Newfoundland Travels – Northwest Newfoundland – Travel News News

Northwest Newfoundland is a peninsula starting at Gros Morne Naitonal Park in the South to L’Anse aux Meadows on the Noth end.  This as one area not to be missed.Today we traveled to Gros Morne National Park. Our first stop, however, was at the Newfoundland Insectarium outside of Deer Lake. They have a tropical butterfly garden and exhibits of many worldwide insects. Some of them are huge. But the most dangerous ones to man seem to be the smaller ones, like the mosquito.Off to Gros Morne. We camped at Lomond River Campground, just outside the park. For $16.00 CA, we received full hookup. The campgrounds in the park charge $29.00 per night for no services. That is pretty steep. Took the walking trail along the Lomond River, a salmon river. The salmon were not running, but the scenery was outstanding.Thursday, August 21, 2003Off we went hiking today on one of the many trails in the park. We chose the Green Garden Trail. There are two versions: the long one and the short one. Of course we chose the short one, only nine kilometers in length. We avoided the long hill of the one trail. But we did not miss the one going down to the shore. What goes down must go up, etc. The views were spectacular. The garden is known for its sea stacks and sea caves when the tide has ebbed. The hills are a challenge, but WOW! Neither words nor pictures can do justice for the variety of beauty. Once again the weather was perfect. Rain will be coming, however.Friday, August 22, 2003This morning it rained. By the afternoon the rain stopped and we were able to hike the Tableland Trail. The Tablelands is an interesting phenomenon in Gros Morne. Millions of years ago, when the Appalachian Mountains were formed by a collision of the African Continent and the North American Continent, the Tablelands were the upheaval of the ocean floor. What were left are deposits of heavy metals, such as nickel, iron, manganese, etc., which do not support much life. The rare plant life is found where there is coursing water down the sides of the mountains.. The Provincial plant of Newfoundland, the pitcher plant, grows in abundance. It does not need nutrients from the soil. It receives its nourishment from insects drawn to their death inside the interior of the plant-Yum, Yum!! Audrey II, where are you? Visually, the area looks like someone stripped mined the region and left slag hills as a reminded. This time, however, man is not responsible. The tops of the mountains are relatively flat; thus giving the name of The Tablelands. Across the road is the Green Gardens trail, which is comparatively lush in growth. That trail we took yesterday.From the Tablelands we drove to Trout Lake, once a fjord. A delta formed and enclosed the fjord, making it an inland lake. Here the Tablelands rise to the left, while verdant cliffs ascend to the right. The contrast of geological landscapes is stunning. Neither pictures nor words can adequately describe the beauty.On the way back home, we stopped at the Discovery Center, which explains many of the unique features of this world renowned park. The exhibits were done with a sense of humor, to take some of the stuffiness out of unpronounceable geological names and eras in the world’s development.Saturday, August 23, 2003Another overcast day. We wanted to take the fjord trip on Western Brook Pond. A pond is the Newfoundland name for a lake. WB Pond was once an open fjord filled with salt water. Over the years the mouth filled with debris and the only water in it is fresh from snow melt and from rains. The water is almost pure, sustaining very little life. That means that there is very few fish, little plant life and bacterial life. After parking we have to walk almost one hour to the boat ramp through a variety of coastal ecosystems: peat bogs, marshes, boreal forests, etc. Once we arrived at the wharf with the other 120 tourists, we were greeted with a downpour. Welcome to the fjords. A fjord is literally a finger carved out of the mountains by glacial flow thousands of years in the making.. The walls of the mountains rise from almost 500 feet in the water to over 2500 feet into the sky. Combined with the erosion from the water and the air, these monuments of grandeur are in constant change. Rockfalls can occur any time,and do.The boat takes us through the entire length of the fjord, about 16 miles. The clouds, mists, fog, sun and occasional downpour play with our senses as we travel the canyons.After two and a half hours we return to the wharf for the hike back. Everyone was a buzz with the experience of the trip.We headed North out of the park and wisely stopped at Parson’s Pond overlooking the Bay of St. Lawrence. Almost immediately came a sea squall with rains and winds buffeting our trailer. We were happy to have shelter. When the rain ended we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset and afterglow, the best one we’ve had since Sarasota, FL. We also learned here that the earth is truly round.  With our GPS in hand we tried to point our satellite dish at 22 degrees.  Even though we were fifty feet up on a cliff, we were unable to get a signal.  To all the members of the Flat Earth Society: “You are wrong”.Sunday, August 24, 2003Started our trek on the Northern Peninsula. Our first stop was the Arches, a natural phenomenon of four arches carved into one rock. Further along is Daniel’s Harbour, the home of Myra Bennett, the Florence Nightingale of the North. She ministered up and down the coast as the only medical practitioner around, delivering over 700 babies, setting bones, performing surgeries, and tending to the general health care of the population. The town was in the news yesterday, having the funeral of the modern doctor who had allegedly killed her baby and then herself.Port au Choix is a National Historic Site, having been the home to the Atlantic Maritime, Dorset Indians and numerous other tribes. Each left records in the earth of their habitation of the area. All along the coast are small towns, whose main occupations were fishing or sealing. Today the government has banned cod fishing, and has put monthly limits on halibut, turbot, lobster, crab and other sea food. From the number of lobster traps seen along the highway, the lobster business must be very good in the area. On the opposite side of the road are the Long Range Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountain Range. The scenery is stunning.Saw Labrador across the Strait of Belle Isle. We made reservations for the ferry from Cartwright to Goose Bay for Friday evening. We have a few days to spend on the peninsula. The road took us across the peninsula near the northern tip. Here the land is marsh and bog, the home of the highest concentration of moose and caribou on the island. We spent the night along the road near a quarry. So far no moose or caribou. Perhaps they are afraid of Morgana. We did see a bald eagle flying along the coast: a first for us.All along the road in the bog areas the locals have planted their vegetable gardens, usually of potatoes, turnips, onions, cabbage, etc.