Newfoundland … there and back again
By Mark Williams
June 30th, 2014
The Shuttle arrived at 6:15 am and the driver informed me we have two other passengers to pickup. One down on Pearl Street in Hamilton, the other off Waterdown Road in Burlington. The driver was quite the chatterbox, he started off by offering us all a tub of bubble gum and other assorted sweeties. Everyone refused. A few miles later, I noticed the driver passed Waterdown Road, I mentioned that I thought he said he had a passenger there … "Doh! My bad!" he exclaims and whips up to the next exit (Fairview Street) and doubles back.
We eventually arrived at Pearson Int’l Airport and I was off to the Westjet area. I waited about 30 minutes, then went through a "customs-like" check (even though I was flying within Canada) and was singled out to have a hand-swab, as well, my steel-toed hiking boots lit up the metal detector, so they made me take off my shoes. "Do you have a laptop?", they asked. (I kind of figured they knew I did, so I didn't see any point in saying NO.) "Can you pull it out?", well there goes 4 days of Joe Boxers all over the place (as everything was compact and neatly put away), the laptop happened to be on the bottom
Finally I step into that zone reserved for those ‘ready to fly’ and proceeded to Gate B37. I still had a hour to kill so I ventured over to the i-Restaurant. Basically you sit down, fire-up the iPad, place your order while surfing the net. A few minutes later, a waiter came to the table with breakfast. As I was sitting there, I heard an announcement that Flight 518 to Deer Lake was moved down to Gate 24. Finished breakfast and headed down to the new gate.
As we began to board the plane, a Westjet 737, I asked the attendant at the gate if it was alright to take a picture of the plane, "Mark" he said, "Um, yes I replied", sort of puzzled, then he said to go ahead, no problem. After the shot I headed down the ramp not before noticing “Have a Great Flight Mark” was posted on the monitor over-head, a nice touch!
I boarded the plane and took my Seat 7C right next to an older couple going "back home", and married 57 years! I didn't understand a word of newfie and just politely nodded and smiled. We hit the sky at 9:45 am. David Bowie's lyrics began to haunt me a little ... "For here am I … sitting in a tin can … far above the world...". At one point, the fellow next to me gave me a tug on the shoulder and told his wife to take my seat so I could take some pictures out the window, as he noticed I had my camera on my lap. I took some pictures outside the window, then it seemed to either cloud over or we got up above the clouds ... it was all just white and gray.
The thing about flying is, you start to think (at least I do) about things you don't want to be thinking about, like how did man come about to make planes and does he really know what he is doing? What is the purpose of squishing people in a can like sardines to move them 800 mph, 35,000 feet in the air ... I finally arrived at Deer Lake Airport around 2pm (NL time) and it was raining!
I picked up my Enterprise rental-car without much ado, a Toyota Corolla and sat in the parking lot for 15 min. checking over the car and thanking God I made it alive … with a deep breath, I headed out to the highway for Corner Brook. It wasn't hard really, the signs were clear and I was off on my adventure. I left the Shire so-to-speak.
When I arrived in Corner Brook, I realized I didn't have a working phone, NO SERVICE, but luckily, an old message was still on my phone with instructions ... but the instruction was a link, and the link didn't respond because I had no connection. So what to do? I pulled into Dominion (no, not mainly because of the meat) and did a little shopping, nothing major, just wanted to show up with a few staples and a miniature Orchid. I asked the girl where the address was I needed to go to and she began in Newfie (by the way, I use the term Newfie with all due respect) ... but by golly, I had a hard time. So she called another lady over and it got more confusing, because not only was my mind trying to decipher the accent but there was now two of them going on together and finally they both looked at me and said "Right ya are".
When I got outside, miraculously, my phone got a signal and I was able to use Google Maps to find the address. I arrived at my destination ... the Hotel Lowden! Ok, it was the home of Wendy and Steve Lowden - who graciously accepted me as their house guest for the duration of my stay, sight unseen. To make a long story short, I mentioned I might be going to NFLD to a co-worker back in Ontario and next thing I know, she says her brother and sister-in-law live there and she would have Wendy (her sister-in-law) Facebook friend me and so she did and we connected that evening.
