We watched the fog rise off Hodges Hill near Grand Falls-Winsor as we drove towards Green Bay for our first trip to Triton.
My iceberg ‘hobby’ (code for “obsession”) had us aiming for this iceberg in Brighton and weather wasn’t a concern as the iceberg was so close to shore so visible in just about anything Ryan Snodden could throw at us.
We’d visited the Green Bay area many times but on the Kings Point side of the bay. Always doing day trips, we’d often say, “Next time” as we drove past the turn off for route 380.
I was struck by the number of mussel farms on both sides of the road as we traveled toward our destination on Route 380. As I was taking pictures out the window of a mussel operation, Leo stopped the car and gets full points for seeing the first icebergs off the causeway to Pilley’s Island. We also watched fish jumping, wondering if it was capelin but we were told it was probably white fish.
We often leave home on a half tank of gas with the intention of spending a little bit (of our little bit) of money in the areas we visit. This was a great bonus to us this time because when we stopped at Causeway Express Irving in Pilley’s Island we were served by Nicole who is an amazing ambassador for her region.
In addition to $51 dollars worth of gas, we got a great insight to the area and good answers to our questions. She told us about the three places to eat, Spencer’s Diner, Fudge’s Restaurant and Crystal’s and recommended them all with tips on what to order.She even served us a local special, the Iceberg!
Nicole also told us to make sure we went to Spencer’s Dock, just a left hand turn up the road from the service station. We would not have had time to try byroads being in the area for the first time so this tip gave us a reason to see this.
We were already pretty pleased with ourselves when we stopped for lunch at Fudge’s Restaurant in Triton. We’d seen 4 icebergs, were having a great day and figured if we kept going to Brighton we might be able to ‘do’ the area and then maybe go to Kings Point for the night. We were thinking we’d check out Harry’s Harbour and Nickey’s Nose on the other side of the Bay on Sunday before heading home.
Then I got a message from Michael Roberts.
Mike has started Badger Bay Boat Tours and wanted some tips on promoting his business and to learn more about my Newfoundland Iceberg Reports Facebook page. A lobster, crab and anything-else-he’s-allowed fisherman, he wants to use his long liner for a tour boat operation too. As he goes through some very expensive regulation hurdles, he’s operating small tours using his speedboat and offered us a tour to see the icebergs. He’d just gotten in from lobster fishing and when I said yes, appeared almost instantly in the restaurant to meet us.
We followed him to his wharf only minutes away.
Mike was born to be in the tourism business. He’s friendly and pleasant and so proud of Triton and Badger Bay and all it has to offer. He’s got a great eye, often taking amazing pictures with his phone. He also compliments his Facebook and personal pages with photographs taken by his wife Vanessa.
At least the third generation of a fishing family, he’s the last fisherman with siblings working in Western or Northern Canada mostly in things like the oil patch and diamond mines. At least one of his brothers is a turn-around worker, working out West and building a beautiful home overlooking the bay. My impression from what I was told is that many workers from Triton are actually managing to work away in order to live and retire at home. This isn’t always they case for many who’ve gone away and never returned.
Leo loves being on the water and was raised by the ocean. As kids they spent hours in punts and on wharfs. Me, not so much.
I like being in boats but it’s a job for me to get in a boat and out of a boat, I don’t care what kind of boat you have.
Awkward doesn’t being to describe it and with back issues, lets just say it’s not graceful by any stretch. We did not have to resort to a block and tackle but it may have been discussed.
Safely perched in the boat, our adventure began. It’s really hard to put this part in words.
It’s hard to know who had the bigger grin; me, Michael, Leo or that goofy looking iceberg but it was an amazing afternoon. We learned about the area, where the icebergs on the distance had come from and were heading towards and about the community of Triton.
I knew that two large companies were originated in the community, DRL Bus Lines and the Mary Brown’s restaurant chain. What was very interesting to see where the number of other businesses in a town of about 1300 people and to realize that the population of Triton is the same now as it was when Michael was a kid. The demographic has changed, with fewer children, but the population, with retirees and workers is about the same.
A couple of hours on the water had us realizing that we wanted to spend the night in the area and slow down a bit so when we got back to the wharf, we contacted Wanda Bridger of Blue Water Inn. Wanda had one room available at her Parker’s Blue Water Inn property and met us there so we could view the room. One thing lead to another and we were off in Wanda’s car, touring around Triton for over an hour, including a stop at her house.
From Freddy’s Lookout she showed us a huge iceberg near the fish plant, a large employer in the area.
Wanda dropped us back to Parker’s Blue Water Inn and we finally headed to Brighton and saw this!
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Brighton too.
We met Shauna and Elena who had set up shop at the base of the trail to the lookout. They were selling books, movies and candies and were quite excited to tell me how much they’d made in their venture. As a retiring school teacher trying to get rid of my own books and things, there was nothing in their shop that I could justify purchasing but I asked if they’d mind passing out cards for my iceberg page. I explained that they only needed to offer them to people in case they wanted to share their pictures. They quickly agreed and were delighted when I offered them money for service.
We headed up the steps to the two viewing platforms and just missed the iceberg as it calved a sheet of ice off one end.
