since my GPS was barely functioning. In the end, it sure did make an excellent adventure!


 

These dirt roads led me to the coast of Summerside, where the red dirt has colored the water a deep coloration of red that stretched for miles.

 

 

CONSERVATION:

  • Learning about the re-introduction of Salmon in Fundy National Park
Fundy Sign; Fundy National Park; 2015
Fundy Sign; Fundy National Park; 2015

 

The coolest experiences happen in the most unexpected moments. My brother, Josh, and I found ourselves arriving at Fundy National Park and talking to a young girl prepping for her Western tour to Vancouver, Canada. We had swapped a number of Canadian travel stories. She had recommended that we talk to Fundy National Park’s Coordinator, Patrick, once she discovered that I was a Marine Biologist.

Patrick was not your average park ranger, he was involved in a multitude of projects within the park and surrounding communities. Peregrine falcons, eels, and salmon were just a few species that he was involved with over the years. Josh and I were a few days shy of witnessing a reintroduction to salmon to the park’s waters. Between aquaculture methodologies and use of hatcheries, the 10-year project was one of the most widely known conservation projects on Canada’s Eastern coast. The re-introduction entailed trackers placed on salmon, 1,000 fish being released, and a research scientist monitoring the progress of the aquaculture and hatcheries. We want to wish their future success of the re-introducing salmon to the pristine waters of Fundy National Park!

 

The map and activities of Fundy National Park. We stopped by in the off-season, but were graciously welcomed by the park rangers and staff. Though a slight overcast was above us, the Bay of Fundy still looked beautiful and refreshing to dive into!

Fundy National Park was also known for its unique collection of fossils. The visitor center was cleverly engineered and included fossils (even in the interior fireplace) and stones that were collected within the National Park.

Another suggestion from Patrick was to visit Pointe Wolf’s covered bridge that was built in 1992. With a good usage of my creativity and minimal traffic, I was able to photograph the inside of the bridge while driving (Warning: do not attempt).
Before departing Fundy National Park, we were greeted by an older couple, Karen and Jerry, that had traveled through the USA and Canada hitchhiking in the early 70’s. Currently, them and their dog are traveling in a RV around Canada, slowly making their way back to California, where they reside (their RV is beside my Jeep in the photograph below). I look forward to meeting up with them in the future when we drive to California, once again with the Jeep!

 

Fundy National Park; Canada; 2015
Fundy National Park; Canada; 2015

 

EDUCATION:

  • Eating fresh lobster at New Glasgow’s Lobster Suppers in Prince Edward Island, Canada

Oddly enough, eating at this particular restaurant and trying one of the best lobster destinations was high on our bucket list. During the previous portion of the world tour in this region, we had anticipated to stop and eat here. Due to the newspaper article interview and a very late visit to Prince Edward Island National Park, we promised each other that we would come back here in the near future when time permitted.

Lobster Ticket + Brochure; New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island; 2015
Lobster Ticket + Brochure; New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island; 2015

 

Fast forward to that present day, our timing could not have been better. It was the very last day for the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers and in return, the manager of the restaurant heard about the world tour, “The Voyage of Discovery,” in their local newspaper and offered a visit to their pound where they kept and cooked the lobsters.

Voted Best Restaurant; New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island; 2015
Voted Best Restaurant; New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island; 2015

 

The Suppers included dinner rolls, garden salads, potato salad, seafood chowder, buckets of steamed mussels, lobster (price dependent on 1/2 lb – 3 lb), and dessert (i.e. pumpkin pie, strawberry cheesecake, and ice cream).

After the Suppers, we were escorted to the pound where a young chef had told us about his summer working in the pound and described the thousands of lobsters they had gone through during their tourist season. I had asked him where the “leftover” lobsters in the pound will be sent after the restaurant was closed for the season. Majority of the lobsters will be re-sold throughout Prince Edward Island, with a focus on Charlottetown and the surrounding larger towns in the area.

 

  • Exploring Canada’s oldest fishing village, Lunenberg – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lunenburg was a Canadian port town in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. Situated on the province’s South Shore, Lunenburg was located on the Fairhaven Peninsula at the western side of Mahone Bay. The town was approximately 90 kilometres southwest of the county boundary with the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The sight of brightly colored houses, the smell of fish lingering in the wind, and a mild taste of salt water in the air all caught my attention when I first arrived in Lunenburg. The afternoon’s tide was low, and i reached an area on the water with boats soaked in mud and seashells vibrantly reflected in the puddles of water. The view of the restaurants and pubs from across the lake was breathtaking, an array of color shot across the water.  I could have easily stayed here and photographed this beautiful fishing village all day.

 

In the mist of this fishing village, we even stumbled upon a piece of the Berlin Wall! 

 

 

 

  • Photographing  Kouchibouguac National Park

 

  • Tasting different organic hot chocolate drinks in Nova Scotia, Canada
Kinds of Hot Chocolate; Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia; 2015
Kinds of Hot Chocolate; Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia; 2015

 

The land of Grand-Pré was known for its heritage, culture, farm land, and kindness of those that thrived there. When I first entered Grand-Pré, farmers on tractors and on the side of the road happily greeted us. A sign read, “Just Us!” hung over a small building.

The shop was unique, with a decor of diversity within coffee, tea, and chocolate products. Their motto was, “People and the Planet before Profits.” Just Us! focused on small-scale organic coffee farmers around the world and conscientious consumers in Atlantic Canada and beyond.

The staff was very sweet, and I would like to give a shout out to Acacia, a local Acadian university student whom expressed her love for travels and coffee.

And, well, the hot chocolate diversified from milk, peppermint, spicy, or dark. It was recommended to try a milk hot chocolate, and it was absolutely delicious!

Before departing Just Us! coffee shop, a map of Grand-Pré was hanging up on the building. Not only was Just Us! a delicious experience, but it was also an educational one as well! We left and was excited to explore Grand-Pré!

 

  • Visiting Grand-Pré National Historic Site

Grand-Pré National Historic Site highlights the Acadian settlement of Grand-Pré, the Expulsion and the Acadian memorials.  The cemetery of the 17th/18th century Acadian village was the scenic setting for Longfellow’s epic poem Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie.
Grand-Pré National Historic Site is also located in the heart of The Landscape of Grand Pré, Canada’s 16th UNESCO designated World Heritage Site. The 13 square-kilometre (5 mi²) site is located on the Bay of Fundy’s Minas Basin in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and is an exceptional living agricultural landscape.  Claimed from the sea in the 17th century and still in use today applying the same technology and the same community-based management system, Grand Pré is the iconic place of remembrance of the Acadians who lived in harmony with the native Mi’kma’ki people before the Expulsion which began in 1755.
The visitor center of Grand-Pré was vibrant intricately designed, inside was packed with stories of the Acadians, their artwork, and illustrations of the lifestyle that they led at that specific period. Visual diagrams and posters went on to explain the expulsion of the Arcadians and the invasion of the British separating them from their land. Remarkably, over the few decades of Acadians being exiled for their lands, the Acadians managed to swim, sail, and hike back to their homeland.