I met Wendy at the door along with Lilly (the Golden Retriever) and Linc (the three-legged cat). Wendy made me a cup-a-tea and we talked and talked. I wasn't sure if we're just trying to get to know one another or confirm what we had already garnered about each other over the many weeks prior to my trip on Facebook ... but either way, it didn't take long and we were old friends. Steve (Wendy's better half) came home from work and although I didn't know him over Facebook I felt very comfortable and we shared a wonderful Lasagna dinner. Wendy showed me to my room and I settled in. Steve invited me along to Canadian Tire to buy a BBQ. Not the jump into the BIG Adventure I was expecting the first day, but you know, it made me feel at home and set the pace for the beginning of my photo journey (hold everything in an open hand and accepting the kindness of strangers). They say the people of NFLD are the friendliest people in the world, well Wendy and Steve moved there 6 months ago, and it's already rubbed off.
When I got home, I went into my room and sorted out a few things and was fast asleep about 8pm. DAY 1 ended ...
July 1st, 2014
I awoke at 4:30am...430am??? That's right, the sun really does rise in the east. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed raring to go! The weather was gray and foggy. I got up and out in no time, back on the highway and headed to Deer Lake, then onto the Trans Canada Highway, known going forward as TCH. I stopped about 30 minutes into the trip to gas up (even though I just picked up the car yesterday), I thought perhaps today being Canada Day, everything might be closed and I had a 6 hour trip ahead. The Esso gas station had a diner attached and I order breakfast and a road map. I studied the road map while I ate and discovered Grand Falls Windsor and Gander (two bigger centers) were on route going EAST and they would surely have gas stations operating.
I was heading to Trinity on the East Coast, it was to be a two-day stop-over exploring the area, specifically looking for Icebergs and Whales. Back on the road now and about an hour in, I saw something move at the side of the road, an animal ... my first thought was Coyote. I pulled off to the side and turned around, (while shutting off the radio, opening my window and firing up my camera), I came back to the same spot and to my delight and surprise, a Fox was standing there looking at me with a meal in his mouth. He let me fire off a couple shots before he ditched into the shrubbery. Back in the car and just another 20 minutes up the road, I spotted a female moose behind some bushes also at the side of the road, I pulled over, rolled down the passenger window and snapped a few, before she wandered out into a bog. A fox and a moose and not even an hour out, it had all the makings for a great day :)
Back in the car, I was feeling great and found OZ-FM on the radio and cruised along listening to some cool folk rock. The rest of the trip was pretty smooth, I passed through many small villages and through Grand Falls Windsor then Gander gassing up at one of the many Irving Gas Stations. The TCH actually carves out a path through Terra Nova National Park which was just beautiful to drive through. Great scenery at every turn.
I had to make a turn off at Highway 233, then join up with Highway 230, but it was clearly marked and I sailed straight through to Trinity East. I found the Fisher's Loft, a B&B style lodging and checked in and dumped my bags into Room 31. The Fisher's Loft is a collection of 5 or 6 older homes restored from the 1800's and painted bright colours. There was a common dining house, reception area and the rest were various rooms overlooking Trinity Bay. All-in-all a picturesque quaint setting and I thought how much I would enjoy this place, the peace and quiet of it all.
Since it was about 3pm, it was still early enough to get on the trail. Just within walking distance of my room, the Skerwink Trail (named loosely on a kind of fish in the area), it was also named by Travel and Leisure Magazine as one of the top 35 walks in North America and Europe. I could see why, with a medium to difficulty level, I found myself traversing 1000' cliffs, hair-pin turns and breath-taking vistas. While I was battling with "heights" as I call it (I have a fear of them), I came to a LOOKOUT point. All fears aside, what I saw made the hairs on my neck stand-up. 8-10 Humpback Whales were blowing their tops and gobbling Capelin by the tons, it was magical; my second day on the "Granite Planet", and I see a fox, a moose and now whales. What a blessing! A few other hikers began to show up and we all enjoyed watching and taking pictures and feeling insignificant yet in awe of these magnificent creatures.
I stayed watching the whales for several hours, then headed back along the trail. I was at the half-way point and I saw that the trail climbed up to even higher heights. I was exhausted, (up at 430am that morning, a 6 hour drive and all this fresh air and excitement), so I took the shorter inland path back. I was glad I did because along the way, guess who was watching me? Another beautiful fox.
The day had indeed been special, a truly Happy Canada Day. To top it off, besides being exhausted, I was hungry, breakfast was the last meal I ate and although I did drink a lot of water on my hike, I was thinking about the special dinner menu back at the lodge. A kind friend told me to have a dinner on her when I was here and I was so touched, that when I had booked into the Fisher's Loft and saw they had a rather wonderful but expensive meal on the menu, I knew just where to throw down the gift. And what a gift! Thank you Sandy!
And with that a good night! See you tomorrow.
