Home at Last

And just like that our epic road trip comes to an end. We finally rolled back into town Monday evening after a LONG drive across northern Wisconsin. We drove 5655 miles (just 40 shy of what we drove on our  trip to Alaska 2 years ago) through 7 states and provinces.

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It was a fantastic trip, and we all left a bit of our hearts in Newfoundland. I’m already plotting my return.

On our last day on the island we drove through the fog to visit the Rose Blanche Lighthouse, at the end of the highway that runs east from Port aux Basque. We were not disappointed.

rose blanche lighthouse

If you ever have a chance to visit Newfoundland, do it!

Related Posts: 

Road Trip Reading

A Former Fjord

The Newfoundland Pittmans

Newfoundland and 9/11

Breaking Bread

Sunglasses

Farewell Newfoundland

Farewell Newfoundland

On Thursday afternoon, we boarded the MV Highlander in Channel Port aux Basque, Newfoundland for the 6-hour run across the Cabot Strait to North Sydney. It was day 1 of our 5-day journey back to Minnesota.

newfoundland ferry

When we got on, both town and ship were shrouded in fog; by the time we reached North Sydney, the weather had changed completely.

newfoundland ferryOnce the ship docked, we returned to Big Red, which was parked down on deck #5, to begin our drive home.

newfoundland ferry

That’s Gracie saying “Farewell, Newfoundland; we’ll be back!”

Sunglasses

I have a thing for sunglasses. If the sun is out, I pretty much can’t function without them. So, high on the priority list of things to take on this 17-day road trip was a pair of sunglasses. Well, multiple pairs, actually, because I wouldn’t want to be caught without any. Before we left I gathered up all the pairs of sunglasses I own and made sure they were in a designated place in the car.

I suppose it’s good to be prepared, but perhaps this is a bit ridiculous!

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Breaking Bread

If you want to find the best visitor center in Newfoundland…no, in Canada….no, in North America, you need look no further than the one at Boutte du Cap Park in Cape St. George.

The park sits at the very western edge of Cape St. George, a gorgeous headland along the southwestern coast of the province. Boutte du Cap means “The Boot Cape” for the unique boot-shaped rock formations along the cliffs.

When we rolled into the park late Wednesday morning, our intention was simple — to catch a glimpse of the rugged cliffs that form the coastline. Instead, we stumbled upon a tradition that is being kept alive in the communities on the Cape — community bread ovens.

Upon entering the small visitor’s center, we were greeted by two friendly park staff kneading bread dough.

community bread

“Stick around,” they said. “We will be serving fresh bread at noon!”

Fresh bread? In a tourist visitor center? Only in Newfoundland.

There was no way we were going to miss out on this, so even though it was only 11, we decided to explore the park while waiting for the bread.

Shortly before noon, the smell of baking bread drew us back to the outdoor oven where we joined the bakers, other tourists, and a few locals to swap stories of our travels and of life in Newfoundland.

We also gave excited pronouncements of what we would put on the bread.

“Molasses!” said one visitor from Newfoundland.

“Butter!” said another.

“Peanut butter!” my sister declared. “We are Americans after all!”

Promptly at noon, the women took the freshly baked rolls out of the oven and served them to us.

What a fun way to end our time in Newfoundland — breaking bread with new-found friends!

Thanks to my sister for taking these photos:

community bread

community bread

community bread

To read more about the community bread ovens around Cape St. George, here’s an interesting article from the Huffington Post (2014).

And if you find yourself in southwestern Newfoundland during the summer, be sure to pop in between noon and 12, Monday – Saturday for fresh bread!

Newfoundland and 9/11

On September 11, 2001, there were hundreds of planes flying from Europe and other parts of the world towards the United States. Within hours of the attack, the airspace over the US was closed and all in-bound flights had to either turn around (if they had enough fuel) or land.

Thirty-eight of those planes landed in the Newfoundland city of Gander. The 10,000 residents of the city took in the nearly 6000 stranded passengers, providing food, shelter, and even clothing. Mostly, they provided comfort and friendship.

During the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 201o, NBC aired a special report on this little-known story, titled “9/11: Operation Yellow Ribbon.” You can watch it here:

There’s also a book about it called The Day the World Came to Town, by Jim Defede. Here’s the description from the back of the book:

When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community and surrounding towns were called upon to care of the thousands of distraught travelers.

Their response to this challenge was truly extraordinary. Oz Fudge, the town constable, searched all over Gander for a flight-crew member so that he could give her a hug as a favor to her sister, who managed to reach him by phone. Eithne Smith, an elementary-school teacher, helped the passengers sheltered at her school fax letters to loved ones all over the world. And members of a local animal protection agency crawled into the cargo hold of the jets to feed and care for all of the animals on the flights.

These stories and hundreds more are beautifully rendered in The Day the World Came to Town, the true account of a community that exemplifies love, kindness, and generosity.

