Monday, August 25, 2014

Colony of Avalon


  In 1621 George Calvert purchased a tract of land in Newfoundland from Sir William Vaughan, who had earlier failed to establish a colony on the island. Calvert’s colony, which he named Avalon, was more successful even though Calvert decided, after staying over the winter of 1629, that it was too cold and harsh. He started planning a colony in the more moderate climate of Maryland and left a representative in charge of Avalon. By 1637 Avalon had been granted to Sir David Kirke by the king of England and it stayed in the Kirk family until a raid by the French in 1696 destroyed the colony’s buildings. 

   The exact site of the colony was not known until the 1950s and a thorough excavation was not begun until 1992.  Many of the artifacts that have been found are on display in the interpretive center. A short film is also shown. Touring the site may be done on your own or with a guide.

  The interpretive center is accessible. Wheelchair visitors may wish to borrow an interpretive booklet and visit the dig site on their own rather than taking the guided tour because not all of it is accessible. A boardwalk overlooks the dig site and the other stops on the self guided tour may be seen from the road.



  The parking lot is fairly big but large RVs may have to park in the gravel lot.  Avalon


Friday, August 22, 2014

Signal Hill NHS


  Although it looks like a little fortress the tower on Signal Hill never served a military purpose but was built in 1897 to commemorate John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland. However the hill, with it’s excellent position overlooking the entrance to St. John’s harbor, has been an important defensive site from the 1700s to WWII. Nothing remains but a 1860s barracks has been reconstructed and  canons are positioned overlooking the narrow passageway into the harbor. The visitor center has a short film and displays about the military history of Signal Hill.


  The tower is not accessible due to steps. A short trail loops around the tower with great views of the city and harbor. It has some steep sections but is accessible with help. The other trails are too steep and rocky. The barracks is at the end of a long downhill trail and is not accessible. The visitor center is accessible.


  RVs will fit in the lot by using two spaces.  Signal Hill


Johnson Geo Vista Park


  The Geo Park is part of the Geo Centre but an admission ticket isn’t required to walk the trails. The trails loop around and interconnect. The short Stoneworks Trail has examples of the way stone was used by the fishermen who settled along the rocky shores and built their own houses, boundary walls and boat landings.

  The trails are hard packed, crushed stone with some short hills.

   RVs will fit in the lot parked lengthwise across the spaces.  Park



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Rooms


  The Rooms is Newfoundland’s provincial museum. We always visit the official state and provincial museums because they usually give a good overview of the history of the region however this one is disappointing. Newfoundland has a unique history but the museum displays flow poorly and have little substance. Much of the museum is a large atrium which allows great views of the city but wastes a lot of space. Labeling for many of the exhibits is on computer screens and in little booklets with just a few words of explanation.

  The museum is fairly accessible but the computer screens are at a height that is hard to view from a seated position. Some of the articles in display cabinets are too high to view easily. The lift to access the upper level of the forth floor can only be operated by museum staff.

  The parking lot is fairly large. There are a few long RV spaces. The accessible spaces are long enough for small RVs. St. Johns streets are not laid out in a grid plus they’re very steep and narrow which may making navigating a large vehicle difficult.  Museum



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden


  The cultivated section of the gardens covers a small area of the property and includes many different carefully tended specialty gardens. The rest is kept in a natural state with about three miles of well maintained walking trails that travel through wetlands, forests and barrens. Buy a bag of duck food and cause a  feeding frenzy. :-)



  The trails all lead downhill from the garden center. One of the trails has switchbacks to lessen the grade but most wheelchair users will still need to have some help. Some of the gardens have paths that are too narrow for wheelchairs.  The Yetman Trail has steps. We walked/rolled along the Main Trail and the Owens Trail. Part of the Main Trail is steep but can be avoided by using the trails through the gardens. The Owens Trail is part boardwalk and part hard packed, crushed stone – easy to roll along. We didn’t have enough time to check out the other trails.


  Small RVs will fit in the main lot. Larger RVs can park in the lot across the street.  Garden


Friday, August 15, 2014

Terra Nova National Park


  Activities at Terra Nova center around the water but there are also about a dozen trails. From the descriptions most look easy and at least one is fairly accessible. We walked/rolled along the Heritage Trail which is wide and surfaced with hard packed, small stone. A couple of  sections are steep and most wheelchair users will need to have help. Sandy Pond Trail may be accessible too.

