Cape Spear

(OK, so the picture showing up in the WordPress reader preview? Not Cape Spear. Not at all. Anyone know how whether we can change settings on that?)

Good Monday, my dear peoples! I hope you all had a great weekend, whatever that means for you.

Our weekend was quite fantastic. We headed to St. John’s as soon as school was done on Friday. There wasn’t time to get to all of my favourite spots. there never is; there are just too many of them. But the little guy and I got up to Signal Hill while AJ took Simon to see Man of Steel:

cabot tower

View from the lower parking lot. Yep, we climbed up there.

So that was fun. Then on Sunday, instead of leaving in the morning like we usually do, we decided to go up to Cape Spear. It’s probably my favourite place in the world. Why? Well, on a day like yesterday, you’ve got the fact that it’s the easternmost point in North America; not quite yelling distance to Europe, but as close as you’re going to get without a boat. The landscape is pure Newfoundland, rocky and rugged and covered with boulders left by glaciers, more kinds of beautiful little plants than you’d ever expect, and long grasses blowing in the constant breeze off of the ocean. Plenty of trails for walking, boardwalks over the mucky areas, and lots of room to spread out even on a ridiculously busy day like yesterday. Like, crazy busy: both parking lots full, cars parked on both sides of the winding road leading up to them.

Sheesh.

Sheesh.

IMG_2672

Dat landscape! (this is looking back toward the city; Signal hill is in the background there)

Also, stairs.

Also, stairs.

Then there are the lighthouses. We didn’t get all the way up to the old one on this trip, but they’ve got the inside set up as a museum showing what life was like for the lighthouse keepers way back when. At least, I think so… we haven’t paid the admission to go in yet. It’s beautiful, restored to the way it looked back in 1839. Great pictures here, and lots of information, too.

But there’s also the newer lighthouse up there, fully functional and doing its job.

...and apparently about to get smashed by my giant husband. O.o

…and apparently about to get smashed by my giant husband. O.o

You’ve also got military history up there: WWII cannons (sorry, 10-inch guns) and bunkers. Not the most cheerful place to have spent time back then, I imagine, and really creepy now, but interesting. Also, for the more mature among us, you can catch people standing near the guns and…

Heh.

Heh.

So yes, it was a lovely day, but why so busy? Well, we were there to see the whales, but it turned out there were other things going on that we didn’t now about. Oh, Cape Spear, you so crafty! Touch tables from the Ocean Sciences centre where the kids could interact with crabs, sea cucumbers, snails, and other local creatures, a colouring table, and a minke whale skeleton courtesy of a group that does whale/sea turtle/basking shark rescues, also available for touching and close examination. So interesting!

Smile!

Smile!

As for the whales? Well…

We saw them!

Humpbacks, and quite a few of them, some very close to the shore. It was AMAZING. I wish I could have got better pictures for you all, but I don’t have a camera that’s better than the one in my phone, and it’s a very, VERY bad idea to get too close to the water at Cape Spear. Even on calm days rogue waves can come up, and not a year goes by when at least one tourist doesn’t get swept away after he/she ignores the dozen “dangerous coastline, stay on designated trails” signs.

This doesn’t stop idiots people with no brains careless… um… well, people who think the signs aren’t for them from taking their little kids down to get closer to the whales… and the dangerous ocean. I love you guys, but not that much.

But I did get this for you.

See the light blue patch between the dorsal fin and the rocks? That’s one massive, white flipper right there. One was swimming away and we could see both stretched out to the sides… just amazing.

IMG_2682

When they exhale, they make a very loud “PFFFT” sound. AJ thinks they were just making fun of all of the crazy humans watching them from the shore.

One more thing before we leave the whales: When they go back under, the water pooling behind them leaves a flat space in the waves. This is called a whale footprint. Yes, I got pictures of the Prints of Whales.

You didn't think you were getting out of this without at least one stupid pun, did you?

You didn’t think you were getting out of this without at least one stupid pun, did you?

So that was our trip to Cape Spear. If you’re ever in St. John’s and have a way to get out there, I highly recommend visiting. Even if the weather’s not perfect and the whales aren’t around, it’s an amazing place. Have I ever showed you all my pictures from the foggy evening we spent up there last summer? It was creepy and surreal and quiet and kind of mind-blowing. We went past the old lighthouse:

Tell me this doesn't look haunted.

Tell me this doesn’t look haunted.

…and out onto the lands beyond. Very eerie in the fog! When I stepped close to the edge of the cliffs, it was like the end of the world opening up under my feet.

I got the most delightful shivers!

I got the most delightful shivers!

The ocean was down there somewhere. I know, because I could hear it whispering.

A few more pictures from last August:

foggy lighthouse

pitcher plant. Yep, our provincial flower is carnivorous.  How fun and creepy!

Pitcher plant. Yep, our provincial flower is carnivorous. How fun and creepy is that?

Remember when I said the glaciers dropped boulders all over the place? Sometimes they did stuff like this. I sat under there. It was cozy. :)

Remember when I said the glaciers dropped boulders all over the place? Sometimes they did stuff like this. I sat under there. It was cozy.

So there you go. That’s Cape Spear, and I love it. Highly recommended if you’re out that way, with or without the whales. 🙂

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

12 responses to “Cape Spear

  • Briana Vedsted

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  • L. Marie

    So glad you had a great trip! And saw whales! That’s the icing on the cake. Great photos!! Prints of Whales–ha ha ha!!!

    I also saw Man of Steel over the weekend. Henry Cavill is seriously hot. That’s all I can say.

  • Nagzilla

    That looks amazing! Now I have to add it to my “places to visit” list.
    And totally jealous of the whale watching. My daughter got to do it when she was visiting relatives in Boston a few years ago, but she was cold and the boat rocked a lot, so she didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have.

    • Kate Sparkes

      There are some great whale-watching tours in Newfoundland, some that leave right from St. John’s harbour. We went on one with my parents before Simon was born; we didn’t see whales that time, but the tour guide sang us some fantastic folk songs on the way out, and we saw all kinds of puffins and other birds. Then a few years later AJ and I took a couple of friends out on a smaller boat. No songs, but we got right up next to some whales! I’ll have to see if I can find pictures, it was mind-blowing.

      Definitely put St. John’s (and a WHOLE lot of the rest of Newfoundland, if you have time) on your to-visit list. It’s amazing, and it’s only getting better with all the oil money that’s coming in.

      Well… better for tourism. Definitely not better if you’re looking to buy a house. Ouch.

  • ioniamartin

    This is lovely! I want to go!

  • Jae

    Whoa! I swear I saw a dragoffin in that one pic! I swear! Also, WHOA! What the stuff happened to this site? It changed on me. Um, um, um! *runs out the door*

    • Jae

      *comes back in* Okay, I just needed a minute. It’s so much darker in here. But I found the stash of cookie dough in the fridge, so I think I’m okay. Just gonna chill over here.

      • Kate Sparkes

        Yeah, sorry, we redecorated while you were gone. Got bored with the old design, couldn’t afford to upgrade to custom fonts to make it more interesting. Feel free to grab something to drink…

  • kathils

    Yeah, nice . . . gun. 😉 The Prints of Whales. Okay, I should have groaned at that but it’s early and I didn’t get much sleep so I actually laughed out loud. Being that I’m also at work that got me some strange looks.

    Love this: The ocean was down there somewhere. I know, because I could hear it whispering.

  • Friday Fun: The Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium | disregard the prologue

    […] you go. If you’re ever in the St John’s area, head on down! It’s on the way to Cape Spear, too, which could make for a fine day of […]

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