Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Newfoundland - Land of Rugged seashore, fishing villages & Color

After a 7 hour overnight ferry ride, we landed in Port Aux Basques.  We began our drive up western coastline to Gros Morne National Park.

Let me digress a bit.  Newfoundland and Labrador together are a province of Canada, with population of 520,000 (20,000 or so in Labrador).  Half of the population live on the northeast Avalon Peninsula.  Its history is steeped in cod fishing (disallowed after 1992) and seal hunting.  It joined Canada in 1949.  After joining Canada, there was a push to move people to closer communities to be able to provide services.  The are still deserted communities to be seen dotted along the coast out on the islands.  Between consolidation and the end of the cod fishing, many communities are left empty.

And roads are still few in many areas.  The coasts, where the villages exist (the Tidy Towns ... more on that later) are often filled with artist studios and folk music.  The people are amazingly friendly, ready to strike up a conversation, and share their culture.

We are here in August, and the days and nights are often cool.  Winter is long.  And judging from the amount of cut fire wood we have seen by homes, we will not come for a winter visit.

The roads all have signs about the number of car/moose accidents so far this year.

We were too late for the the floating icebergs (July), too late for the whales (July &early August), but we saw Eagles and Puffins.  Wild blueberries and strawberries on almost all our walks.  And just incredible scenery.

On the docks at Norris Point, toasting a successful arrival in Gros Morne National Park.

On daily strolls, walks, hikes, many well groomed trails, always rolling mountain peaks in one or more directions. And more often than not wooden boardwalks protected us from mucky bogs and innumerable streams.

And even an obligatory waterfall, unfortunately too early in the afternoon for a bear sighting frequented in the area.

Off we went for a cruise on West Brook Pond, a nine mile glacial scoop.

Kayak tour on Bonne Bay, with guide and rented boats, along with a late morning SE breeze raising white caps for a bit of a rollicking ride across the bay.  Needless to say the tour was cut short. Time enough to explore Woody's Point, lunch, and the park's interpretive center for a bit of wifi.

And so began our 'red chair' fetish, egged on by the National Park's folks encouraging visitors to find and photograph the many pairs of chairs throughout the park. Hint: in case you have not followed our frequent Facebook postings, as of September 1st, we located eleven pairs (albeit some in Terra Nova NP and St John's).

Yes, the Newfoundland fishing industry collapsed in the 60s. Abandonded, boarded up, or relocated, many 'outports' (isolated fishing villages) were consolidated to larger villages where government services could be delivered.

And of course an obligatory lighthouse...at Lobster Cove.  Hear the one about lighthouse dinner reservations that turned out to be at a lighthouse five hours north and across the channel on Labrador's mainland?

The Tablelands, where the earth's mantel was forced up and exposed. Apparently the only place on the planet, and as observed none to fertile. A wasteland where little life can thrive.

Atop 'Lookout' above Woody's Point, winds a blowing, clear skies to Lobster Cove Lighthouse to the north, and Tablelands to the south.

By now for sure we've visited a few dozen of the provinces 'Tidy Towns' annual winners.

Yes, its been a long week, wonderful in Gros Morne. Just bear with us as we depart on our journey to Terra Nova....

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