And back again, too.
What to do when you’re RVing and the forecast calls for three days of rain? You drive to where the skies looked brighter. Actually, this would make no sense in most situations because you wouldn’t want to miss seeing the attractions that you want to see along the way. In our case with foul weather coming in, it made total sense for us to spend a whole day driving right by the stops we wanted to include. You see, we knew we’d be returning on this exact road in a few days.
There’s only one road to the northernmost point of Newfoundland, where 350 km away, warmer sunny weather was promised. We had planned to go north after we finished exploring Gros Morne National Park so we just when sooner, and hoped for better weather park upon our return.
Luck was with us. The weather and timing could not have worked out better.
Our main reason for this 350-km long trip (one way) all the way to the top end of Newfoundland’s western peninsula was to visit L’anse Aux Meadows. The national historic park did not disappoint. Neither did the weather.
All the costumed interpreters were great but one thing that impressed us was that the guides freely talked about their own theories and, in some cases, their disagreement with the park’s portrayals that are based on sagas (Viking folklore) rather than the archeological evidence.
It was a beautiful sunny day and warm enough that, after the guided walk and touring the Viking style buildings, we hiked the trails over the tundra. Not familiar with arctic tundra, we found a lot of the vegetation especially interesting.
Here, at the farthest point north that the road goes in Newfoundland, we were as far north as the southern tip of James Bay! That’s the farthest north that Randy and I have ever been in Canada. To celebrate that (and the good call we’d made on the weather), we drove to the very end of the road, set up our chairs, and enjoyed a celebratory beer.
Randy pointed out that, by sheer coincidence, his beer was Danish (with a Viking logo) and mine was Goose Island IPA, brewed in Newfoundland.
Before going back south, we stopped in St. Anthony where we hiked a trail to amazing views of ocean coves. We are too late in the year to see icebergs or this would have been the place to see them. Randy did spot two whales. They eluded me.
We spent a few hours at the St. Anthony library (for wi-fi) where this legendary stuffed polar bear is on display. We’re far enough north that polar bears are rare but not out of the ordinary in the winter months.
The next day we drove all the way back to finish our tour of Gros Morne National Park. Again the weather was with us. Yay!
An amazing fact we learned is that commercial fishing licenses in Newfoundland can not be purchased. They are owned by individual families and there are no new licenses issued at all. The only two ways to get one are to have it passed down within the family or, if the family wants to sell or pass it on to anyone else, that person must first spend at least five years fishing and working with the family who owns the license.
We also had reservations on the Western Brook Pond boat tour in the park. Except for a three to five-day hike, this is the only way to see the famous and beautiful fjord that’s featured on many of the park’s brochures. We counted it as a highlight of our time at Gros Morne and certainly would have been disappointed if we had missed this opportunity or had a cold and rainy day for it. The day was beautiful and the experience was great.
Typical of Newfoundland, it seems there’s live music to accompany everything. One of the crew picked up a guitar on the return part of the boat ride. He was really quite good, playing typical Newfie tunes – many of his own. Various guests took turns learning to play the spoons.
Finally, we toured the two tourist-oriented communities on this side of the park, Rocky Harbour and Norris Point, before saying goodbye to Gros Morne for the final time. We’re heading east now. Can’t wait to see what adventures the rest of Newfoundland has in store.