The day was brilliant, it was the first time on the tour where it did not rain during the day. The blue sky and white clouds made the perfect background for the photographs that followed.
The sweeping gardens, memorial church with its paintings, stained glass and exhibits, and cross outside the church created the beauty for the Grand-Pré National Historic Site.
Grand-Pré:
Grand Pré was located in a vibrant natural environment which included Evangeline Beach, part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, witnessed the massive summer migrations of semi-palmated sandpipers and viewed huge tides of the Bay of Fundy. The area also featured Boot Island, a National Wildlife Area. The Minas Basin is part of a Wetland of International Importance.
The full expanse of the Landscape of Grand Pré can be best appreciated from the View Park on Old Post Road. The dykelands, fields, and settlement on the hills, first established by the Acadians in the 1680s, have been maintained and expanded over centuries by farmers of New England Planter descent, and later immigrants – including English and Scottish who came in the 19th and 20th centuries and Dutch who arrived after the Second World War.
The view of the 1111-hectare (2745 acres) of dykelands within the World Heritage Site was framed by the dramatic Cape Blomidon, from which tradition holds, the legendary Mi’kmaw figure Kluscap (Glooscap) kept a watchful eye over his people.
  • Visiting DeLorme’s Map Store in Yarmouth, Maine
Jeep in Front of The Map Store; Yarmouth, ME; 2015
Jeep in Front of The Map Store; Yarmouth, ME; 2015

 

The idea once I finished my project in Colombia was to quickly start driving North to Quebec, Canada. After a spontaneous last-minute decision to night drive North, the odds of stopping for longer periods of time in the states were limited due to an urgency to visit Miguasha National Park during open hours.

Entering Maine; 2015
Entering Maine; 2015

 

To my surprise, I pulled over in one of Maine’s New England Style’s main streets to fill up the gas tank before proceeding to Quebec. After driving for a few minutes, I noticed a sign that read “Map Store” and a brick building stood out in the distance.

The Map Store; Yarmouth, ME; 2015
The Map Store; Yarmouth, ME; 2015

 

The three-story glass atrium that enclosed a ginormous globe on the first level also was not hard to miss! After spending a few hours learning more about Eartha, the GPS products that have not reached the market yet, geocaching, and other cool mapping software, I found it difficult for my brother, Josh, and I to leave this unique place. The staff was attentive, and asked us many questions about the world tour. I finally found a safe haven where I could discuss traveling non-stop!

DeLorme’s Map Store (known for the leader in innovative mapping and GPS products) housed a rotating globe, according to Yahoo! Travel was “The world’s largest rotating globe can found be in an appropriate place; the headquarters of famed mapmakers DeLorme in Yarmouth. It even had a cool name: Eartha.”

Eartha; Yarmouth, ME; 2015
Eartha; Yarmouth, ME; 2015

 

A few of Eartha’s attributes:

1) The Guinness World Record Holder – Eartha is a 3-dimensional scale model of our earth with mountains and landforms in full 3D, that rotates and revolves, simulating the earth’s real movements. Eartha was given the title of “World’s Largest Revolving/Rotating Globe” by the editors of the Guinness Book of World Records in 1999, and still holds that record today. It measures 41.5 ft in diameter. Unveiled July 23, 1998 Eartha took two years to build and represents earth as it is seen from space. It rotates and revolves on a specially designed and built mechanized, cantilever arm.

Eartha's Guinness Book of World Records; Yarmouth, ME; 2015
Eartha’s Guinness Book of World Records; Yarmouth, ME; 2015

 

The Data – The mapping data, which took over a year to compile, is completely unique. It is a special composite database built from satellite imagery, shaded relief, colored bathymetry (ocean depth data) and information from terrestrial sources, such as road networks and urban areas. The printed Eartha database is equivalent to about 140 gigabytes (or 214 CD-ROMs), making it one of the largest in the world! Its scale is 1:1,000,000, which works out to be one inch equaling nearly 16 miles. At this scale, California is three and a half feet tall!

Eartha took two years to build and represents earth as it is seen from space. Every continent is beautifully detailed, with vivid colors illustrating all levels of vegetation, major roadways and cities. Ocean depths are also completely represented.

Size Comparison; Yarmouth, ME; 2015
Size Comparison; Yarmouth, ME; 2015
2) The Official Measurements – The official measurements of Eartha were made for Guinness by several independent and licensed surveyors who found the Globe to measure 41 feet, one and one-half inches, slightly less than the rounded figure of 42 feet that was projected by DeLorme staff members. Still, 41′ 1.5″ was more than enough to surpass the former record-holder, the Globe of Peace in Apeccio, Pesaro, Italy (which is 33 feet in diameter and does not revolve or rotate).
Posing with Eartha; Yarmouth, ME; 2015
Posing with Eartha; Yarmouth, ME; 2015
The Infrastructure – Eartha’s “skeleton” is the Omni-Span™ Truss structure – a DeLorme-developed system of over 6,000 pieces of lightweight aluminum tubing. The “skin” is constructed of over 792 map sections, printed on special materials and mounted on lightweight panels. Those panels are then affixed to the structure with a unique bolt system. Each panel spans 8° latitude by 10° longitude.
3) An Engineering Accomplishment – Every aspect of Eartha was developed using computer technology. It was designed by founder David DeLorme. and constructed by DeLorme staff members. “The building of Eartha was a tremendous challenge for all of us,” says DeLorme. “It will help us make even better maps and will help others envision how we on earth are all connected.”
DeLorme Sign; Yarmouth, ME; 2015
DeLorme Sign; Yarmouth, ME; 2015
The Mechanism – Eartha tilts at 23.5 degrees, just as the earth does. It revolves on a specially designed cantilever arm and rotates on an axis. This action is powered by two electric-powered motors, which are commanded by a computer. One combined Eartha revolution and rotation occurs every minute at maximum speed.
Eartha Rotation; Yarmouth, ME; 2015
Eartha Rotation; Yarmouth, ME; 2015

 

FLIGHT PLAN:

After prepping this segment of the world tour for the past few months, it was planned to arrive back in the states after my project in Colombia had finished.

This is what I wrote on Facebook in light of the upcoming tour:

“The next helicopter that lands on the ship is mine! Helicopter ride to Barranquilla and flights BAQ-BOG-MIA-CLT-MYR!

On the road to Canada tomorrow night! Stoked to head back to Newfoundland & Labrador! ”

I'm In Love Quote
I’m In Love Quote

Phase 1: Part 4 – Newfoundland & Labrador Edition; North America

The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 4 Route in North America
The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 4 Route in North America

 

A Close-up of The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 4 Route in North America
A Close-up of The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 4 Route in North America

 

 

Theme: The Voyage of Discovery    Phase Phase 1: Part 4 Country: United States of America (USA)  & Canada     Language:   English      Unit of Currency: US dollars & Canadian dollars    Location: USA: Maine, Michigan, and Pennsylvania | Canada: Labrador, New Brunswick, Newfoundland,  Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Ontario    Year: 2015   Bucket list: Reaching the Eastern most point of North America (Cape Spear, Newfoundland) and Seeing an iceberg in the “wild”

This post is a dedication to all the kind-spirited people that I met in Newfoundland & Labrador. Even after my Jeep Wrangler, Oakley, was broken into, the positivity and smiles that I was embraced with was just what I needed at that particular time.

