Ever since we got to Canada, we’ve been seeing signs warning us about meandering moose. From British Columbia through Nova Scotia, we’ve been diligently searching for one of Bullwinkle’s brethren, but spotted nary a single one.
Finally, on a scenic cruise up Western Brook Pond, a fjord-like lake in Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park, we sighted our first moose. It was about as far away as the average flight path of a North Korean missile, but we still saw it.
Of course, we celebrated by downing a couple of Moosehead Brews.
The drought was ongoing and apparently the Newfies were worried. Not a drop of rain had fallen on us since Friday evening. By Sunday, with the sun flaunting itself and temperatures soaring into the 60s, even the water-filled highway potholes were becoming dryer than a Mormon picnic.
Drastic measures were taken by the locals. Push buttons operating the campground showers were set to stay on for 15 seconds or less, and a nearby restaurant requested that we save water by drinking wine.
Fortunately, relief has come. The heavens have opened tonight and for 30 consecutive minutes, we were pounded by a Noah-inspiring deluge. We saw fellow campers lugging in bags of firewood, presumably not to build burning blazes but to use as emergency flotation devices. Our entry rug has become a sponge and our picnic table now centers Campsite Lake. Fortunately, we and a few deluge-escaping bugs sit snug and dry inside our A-frame.
I must confess to committing an act of utter unfaithfulness. I cheated on my vows. I engaged in a night of pure pleasure, but it was simply a meaningless fling. Nothing but a one-night stand. Please forgive me. I swear it will never happen again.
We abandoned our beloved A-Frame and slept elsewhere for the night on our drive to the northern tip of Newfoundland. It sat lonely and alone in the campground while we dined on fresh fish and wine at a restaurant beside a lighthouse and snuggled up in a warm motel bed that didn’t require one of us to crawl over the other to get to the bathroom. And it was our bathroom, not one shared with 40 other campers.
Yes, I vowed that for better or worse, we’d endure 101 nights of sleeping in the trailer and enduring public restrooms. I broke that commitment.
Because it’s near the end of the season here in Newfoundland, we had three days without camping reservations. We were originally going to move on to Terra Nova National Park on the eastern side of the island, but every time we looked at the map, we were drawn to Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula. Rather than drag the trailer on a 500-mile roundtrip, up and back, we decided to save on gas and simply drive naked and book a motel at our turnaround point.
The highway known as the Viking Trail hugs the rocky coastline. At L’Anse Aux Meadows near its northern tip sets a Canadian National Historic Site. It was here that archeologists uncovered a small settlement built by Viking and Norse explorers a thousand years ago.
The visitor center tells about the Vikings and shows the evidence that archeologists uncovered to prove that the Norse arrived in North America 500 years before Columbus. Guided tours, which go through the excavation sites, end at a recreated village with sod walls, grass roofs and costumed park interpreters that included a Norse lady knitting and a Viking man playing a lyre.
The trip up was largely under overcast skies, which meant fewer scenic photo stops. The following morning the heavens opened and we drove home nonstop to our poor little A-Frame trailer in in pouring rain.
After six nights, we left Gros Morne National Park on the western side of Newfoundland and drove to St. John’s on the eastern side with a night at Terra Nova National Park along the way. While the sky was as gray as a World War II battleship, we remained dry until about halfway between Terra Nova and St. John’s.
Then the heavens opened and the rain came pounding down. We bunked at a city park campground in St. Johns and set up camp in the rain.
Like good union campers, we each have our assigned tasks to perform. Dianne has the inside job of setting up our living quarters. I get the outside stuff, like turning on gas, connecting the water, electric cords and the gray water tank or sewer connection. She stayed dry. I didn’t.
I grew up in Arizona where rain means stay indoors. My web-footed wife, however, wanted to see the sights of St. John’s, and all of the sights she wanted to see were outdoors. After setting up camp, we drove up to Cape Spear to see the oldest lighthouse in Newfoundland and to walk to the easternmost point in North America. The lighthouse was lost in fog and the easternmost point lay at the end of a rain-drenched trail.
