Friday, 5 September 2014

Gros Morne to the East Coast

We arrived back at Gros Morne
Just inside the Park looking towards Gros Morne Mountain
and met up with our “cocktail buddies” at Gros Morne RV Park. We had seen a moose up close, but they had seen caribou. We were in the middle area this time, in a big, level, private site fairly near the wifi. John got good wifi, I only had the iPad, and had some difficulty. We had a private grassy area beside the trailer with our picnic table on it. This proved a great place to have our evening cocktails.

It was a beautiful sunny day so we decided to hike part of the Coastal Trail towards Green Point. The first section is beside a beautiful salmon river.
The Red Chairs in each National Park this year
Then across the coast, sometimes on the cliff and sometimes down to the rocky shore.
A narrow path, but right by the rocky beach
Inland were pretty meadows and bog, but no moose.
However, there were lots of wildflowers. Here we saw excellent examples of the tuckamore,
They are so dense there are often like 'caves'
the Newfoundland term for stunted and windswept balsam fir and spruce trees that grow in alpine areas and along the coast.

We were home early because we went invited to our friends’ RV for a wonderful cedar-planked salmon dinner. We had a lovely evening catching up- good company, good food and good wine.

 We took the next day for ourselves -out of tourist- mode- to wash the trailer, dust, clean windows and mirrors, and sort through bins to try to consolidate. To treat ourselves, we went to the local fish plant and got 2 lobsters, about 2 lb each, and had a feast.

We were up and out bright and early -unusual for us- to drive to Woody Point to The Tablelands. It had been a short drive and short water taxi ride, but it was a long drive around by land. There was an interpretative trail hike on The Tablelands at 10am. There were about 20 or so of us with water, sunscreen, hats and good shoes. The Tablelands are world renowned geological formation which provided evidence supporting the theory of plate tectonics. These rocks, a slice of ancient ocean floor, are the best example of earth’s mantle, exposed. They were pushed up in place as continents collided half a billion years ago, and then they were shaped by glaciers less than 15, 000 years ago.

Looking up to the top- That is snow on the right side of the 'bowl'
A stream coming down from the top
The rocks of the upper mantle are peridotite, and appear on the surface as rusty, orange-brown, flat-topped mountains.  Freshly exposed, the rock has a dark greenish colour.  When exposed to the surface, the iron in the peridotite reacts with the oxygen in the air; in other words the whole rock is slowly rusting away. Many of the rocks have a snake-like skin, called serpentenite, a metamorphosed peridotite. 
Serpentenite- so called for the snake skin-like surface.

Water seeping through the rock reacts with the periditite resulting in a loss of calcium, changing the rock. Few plants grow in this barren land due to its high metal content. But we managed to find the provincial flower, the pitcher plant, a carnivorous plant which collects water in its coiled leaves.
Provincial Flower- Pitcher Plant
The hike ends along a boardwalk,
at a beautiful little waterfall.
The waterfall, and the boulders that you climb to go to the top
The end of the mountains, the climb to the top
You could continue to hike to the top on your own; however, the walk is on small boulders up a 45-degree hill. We found it very hard to walk on, so retraced our steps.

From the parking lot, we drove on up the road, past more of the Tablelands,
to Trout River. This is a charming small fishing community. There is a small harbour,
The outer harbour with fishing huts
The Inner harbour
a boardwalk by the sea,
The boardwalk, and sandy beach

a small community museum and a heritage home.

We had a lovely late lunch at the local restaurant then walked the boardwalk to the harbour and the road on the way back. The houses are quite close to the road, a feature we have noticed in many of the fishing communities. We drove by the back of the tablelands, 

The other side of the tablelands
and back to Woody Point, and around the town, before we left for Rocky Harbour.

Finally, we headed back to Prince Edward Park in Corner Brook to get me a new computer. We had excellent service at the local Staples store from the sales staff and the technical staff. We narrowed it down to another Toshiba Satellite. Unfortunately, buying the computer is the easiest part. Since all my program disks are somewhere in the storage locker back in Ontario, I had to purchase Microsoft Office, Norton Antivirus and Adobe Photoshop Elements again. Luckily, I had the hard drive and the back up on the external hard drive, so they were able to put all the data on my new computer. We were able to pick it up the next afternoon and leave the following morning. Unfortunately the WiFi was not working at the RV Park, so I couldn’t even try it out. It was very frustrating for the first week. I had to get used to Windows 8, and none of my saved accesses worked, because the sites didn’t recognize the computer. Thank goodness I know all my passwords.

