[Sunday, June 23]
I forced us to get out early this morning, which means I'm the driver for a several hours before Allan is fully awake. It was sunny and warm, but that proved to be deceptive. This was a driving day. We weren't sure how far we'd get, but were planning on staying somewhere on the Northern Peninsula. The idea was to get up to L'Anse Aux Meadows as quickly as possible, then take our time getting back. Newfies pronounce the site name in English: Lance-Oh-Meadows.
The Trans-Canada was empty and fast, as always, and the scenery was green and beautiful. There is so much water here - bay, inlets, ponds, creeks, streams. Water and rock, water and rock.
At Deer Lake we picked up the 430, which runs along the western coast of the Northern Peninsula, from Deer Lake to St. Anthony (said "Sinnantiny"). Route 430 also runs through Gros Morne National Park, and the scenery becomes very dramatic there, with ridge upon ridge of green mountains marching off into the distance.
Right about the time it was time change drivers, it started to rain. Then it rained harder. Then harder. It was raining about as hard as it can rain, positively teeming, and when it wasn't raining, it was heavily fogged. Since there was no scenery to be seen, and if we had stopped we would have been stuck in a motel room for the rest of the day, we figured we might as well keep driving. And keep driving. And we made it all the way from Grand Falls to Sinnantiny in one go, which we hadn't expected.
Allan wanted to stop sooner, but I was for pushing onward. I was only hoping that moose don't like to be out of the woods in the driving rain. The fog was so thick that if there was a moose in the road, I might not be typing this right now. We drove carefully and stayed alert (which everyone warns you about here, all the time, with good reason). We did finally see a moose, standing on the side of the road, stock still. Big. Big big.
When we stopped for a bite to eat and a driving break, I called a B&B in Sinnantiny and found an inexpensive room with internet access on the first try. It's a lovely place, but it's not available for a second night. So on our way back from dinner in town, we stopped at a motel, confirmed that they have wireless internet, and booked a room for the next night.
We had dinner at a nicer (more upscale) place that we usually do, only because that's what we found first, and it was too long a day to look further. We ordered our new favourite local dish, and wouldn't you know it, the fish cakes and baked beans weren't half as good as they were at the roadside diner.
St. Anthony is the town closest to the L'Anse aux Meadows, the Viking archeology site. Everything here is named Viking This and Norse That. The town also celebrates the medical missionary Wilfred Grenfell, whose life's work was based here. I don't think we'll get to the Grenfell Premises, at least not if it's sunny, as we have several other priorities. It's also our last shot at whales for this trip.
Random note. At most restaurants here, the server does not bring a bill (US: check) to your table. When you're ready to leave, you walk up to the cash (US: register or cashier) and someone totals it up for you. When we do that, we've already left a tip on the table, but I think people expect you to tip when you're paying. I've encountered a few sour looks and cold shoulders as I wait for change.
Random note. On the way to Twillingate, there were many signs for various B&Bs, hotels and tourist attractions. Many of the signs look very old and unsophisticated, like signs I used to see traveling with my family 35 years ago. One such sign had four crudely drawn pictures: a lobster trap, a lobster, a big cooking pot, and the fourth... a stick of butter! As we drove by, we said to each other, "What was that sign? Was that butter?!" We've been laughing about it ever since.
Of course, if I want to burst out laughing, all I have to do is think, "That's a really big hook."