Gros Morne & More
Newfoundland is a surprisingly large island. While James and I are still getting acquainted with St. Johns, we've been eager to explore the many attractions outside the capital. In April I visited James and together we took a long weekend to visit Gros Morne National Park.
Gros Morne National Park is located 670 kilometers west of St. Johns, via the Trans-Canada highway. We drove a solid eight hours west to reach the opposite end of the island and an additional three hours north where we stopped in the town of Cow Head. A road trip of such distance proved tiring, so we were thankful for an available room at the Shallow Bay Motel. This motel seemed to be the local hot-spot and provided late night entertainment, including a hypnotist and karaoke. As enticing as that sounded, we opted to rest our heads and prepare for sightseeing.
Early the next morning we arose intent on venturing through L'Anse aux Meadows. Rooted on the most northern tip of Newfoundland, L'Anse aux Meadows is the most famous site of a Viking settlement in North America.
Traveling outside of tourist season provided both challenges and benefits. For starters, many paths, hotels and restaurants across the island were closed until June. Finding an open restaurant was particularly difficult and we quickly grew tired of gas station snacks. At times we had to walk what would have been a road, were it not for the layers of ice and closed gates preventing cars from continuing.
However, neither could stop us! We shared many special moments, privately taking in the attractions. Without any other tourists we had the lay of land and could investigate any place our feet could take us. I don't believe we could have experienced the Viking territory in the same manner had it been open for business/tours.
Seeing wildlife was a major highlight for me. I kept my eyes peeled, specifically trying to spot moose. Turns out, despite my best efforts, it was James who first spotted all the critters we encountered- trying to avoid a roadkill situation. Oh, the delight when we spotted caribou and moose! The feeling of coming across true wildlife added to the remoteness of our adventure.
After a day well-pioneered, we headed back to the town of Cow Head where we spent the eve of our one month wedding anniversary in this charming cabin.
One of the big attractions to Newfoundland in the summer months is the icebergs. Though it was still Spring, reports of iceberg sightings were all over social media, specifically in a town named Bonavista. As we made our way towards home I knew this was a place we had to explore.
The snow hadn't let up since the night before, so we carefully navigated the highway back towards St. Johns. Along the way we pulled off at the Western Brook Pond. We explored this frosty wonderland, the only disturbance besides us being the tracks of a moose not far ahead.
I'm still swept away by the romanticism of fresh, falling snow. People say living in Canada we will grow tired of it, but I don't see that happening. Not when we get views and opportunities to explore in solitude like this.
We fell in love with Bonavista. Not just for the brilliance of these striking icebergs, but for the people and charm. We were so fortunate to find ourselves a room at Annie's Landing. We must have called 5 or so places only to discover they were closed until Summer, but Annie's had one room still available.
James and I were ready to move in permanently. The little apartment was styled with such care and comfort, all the way down to the homemade bread and jam. Stan and Lorraine are two of the kindest, most generous people. They stayed up late to accommodate our arrival, chatted with us about the best way to see the area and insisted we take their binoculars for a better view of the icebergs.
Stan even took us on a little trip around Bonavista, pointing out his childhood haunts and telling us stories of growing up here. He further directed us to the lighthouse, in operation from 1843 to 1962, and now a museum of 1800's artifacts. We could not have paid for a better tour.
The extended weekend brought us newfound fondness for the Canadian people and way of life. I continue to love the tranquil, deep exploration and appreciation of an unassuming world.