Newfoundland/Labrador Day 20: Final stop
Central and eastern Newfoundland can be painted with a palette of two colors: green and blue. Trees of various greens and shapes densely pack the landscape, whether one looks to the ocean or to the interior. There may be parts of Newfoundland that are bereft of trees, but I haven’t seen it. Have a blue brush in your hand? Paint the constant ocean as it swells into the rocky shores or dot your painting with hundreds, no thousands, of streams, rivers, brooks, lakes, ponds, bays, coves. During my entire seven-hour ride today I was probably not out of sight of water for more than five minutes, even if I was away from the nearly always present ocean. (I guess that makes sense. I am on an island, after all, albeit a rather large one.)
I’m still amazed at how wild this land is. There may be some farming on this island, but I haven’t seen it. The land, rocky though it may be, is lush, fecund and covered with very slow-growing trees. It’s easy to see why fishing and logging (and perhaps tourism) are the main industries. It’s also easy to see why the people who live here love it, at least until the blue and green turn white in October when there is apparently a sizable migration to Florida and other warm places.
My final base location is the Whale Watcher B&B, about 20-25 miles south and west of St. John’s on Newfoundland’s southern coast. It’s a cozy building, pine walls and ceilings, a large kitchen and dining area, and a common room with couches, chairs and reading material and seven guest rooms. But best of all it has large, nearly floor-to-ceiling windows that face the ocean and as I sit in the dining area right now I’m watching two whales (type unknown) surfacing and spouting. They are a little way out, near an island across from us, but, I’m told, they were on our side of the sound a little earlier. There’s a wooden deck just outside with Adirondack chairs that I will retire to when I’m finished writing.
Today was mostly spend riding, which of course is always a good thing. The roads were generally good, but on one of the feeder roads I imagined myself back on the Alaska Highway. A small sign indicated road work ahead, and within seconds the asphalt had ended and the gravel–evil gravel–stretched into the distance as far as I could see. And there was no one working on the road. For the next four miles or so I crept along at about 25 bouncing miles per hour, expecting, hoping that the pavement would resume. But the crest of each hill, the apex of each curve only revealed more dusty gravel. Finally, at about mile five a crew was spreading and packing even more gravel, but at least they had a water truck to keep some of the dust down A couple of stops and starts as they moved equipment back and forth across the road and then the asphalt appeared as suddenly as it had disappeared. No harm done. Only a couple of big trucks had passed me going in the opposite lane and they weren’t throwing any gravel. But it did bring back less-than-pleasant memories of the trek north on the Alaska Highway.
I did get up close and personal with a moose today. I ate it. I had a moose burger for dinner in Cape Broyles. Still no luck with moose still wearing hooves. But who knows. There are warning signs everywhere and there have been a couple hundred car-moose encounters so far this year in Newfoundland.
Watch out for flying gravel and I’ll do the same.