I was delighted when I came down the trail to see my new marketers chasing a couple across the field with my cards in hand. Good job girls! I showed them my email address and asked if they would tell mom I’d taken their picture but would like permission before publishing it. With mom’s permission, here is my Brighton Division Marketing Team. Thanks girls!
I should have gave them more cards than that!
Our supper stop was at Crystal’s Place Inc. and it was a very busy spot. We were lucky to get a parking spot next to this sweet convertible and did manage to beat the evening coffee crowd and get a table for supper.
By the time we’ve finished our loose meat hamburgers the little dining room was full of the local men having their nightly coffee meetings. Leo, as usual, had some people in common with these men and they talked about Fogo Island and fellows they knew. Like everyone we’d met today the staff and customers at Crystal’s were friendly and interesting in talking and sharing knowledge of their home. I learned that the Tucker family in Gander came from this area and having seen the businesses in Triton, this totally made sense to me and the second and third generations in Gander continue to be sales people and business owners.
We were all ready to settle into Room 4 when we got back to Parker’s Blue Water Inn.
Then I got a message from Michael Roberts.
He had the fire pit lit on the wharf, were we coming down? We stepped outside of the Inn and took these pictures of his wharf on the right and his longliner on the left. Yes, this was the perfect night to sit on the wharf with a fire.
Mike continued to tell us stories of Triton and his hopes to see tourists visit his home town and recognize it’s beauty and offerings. He spoke proudly of the number of well established businesses and of how the community has most services and stores needed to be self sufficient. The fish plant offers season employment and Alberta offers good salaries that are in turn, spent in local businesses. He hopes the Badger Bay Boat Tours would encourage more visitors and more overnight guests in the area. It certainly worked for us.
By the end of the evening, we had a morning date set to tour around the community in the and an offer of a tour of the local whale museum in the afternoon!
Mike picked us up at 9 a.m. and took us around town to see the new developments and houses we missed along the main roads. Houses were built fifteen and twenty years ago and some brand new developments are half done with work going on new lots now. The houses are big and beautiful. It’s noticeable that they don’t have the basement apartments we see in most Gander new builds.
As he drove us towards the fish plant I asked about resettlement because I was seeing very few old house or salt box styles like we see in Fogo Island and other outports. He pointed in front of the fish plant and told us about Vincent’s Point.
A gentleman named Vincent settled there and that was the community that Michael’s grandmother grew up in. The community was resettled and houses were floated or launched into Triton area. There are a few cabins there now. He also told us about Julie’s Harbour and promised to take me someday. Both abandoned communities have cemeteries dating from the 1800s.
We walked out to see the iceberg near the fish plant and learned that the plant provides work for people from many communities.
We learned about the various hiking trails and the trailor sites that are being added near the Maple Ridge trail. He showed us a beautiful seniors rental development and the floating docks being added to service visiting pleasure craft and local boats. This guy could do a bus tour too!
We knew he was cutting it short when we had to stop at his house to give is wife and daughter a ride to church. He toured us around a bit more and ran into his house to change for church before dropping us off at the Inn again.
We went to Fudge’s Restaurant again at 11 with plans for a good breakfast but the smell of cooked dinner was just too luring. Yes, this was breakfast. But in our own defense, we didn’t eat lunch until 4:30 after this!
We worked our ‘breakfast’ off by going back to Brighton to check on the big berg before we left. Twice when I turned my back, sheets of ice calved off!
By 2 o’clock, we were at the Triton SpermWhale Interpretation Centre to meet “Uncle” Terry. The Centre is located next to Wanda’s second property, the Blue Water Inn where she also lives. Again on Sunday she had icebergs off the deck to the left and the right.
Terry Whelan is a retired teacher who has worked the past four summers as an interpretor at the Whale Intepretation Centre. He did his nephew Michael a favour in coming in the day before season started to give us a tour of the exhibits.
We had toured the Dr. Jon Lien Humpback Whale pavilion in Kings Point a few years ago so had some knowledge on how the pavilions were done. In both cases, men from the community worked to salvage the skeleton of a whale that washed up dead on a beach in Newfoundland. The whole process is very interesting and took approximately 8 years from when the whale was beached to when the pavilion opened with a full skeleton on display.
Terry’s explanations were excellent and he was able to answer questions about the whales and other whales and marine life. I was wishing my Gr. 4 students were along for this tour because it was fascinating and so well done.
The museum is open now, all summer from 9 a.m to 8 p.m. and I recommend it for all ages. Local residents who have not had the tour should also check it out because it’s a world class exhibit. Terry even told me he found out at the end of a tour that he was guiding people from the Smithsonian Museum once! Admission is $5 and we stayed for an hour and a half.
It might be a good stop on the way to see icebergs because the staff may know of locations of the bergs in the area.
Kids would love this place and the connections to science and history are amazing. The whale hunt is discussed and the various uses of parts of the whales throughout history. Whale bone corsets for instance!
Each museum represents a different whale species but also the toothed and baleen whales are featured a different locations.
From each museum, you can also often watch minke and other whale species in the bays. We had to settle for icebergs again.
I did go on and on and I could go on and on some more. Triton is on our list for at least a two night trip the next time because there are so many communities we did not see (and I want to go to Julie’s Harbour).
And if you need someone to show you around, this guy is great!
Thanks Michael for stretching out day trip to an over night and we look forward to our next Boat Tour.