-all of the ingredients for a genuine ‘jigs dinner’. Their plots are twenty by twenty and larger. Some are miles from the nearest towns. There is no poaching of another’s garden, except by the moose and caribou.Monday, August 25, 2003Drove to L’Anse aux Meadows (Anse is an Old French term for Cove) , an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site was discovered by Drs. Helge and Stine Ingstad who had been searching for the Viking settlement known as Vinland in the New World. From the Norse sagas and maps drawn they knew that the Vikings had come to the area about 1,000 AD. They traveled the route taken and recorded by the Viking sagas and stopped at the isolated villages asking if there were any ruins in the area. When they came to L’Anse aux Meadows after hundreds of disappointments, fisherman George Decker brought them to some ruins in the grazing fields. The origins were still unknown. It could have been from paleoeskimo times or other Aboriginal Tribes. With permission they uncovered Viking ruins c. 1000 AD. They found an iron smelter, the first one in North America, with the remains of leftover slag. With the help of the National Geographic Society, they uncovered eight buildings, including dwellings, workshops, smithy and furnace. They have come to believe that a group of 70-90 people settled here as a jumping off point for further exploration South. They are led to believe that Leif Eiriksson even spent some time in the settlement, where ships were repaired and sailors were given a safe haven. The site is directly on the Labrador Current, which extends from Greenland and passes by Labrador and Newfoundland. From the site you can see the shore of Labrador about twenty miles distance. Also found were chips of European Pine, used for ship building and a bronze pin to hold their garments together. No one knows why the area was abandoned. Inuit legend says that they warred with strange men and drove them away. Also on the premises is a modern reconstruction of an Iron Age Viking village. Because of safety reasons more ventilation is provided and the fire is propane. The rest of the building is pretty authentic, judging from my memory of visiting similar structures years ago in Europe.On the way out of the parking lot, we encountered our first moose: three bulls and one cow. They were at the side of the road, the males laying down chewing their cud, while the female was standing over them. After a while she gave up on them and sauntered off into the forested area. In a month the scene will change and the males will not be so contented. It will be rutting season and they will be vying against each other for the amorous attentions of the cow. Right now they are acting like couch potatoes, munching on their snacks and watching the tourists.Our next stop was the Black Tickle Ecomuseum of berries. Here local berries are made into jams and other delicacies. These berries include such exotic names as bake apple, squash, partridge, crow, blue, black, cracker, etc. The visitor can view the process of making the products through glass windows and then sample some of the products for sale.Our next step is the Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve. Guided tours are given by the staff at Pistolet Provincial Park twice daily. We were too late for them and went on our own. The area looks like a barren rock with patches of green interspersed. In these green areas are over three hundred different varieties of plants, at least thirty are extremely rare and some are only found at this site. What makes this place so unique is the weather patterns. The area is about one hundred feet above the shore. The winds and waves have carved out sea caves and other interesting oddities. These same winds, frequent rain and constant fluctuations between hot hand cold make this area a unique ecosystem. Many of the flowers are no larger than a pin head. You have to be careful of where you walk lest you crush one of them. There are trails which you can follow to other parts of the reserve. They are very narrow and the drop-off to the sea is usually fatal. Took the tail a way, but then saw storm clouds quickly rising in the West. Seeing that trail would be very slippery when wet, I did not want to have a swim in the cold waters. So I headed back to safety.Our final stop was St. Anthony to pick up necessary provisions. This is the home of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, a medical missionary, who helped develop the area and minister to the needs of the settlers about 100 years ago.Tuesday, August 26, 2003More rain and wind today with temperatures in the 40s F. We are happy we did our sightseeing yesterday. We made the decision to drive to the ferry in St. Barbe and go over to Labrador. We arrived at the ticket office in plenty of time for the 13:00 crossing, but were told that it was dangerous goods only. We reserved a spot of the 18:00 crossing. Mags was very interested in the departure of the ferry boat, with the bow of the ship closing like a shark’s mouth. So for the next five hours we did an Otis Redding (Sitting on the Dock of the Bay), had lunch and read, while the wind howled around us.At 17:30 we were the first to board the ship and had a nose position in stern-the ferry opens at both ends for easy moving of cars and trucks. The crossing took only 1 ½ hours, fighting the high winds and the Labrador Current. Many passengers were using the little white bags. The Apollo is quite a dowager, in need of some TLC. She has staterooms, a sit-down restaurant, and cafeteria, play area for the kids, lounge and a few recliners. The latter were hard to get. Since we were one of the first ones on board, we were lucky. They broadcast the news on a television right in front of us. Because of the headwinds we arrived a little behind schedule at Blanc Sablon, PQ. Mags was delighted again, because she saw the boat opening up from the inside this time.(She amuses easily.) First off the boat, we found a perfect parking spot on a hill overlooking Blanc Sablon on one side and L’Anse-au-Clair, NF on the other: A Tale of Two Cities and Provinces.For our efforts of the day, we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset and afterglow starring all the colors of the spectrum.