Having someone steal from you has left me with a series of emotions – anger, sympathy, and hurt. Anger ties with the emotion of being violated, sympathy has me wondering why they felt that they needed to steal from me, and hurt has left me with disappointment. I am finding that there are many people with good intentions, but there are also those with bad ones. This event in my life has made me realize that not everyone in the world has the same values and principles as I do. And, that my expectations for how humans should behave, may not always live up to my standards.

I hate to admit it, but it was the first time in my life when I did not want to travel that day.  With the thoughtfulness of City Hostel in St. John’s, the tourist center in Deer Lake, Brackley Beach Hostel, Ocean Quest Adventure Resort, and a few humble souls that I met along the way, they all reminded me that there are awesome people in the world. Bottom line, there are going to be many obstacles that stand before you and achieving your hopes and dreams, and in the light of the moment, you have to keep pushing yourself to not only achieve greatness, but to find the inner drive to keep moving forward. With that being said, I will continue to travel around the world.

Middle of Nowhere Quote; Deer Lake Visitor Center, Newfoundland; 2015

 

ADRENALINE:

  • Driving and ferrying to Newfoundland & Labrador

In order to reach the Eastern most point of North America in Cape Spear, Newfoundland and witness an iceberg in the “wild” in Labrador, it was evident that my younger brother, Josh, and I would have to embark on our first road trip driving Eastern Canada.

Beware of Bears; Maine, USA; 2015
Beware of Bears; Maine, USA; 2015

 

To be honest, many of my good mates told me to skip Newfoundland & Labrador and just drive out to Vancouver, Western Canada. I explained to them that a “world tour” involves traveling to some of the most remote locations in the world.

Open Road; Channel-Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland; 2015
Open Road; Channel-Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Newfoundland & Labrador mostly comprises smaller towns and a few bigger cities (Conception Bay South, Corner Brook, Deer Lake, Grand Falls-Windsor, Labrador City, Saint John’s, etc.), and there were quite a few towns where not many tourists have adventured. I could go on and on about the uniqueness of the region, but instead I will post photographs for you to see just how amazing these destinations were!

Canada Border Crossing; 2015
Canada Border Crossing; 2015

 

We limited our trip to 2 main ferry routes – the 8-hour crossing between North Sydney, Nova Scotia and Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and later a short route (2 hours) from St. Barbe, Newfoundland and Blanc Sablon, Quebec.

The weather was perfect for August – we hiked in shorts and t-shirts in the Canadian National Parks, Provincial Parks, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites during the day, and in the evenings we would put on trousers and a hoodie. Daylight was in our favor, as it stayed light for 13+ hours. The biggest concern for wildlife was moose, so I wanted to take full advantage of driving in the day time. I was able to mostly drive during the day to our destinations, but every now and again we would night drive. Josh was stoked to get a tally of 3 moose displayed at night to and from Saint John’s, Newfoundland. My 2010 Jeep Wrangler has a 2.5 inch lift, and the moose seemed to tower over the Jeep! I do not even want to think about the damage that could be done!

 

  • Driving to L’Anse aux Meadows, the Northern most tip of Newfoundland and following the Viking Trail – Vinland
Welcome to Vinland; Newfoundland; 2015
Welcome to Vinland; Newfoundland; 2015

 

The most northern tip of Newfoundland is the region that most call “Vinland.” Here European settlers of Norse or Viking heritage remained residents building sod houses and living off the land. This in result became a famous site of North America portraying the life of the Vikings and leading us onto the Viking Trail. Coincidentally, L’Anse aux Meadows is an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978 and a popular tourist destination. Once you follow the end of the Viking Trail, there is a colossal sized Leif Erikson statue greeting your acquaintance.

 

 

  • Jumping on a small boat and getting close to an iceberg

Everyone onboard the ship of my recent project in Colombia will tell you that for weeks I would check the Newfoundland & Labrador iceberg website religiously every morning and night. My main focus for this particular segment of the world tour was to see icebergs in the “wild,” and with the help of this website I was able to load a map and detect icebergs within this region. The map was a clear representation of where icebergs have been seen each day, and provided the symbol of a white iceberg near the location that it had been witnessed. It had also given me ideas of how to watch icebergs (boat tours, kayak, and from land), iceberg safety (how close to approach an iceberg), and best time of the year to view them (May and June is best for viewing; notice August is not part of this list).

For several weeks, I had emailed tour excursion companies in the Newfoundland and Labrador area inquiring about iceberg viewing. Most of them told me that the time I will be arriving in the area is too late for icebergs and that they will already be melted. Then there were ones that wanted an insane amount of money to “potentially” see icebergs. The highest that I found was $350 Canadian dollars, and the lowest was $275 Canadian dollars. Thankfully I waited until I was in Labrador to find a fisherman to take us to an iceberg in Red Bay.

It was shortly after we visited the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station and asked the local taxi driver/previous cod fisherman/ and natural encounters guide of Gull Island Charters, Truman, to schedule us for an early evening tour of the iceberg in Red Bay. He excitedly said” Of course, I will take you!” And, for a deal of $30 Canadian dollars, the iceberg was soon in sight.

Iceberg viewing in Red Bay, Labrador:

With this little background about my research for icebergs, you can see why I was ecstatic in this video when I was able to approach an iceberg in the “wild” and watch it from the safety of a small fishing boat. Sometimes words cannot describe how one’s feeling, so this video and photographs were the perfect souvenirs from the day.

Thank you Truman and Gull Island Charters for an incredible experience!

 

After viewing an iceberg and interviewed on CFBS Quebec/Labrador local radio station, Josh and I both could eat a whale (but not literally)! Considering that all restaurants in the Labrador area closed early (8pm), the Whaler’s Restaurant was happy to stay open long enough for us to get food to go. The service was great, the food was delicious, and our new mate Stephanie, a local studying at Saint John’s Memorial University, was really sweet.

  • Partaking in Toronto’s CN Tower adventure, the Edgewalk

If you recall from a previous tour Phase 1: Part 2 – Québec and Ontario Canadian Edition; North America, the Edgewalk adrenaline-filled activity was not open yet. Even though I had to re-enter Canada twice (once for my Newfoundland & Labrador trip) and the second time for this particular excursion on CN Tower,  I knew that this might be my last chance to harness myself off of Toronto’s highest tower, the CN Tower. I did not have a problem entering the country twice, my Jeep tends to get a lot of attention and I usually get questions about the world tour.

