Nearly three weeks on Newfoundland and we don’t want to leave, but the west is there and that’s where we’re heading. After our first three weeks in Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City seeing the sights and meeting up with old friends and relatives – including one fine lady who just turned 100 – Newfoundland has been like going back in time and space. Here the pace of life is slower, and it slows you down.
For example, we had plans to head up to the northern tip of the island to a Viking archaeological site called L’Anse-aux-Meadows, a remote snip dangling off the nail of Newfoundland’s finger at the end of the aptly named Long Range Mountains on this, the world’s seventh-largest island and nearly the size of Britain. For its historical significance and magnificent setting everyone says it’s a must-do on the island. UNESCO World Heritage this, Canada National Historic site that… yaddda yadda yadda. We did not do, because we looked at the map, decided it was just way too much driving on an 8-week summer wander that is already going to top 10,000km spread over five provinces and three rental cars, so we stayed put.
Not that it was such an easy decision to make, because the allure is strong, but we heard a while later from someone who made the trek that the place is disappointing for the usual reason: as remote as it is, it’s crawling with the cruise-ship bus-tour set, no doubt fresh from cheesing up the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
What we have been up to is hiking. We’ve been up and down many island trails and never once gotten tired of seeing what’s around the corner. The place is unspoiled – at least it is to my eyes. I don’t know anywhere else you can just park the car, walk up, take a seat and spend the afternoon watching tens of thousands of nesting birds clinging to cliffside crannies tending for their young. The Northern Gannet, the Puffin, the lesser-crested horny twirl-flitzer – they’re all there, and you don’t have to take a boat tour to see the whales, either.
The walkabouts haven’t been all fun, though. Wife K having wisely begged off, the red-haired teen and I slogged up a rubble-strewn gully of pure scree and torture on Gros Morne, 800 vertical metres of unstable foot-placement that will always stick in my mind as the hike I wish I’d never taken. But two hours later and several degrees cooler, the view was worth it.
I hope this is worth it, too. Take a gander, b’y!