WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15 – JIM CANTORE MUST VACATION HERE
Before we stopped at Mary Brown’s we visited the local grocery store a couple of miles from the airport.
We picked up breakfast for the next day: A few cheese bagels, a store brand block of cheesecake brownies and some mini butter tarts. I guess butter tarts are a Canadian thing, because I’ve never seen them in the U.S.
They’re bite sized and some kind of sugary paste that’s delightful. The cheesecake brownies were OK – they looked better than they were. Of course, store bagels are always passable, and thank God for Canada, which offers cheese as an option atop practically everything.
This photo in the office that runs all of the cabins cracked me up.
The forecast called for about a tenth of an inch of rain, which I interpreted as drizzle or a light shower. As we were about to learn firsthand, weather predictions are next to useless in this part of the world.
The plan for today was pretty ambitious. We had two boat trips planned: One near Trout River and the other was in Gros Morne National Park.
Trout River was a 90-minute drive to the southwest, although it’s probably only 20 miles from Rocky Harbour as the crow flies. The other was about 20 minutes north of our cabin.
We drove a large part of the stretch back to Deer Lake to get to the turnoff for Trout Lake, and I now that I could see it I was stunned to see how dangerous it was. Large cliffs dropped off hundreds of feet in every direction.
It was even a little sunny when ventured out.
More cloudy, and a moose warning sign. You can see the changing face of the rocks as we get closer to our destination. And I asked, and yes, that is snow on the far left side of the below photo. Apparently a major snowfall came through in late June and still hadn't melted.
It looked like rain but that held off until our 8 a.m. boat ride. It started drizzling when we reached the boat dock, and by the time we boarded and took off it was a steady downpour.
I was prepared to do this in shorts and a polo, but fortunately I listened to Cathy and took a poncho she had brought.
It was just us, another older Canadian couple, our guide Rebecca and Alex, the captain. At maximum speed, the rain drops stung when they hit the skin and the temperature dropped into the 50s.
But while I was holding down the poncho and frantically trying to preserve as many dry patches of body as possible, our four Canadian companions seemed totally unaffected.
And it rained the entire time out, a 16 km drive. And it rained the entire time back. I had kept my hind quarters dry for the first half but ultimately had to move and was forced to sit back down in a wet spot. Actually, the whole boat was a giant wet spot, including the six of us.
It was miserable. I was miserable. Photo-taking was impossible. And it’s a shame, because our guide and captain were outstanding. Rebecca is practically an encyclopedia of provincial ecology.
The short version is that we could actually see the exposed mantle of the planet, which sounded pretty cool.
The provincial site says it way better than I ever could: "By the Early Devonian (410 million years ago), Laurentia and Gondwana had collided, forming a huge, new continent. Across the middle of the continent, where the Iapetus Ocean had once been, there was a mountain range, and halfway along this lay what is now Newfoundland. Over time, these mountains were gradually eroded by wind and rain. By the Carboniferous (360 million years ago), Newfoundland was once again fairly low-lying and swampy valleys and lakes on the west coast were filling with sand, mud, and plant debris. These are now preserved as sandstone, shale and coal, respectively. At the same time, parts of the sea were drying up, leaving evaporite rocks (salt and gypsum) behind."
They call this island The Rock because that’s pretty much what it is. Not much grows here so there were very few farms, just a lot of unspoiled, unpopulated countryside that makes for excellent sightseeing and relaxing driving.
Well, a least when it's not raining.
Anyway, we sloshed back to the car and jacked the heat up to 80 degrees for the 80-minute ride back to Rocky Harbour. When we got our nearly-hypothermic selves back inside the cabin, we couldn’t strip away our soaked clothes quickly enough.
Fortunately for everyone here there are no photos of that either. As of this post, Cathy’s socks still haven’t dried.
It was now noon, and we had a second boat ride scheduled for 3 p.m. I was obviously leaning toward nixing it, especially since it was still raining. We decided to do lunch and reassess.
I had two more highly-reputed options in mind, but we decided on Sunset Restaurant
in town. In Newfoundland, a lot of diners are attached to gift shops, and this one had the souvenir store downstairs and the restaurant in the top floor.
It was a small place with about 10 tables, a very pleasant server and a cook. The menu was sandwich-centric, so I ordered the special: A ham, cheese and spinach panini with lobster bisque. Cathy got a chicken and bacon wrap with ranch.
Our lunches. https://www.facebook.com/...rant-1406897459332949/
We also decided to split an appetizer of Thai chicken bites. Laugh if you will, a lot of places I’ve been to in Canada do the Thai chili sauce thing well. And they were the highlight of the meal. Crunchy little bites of heaven on a bed of Chinese noodles and vegetables.
