Pukaskwa

WhiteRiverTrail
WhiteRiverTrail

Pukaskwa National Park lies on the beautiful north shore of Lake Superior just east of my camp at Penn Lake in Marathon, Ontario. I wanted to visit the suspension bridge over the White River so I hit the trail about 10am. The trail starts out nice and inviting and winds through forest and across a huge marsh, where the park service has installed a floating boardwalk to help hikers across. It would be a long hike around this beautiful marsh, plus the floating wood was cool to walk across.

The friendly trail changes it’s spots pretty quickly as it winds it’s way through the riparian landscape. The trail bed changes almost constantly, from soft loamy soil to tree root twisting paths to knee crunching rocky outposts to boggy mud. It’s not an easy trail but it is always interesting. Beautiful scenery the few times the trail exposes from underneath the forest canopy. Under the canopy it’s a robust mix of ferns, berry bushes (hmmmm) and streams. The 9 kilometer trek with temps in the teens took me right at three hours to reach the bridge.

O.M.G. The bridge and the gorge it spans are nothing short of spectacular. Worth every step to get here. I could’ve stood mid-span for hours. God’s creativity is on major display in this special place. I know He liked my smile as I took in His creative work.

Check out a video of crossing the White River Suspension Bridge

After a lunch/snack break, I started heading back to the park visitor center. My knee was starting to nag at me so I slowed down to accommodate the little bitch. About 7 kilometers into the return hike a couple from Wisconsin caught up to me. Ed & Marybeth passed me in a downhill section and then, next thing I knew, they had turned and were running back toward me.

“BEAR! HUGE BEAR!” was what I heard. Marybeth’s face told the story even better: downright scared. Ed was right behind her, majorly concerned that the bear had turned and was coming toward them. We huddled together to make a bigger target and made lots of noise. Decided to wait for more hikers coming back out of the woods to join us for an even bigger party threat. About 15 minutes later locals Josh & Emily and their German Pointer came upon us. Josh let the dog off the leash to run ahead and we all set out following the fearless dog, making noise and Emily ringing her bear bell. I was super glad I had met up with my new trail friends at the right time. Security in numbers. And, they are great, friendly people. I’m getting used to that up here!

Never saw the bear again but our eyes & ears were on alert and the dog, running around through the bushes gave Marybeth a start or two (but she didn’t scream like a little girl, lol). We had about two kilometers to go and made good progress, despite both my boots trying to toss their treads. Dang it. I like those boots. Being on the road might make it difficult to get them resoled. Anyway, by the time we got back to the visitor center my dogs and my knee were screaming at me. I drove back to the campsite in Marathon, took a loooong shower in the park shower (I knew I wanted more than six gallons of hot water), threw a steak on the grill, opened a bottle of Casa Nuestra Cabernet Franc, and in a little time, with feet up in the recliner, I nodded…

To the Soo

Took me seven hours to drive 247 miles, at 90 kph (55 mph). That’s ’cause I stopped several times to check out beaches, rivers, lake views, and the informative Lake Superior Provincial Park visitor center. Another beautiful drive that alternated between following the shoreline and heading inland. Tons of small lakes, meadows, rivers, forests. There’s a lot of water flowing into Lake Superior. I guess there hasta be: it’s a huge body of strikingly clear water.

About 3pm I arrived at the KOA in “The Soo”. I’d completed my circle tour of the big lake. At a leisurely pace I spent two weeks from Tahquamenon Falls near Whitefish Point through Duluth at the west end of the lake, Thunder Bay, Marathon and into the Lock City to arrive at the east end of the lake. Very cool.

The campground thankfully has a high pressure RV wash so I washed the bugs outta B’s teeth. Dang, the old gal was a lil scuzzy! Cost me $14 to clean her up. Beats the $200 mobile wash services wanna get. That ain’t happening.

I’m hanging in The Soo until Friday, when I’ll head north & east toward Montreal, Quebec and beyond. Having fun! Not enjoying the Canadian fuel prices but I’m this far so no holding back now!

