Monday, August 08, 2005

Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland

Malady (“ma-Lod-ee”) Head Campground

10:00 a.m.

This is the quietest campground yet, I think. Far from any highway sounds.

Feeling somewhat refreshed this morning, but by no means back to "normal".

Jeff pulled out a bread roll from last night and was almost immediately buzzed by a large bird. Others gathered. He decided to test just how bold they could be. He held out a small bit of bread and one bird swooped down to grab it. Then he placed a piece on the back of his hand. Another alighted just long enough to grab it.

We succumbed to these insistent little guys, breaking all the rules, and offering some bread crumbs. They're certainly not shy. (By the way, Jeff's watch is synchronized with the atomic clock at Boulder, Colorado.)

I condemned his actions. "You're breaking all the rules!" Then I tried setting a piece on my shoulder. I felt the swoosh of a fly-by pick-off. "Cool!"

Jeff remarked about a delightful family nearby – grandparents, parents, children (including an infant). "There hasn't been one word in anger. That's remarkable."

It was such a positive sound - to hear a family enjoying each other so. We looked at each other in agreement. "We could never do that!"


Stretched out the stay at "Holiday Inn" right up to the 1:00 p.m. checkout. $149 total – more than I expected. 15% tax up here.

Had lunch at the "Eastside Mario's" adjoining the "Holiday Inn". Indifferent, slow service. Where are these “friendly Newfoundlanders” we’ve heard so much about?

Fueled up and headed west from St. John’s on the Trans Canada Highway (TCH), retracing the path on which we had arrived. Now these hills and skies were not so stark and threatening. With a calm blue sky and very warm afternoon, people were out on the ponds boating and jet-skiing (though in full wetsuits.)

Amazed at the traffic, though the east-bound traffic (in the direction of St. John’s) appeared heavier. Without any plan, stopped at a Visitor Information Center for some tips. When I asked if there were anything we should definitely not miss in our journey west, the agent was non-committal. "There’s so much to see." The only definitive statement she could make, “you won’t see much from the highway.”

Based on "Earl’s" comments, that "you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven,” we did want to visit St. Jones Within. Took the nine-mile drive out to the town, on the shore of an inlet. To my eyes, it was very pretty, but not heaven. Rested briefly, took some photos.

Not quite Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" - coming ashore at St. Jones Within, Newfoundland.

Cool stone. Okay, you rock hounds, is this a fossil, or what? (No manicure comments, please.)

Couldn’t get over the warmth. "This is like California!” According to Jeff's GPS, which he hooked up today, we’re only at 47° north latitude, not as far north as I thought.

Decided to look for a campsite at Terra Nova National Park. Missing the turn-off for our destination, Newman Sound campground, we stopped at the “Marine Interpretation Center”, which was about to close for the day.

The young ladies there were very helpful (and these old men were obviously delighting in conversing with them.) “Hayley” suggested Malady Head campground and also provided information on restaurants in the area. Though they are not permitted to recommend specific businesses, it was clear from her comments that for dinner we should visit “Whimsical’s” at Saunders Cove, near Glovertown. “My best friend’s mother owns it.”

Learned a couple new terms (in addition to “Newfie”) as our hosts were now losing their official bureaucratic air: “Townie” (a person from St. John's or other city) and “Baywop” (a derogatory term for country-dwellers.) It was funny to hear Hayley wax poetic when we mentioned “Tim Horton’s” restaurants. She said she could live there.

She also said we should visit the picturesque town of Salvage (“solve-AGE”).

Went to Malady Bay. No attendant on hand, so we self-registered. Not impressed with campsite conditions (not up to the standards set by so many other Provincial Park campgrounds), but it would do. Remarkably still evening, almost stagnant. Hurried to set up tents and make it to the restaurant before their 9:00 p.m. closing. Hayley said they would stay open for us if we arrived before 9:00.

A popular spot (perhaps for lack of other options?) A gift shop in front with crafts from the region. Out back, a small dining area and outside patio. Walked in at 8:40 and were informed the grill was closed, but we could still order something deep-fried. So Fish and Chips it was. (Even Jeff opted for the Fish and Chips!)

“Is that FRESH cod?” I asked.

“It’s fresh frozen.”

This is the standard reply when I’ve asked this question. From my experience in the fish business, there is “fresh” or there is “frozen”. We commonly used the term “previously frozen” for frozen fish that was thawed out for the display cases. But, I guess there are variations. The time between catching and freezing a fish is probably critical. Perhaps that is what they’re trying to emphasize: it’s frozen as soon as it’s caught.

Anyway, the fish was very good, thick fillets that were tender, light and delicately-flavored. We sat on the patio in the twilight, a glassy-surfaced inlet beside us. Mosquitoes biting, spiders dangling, moved inside for dessert. Too much food! But that did not stop me from trying the “Chocolate Eruption” cake.

Passing back through tiny Glovertown, I was surprised by the number of people out walking or driving. I'm still trying to reconcile my preconception of an isolated, remote Newfoundland with the reality I'm witnessing.

Back to camp. Jeff gave me his "Newsweek" magazine, so that I could read about Karl Rove, one of my heroes (right!) He should be in jail along with a whole host of co-conspirators.

Newfoundland has some great town names: Leading Tickles, Seldom Little Seldom, Middle Arm Rattling, Come by Chance, Sop's Arm, Joe Batt's Arm.

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