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Salt & Fresh
COVID sent some of us to the isolation of our homes and apartments while others sought out nature for solitude and solace. With the first pandemic lockdowns of 2020, I began searching out places to swim. That year I swam in 50 different spots in Newfoundland. On a sunny, windless day in late January 2021, I jumped into the Atlantic Ocean at Sandbanks Provincial Park in Burgeo, NL. From there it became a goal of swimming 100 different swim spots within that year. Mid way through my 100 swims, I came up with the idea of capturing all these adventures for this solo exhibition. For this challenge I relied on previous connections and forged new ones. Finding places to swim meant asking local people for their knowledge of secret or favourite swimming holes and beaches. Friends and family joined me on the swims or just came along for the hike and lifeguarded. I created the Coldwater Cowgirl Swim Club and took them along on many of my adventures. Some swims were perfect and refreshing dips, while others were less than ideal, but that was part of the adventure. I swam in both salt and fresh waters, but the terms salt and fresh have an another meaning here in Newfoundland. When I first moved to the island over twenty years ago, I would often bake bread for my family. A friend was visiting, and I offered her a fresh slice, hot out of the oven. She remarked that the bread tasted fresh. I said, "Of course its fresh, I just made it!" to which she replied, "No I mean it needs more salt." Salty can also mean tough and some of the colder swims were a salty challenge. Fresh can be used to mean new and different or refreshing this applies to all my swims. The process of creating 100 paintings was a big task but one that I dove into with the same excitement I had for seeking out the swim spots. Each painting began with a search for the right photo from that day. I did a quick pencil drawing, followed by ink line work, and then added the watercolour paint. I tried to capture the feeling of each place without overworking the painting. With each of the 100 paintings, my style became less restricted and lighter. The process of painting (in chronological order), labelling, preparing, and packing the 100 swim spot paintings allowed me to fondly revisit each adventure with its scenery, history, people, and weather. This Tina Dolter Gallery exhibition on until May 26th to follow the timeline of paintings and join in my year of 100 swim adventures.
Leif Eirikson and L'anse aux Meadows
A co-worker lent our daughter, Christine, a copy of your magazine, and she in turn lent it to me. I found it interesting to read about people and places so far away from us in Prince George, British Columbia. As you were asking for people to send in articles, I decided to tell about the trip my husband, our 2 poodles and I had to the east coast of Canada in 2013. We travelled by truck and 28 ft. trailer, so we could stop anywhere we wanted to. We are both born and raised in Norway, but came to Canada on Feb 1, just after we had turned 20. I was travelling with a girlfriend, and another girlfriend had gone here the year before. The mode of travel most reasonable and popular then was by ship from Norway to New York. I met my future husband, Mons Aase, who was travelling alone, on the ship. But that is another story. We just celebrated our 65 th Anniversary! Our main reason for this trip was to see a Leif Eirikson statue that was to be erected at the northern point of Newfoundland, at L'anse aux Meadows, which is declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Sons of Norway association had lobbied the US Government to change the history books, in stating Leif Eirikson as the first to discover America, not Columbus. So. in 1964, US Congress authorized the President to proclaim October 9 annually to be Leif Eirikson Day! Sons of Norway Lodges all over the world mark that day, too. The Leif Eirikson International Foundation of Seattle was erecting the statue there, in a ceremony on July 28, 2013. That statue is a replica of the one in Seattle, which we saw and photographed in 1962. Being born and raised in Norway, we are interested in anything Viking, and in this case my husband, Mons, is actually a 3rd cousin of Leif Eirikson, about 35 times removed! That is written in a big, thick book of the family tree on his mother's side. We are both from the area of Norway where the father of Leif Eirikson, Eirik the Red, came from. Many years ago we had also seen on statue of Leif Eirikson in Gimli, Manitoba, and a few years ago, one in Reykjavik, Iceland. There is also one in Brattalid, Greenland, but with the Covid restrictions in travel, and our advanced age, we will probably never see that one. The foundation was still asking for donations to pay for the statue and the freight, which must have been very expensive. Anyone who donated $100 would get their name chiseled on to some tall stones brought over from Iceland, and placed near the statue. We both did, as well as a bunch of people from our local Sons of Norway club. I'm sure lots of people from all over Canada and US had already donated. We had roughly calculated how much time we would need to get there in time for the unveiling, but for some unknown reason, my husband's blood pressure dipped so