Voyager Jusqu’à Montréal & Quebec City

After looking at many options including visiting Manitoulin Island and Algonquin Provincial Park, I decided to play the next stage by ear. Time to move on from the Great Lakes. I broke camp early in The Soo and headed east, continuing on the Trans Canada Highway. Once out of Sault Ste Marie the beautiful drive continued through forests, across meadows, beside the Serpent River and eventually wound through Sudbury and North Bay toward the Ottawa Valley. In Whanapitae I pulled into a fuel station—a gas bar as they call ’em here—since I caught the surprisingly low price of $1.27 per liter of diesel out of the corner of my eye. And it came with a friendly old guy doing the pumping. Took the opportunity to grab a wrap at Subway and send Julie a happy birthday text. I was enjoying the drive so I checked the distance to Montreal and decided to go for it: a seven hour run. It was a good call because, even though the countryside was still quite pretty, it started to kinda look the same and, unless I was going canoeing in the provincial park, there wasn’t much more to see or do. The last hour of my twelve-hour trip was long but not grueling. A toll operator at the St. Lawrence River toll bridge welcomed me to Montreal and waived the toll! Have I mentioned the friendly people? It was a long day on the road: Twelve hours, 616 miles/986 kilometers. I checked into the KOA for four nights, ready to check out the city of Montreal and spend a day or two knocking around town.

My first full day I roamed around Old Town and Old Port, taking in sights, smells and sounds. I generally love the older parts of a city and Montreal was no exception. Really a cool place where language is not an issue, as most restaurant and pub employees speak perfect English—about 57% of the city population is at least bi-lingual, if not able to speak three languages. As Americans, we  suck at that.

By the way, Siri did a superb job getting me from the KOA to the metro station 15 miles away at Longuieul. Seems every major road in Montreal is under construction and since the road signs were little more than an undecipherable jumble of letters, Siri got me around and through the construction detours. It was a time I really loved the little B in the Box.

My wanderings took me through a couple microbreweries, both pretty cool places. Had french fries in the first pub; seemed like the thing to do… It surprised me how fast the time went and I headed back to camp before it got too dark; just didn’t want to chance the myriad detours at night solo. But the next day after “attending” trailer church I headed back to the city and, yes, hopped on and off one of those London-style double decker buses. Never done that before and I gotta say, it was actually pretty cool. Beautiful day sitting up-top and the guides were very informative and entertaining. A solid $52 Canadian bucks spent. Beautiful city.

Montreal

Monday I just putzed around camp, took care of a few cleaning and maintenance issues and got more coffee at Costco just a few miles away. Felt like home!

Yikes!
Yikes!

Tuesday I headed north for the short drive to Quebec City. Fairly unremarkable drive on an interstate-like highway. When I was setting up at the KOA I noticed one of my four trailer tires was down to no tread in spots. (I’d had to stand on the brakes way back on I-20 in East Texas in May and knew I’d left some rubber scars on the highway but it still mystifies me why only one tire took the hit.) Tried to change it myself but turns out I didn’t have a cross wrench that fit and I could not budge the lugs; the large wrench for my truck is 7/8″ while the trailer lugs are 3/4″. So I put my AAA membership work for me. Less than an hour later, the spare was on and the bad tire & wheel were in my truck bed. In the morning I visited a tire shop a kilometer from the campground and in less than ten minutes (but $160 in Canadian money) later I had a new tire on the primary rim. I’d switch the spare and primary myself because I went and got a cross wrench at a local Napa shop. Bad call. More on that later.

After the tire shop visit I joined a group going into the city on a shuttle. I dunno… Quebec City just didn’t blow my skirt up like Montreal did. Sure, the cobblestone streets are cool and the boardwalk is cool and the citadel is impressive. I guess I was just off my feed thanks to the tire hassle and rain that caught me walking between brew pubs. Nice enough City, but I was ready to move on. So… when I got back to camp I set about swapping the wheels.

Quebec City

Bad call. I guess a grain of sand got inside a lug nut and I guess the lugs are pretty soft stuff. I managed to strip not just the lug nut but the stud too, dammit. Got the wheel mounted but with just 5 of the 6 lugs in place. In the morning on my out out of town I stopped by the tire shop and the friendly guy there (the kid who spoke English) tried to get that lug back in business but just didn’t have the tools. He thought the stud would need to be replaced but said I’d be good to roll on just the five secured studs. So I rolled on.

