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  • Writer's pictureSteve Adams

Colin meets Herbie and other Bonavista happenings!

We were sitting around one day wondering where to go for a nice weekend getaway. We talked about different places when Kelly and I both looked at each other and shouted BONAVISTA! That settled it. We started planning a 2 night, 3 day trip. We ended up booking an awesome cabin in Elliston through AirBNB and based our trip around that.

I started doing some research on the area and what was there to see and do. Turns out there is plenty to do even in the little town of Elliston itself. More on that later. We packed up the patriot, put on the coast 101.1 FM and we were off!

It's about a 3.5 hour drive from Grand Falls-Windsor to Elliston and another 10 minutes to the town of Bonavista. On the way, we stopped into Clarenville to grab a couple of things from the store, a bite to eat and we hit the road again. The Bonavista highway is a very nice drive. If you had the time, there are dozens of little towns to stop into along the way and embrace the local areas and sights. One town of interest is Port Rexton. We briefly pulled into this quaint little town to visit the Port Rexton Brewery.

Port Rexton Brewery was one of the first craft microbreweries to set up on the Island. After trying a couple of cans in the past year, I HAD to stop in and see what it was all about. Unfortunately, I did not take my camera with me into the brewery as I was just stopping in quickly to get a couple of growlers to sample for the weekend. But if you enjoy the odd beer every now and then, Port Rexton Brewery is on the MUST VISIT list (Yes the beer is that good!). The next time we visit the area we will be spending more than two nights. You need at least 4 or 5 nights to get to all the places that were on my list.

Continuing on about 30 minutes up the road was our landing point. Elliston! Elliston is well known for all sorts of things. It is the root cellar capital of the world, it's known to have one of the best viewing locations to photograph the comical puffin, and it's also well known in foodie circles for the Roots, Rants and Roars food festival. There are so many things in this little town that we had no idea about.

We arrived at our little cottage that was clean as a whistle, and very spacious. Once we unpacked and settled in, we decided to go have a look around. Everywhere you look driving around you see more and more root cellars. Most of them were covered with wild roses as well. I have to figure out that connection, but they sure smelled nice. The sheer amount of these root cellars is mind blowing for such a small town. Every time you drive through, you see new ones you missed the last time you passed by.

We first visited the statue and memorial for sealing disasters over the years. The statue depicts a father and son who froze to death in 1914 in the Great Newfoundland Sealing disaster. It was a moving statue to see a father holding his son, flags flying to try to bring rescue to them on the ice flows. He froze to death trying to keep his son warm. I cannot imagine what these people had to go through out there.

We then decided to go visit the puffin viewing area to see these beautiful little seabirds. On the way to the viewing area you pass through Elliston Beach Park. More on that in a minute. We arrive at the viewing site, and we have to take a little short hike over some rough terrain to get to the area where the puffins are. If you or someone you are with has mobility issues, do a walk through before they go as it is a little challenging to get to. Once at the viewing site, the sheer volume of black, white and orange you see is staggering. I was expecting to see three or four birds. There were at least 200 there some sitting on the rocks, some swimming in the ocean and others just flying around. Colin loved seeing the puffins and thought they were soooooo cute. He loves seeing all sorts of animals (from a distance of course).

After a little while of watching the birds, we head back to the jeep and back to the cottage. On the way back, we stop at the beach to see the ocean from close up. The sand on our feet was so nice to feel. Again, we needed more time to slow down and relax a little more and enjoy each place we were experiencing at the time.

Once we get back to the cottage and relax for awhile, I catch a glimpse of something driving down the road that I was not expecting to see in this small town. Not even in the slightest. Backstory. Colin found the old Herbie the Love Bug movies on youtube about 2 months previous to our leaving for this trip. He loves the fact that the car is "alive" and has a personality all it own. Well, Kelly and I were out sitting on the great patio that is on the cottage when Herbie went scooting down the road. That was it, I had to find this car! I waited for 20 mins on the side of the road to see if they would drive by. No luck. So, I hopped into the jeep and started driving around the last area where I saw it. About 2 minutes into my drive....Yatzee! I found it! I promptly went to the owner and asked if I could bring Colin down to see the car. The owner whose name was Alonzo (I forget his last name, but thank you so much Alonzo for giving Colin a very special ride) said he would do one better and take him for a ride around Elliston in Herbie. I was so stoked to tell Colin about this. I came back to the house, told Colin to come with me, I have to show him something. He was like "Daddy, I don't have a good feeling about this" as we were pulling into Alonzo's driveway. We got out of the jeep and he still didn't see the car. Then, he turned around and his eyes lit up and he started smiling ear to ear. He just screamed out HERBIE! OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD!

After introducing Colin to Alonzo, he was in the passenger seat. I was in the back seat (which was insanely comfortable for such a small car), and we were off! Colin was just talking off Alonzo's ear the entire time. That's how you can tell he is excited. He was just looking around talking. We went down through the puffin viewing parking area, and out to Maberley where Alonzo said the humpback whales like to play in the mornings out there. We also saw a red fox that he said is sort of part of the community now. She has pups in around one of the root cellars and people just leave her be. Heading back through town, Alonzo tells us how he rebuilt Herbie from the ground up. It is a labour of love for him. He loves seeing people react to the car and he dearly loves kids freaking out over it. Well, one kid freaked out this day. COLIN! We arrived back at Alonzo's house and thanked him multiple times for making Colin's day with a ride in Herbie.