While we were in Corner Brook, we were driving around exploring the city and looking for a particular store when we spotted a funky coffee shop. We parked on the opposite side of the road, and went to wait for a break in traffic to cross. To our amazement, a car coming from the right stopped, and so did one on our left, so we could cross the busy road. This had happened a couple of times in smaller towns, but never at 4:30 on a busy road in a city.  Try having that happen in Toronto.

When we were unhitching in the RV Park, John had trouble getting the sway bars off. He had backed in on a sharp angle a couple of times and the ring that fits over the ball on the hitch was bent out of shape. Since we hadn’t unhitched at Port au Choix, we hadn’t noticed. He finally got them off, but a trip to the RV Dealer was indicated. We ended up buying new sway bars. However, since I had been sitting in a broken chair taped together, I got a new chair at the same time. It even has a little table that flips up. Needless to say, since then, he now takes the sway bars off if he has to back up.

Time to leave the sunny, hot West coast, and head inland towards the east coast where we understand they have been having the good weather too. The drive inland is very much like driving in Northern Ontario.
Hills, trees and lakes
Lots of fir trees, and some mountains inland
There are spruce, the first birch trees we have seen and alders, lots of rivers and brooks, and a rugged wild landscape. We drove to Grand Falls-Windsor to spend one night and managed to get into Sanger Memorial Park. The sites are beautiful- full hook-up, perfectly level, wide and gravelled.

Beautiful wide, level lot
Ours overlooked the Exploits River, about 15 ft above it. Washrooms are large with clean, large separate showers. We took a walk along a beautiful boardwalk and path beside the river, meeting some interesting folks and dogs along the way.

On our way out, we stopped at the Salmonid Interpretation Centre at the Grand Falls Fishway. There are exhibits and displays on Fish Biology, Ecology, Habitat and history of the Exploits River development. On the lower floor, you can see salmon at the viewing windows. However, “the fish call these People Viewing Windows”, said our very knowledgeable guide. 
From there we walked out on the Fish Ladders. From the bottom of the 500 ft. long fishway, we could see the fish jumping up the ladder.
Looking at the beginning of the fishway
There is a short path up to a lookout where we could look at the "Grand Falls"
Grand Falls
and both up and down the river. Before we left we enjoyed a light lunch on the patio of the restaurant, and of course a quick stop at the gift shop on our way out.

We tried to get into Dildo Run Provincial Park near Twillingate, with no luck as they were booked solid, so we chose Woolfrey’s Pond in Lewisporte. The park is delightful with large offset, pull-through sites in the centre
Wide, large  and level sites
and back-in sites on the edges, and quite a few sites in a forested area,
and a beautiful beach on the edge of the lake.

It rained our first day there, so we decided to drive to Gander to see the airport. When we stopped at the Visitors’ Centre, the girls there could not understand why we would want to go to the airport if we were not flying anywhere.  The traffic was backed up for a long time just before the exit from the TCH because of construction, so we took a short-cut. There are 10 or so display cases with the history of aviation, with the emphasis on the race to be the first pilot to cross the Atlantic. On the second floor, is the viewing room, where most people go to watch planes take off and land. However, if you look the opposite way into the airport, you look at a piece of the past. Looking down into the International Lounge is like being in a time warp.
72ft Mural by Kenneth Lockhead, Director of the School of the Arts, Regina U of S. 1959
Airport Lounge officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II, in June 1959
Gander was the hub of the air, until the late 60’s, as planes flying to and from the continent had to land at Gander to refuel. This lounge has seen everyone from Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope to the Beatles, British Royalty to Idi Amin and Mohamad Ali, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny and Roy Rogers pass through its doors. 
Can you match names and pictures?
 There are few International flights today, just a few medivacs, US air force transports and a few private jets. Domestic passengers now pass through a glassed-in tunnel separated from this lounge.

Leaving Gander, we drove to the site and memorial of the crash of the Arrow Air DC 8 on December 15, 1985.
"The Silent Witness"
The plane carrying 256 members of the101st Airborne Division and air crew returning home from a peacekeeping mission in Egypt, crashed on take-off from Gander.

The next day we drove to Twillingate.
The road to Twillingate
A small fishing community
This is a delightful little town right up at the tip of the peninsula. It was again very much like travelling through Northern Ontario with lots of lakes -many of which were actually inlets- and bays and coves along the coast. There was a wonderful Fish Market right on the cove where we picked up fresh cod, scallops and frozen crab legs. We drove out to the lighthouse
Twillingate Lighthouse
Looking at the boats from the Lighthouse lookout
to catch site of more icebergs and whales (there was an iceberg, but no whales). We had been told there was an iceberg in town grounded behind the liquor store, so we drove back to find a really big ice cube – hardly a bergy bit let alone a real ‘berg.
We found it!