But, dammit, I wasn’t comfortable. Every time I looked in the mirror I thought I saw a wobble or anytime I felt a minor movement by the trailer I was sure the damn wheel was launching. So, for peace of mind I stopped into another tire shop in a town a couple hours north. They couldn’t fit me in but recommended a local RV shop. Instead, I searched up an RV shop closer to my destination, just 30 minutes away. They couldn’t help either, but sent me to a really small one-man garage in the village of Saint Simon. I was willing to give it a shot. I wanted resolution.

The owner mechanic, Guillaume Quellet—William in English—speaks perfect French. I speak (when I wish to!) perfect English. So after some pointing and nodding and smiling he quickly set to work. I love this guy! He re-threaded the stud, drove 20 minutes away to buy a new lug nut (plus a couple spares) and within 90 minutes I was securely on my way for probably 1/4 what an RV shop visit wudda cost. I tipped him two beers worth. I suppose I shouldn’t have mentioned that Guillaume is the French equivalent of my middle name and my dad’s name because that took more pointing and gesturing. Kinda funny.Anyway, he’d made a few unexpected bucks cash and I was happy and securely on my way again. Have I mentioned how friendly the people are? Truly loving Canada!

Aside from the mechanical faux pas, the drive was very nice through verdant fields with great views of the Saint Lawrence River. From what I understand the drive tomorrow to Gaspé is even better. So now, sitting atop a hill looking at other hills and the lake below, with a campfire holding off the evening chill, I’m wrapping up this post. I’ve got another day in the province, six hours northeast on the top of the peninsula followed by six hours back south to Bathurst, New Brunswick. Then looking forward to Prince Edward Island. Talk to you soon!

Gasping in Gaspé

It was 10:06am. I’d been on the road right at two hours and it occurred to me I had no idea how many times I’d already thought—or said out loud—”God, this is so beautiful!” The drive from Saint Simón north up highway 132 for the most part hugs the shore of the Saint Lawrence River and then the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. It’s truly a wonderful road and it’s a wonder I didn’t drive off it because I couldn’t keep my eyes from looking at the incredible scenery. While it’s different, Quebec Highway 132 rivals Highway 1 in northern California. What an absolute pleasure to experience this byway. I took my time and eventually made my way to a cool little campground near Parc National Peninsula Forillon at the northeast tip of the huge peninsula. It was a 250 mile drive over the course of about seven  hours and, no kidding, every bit of it was fantastic. Man, oh, man it was nice!

After I settled into the site—without disconnecting it was just a five minute chore—I took the short walk 75 steps down a wood staircase to the seashore. Really pretty and cool to imagine how big the waves can get to toss trees up onto the higher surf line. While this day was gorgeous, I imagine it can get rather raw out there! In total lazy mode, dinner was a repeat of the pork loin I’d grilled the night the before and prepared pasta salad I had picked up at at the grocery store. Paired withed a tasty Blackwells stout from nearby Microbrasserie Au Frontibus, which I picked up at the campground store, I was a happy camper. Watched a downloaded episode of Better Call Saul before hitting the hay.

Saturday I completed my cirque of the Gaspé Peninsula, heading south down the east side, following the coastline as it curved its way around many large bays formed by the lobster-claw shape of the land mass. Very cool little villages and towns, mixed with forests and river crossings. The scenery never got dull. About 1:30/2:30 I left Quebec Province in my mirrors and crossed the Rivière Ristigouche (at least that’s what it looks like in small print on a crinkled map) into New Brunswick and the Atlantic time zone.

With a choice of continuing to hug the shoreline or taking the slightly inland and faster Highway 11, I opted for the latter, ready to find camp. About 20 minutes into that road I came upon a wreck that had just happened. A car had gone off into the ditch & trees and was on fire. Since six or eight cars had already stopped, I figured I couldn’t add much to the aid effort other than to lift up a prayer for everyone’s well being. I knew it was the best thing to do.

Outside the town of Bathurst I stayed in a campground that was, how do I put this properly . . . Twilight Zoneish. Funky little restaurant from the ’60s or early 70s maybe, creepy miniature golf course, lots of long-term campers, some with not just decks and patios but ponds, fountains, dog runs. And, in August, lots of Halloween decorations! In for just the night again (thankfully!), I pulled onto my assigned site and left the truck and B coupled together (except I always disconnect the power tether while parked for a while, never knowing what kind of “power play” B might make when I’m not paying attention!).

