20220819 – Return to Signal Hill NHS & Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland

FRIDAY 19 August

(NOTE:  This post covers three different things.  It has 14 photos.  All but one of them have to do with the middle thing, but they are spread throughout the post.  All of the photos have captions.)

It rained overnight, hard at times, but was finished by sunrise. Our normal morning routine was altered today as I had an early appointment to take the F-150 in for an oil change, tire rotation, and brake check.  I needed to have the truck at the dealership between 7:30 and 7:45 AM, so I was up at 6 AM, fed the cat, made a cup of coffee (half-caff), had a raspberry strudel stick (vegan) and got dressed; all as quietly as possible so as not to wake Linda.

Linda was still asleep when I left around 7:25 AM.  I was at Cabot Ford Lincoln by 7:40 AM but wasn’t completely clear on the process and had to ask someone where to park the truck.  When I went inside to the service desk, I was 6th in line, and it was obvious that a number of customers had already been processed.  So, I didn’t really have an appointment, as such, but I was part of the expected work load for the first half of the morning.  It was a scene from our long distant past, as this is how Tom Holzer Ford in Farmington Hills, Michigan handled their service department.  I asked the service writer, Mitchell, if they could do the SYNC 3 update and the navigation system map update and he said he would check on it.  I also indicated that I did not run the tires at the standard pressures, and asked that they set the front tires to 41 psi and the rear tires to 45 PSI.

This is the sign as you come up Signal Hill Road that welcomes you to the eponymously named National Historic Site.  I actually photographed it as we were walking up to the visitor center parking lot at the end of our hike.

Cabot Ford Lincoln is a large, and very nice dealership, with two customer lounge areas.  The main one, near the service desk, had a counter seating area with a microwave oven, coffee dispensers, a TV, and several waiting service customers.  At the other end of the building was a smaller area with a large window behind a 2-person sofa, two individual chairs, a corner table, and a desk with a computer.  No one was there, so I got a cup of coffee and sat there, by myself, in peace and quiet.

I brought my iPad Pro and used the guest Wi-Fi, which was very good.  In the time I was sitting there, I managed to clear out all of my pending Facebook notifications and most of the entries in my g-mail account.  Even then, g-mail says I’ve used 86% of my 15 GB storage allowance, so I will have to figure out why that percentage is so high and what to do about it.  They are willing to sell me more storage, of course, but that is not the solution I want.  A check of Google Photos indicated that I have only used 40 MB of my 15 GB photo storage allowance, and yet I have a LOT of photos there. ???  It appears that these are separate storage pools, but I don’t actually know if that is the case.

The car was ready at 10:15 AM with a fresh charge of full-synthetic oil, a new oil filter, and the tires rotated and set to the pressures I had requested.  Mitchell said they had to replace the oil drain plug as it was “going bad.”  That’s an unusual part to have fail, but inexpensive enough to replace, and not something I would want to have fail on the road.  He also pointed out that the rear brakes were at 6 mm; still OK, but will likely need to be serviced not long after we return home in October.  He was not able to find anyone who knew how to do the SYNC 3 and map updates, and the shop foreman was off today, so he couldn’t ask him.  Oh well, If I can’t figure it out once we are home, I will have Brighton Ford take care of it.  I can make actual service appointments there, with a specified drop-off time.

A composite image of St. John’s Harbor and City from Signal Hill National Historic Site, Newfoundland.  Six separate images were combined to get this photo.  This photo is 1550×374 pixels.  Click to see it enlarged.

When I got back to the trailer around 10:30 AM, Linda had been up for a while, had coffee and breakfast, and cleaned the trailer, including mopping the floor.  It’s a small space, and we try to keep it neat and tidy, but it is also a “camper” and needs to be cleaned regularly.  The cat is part of that as she plays in her water bowl and tracks water and litter on the floor.  Still, it’s a small space and does not take a lot of time to clean.  Linda was also ready to go do something and been looking at possible options.  We considered several National Historic Sites in the Avalon Peninsula, but they were either long drives, minor sites, or close to someplace we already planned to be on Sunday.

A view of Cabot Tower towards the beginning of our loop hike to Quidi Vidi Village (Kiddy Viddy) from the National Historic Site visitor center.

The weather was nice, with partly cloudy skies and forecasted high temperatures in the 70’s, and we really wanted to do some easy hiking.  We decided to return to the Signal Hill NHS visitor center and hike down to the village of Quidi Vidi (Kiddy Vidi), along Quidi Vidi lake, and back to the NHS visitor center, which involved several different named trails and some roads.  Our research suggested this would be an easy loop hike of about 6.5 km (~ 4 mi).  We would likely not be back in time for Juniper-the-cat’s afternoon meal, so we left it for her before we took off, and checked that she had ample water.

