Newfoundland/Labrador Day 11: Slower Pace
Following yesterday’s hiking equivalent of self-flagellation, I slowed down a bit today but still managed to see several interesting locations and, of course, more beautiful scenery. I wasn’t nearly as sore as I thought I might be (no doubt a result of the medicinal properties of Jack Daniel’s) though the bottoms of my feet are a little tender. Having become better aquainted with the roads and the slow speeds they demand, I decided not to try to get to St. Anthony’s and back in a day (400 miles roundtrip) since that wouldn’t allow me time to see much while I was there. So I’m leaving Cow Head tomorrow and going to spend tomorrow night in St. Anthony before ferrying to Labrador
One of the things I accomplished today was uploading pictures from the last two days to Flickr. It took almost two hours to upload 40 or so pictures but I wanted to share more of what I’m seeing and, besides, it gave me two hours that I wasn’t hiking somewhere. I’ll try to upload today’s pictures, too, but, once again it’s past 10 now and uploading pictures will once again end my day about midnight. Nothing is too inconvenient for my faithful followers. I’ll put the link at the end of this post in an effort to make you read the blog instead of clicking immediately on the pictures. Ha!
Once my Cow Head chores were done, I went south again to have a look around at some of things I missed while I imperiled my aging bones yesterday in the mountains. Before I got as far south as I was going to go today, I made a brief stop at the site of a 1919 ship wreck that could have been disastrous but, as it turned out, all 96 people aboard were rescued from the SS Ethie in a driving winter gale. The ship was done for, though, and its rusted remains still lie scattered like the bones of some strange sea creature on the beach. In this area, the Wreck of the Ethie is part of the heroic folk lore of the dangers of the sea and the bravery of those who sail it.
Next stop was the Gros Morne National Park Visitor Center where I picked up an annual pass that allows me to get into all the parks in Canada for a year. $56 for a senior pass, which the young woman at the desk made me ask for, bless her heart. Not bad, but I guess that means I have to come back next year to get my money’s worth. Hmmmm
Not far from the Visitor Center the village of Norris Point snuggles on the shore of Bonne Bay with colorful fishing boats tied up at various docks and other vessels beached at scattered locations. I had received several recommendations to go there to check out a couple things including a boat ride across the bay and the Memorial University sponsored Bonne Bay Marine Station and, since neither of these involved hiking in the wilderness, I went. It was too late in the afternoon to take advantage of the boat ride so I putted my scoot to the Marine Station.
It was a good $5.00 lesson in the geology and marine life of the area. The staff explained how the two-arm bay was created by ancient glaciers slowly carving their way to the sea. Then they noted that certain aspects of its creation made it a unique marine habitat. For example, where the two arms come together at a narrow point, the water is only about 45 feet deep as a result of massive glacial deposits. But the northern arm is over 700 feet deep at its deepest. What that means for marine biologists is that the aquatic creatures that live at the lower depths have lived there unaffected by outside populations for hundreds of thousands of years and have, as a result, developed distinct subspecies.
The marine and fisheries biologists who study and work at the Station also work to understand and help improve the local fisheries on which so many people here depend for a living. At any rate, they keep a lot of live specimens around that I was able to see, touch, hold, examine. Pretty cool. One of the coolest things was the blue lobster. Sounds like it could be a new grunge band, but it was actually a real live blue lobster. Had something to do with mutated pigmentation. Lots of other creatures and unfamiliar (to me at least) fish.
Next stop, the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse, still operated as a lighthouse by the Coast Guard and also run as an historic site by Parks Canada. Unfortunately the interior of the lighthouse keeper’s house was being rennovated, so I couldn’t go in. But they had the displays set up in another building on the site and I could walk around the site and take a look at the 1890s lighthouse.
After seeing the rocky cliffs on which it sits and the rocks that line the shore, I can see why 19th century sailors thought a lighthouse on that rocky point was a good idea.
After a solid afternoon of no-hiking, I indulged in a large fish dinner (hey, when in Rome…..) complemented with a new addition to my pie repertoire. As soon as the weathered waitress mentioned “partridgeberry” I knew what I was having for desert.
The term “partridgeberry” is common to Labrador, Newfoundland and northern Nova Scotia and refers to what other parts of the world refer to as the Lingon Berry. It grows wild here and no one farms it commercially; they just go where their mothers and their grandmothers used to go and pick a bucketful of berries. They’re small and a little tart, but they make a dandy pie. I ate this one straight up–no ice cream–but the next time I’ll go full out. And there will be a next time.
OK, now you can go look at pictures. Click here for Flickr.
Take care. Tomorrow I’m off to see Vikings and Icebergs.