Overall, my tour of Gaspé Peninsula added right at 400 kilometers (roughly 250 miles) at a fuel cost of $252. Worth every fuel sucking cent! In the morning I’m attending trailer church and then heading out for a few days, give or take, on Prince Edward Island, my next major stop!

Thru New Brunswick onto Prince Edward Island

Camper Church came late today, as the Grapevine 9:15 Service started at 11:15 Atlantic time. But, second week in a row the video streamed without issues, so there was no cussing at technology during church! As soon as the last word was said I was on the road toward PEI.

Four Rivers Brewery in Bathurst has a good reputation so, alas, I stopped in there for a taster flight on my way out of town. Each style was very good: the amber, the Belgian blonde, the American pale ale and the black IPA. Cool, friendly place too. Have I mentioned the people up here? 😀 I picked up a pint can each of the last two to go.

The drive across heavily forested northern New Brunswick was easy and enjoyable. I took the moose warning signs seriously, as they had 8′ x 12′ signs placed—no joke—about every 7 to 8 kilometers. Didn’t see any animals though, dang it.

West River, Cornwall PEI
West River, Cornwall PEI
West River, Cornwall PEI
West River, Cornwall PEI

A few hours later I was crossing the impressive, 8-mile Confederation Bridge onto Prince Edward Island. The island knows how to grow grass and fields of grain. Very colorful and nice to drive through. A short 20 minutes later I was setting up camp at the KOA on the beautiful blue West River which feeds into Northcumberland Strait. Having come further east in the time zone, the sun was already headed toward its resting place and the temps were falling from the low 70s of the afternoon toward the mid 50s. Good sleeping weather!

I originally thought I’d go into Charlottetown for dinner but decided to grill up a couple pork skewers and watch a movie. I’m here for four nights so there’s plenty of time to check out the doings in town, as well as the rest of the island. And I gotta carve out my Nova Scotia and Newfoundland (pronounce it like understand) plans. G’night Gracie!

Prince Edward Island

Allowing myself three full days on PEI, I decided to first drive the Central Coastal Route to get a feel for the island’s heart. This tourism-driven route provides an excellent sampling of both south and north coasts and takes in the country’s national park. What a pretty place! The roads wound their way through seaside fishing villages, over fertile farmlands, and across the cliffs and beaches of Prince Edward Island National Park.

Island Stone Pub, Kensington PEI
Island Stone Pub, Kensington PEI

About a third of my way into the course the route took me through Kensington, where I stopped into Island Stone Pub for excellent fish & chips and a Gahan 1772 IPA. When in PEI, make this restaurant a target for lunch or dinner. Good stuff!

As the day and route was winding down I visited Upstreet Craft Brewing in Charlottetown where I tasted a flight across their current tap lineup and visited with a couple friendly locals who gave me a few good tips on PEI and my upcoming adventure to Newfoundland. The Denovo III farmhouse Saison and Go Devil IPA were may favs. I’ll likely revisit this little brewery before leaving town!. . .

Tuesday I met up for lunch with a couple friends who live on the island and then headed downtown to check out Charlottetown. Cool town, lots of restaurants, shops, pubs and, yes, a couple breweries! Gahan’s Juicy IPA is a rare juicy IPA that isn’t over-the-top fruity—a four pointer. ‘Twas a good, easy day kicking around the streets of the island province’s capital city.

My last day on PEI I headed east to Cape Bear Lighthouse and Marconi Station. This station (built in 1881) was the first in Canada to hear the Titanic’s distress call in 1912. The lighthouse is still in operation.

I let B in the Box guide me to my next stop: Copper Bottom Brewing in picturesque Montague. I think she’s been to PEI before because it turns out she knows her way around the island’s backcountry roads. Beautiful drive on two lane, occasionally dirt, roads. Lots of patchwork reveal winter’s toll on the asphalt roads. But I enjoyed driving them, my truck feeling even nimble without the trailer in tow.

Back to Copper Bottom: got the best brews on the island overall. Especially liked Broadside pale ale and Parkman DIPA. Since the big IPA was an 8 percenter, I opted for the tamer Broadside to pair with the buffalo chicken wrap from Red’s Grill food truck across the street. Great 72 degree day for lunch on the brewery’s deck overlooking Main Street.