My panini was solid. Canada typically does ham right, and the bread had the perfect baguette firmness. Cathy’s sandwich was also quality. My bisque was OK. A little fishy tasting and the flavors didn’t flow that well.
Overall a pretty good meal though.
That yellow cup on my plate is a curry-mayo-balsamic sauce. I really enjoyed that, as it was perfect for dipping fries, and I vowed to make that once we got home.
The rain had slowed, and we decided to at least make the 20-minute trek north to the boat trip location.
The good news was that this boat would be covered, so we wouldn’t suffer if it started pouring again. The bad? It was a 3 km walk to get to the dock.
By the time we reached the park, the drizzle had stopped, so we decided to venture in just five hours after getting a kick in the head from Mother Nature.
The road there consisted of jagged rocks. The people on the first tour were all in agreement that it was a travesty the road wasn’t natural.
It was obvious even to me that the next step was going to be paving said road.
I can kind of see both sides. Yes, a natural road would be optimal but an easier commute would probably bring in more tourists and generate more revenue that can be reinvested in the area.
It sort of reminded me of the discussion we had with the young man those of us who went to the big cat sanctuary in Kansas had. They likely would’ve profited from letting their tigers procreate but chose not to.
It’s a tough call, but in this case some clearly weren’t happy with this road.
Unlike the U.S. where one can typically drive up to within five feet of awesome scenery on paved roads, Canada’s parks tend to make you earn the money shots, typically with long and/or arduous walks. And really that anticipation is a good thing and makes you appreciate the end result more.
We saw an older gentleman, probably in his last 50s, sitting on a bench about halfway there. He said that he had wanted to see this site since he was a boy, but that his wife of two months took one look at the 3 km road and said no way.
I joked that I hoped his marriage lasted for at least three months. He did finish the walk but did not board the boat. Smart man.
When we finally arrived they were not selling tickets yet because the other boat was out and they wanted to get a report from its captain about water conditions.
About 10 minutes later an employee said they were selling tickets but it was foggy and visibility would be limited.
Now to this point, I didn’t know the specifics of this particular boat trip and was just trusting Cathy’s judgment.
She was clearly bummed, as she obviously couldn’t take any pictures from the first ride and now was facing major disappointment again.
We talked for a couple of minutes and decided to go anyway.
This was the fjord trip, straight through a pair of huge rocks and into a miles-long corridor of amazing scenery. The fog was nowhere near as bad as advertised and only obstructed the peaks of many of the rocks on either side.
The weather alternated between no rain, drizzle, modest rain, peak of sunlight on literally a second-by-second basis, which seems to be the norm on this island.
The rain didn’t even bother me. I could’ve ridden for hours. The pictures tell a better story than I ever could, and even they don’t do this region justice.
Waterfalls abound here.
The sun peaks through in the distance.
We came back to the cabin and decided to head out for dinner. My top choice was out because it closed at 8 p.m. and it was already after 7 p.m. We went to Fisherman’s Landing
in downtown Rocky Harbour instead.
There were four families ahead of us on the list, so we checked out the attached liquor store-slash-gift shop next door.
Cathy went for a regionally inappropriate pineapple and ham sub and we split an order of cheese sticks. I got the fish and brewis (pronounced “brews”), which is salted cod mixed with scrunchions – fried pork fat – and boiled bread in the form of tiny, cooked dough balls.
It didn’t taste like anything I’d ever had, so the flavor is very hard to describe, but I liked it. It doesn’t sound like it would work from a texture perspective but it did.
I also ordered the appetizer version of bacon and scallops, which were pretty good. Cathy said they smelled fishy and didn't indulge.
The fish and brewis:
Mmmm...iceberg beer from local Quidi Vidi Brewing. http://fishermanslandingrestaurant.com/menu/
Check out those prices!
A look at the harbo(u)r.
We went back and I decided to head out to the one bar that was open until 11. It was about a half mile walk into town, straight downhill.
My foot discomfort, which was about a two all day on a scale of one to 10, suddenly shot up to a four on the way there. My intestines also started telling me this may not have been such a good idea. Already halfway down the hill, I carried on anyway.
I finally arrive at the pub and there’s a lady sitting at a table by the front door asking if I had a ticket. I said I didn’t and she said sorry, the show was sold out. What show exactly I’ll never know, but it was 8 p.m. on a Wednesday, so I thought that was odd.
That was strike three, so instead I bought a six pack, put on my crampons and ascended the hill for home. Turns out I only got through one beer before losing consciousness, begging the question: Why in the holy hell did I put myself through all that?
post edited by Bonk - 2018/08/26 17:55:46