St. John's today!
We left Terra Nova National Park this morning and made our way to St. John's. One person that we had met earlier in Newfoundland told us that St. John's often has lots of fog, so we were curious to see what the weather would be like as we got closer to the area. As we were driving, sure enough, we hit a patch of fog, which made it pretty difficult to see far ahead. But other than that one patch, no fog! It turned out to be a beautiful day in St. John's.
When we first arrived in St. John's we found the park we were staying at, which was Pippy Park and was right on the edge of the city. We did the usual camper set up, grabbed some lunch, and set out to explore the city!
Our first stop was Signal Hill which overlooks the city and is a national historic site. It was here that the first ever transatlantic wireless communication signal was made by Guglielmo Marconi in 1901, and prior to this was a significant military point. And holy smokes, was it ever windy up there! But the view of the city was awesome, and it was cool to see the harbour from up there. Up on the hill is Cabot Tower, which is where Marconi's signal was communicated, but there is also the Queen's Battery, which was of military importance and you a bunch of cannons that they had. For military purposes, the hill is perfect because it overlooks the entrance to the harbour so that they can easily protect the city andn the harbour from any intruders.
After checking out Signall Hill, we decided to check out Cape Spear next, which is the eastern-most point of Canada. There's a lighthouse here (just like almost everywhere along the coast in the province!) but what I found more interesting than the lighthouse was the bunkers that were around the point from the World War II. To provide protection to convoys from German submarines, a battery and garrison was stationed here, which included these bunkers, underground passages and two huge guns. I think this interested me because when I think about WWII, I always think about it being based in Europe and think more about the land and air combat that would have occurred there rather than any naval combat, and it's crazy to think how close to home for Canadians the battle really came.
Once we had seen the sights at Cape Spear, our next stop was Petty Harbour. When we had arrived at Cape Spear we had asked one of the staff on site if there were any whales that were in the area, and he replied that he hadn't heard of any tourists seeing any from Cape Spear that day but a tour guide had told him that whales had been spotted at Petty Harbour. And so that's where we headed. I still hadn't seen a whale and was determined to see one before I leave the east coast! When we got to Petty Harbour, though, we didn't really see any spot that we thought would be ideal for whale sightings and so we drove through the town and further up the road. But it turned out the road didn't really follow the coast and so eventually we decided to just head back to the campsite. We passed through Petty Harbour again and made a stop at a little liquor/convenience store, and in there a man happened to mention that people had spotted a whale in the harbour! What luck that we had happened to go through Petty Harbour again on the way home rather than taking a different route back to the park. So we got directions from the man as to where we could see the whale and made our way up the road to that point. We got out of the truck, and waited, and waited, and no whale… I was a little bit worried that the whale had left. But then, all of a sudden, we saw the water spray up from the whale blow. And a minute later a whale fin cut through the surface! Not going to lie - it wasn't the most exciting thing in the world because the whale was not super active but it was still cool to see the whale blow. We stayed there for a little while hoping the whale would put on a bit more of a show eventually, but it didn't really and so we headed back for the campsite and called it a day.