B in the Box, still in charge of getting us back across the island to Charlottetown, did a fine job and deposited us at PEI Brewing Company. I love a girl who knows what I like! 😜

I wrapped up the day back at camp, knocking out a load of laundry and prepping for an early departure in the morning. Prince Edward Island is a very friendly, beautiful place. I could live here—although I should probably get a taste of January thru April before climbing out on that limb, aye?

Next stop: northern Nova Scotia where I’ll drive the Cabot Trail, take in Cape Breton Island National Park and then jump off land for a 7-hour northern bound ferry ride to southwest Newfoundland. I’m still outbound on this trip, very much enjoying Canada’s Maritime Provinces!

Northeast Nova Scotia

Since I failed to get a ferry reservation from PEI to NS for my oversize rig, I retraced miles back to Confederation Bridge, heading south thru a short piece of New Brunswick then into Nova Scotia. Not a big deal; it was a wash in terms of time and a few bucks less than taking the ferry. Plus, I got to see more of NB and NS, as the interstate highway flowed across several rolling ridges of heavily forested and enjoyable mountains. Eventually, I crossed the causeway onto Cape Breton Island. Wow.

Big Spruce Brewery
Big Spruce Brewery
Cape Breton Highlands - Big Spruce Brewery
Cape Breton Highlands – Big Spruce Brewery

About 45 minutes into the island I saw a sign for Big Spruce Brewery and made a quick hard left onto an uphill road where I finagled the trailer into a precarious spot so I could check out the unexpected brewery’s goods. Like they say, good things come in unexpected packages. Or something like that. I do know that Big Spruce is may favoritist brewery of all times, all places. Seriously.  I know you’ve heard that before but I’m totally real serious this time. I just might move here. Yup.

The village of Baddeck is so cool, too. I’m only here one night and have reservations in the national park up north and then for the 7-hour ferry ride to Newfoundland already booked. But I’ll return here whenever I come back from NF. Seems the further I go into the Maritime Provinces, the more I like them in all aspects: geography, history, people. Cannot wait to see what the north cape of Nova Scotia has to offer!


Well, the north cape of the island—largely Cape Breton Highlands National Park—offers up much, Lots of much! I hope God has used some of this incredibly beautiful country as the blueprint for heaven. The Cabot Trail covers much of the highlands of this end of Nova Scotia. It’s a wonderful road (and in short sections, it’s a wretched road; more on that later). I’ve had the blessing of driving many wonderful roads the past few months. Can’t really believe it sometimes. Truly blessed! Thank you, God!

Cabot Trail leaves the community of Braddeck and quickly climbs, with concerning roadbed deterioration into the highlands of the island. Just a couple miles in I was sure every cabinet door was thrown open, spewing its contents into a sea of confusion on the trailer floor (Amy, sorry for any disturbing images of open cabinetry!). But in a few miles the pavement settled down and the drive became quite nice. I now understand how tough winters are on roads and why the two primary seasons up north are winter and construction.

The seaside community of Chéticamp just south of the national park is so cool. Very picturesque; could spend a couple days just looking at the Saint Lawrence Gulf, enjoying the smells of the water. Within a couple kilometers of entering the park there was a small black bear foraging alongside the road. Also so cool. As I continued along the coastal route, I pulled into a few overlooks, talked with a few people, just enjoying the day. Beautiful day.

Skyline Trail is a highlight of the park that crosses a huge headland bluff. I took the 5+ mile loop trail that wound through wind-scoured forests and highland mesas. Didn’t see any moose, though there were plenty of signs they were in the area; it was a great walk in the park!

Hike done, I headed eastward toward my campsite. Cabot Trail continued to delight with its incredible views, and it continued to confound with its sometimes steep and twisty sections—sometimes very steep and very twisty sections! I was thankful for the heft of my F250, especially on the downhills. Man, some of them were intimidating. When I arrived at the KOA in Sydney the rep in the office remarked about hauling a 35′ foot trailer around the Cabot Trail… was impressed. I never felt in danger but there were many sections where I drove the centerline of the roadway because the shoulders were essentially craters. The road definitely required diligence.

Cabot Trail is another of the world’s great coastal routes and despite the tough driving at times, I enjoyed the three days circling northeast Nova Scotia. On to Newfoundland for a week before returning to lower Nova Scotia!

Newfoundland — There’s Something . . .

