Great Northern Peninsula

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St. Anthony is a long drive from Gander so it had been about a half dozen years since we’d toured the area. We started from home on a Saturday and stopped in Kings Point for a tour and then spent a night at the Holiday Inn Express in Deer Lake before starting the drive north on highway 430 towards moose and icebergs and good friends.

The road up the Great Northern Peninsula travels through beautiful Gros Morne National Park. Tourism data says that only a percentage of those who go to the Park travel north to see L’Anse aux Meadows and the St. Anthony area. They are missing out. Plan this trip when you have time to tour and enjoy.

On each of our returning drives, we try to see something we missed or didn’t know about on a previous visit. This year, we picked Trout River as a detour off the main road just inside the  National Park.

Trout River is a small and scenic community bordered by mountains and the ocean. We had a beautiful sunny day and took some time to poke around a bit in the town. Trout River has two great community museums. Our visit with a young couple working at the Fishermen’s Museum represented half of next year’s graduation class from Jakeman All Grade School!

They were personable and  lovely to visit with and enjoy meeting people from all over and showing off the history and tradition of their area. Both were well-spoken and confident and told us the rest of the class was at the other museum.  Hopefully they’ll find my blog and see their picture I said I’d share.

Artifacts in the Trout River Fishermen's Museum, NL
Artifacts in the Trout River Fishermen’s Museum, NL
2 of 4 Grade Twelve students  making the graduation class of 2014. Best of luck! Thanks for the visit.
2 of 4 Grade Twelve students making the graduation class of 2014. Best of luck! Thanks for the visit.

The one part of the community hugs a board walk around a beautiful sandy beach. Walking down the board walk we came to the Seaside Restaurant. A great seafood menu and view of the waves rolling on the beach were two great features. Our waitress was friendly and fun and even suggested another local restaurant for a hot beef sandwich when we inquired about other options which we appreciate. So many places wouldn’t do that. We were able to find something on this menu and it was delicious.

The restaurant was playing recorded Newfoundland music, specifically the Fogo Island Accordion group which we liked as we hadn’t heard it in a while. Newfoundland crafts and souvenirs were also featured along with the traditional and up-scaled versions of seafood and other dishes and local wines like the Krooked Cod.

Seaside Restaurant, Trout River,NL
Seaside Restaurant, Trout River,NL
Scallop and wild berry salad, Trout River, NL
Scallop and wild berry salad, Trout River, NL

The beach was empty when we walked the boardwalk but, as we ate, a gaggle of boys showed up to play chicken with the waves.

There were a number of cabins and cottages to rent here and besides the beautiful beach, a river and a nearby waterfall were very scenic. Well worth leaving the main road.

On our way out of Trout River on Route 431 we stopped at the Parks Canada Interpretation Site in Woody Point. An art gallery, park interpretation displays, a film about Gros Morne and a gift shop are spread over 2 floors. The view of Bonne Bay is lovely from the deck of the building perched high on a hill. Some of the interactive displays were not working but the interpretation is very good anyway. I enjoyed a humorous series of sculptures attesting to the difficulties of being researchers in the parks.

Woody Point interpretation Centre, Gros Morne National Park, NL
Woody Point interpretation Centre, Gros Morne National Park, NL
Caribou Statue and beautiful Bonne Bay, Woody Point Interpretation Centre, Gros Morne National Park, NL
Caribou Statue and beautiful Bonne Bay, Woody Point Interpretation Centre, Gros Morne National Park, NL
Biologist trying to track a bear with a radio collar. Audio part of this display didn't work but I assume was meant to explain the scientists roles in the park.
Biologist trying to track a bear with a radio collar. Audio part of this display didn’t work but I assume was meant to explain the scientists roles in the park.
Why you rarely see bears in NL! They're hiding from the biologists!
Why you rarely see bears in NL! They’re hiding from the biologists!

In a downstairs gallery, which we might have missed had it not been adjacent to the washrooms there was a beautiful exhibit of photography by Ed Huberty. Ed Huberty’s web site contains great pictures of Newfoundland and his other travels. He is from  Pennsylvania but he summers in this area and his exhibit was of works of art around the bay. This was a beautiful exhibit.

Objects and photography of them by Ed Huberty, Woody Point, NL
Objects and photography of them by Ed Huberty, Woody Point, NL
Skeins of natural wool hanging, dyed wool in balls on the wall and a Newfoundland mitten star burst. Great exhibit of Newfoundland hand made crafts.
Skeins of natural wool hanging, dyed wool in balls on the wall and a Newfoundland mitten star burst. Great exhibit of Newfoundland hand made crafts.
Newfoundland mitts have their own unique and beautiful patterns and designs. Woody Point, NL
Newfoundland mitts have their own unique and beautiful patterns and designs. Woody Point, NL

Eventually we remembered our destination and the long road to achieve it and returned to the highway running through the Park.

