Posted from St ANTHONY EAST, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
(Or, Fish cakes, ahoy!)
The accompanying photos can be found at the August 2011 Photos page.
Previously on… Apollo’s Journey:
Joe was lamenting the wild goose chase for Newfoundland fish cakes when Erik discovered that the camera battery was dead – mere hours before the boat ride out to sea to examine icebergs and search for whales.
And now the thrilling conclusion of “Newfoundland”…
Upon arriving in St. Anthony on Tuesday afternoon, we went to find the launching site of the boat that would take us out to sea. Nearby was the interpretive center for a local museum, and inside the building was a Tea Room. The boys decided to stay and have tea while the girls went to explore the city in the rain. But we had a secret plan: after buying tea (Erik had partridgeberry, Joe had bakeapple) and a muffin, under cover of disguise we found an outlet in the tea room and plugged in our camera battery. And then we sat among the senior citizen ladies and drank one cup of tea each and split a bran muffin for about an hour.
Camera battery charged, the four of us headed to the boat. We were all dressed ready to go: long underwear (again), layers upon layers of clothing, rain coats, rain pants, hats, gloves, etc. Many of our fellow passenger came in shorts and a poncho. If it was 50 degrees and rainy on land, going out to sea for two hours was going to be much worse.
And it was MUCH worse. Constant rain, freezing winds – not to mention 15-foot swells. And the four of us were on the flybridge, so there was no protection from the elements. Erik had the foresight to take an anti-nausea pill; Joe did not and almost paid the price. Almost. But it was worth it (mostly). The icebergs were everywhere. You couldn’t swing a bat without hitting one. They were huge and impressively hued: most had a blue tint to them, and any cracks in them became a deeper, more intense shade of blue. Although it was wonderful to see all the magnificent pieces of former glacier, the reason they are so populous this year is because of Petermann’s Iceberg, an enormous chunk of ice that broke off of Greenland last year because of global warming. (Interesting thing about the Canadians we encountered so far: they don’t deny the concept of global warming like many Americans (including American politicians) still do.)
Icebergs may have been everywhere but the whales did not come out to say hello. Apparently some were sighted on the earlier cruise, but because of the awful weather of our sea tour they did not emerge. But we did see a set of dolphins swimming around our boat, but again they were apparently not as playful as they usually are because of the cold, windy, and rainy weather. Because of their shyness they were virtually impossible to photograph. At one point, a sailor scooped up a small chuck of iceberg (called a “bergie bit”) and broke it up so that we could all have a piece. Iceberg ice has carbonation bubbles because of the way it was formed – snow compressing and compressing on top of itself for thousands of years. And it is as ultra pure as water could possibly be. Also, apparently when you drop a piece of ice into a beverage, it fizzes. Fun fact!
After spending a few moments recovering from the least relaxing cruise ever and congratulating ourselves for still having dry clothes underneath our rain gear, we made inquiries about where to have dinner. We called a restaurant that was on our way back to camp and even phoned ahead to see if they had fish cakes. They did.
Not only did we dine on fish cakes – which were quite good – but we also sampled Fish and Brewis (a concoction of salt cod, hard bread that has been soaked, and potatoes) and Cod Tongues (which is exactly what the name implies and is allegedly a very trendy thing in Newfoundland – these were deep fried). Erik also had a cosmopolitan made with Iceberg Vodka and had three chunks of iceberg ice floating in it like icebergs.
After arriving back at the campsite and getting ready for bed, Erik, Joe, and Sarah all thought it was snowing, but Jill maintained that it was not. Small, wet particles of precipitation were floating to the ground. Just saying.
The next day was Wednesday and we left northern Newfoundland and headed back to the west coast. It was a long day of driving, but we broke it up by exploring some beaches along the way and a coastal trail near our campsite. We bought dinner supplies at a local store, impaled everything on sticks, and roasted our dinner over our campfire: an appetizer of marshmallows, then Johnsonville (Wisconsin made!) brats, then more marshmallows. Old Dutch bacon-flavored potato chips were also on the menu, but don’t get too excited – they taste exactly like BBQ-flavored chips. Those crazy Canadians!
The next day we bravely visited the site of a former fjord in awful weather. 30 mph winds and pelting rain – but we were again prepared with our windbreakers and rain pants. At least we had the trail mostly to ourselves. The landscape leading up to the fjord was amazing because it changed so frequently: within a relatively small area there were water and rock, bog, field, and forest.
The weather eventually relaxed and we headed to beautiful Bonne Bay, which is just a small and mildly touristy town but it has the most incredible landscape and view. It was here that we had to say goodbye to Jill and Sarah, who were heading to the capital of St. John’s to spend time with Jill’s mother. We found more fish cakes for lunch (and some incredible fish chowder), bought some more peanut butter and bread for dinner and went to a new campsite near the Tablelands.
We woke up early Friday morning to hike the Tablelands. This geology is absolutely amazing. It’s like walking on the planet Mars with occasional vegetation. The rocks are tinted red and orange and yellow. (Make sure you check out those pictures.) We managed to turn a one-hour hike into a two-hour exploration, frequently veering off the marked trail to get closer looks. After the Tablelands we drove 210 miles to our final campsite in Newfoundland, which was only a 15-minute drive to the ferry. We had a relaxing (and frequently sunny!) evening of cooked cereal, reading maps, and a game of Telefunky and went to bed early so that we could be near the front of the line for our 10:00 A.M. ferry ride back to Nova Scotia (which is where this post is being typed – Hi!).
Final thoughts on Newfoundland: although we only saw the entire western coast and the northern tip, we were astonished by the stunning scenery. Neither one of us has ever experienced anything like this – just the scope and the majesty of the vistas is unbelievable. There is much more to see and experience (and eat), so we hope to make it back sometime in the future. Big thanks to Jill for acting as tour guide through her homeland for all of us!
Coming up: Several days of driving and camping with plans to arrive in Toronto on Wednesday.
P.S. Are you keeping up with the quotes? New ones are up, and they are rather appropriate for our previous week.