A view of Cape Spear from the trail up to Cabot Tower.  The Cape is the faint sliver of land at center frame, left.

The drive over to the NHS meanders through St. John’s, which we enjoy.  From the end of the NHS visitor center we took the “green” trail, which took us back up past the Queen’s Batter to Cabot Tower.  From there, we took the trail from the end of the parking lot up to “Ladies Lookout,” which is actually the highest point on Signal Hill, and was the site of a decisive victory by the British over the French that finally secured St. John’s for the British.  The story of Ladies Lookout is that women from St. John’s climbed up here to look for the returning ships of “husbands, sons, and lovers.”  They must have been very fit, because it was quite a climb getting up there.  This was clearly not going to be the “easy” hike we had anticipated.  From Ladies Lookout, the trail was downhill all the way to Quidi Vidi Village, but it was a long and beautiful hike along the rugged coastline of the NHS.

The previous four photos were of views we had seen on our first visit to NHS, but under very different weather conditions.  Starting with this photo, the views were new to us.  The “Ladies Lookout to Quidi Vidi Trail” went over the highest point in the Signal Hill NHS and then dropped all the way to the village of Quidi Vidi, at sea level.  The coastline was beautiful and dramatic and I was glad to have good light and sky.

Once we got to the Village, the food court area we had seen the other day was open.  There were several food trucks and a brewery tent, and there were lots of people about, but it was not crowded.  It was 1:30 PM and we were both a bit hungry.  We split a falafel sandwich from the Global Eats food truck and it was good.  Linda had hibiscus tea and I had ginger lemonade.

The trail was steep, but Parks Canada had provided very good wooden staircases where needed, and observation platforms at key viewpoints.

Quidi Vidi Village is sort of wrapped around Quidi Vidi Harbor, a small fishing harbor with a narrow passage to the ocean.  After lunch, we walked up to Quidi Vidi Lake, which sits about 15 m (~49 ft) above sea level.  A massive amount of water was cascading out of the lake into the harbor below, so we presume the lake was actually part of a river or has some other sources of significant inflow.  A trail goes all the way around the Lake, but the trail back to the NHS visitor center came off the far-left end, so we went that way.  Many portions of the trail along the Lake had very nice boardwalks and everywhere else it was gravel, so easy walking.

From the Boathouse, we headed away from the Lake, straight up.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but we immediately started gaining back a lot the altitude we had given up coming down to Quidi Vidi from Ladies Lookout.  The NHS visitor center is well above sea level, so we new we would have an uphill hike to get back to it.

 

In spite of having gotten a trail map at the NHS visitor center, taken pictures of map signs, and having Linda track our progress on her smartphone, we had confusion at several trail intersections about which way to go.  In the end we got back to the Johnson Eco-Center, although we had planned to take a trail directly back to the visitor center.  No matter; either way we had to gain elevation.  From there, we had a short, but steep, hike along the road back to the NHS visitor center.

This flight of stairs dropped straight down for a long way before reaching a landing and changing direction to the left.  The water in the upper left corner of the photo is a small portion of Quidi Vidi Lake.

 

 

 

For the hike, Linda recorded ~10,500 steps (~ 5 miles) on her Fitbit, which indicated that we had done 66 flights of stairs, or about 660 feet.  (The Fitbit uses air pressure to determine changes in altitude, and considers a “flight of stairs” to be a pressure change equivalent to 10 feet of elevation change.)  While neither of us considered this to be an easy hike, we were pleased with how we did.

 

 

 

 

This headland jutted out into the ocean just before our final descent into Quidi Vidi Village.  I think the other side of it (to the left) forms the southern edge of the narrow entrance to Quidi Vidi Harbor.

We were back in camp by 3:30 PM and I was eager to upload my posts for yesterday and then get to work processing the photos from today and writing the blog post, but my Windows 10 laptop could not connect to the Pippy Park Wi-Fi.  What?  It’s been solid and fast the whole time we’ve been here and was working great late last night before I turned off my machine.  Both of our phones and both of our iPads were able to connect.

I ran the Windows network “troubleshooter” and got the message “ ‘Wi-Fi’ has an invalid IP configuration. ”  What?  That was the first time I had ever seen this status message.  Normally, the troubleshooter has been able to fix network problems by resetting the wireless adapter card, but not this time.

 

 

This is a composite image of three photos that starts on the left with the tip of the headland in the previous photo, and then pans to the right.