Gros Morne park is beautiful and has amazing geology. Unfortunately, I know very little about geology so if you’d all like to take up a collection, I’d love to do some courses because the rock of The Rock truly fascinates me. In Gros Morne, barren mountains are on one side of the road and treed or at least green mountains are across the road. Rivers cut deep into rock.

A sitting spot provided by Gros Morne National Park. Just park you car, have a seat and count your blessings. Oh, yes, you can also do lovely long hikes from here too!
A sitting spot provided by Gros Morne National Park. Just park you car, have a seat and count your blessings. Oh, yes, you can also do lovely long hikes from here too!

Pictures do no justice to most of Newfoundland scenery. It needs to be seen and breathed in, particularly places like those on the Great Northern Peninsula. We continued or drive through the National Park, past the Western Brook Pond fjord tour and eventually stopped in Port aux Choix for supper. We like the Anchor Restaurant opposite the fish plant. It’s always busy, which is a good sign and the seafood is great. We knew there were few other places to stop from here to St. Anthony to so decided to have a snack. We went a bit overboard…

Overboard, an item from the menu at the Anchor Restaurant in Port aux Choix, NL. Mussels, cod, shrimp, scallops and squid. And yes, we shared one!
Overboard, an item from the menu at the Anchor Restaurant in Port aux Choix, NL.
Mussels, cod, shrimp, scallops and squid. And yes, we shared one!
Another great work by Port aux Choix artist Ben Ploughman.
Another great work by Port aux Choix artist Ben Ploughman.

Thinking we had lots of time, we took time to stop for pictures and suddenly we realized it was starting to get late and we were no where near where we’d expected to be. I still had to take a couple of shots near Flower’s Cove as the sunset was just starting and we would soon be turning away from the water to cross the Peninsula.

Sunset in Flower's Cove, NL
Sunset in Flower’s Cove, NL

As a rule, we don’t drive after dark or even close to dark, particularly on a long distance. There are several reasons for that and the males ones have antlers. By the time we reached Eddy’s Cove and started inland, we knew it was the time that moose would be starting their wanderings and feeding. It only took minutes to see the first one, the second one, two more over there, even one, legs skyward at the end of a long skid mark! 27 moose in an hour and a bit. That’s just the live ones. Our new personal record and not one we hope to repeat any time soon. The interesting part is that most of them were bull moose. At least 20 of what we saw had antlers of various sizes.

Our driving go slower and every bush started doing moose impressions as we worked our way to town. It was good to get off the road at 10:15 and a lesson remembered about why we don’t drive at night. I’m buying a better camera for next summer and I bet I won’t see any moose…

Two bull moose, heading towards St. Anthony, NL
Two bull moose, heading towards St. Anthony, NL

A good visit with friends we hadn’t seen in a long time helped relieve the tension and fatigue and everyone was late getting up on Monday morning except the poor fellow who had to work! Sorry Dana.

After a walk around St. Anthony, admiring the new hotel and a newly renovated older hotel we decided to do a drive to some of the nearby communities. One of my favorite new finds was the miniature village built by residents of Ship Cove. What a lovely little spot to take a picture and marvel at the handiwork of local people. Thanks Sharon, we wouldn’t have found this on our own. Framed on it’s own, the lighthouse, church and house look like a tiny hamlet, not miniatures.

Panorama of Ship Cove, NL
Panorama of Ship Cove, NL

We were disappointed to learn that the Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve no longer has funding for interpreters. I’m not sure that a field guide would be adequate to see the beauty and tiny plants of this Rawleigh site.  It was a highlight of our trips in the past when a guide took us on what appeared to be a barren gravel pit and explained it  and showed us frost polygons and Arctic plants that exist no where else in the world. Stop at Pistolet Park and ask about a tour when you visit as this is something that needs to be re-instated.

St. Anthony also has a beautiful craft shop as part of the Grenfell Historic Properties.

Grenfell Handicrafts, St. Anthony, NL
Grenfell Handicrafts, St. Anthony, NL

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Sir Wilfred Grenfell was a Missionary and Doctor on the Peninsula and Labrador coast, arriving in 1892. His house is preserved as a museum but there is also a beautiful museum with modern style interpretation and photography from the past in the Interpretation Centre. Grenfell is an important historical figure and the Interpretation here gives insight into the hardships of life on the Labrador. My father learned about Grenfell in school the way children today learn about Terry Fox or more modern heroes.

