After two days at sea we docked at Corner Brook, a town of something over 20,000, early in the morning of July 15. We had been told the high temperature would by 60 and it would be drizzly, but it turned out to be a beautiful day with highs in the 80’s & lots of sun. It would not be the last time the weather turned out better than predicted on the ship. We were told that Newfoundland is the second largest island in the world (Australia doesn’t count because it is a continent rather than an island). And we learned that Newfoundland is pronounced with emphasis on the last syllable, like “understand.” So “understand Newfoundland” should sound like a rhyme. Newfoundland & Labrador form a single province of Canada. They did not become part of Canada until 1949, on a close vote at that, in part we were told because some were worried that if they didn’t join Canada they would end up part of the United States. Corner Brook was behind a hill from where we docked so I don’t have a picture of that, but here is the bay on which it sits.
Instead of exploring Corner Brook we took an excursion to Gros Morne National Park. It turned out to include a 1.5 hour bus ride each way along with a lot of time on the bus moving around the park. This part of Newfoundland is quite beautiful though, a haven for fishermen on its rivers & a center for logging. At the dock is the pulp wood plant, once the largest in the world. Pressure from environmentally conscious customers, particularly Germany, has forced the plant to clean up its act so that today what is coming out of the smokestack is almost all steam. On the dock we met a “Newfie,” the friendly local dog variety, one of whom we were told won the Westminster Dog Show a few years ago.
Our first stop in the park was at an overlook of a vast tundra full of wildflowers beyond which could be seen some impressive cliffs. We were told that under these cliffs is the largest inland fjord in the world, but we couldn’t see the actual water. I wonder what “inland fjord” means; I would have called a body of water surrounded by land a lake. Maybe its the cliffs that make it a fjord, or maybe it is determined by how it was made. The features of this huge park were mostly formed by glaciers & plate tectonics, I think.
The field around the platform was full of colorful wildflowers. Hard to photograph because we couldn’t leave the platform to get close to the flowers, which were quite small, but here are a few.
The trees around here were mostly scrubby firs, with a lot of dead & dying wood.
Our next stop was at a lighthouse on Lobster Bay. It is a small lighthouse in a beautiful spot next to a large expanse of water surrounded by mountains. Outside the lighthouse was a pole from which nautical signal flags were hung. There was a board with a key to the flags, which spelled out Veendam. So that was either cool or a bit creepy since they knew we were coming. Several large ravens were sitting on the tower of the lighthouse.
Here again there were fields of colorful mixed wildflowers, leading all the way down to the water.
We stopped for lunch in a little town not far away. Unfortunately we could not have mooseburgers (we ate next door), but there was a nice view of the lighthouse from our restaurant.
After lunch we stopped at the visitor center, where we watched a video about the park. From its deck was a nice view of Gros Morne Mountain. “Gros Morne” means “big hill,” & it sure is that. We were told that the tops of some of these flat topped mountains were once the bottom of the ocean, but were thrown up by moving continental plates to their current height. Apparently scientists have come here to study what the ancient sea bottom was like. Our guide said that Gros Morne has the world’s largest concentration of moose, but this is the only place where I saw one. The moose are a traffic problem in this area; crashing into a moose is much more likely to kill you than hitting a deer (as often happens in our area of Virginia). Our guide told us he doesn’t drive in the country at night because of the moose danger.
Our last stop was at a scenic overlook of a lake. The only building was a gift shop, but there were lots of flowers & a beautiful view over the lake, which had a small fishing village on one shore.
So then we began the long bus ride back to the ship. On the way as the sun began throwing shadows we passed another lovely bay. We drove through Corner Brook before reaching the dock, but there wasn’t much to see, although there was a Walmart so you knew you were in civilization. Then the ship pulled out and we headed north.