To check if I had a Wi-Fi adapter problem, I turned on my phone’s hotspot.  My laptop found it right away and had no problem connecting to it.  As a final check, Linda turned on her laptop computer, which is quite a bit newer than mine, and hasn’t been hooked to the park Wi-Fi since we got here.  She got the same result I did.  Ugh.  I was at loss to understand why iPadOS and Android devices could connect to the system (and get Internet service) but two different Windows 10 laptops, from two different manufacturers, made at two very different times, could not.

Our view of Quidi Vidi on our final descent into the Village.  This has been a small, but active fishing harbor and town for a long time and has the quaint architectural charm to you expect, or at least hope to find in such a place.

Linda needed to update our financial information, and always connects to the hotspot on her phone for this, so she took care of that while her machine was on.  I had writing and photo editing to do, neither of which required an Internet connection, so I carried on with my work.

Someone was in the park working on the Wi-Fi system the other day, but everything was still working fine after they left.  Around 5:30 PM we decided to walk down to the registration area to report our problem and see if they had any information.  We talked to a nice young man who took our info and site number and texted everything to his supervisor.  He indicated that Bell Aliant provides the fiber-optic Internet feed to the park (I knew it had to be fiber-optic!) and that they were in here again today and probably messed something up.  We chatted with him for quite a while about our time in Newfoundland and how much we liked it.

A view of part of Quidi Vidi Harbor.  A mix of working and pleasure boats tied up by simple, but nice, dockside buildings.  The exit from the harbor to the ocean is at the right edge of the photo.

We had just gotten back to our trailer when a staff member came by in a golf cart.  I flagged her down to let her know that we did not have a black plastic liner bag for trash can (every site here has its own trash can).  She had some in the cart and put one in, but she was actually on her way to reset the Wi-Fi, which originates in a small building in our section of the campground (again, as I suspected).  She did that and then came back to our trailer to see if we were now able to connect.  We were not.  She was checking the signal on her phone, and said it appeared to be very slow.  We hope they are able to get this resolved tomorrow but, if not, it was good while it lasted.  I will try to upload blog posts by connecting to the hotspot on my phone, but my daily data allowance is a meager 500 MB.

Quidi Vidi Harbor is at sea level (of course) but Quidi Vidi Lake is at 15m (~49 ft) above sea level.  A lot of water was pouring out of the lake and down this cascade into the harbor below.  This led me to presume that the lake was probably a river with a dam, and there were two weirs just ahead of the cascade.  A Google search after we got back to camp filled in the missing details.  The Maritime Barrens Ecoregion is a 49.1 square kilometer watershed that drains into the lake.  The heavy rains of the last couple of days probably contributed to the significant outflow from the lake while we were there.

I continued to work and Linda continued to read into the evening.  We had some color in the clouds for sunset, which was nice, but nothing photo worthy.  The rain was out of the forecast for the time being, but the winds were strong and grew in strength.  Some of the gusts rocked the trailer, a little bit.

Before giving up and going to bed I decided to hotspot my phone.  Before turning on the feature I noticed that the description said I could use the hotspot feature to share a “Wi-Fi or mobile connection.”  Interesting; I had always presumed that the phone could EITHER connect to an external Wi-Fi source OR be a Wi-Fi source.  It never occurred to me that it could do both.  My phone was already connected to the Pippy Park Wi-Fi and I figured I had nothing to lose, so I turned on the hotspot feature.  A short time later my hotspot appeared on my computer in the list of available Wi-Fi networks.  I selected it and the connection was quickly established.  Wow.

I saw this scene on our final hike up Signal Hill Road from the Johnson Geo-Center to the Signal Hill NHS Visitor Center. The pink flowers are fireweed.  It’s found all over Newfoundland, but we never tire of seeing it.

With this new found connectivity, I was able to upload all three blog posts for Thursday, August 18, 2022 and delete the 60+ spam comments that had accumulated since the last time I did this a day or so ago, AND check my e-mail, AND log in to our web-hosting service to release or delete all of the e-mails that were trapped in the SPAM filter (I’ve been trying to do this more frequently so list isn’t so long).  And, just in case I was inadvertently using my cellular data, I got all of that done before midnight, which is when my 400 MB cellular data allowance gets reset.  I would still prefer to connect my computer directly to the park Wi-Fi, but knowing that I have a viable work-around removed a lot of stress just before I went to bed.  I like it when that happens as I sleep better.

Our Airstream Flying Cloud travel trailer at Pippy Park CG, St. John’s, Newfoundland.  The first day we’ve had here with lots of blue sky.

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