AROUND THE WORLD IN 30 DAYS – Day 1: Twillingate, Newfoundland

Because It’s Art.

What. A. Day… I woke up this morning and left for Montreal while it was still dark. I needed to drop off some artwork before starting my adventure, then had to catch a plane in the early afternoon from Montreal to Newfoundland so I gave myself plenty of time to drop off the cube van, have lunch and catch my flight. Yeah… not so fast.

I get a call from a friend who finds out I’m traveling with a van and asks if I could please pick it up some of her artwork in Montreal and take it with me. I say sure because I’m nice. Here’s a little tip about traveling with art for friends: Ask how big it is. I didn’t. Big mistake.

I get to this place that is an art gallery/art bar/barbershop/tattoo salon and this heavily tattooed guy shows me what I’m picking up. It’s a fucking MECHANICAL BULL! Yeah, no…. I call my friend and tell her she’s insane and she asks if I could at least take the package to the airport and that she’ll make all the arrangements and she’ll rent me a van once I get there and she misunderstood and thought I was driving all the way to Newfoundland blah blah blah… I’m thinking, I’m a nice person.. it’ll be fine, so …okay.  So here I am with this mechanical bull art thing in an alley to load it into the van and it starts raining and I’m hungry and cranky and this woman asks me if I need a hand and she helps me in with the first box and then I realize its Martha-FUCKING-Plimpton. I’ve cut my hand and it starts raining more so she asks some other guy to help us who does and tattoo guy has no interest in helping and goes back insite and locks the door. Then Martha asks if she can wait in the van with me until the rain stops. I say sure, but I have to leave soon because I’m going to the airport. She says that’s great because she has to go to the airport too, but could we swing by her hotel to pick up her stuff. My flight isn’t for another hour or so and it’s a domestic flight so I think I’ll be fine. It was a little weird riding around in a cube van in Montreal with Martha Plimpton, a mechanical bull, a cut hand, and eating McDonald’s fries. Yes, we stopped and got McDonald’s food. I thought she was a vegetarian too. The media tell lies.

She gets her stuff as quick as a celebrity can and off we go to the airport. I drop off the bull, I drop off Martha, and I drop of the van. All is good in the world. I get my flight and luckily no one sits beside me which was awesome. I sprawled out my stuff like a bag lady checking inventory. No inflight movie, so I watched old episodes of Bob’s Burgers on my laptop. I keep them stored there for just such an occasion. I get into St.Johns and get my connection to Gander. I pick up the new cube van to head to Twillingate, but the art my soon to be ex-friend sent hasn’t arrived. It was offloaded in St. John’s and it’s likely not going to come until tomorrow. So this means I get to come all the way back to Gander tomorrow. FML.
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The ride from Gander came with a soundtrack compliments of K-Rock, 97.4 FM. Bands like The Wings, and The Eagles made for a sunny late afternoon drive. These are songs I remember my dad playing when I was young and this being my first trip to Newfoundland it seemed fitting. My father’s father was from this area so I guess these are my people. Roll on Down The Highway by Bachman-Turner Overdrive was a personal radio favourite as was the story of a guy who was drunk and driving around town on three wheels with sparks flying off the bare rim. Billy Idol, not so much. Listening to the call-in all request afternoon gave me a quick primer in the local dialect. I found myself practicing o’ya, y’know and donchaknow repeatedly and out loud as I arrived at my destination.

Twillingate is pretty the way you imagine most Atlantic ocean-side towns. Quaint houses sit perched along the rocky shore like patient seagulls and all the docks remind me of rugged Hemingway books. It is a place where people wear sweaters in the summer and ‘cidiots’ flee at the end of cottage season. I checked into the Anchor Inn run by these two cool women, Deborah and Rebecca who both have braided ponytails. I think it’s a thing in Newfoundland because since I’ve been here I think I’ve seen about ten or twelve people with the same braided pigtails or ponytails. There was even a guy at a gas station in a truck who had one. He kinda looked like Willie Nelson, but not really. He was weathered and wore a bandana though and I’m sure he goes pot on his property. No overalls. No guitar.

It gets better…  It turns out the women at the Inn know my artist friend and I give them the address of where I have to go to drop off the art tomorrow. They show me on a map where to go and its not far and its still light so they suggest I might want to take a drive up to where it is. I get in the van and start driving north and the navigation gets a bit dodgy which it usually is when you get off the main roads in rural areas and wi-fi becomes one of those things you take for granted when you live in a big city and you start cursing rural life and getting worried you might have tostop and interact with a stranger to ask for directions. Yeah, that. The view was beautiful and other than a few turn-arounds the drive was pretty smooth. I get to the end of the road and the only thing in front of me is a lighthouse.  Yes, a lighthouse.  I spend sometime looking at the view because my cell isn’t working and get back on the main road to come back to the Inn. When I finally get bars again,  I call my friend.


‘You know the address you gave me is a lighthouse, right?’, I say.
‘Yeah, that’s where its going’, she says all matter-of-factly.
‘At the top.’
‘You’re fucking kidding me right?’
“Why what?
‘Why would you put a mechanical bull at the top of a lighthouse?’
‘Because it’s art, James’. She sounds annoyed that I’d question this and says she’ll arrange for it to be ready in Gander in the morning.  (Because I have nothing better to do than chaperone a mechanical bull to the top of a light house… ‘because it’s art.’


I’m back at the Inn now and cracked open some white wine and finished the first of the 30 paintings for this project. Twillingate is a place I could spend some time in. Perhaps next year.
TWILLINGATE.  12in. x 12in.  Acrylic and gouache on paper.  2016

Around the World In 30 Days is a somewhat fictional travel journal and fundraising art project which runs May 2 to May 31, 2016.  To find out more about the project or to request a city to be painted, follow the link here.  If you would like to follow along with the adventure, you can joint the event page on Facebook, subscribe to this blog at the top of the home page or see image updates on Instagram.  Please feel free to leave comments by clicking the comment icon at the top of this post.


stjohns airport

3 thoughts on “AROUND THE WORLD IN 30 DAYS – Day 1: Twillingate, Newfoundland

  1. That is a wonderful tale to accompany this piece. Is it a dream or was this really your day? It needs to be a movie. So very glad I read it!

    • Thanks Rachel!
      Its a mix of both. I got your request and I’ll be traveling to Amsterdam tomorrow! I’ll send you a message before its posted.

  2. Amsterdam? If that is a reference to a request, its not mine 🙂 (I was Bankok, I got married there 16 years ago) If its travel plans, have a space cake for me 🙂

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