In fact, in the previous year, I have had remarkable impressions from the immigration and checkpoints within Canada. I know a few of you are following along for the world tour, so thank you for your kindness and support! It’s nice to have a smooth border crossing!

EdgeWalk-2 EdgeWalk-29 EdgeWalk-11 EdgeWalk-44EdgeWalk-8

Exploring the rest of CN Tower and Toronto:

 

 

  • Reaching the Northern most point, Meat Cove, in Nova Scotia

As Josh and I took in the coastal views of the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia’s popular trail and entered Cape Brenton Highlands National Park, we found ourselves encompassed in natural beauty. There were whispers of a place where one can off-road, drive cobble stoned paths, and witness the ocean from the most northern tip of Nova Scotia. If you know me, as soon as I heard about off-roading the steep downhill and pot holed paths to the ocean, I was already putting my Jeep in third gear and driving Northwest! The location was known to locals as Meat Cove – though Josh and I never figured out why they called it this, we sure were memorized by the calm seas, camping tents on the coast, and the cliff jump to the water. I was tempting to go cliff jumping, but apparently it was not encouraged to do so. We will save cliff-jumping for Central America and the Caribbean at a later date!

 

  • Spending the day winding around the roads of Nova Scotia’s Cabot Trail
The Introduction into the Cabot Trail; Nova Scotia; 2015
The Introduction into the Cabot Trail; Nova Scotia; 2015

 

The roads are known for their most amazing coastal views, and this I found very true. The same locals I spoke with forgot to conclude with, “the most challenging roads” as well. Like all things, I suppose if it was an easy route, then it would be overly populated and not as exciting. If you have not figured out from my creation of “The Voyage of Discovery,” I welcome challenges and pushing myself and my Jeep to the ultimate limits. Needless to say, I found the Cabot Trail a lot of fun to drive, and had no problems following the windy paths that laid before me.

Did I mention they were windy?

Windy Roads; Cabot Trail; Nova Scotia; 2015

 

Onwards through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, I came across a biologist like myself, and for the next 20 minutes or so I listened to him as he spoke with a Dutch couple about the whales in the area, and of course the bones that they leave behind. In this photo you will see a large-scale Fin whale vertebrate, a very tiny Pilot whale vertebrate, and baleen from the mouth of a baleen whale. The baleen I found to be very hard, almost wood-like, and the bone were smooth to touch. I managed to pick this conservationist’s brain with the knowledge of the area and the migration species coming through. I was pleased to find that he was as eager to talk about whales and dolphins as I was!

Conservationist with Fin Whale and Pilot Whale Bones + Baleen; Cape Breton Highlands National Park; 2015
Conservationist with Fin Whale and Pilot Whale Bones + Baleen; Cape Breton Highlands National Park; 2015

 

The Cabot Trail spreads itself around Nova Scotia, and with the colossal rocks, ocean beneath the cliffs, and the temperate seas, it is no wonder the Cabot Trail ranks high on everyone’s “to do” list. It tied well within our road trip around Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This is definitely a highly recommended road trip!

And to make this location more desirable, there were a few memorial sites that had beautifully sculpted etchings with moving quotations relating to the mountainous and charming landscape below.

  • Staying in a haunted room where a young woman passed away

During preparations for my travels to Labrador, it was evident that I would have to book somewhere to stay. I have to admit, there are not many choices in Labrador. I stumbled upon Grenfell Louie A. Hall bed & breakfast in Forteau.

I love horror films, psychological thrillers, and for some strange  reason, I am keen to be scared every now and again. While I was skimming through Grenfell’s selection of rooms that they have to offer, I read the words, “Ghost Room!” In an instant, I emailed Peggy and the next thing I knew I was officially booked and she was waiting for our arrival.

Here’s the background that I learned about the “Ghost Room,” compliments of the Grenfell website:

The Mary Fowler Room is dedicated to the memory of Mary Fowler, known locally as Aunt Mary at the time. A cook at the Dennison Cottage, Mary was originally from Newfoundland and moved to Labrador and married in the area. This room, is also known by many of our regular guests as the “Ghost Room!”
Welcome to Forteau; Labrador; 2015
Welcome to Forteau; Labrador; 2015
  • Swimming with whales and riding in a zodiac – Compliments of OceanQuest

As a Marine Mammal Scientist for a little over 8.5 years, I wanted my younger brother, Josh, to experience whales for the first time. After 2 unsuccessful whale watching tours to witness whales in both California and Massachusetts, I knew that I had to time this particular excursion perfectly. There is no guarantee if you see whales or not, or can swim with them.

The ride out was a constant blend of smooth and rough – my brother will tell you that it was because we were on a zodiac. I would agree with him. I love traveling on a boat, so I thoroughly enjoyed the water adventure to seek out the whales in the bay. The sunshine was right above our heads and kept us moderately warm. The passengers and I were in wet suits, and those that were geared up, were the ones that was “going swimming with the whales.”

I never thought that I could find an excursion where I could actually jump in the water with whales. From researching these creatures for the past 8.5 years comfortably and respectfully in a seismic research ship, fishing boat, oil rig, drillship, and dhow, I knew once I did get in the water with them, I had to keep my distance. I was a bit hesitant getting in the water with Humpback whales, since my whole career and existence has had me protecting marine life from humans and explaining the reasons why they should not approach to close to it (especially whales, dolphins, and sea turtles). Whales let’s face it, are massive creatures. Most of the time we are unsure if they are going to breach, blow, flipper slap, shallow dive, or deep dive. I will note that if you decide to go in the water with them, please be respectful and do not approach to close. My biggest fear is during my research on  a ship is to have a whale breach on top of me, so you can imagine how I felt in the water with whales swimming closely.

Nonetheless, I decided to take the adrenaline factor to a whole other level, and jump right in! What I am about to tell you still blows my mind, and I promise I could not make this up even if I tried! The good news is that I have GoPro footage to prove it happened! So there I was jumping in the water after 3 unsuccessful attempts to see a humpback whale underwater. I kept telling myself to keep my distance, but secretly hoping that I would be able to snorkel and see the white pectoral flippers and it’s large body a few meters safely away from me.

As I looked up, I saw a blow quite a ways in front of me, so naturally I turned on my wrist mount of my GoPro and adjusted my goggles on my face. As I submerged my face, seconds after turning on the GoPro, a large body appeared directly beneath me, few meters from where my body was floating. In the GoPro, you can see my reaction, the “I cannot  believe this is happening right now face!” I screamed very loudly, started to panic a bit, and after a few seconds just  floated on the water’s surface. For a moment, I was embracing an encounter that many have dreamed about – a look into the face of a Humpback whale. It is really hard to describe how amazing and surreal that time was, and I have tried to highlight this naturalistic encounter to all of my “whale nerd” mates. And, even that does not do it justice!

All smiles after Humpback whale encounter; Petty Harbour, Newfoundland; 2015
All smiles after Humpback Whale Encounter; Petty Harbour, Newfoundland; 2015

 

This was indeed the closest that I have ever witnessed a Humpback whale under water, and it reassures me that no matter how crazy our world gets, I can always turn to that moment in Petty Harbour and visualize how tranquil the underwater surroundings were when I laid my very own eyes on a Humpback whale.