St. Anthony is also famous for icebergs. Being near the tip of the Peninsula, the bergs travel in all directions around this area. Using the modern technology of icebergfinder.com  and our GPS we located a late berg off Great Brehaut. Again, my trusty tablet fails me for a long shot but it was a lovely hike and a beautiful view on the horizon.

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Yes, I could see an iceberg in this shot...
Yes, I could see an iceberg in this shot…
Great Brehaut. Interestingly enough pronounced Great Bra....
Great Brehaut. Interestingly enough pronounced Great Bra….

With the iceberg itch scratched, we headed to Conche, on the east side of the Peninsula. This community is at the end of one long gravel road. We were lucky enough to go when the grader was refreshing the surface but it’s still a long dusty drive. As we drove, I started to notice some hand painted signs along the way that certainly encouraged us along. What a great idea!

One of about a half dozen hand painted signs leading to Conche, NL.
One of about a half dozen hand painted signs leading to Conche, NL.

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We didn’t realize but Come Home Year was in full swing in Conche. Come Home Year is a community festival where all past residents and descendants of a Newfoundland community are encouraged to come back for a festival. They are planned years ahead of time so holidays can be booked around them, weddings can be booked around them and events are organized. Conche was rocking when we got there. A ball game, a beer tent and lots and lots of people with t-shirts made especially for the event. Houses were decorated with flags and signs welcoming family members and there was definitely a party in the air.

We figured we wouldn’t pass as residents so continued as tourists and visited the site of the Boston plane crash. I heard a story that the residents of Conche hid in their houses when this plane crashed because they were afraid it was enemy aircraft during the war. The site is in the town and has great signage and interpretation. Living in Gander, we are familiar with the history of the Newfoundland Ferry Command who ‘ferried’ aircraft from here to the war theatre during WWII.

Aircraft wreckage
Aircraft wreckage

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Letter from one of the airmen.
Letter from one of the airmen.

In addition to the crash site, Conche has a great museum that also features the French Shore tapestry.  Designed by Jean Claude Roy and working with his wife Christina and local embroiderers, this tapestry depicts the history of the world in relation to Newfoundland and this particular area of Newfoundland. It is a phenomenal work of art from creation of the world to the creation of the tapestry, depicting everything from the Treaty of Utrecht the cod moratorium. I’d taken a picture before I realized I shouldn’t have, of one section. The history, needlework and magnitude of this tapestry makes it worth a trip to Newfoundland on it’s own. I was so excited when I realized it was in Conche as I’d heard much about it and was not disappointed. In addition to the tapestry there is a community museum in the same building that is well worth a visit too.

Tapestry in Conche Interpretation Centre and Museum
Tapestry in Conche Interpretation Centre and Museum
Museum in Conche
Museum in Conche

We worked our way back to St. Anthony stopping a few times to admire the gardens in the Main Brook area. Newfoundlanders rarely had land that was good to grow vegetables so often set their gardens on paths or now, on road sides.

Garden near Main Brook, NL Frenced to keep the moose and photographers out.
Garden near Main Brook, NL Frenced to keep the moose and photographers out.

Not wanted to wear out our welcome or our hosts, we stayed only one extra day and left them and the area with a long list of things we’ll do next time. L’Anse aux Meadows, Goose Cove, food fishery, a boat tour. There are so many options.

Thanks Dana and Sharon for being wonderful hosts as always.

Thanks St. Anthony  and area. We’ll be back. Maybe a bit earlier for icebergs next time.

St. Anthony from Fishing Point
St. Anthony from Fishing Point
Looking out from St. Anthony, NL
Looking out from St. Anthony, NL

Our journey down the coast will touch on Parson’s Pond, Daniel’s Harbour,  Rocky Harbour and Burlington in another post. You surely must need a break by now.

Here’s  bit of wildlife we saw going down the coast. I had visions of the flotilla of ducks finding out these were hungry critters but the feathers did not fly.

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6 thoughts on “Great Northern Peninsula

  1. This is awesome! So nice to see our province through the eyes of our visitors. Really makes us realize what we have here and what we sometimes take for granted. Thank you for sharing and hope you enjoyed your stay and will come again.

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    1. You’re welcome. We actually come all the way from Gander so are lucky enough to see many things in day trips on the weekends from May to October. Thanks for your comments. Way behind on posts but watch for another trip to Fogo, particularly Little Seldom, the Townie vs Baymen punt race in St. John’s Harbour, Burlington area and a run to Dildo. Our second summer of being tourists at home.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your wonderful holiday. A friend of ours forwarded your blog to us, as my daughter was one of your guides at the museum in Trout River. Thank you for your compliments on her assistance. She has seen and enjoyed it as well. We look forward to your next vacation.

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