Just in time before it began to break up
We explored interesting little villages at Herring Neck and Salt Harbour as well,

Salt Harbour
and drove out another side road to find a cliff which John climbed, then came down to drive me out on a 2-track road over rocks and small bushes to fins a cove with a sandy beach and one house. We were very glad to have 4-wheel drive.

The sandy cove from the top of the hill

At Woolfrey’s many of the trailers belong to Newfoundlanders who come up every weekend. Some live as close as Twillingate, about 80km away. But the weekend is a great time to meet and chat and enjoy a bonfire with new friends. We made a side trip to explore the road out to Burnt Cove. There wasn’t much there, and as it was a Sunday, nothing was open, not even the marina.
Burnt Cove, the end of the road

We drove out along a dirt road and discovered this pebbly spit of land and beach
That night, John was “Screeched in ”at the nightly bonfire. I had decided that 11pm was late enough for me as we were getting up very early the next morning to go to Fogo Island. Folks had suggested we get there by 7:30. We thought the Ferry was at 9, and it was an hour’s drive. However, John’s late night proved valuable, as one of the men had come off the ferry that morning and told us that the ferry time had changed and the ferry was 8am. We got there just before 8, the ferry was in and waited for us!
Our ferry
It was a beautiful crossing.  When we left the ferry, we looked around the ferry terminal for a while. Meanwhile, the ferry was loading for its trip back to the mainland. When it left there were a number of cars, still on the side of the road. Apparently, it is the custom for people to bring their cars down to the ferry, park and have someone drive them back for the night. They then return in time to drive on to the ferry, and save waiting in line for an hour or more. However, this time, the ferry was an hour early, and many of the cars who were waiting did not yet have their drivers! We began our exploration of the island. The first part was rugged and quite barren.
Driving down into Fogo
Our first stop was Fogo.
Looking across the bay from This'n That
Fogo Main Street


The town of Fogo is delightful. The churches are beautiful and homes are right by the road. We ate lunch at Mudders, a wonderful restaurant across the road from This ‘n That.
We took a short drive up to a beautiful museum on Wireless communications.

and a beautiful look back to Fogo

We drove out to the site of the Brimstone Head Folk Festival, the second weekend in August each year. There are 2 areas with services for RV’s, one by the water,
and the other up by the road. Then there is a ball diamond in which they cram about a hundred RV’s and campers during festival week. The population of Fogo is 972, but during Festival week it soars to 6,000. John hiked to the top of Brimstone Head and along the cliff,
An easy beginning
Steps get a bit steep
And you are even warned...
Almost to the top
Looking back down to the campground....
At the top
Checking back, pretty narrow (why I didn't climb too)
This is how I saw John - just a spec on the top!
Here are 6 icebergs or maybe 5 and a bergy bit!
and was able to see seven icebergs. This was the highlight of his day. We drove up to the Marconi Interpretation Centre, which is really much more, as it also has a history of Fogo and its inhabitants.

We then drove to Joe Batt’s Arm.
Right beside the sign welcoming us to Joe Batt's Arm - time out for blueberries

Joe Batt's Arm
 We drove around to get a good look at Zita Cobb’s Fogo Inn. It looks very interesting, and looms over the town.
Fogo Inn
We had heard that there are 29 rooms or rather suites, at the moment costing $1200 per night in-season, and apparently $900 in the off-season. Interestingly, she used local labour and crafts for the hotel, and has offered each family in Fogo a complimentary night with dinner and breakfast at the hotel during the off-season. We hoped we would be able to tour the Fogo Inn. However, when we drove to the end of the road, we were met by a gateman. He informed us that you couldn’t drive up to the Inn, and that it was fully booked for the month. Cars were parked at the bottom, and the shuttle bus came and picked up the guests.

Then we drove to Sandy Cove Beach and Tilting.
A beautiful sandy beach
It was time to head back to the ferry. On the way, we stopped in at Mudder’s to get a chicken wrap to-go. We wanted to get there early enough to be sure to get on. John started to go down to the dock, and heard his name called. Two friends, we had met in Toronto, were just coming back from a visit to Change Island for the day. We had a good catch-up while we waited for the ferry.

It was a wonderful day, beautiful weather, and a beautiful trip back.

It was time to head for the coast. We were booked into Terra Nova Provincial Park. Our good weather seem to be at an end. It rained for the whole trip. We started by looking at the Discovery Centre. It focusses on marine ecology. When we pulled in there were 2 other Airstreams parked in the lot.


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