Newfoundland

Newfoundland is windy. We got off the ferry at Porte Hawke and turned north to L’Anse aux Meadows. This is the place where the Vikings set up a base in North America. The land is like Labrador, barren and green. The remains of Viking buildings are mounds, but the Newfoundland Parks Service has built replica buildings, complete with a few interpreters dressed in Viking garb.

We were offered bread (delicious) and learned how to smelt iron. Bill was intrigued by the construction- a technique that combined a teepee-like framework and sod. They were very warm and very waterproof.

I was excited by the ship construction. They used a system of iron fasteners that worked like rivets, but the most fascinating were the tree nails. These are wood pegs used as nails. My boat the Alpaca 1 was built in Nova Scotia in the 1920s (by Al Capone). Her planks were fastened with wooden pegs called trunnels . I had a eureka moment when I realized that the word “tree-nail” and trunnel were the same.

We spent our first night on “the rock” at a roadside inn that looked like some sort of industrial bunkhouse from the outside. Bill went in: there was no one at the reception area but there was a note to call a 7 digit number. Bill was muttering that the idiot who left the note assumed someone would know the area code, and dialled the number. To our surprise it rang.

Nobody answered but I went in, and managed to find a bevy of hard working women cooking dinner for a construction crew. Yes we could have a room. The layout was a little odd, but our room was modern, and we had a delicious dinner in the small dining room, away from the crew. The wind roared outside and the rain came down in torrents, but we were snug.

In the morning we had a good chat with the owner. It seems the building was constructed as an elementary school. When it was no longer needed, she and her husband had bought it, and, in 3 weeks, had turned one section into a bar. Then, a few years later, they had turned some of the classrooms into guest rooms.  

We were intriqued to find the Newfoundland accent has not disappeared. And Spam and baloney are breakfast meats. And milk for the coffee is either tinned or you help yourself to milk from the box of milk in the fridge. Scrunchions, served with everything, are small squares of deep fried salt pork. We didn’t try the cod tongues, but the cod is delicious.

Wifi in Newfoundland is atrocious.

We drove through western Newfoundland, exploring. We had a quick visit with a friend of a friend. Of course there was a plane involved. His wife introduced us to Newfoundland hospitality, and fed us a great meal of jarred moose and toutons. There was a quick visit to Botwood, then a day in Grand Falls getting the oil changed in the truck, the fridge fixed, the camper dried out. The rain, and the temperature in Ontario and Quebec had caused a lot of condensation in the camper, and everything was damp. We brought everything into our room and dried it out, then bought an electric heater.


Canso at Botwood

We discovered that Newfoundland has a ski resort. We stopped there for a luxurious but really inexpensive night, then meandered down to Channel Port Aux Basques to catch the ferry.

The ferry.
Channel Port Aux Basques

We were worried about the ferry ride, as Capi had to stay on the car deck in the truck for about 8 hours. Although there was a goodly nor-wester blowing, the ferry was comfortable and new. Capi was fine. We arrived in Nova Scotia and drove off into the rain and the sunset.

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