Days 3 and 4: Rocky Harbour, Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
We’re sitting bayside at the moment doing a bit of laundry leaving me time to gather my thoughts for this post. It’s quiet out here even though I am sitting next to the main road which ends at the fishery just a few hundred feet down the road. Jake and I plan to stop there on our way back to the B&B to pick up dinner – as fresh as if they were still in the water – scallops!
We arrived at our B&B in Rocky Harbour (Anchor Down B&B) a bit before check-in yesterday and though our intent was to just ask directions to the fish store, our gracious hosts, Vera and Dave, warmly welcomed us in. Dave had just poured their friends a newly brewed cup of coffee and Vera was folding freshly laundered sheets. She introduced us as travelers from Georgia which prompted the question, “What brings you to Newfoundland?” Wanting to keep it short, I simply said visiting cousins in Corner Brook. Vera’s friend, Sue, asked who my cousins were to which I answered “Morrissey.” With raised brows, she asked it that might be Noreen Morrissey, the young lady who had been her maid of honor years before. Well, Noreen is my first cousin. And so in a world that
had just gotten a bit smaller, Jake and I, Dave and Vera, Sue and Marcus chatted about life and coincidences.
Shortly we excused ourselves and headed over to Norris Point to have a look around, and eventually ended up climbing Burnt Hill Trail for a view of Bonne Bay. The trail down was a bit more convoluted than the upward trek and we ended up at the edge of a cliff from which we could see our car, but no way to get there (Jake thought if we kept going round the edges of the cliff we would arrive somehow, but I was less than willing to follow his trail.) That’s okay; I passed a small bunch of blue flowers growing out of the rocky hillside as we made our way back up to the trail.
Once back at the car we set out to pick up tonight’s dinner at the fish mart where we collected two fine halibut steaks and a pound of scallops. A stop at Earle’s Bakery and Confectionary and Restaurant was next on the shopping list where we picked up a nice salad and a loaf of freshly baked homemade French bread. Next was a liquor store for wine and Jake and I were content. We were too late to get tickets to a show that night, but the other guests, a couple from St. John’s who were doing the Cabot Trail by motorcycle and a couple from Ontario, headed out for what promised to be an entertaining evening. So alone on a hillside in Rocky Harbour Jake and I grilled our scallops, drank a bit of wine and broke bread. A bit later we also grilled the halibut, tossed the salad on the plate and quietly enjoyed the silence of each other’s company.
We slept till 6 and hearing no sound from the kitchen headed down the street for a bit of coffee. Upon our return, Vera and Dave were in full swing in the kitchen and the aroma of Dave’s fresh coffee was tantalizing enough for us to begin on cup #3 of the day, which led to cups 4 and 5 – I should be up until tomorrow I figure. Just like at home the fire alarm went off when the bacon began to smoke a bit too much, and just like at home, Dave danced into the hall waving a towel under the culprit until it quit beeping. I guess the other guests will be joining us sooner than later. Vera had laden the table with baskets of fresh fruit and yogurt, pitchers of coffee and OJ and small bowls of homemade jams: Partridgeberry, Bake Apple, and marmalade made with brandy! Vera shared with me that her sister had a book from the mid 1800′s filled with recipes for canning and preserving – and this one she decided to try out on us. I loved its flavors of lemon and orange, spices and the hint of brandy which I had delicately laced onto my finger. Jake had reached for what looked like blueberry muffins and as I have an aversion to blueberries I abstained. Vera quickly explained they weren’t blueberries but a type of blackberry from Labrador (It seems she has a lady in Labrador who picks berries for her each year and ships them over) and that I really should try one. OMG, I am glad I did! As I was licking the last crumb off my plate, Vera served breakfast: heaping platters of scrambled egg and hash browned potatoes, six thick slices of bacon and softly scrambled eggs with a thick-cut toasted wheat bread. I immediately slathered the homemade toast with the marmalade and alternating between it and the partridgeberry jam finished everything on my plate!
Groaning softly, we said goodbye to the other guests and headed out in the rainy drizzle to our first stop of the day in Cow Head where we climbed a trail through meadows and densely green forests to find the lighthouse. We nearly passed by the lighthouse for as you can see it’s not much to rant about but the climb was worth the nearly hour roundtrip. As we rounded the curve near the Catholic Cemetery the sun was breaking through the clouds and blue skies were following. This prompted us to walk a bit faster as we were scheduled to do a tour of Western Brook Pond at 1 pm but had a 15 minute drive and a 3 km trek to the boat landing.
Arriving at the entrance to Western Brook Pond, we quickly picked up the head of the trail. It was an easy trek through marsh and bog to an incredible freshwater fjord with heart stopping views and a story to tell like no place on earth. We boarded the boat and two hours and 15 minutes later we were back on land. We took a more leisurely pace back to the car pausing to read the signs posted along the way. We learned about bogs and marshes, poisonous plants and harmless ones, we knew why some plants had become carnivores!
We were probably no more than .5 km from the end of the trail when we saw a group of travelers ahead of us pointing out to the marsh. A young moose cow was casually munching on the flora and fauna of her non-native habitat and perhaps another 3 or 400 meters away was a young male. One visitor held a piece of reed between her lips and blew softly and quickly, and the cow would ever so slightly lift her head. Eventually however, she looked right up at us and made our day.
As we headed back to Rocky Harbour we made a stop where the wreck of the ship Effie more than 90 years ago still displays her bones to the interested passer-by. The beach is strewn with smooth rocks worn round by the pushing and pulling action of the waves as they pound the shore. I found one nearly round stone for Jake and a small egg-shaped green and rose colored rock with flecks of blue for me – a piece of Newfoundland to bring home.
Tomorrow we head for Grand Falls, the hometown of my mother.