Thursday, September 07, 2006

Traveling Pants: Newfoundland

This entry will be the first in a series entitled "Traveling Pants" in which I shall document my travels. Over the summer, I earned, among a small group of friends, the nickname "Pants". The reason for this is unimportant. Also, I have neither read nor seen The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, so I don't know how (in)appropriate the title might be.

From August 27-30, I traveled to the west coast of Newfoundland with my parents and sister. This was our first time to Newfoundland, with the exception of a trip my father made to Corner Brook and Deer Lake in the 1970s. It seems odd that we had never gone before seeing as we live so close to the ferry terminal, but better late than never.

Sunday, August 27
We took the 9:00 ferry from North Sydney, NS to Port aux Basques, NL. The 6-hour trip was very smooth and we arrived only a bit behind schedule because they were not ready for us at the terminal when we arrived. We proceded to drive 3 hours north to Steady Brook (the highway signs actally read "East" for some reason). We stayed in a cabin at George's Mountain Village at the base of Marble Mountain. It was a very nice, quiet spot. It must be very nice in the winter for the ski crowd that stay there. We took a drive around Corner Brook and at supper at the Crown & Moose Pub, which was good, but not quite as nice as the one at the Delta Hotel in Sydney.

Monday, August 28
In the morning we spent some time in the souvenir and ski shop at George's and we got a better look at the ski hill and some of the larger buildings associated with it, none of which appeared to be open for the summer. We then continued to drive north to enter Gros Morne National Park. For more information on the park visit:
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Gros Morne
Parks Canada: Gros Morne National Park
This was where the scenery becomes noteworthy. We stopped in Norris Point, a quaint village we were quite taken with. This is the view of Norris Point from Jenniex House, which serves as a small museum, as well as a craft and souvenir shop, and a coffee shop.

As with many of the smaller places we drove through, it is easy to tell the villages rely on fishing as a means of income because there are a lot of nice new homes, but no sign of any other industry.

A 40-minute drive from the park entrance brought us to Rocky Harbour where we stayed for the next two nights at Mountain Range Cottages. The cottage were new and very clean. We ate supper at the restaurant in the Ocean View Motel. Mom and Dad enjoyed their pasta dishes, but I was very disappointed with my salmon. It was clearly just frozen Highliner fish and I couldn't even finish eating it. After dinner, we took a walk around and visited some craft shops. There was a beautiful sunset on the ocean.

Tuesday, August 29
We woke early with plans to take the Western Brook Pond Boat Tour. From Rocky Harbour, it is a 20-minute drive to the entrance. There is an easy 3km trail walk to the dock. The path is almost entirely flat with boardwalks over marshy areas. Along the way, I took this picture, which is one of my favourites from the trip.

The 2.5-hour boat tour travels through Western Brook Pond, a former fjord (now fresh water rather than salt) formed by glacial movement during the last ice age. The pond is 174m deep. The water has so few ions that it does not conduct electricity, and is very low in nutrients, so it supports very little plant and animal life. The two tour boats are the only boats that run on the pond. One was dragged in by a sled in the winter; the other was flown in by helicopter in parts. The tour is very interesting and provides for some lovely scenery.

The tour guides pointed out this rock formation called "The Old Man in the Mountain". I have done him up Ellen-style with hat and pipe for my own amusement:

In the late afternoon, we drove to the Discovery Centre which provides a nice view of Bonne Bay and a spot for Buchanan-family photos.

We continued to drive up the highway through the Tablelands, where the North American and Eurafrican continental plates once collided, pushing the Earth's mantle above the crust. Driving through, it does not feel like Newfoundland; it looks more like a desert. There is a stark contrast in the rock as can be seen in this photo with the Tablelands on the right and typical Newfoundland rock on the left.

Should I ever get back to the park, I would like to take the guided walking tour of the Tablelands to learn and see a bit more. There is also a boat tour of Trout Brook Pond that I would like to take. We took a drive through the town of Trout Brook. It's not as inviting as Norris Point (looks like it may have come upon harder times). It's really isolated and made Alana appreciate all there is to do in Sydney. On the way back, we drove around Woody Point which also seemed very nice. There is a water taxi between Woody Point and Norris Point.

We went back to Rocky Harbour for supper and at at Jackie's Restaurant & Take-Out. We decided to go there based on the large number of cars in the parking lot and we weren't disappointed. Their homemade fries are delicious.

Wednesday, August 30
Before leaving Rocky Harbour, we discovered a fish plant selling fresh and frozen fish, so we bought a load of salt cod, salt tarbot, fresh cod, mackrel, halibut, and some clam strips. We managed to fit it all in the cooler and pack it with ice for the trip home. On the way back to Port aux Basques, we stopped again at Norris Point and Corner Brook. We also drove around Stephenville and Port au Port peninsula where we saw an alpaca farm.

To sum things up, the trip consisted of a lot of driving and a lot of scenery. On the agenda should I ever go back: more hiking, and getting Screeched in.

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