 

The Day the World Came to Town Publisher: Harper Paperbacks

My mom found the book in a local store yesterday and promptly bought it. She can’t put it down.

I get it next.

 

The Newfoundland Pittmans

Besides the sheer beauty of the place and charm of the locals, there’s another reason why we have come to love Newfoundland: apparently we’re from here!

newfoundland

newfoundland

newfoundland

newfoundland

I do know that my one of my dad’s ancestors came over from England in the early 1700’s, landing in Rhode Island. Perhaps a brother or another relative got off in Newfoundland.

 

A Former Fjord

On Sunday afternoon my sister and I took a boat tour of Western Brook Pond Fjord in Gros Morne National Park. In fact, it was the pictures on this site that motivated us to drive 2000+ miles to Newfoundland.

gmnp1

The guide on the boat told us that it is actually a former fjord (that’s a 2-syllable word in Newfoundland dialect, by the way). Apparently it no longer retains the status of a full fjord because it is no longer connected to the sea. Once upon a time there was a glacier in the valley, but when it melted the receding of the seawater or the thrusting up of the land (depending on who you talk to) cut the valley off from the ocean. In time, the salt water was replaced with fresh water, and now it is a lake (or as the locals say, a pond).

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Thanks to the crew of the boat operated by Bon Tours for a spectacular tour.

Road Trip Reading

As of Friday evening, we have put 2500 miles between us and The Twin Cities. And that doesn’t include the 110-mile ferry ride we took today from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Port aux Basque, Newfoundland.

You may be wondering how we keep ourselves occupied for so many hours in the car. We all like to read, so when we’re not enjoying the scenery, we usually have our noses in books.  Here’s our “road trip reading list:”

I am reading The Iambics of Newfoundland: Notes from an Unknown Shore, by Robert Finch. From the Amazon blurb:

“In these evocative sketches, stories and essays, nature writer Robert Finch explores the people, geography and wildlife of this remote but lovely corner of Canada. Beloved nature writer Robert Finch spent the greater part of a decade travelling around Newfoundland, the remote island “at the edge of America”. Between the icy cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean, the lush valleys and barren drifts, he collected intimate stories of birds, moose and foxes – and of the people who share their space. In detailed essays, he evokes a landscape of raw beauty.”

The Iambics of Newfoundland: Notes from an Unknown Shore

Next up is Standing Into Danger, by Cassie Brown. From Amazon:

“In the snowy predawn of February 18, 1942, a convoy of three American ships zigzagged up the North Atlantic toward Newfoundland, heading for one of the worst disasters in naval history. The ships were under radio silence to protect their position from the threat of German U-boats. A storm was raging, visibility was zero, and the currents had turned wildly unpredictable. With only unreliable soundings to guide them across the jagged ocean floor, all three vessels ran aground on the sheer rock coast of Newfoundland.”

Standing Into Danger

Then…The Colony of Unrequited Dreams: A Novel, by Wayne Johnson. From Amazon:

“A mystery and a love story spanning five decades, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams is an epic portrait of passion and ambition, set against the beautiful, brutal landscape of Newfoundland. In this widely acclaimed novel, Johnston has created two of the most memorable characters in recent fiction: Joey Smallwood, who claws his way up from poverty to become New Foundland’s first premier; and Sheilagh Fielding, who renounces her father’s wealth to become a popular columnist and writer, a gifted satirist who casts a haunting shadow on Smallwood’s life and career.”

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams: A Novel

My brother-in-law is reading the novel The Shipping News, by Annie Prioux. From Amazon:

“Quoyle, a third-rate newspaper hack, with a “head shaped like a crenshaw, no neck, reddish hair…features as bunched as kissed fingertips,” is wrenched violently out of his workaday life when his two-timing wife meets her just desserts. An aunt convinces Quoyle and his two emotionally disturbed daughters to return with her to the starkly beautiful coastal landscape of their ancestral home in Newfoundland. Here, on desolate Quoyle’s Point, in a house empty except for a few mementos of the family’s unsavory past, the battered members of three generations try to cobble up new lives.”

The Shipping News

My sister is reading Orphan #8: A Novel, by Kim van Alkemade. From Amazon:

“In this stunning new historical novel inspired by true events, Kim van Alkemade tells the fascinating story of a woman who must choose between revenge and mercy when she encounters the doctor who subjected her to dangerous medical experiments in a New York City Jewish orphanage years before.”

Orphan #8: A Novel

And finally, my mom is working her way through The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown. From Amazon:

“For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.”

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

We all put our books down this afternoon as the ferry pulled into Port aux Basque so we could get our first glimpse of Newfoundland.

port aux basque newfoundland

port aux basque

It was a great ferry, except for the fact the air conditioner was broken and today was one of the hottest days they’ve had in these parts all summer.