I would like to thank the staff at Oceanquest for an adventure of a lifetime, their generosity, and their respect to the whales. The young male zodiac driver from Victoria mentioned a few times that if a whale wants to play, then we can get in the water, but if a whale shows distress or odd behaviour, then we would find another whale to observe. It is refreshing to know that people are looking out for the whales. On an end note, the instructor was great and made sure that everyone was comfortable in the water.

The dive shop staff was really cool to chat with, and they almost had me re-routing my plans to dive a shipwreck in the area! Needless to say, I do look forward to swimming with whales when I return to Saint John’s, Newfoundland in the upcoming summer months.

Fishing Village; Petty Harbour, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Contact Information for Oceanquest; Petty Harbour, Newfoundland; 2015
Contact Information for Oceanquest; Petty Harbour, Newfoundland; 2015

 

  • Visiting my best friend of 28 years, Stephanie, her husband Tony (also one of my good friends), and their first born son, Roman James
Holding Roman James for the first time; Michigan; 2015
Holding Roman James for the First Time; Michigan; 2015

 

It is not everyday you plan to visit a very pregnant best friend a week before her due date, and you discover that she went into labor early and had her first newborn son a few days before you were planning to drive to see her. I suppose that mixes well with my lifestyle of adrenaline, spontaneity, and surprises around every corner. This in fact, was a huge surprise to me, and I could not wait to get to Michigan to see my 2 best friend’s and their adorable baby boy!

Maggie (mom), Stephanie, and Roman James; Michigan; 2015
Maggie (mom), Stephanie, and Roman James; Michigan; 2015

 

I knew that I wanted to end this segment of the world tour visiting friends and family – my Gram means the world to me, I cherish my family and our time together, and my good friends always seem to make time to see me when I come through their cities and towns. It was only fitting to visit my second-to-oldest best friend and her new bundle of joy!

Joshua talking to Roman James; Michigan; 2015
Joshua Talking to Roman James; Michigan; 2015

 

As a surprise, I was picking up Stephanie’s mom (my mom’s best friend) and bringing her to Michigan with Josh, mom, and I. Of course, once Roman James was born, it was no longer a surprise! I was proud to keep it a secret for at least a week! Anyways, it is a blessing to be part of their newest chapter in their lives – that little one surely is loved! Congratulations again guys, I love you both!

Welcome to the world Roman James Langlois!

 

  • Watching a US Women’s Soccer World Cup Friendly Match – US vs. Costa Rica (8-0)

Sometimes working on a ship has its disadvantages – the internet connection is slow or non-existent (dependent on project) and you physically cannot get off the boat until your rotation or scheduled time is up. In this particular case, I knew that the US Women’s Soccer team that won the World Cup this year was playing a post game close to the city where I grew up! In return, I spent almost 8 hours on ticketmaster.com trying to obtain tickets while the ship I was working on was down for weather. Unfortunately, I kept getting timed out of my connection, and that would cause ticketmaster to boot me off their site repeatedly through the early morning hours.

Group Shot; Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA; 2015
Group Shot; Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA; 2015

 

Long story short, I finally got tickets, and I was re-routing my Newfoundland & Labrador plans to compensate returning to the states in the middle of August (instead of the original end of the month date). I purchased 6 tickets for the event – 2 for my best friend’s in Pittsburgh, PA, mom, Josh, me, and my youngest brother, Jake. It is always nice to spend time with your family, especially since we are all soccer lovers. This is my first official soccer match to witness, and I could not think of a better one to be my first!

Though Alex Morgan did not play in that game, it was still awesome to see her on the field holding up a banner with the team stating, “Thank You Pittsburgh – Victory Tour!” The crowd was amazing – 44,028 fans were roaring during the match, and happily screaming “USA” from the top of their lungs. American flags were hung from the stands, and thousands of t-shirts supported America in one way or other (including our decked out red-white-and blue colors & our American themed gear).

US Women’s Soccer Team; Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA; 2015

 

Meghan Klingenberg is one of my favorite team players, not only did she grew up close to where I did, but I have never seen a player more dedicated to her roots than she is. In her goal against Costa Rica, she picked up Pittsburgh’s terrible towel and ran around the field with it, causing thousands of fans to holler, “USA USA USA!” I for one, was happy to be part of such a special event.

Matt & Leslie (Skerponator) Foell; Pittsburgh, PA; 2015
Matt & Leslie (Skerponator) Foell; Pittsburgh, PA; 2015

 

I have a few best friends that I try to get my annual visits in with, but I am finding that harder as I prep for my cross-country road trip to Vancouver and Alaska. My Pittsburgh best friend, Leslie aka Skerponator, and I met at the Pennsylvania State University during our undergrad. When I heard about the soccer match, I automatically thought of her and her husband, Matt, to join me for this event. It is always amazing catching up with her, and I am really proud of the life that she has built in Pittsburgh. I look forward to visiting with her every time I pass through.

Leslie & Jessica; Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA; 2015

 

Ironically out of 44,000+ fans, a great childhood friend of mine, Shawna, rushed up to me and gave me a huge hug. I had not seen her for many years, but we both are as close as we were growing up. This moment with her, reminded me of the pride that I have for my hometown and the strong support system that I continue to have.

Jessica & Shawna; Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA; 2015

 

CONSERVATION:

  • Learning about Labrador’s ongoing whale hunting practices at Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, and speaking to Visitor Experience Team Leader, Cindy Gibbons

Ever since I started prepping my road trip to Newfoundland & Labrador, the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station was the first destination that popped into my head! And, for good reasons!

Jessica Posing in the Museum; Red Bay, Labrador; 2015
Jessica Posing in the Museum; Red Bay, Labrador; 2015

 

This particular UNESCO World Heritage Site really hit home for me. Whale hunts have always made me question our existence as humans. How can an individual hunt a creature, so majestic and gentile? During my travels in western Africa, I spoke to a Norwegian that still hunts whales in Norway. Every summer, he applies for a whale hunting license, and it’s valid for 3 months to only hunt a specific size and sex of a Minke whale. The hunting practices try to keep the females alive, and kill off some of the larger males.

I was happy to hear that during the whale hunting season, there are biologists like myself that count the number of Minke whales. If at any time, their numbers decline, then the whale hunt is called off. It does not matter how early it is in the hunting season. In the Norwegian’s eyes, he mentioned that, “This is a great way to make sure that the species does not go into extinction.” I agreed, that it is favorable that these practices are carried out. Though secretly, I am not a fan of whale hunting or harvesting, I realize that this is an act of survival for most cultures and a “game hunt” for others. And, as much as I never thought I would hear myself say this (or at least say this out loud), if the whale hunted is for survival means and the whole whale is eaten (liver, brain, etc.) then I am okay with this. I suppose that is what traveling does to you; it opens up your eyes to a whole new world of non-judgement.

