Rick's Journal

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Newfoundland Expedition, August 2011, Part ll

Abigail sleeps well in the car!
We were all exhausted from our two full days of driving, packing, shopping and then the late night and early morning ferry ride pushed us all a little over the edge, so we decided to try to find a place to crash as soon as possible so we could all rest.   We saw a place an hour or so north, a provincial park called Barachois Pond, so we headed up the TransCanada Highway.   I would say, within fifteen minutes of driving, everyone was asleep except me and Japhy!   We drove through forests, along the coast for a short while and past small towns, and small houses near the main road.   The low clouds were misting some rain here and there, and we passed over several bridges over some wild rivers and streams that looked inviting, but I didn't stop until we got there.   The sky cleared too, and the sun arrived.   It soon got hot enough to swim, once we found our campsite and got our tent up, so we went into the water, which turned out to be very tannic and tea colored.  It was surprisingly warm, too, and felt good on my skin, reminding me of the cedar swamp Pine Barrens water of central New Jersey.

The Tannic Waters of Barachois Pond!
I retired for a much needed nap and when I awoke, dinner was ready.   Ben, Nicole, Japhy and Abigail had found some freshwater mussels and cooked them up with spaghetti noodles and sauce, which was an amazing meal.   We even found a few tiny pearls in some of those shells!   After dinner, we all walked up to the bathrooms and showers, to clean up, fill up our water bottles and hang out.   I sat and talked to one of the park rangers who was checking out the facilities, and he stopped and visited for easily thirty or forty minutes.   It was our first real taste of the famed Newfie friendliness!   We talked about health care, about US politics, about the park and the best trails, and the different things to see along the western coast, and much more.   He was really interested in learning about where we were from, and he couldn't believe that our country didn't have national healthcare.   He kept telling us about how he had such a small deductible for just about any visit!   He was a very warm person and very proud of the park and the trails and beautiful wilderness areas we could see all around us.  

Erin Mountain and Barachois Pond, Newfoundland
Moose Droppings!
On his recommendation, we decided to hike up Erin Mountain, our first hike on the Rock!   We made some bagels for breakfast, in the rain, and then packed up some stuff for our walk and headed up.   It was about 6 kilometers, and seemed to take a while to walk through the rest of the campground to get to the bridge and the trailhead, but once we got there, we were in the woods!   Moss was everywhere, growing thick and soft, covering almost the entire forest floor.  Moose tracks and scat were scattered along the trail as well, with broken and heavily browsed twigs and branches lining the wetlands near the path.   The air was deeply fresh and smelled of balsam fir, spruce and tamarack, and more than anything, was just, well, clean, for lack of a better word.   It was pure, fresh air and it was delicious!  

Taking a rest in light rain on Erin Mountain
The trail had nice boardwalks in stretches that turned into stairs that led ever higher towards the summit, and we got to the top for an incredible view.  The rain and wind had increased, blowing horizontally at times and the forest gave way to a rocky barrens covered in low shrubbery that provides forage for caribou.   It was 'tuckermore' as far as the eyes could see!   We didn't see any caribou out there, but there were small ponds, streams and low growing trees that were thick and strong.   Bunchberries grew in vast patches everywhere.   I even saw a few blueberries!   We could see far in many directions, with mountains and even a glimpse of a great bay far to the west.  It was well worth the intense climb!

Enjoying the wind and rain!
The wind picked up and we headed down the mountain.  By the time we got to the bridge it was sunny and warming up.   It didn't take long to pack up our campsite and load up the car for the trip north towards Corner Brook, and then up past Deer Lake and into Gros Morne.  Gros Morne is the jewel of Newfoundland, with huge mountains along the coast, fast rivers, vast forests, a unique area where the earth's geologic mantle is exposed called the Tablelands, and the fjiords!  And moose!   I had researched these places online all winter and spring, and it was exciting to be so close to seeing it all!

Once on the road, we somehow got the idea in our heads that we wanted to taste Newfoundland Cod, or Fish and Chips, or something from the local area, so when we got to Corner Brook, the largest urban area on the west coast, we were very hungry!   We started asking around to get the low down on where to go.

  "C&E's" is the best place, in Mt Moriah, but it's a little out of the way" was the answer we got most of the time.   But when pressed for something closer than 5 miles, they said we should try Jungle Jim's.   So, we tried it.   Lodged up against a hotel, near the highway, we walked into a Canadian version of Applebee's, TGI Fridays or Chili's.   And there was a waiting time of thirty minutes!   Back in the car we went!

C&E's Menu: Big Eric highly recommended!
Our humble eatery, and hidden treasure!
We wound around through Corner Brook and found ourselves deep in the suburban neighborhoods overlooking the beautiful bay, past the pulp mill and piles of logs, and along a small road looking for C& E's.    I imagined it to look like a little seafood restaurant off the coast of Maine, all cute and rustic, maybe some rustic looking artwork or something, so we kept driving and looking.   We passed it the first time, before we realized what it was.   (See photo).

The Seafood Platter!
Anyway, despite the ordinary exterior, the ladies behind the counter were super friendly and helpful and explained everything on the menu.   So we ordered.   We got our food.  We ate.   We believed!  We were in heaven.   Sure, the ambiance was suburban drab mixed with roadside burger stand, but cars just kept coming and ordering, and the business was hoppin'.   We weren't the only ones who were in on the secret!    I ordered the Seafood Platter, with scallops, shrimp, a large piece of fresh Cod and clams.   And coleslaw.   And fries!   It was soooooooo gooooood!    Well worth the drive!

After we finished we rolled ourselves back in the car, and headed towards Gros Morne's Berry Hill Campground, our next camping destination.   We passed incredible rivers, but soon the rain closed in, and the clouds dropped, and darkness settled on us, so we drove through the rain and dark, with most everyone sleeping as we went.   The highway dropped steeply in places, and we saw our first moose in the road, in the black, speeding by.   SCARY!   Those things are huge!   (And we see signs everywhere about the moose danger, so I drove a little slower once that happened, but we were very close so it was good!)  We unloaded in the rain, set up our tent, covered it with rain tarps and got to sleep.   It was a good day and we were ready for rest!

To Be Continued...

1 comment:

  1. I have to do this with you! I am so excited to hear all about it. What is "tuckermore"?