July 2nd, 2014
I slept in and didn't care, I had already told myself although I wanted to see a lot, it would not be at the expense of getting wired, worn or weary. It was a heavenly sleep on a totally comfortable bed. When I finally awoke, it was 830am. I took a shower then dawned some fresh apparel and headed down to the dining room for breakfast ... piping hot bacon and eggs with a great cup of coffee which I took on the porch. What a view of Trinity Bay!
Today could have been called a 'day of detours'. I wanted to go to Bonavista in the north-east on the coast where I heard Icebergs, Whales and Puffins were about. I peeked at my Fodor's Travel Guide for NL and saw an off the beaten path notation and thought to follow that. It was called Old Bonadventure ... hmm ... something in the name . I packed the car and rolled out onto Highway 239, it was about 30 minutes directly south, however, that didn't seem to matter as I saw a sign "The Historical Town of Trinity"and turned left, it would just be a quick stop to have a look. I was glad I made the detour. Trinity was quaint and laid out like I was walking through history, all the shops were colourful old buildings and close together. It had a real historic feel to it and I heard they had a wicked Theatrical Company. I popped into the gift shop and asked the clerk if she had any "downhome" folk music from local musicians, "I have just the ting", she said and gave me a CD called Ode to Age by the Masterless Men. I fired up the CD as I pulled out and back on to the highway, next stop Old Bonadventure!
As I pulled back onto Hwy 239, I made a sharp left to a "Lighthouse"...why you ask? I just listen to the first song on that new CD and they were singing "I see the light in the bay..." and I thought it would be good to have a Lighthouse picture to go with the music. The Lighthouse was just 10 minutes up the road, but it took me 4 hours to get to it ... here's why!
An Iceberg appeared out of nowhere coming into Trinity Bay. It was moving at a pretty good pace till it grounded, stayed put for a few hours until the whole thing turned and twisted, broke free and came in a little further. Finally, it broke down and when I decided to continue the journey, it looked amazing.
I decided to have some lunch as it was about 4:00pm :). Time flies when you are having fun. I was determined to get to Old Bonadventure, after all it was JUST up the road. Finally I was near - I saw the sign "Old Bonadventure" this way, but wait, another sign too, "Random Passage Historical Sight" that way ... well, I am a sucker for historical sights ... I went that way.
I came upon a tea house and a lovely old church beside it. I walked in and thought I'd have a coffee before I investigated this place. A young lady reluctantly asked me what I would like then disappeared through a door from which an older women appeared letting me know they were soon closing and would I like “it” to go? I obliged and asked what "random passage" was all about? She told me it was a tour and the last one had just started about 20 min. earlier but if I hurried I could take my grilled cheese sandwich and coffee and catch up to them.
I ran out and spotted the gal, she was half-waving at me and I returned the wave, "Are you the guide?", finally when I caught up to her. She said "Yes, and you are the only one on this tour”. “It will just be a shorter version of the original tour”, to which I was more than happy to go on.
The rest is history ... (wee joke) ... for you see, unbeknownst to me, Random Passage is a 1992 novel by Newfoundland author Bernice Morgan. It was published by Breakwater Books Ltd. of St. John's, NL. It was followed by a sequel, Waiting for Time, a historical novel about the inhabitants of Cape Random, a small outpost where survival was dependant on catching and selling fish in exchange for supplies. It is set in colonial Newfoundland, over the span of many years. The tour guide was extremely passionate about her work and very knowledgeable. She told me the CBC mini-series (of the same name) was filmed here, starring Colm Meany (of Star Trek fame).
Well finally I drove on and into Old Bonadventure and realized after looking around and seeing another small, simple fishing village, the Bon! adventure, was not arriving here, but getting here!
July 3rd, 2014
I awoke this morning at 8 am, packed and cleaned up the room. I skipped breakfast, checked out of the Fisher's Loft and got back on the road. Today I would try again to reach the other Bonavista at the top of Hwy 230 to the north. This time I will stick to my guns ... straight up , no stopping! Just before Bonavista was Ellison (hang on, not really a detour), it was where the Puffins were reported to be. I drove along a badly worn road for 3 miles or so and came into a very small and simple village on the coast. I didn't really know where to go, not a soul around and there were no shops to speak off. Finally I saw a lady painting her fence and I inquired after the Puffins. "The Puffins?", "Go back to the church and turn left then right after Molly's Kitchen, follow the road right ‘round past the beach, and you'll see it", she said.
I did as she instructed and saw a sign that said "Puffins? Almost there" and drove another 100 yards or so and found a small house with a mother and son standing in front. I pulled up and they greeted me and gave me the low-down on the whereabouts of the Puffins. I followed a well-worn path behind their home and stared out to a vast craggy path towards the sea. There was no one around, just myself and a strong Atlantic surf blowing in my face.