Let’s fast forward to my present time at Red Bay Basque Whaling Station. The site was very well put together, and the information on the Basque culture was incredible to read about. Though in those days, whale hunting was a means to survive and feed their families. And, in most cultures today that is still the same situation. The interview that I had with Cindy Gibbons, a Visitor Experience Team Leader, was my very first interview with a team leader and one that I will always remember. I was able to talk to her about the Basque culture, our impressions on the whales in this specific area, and most importantly, we were able to have a serious discussion about the whales that were and are still hunted.

A Traditional Basque Whaler; Red Bay, Labrador; 2015

 

Due to the confidentiality of our discussion and to withhold the promise that I made to Mrs. Gibbons, I can highlight a few interesting facts that I found fascinating.

A) In Red Bay, there is no official start date of when whaling first happened. Thought it is suspected that it had started in the 1530’s.  B)The peak of the whaling hunt was between 1560-1570’s. C) When people are referring to Inuits, there are referencing  a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada (Northwest Territories, Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut, Nunatukavut), Denmark (Greenland), Russia (Siberia) and the United States (Alaska). The Inuits traditionally still hunt Bowhead whales and partake in their “traditional hunts” every year. D) The whales that were hunted by the Basque whalers were the Greenland right whale and the North Atlantic right whale. E) The Red Bay Basque Whaling Station is called an UNESCO World Heritage Site because, “In a nutshell, it represents the first place where whale oil hunting and production on a large scale commercially based. And this is when whaling became a profit.”

Perhaps one of the more interesting facts that I learned was that Mrs. Gibbons was responsible for the whaling station to become indicted into an UNESCO World Heritage Site. As she explained the process, she mentioned that it started with them as a 2004 candidate, took 5 years of submission and paperwork, and made it official UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, but in the end it “was well worth it.” She emphasized that they are #17 on Canada’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I can honestly say that I was in my element at this site, I absorbed so much information that I never knew, and I was surrounded by replicas of whales!

Thank you Cindy Gibbons for making my experience more memorable, and the perfect outing at the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station! Do not be surprised if I stop by before the end of the year!

Red Bay; Labrador; 2015
Red Bay; Labrador; 2015

EDUCATION:

  • Eating and learning within the Lobster capital of the world, Shediac

  • Meeting a future Marine Biologist, 13-year-old Miranda from Somerset, PA, USA
Miranda - Future Marine Biologist; Somerset, PA; 2015
Miranda – Future Marine Biologist; Somerset, PA; 2015

 

Over the past few years, I have had a flood of emails and facebook messages pour into my inboxes. Most of these messages come from young aspiring Biologists that are keen to talk to someone whom is working in their field. I am proud to say that I have guided dozens of young men and women into the relevant courses and universities around the world to assist them to achieve their dreams on becoming a Marine Biologist. To be honest, this is something that I love doing – helping others, especially when it comes to building more minds to preserve our natural habitats and surrounding environments.

I was flattered when my mom’s other best friend, Pastor Kathy, told her about finding a time for me to meet one of the young girl’s in her church. She went on to say that this particular young girl, Miranda, is eager to learn more about my role as a Marine Mammal Scientist, as she is an aspiring Marine Biologist.

Jessica, Miranda, and Joshua; Somerset, PA; 2015
Jessica, Miranda, and Joshua; Somerset, PA; 2015

 

As Pastor Kathy will tell you, it was certainly fate that had us both meet on a sunny afternoon. I started the conversation and asked her what her favorite animal was – and she responded with “dolphin.” We discussed ways that she can help with her local community through the lakes and streams programs provided by the PA Fish & Game Commission during the summers. At such an impressionable age, I gave her insight on how I learned about marine life through books, documentaries, and encyclopedias. We both agreed that living 6 hours from the beach was hard, but in the upcoming summer months she will convince her parents to take her to the beach and the aquariums nearby.

It is always nice to hear that even individuals a lot younger than me, are keen to help the environment in any way that they can. To sum up the conversation and before snapping a photograph in front of my Jeep, I told Miranda of the different conservation strategies that children from Europe, Africa, North America, and South America have adapted in their communities. One in particular that I find remarkable are kids in Tanzania and Mozambique getting together to encourage the community and villages to pick up their trash on the beach. They call these events, “beach clean-ups” and they have started a wave in other African countries illustrating the same methods. I was amazed of how quickly this concept caught on, and I am always eager to tell the younger generation stories about children like themselves and their preservation efforts.

Pastor Kathy & Miranda; Somerset, PA; 2015
Pastor Kathy & Miranda; Somerset, PA; 2015

 

Miranda, I really enjoyed meeting you – please let me know if you have anymore questions! And, I will send you the dolphin vocalizations and photographs that I promised soon! It was a pleasure to meet you, and I wish the best of luck on your path to becoming a Marine Biologist!

Thank you Pastor Kathy, Richard, Ashtin, and Chelsea Hay for the wonderful visit! Lauren, sorry we missed you; hope to see you next time! And, thank you Pastor Kathy for making sure that Miranda and I crossed paths while I was in town! Sheer dedication!

  • Participating in National New Brunswick Day and talking to the  Battle of the Restigouche National Historic Site interpreters
Welcome Sign; Sugarloaf Provincial Park; 2015

 

The occasion was special, and it was not like any other that I have ever experienced. A dozen or so of locals came together to educate others and outsiders, like myself, about the Battle of the Restigouche. The reenactments that each section on the campground of Sugarloaf Provinical Park was well-done and very interesting. In the summer, costumed interpreters portray the Acadians, Micmaq, sailors and French soldiers who participated in the 1760 battle.

Tent and Supplies; Sugarloaf Provincial Park; 2015

 

The Battle of the Restigouche, according to the historical site enthusiasts was a naval battle fought during the French and Indian War (the North American theatre of the Seven Years’ War) on the Restigouche River between the British Royal Navy and the small flotilla of vessels of the French Navy, Acadian militia and Mi’kmaq militias.

Over the course of the morning, I was able to discuss the roles of each of the interpreters and learn more about this significant event. I even learned that in light of the reenactments, few slept in the tent below.

Camping in Sugarloaf Provincial Park; New Brunswick; 2015
Camping in Sugarloaf Provincial Park; New Brunswick; 2015

 

The first gentleman we came across was one who worked on ship – he was enthusiastic to show everyone the paddle and ball game that the crew would play onboard and on land.

One of the coolest families that we came across was a family of blacksmiths, ship’s crew, and naval officers. We could have spent the entire day talking with them about their passion to portray this moment of history.

Mike, Jan, and Anthony Portraying their Roles in The Battle of Restigouche; Campbellton, New Brunswick; 2015
Mike, Jan, and Anthony Portraying their Roles in The Battle of Restigouche; Campbellton, New Brunswick; 2015

 

It was an incredible day to be able to talk with the locals about this particular battle and to learn more about the last naval battle between France and Britain for possession of American territory.

