The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Trip to Nfld.

My brother and I flew out to St. John's last Friday to see the family for a few days. Left Toronto on the Sunwing 6:20 AM (ouch!) flight. Cab fare to the airport has gone up significantly since the last time I needed to take a cab there, I'll take that into account the next time I get tickets.

Had three days of completely great weather there. It was so nice that when Dave and I got it and found we had just missed the bus downtown (where our Bed and Breakfast was) we ended up walking there instead. Try doing that from Pearson.

When we visit these days we stay in a B&B rather than with Danny or Susan as they each have multiple kids and live on the outskirts of the city, so it would be tough to do anything else while they are away for the day. I know, we could rent a car, but it's been so long since either of us was behind a wheel I'd be nervous about taking on hilly (very hilly) St. John's. Plus the B&B has free wireless!!

Anyway had BBQ with each family, got all caught up, and walked up Signal Hill one afternoon. The trail has a few rather uncomfortably steep drops to the water below on one side sans railing that do freak me out a bit, at one of these there's a chain on the rock wall on the other side and I was hanging on for dear life. I don't know what that jogger who passed us manages it.

Also saw my money manager. As expected, his advice was that "This is a great time to buy!", but in the long run he's certainly right about that and I left feeling a lot better. But anyone who's near retirement and didn't start switching their money to GICs a few years ago is certainly having some sleepless nights.

Walking down St. John's harbour my first day there, I saw what I first thought was a tour boat of some kind (Le Grand Bleu, but changed my mind when I got closer and saw that there was no company logo or the like. Checked it out on Wikipedia later and found that it's one of the largest private yachts in the world, currently owed by a Russian billionaire. No word on why he was in St. John's, maybe he was there to see Elton John.

It's 370 feet long! If you look at the stern its got not just a helipad, but TWO cabin cruisers that can be lowered into the water. Nice to be rich.

However, I wasn't really impressed till two days later when I went for another walk and found this in the harbour.

That's the Crown Princess cruise ship, 950 feet long, with 2700 passengers and a crew of 1200. These giant cruise ships only started coming into St. John's two years back (usually when they're returning from Europe) and they had to widen the entrance to the harbour (known, oddly enough, as The Narrows) so they could do it. It was taller than any of the buildings on the harbour front.

Unfortunately, on the last day and a half the fog rolled in, but at least it didn't rain. Tuesday afternoon we were sitting in the departure lounge at the airport listening to the announcement that our flight was circling due to the fog (visibility was about zero) and if it couldn't land in 20 minutes it would have to be diverted back to Gander. Fortunately, it managed to get down in one piece, and it was an unevently flight back, although with charter companies these days you can't be sure there not going to go under on you until you've actually taken off. But to Sunwing's credit they actually fed us, which doesn't happen with Air Canada anymore.


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