An American Visitor to the Rock

Summer 2009.

Sometime in April or May, Kristen let me know that she would like to come visit me in Newfoundland. She figured that she had been to the D the year prior, so why not mix it up and see something new?

It may not have been the decision I would have made, but we ironed out the details and I was elated to have a house guest.

Eventually the day would come and Kristen descended into Western Newfoundland around 10 or 11 at night. This was her first time in Canada, but unfortunately she had a layover in Halifax; so she had seen Canadian soil prior to this the swamplands which surround Robert Stanfield International Airport in Halifax.

Day 2 - Corner Brook to St. Anthony - 330mi/550km

Kristen landed on a Thursday and I had scheduled the Friday off because I was excited to get going with the conducted tour of Newfoundland. For the first weekend, I thought a trip up to the desolate Northern Peninsula would be good for someone who's highest amount of desolation was previously seen in Southern New Hampshire.

We stopped for some breakfast at the local Tim Hortons and I had a good laugh when Kristen was shocked at the small size of our large coffees (about 16 oz.). It actually never occurred to me to explain that things aren't 'American sized' in Canada; but I was excited at the prospect of witnessing a culture shock which I had never seen in myself since I grew up across a river from America.

On the road and I was excited that we were going to pass through Gros Morne National Park (the largest mountains in Canada east of the Rockies) because I love showing people new sights and experiences. I figured it would be impressive for someone who's highest mountain was Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts.

We wouldn't have 8 hours to climb to the peak of Gros Morne, so I tried to find a short hike which would offer us a good vantage point of the mountains and fjords surrounding us.

While at said lookout, I was awoke from my daydreaming when Kristen screamed and pointed at a Moose crossing the road about 200 yards from us. Since I was worried she may not see one on her trip, it was good to see one after only 12 hours on the Rock.

We scrambled down and continued on to the town of Woody Point. I had never been on this highway, but a couple upcoming destinations and the aforementioned lookout meant even I would get to see something new today. We were both impressed with Woody Point as it actually had neat, historic buildings. We decided to stop for a drink at the general store and Kristen got her first taste of rural Newfoundland and came back to the car wide eyed and set aback...

"Yes that's actually their grocery store, yes they actually know everyone in town, yes that's how they actually talk."

I also remember her also being impressed that there was a cooler of beer in the general store.

Since we were already taking this road, I wanted to check off the Woody Point lighthouse because it's right in town.

I was humoured to hear Kristen claim it was her second lighthouse. Growing up in the Bay State (Mass.), I had my doubts, but she could only remembered Duxbury.

Well there's lighthouse #2...plenty more to come.

The other destination in Woody Point was this church. My friend had told me about this place as her & her friends sleep here sometimes when they go camping or go out drinking in Woody Point.

The church was closed sometime ago and now it just sits vacant with a caretaker. Apparently people come and camp inside every so often and most people respect the building.

I say most people because I was flaunting off the fact that having a vacant church sit in this condition was only possible in Newfoundland; until I met the caretaker who let me know that he commonly cleans graffiti, rearranges the pews and picks up trash.

I really shouldn't have given the youth of Newfoundland that much credit.

Since I had only been told about this church but hadn't seen photos, I took a good 45 minutes walking around and inspecting everything. It was actually quite a large amount of time for such a small place and for such an impatient, hurried man.

We walked back out the door and manipulated the piece of metal holding it closed into its original configuration.

Driving back towards the main highway, we stopped previously at some hippy busses that the hippy just loved.

About an hour later we came to Cow Head and we hiked the trail to the lighthouse that I've already shown/talked about.

It was slightly chilly, but I was happy to hear Kristen swoon at the fact that such a charming little lighthouse sat wide open and the view it provided east towards Quebec.

Another 125 miles north at approximately 40 miles per hour meant 3 hours would pass and it was time to show off one of my conquests.

Flower's Island Lighthouse!

Kristen said I was crazy, I puffed out my chest a bit, we moved along.

There's one more town after Flower's Cove where you better get gas, because it is followed by a 60 mile gap in towns with nothing but barren wasteland and signs denoting every 5km that passes.

So we purchased gas, beer and some chips. I was super psyched as we were off the beaten path enough where they didn't follow the fucking ridiculous Canadian legislation of removing the gas handle locks.

The sun would set soon after we left Flower's Cove.

There is a nearby town which has the highest concentration of moose in the world and therefore we slowed the car down to 50mph/80kph. Once we saw one moose and then another, we slowed it down to 45mph/70kph; after another group of them it was down to 35mph/55kph. I wish either of us had an adequate video camera, but for the 15 miles right before St. Anthony (our northern destination for the night), we saw 41 moose.


...and that was with periods of me counting as fast as I could while we saw moose in every direction. You can ask Don and he knows that I actually tone down most of my stories rather than over-embellish.

The moose crowding the road was an absolutely surreal scene which I will remember vividly until I'm 6 feet under.

I actually pulled up right next to one where it was about 6 feet from Kristen (nice guy I am pulled up to the moose on the right side of the road); but Kristen has one of those stupid SLR cameras that can't focus in the dark. I pulled out my point & shoot, but this was already 2 minutes later and the moose had enough of our disturbance, so she scurried off (the moose that is).

I'm not sure why I didn't stop to take a dirty flash photo of one, but I didn't - probably because we were extremely tired from a long day in the car.

Eventually we completed our maneuvers through the moose and into the Vinland Hotel in St. Anthony. I went and got a tater poutine for myself and we watched Lethal Weapon.

Onto Day 3


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