A path lead me high above the water, then down a slope and back up again to a rocky ledge. I sat down so as not to risk losing my mind at the dizzying heights. I saw many Seagulls and Terns flying about, but on closer inspection, a large rock formation across from the one I was perched on housed about 100 or so Puffins (the attendant did say this time of day, thousands may be out to sea feeding). At this point I really didn't care, I saw my first Puffins in the wild. I snapped a dozen or so fully zoomed out and they were passable pictures ... but then something extraordinary happened ... while I was nestled in this rock crag and keeping perfectly still with camera to me eye ... one of the Puffins flew over to my cliff and landed 3 or 4 feet from me. I couldn't believe it. I took about 10 shots and put my camera aside to have a look, my movement startled him and he flew off.
I didn't stay long after that, it wasn't like I left in a huff after shooting the Puff. I had a 6 hour drive back to Corner Brook and it was already close to 11 am. I drove the now familiar Hwy 230 back to the TCH and decided to stop for lunch at the Two Whales Cafe, it was a vegetarian cafe. I had their Zuccinni and Curry soup, a Greek Paninni and a decaf coffee. Back in the car I headed WEST … for home.
I arrived back in Corner Brook about 7 pm, popped into Dominion and picked up a few provisions (including steaks for Steve's NEW BBQ ... hint hint?). Back at the house I sat awhile with Steve and Wendy talking about our days and a little nervous about the impending news of Hurricane Arthur bringing winds and rain to the Corner Brook area. I have since learned it has been downgraded to a tropical storm and we may just end up getting rain.
I blogged for a little while, then hit the sack. I have to admit, all this fresh air and hiking makes one looking forward to bed with delight! Goodnight.
July 4th, 2014
Happy 4th to all you American neighbors out there! The rest TGIF! I get to go to St. Anthony in the north today. I awoke at 6 am as was Steve taking Lilly out for her morning walk. I grabbed a bit of toast and peanut butter, packed my bag for the day and headed to Deer Lake to catch Route 430 ... ALL THE WAY TO ST. ANTHONY. I was listening to OZ-FM and caught the announcer saying that she was going to take us through the morning rush hour, I chuckled (with as many people in all of NFLD as there are in Hamilton, ON). I couldn't help wonder what that might look like :)
I had a 5 hour trip ahead of me and I got to thinking ...
When you start a journey you don't quite know where you are going, not that you didn't plan a destination necessarily, but you never know what will change your course along the way. Jesus desires to change your path, and the ramifications are life changing. Take this trip, in the beginning as I was planning it, I felt called, no compelled to come to St. Anthony, but I wasn't sure why, it was a distant drive and in the far north of Newfoundland. In as much as I call this a photo journey, I knew it would also be a "spiritual journey" because I fully expected God would change my path. Why? Well rather than just "site see", I wanted to see what God wanted me to see. It's what I do in my photography, I believe as I wait on Him, He gives me the pictures and in turn, reflects a small part of His glory revealed through nature.
If you don't consider the spiritual aspect of the journey, it can be like checking into the Holiday Inn, watching TV, swimming in the pool, getting a nice tan, well-fed and have loads of fun, but the journey will not have refined or polished you or changed you for the better. When Frodo left the Shire with Sam, it was a somewhat light-hearted affair and exciting, they hadn't been this far from the Shire before, however, the deeper into the journey, circumstances changed, some good things, some bad and some down-right evil came across their path. Each change along the way demanded a response. When Jesus calls, it also requires a response; but we have a free will to choose our own path and our own response. We can respond to God by listening, then asking "What would you have me do?", "Where would you have me go?", or you can go your own way.
Frodo and Sam-wise learned the deeper side of love, friendship, trust and yet not without disappointment, pain and even death - but both came through stronger and changed, ... in fact Frodo's journeys’ end would bring him to an eternal destination. Something to think about.
I was very tempted in my earlier part of the drive today as I had approached the outskirts of Gros Morne Nat'l Park to stop at the "lookout" to capture the magnificent vista, but I decided to wait. Some scenes along the way however, I had to literally hold my breath, because I scarce could take it in.
The west coast is so much different than the east. If the people are fisherman in the east in quaint picturesque towns by the sea, these people by contrast are Vikings surrounded by rugged mountains and a rougher coastline. I stopped at the L&E Restaurant in Flowers Cove for lunch and had some very delicious pan-fried Cod. I was moved seeing all the ladies in the kitchen talking and laughing ... and cooking.