I was excited as I drove onto the MS Highlanders, the ferry that would take me to Newfoundland. The seven hour, 111 mile, $344 crossing from North Sydney to Port aux Basque was mill pond smooth. Spent time chatting with bartender Sherry, watching a couple freighters cross our rhumb line, and making some vitamin D on the boat’s sun deck. When we arrived in Newfoundland it took me some time to figure out it was now a half-hour later, making the province 2½ hours ahead of Texas.

Disembarking was quick; I was off the boat and headed toward camp in less than 15 minutes from the time we tied up at the dock. And as soon as Trans Canada Highway left the port town, it climbed into the seaside hills, offering beautiful views of the mountains, lakes and coastline. I already knew there was something about this land.

Alice, owner of Grand Codroy RV/Tent Camping, welcomed a couple other ferry travelers and me so warmly. Alice and her husband Dennis have owned the campground since it was passed down from her family after being privatized in the late 90s. This is the best campground I’ve stayed in on this trip. The facilities are great; the people are awesome. Alice is also a great ambassador for Codroy Valley and Southwest Newfoundland . . .  so good, I knew I was not just staying one night before heading north. When she asked how long I’d be in Newfoundland and I told Alice just seven days she said, “that’ll never do.” I knew she was right. There’s something about this land.

That night I joined several other campers at the community fire pit, where we chatted and enjoyed Susan’s guitar and Newfoundland ballads (short video). It was so cool, so fun enjoying the warmth of the fire and new friends, surrounded by trees and hills and brilliant stars breaking through the clouds. I’d heard many times about how friendly Newfoundlanders are and the reports were spot on. I’m convinced you cannot meet a stranger here. Their friendliness must be contagious because all the CFAs I met were so friendly too. After I tossed out a wise crack, Susan laughed loud and said, “oh, you’re a corker!” I considered it a great compliment from a Newfie to a CFA (Come from Away) like me. I had decided to stay another day and was already looking forward to the next night at the fire. There’s something about this land.

(Note: My posts from Newfoundland will pretty closely align with the tourism brochures that break the province into geographic areas including Southwest Coast, Gros Morne, Great Northern Peninsula, Humber Valley, etc. Hopefully that makes sense and will accommodate what I’m sure will be tons of pictures and narratives about exploring this beautiful land.)

Newfoundland — Southwest Coast

In the morning I unhooked B and headed back to Port aux Basque, stopping at the visitor center to get some info. Roberta was so helpful, pointing out what I absolutely had to do, recommending sites and routes and restaurants. A cod lunch at Seaside Restaurant in the tiny fishing village of Margaree was great. I continued eastward on coastal Route 470 passing more fishing villages, many lakes and streams until I arrived at Rose Blanche. The granite lighthouse there is so picturesque, my phone camera fails doing it justice, as I’m sure will be the case throughout this adventure.

Returning to Codroy Valley I meandered it’s few roads, beaches, farms, and river. Back at camp, I pulled out the map and guidebook and started to plot my course north and east. Having decided to stay as long as I needed to to more fully enjoy the island and culture, I found myself planning to spend the next week just on the west side of the rock (as the locals sometimes call it). I rescheduled a campsite reservation and made a couple new ones to carry me through the upcoming Labour Day holiday weekend. With the map now in front of me and with recommendations of locals and other travelers, I was starting to wonder whether I’d be ready to leave the island when the last ferry of the season makes its crossing September 22. Due to the season-ending schedule of the Argentia/North Sydney ferry, I had to either leave by the 15th or on the next boat, a week later. I’ve got some driving, site seeing and route planning to do.

Needing to move on from my favorite campground, I hooked up and headed out for the couple hour drive to Kippens, where I’d drop the trailer and then make the 100 mile circle tour of the Port au Port Peninsula, aka the French Ancestors Route. It was a rainycloudyfoggy day but still a nice drive. I envied the people living on the shoreline with gorgeous views to Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Glad I didn’t bypass this little side trip. I wrapped up the day with a quick provisioning stop at Coleman’s grocery store in Stephenville and a Rickards Red ale at The Bar & Grill. Back at camp, I took advantage of a rare fast & reliable internet connection to catch up on email, upload pictures & videos, write this post, and do some trip research. The brisk wind was clearing out the clouds. Tomorrow promised to be sunny and cool!

