New Found Land, the West Side
The NFLD Ferry swallows our Toyota Pick-up for a smooth, six-hour ride to Channel-Port aux Basques, Newfoundland.We waste no time finding a Provincial Park, and light a campfire before dark. Brrr…, taking a pee under the stars in the cold night reminds one that they’re alive.
In the morning, forget about cooking coffee. A brisk 42 degrees Fahrenheit convinces us to hightail it to “Tim Horton’s.” If you’re on a road trip through Canada, remember that Tim Horton’s is your drive-through coffee/snack friend!Welcome to Gros Morne National Park, where glaciers, frost, and flowing water have carved deep lakes and fjords out of bedrock. Some of these tectonic plates, the earth’s mantle, have traveled here from as far away as the equator to heave mountains into place. Plants can’t even grow on some of this strange rock. A steady upward trail passes meat-eating plants. The Pitcher Plant is the floral emblem of Newfoundland and Labrador.The mountain top views of the area remind us of the Mt. Riley trail in Alaska, but geographically older, thus minus jagged, snow-capped peaks.
Hiking/walking coastal trails surround the working port of St. Anthony. Fresh air and rugged wilderness leave us lightheaded.Even local folks come out to the lighthouse in the morning to sip coffee with a view. One man teaches me how to pronounce the name of his province, “NewfenLAND.” He tells a story about the boat being tugged in the bay.“My brother was on that fishing boat,” he says. “He was stuck out at sea without a rudder for two days before being rescued. Can you imagine being at the mercy of wind and tides for two days?”
Instead of going fishing for cod, we order at a restaurant. I order cod tongues, which are the fleshy lower jaw lightly fried, while Marilynn gets fish’n brewis, which is salted cod, hard tac, onions and scrunchins (fried salt pork!). Excellent!To the top of the island with you, Viking! Yes, Leif Erikson first landed right here.
The Vikings constructed sod buildings for living and storage.Decomposing plants from bogs and fens in this area produce acids, which leach iron and other minerals from the soil and bedrock.When the iron rusts, it adheres to sand and peat particles, forming nodules of bog iron. The Vikings forged bog iron into boat rivets. Could this be Newfoundland’s first blast furnace?A young couple gathers bakeapple berries (cloud berries) that grow in the bogs and fens. They spend a lot of time gathering wild berries to make jams and other delights to supplement the fish, moose, and caribou that will fill their freezer for winter.We could spend more time with these friendly folks, and have much more to see in Newfoundland, but first will ferry over to explore Labrador. Stay tuned!