I arrived in St. Anthony at 2 pm. I scouted about town and headed to the very end of Main Street where the Lighthouse was. It sat on a picturesque point with two bays connecting and a channel going out to sea. There was an iceberg tower in the bay peaking it's head over top of the fog. It was rainy, foggy and sunny all at the same time for most of the day.
I checked out a place to stay for the evening and found most places were already booked up, I managed to land a basic room at the Hotel North on the Main Street. I also booked a boat cruise with Northland Discovery Tours in the morning at 9 am and looked forward to that.
It's about 6 pm and I am sitting here in my room listening to the pounding rain outside. It is heavy and I smile as my rented car badly needed a wash.
Earlier, just before I visited the Lighthouse, I went into the Grenfell Museum. Dr. Wilfred Grenfell was a doctor and a missionary from England who 'happened' upon St. Anthony in the late 1800's and had a heart for the people inhabiting this area and parts of Labrador. He found health and living conditions in dire need and as a doctor and a missionary set out to do as much as he could to help them physically and spiritually. It turns out he was responsible for 5 hospitals in the northern area, two nursing stations and a host of other amenities to aid the people. I liked one of his quotes, "When two courses are open, take the most venturesome".
I got back to the Hotel and went for dinner at Jungle Jim's (attached to the Hotel) and ordered Cod, as I sat contemplating my day and my tired eyes (I realized I have driven 13 hours in the last two days!).
A hour goes by and it became apparent there was trouble in the kitchen. Several patrons were complaining bitterly. I excused myself and went across the road to Foodland and picked up two egg salad sandwiches and a spinach salad and ate it back in my room while watching Brazil defeat Colombia in soccer. Goodnight.
July 5th, 2014
Good morning! The alarm 'buzzed' at 6:10 am. I had packed up the night before so I was ready to take off for the day. I was out the door in no time, checked out and hopped in the car. As I sat there, I wondered where I was going, true I had to head back to Corner Brook today, but I had booked a tour on a boat to see icebergs and whales today at 9 am. What am I going to do meanwhile? I decided to go back to the Lighthouse that I visited when I first came into town. It was foggy, but the ceiling was fairly good. I walked around the Lighthouse and down among the rocks enjoying the solitude and peace.
I went back to Jungle Jim's by the hotel for breakfast. The same attendant from the night before was there and I asked her if she was there all night, she laughed and said in all the years working there, it was the worst evening shift they ever had. Anyways, she assured me breakfast would not be the same, I was glad because I was the only one in the Jungle.
True to her word, breakfast arrived 5 min. later, a wonderful mixed veggie omelet. I had a leisurely breakfast then headed on over to the Northland Discovery Tours building and waited till 9 am talking with a few of the passengers starting to assemble. Soon the Captain and his crew appeared and began boarding everyone on the ship to some lively fiddle music. There were about 20 of us and quite a mixed group. The excitement was unanimous and the anticipation united that we were in for a treat. Although it began to 'spit' rain, it did not dampen our spirits ... and we weren’t out but a mile when we came across Minke and Humpback whales.
Then 'icebergs' were on everyone's mind as we could see them, some 40 ' tall scattered all over, some near shore, some in the bay and many just passing through moved by the deep sea currents. We came across a few that moved-in fairly close. The Captain pointed out many features about the icebergs, one in particular was fascinating to all of us as well as the crew, was the beautiful blue streaks in the ice. This signified a pure water stream was trapped in the berg without oxygen. You can imagine everyone's excitement when something was spotted off the bow! A fragment of that pure water source had broken away. The Captain ordered his first mate to scoop it out of the water and so he did. It was BEAUTIFUL, no air bubbles, perfectly clear! Just like we found the 'Hope' diamond. We passed it around and snapped pictures, everyone beaming proudly as if somehow the communal baby was just born, and we just wanted to show her off :)
We shoved off in search of more "bergy bits". It didn't take us long and we found ourselves a giant of nature's phenomenon. The Captain had a real sense of humour as he played a song on the loud speaker system as we approached ... the theme from Titanic!
Two hours later we pulled back into dock and I began my long 5 hour journey back to Corner Brook. I stopped back in at the L&E Restaurant for lunch as Cod was still on my mind and then back on the road. Driving rain, dodging pot holes, watching for transports and moose ... it was exhausting, so by the time I got down to Gros Morne Nat'l Park, I decided to take a sneak peak at Western Brook Pond.
I pulled into the parking lot and read the instructions at the gate, it was basically a 30 minute hike to the Visitor Center and the mouth of the "Brook". There you would purchase tickets to cross the "Pond" by boat and gawk at amazing scenery, fjords and the like ... but that would have to wait until another day, as I arrived they were just closing up. The walk was lovely though, and I needed it after a long drive. I booked the boat tour for Thursday morning as that was the only day on the weather report that didn't show rain.
