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Do you know what’s in your own backyard?

Well folks, its Tourism week in Newfoundland and Labrador. All across this great province, there will be activities and events that showcase our gorgeous island to the outside world and help to explain to us and the media the benefits of our tourism sector. Tourism revenue reached $491 million in 2014 alone, but what does that mean to us here at home? Where will we spend our tourism dollars this year?

Growing up around the bay, I had often heard that most townies had never been outside the overpass (it marks the edge of the city of St. Johns). While that may not be the case,  in reality how many of us whether we be bay person or townie, have traveled this island and seen what it has to offer. How many of us can say they really know our  province like the back of their hand?

Townies on one side, baymen on the other

Cool Scent of Summer by Bobbi Pike

Newfoundland has much to offer, for those from away and also for us here at home. We have icebergs, moose, fjords, lighthouses, puffins, and whales. Dramatic coastlines, sweeping barrens, ancient rock formations, teeming seabird colonies and rich marine life are all part of our landscape. There are activities like camping, diving , hiking, golfing, kayaking and many more things to do.

Shaun Majumder serving up food

The cuisine alone is enough to make you want to travel to (or stay in) Newfoundland. Years ago, NL cooking was mostly the stuff Nan used to make; Jiggs dinner with figgy duff, pea soup, seal flipper pie and lots and lots of fish. As of late, with the talented hands of local chefs, NL is now on the culinary cutting edge and is THE place to be. Restaurants like Raymonds (voted one of top ten in Canada by Macleans), Aqua, Chinched, Bacalao and Mallard Cottage have raised the bar so high, that restaurants outside our province are having to stand on their tip toes, just to see what’s being served.

Music. End of sentence. Where to start. This one is an unending paragraph…the Newfie tunes of long ago are still a part of our past, but look at how far we’ve come.  The Masterless Men, The Dardenalles,  Sherman Downey, Hey Rosetta, Shanneygannnock, Vicky Hynes, Kelly Ann Evans, Craig Young and Duane Andrews… There is SO much quality music here in NL that it is absolutely mind boggling. The List could go on and on. If you’re a music lover, byes….don’t look any further. There is enough here to entertain you for a lifetime.

The Dardenelles and I. Polly Moore is one of my favourite songs..EVER!

Tablelands. Walking on the moon in NL

Have you travelled up to the Northern Peninsula and seen the Tablelands that are a part of Gros Morne National Park? The landscape there is like seeing the earth naked. Almost like seeing the Earth’s inner soul: the mantle – exposed to you the way few have seen. There is very little vegetation and in my opinion, it’s like the surface of the moon and its absolutely incredible.

'Big Noise' by Bobbi Pike. Based on the resettled community of Grand Bruit.

Have you visited the tiny outport communities that are scattered on the remote shores of our island? The ones that are only accessible by coastal boat? Here you will see a more simple way of life — One room school houses, doctors that come once a month to visit the community and roads that are more like quad paths (Why not, there are no cars in these outports) Its like going back in time and seeing our own towns 50 years ago. These communities are closing down and its happening fast. In 2010 the tiny community of Grand Bruit was relocated; its small population of close knit inhabitants scattered to the wind. Just this week the people of McCallum voted in favour of accepting the Governments offer to resettle. Another lovely spot will soon be gone, forever.

Roary MacPherson and Jeremy Charles servin' up a scoff out on the road

There are Festivals galore, Blueberry Festivals (Brigus) Strawberry Festival (Deer Lake), theatre festivals , folk festivals and in Grand Falls they ever celebrate the salmon. Some of the bigger events are- Songs Stage and Seafood ( Bay Roberts, June 11-14 a four day journey of discovery, designed to appeal to your senses of sight, smell, ,sound, touch and of taste). The Gathering in Burlington (August 27-30th  Shaun Majumder and friends welcome you ”Ome to celebrate Fire, Food and Music.) In September there’s Roots Rants and Roars in Elliston (Sept. 18-20 they hold a regional celebration of natural gifts of NL .)Any of these events would be the potential highlight of your summer spent here at home.

Rex Goudie entertaining the crowd at the Gathering

My two bestest bikes and I, back in the day

In a past life, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling over 90% of this island on motorbike. Many of my biker friends would ask me: “When are you going to go to Nova Scotia or Ontario on the bike of yours?” My answer was always the same. “When I go down into that gorgeous little cove or community and I don’t think to myself, this is Heaven on Earth; Then and only then, will I take my bike elsewhere.”

I don’t bike anymore. Too many old war injuries have forced me to park my bike and watch from the sidelines but I still love to travel and explore NL. This summer, I’m going to revisit some old favourites: Bonavista, Ramea, Rose Blanche, Trout River and Fogo, are some of the places I’m hoping to fall in love with again this year … and maybe I’ll discover some new favourites along the way.

Grey River by Bobbi Pike

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit all of the places mentioned here with the exception of one. I haven’t yet been to McCallum and you can bet your bottom dollar that I will try my best to make it to there, before they board up their homes and strike out  to new frontiers. Either way this summer, you’ll find me right here, livin’ large,  in our own backyard.

That’s it for this time, if you have any questions, or comments, I’d love to hear them. If you’re really enjoying the BPA blogging adventures and don’t want to miss out, click follow me and add your name/email to our growing list of blog subscribers. We’ll email you when a new blog post happens, then you can read them all at your own leisure…..and remember, I’m no expert, I’m just a painter gal with some thoughts to share.

What are your favourite things to do in Newfoundland?

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