Video from the Lighthouse Point

So in the morning, I’m off to Gros Morne National Park, a few hours away. Can’t wait! Yes, there’s something about this land.

Newfoundland — Gros Morne

Rare Rock

Soon after I entered Gros Morne National Park I headed up the road toward The Tablelands and Trout River. Beautiful drive, if you like mountains, trees, rivers, streams, lakes, bays, meadows, broad valleys … and the stark, stunning beauty of our planet’s inner geology. The Tablelands is one of the very few places on earth where the mantle of the planet has pushed itself up through the earth’s crust to expose itself, so to speak.

It. Is. Beautiful.

The short, 4 kilometer hike to the primary viewing platform provides spectacular views of the stark, vegetation-challenged terrain. I felt so wonderfully blessed I could experience such a dramatic display of God’s creation. Truly amazing. I’ve been very fortunate to see so much of this world’s great sights — this rates among the highest. My attempts at photography fail the landscape. It. Is. Beautiful.

Harbor Towns

Saturday I kicked around the harbor towns of Norris Point and Rocky Harbor, enjoying the air, the scenes, the people. The Cats End Pub, where the catamaran ferries dock in Norris Point, is a cool little joint on the water. Bar food, very friendly staff, and at 4pm live music on the deck. I shared a table with a couple from nearby Deer Lake whose friend was playing guitar and signing at the Cat this night. We talked about Newfoundland things and eventually US politics. Pete is in the same camp as me regarding President Trump: he’s a quirky bird but is doing good things for the US—even despite the impact on Canadian trade relations. I found it refreshing to hear that viewpoint. Enough politics.

After the music ended and running on diesel fumes, I filled up—at $4.14 per US gallon—and headed back to camp. Pretty lazy evening in anticipation of tomorrow’s visit to Western Brook Pond.

A Fjord that Once Was

Being 2½ hours ahead of Texas is messing with my Sunday trailer church schedule. The early service doesn’t get started here until 11:45. So I decided to later look in on the Grapevine 5pm service, hoping the iffy 4G signal here doesn’t peter out by then. I got showered up and dressed in a couple layers (one a heavy long-sleeve knit shirt) and headed to Western Brook Pond for the two-hour boat trip to view the fjords.

Apparently the Accuweather forecast of 70 degrees and sunny in Rocky Harbor doesn’t take into account the micro-climates of Gros Morne. By the time I got to the parking lot just off the Viking Trail highway, the wind was blowing at 30 knots and it was cloudy. I found a windbreaker from my Verizon International days in the truck and stuffed it into my pack. Good call.

To tour the fjords, you park in a lot off the highway and walk 5.6 kilometers/3.5 miles (round trip) to the boat dock. This gravel service road winds through scrubby forest, skirts a white-capped pond, crosses meadows of tall grass & earth-hugging shrubs until it drops into Western Brook Pond. I like that you kinda have to earn the privilege to experience the pond and its high cliffs.

Time for a bit of geology I learned: Western Brook Pond used to be an inlet of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, way back in glacier days. But as the glaciers advanced and eventually melted, they depressed the land at the mouth of the glacial canyon below sea level. Eventually the land between the depressed area and the sea lifted, cutting the inlet off from the sea creating an isolated pond. Now the only connection between Western Brook Pond and the ocean is the brook itself which, given the size of the pond, essentially trickles into the gulf. So, while the area once was a fjord, technically it now is not because it’s all fresh water. Water so fresh and pure that it doesn’t properly conduct electricity! Ya, I know. Anyway, Western Brook Pond looks like a fjord, once was a fjord, but now isn’t. But that detracts nothing from its beauty.

The boat ride across the broad expanse of the pond was windy but as soon as we entered the narrows, we were protected from the wind by the high cliffs and the ride was nice. Beautiful waterfalls, rock slides, canyons & cliffs. Really pretty. The day was cloudy & showery so, again, my pics don’t convey the grandeur; I doubt they would if it was a brilliantly bright day. Trust me, it’s beautiful.

Return trip to the dock was blustery—no, make that raw. I was under-dressed. Strong wind and rain showers had me shivering me arse off. But I’m glad I was able to experience this rare geological “freshwater fjord.” Another awesome display of the Creator’s beauty.

Yep, Newfoundland. There’s something about this land.