twillingate to grand falls

[Saturday, June 22]

This was our last morning on the east coast of Newfoundland, and our second consecutive sunny, warm day, likely a record that we won't see broken. Before we headed out, I wanted one last look at the massive iceberg that was still hanging around the harbour. As we checked out of the motel, the desk clerk said she was up by the lighthouse the night before, and of course she saw a whale. "Comin' right up out of the water, it was." Is everyone really seeing whales when we're not around, or is this an elaborate trick the locals play on the mainlanders?

After checking the iceberg - still there, still huge - we drove down the peninsula to Boyd's Cove. In that town, there's an interpretation centre about the Beothuks, the aboriginal people of Eastern Newfoundland. The Beothuks (pronounced "bee-othic," to rhyme with "gothic") were a culture of migratory hunter-gatherers who lived on and near the coast. Two hundred and fifty years after the first Europeans began to settle on the land, they were completely extinct.

Ralph Pastore, an archaeologist, searched the area for signs of Beothuk encampments, and found them in Boyd's Cove. The site turned out to be a treasure trove of artifacts and clues about Beothuk life. The museum we visited, a provincial park, displays artifacts, tells about Beothuk life (and their demise), and also emphasizes the methods and processes through which Pastore and his team derived the information. It was very well done. A trail that led to the site was wooded, secluded - and teeming with black flies and mosquitoes. Even with protection, we were both attacked.

Further down the peninsula, we stopped at a roadside restaurant and had a thoroughly delicious meal of two local specialties. Allan had "squid rings," what calamari is called here, which he never misses an opportunity to eat, and I had fish cakes and baked beans. The fish cakes were more like fish pancakes - crispy on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside. The baked beans were cooked in molasses and bacon, and were one of those "I didn't know this food could taste like this" experiences. I love eating in tiny, hole-in-the-wall places and stumbling on a truly delicious meal.

Further on, we drove around another small town looking for a laundromat, and spent a few hours getting clean clothes. From there, it was on to Grand Falls, where Newfie Campaign Friend grew up. Grand Falls is inland, and was settled relatively recently (compared to the fishing towns), in the late 1930s. I haven't had cell phone service since Clarenville, but we did find a pay phone so I could give NCF's mom a head's up.

NCFsM greeted us both with hugs, and five minutes later was insisting we spend the night there, and telling us what was for dinner. We wanted to take her out, but she wouldn't hear of it: cod au grautin was already in the oven. (That's another local standard, pronounced "cod-oh-grottin".)

NCFsM, Allan and I talked about Newfoundland, and the NCF family, and Canada, and pretty much everything. NCF likes to say that she is first generation Canadian-born, a bit of a puzzle since everyone knows she is from Newfoundland. But of course Newfoundland wasn't in Canada until NCFsM was a young adult.

We learned that the guides at Bonavista Lighthouse don't have the correct genealogy, and that NCF is also related to the Ryans of the Ryan Premises. We heard a story about some bad blood between the Ryans and our friend William Coaker of the FPU, who of course were on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

And speaking of politics, we also learned that NCFsM opposes Canada's presence in Afghanistan. She vehemently opposes US militarism and any Canadian support for it, and believes most people she knows feel the same way. She wants to see Canada return to peacekeeping, because "there's no such thing as winning this kind of war. There are only losers."

We had a truly lovely evening.

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