I met two girls from Charleston,SC walking back to the car, we were chit-chatting when a gust of wind blew my hat into the bog, then as I put my camera down to fetch it, the lens hood came loose and blew into the bog, thankfully one of the girls (who had a good grip) held me while I leaned over and retrieved my hat, the hood was not so lucky, it sits at the bottom of the bog. I could make another reference to Lord of the Rings, but I'll leave that for another day. I got home about 7 pm, made some dinner, spoke with Wendy and Steve for a bit, then went to bed early.
July 6th, 2014
All I can really say - today is Sunday and "I rested", a much need reprieve from the long hours driving over the last few days. I attended church this morning where Wendy was conducting a service (Wendy is a Minister for the United Church of Canada in Corner Brook) just a stone's throw from their home and the message was timely for this weary traveller ... "Entering God's Rest and Receiving His Yoke".
After church we went to the Harbour Grounds restaurant for lunch and met a few more travellers as well as some local folk and had a nice time of fellowship. I'd recommend the Red Beet soup :)
We came home and I promptly lie down for a wee afternoon nap.
I awoke to the smell of BBQ'd steak, broccoli and baked potatoes, then finished off the evening with a lovely drive about town with Wendy, Steve and Lilly :)
We stopped at Captain Cooks lookout point and I snapped a picture while the sun made its last effort to peek through before the rain and cooler temperatures took over.
July 7th, 2014
Steve woke me up as he readied for work, and I lay back for a bit thinking of the crummy sleep I had. I tossed and turned and it was like my mind was still driving and I couldn't shut it off. I took a shower and packed for the day and headed back to the TCH, only this time going west.
West was really south to some degree, but either way, I was going down the coast towards Port Aux Basques and in particular, a place called the Codroy Valley. This area is known to have a lot of birds as the terrain is fertile, the temperatures warmer and on one side the sea, the other a mountain range. Something I didn't see often in my travels thus far were farms, but there were plenty here. This area actually reminded me a little of the farmlands of Ontario. The hiking trails took me into bogs and marshes as well as thicker cedar forests.
I stopped in to see a Wildlife Museum, this was a little like Killman's Zoo near Caledonia back home, but worse ... it was overgrown and unkempt. I had mixed feelings, on one-hand I saw a lot of animals in the indoor exhibit close-up that I would not see otherwise , but they were all the handi-work of a good taxidermist. Then I walked out to their outdoor display and saw ducks, a donkey and a black rabbit ... I didn't think the $8 was worth it, until I turned the path wiping the overgrowth away from my face and saw something in the bushes ... freaked me out. It became apparent, there was a fence, obscured by vines and tall grasses, and sitting there behind a bush watching me, was a Lynx.
As I drove away, I so wanted to set him free! Up the road a mile or so I came to the Wetlands Estuary, a bird sanctuary of sorts, a large tract of land preserved for water fowl and other assorted birds.
I decided after hiking the trails for a bit, I was going to have lunch. The only place within miles, was the Silver Sands Restaurant, it was just basically someone's home converted into an eating establishment. I opened the door and enter the place, it was a throw-back to the 50's, dim lighting, plastic table cloths with miniature picnic tables holding the condiments, but the pan-fried Cod made up for what the decor may have lacked.
I drove down to the Lighthouse after lunch at Cape Anguille but was disappointed that it was run-down, the pot-holes in the lane leading up to it was worse than a mind-field. I drove around the area for an hour or so and then headed back to the TCH, it was getting on close to 4 pm and I knew I had a 2 hour ride back to Corner Brook. There was some discussion yesterday that Wendy was going to pickup Lobster today for dinner so I didn't want to miss that!
The trip home was uneventful, I kept my proverbial eye out for Moose and the other on the pot-holes and transports, whether it was the harsh winter or the chains used throughout the winter on many of the vehicles in NFLD, pot-holes were a menace coast-to-coast on many of the roads I traveled on.
Six o’clock on the nose and I was just turning into the driveway, Steve was on the porch to greet me and to let me know dinner was being served! We enjoyed a great seafood feast of local fresh Newfoundland Lobster ... and what a treat!
After dinner Steve and I went to Coleman's (like Fortinos) and picked up a few snacks which we enjoyed before heading off to bed. Tomorrow (Tuesday) we will be doing a little discovery of Corner Brook and nearby coves and harbours. Then it looks like three full days at Gros Morne Nat'l Park. Good night!