Rain fell all night and didn’t let up in the morning when we took off to see more sights. I pushed for the Johnson Geo Centre, which is an indoor science-oriented museum. In addition to displays about rocks and oil, they had a section devoted to the sinking of the Titanic. Dozens of storyboards and photos told the story of the designing, building, sailing and sinking of the famed ocean liner. It was a perfect subject to study the day before we would set off on a 16-hour ferry ride through Iceberg Alley. We read every word.
We then went to nearby Signal Hill, a former fortification site overlooking the entrance to St. John’s harbor. Fantastic views, I suspect, could be had in good weather. But not in today’s fog. Then it was off to downtown St. John’s for lunch and a walkabout in a mere drizzle.
The next day, we slept in, packed up and headed out on a two-hour drive to the ferry terminal. In howling winds and driving mist, we drove onboard, took our bags up to our cabin and raced down to the bar for brews.
We’re as happy as two cats crawling from a swimming pool.
We were in Newfoundland for 11 days and it rained on 10 of them. Now in Nova Scotia, we’re finally camping dry.
We downed our morning coffee/tea and pastry outside in the morning sun. We then donned shorts and Tevas for the first time in a week, and we drove all day without once turning on the windshield wipers.
Best of all, the weather forecast is for nothing but sunshine for our remaining six nights in Canada. Thank you, Al Roker, for finally coming through for us.
After Caribou-Munroe Provincial Park in Nova Scotia, it was off to New Brunswick for a three-night stay at Fundy National Park. The park sits along the shores of the famous bay known for its lofty tides. Activities here vary by whether the tide is in or out.
On our first day, we drove to Hopewell Rocks, a provincial enclave up the coast where 30-foot tides are the norm. Along with a hoard of others, we took a short walk out to the flowerpot rocks. This group of vegetation-topped pillars rise beside the coast. At high water, they’re small rocky islands. At low water, visitors like us can walk the ocean floor around them. We hit it at low tide, so we got to “walk the ocean floor.”
Heading back to camp, we drove along the coast, stopping to photograph a covered bridge and small lighthouse. The Nissan’s windshield wipers happily enjoyed an entire day of rest.
The next morning, we drove into the little town of Alma, which sits just beyond the park’s boundary. Dianne said she wanted to do a little souvenir shopping before we returned to the United States in a few days. While she did buy a souvenir or two, she clearly had an ulterior motive.
Our next-door neighbors at the campground told Dianne that they had made a special trip back to Fundy just so they could have another meal at the Alma Lobster Shop, a combination seafood market and restaurant. They thought it was that good.
“Let’s just take a look,” Dianne suggested as we walked through town at lunchtime.
Within minutes, Dianne was sitting on their outside dining deck with a dead crustacean in front of her. Fortunately for those of us who don’t want to crack shells to get our food, the Lobster Shop offers pretty good fish ’n’ chips.
After lunch, we drove the park’s coastal road, photographed yet another covered bridge, hiked past a waterfall and down to a rocky bay where the remains of pillars from a long lost pier stick up from the rocky seabed when the tide is out. Then it was back to camp.
“No, Dianne, we’re not going back to the Lobster Shop for dinner.”
From Fundy, we drove along New Brunswick’s coastline toward St. John. Our one detour was for the Fundy Trail Parkway, a 12-mile toll-road drive along the coastline. While things looked good at the entry kiosk where we paid our toll, most of the scenery beyond was cloaked in dense coastal fog.
At least it wasn’t raining.
We spent our last Canadian night at a provincial park along the coastline. The following morning, we packed up the trailer and drove down the highway to the border crossing at Calais, Maine, for our reentry into the United States.
There were seven vehicles ahead of us in line for the only open entrance station. The line moved agonizingly slow as the border official checked documents and asked questions. Automobile trunks were opened and trailer and motor homes entered.
Our turn finally came. We handed over our passports and answered a barrage of questions about where we’d been and what we were bringing back. I expected we’d have to open the trailer so he could check the refrigerator for contraband vegies, but with the hint of a smile, he simply handed back our passports and let us go with a “Welcome back to the United States.”