Newfoundland June 2015 – by Sarah Boutilier

For me it wouldn’t be going to Newfoundland without a ferry crossing.  The way I’ve always travelled to Newfoundland.  But after taking the midnight ferry back to Cape Breton however AND flying out that afternoon, I looked vowed not to travel like this again. 

From the Ferry we travelled and spent the night in Stephenville, meeting our crew, guests, tourists, students (still don’t know really what to call them) at the Deer Lake airport the next day. I couldn’t sit still, excited to see everyone. I was like one of the children waiting for Daddy to return from Fort Mac with their faces pressed against the glass. I greeted everyone with a warm welcome and a hug. John was the last to get off the plane, thus I watched him stop to take photos of the airport, the plane the people, etc., I realized his photos were only the beginning of this adventure.

We made a customary stop at a grocery/liquor store to stock up on supplies, then made a beeline to Rocky Harbour, our home base at Mountain Range Cottages. We all partook in a BBQ of steak, corn, salmon, potatoes, salad, drinks, and oh yeah, a Birthday cake for Janet. It was raining all through the night to the point of wondering what kind of indoor activity we could do if it should rain tomorrow.

 

Although the next day was overcast, we went hiking at a near by campground. We got a sense of how early the season was here. Fresh spring green on the trees, not a lot of fungus, but lots of fiddle heads. Those of us who like to take our time seeking out the smaller pleasures in life didn’t complete even one of the three trails. There was so much to see in the first little bit at the beginning of each, before we knew it the others were on their way back down the hill or completed the loop.

It was an unexpected disappointment at supper when were huddled around a table at Earls to find out Jiggs Dinner wasn’t on the menu this Sunday because of a scheduled power outage. I had told everyone , THIS was THE most traditional of Newfoundland meals. It’s a boiled dinner of potato, cabbage and red meat, usually corned beef. It was offered only on Sundays at this restaurant and nowhere else we ate. Since this was the only Sunday we would spend in the province, there wasn’t any chance of getting it. There were other traditional meals to be had though. Fishcakes, lobster, and a whole lot of Moose items, like my favorite, Moose Pizza. The Moose stew was also phenomenal. But oh, so filling.

Some areas I had on my hit list was Noris point, Woody Harbour and St. Anthony. In Norris point we had a tour of the Bonne Bay Marine Station, a section of Memorial University dedicated to Marine Biology. We had a wide eyed phycology student lead us  about, showing us all the interesting animals who live in the ocean and especially in Bon Bay which is so deep it’s the only other place where sub-artic marine life can actually thrive. Later that afternoon we took a boat out on the bay to the mouth of the ocean, learning along the way many interesting facts about the geology of the area.

Although Woody Harbour is across from Noris Point and can be reached by a water taxi, it was best to explore this town on another day. We had a beautiful sunny day, which turned dark later on. It was doubtful we would make it home without running into torrential rains. The town is cute, but the hike along the tablelands and the even cuter harbour-village of Trout River over shadowed the charms of Woody Harbour even though  we had a wonderful meal there. The Tablelands were really out of this world. If it were just myself, I would have been tempted to hike in through the canyon, up to the top and down again. This particular hike however, would have taken the entire day.

Talk about rain on the first day of our trip!? Well that aint nothi’n compared to the rain we had on our way up to St. Anthony. And believe me it was almost a Godsend to have the heavens open up on this day because we had nothing but beautiful weather and magnificent sunsets.

Northland Boat Tours was set for the next day. Shipping out from St. Anthony proper, we had time for Breakfast at Tim Horton’s. The only one between here and Corner Brook. No Starbucks on this side of the province. The Iceberg we saw was, they said, the largest so far this season . It’s been in a “Bumper Crop”, as per Newfoundland Tourism.  We circled around this giant twice, which was great because I was able to get some great panorama shots, not having a wide angle lens. Before we headed back, one of the guides scooped up bergy bits  for us to feast on. There’s something to say about sucking back 10,000 year old water, especially when it’s the purest water you can get.

The trip to L’ans Aux Meadow’s was a disappointment to some. Since I was there last year, I made my way to the beach, combing for shells, etc. I ended up creating montages from the things I found.  Others explored the buildings, talked to the animators, even hiked the trail looping around the park. The second foodie disappointment was soon to follow. We ate at a small restaurant that had Fish and Brewis. To clarify, Brewis (brews) is the hard tack bread. Traditionally, the dish is made with fish and bread. I prefer to add potatoes. Drawn butter is poured over top with scrunchions (pork belly fat fried up) as a garnish. After 7 of us ordering the dish, the waitress came back o tell us there was only enough for one person. This we ordered as an appetizer, dividing it among those who wanted a taste.

On our way back to Rocky Harbour we revisited, yes, revisited places we stopped at on the way to St. Anthony. For example, the Arches, where Pierre, Dortohy, John and I sported out sexy yellow sou’westers. The arches are naturally formed caves in stand-alone rocks overlooking the beach and the Ocean. It was here Dorothy caught, what we’d like to thinks as a heart felt moment between two Raven love birds kissing, Though perhaps they were only regurgitating food into the others mouth. Still an act of love.

Our last day we had breakfast at the Treasure Box. Some of us were able to last minute gifts to bring home to loved one’s. Rob was able to tick off a genuine Newfoundland Fisherman’s Sweater off his list. Others pick up Labradorite jerwlery, a beautiful iridescent, translucent purple – blue stone native to Newfoundland and Labrador. Unfortunately, we couldn’t linger having to get  the crew back to the Deer Lake airport for their flight back to Toronto. Rob, Mom and I had the luxury of meandering to Port Aux Basque and that we did!

Just before Corner Brook, we veered off to Cox’s cove, where we met with Mr. Cox himself, who not a half hour ago retuned from catching a dozen lobsters, offering the three of us his last one. OMG! It was the BEST LOBSTER EVER! The roe was my favorite! In other provinces you’re not allowed to serve female lobster, but in Newfoundland we were served almost all females. What was so great about the Roe? The way it was cooked, boiled, was like a  smooth, buttery liver pate seasoned with salt from the Atlantic. OH Yumm! Further along we stopped in Stephenville again, But this time we stopped at an abandoned airplane hanger whose mammoth rolling doors were made of glass. The sun shining through the building gave the place great depth, yet a golden dreamy atmosphere. I wanted to explore the offices upstairs, but we did have a boat to catch. Some other time.

And here we are the precursor to the midnight ferry – afternoon flight  – grueling day.  I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again. Never again!!!!

For my next trick… umm trip, I’ll be leading a group to the other side of Newfoundland. We’ll fly to St. Johns, where we’ll stay for two days dividing out time in the city and Bell Island. We’ll go to the southern west arm of the Avalon Peninsula. The next home base will be Bay Roberts where we’ll visit  my Mom’s home town, Brigus, then head to Fogo Island. This is a 10 day trip, flying out of Gander back to Toronto. For more details and a day-to-day itinerary please visit, Sarahndipity. I hope you will join me next year. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want more information.