July 8th, 2014
I awoke about 730 am today to overcast, rain and fog. I slept sound last night, but on the floor as my air mattress let out her last breath sometime in the night.
Wendy and I were originally going to Lark Harbour today not too far away, but the weather deterred us as it was raining pretty hard. So we thought to go up to Gros Morne Nat'l Park to the main Visitor Center and find out what activities and trails I could explore over the next three days. Since I had Thursday booked for a boat ride on Western Pond, Wednesday and Friday needed to be filled.
We drove out onto the TCH to Deer Lake and hopped on the "Viking Trail" to Gros Morne. It had cleared up a little, and the cloud ceiling had risen quite a bit making visibility and viewing much better. We chatted along the way and in just about an hour and a half later pulled into the Visitor Center. We were just in time to watch a 20 minute promotional video on Gros Morne and for the most part it was informative and interesting.
After talking with one of the attendants, it seemed my best course of action was to do the "Tablelands" tomorrow, "Western Pond" Thursday and explore “Woody Point” to the south on Friday. Wendy and I checked out the Gift Shop and other exhibits, I bought Steve and Wendy a teapot then we headed down the road to Rocky Harbour
Hiking the paths around the Lighthouse grounds, we came upon two beautiful flora specimens made even more lovely after the rain that had fallen earlier.
At the end of our walkabout, it was time for a late lunch at Java Jack's Restaurant. The place was very quaint, and we were taken by the beautiful local artwork on the walls as well as the flower vases on each table, real stones drilled with a hole to put in your flowers and a flat bottom to sit upright, then polished. And everything was for sell! I selected the Moose stew and Wendy had the Pasta. Both dishes were tasty and ample, no room for desert.
Then it was back on the highway heading home and as we were heading into Corner Brook, the rain began to pummel, fast and furious! It was the perfect night cap to compliment a lovely day!
July 9th, 2014
Woke up to the first real sunny day since I got here, not saying everyday has been bad, just a lot of mixed weather. But today, warm and sunny. This is good because it is the "Tablelands" today. The Tablelands - is thought to originate when the earth's mantle was forced up from the depths during a plate collision several hundred million years ago. In 1987, the park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for both its geological history and its exceptional scenery. The yellowish colour is mostly rust ... since this landscape is made up of primarily heavy metals, a large part including iron.
We were guided along the boardwalk for a good 1.5 hrs by a very knowledgeable guide who really loved what she was doing. She was funny, engaging, informative and a total geology nerd. The terrain was not at all hospitable for flora or fauna because of its makeup, but where there is weakness, nature overcomes and finds ways to exploit those weaknesses ... many of the plants located in the Tablelands are tough lichens and carnivorous pitcher plants.
As a side note - I saw a water falls in the distance coming down from the Tablelands, being fed by melting snow (yes! in July). I cut across the desert of rocks to get near it and realized the temperature climbed to about 37c, the metals in the ground held the heat and at one point I thought I wasn't going to make it across, I drank from my water bottle and slowed the pace. Finally I made it to the falls, I removed my shoes and socks and dipped my feet into the cold water and washed my face and neck ... brrrr, but beautiful. Then I looked up at the towering mountain and realized I was a speck ... all at once I realized God loves even me and I cried out in a loud voice, "Abba, Father!"
After an exhilarating and exhausting day of hiking, it was off to Trout River for a great luncheon of pan-fried Cod at the best seafood place in town. Afterwards I drove back through Woody Point, a picturesque town by the water and back onto Hwy 430 which takes me to the TCH ... then homeward bound!
When I arrived home, Wendy had a wonderful pasta with meat sauce dinner prepared and I was so thankful as I was hungry as a bear :) Later I popped out to see Transformers 3D at the Corner Brook cinema. I got home a little after 9 pm and hit the sack as I had to be at Western Brook Pond by 10 am for a boat cruise and it was a good 2 hour ride and a 40 minute walk-in to the boat dock. Goodnight!
July 10th, 2014
The alarm rang at 5 am, the sun was just getting up and I had packed my camera gear the night before. I was set for my day at Western Pond. (By the way, Brooks are Rivers and Ponds are Lakes here in NL by comparison). It was another beautiful sunny morning.
I had just left Corner Brook heading to Deer Lake and in no time flat I saw a Moose crossing the highway in front of me. She hopped over the 3 foot medium in the road, ran up along side of it and crossed back over the medium behind me and straight up the hill, it all happened so fast. I experienced first-hand why they have so many warnings about accidents with Moose, I was beginning to think it really wasn't that bad not having seen a moose since my first day here.
Putting that little scare behind me, I came around a corner in the road and saw the sun just waking up.
