“Baycation, all I ever wanted, baycation, had to get away.”
This colloquial twist on The Go-Go’s 1982 hit “Vacation” was on repeat in my mind this past week, when I hit the road for a short but sweet summer baycation with my father and grandparents.
With limited time to take in as much as possible, we jammed 1,200 kilometres into just over 48 hours, spending over 15 hours driving to our destinations – excluding the many hours spent driving down unfamiliar roads, exploring previously unknown coasts.
This whirlwind adventure was inspired by my 92-year-old grandfather Bruce Simmons, who casually mentioned a couple weeks ago that he would be interested in visiting Fogo Island again.
When a nonagenarian makes a wish, that wish gets granted, so my father, Ken Simmons, and I, started brainstorming how to pull off this Fogo foray, bringing Nan (Pearl Simmons) along for the adventure, of course.
Blessed with a discounted Airbnb thanks to my Fogo Island native step-sister, we began planning our route, departing from my grandparents’ home in Green’s Harbour and heading directly to the Farewell ferry terminal, where we said our farewells to “mainland” Newfoundland.
Arriving in Stag Harbour with an empty afternoon to fill up, we immediately headed to Joe Batt’s Arm to sneak a peek at the Fogo Island Inn, an architectural marvel and hip tourist destination.
The fog lifted as we travelled onwards to Tilting, a small but interesting town, celebrating their history and culture by flying Irish flags.
We poked around Joe Batt’s Arm again before lunch, deciding to hunt down our Fogo accommodations before the sun set. After ditching our bags, we hit the pavement again, this time looking for adventure in Island Harbour and Deep Bay.
The aptly named Island Harbour deeply impressed my grandfather, its rugged coastline and breathtaking bay forcing us to pull over numerous times to take in the view.
Deep Bay was the definition of quaint, but it was a distant graveyard on an island in the bay that really grabbed our attention. If we had more time, I would have swiftly made friends with a local with a dory just to get out there for a look around. Next time!
We soon returned to Fogo for the evening, meandering down Fogo’s winding roads in search of supper. Our bellies full after checking into Beaches Bar and Grill, we called it a night – 18 hours of exploring had me longing for bed, though I’m quite sure Pop could have continued roving around the island. Despite having over six decades on me, he was still playing solitaire on his tablet when I headed to bed. ‘Magine.
The second and last day of our baycation started with an early rise, cramming in toast and coffee before heading to the ferry terminal for the 10 a.m. crossing.
This is where our travel plans hit a snag – we were seven cars too late for the run, and consequently forced to remain in the line-up until the 2 p.m. crossing. We made the most of our downtime, exploring the nearby coastline, checking out the islands in the bay with Pop’s binoculars, and playing cards in the backseat with Nan.
When our noble steed, the MV Veteran, arrived, we were overjoyed, hungry for new views and a hefty lunch.
An hour passed quickly while we drove through the picturesque north-east coast, headed for Twillingate.
After a much-needed meal (I was growing increasingly “hangry” in the backseat – Dad can attest), we moseyed around Twillingate, stopping into the Anglican Cemetery to see the Georgina Stirling memorial, followed by a quick trip to Mr. & Mrs. Scoops for a sundae – the perfect way to cap off a sunny afternoon with beloved family.
Happy and full, we shared our favourite memories of our whirlwind vacation, with Nan candidly chatting about crafting another potential journey for next summer – “presuming we’re all still here,” she added, partially in jest.
As we headed for the highway, Pop made a little comment that struck me as particularly moving.
“I can’t believe how much of this is new to me,” he said, looking back out the passenger window towards the growing tourist destination town.
Even after nine decades of living and travelling throughout this beautiful island, Pop’s marvelling at the landscapes and seascapes we encountered showed that there’s always new things to see and experience, no matter how much time you’ve already had to take it all in.
If another baycation isn’t in the cards for Pop’s 93rd year, I’m glad we made so many beautiful memories to look back upon, and snapped enough photos to keep those memories alive until I’m 93 too.