  The visitor center has displays about the natural environment and a very accessible touch tank.


  We stayed at Malady Head Campground which does not have any sites marked as accessible but many of them are useable.  No hookups but there is a dump station and potable water. Some of the sites are large enough for any RV.  Park



North Atlantic Aviation Museum


  In 1936, where the city of Gander stands today, there wasn’t a road or even a town, nothing but trees. So why was a large airport under construction? Location - in the most northeastern part of North America! Transatlantic flights were becoming possible and pilots needed to refuel before starting across the ocean. Gander was an ideal spot and it became especially important as a base for American and Canadian fighters and bombers during WWII. After the war the airport continued to be a refueling stop for transcontinental flights until improvements in aircraft permitted longer-range flights.

The airport also had a role in the events after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center towers. All planes in flight over North America were grounded. Gander, with a population of about 10,000 people, was host to 6,600 passengers when 42 planes were forced to land at the airport. Everyone pitched in to fed and house the visitors until flights resumed six days later.


   The museum has a few planes on the grounds outside and another one inside plus numerous artifacts but the personal stories about Gander and the airport are really what makes this museum interesting.

   Everything is accessible.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Harvest Hosts visitors should park on the gravel on the right side of the lot.  Ask for the internet code. After hours you can move closer to the building to get online. Museum



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cobb's Pond Rotary Park Trail

  The trail circles around Cobb’s Pond with short spurs leading to views of the pond and a longer spur which travels a through a bog to another smaller pond. Look for carnivorous pitcher plants along the way. Round trip is about 3 miles.
   The trail is a fairly good condition, mostly flat and very accessible. Almost all of it is wide boardwalk with two short sections of gravel.
  The parking lot is large enough for any RV.   Trail

Mary March Provincial Museum


  Artifacts from ancient Maritime Archaic Indians, Palaeoeskimo, and Beothuk, and more recent Europeans and Mi’kmaqs , all who made central Newfoundland their home, form the permanent displays in this small museum. When we visited the temporary gallery had artwork and an interesting exhibit about the lives of women in the fishing villages during the early 1900s.

  The museum is accessible.

   Parking is limited. A few spaces are located in the front of the museum. One handicapped spaces is located in the rear with access to a ramp. The space is long enough for a RV.  Museum



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

L'Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site


  In 1960 Helge Marcus Ingstad, a Norwegian explorer, and his wife Anne Stine, an archaeologist, following clues from Norse sagas and with some guidance by local resident, George Decker, found the site of an 11th century Norse community on the northern most tip of Newfoundland. The Vikings had discovered the New World 500 years before Christopher Columbus! Unlike Columbus they didn’t stay long or spread the news to the rest of world but they did travel back and forth between L'Anse Aux Meadows and Greenland carrying boat loads of harvested lumber for the colony in Greenland and returning with supplies for the little settlement in Newfoundland.109

  The site at L'Anse Aux Meadows was most likely a base for exploring the region, repairing boats and sheltering over the winter. As many as 90 people lived there including women who left behind artifacts that would have been used for spinning and weaving wool. The buildings were burnt when the site was abandoned after a decade or two.


  Start at the visitor center which has an introductory film and exhibits and artifacts from the Vikings and also from the native groups who used the area for seasonal fishing and gathering. A boardwalk leads to the settlement site and a reconstructed hut with costumed re-enactors.


  The visitor center is accessible. A long flight of steps leads down to the boardwalk but visitors with mobility problems may drive at an accessible lot near the site. It’s not large enough for big RVs but the road loops around to a drop off spot and RVs can then park at the bus parking area. A boardwalk leads to the reconstructed hut. The ground is hard packed and the hut is accessible but narrow and crowded in spots. The actual dwelling site is uneven and grassy but can be viewed from the boardwalk.


   Part of the trail that starts from the visitor center parking lot and travels across higher ground above the settlement is accessible.


The parking lot at the visitor center has a few long RV spaces. Park