Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The island floating ahead of me like a moon, tugging me forward. Whatever it has in store.

Leonard Quniton saying, 'the voices in those old homes.' And there it was, pulling and me already going its way. An island of voices and ghosts. But ghosts and voices are everywhere. Even along the road. Flashing by. Stop and let them speak.

A way to corner myself is what I want. Some blunt place I can't go beyond. Where excuses stop.

John Steffler - The Grey Islands

Sunday, June 28, 2009


If they have ice washing up on the beaches like this on the Grey Islands I'll have to bring along a bottle of scotch.

Some images from Conche


Sea arch:


Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera out when I almost stepped on the giant owl.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Waiting for bricks

After a 14 hour drive (saw nine moose) I have arrived in Conche. I have to thank Dave and Tracy for getting me here in one piece. The last twenty kilometres over foggy, moose infested dirt road were particularly stressful. But here I am and everything is OK.

Well, almost everything. You see, my bricks still have not arrived here. This is the beginning of a long story, but I might as well get into it since I really don't have a lot else to do. I bought these bricks (500 low grade fire brick) from Ornamental Concrete on Kenmount Road. The price was good and they were exactly what I was looking for - in fact I was amazed that the purchasing process went so smoothly. For the record, I was concerned about the shipping right from the beginning, but Bill at Ornamental Concrete called Day and Ross himself where they quoted the price of $440 for shipping them right to Paul Bromley's door.

So when the bricks arrived in St. John's from Halifax (the fact they'd have to go back 600km in the same direction to get as far as Deer Lake before heading up the Northern Peninsula was an irony not lost on me) I asked Bill to hold onto them for a couple weeks so they wouldn't be taking up space at Paul's house until I got there. They agreed to ship them around the 15th so they'd be here waiting for me when I arrived on the 26th.

Flash forward a few weeks and I, having moved on to more pressing matters, assumed everything had went as smoothly as promised. I called Paul to tell him to expect the bricks two Fridays ago, but as he was out fishing I had trouble getting through to him. Eventually I talked to his sister-in-law who told me the bricks never arrived. Apparently Day and Ross decided they didn't want to ship to Conche. This was after they decided to take my money and tell me they would ship them, and before they decided they would not contact me about changing their shipping plans. Now that is some poor business practice.

So the bricks went back to Kenmount Road where they waited for me to call and make a big stink. I think Bill went to bat for me on this one - he called Day and Ross and got back to me saying they would be shipped on Wednesday past. It's now Saturday, and I expected them to arrive yesterday, but they are not here. So I'm sitting here in Conche, practicing my existentialism and waiting for bricks.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


It is pouring right now in St. John's - one of those days where you can be thankful you are not in a tent. When it started this morning I was out in Logy Bay on my bike. I got absolutely drenched on the way back in. I've been out in some bad rainstorms and this ranked right up there with them.

I just realized that Environment Canada's radar network extends as far north as the Grey Islands. While this will be totally useless to me, since I won't have the internet, you will be able to check on the weather I'm getting by visting this link:



Just wanted to remind you that you can view my Spot page by going to this link.
Each time I send a message via Spot it plots a point on this page and attaches it to a Google map. I'll hopefully be checking every day or two, so you should be able to see my wandering throughout the island.

Friday, June 19, 2009


If you leave me your physical address (either in an email or via a comment) I will do my best to send you a letter/postcard from the Grey Islands.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

10 days left...

...let's hope this weather holds out:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Still Life With Thanatotic Animals

Opening this week at A1C Gallery is Still Life With Thanatotic Animals by Lee Henderson. Lee's exhibition is an installation of photographs taken of stuffed animal heads. The heads have been photographed through the viewfinder of a second camera, so that visible in the prints are the details of exposure, aperture, focus and other camera settings.

The opening reception for this show is Wednesday at 8pm. The artist will be in attendance and there will be an artist talk at 8:30.