low, that our doctor advised us not to leave. However, 3 days later it was back to normal, so we left. But we missed the ceremony, which was too bad. I don't remember the date we left Prince George, but the trip across Canada, plus the ferry ride from Sydney to Port au Basques, and on to L'Anse Aux Meadows, took about 2 weeks. The ferry was lovely, almost like a cruise ship. They even had a movie theater on board. The ride was pleasant, with a totally calm ocean. But a drawback for us, was that the dogs had to stay locked up for the 6 hours it took to cross. The door to the car deck was locked, so we could not go down and check on them. (No pet room was available, like we have on BC ferries}. If we had taken the ferry to St. Johns, that ride would have been more than twice as long, I seem to remember. By looking at the map, we had not realized how big the island of Newfoundland actually was. It took us a couple of days, with a side trip to Stephenville, to get to the north end. We could not go wrong, as the signs along the highway said: "Viking Trail" - Route 430, and with a Viking ship picture on top. The road went through fields and forests, then along the ocean, past small, tidy fishing villages, one after the other. To the right side of the road, in the distance, were rows of high mountains. In several places, along the highway, with no house in sight, we saw stacks of firewood for sale. Prices were listed on a board, and hanging on the side, was a can for the money to be deposited in. So I guess they can count on the honour system there, which is so unusual in these times. Nice to see! The second evening when reaching our destination, we found a nice trailer court called Viking R.V. Early next morning we drove direct to the viking village, called Norstead. There were many replica Viking buildings. We were warmly welcomed and shown around by people dressed in Viking costumes. A Knarr Viking ship was in one building, and in the others, people were demonstrating knitting, weaving and tool making. The shallow bay was littered with rocks, so we wondered how Leif Eirikson in the year 1,000 could have gotten his ships safely in to shore. The statue we found in a little village nearby. It was placed there in honour of the village people, as they had been of great help to the Norwegian Archeologists, Helge Ingstad and his wife Anne Stine, who, along with their daughter, had spent 5 years with the diggings, and finally proving beyond doubt that this was the place where Leif Eirikson first discovered the American continent in the year 1,000, way before Columbus. The place was perfect for the statue, as he seems to be looking at the ocean to the east. When we went down for a closer look and take pictures, we could see where it had been dragged into place 3 days earlier. Too bad we missed that ceremony! The beautiful Visitor Centre was about a mile away. Between there and the village with the statue was a trail across a big area of land, seemingly unused. But we were told that area is the actual place where the Viking village was originally. Since there is still a lot of digging going on from the Viking era, the replica village for the tourists to visit, was placed a safe distance away. On both sides of the trail, the ground was bog-like. I took pictures of cloudberries growing there. They look exactly like the ones growing in the mountains of Norway, there called "multer." A Park Warden told us the ground is usually yellow with them, but this was a poor year. We saw 2 large moose running across the land not far from us. The warden said one of them come back every year to have her calf there behind the Visitor Centre, was a metal statue (I don't know what else to call it) showing 6 Vikings, including a woman, carrying swords and spears, scouting something ahead. When my picture was developed, I got a kick out of noticing that the last man was looking back at my husband, Mons, who was just standing there! The next day we drove to the nearest town called St. Anthony. It was nice to be in a modern town again for some shopping and fuel. They even had a Tim Hortons there! After 2 days and nights we left the Viking RV site, and headed south again. At Deer Lake the road splits, with one going back to Port Aux Basques, and the other going to the capital St. John's. We contemplated going there, as we really would have like to see that side of the island, too. But it was 900kms. away and as we had to come back the same way or face the extra long ferry ride, we decided to go back on the ferry we came on, as we knew the way home to Prince George was still a long one. On the ferry we met a couple of people who had been to the Viking tourist centre, and they had not realized the replica village was a few miles away, so they had missed all that! We felt sorry for them, as it was too far to go back. We did take a few days to visit Peggy's Cove, Lunenburg and Halifax before turning west. We found the landscape very beautiful. Hilsen, Elsa Aase, Prince George, B.C. PS! I realize the people living in these places I wrote about, know these sceneries, etc. But my story at that time was for us to remember the trip, and to tell people at home, like family and friends, who have never been to Newfoundland. I know of a few people from here that travelled there after they heard me telling about it.