We relaxed for the rest of the evening in the awesome little cottage we rented and went to bed.

(Day 1 photographs, use the arrows to change photos)

We woke up early to the sun rising over the ocean and giving us a grand view of everything. We went out on the patio of the the cottage sat down and drank a couple of cups of coffee to get the morning going. After getting ready and packing up the jeep we headed out for the day.

Our first stop was Maberley. We were told that the Humpback Whales like to frequent this area. We were not dissapointed. As soon as we got there, and before I could pull out my camera, there was a huge whale that jumped out of the water three times right in front of us in the early morning sunlight. I should have had my camera ready and capture this, (Next time I will be prepared). We stayed there watching whales for thirty minutes or so and then moved onto the main attraction for the day, Bonavista!

Bonavista is about a 15 minute drive from Elliston using the back country road instead of the main highway. We pulled into the town and headed right toward the cafe I frequented when I was working in the area. The food at this place is fantastic. After getting a well needed breakfast, we headed to the lighthouse to do some sight seeing. On the way there, we noticed a Whale Watching boat in the water that seemed to be stopped. So I pulled out my camera and sure enough, there was a humpback right beside the boat. I have lived in Newfoundland all my life but I have never seen an humpback whale until this day. We will be back to the area every year from now on just to see these awesome creatures. We arrived at the lighthouse and spent some time looking at it and noticed there is another puffin viewing area right near by. So we walked down and had a look. They were even closer to us than in Elliston.

Colin was scared that the puffins may poop on him and we laughed. Just after he said this, Colin stepped on Kelly's shoe and while they bent over to wipe it off, a puffin flew right over his head! He missed the entire thing, thank God. That would have been it for him and puffins I think. So after we enjoyed watching the wildlife, and looking at the amazing old lighthouse, we decide to move on.

We drive to the landing spot of Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot), the founder of Newfoundland. In 1497 he sailed with 18 men to find a new land. They landed in Bonavista and called this island, New-Found-Land. We explained to Colin about his voyage and how, later in the day, we will see a replica of the boat that John Cabot sailed on. I worked out in this area for a while after Hurricane Igor blew through, but I never had any time for tourist stuff. I am so happy we came here this weekend. I got to see so many things that I missed while working here. After a quick photograph we ventured on to the "dungeon".

The dungeon is a geographical landmark where the ocean waves have created a hole with two inlets from the ocean into a cave. It's a really cool landmark that is a must see. There is even a provincial park there. Moving on, we now make our way to the "Matthew". The replica of the ship John Cabot used to sail from Europe to Newfoundland.

The Matthew is housed inside a building that gives you the history of the first sailing in 1497, then also the sailing that took place 500 years later in 1997. The sailing in 1997 was a very big deal for Newfoundlanders because it was 500 years since Newfoundland was discovered. The Queen, Prince Edward, the Prime Minister as well as thousands of other people descended on Bonavista for the celebrations. Labatt Beer even brewed a special beer for the occasion. Once we went through the museum part of the tour, we got to step foot on the boat. Walking around I got alot of different feelings go through my head. From pride that this boat is part of my heritage, to WOW, they were insane to get on this little thing and tackle the Atlantic Ocean. These people were Explorers of the largest kind. Colin loved the boat, going around looking at the rooms that were set up and asking questions about the ship. I was most impressed by the entire display.

After leaving the exhibit and the building, we scooted to the Ryan Premises. This property also holds a special place in our family since we have a Chris Pete Painting of the Ryan Premises hanging right in our living room. To see it in real life and go inside was a thrill for all of us. A couple of the buildings were closed due to renovations but the buildings we entered were like walking back in time. All of the antiques and artifacts on display about the property and life in Newfoundland were extremely interesting to see and read about. This place is a required place to visit if you are in the area and learn about outport life in the early days.

After leaving the premises, we were beat from a full day of sightseeing and we made our way back to our cottage in Elliston for the evening of relaxation and some supper from the little cafe down the road (try the seafood lasagna). We traveled from Bonavista through to Newman's Cove. Kelly spent summers throughout her childhood in Newman's Cove and wanted to see it again. We drove into the town, and found the little camper that they used to camp in while staying there. The block of land is right on the water by the beach and these amazing rock formations that I completely forgot to take a photograph of since Colin wanted to get back to the Cottage. This little town is a place where we discussed would be an awesome place to build a small house to spend time in with the family.

(Day 2 photographs. Use the arrows to change photos)

The next morning we were up early again, and went to see if we could see some whales. None were out at the area we visited in Maberley so we headed back to Grand Falls-Windsor, a four hour drive.

Thanks for following along with us to Bonavista. Many more adventures are coming from the Autism family travels family.

See you soon!

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