Ice update

Ice conditions continue to improve off the east coast of Newfoundland. The latest satellite data shows the furthest south extent of pack ice to be near the southern Labrador coast:

This is good for multiple reasons: it signals that summer is indeed on its way, and as the pack ice heads north, hopefully warmer water from the south will move in to replace it. (This in no way means there won't be icebergs in the area. In fact right now the Northern Peninsula is celebrating the Iceberg Festival)

Second, I believe there will be minimal likelihood of polar bear encounter. I was talking with a conservation officer in Roddickton last week, who assured me it's been a month since anyone's seen a polar bear anywhere near the area. The last one near there was relocated to Belle Isle, not to be confused with Bell Island where I was camping last week, or with Bell Island on which I'm going to be living this summer. The original French inhabitants of Newfoundland should've really tried to be a little more creative with their place names.


I've got my ride. Dave Gooseney, who I play ultimate with, is driving me all the way to Conche. He and his girlfriend seem happy to just take the weekend and go for a ride. Dave, like me, has never been up that far before. It should be a fun road trip.

I'm almost packed as well. There are a few final things I need to pick up, mostly some pots, pans and kitchen stuff, but also some tarps and art supplies. Now that I've started to put things into boxes it seems I will have less gear than I thought. That's a relief - minimalist that I am the less stuff the better. And the more stuff I have the more likely something is to go wrong anyways.

And food - well, I'm still working on that. I have a lot of grocery shopping left to do. And dehydrating. And calorie counting. But these are all things I feel are best accomplished during the week before I leave.

Two weeks from today will be my third on the island.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Still looking for a ride

I'm still looking for a ride to Conche at the end of the month. I really, really don't want to have to coordinate a bus/shuttle/whatever trip with all my gear. I'd much rather just hire someone from St. John's to drive me up there.

So I am making you (yes, you!) an offer. In exchange for driving me to Conche I will pay for your gas there and back, and for a night of accommodations in Conche. You can also come with me for a day trip (or longer) to the Grey Islands. This would be a great way to start your summer vacation, and a great way to explore the Northern Peninsula and Gros Morne, not to mention a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the Grey Islands.

I am planning on leaving around the end of June. The drive to Conche is a full day trip each way. I will have a fair amount of gear with me, but I think it could all fit into a small car, especially if there are only two or three of us.

If you're interested please let me know quickly as I need to get this sorted out asap. And if you can think of someone who might be able to take a few days off and would enjoy the adventure please send along this message to them.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I went camping last night on Bell Island, partly as a test for some of the new gear I've gotten in the past few weeks, and partly as a follow-up to a bicycle touring workshop I conducted last Saturday. I brought along my Spot satellite tracker to see how effectively it could trace my path. You can look at this page to see where we went on Google Maps.

I am so impressed with this "Spotcasting" feature. All you have to do is press the button and make sure Spot has a clear view of the sky. I had it strapped to the top of the stack on the back of my bike while I was riding.

I think I will try to make extensive use of this feature while I am on the Grey Islands. That way I can create a record of everywhere I go, and also ensure that people at home know where I am and that I'm doing well.

And now a few pictures from Bell Island:

A sea stack at sunset:

The new tent:

Wild strawberries:

Bird colony on a sea stack:


I was on WAM (Weekend Arts Magazine) this morning. If you would like to hear the interview you can download a podcast from the CBC website here. I was lucky to hear the interview myself - I was camping last night on Bell Island (not the Bell Island of the Grey Islands where I will be living later this summer, but the Bell Island in Conception Bay) and woke up just in time to turn on my wind-up radio and listen to myself.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Images from the islands

These are a few images I took from a Land and Sea episode about an eider duck project out on the islands. The location in these photographs is very near where I will be dropped off.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Farmer Mike?

Figuring as how I'm going to be on the islands for 60-90 days I've picked up some seeds on the miniscule chance the Grey Islands have anywhere near the appropriate combination of sunlight, water and soil to permit agriculture. This is what I've got and how many days it will supposedly take to mature:

Cress: 35
Cabbage: 55
Arugula: 35
Mesclun: 40
Spinach: 50
Mustard: 40

As I know next to nothing (perhaps less than nothing) about gardening this is all a ridiculous experiment. Anyone have any thoughts?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Anyone wanna give me a ride to Conche? I still haven't decided how I'm getting there, but I'd be really happy to pay someone with a car to bring me there. All expenses paid road trip anyone?