If you want an adventure filled with history, check out this event next year! Be sure to also stop in for a visit at the Battle of the Restigouche National Historic Site! As their caption reads, “It’s an extraordinary journey that will take you all the way back to 1760!”

The Machault Flag; Sugarloaf Provincial Park, New Brunswick; 2015
The Machault Flag; Sugarloaf Provincial Park, New Brunswick; 2015

 

  • Submerging into Canadian National Parks, National Historic Sites, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and United State National Parks

For years I have been intrigued to visit every United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site around the globe, and this world tour has given me the chance to do so. The idea is for every segment of the world tour I will visit and experience these magnificent cultural and natural properties. And, if I am awarded the opportunity, I will set up interviews with the directors and cultural departments in a few UNESCO destinations that I visit. There may be some confidentiality agreements from time to time, but with permission, I will put in bits and pieces when I can.

Each destination is marked as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, National Park, National Historic Site, or most of all the above!

I am happy to announce that I already conducted my first official interview! Please scroll down to Labrador’s Red Bay Historic Whaling Site to get the inside scoop on the ongoing harvesting of the whales!

1) Cape Breton Highlands National Park = Canada National Park

2) Cape Spear = National Historic Site & The Most Easterly Point in North America!

Eastern Most Point of North America; Jessica's Signature Jumpin' Photograph; Cape Spear, Newfoundland; 2015
Eastern Most Point of North America; Jessica’s Signature Jumpin’ Photograph; Cape Spear, Newfoundland; 2015
Eastern Most Point of North America with Joshua; Cape Spear, Newfoundland; 2015
Eastern Most Point of North America with Joshua; Cape Spear, Newfoundland; 2015

3) Flight 93 Memorial National Park = United States National Park

4) Gros Morne National Park = UNESCO World Heritage Site & Canadian National Park

5) Kouchibougac National Park = Canada National Park

6) L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site = National Historic Site

7) Miguasha National Park = UNESCO World Heritage Site & Canadian National Park

Crossing Canadian Provinces: New Brunswick to Quebec; 2015
Crossing Canadian Provinces: New Brunswick to Quebec; 2015

8) Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville = UNESCO World Heritage Site

9) Prince Edward Island National Park = Canada National Park

Barn Hostel; Brackley Beach Hostel, PEI; 2015

Barn Hostel; Brackley Beach Hostel, PEI; 2015

 

10) Red Bay Basque Whaling Station = UNESCO World Heritage Site

 

11) Shenandoah National Park = United States National Park

12) Signal Hill = National Historic Site

Signal Hill; Newfoundland; 2015
Signal Hill; Newfoundland; 2015

Newfoundland Dog (Most Honest Dog Breed); Signal Hill, Newfoundland; 2015

Newfoundland Dog (Most Honest Dog Breed); Signal Hill, Newfoundland; 2015

 

13) Terra Nova National Park = Canada National Park

 

 

INTERACTIONS AROUND THE WORLD:

  • Visiting a region where tourists may fly or sail to Newfoundland & Labrador, the love and support that we received was amazing. Everyone seemed eager to snap a photograph with the “World Traveler” and her Jeep. I managed to get Josh to take photographs with our new friends as well. Not to mention, that both Josh and I scheduled visits with our close friends and family.
An English Teacher, Good Mate, & Role Model; Bakersville, PA; 2015
An English Teacher, Good Mate, & Role Model; Bakersville, PA; 2015
Old High School Friend, Amy with Jessica; Somerset, PA; 2015
Michael and kid brother, Colin James (Brianna is missing from the photograph); Wellsboro, PA; 2015
Michael and kid brother, Colin James (Brianna is missing from the photograph); Wellsboro, PA; 2015
Erin & Eric; Wellsboro, PA; 2015
Erin & Eric; Wellsboro, PA; 2015
One of Our Best Mates, Heather & Jessica; Somerset, PA; 2015
Troxler Stylin'; Brooklyn, NY; 2015
Jessica & Best Mate, Troxler; Brooklyn, NY; 2015
Jessica & Best Mate, Troxler; Brooklyn, NY; 2015

 

Hostel Encounters:

 

New Brunswick:
Jessica & Nick; Lighthouse Campbellton Fare - Auberge Hostel, New Brunswick; 2015
Jessica & Nick; Lighthouse Campbellton Fare – Auberge Hostel, New Brunswick; 2015

 

Joshua & Nick; Lighthouse Campbellton Fare - Auberge Hostel, New Brunswick; 2015
Joshua & Nick; Lighthouse Campbellton Fare – Auberge Hostel, New Brunswick; 2015

 

Prince Edward Island:
Joshua & Angie; Brackley Beach Hostel, Prince Edward Island; 2015
Joshua & Angie; Brackley Beach Hostel, Prince Edward Island; 2015

 

Newfoundland & Labrador:
Jessica, Joshua, & Sarah; HI City Hostel Saint John's, Newfoundland; 2015
Jessica, Joshua, & Sarah; HI City Hostel Saint John’s, Newfoundland; 2015
Globetrotters:
Eric the Well-Seasoned Traveler; Cape Spear, Newfoundland; 2015
Eric the Well-Seasoned Traveler; Cape Spear, Newfoundland; 2015
Igor, Jessica, & Eric (Motorcyclist); Cape Spear, Newfoundland; 2015
Igor, Jessica, & Eric (Motorcyclist); Cape Spear, Newfoundland; 2015
Hannah & Siobhan; Saint John's, Newfoundland; 2015
Hannah & Siobhan; Saint John’s, Newfoundland; 2015
Amy & HJ; Somerset, PA; 2015
Amy & HJ; Somerset, PA; 2015

 

Penn State (My Alma Mater):

MAJOR TRAVEL HICCUP:

Posted on Facebook, on the morning of the incident:

There’s a highlight post coming soon from our time in Newfoundland & Labrador, but first the cons of traveling – this morning my Jeep Wrangler was broken into. Camera gear, along with a book bag & bag of souvenirs were stolen.

Attack of the Thieves; Saint John's, Newfoundland; 2015
Attack of the Thieves; Saint John’s, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Josh and I are okay, but really disappointed that this had happened, especially in Canada. This experience has made us more aware of our surroundings, and more alert of the belongings that we have with us.

Gower Street; Saint John's, Newfoundland; 2015
Gower Street; Saint John’s, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Our spirits are hurt, but not ruined. We will continue to travel.

We want to thank L’anse Aux Meadows Historic Center for sending us a few complimentary souvenirs, the Deer Lake Visitor Center for their positive energy, and HI City Hostel St. John’s for their awesome hospitality and good-natured spirit.

Deer Lake Staff & Joshua, and I; Deer Lake Tourist Center; 2015
Deer Lake Staff & Joshua, and I; Deer Lake Tourist Center; 2015

 

Deer Lake Staff & and I; Deer Lake Tourist Center; 2015
Deer Lake Staff & and I; Deer Lake Tourist Center; 2015

 

I was debating if I should write more about my break-in, and I have decided last minute that I will. This advice is for the travelers driving their vehicles to various destinations and for those that leave valuables in the vehicles on occasion. Do not let my break-in deter you from traveling, those are certainty not my intentions, just beware of your surroundings.