My familiar run to Gros Morne Nat'l Park has become a lovely routine. Corner Brook, Deer Lake, onto Hwy 430 then into Gros Morne. To get to Western Pond is about the furthest point along the route before you get to the end of the park. It takes a good 2 hours to drive to. You arrive at the parking lot, then walk the 40 minute hike to the Visitor Station and Boat Dock.
Thinking my boat tour was a 9 am (apparently there was a miscommunication on my part and it was really 10 am), I had plenty of time, so when I arrived at 7:45 am with no one about I settled in one of the chairs on the deck overlooking the "pond" and had some quiet time.
About 8 am five Asian hikers arrived, 2 men and 3 women. I observed them readying for their journey, they were going to take the water taxi across the Pond, then hike the 3-day trek to the top of Gros Morne mountain. They meticulously adjusted their bags and prepared themselves for the journey. I noticed they opened packages and put curly-q bracelets on, then opened other packages and stuck small yellow pins on their hats, "fly-dope, a bug repellent” was the reply to my inquiry. I then showed them my remedy, "Citro-nella", a blend of natural oils that repels bugs efficiently, naturally and it smells nice. That created quite a stir with them, and they snapped pictures of my bottle and asked me about the ingredients. I told them it was an ancient Chinese family secret ... chuckles all-round.
Just about 9 am, the Bon Tours crew appeared to open up the joint, I confirmed my booking and passage aboard the Westbrook II and in no time our 10 am departure ... departed.
Finally, after pulling back into dock at the end of a magnificent outing I found my car and headed in search of more fantastical scenery in this great land known as the "ROCK". As I left Western Brook Pond, I headed to the pretty town of Norris Point, the sign upon entering said 'a photographer's paradise', and I had to agree. I stopped for lunch at the Fisherman's Landing and had ... yeah ... you guessed it, (say it with me ... PAN-FRIED COD) ... it's just so darn good. After lunch I went to the lookout point and snapped a few pictures then headed back to Corner Brook.
July 11th, 2014
Hey guess what faithful followers? Tomorrow I return to Ontario. Hmm, I have mixed emotions. So many places left to explore. I have really enjoyed this photo journey. Thank you for taking the time to follow the blog. I hope you liked reading it as much as I liked creating it.
Today I awoke at 6 am. I decided to head for Lark Harbour. I realized today that a Cove is like a small village and a Harbour is like a small town here in NL. Anyways, my trip to Lark Harbour is about a 30 minute drive, not real far ... but you pass through many little villages and Blow Me Down Provincial Park. I hiked through the BMDP Park for an hour or so, through a rough path filled with rocks resembling more of a stream bed then a path, but it worked. I don't know if I mentioned it the other day, but this area just outside of Corner Brook is actually a continuation or another part of the Tablelands. It isn't AS orangey looking because here the weather, mainly the wind has blown a lot of silt at these mountains and caused over time more vegetation to grow.
The little white church above just looked like a great picture, it was tucked right beside the sea (as so many churches are in NFLD) on the way to Lark Harbour. I even stopped and sat for a spell on the bench just behind it over-looking the graveyard and a perfectly charming view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
As I moved on down the road, I spotted a "day park" and decided to go into use the facilities (in more ways than one) ... I dawned some "fly-dope" and sat in the grass taking some pictures of a couple of birds in a nearby bush who seemed to be competing to impress me with their gorgeous singing. One was a Yellow Warbler and the second a Fox Sparrow.
I finally got to Lark Harbour and found a place to eat called Marlaine's Place, a nice cafe by the water made even nicer by a hot bowl of Seafood Chowder. Mmm Good! The sun was shining and I didn't want to waste a moment as I saw dark clouds looming over Corner Brook way, so I finished up my lunch and did a little beach combing. I found 5 or 6 very cool looking stones to bring home. As I walked along furder I came upon a "Muskoka" chair and sat awhile reflecting on my trip and how much I enjoyed it. I thought about how perfect strangers invited me into their home and how we quickly became friends, I thought about the long drives and the beautiful scenery and how blessed I was to see what I saw in such a short time. How the trip fell together and what I've learned about myself and another part of our glorious nation.
I'm in for the night, it is just past 7:30 pm as I write this and I'll soon be packing up for my flight tomorrow morning at 5:55 am (not sure why they didn't call it 6am) and going to bed early. Thanks to those who supported me and followed the blog, hope you enjoyed it. I plan to put together a little more comprehensive 'PowerPoint' presentation and a time and place to be announced to show it and talk about the adventure. Goodbye for now and So-long Newfoundland!