Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Newfoundland: July 27

This morning, we say a teary good-bye to half of our group: Carolyn and Jim, Dennis and Cugina, are going home. (In fact, they are at home as I write this.) Even though I will see Cugina on Thursday for heaven’s sake, I still get tears in my eyes and so does she. It’s the end of an amazing journey through this beautiful part of our very own country, and, as Wendy stated in her itinerary: “Alas, all good things must come to an end and some of us have to head home tomorrow. I trust we had a wonderful trip, saw some amazing sights, learned a few things, had a lot of laughs, met some interesting people and strengthened our friendships. Travel is about creating memories and I hope we have managed to create a lot of lasting, treasured memories over the last few days.” Her hopes and wishes have all come true in spades.
After saying bon voyage, Mike, Rita, Vince and I head off to Woody Point. On the way, we enjoy beautiful vistas even in the rain: ponds, rivers, waterfalls. Rivulets are gushing from the hillsides, crashing over the rocks, forming tumultuous streams that race off to the nearby sea. Pools of water form in the lime green grasslands. Here and there we get a glimpse of the ocean, whipped into a frenzy by the wind.
In one of the rivers, we see a fish fence, which we learned about at Norris Point. Here they measure and count the salmon and other fish in order to check on the health of the watershed.
When we arrive in Woody Point, we head straight for the Discovery Centre. Once again, we learn so much: the origins of Newfoundland, the super continents and the formation of our map of today; the ecology of Gros Morne National Park and the reasons for its designation by UNESCO as a world heritage and protected site. Go to www.grosmorne.com and you’ll see what I mean!
One of the interesting facts: the names for the tree shapes that we’ve been admiring. For example, when a balsam fir is transformed into an “hour glass shape” (middle practically bare, bottom and top full), it’s usually caused by moose. They eat up as high as they can and then down to snow level.
We watch the same film as we did at Norris Point and then we buy the DVD. One thing in the movie strikes me especially: the Mi’kmaq Chief tells us that, if we treat it right, the Spirit of the Land will stay with us when we leave. I think we’ve treated the land well; I hope the Spirit remains.
When we leave Sugar Hill, we head for Trout River (a far cry from Trout Creek, m’dears). The rain is now pelting down. Rivers of water continue to rush from the mountains, gaining momentum, rushing and tumbling over the rocks. On the higher hillsides, the waterfalls appear as those white smears ala Western Brook, but as we approach, we see them move. We admire the greens of Green Gardens and the rocks strewn about Wallace Brook.
At one lookout (we stare from the protection of the car), we notice a wheelchair sign on the outhouse. The rather run-down facility is down a short gravel pathway and perched on an outcrop of rock. I think of my friends Tim and Doreen (she has been in a wheelchair for some time) and how they would scoff at this attempt to be inclusive. It’s a nice thought; just like the picnic bench in Oceanview Park that had a spot for a wheelchair. But getting to the bench in the first place would’ve been impossible. Similarly, a young guide told us that "even people in wheelchairs" can traverse the Western Brook Pond walkways – but the gravel hills would have made that impossible, too. I think about Tim’s project again – Have Chair Wheel Travel – and I become determined to pitch it to the broadcasters again. Maybe it’s time. Not to mention the benefits to others when we travel somewhere and make suggestions for real change. CBC, are you reading/listening?
When we get to Trout River, we are treated once more to the sight of a lovely little harbour town, similar to others, yet with its own exquisite beauty. As we pass by one house, we catch sight of two little white goats racing each other down an embankment. We notice that this establishment also houses at least one sheep and several huge turkeys.
A hill of black, volcanic soil tumbles down from one hillside. Every place seems to sport its own unique ecology.
Along both the river and the harbour, the boats are anchored today: it’s too dangerous to venture out on the sea.
The rocky points that horseshoe the town are wild today. Frothy white waves crash against them. Wind-swept rain pelts our windshield and our selves when we exit the car. Gulls and other sea birds struggle in the drafts, then plunge into the rolling water. Each time, they are rewarded with a small treat.
We see many for-sale signs advertising handmade woolen socks!
There’s a boardwalk circling the town just above the sea. It would be spectacular in the sun.
We stop at the Seaview Restaurant, where we acquire a table in front of a huge window overlooking the ocean. The view of the wild sea, its tumbling waves, and the birds fighting the wind, is stunning. We have a delicious, leisurely lunch and then head back.
For a brief moment, the sun appears and highlights the lids of the hillsides, then clouds overtake it once again and rain bombards the landscape.
We arrive at Sugar Hill Inn and have a rest. Later, Mike and Rita go out for dinner, but Vince and I are too lazy. We stay in our room; I pack, then write. I eat Dennis’s leftover cheese and crackers and drink the rest of the wine.
Home tomorrow. End of the blog. End of this wondrous journey. But how many times have I mentioned the words “next time”? I think the Spirit of the Land is already within us and that some day soon, we will return.
Besides, we didn't see a moose.
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