On the Rock

Harvey and I are spending two weeks on the east coast. We have started with a week ‘on the rock’ – in Newfoundland. 

On Saturday, we flew to St John’s – a great Air Canada flight that touched down in Ottawa, but we didn’t even have to deplane. It’s a bit of a shock to have a 3 1/2 hour time change with what seemed like a relatively quick flight. Speaking of that, I’m sure you are aware that Newfoundland is the only area in North America with a half hour time zone difference. There are a number of other areas of the world with this quirky time, but did you know that there are some with a 15 minute difference?! That would be very strange!

We spent Saturday night at a new Holiday Inn Express, a stone’s throw from the airport – I would recommend this hotel if you happen to need one near the St John’s airport. 

Sunday morning, we took off on the TransCanada Highway (known here as the TCH). We can now say we have been on both ends of the TCH, as well as most of it in between. We travelled over 600 km, arriving in Deer Lake to spend the night. The highway was great and there was some great scenery. In the St John’s area, we thought we wouldn’t be seeing much fall foliage as the majority of the trees were conifers. But this changed as we headed east. I think we may be a wee bit early for the height of the fall colours, and the colours are primarily yellow and orange, lacking the reds of the northeastern U.S. You may know that we are connoisseurs of fall foliage (right, Deb?), and this isn’t the best, but still pleasant to see. 

We stopped in a couple of small villages and viewpoints and enjoyed the scenery. Here are some photos taken at Norman’s Cove and near Gambo (at Joey’s Lookout, named after Joey Smallwood).

We had a picnic lunch at Notre Dame Provincial Park. The park was closed for the year, but we thought it looked like it would be a great place to camp – however, it’s a bit of a drive from Stony Plain. 

Deer Lake’s claim to fame is being the heart of the snowmobile world. They apparently have many miles of groomed trails in the winter. Great cuisine is not one of their high points, and we ended the day with dinner at Jungle Jim’s. To my surprise, the food was actually quite tasty, although the Sangria was more like tropical juice. 😦

Monday morning, we were on the road again, heading north on The Viking Trail. We entered Gros Morne National Park, stopping at the Visitor Centre for our park pass and some information. Many of the park attractions and activities closed for the season at some point in September, but we are here to see the area and aren’t concerned with the closures. 

Gros Morne National Park is located on the west coast of Newfoundland. At 1,805 km², it is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada. Shaped by colliding continents and grinding glaciers, Gros Morne’s ancient landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is named for Newfoundland’s second-highest mountain peak (at 806 m or 2,644 ft), which looms over the park. 

We checked out the community of Norris Point and Bonne Bay. This area looks like it would be quite the bustling tourist destination in the summer months. Now, it was a lovely village. 

We travelled through Rocky Harbour and stopped at Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse. The light at this lighthouse was activated in 1898 and the exhibit shows  details of life there over the years. The final lighthouse keeper retired in 1970, a year after automated equipment was installed. 

Travelling north, we stopped in Cow Head and Parson’s Pond, where we paid homage to the homeland of Harvey’s work mate, Ted.

Speaking of Parson’s Pond, we have no idea what constitutes a pond in NL. What we would call a very large lake in Alberta is often called a pond here! Likewise, many ‘brooks’ would definitely be rivers in Alberta. 

We stopped for lunch at the Arches Provincial Park. Here three natural arches have been formed by tidal forces. At low tide, you can walk under the arches – but you certainly wouldn’t have wanted to try that when we were there. 

Our next stop along the way was at Port au Choix. This area is considered of the richest archeological finds in North America. Burial sites uncovered in the town in the 1960s & 70s provide evidence of its earliest settlers – from the Maritime Archaic Indians to the Groswater and Dorset Palaeoeskimos to the Recent Indians (ancestors of the Beothuks). It is a National Historic Site of Canada. The Visitor Centre is closed for the year, so we didn’t see any of the archeological findings. 

However, we continued on the road to the Point Riche lighthouse, where we encountered one of the day’s highlights – a family of caribou! They were not phased at all by our presence and it was great to watch them grazing. 

We travelled the rest of the way non-stop to our destination of St Anthony. Our journey today was ~425 kilometres.  We are staying at the Grenfell Heritage Hotel. In my next post, I’ll tell you some of the Grenfell story and more about St Anthony. 

Again, many of the area restaurants are closed for the season, but we were directed to one known for its home cooking. The grilled salmon and pan-fried cod were excellent! 

By the way, the weather on Sunday was great – sunny and 16. Cooler on Monday – high of 6, mix of sun and the odd shower. 

More later on our day today on the Northern Peninsula!


B & H