Wedding Trip to Turkey 2019
In September of 2019, a group of Newfoundlanders and 'Canadians' travelled to Turkey for the wedding of Robyn (from Grand Falls-Windsor) and Baris (from Turkey). The wedding was held in Cunda, a seaport village, but we visited Istanbul, Gallipoli and many other places during the two weeks we were there. We did the touristy thing and had a picture taken outside the Blue Mosque with the Downhome magazine and also in the ancient city of Ephesus. At the wedding one of our Newfoundlanders screeched in many of new found Turkish friends! This was certainly a trip of a lifetime!
Memorable Day Trip
"Great day to head up the bay!" My brother, Randy, was always excited to get away to the cabin in Ireland's Eye. I was lucky enough to tag along many times over the years. With our things together for a night or two we were off to Old Bonaventure where Randy would meet up with us. From Old Bonaventure the boat trip to Ireland's Eye would take about an hour. With a good forecast and a calm, sunny day we're were on our way. In our glee we headed to the home of our ancestors, Toopes, Hodders, Coopers and Kelleys. Once outside the harbour we could easily view the islands, Ragged Island, Green Island, Anthony's Island and Ireland's Eye. Suddenly it seemed out of nowhere we had no visibility. Thick fog descended upon us. Not to worry! We figured it would leave as quickly as it came. Not so! Just inside Ragged Island Randy slowed the boat's engine. Moving at a snail's pace, it was soon decided to idle the boat's engine. We would do the best we could and wait and watch. After another half hour or so, it seemed the fog was lifting so Randy slowly started the engine steering towards Ireland's Eye. In the blink of an eye, the fog rested "on the water" again and unfortunately for us, it stayed. On this late August afternoon, after another hour and the fog again lifting, we spied on our left a stretch of land we believed to be Ireland's Eye. Happily we steered close to the land and then looming to our right was another stretch of land unrecognizable to us. Realizing that in idling the boat we had inadvertently drifted into Smith Sound. We were on the opposite side of Ireland's Eye Island and the entrance to the harbour. This meant we would have to continue towards Thoroughfare and navigate through the "tickle." We knew darkness would soon settle in and unsure of the fog we continued on with much care. My brother had not navigated these waters previously so this would be a new and uncertain adventure for us all. With their daughter and myself on "Rockwatch" at the head of the 22ft open boat, we guided Randy and the boat through the narrow tickle. One of the biggest challenges facing us that day was looming before us. We both remembered our father and grandfather telling us of a treacherous shoal rock in the middle of Thoroughfare tickle and we needed to safely get past that. Somehow we did! Then we were faced with the longer navigation past Ivanhoe and the upper end of Ireland's Eye Island. By this time the evening sky was closing in. Slowly we made our way past Traytown and finally entered Ireland's Eye harbour under a shroud of fog. This was to be our home for the next four days. The fog settled in and so did we. Our two night stay resulted in almost four. Relieved and thankful we retired to the coziness of the tiny cabin and the eery stillness in the harbour. My brother, Randy, joked about Gilligan and his three hour tour. He the wrote in his logbook and said "Stories will be told by Berdina." This is one of them!