Believe in Karma; Newfoundland; 2015
Believe in Karma; Newfoundland; 2015

 

I notified the Saint John’s police and am still waiting for their response. Once I returned to the states I called my insurance company, filed a claim, and phoned a few pawn shops in the nearby Saint John’s area. Unfortunately, none of the pawn shops had my camera. You may ask, how do you know that is yours and not just another one that they are selling? My Canon EOS Rebel T2i camera with a Canon 18-55mm Image Stabilizer lens is missing the eye piece on the body of the viewfinder and has a large indent on the lens from getting knocked into a cave during an expedition in Belize. To be honest, that camera means the world to me – it has been to 60 countries with me, and I have had it for 5 years.  Another lens in the Overboard Waterproof grey camera bag is a Canon 55-250mm Image Stabilizer lens. The 32gb SanDisk SD card would also be awesome to get back, since some of my sponsorship material is on it, and photographs of Red Bay and Point Amour Lighthouse. I am willing to pay to get it back, if that will help me secure what is rightfully mine.

A red bag of souvenirs ranging from pins, patches, post cards, and other “scrapbook” items were grabbed. We getting all our friends around the world to sign our travel journals. My younger brother’s book bag and Ray Ban sunglasses that I bought him for his 25th birthday (they were sentimental since I gave them to him when I told him that we are going Sky diving for his 25th and that he would need them in Key West for the start of the world tour). Anyways, and it rained the night before, so most of my Jeep was soaked, and the valuables (most of them locked up) that were left were wet and damp.

I anticipated a hiccup would happen eventually on my world tour, but just not as substantial as this one. I will admit, this incident has made me a lot wiser of the equipment that I bring and aware of those around me. I still will continue to travel, and that certainly has not changed! If you know of anything about this break-in, please send me a Facebook message – International Travelingmarinebiologist. Thanks!

In the meantime, any ideas for what camera I should buy next? Nikon or Canon?

MEDIA COVERAGE:

Helpful Tip; Blanc Sablon, Quebec; 2015
Helpful Tip; Blanc Sablon, Quebec; 2015

 

I was amazed to see the media coverage and attention that we received during our time in Newfoundland & Labrador. My good mates and family have been supportive from the start, and I would like to take a minute to thank them for pushing me to reach my full potential in times when I needed it.

Here’s the line up of a TV appearance, 2 radio stations, and a newspaper that all has taken my world tour to another level. Thank you everyone for publicizing “The Voyage of Discovery!” It’s incredible that an idea that I started building 8.5 years ago is not only getting domestic attention, but now it’s making international news!

A) New Brunswick, 95 CKNB (Radio Station)

Welcome to New Brunswick; 2015
Welcome to New Brunswick; 2015

 

Kaitlin was kind to give us a shout out on the radio station during New Brunswick’s National Day and later gave us the facebook post below.

Thank you Kaitlin for your support and highlighting our goals for the world tour!

Featured on 95 CKNB Facebook’s page:

This is Jessica and she and her brother Josh (who took the picture) are traveling around the world with a goal to visit all 7 continents, including 221 countries and as many UNESCO world heritage sites as possible! It was pretty exciting to meet them here in little ol’ Restigouche County! For more information on their amazing journey, visit www.travelingmarinebiologist.com -Kaitlin

Jessica & Kaitlin; Sugarloaf Provincial Park, New Brunswick; 2015

 

B) Blanc Sablon, Quebec – CFBS (Radio)

I stopped in to see if they would be interested learning about the world tour, and there was an immediate, “Yes!” It was scheduled to meet up at 1600 or 4pm Quebec time, so we drove to Red Bay Historic Whaling Site and popped in for a few hours before making our debut on the radio.

This was the first time that Josh and I were able to sit next to each other and answer questions that were provided by the radio host. The main questions were where are you from, describe “The Voyage of Discovery,” favorite destination on the world tour so far, where are you going next, and a few others to end the segment of the night.

Unfortunately, the ferry from Labrador was super early in the morning, so we were unable to hear our interview; however, the radio host mentioned that he will send the audio clip to my email address. Once I receive it, I will post it here.

C) Prince Edward Island – “The Guardian” Newspaper

Officially made it! We’re in Prince Edward Island – 40+ hours driving was well worth it!

The best news yet – not only were Josh and I featured in the morning segment of 95 CKNB of New Brunswick, Canada, but with the help of Brackley Beach Hostel we were in “The Guardian” newspaper of Prince Edward Island!

Jessica & Angie; Brackley Beach Hostel, Prince Edward Island; 2015
Jessica & Angie; Brackley Beach Hostel, Prince Edward Island; 2015

 

Needless to say, Phase 1: Part 4 Newfoundland & Labrador had an amazing start!

Josh said to me earlier, “Jessica this experience has been incredible so far and ready to venture around Prince Edward Island’s National Park!”

After just arriving in Toronto and making final preparations for CN Tower’s adrenaline activity Edgewalk, I stumbled upon this newspaper article from “The Guardian!” Thank you for the lovely article Jocelyne Lloyd! My brother, Josh and I will be making another appearance in PEI later this year!

D) Saint John’s – CBC (TV Appearance)

Colored Row of Houses; Saint John's, Newfoundland; 2015
Colored Row of Houses; Saint John’s, Newfoundland; 2015

 

My very first TV interview on “The Voyage of Discovery” with CBC of St. John’s – Josh and I have had an amazing support system in Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec. In the last 2 weeks we have been interviewed for 2 radio stations in New Brunswick and Quebec/Labrador, asked to be published in Prince Edward Island’s newspaper “The Guardian”, and now been featured on TV with CBC of Saint John’s! We want to thank the newspaper reporters, radio broadcasters, and the CBC camera team for their continued encouragement during our travels around Eastern Canada.

After such a disheartening morning, I was amazed to find that I was featured in one of Saint John’s most popular radio/TV stations that same morning. Here is the link for that particular TV interview. Or please view this URL,  http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2673332424/.

After the Jeep was broken into, I promised myself that I would find some good out of this situation. What I did not know that the “good” was all along right in front of me – the Newfoundlanders are absolutely incredible, and their hospitable nature is inspiring.

With that being said, I posted this on Facebook:

“It has been incredible to have so many friendly faces around Newfoundland & Labrador giving their blessings, especially after my Jeep was broken into. And, for that reason the next post of Phase 1: Part 4 Newfoundland & Labrador is a special dedication post to all of the locals and expats from this region that we met. It is refreshing to see the progress of this world tour not only domestically, but also internationally! Never give up on your dreams!”

Thank you Josh for joining the world tour, and even on the worst day, still remaining positive. This has definitely been an adventure of a lifetime!

Red Bay; Labrador; 2015
Red Bay; Labrador; 2015

Dream. Explore. Live.

%d bloggers like this: