Day Seventeen: Sydney, Nova Scotia

 

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I did mention that I’m not a morning person, right? My partner took the risky step of buying me a coffee. My first. And I’m sad to report that it went down far too easily!

The early morning drive along the coast of Newfoundland to the ferry was just as stunning as every other we’ve taken on the island.

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Right to the end of the drive, mountains rose on either side as if saying a fond farewell.

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The ferry ride was smooth and we scored the best seats ever. We paid a bit extra for cushy reclining chairs in the reserved section. We overlooked the stern of the ferry, on the 9th level (the only thing above us was the observation deck) and windows all around.

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About an hour into the seven-hour crossing, Newfoundland became the suggestion of a pencil smudge on the gloomy horizon. After that we were cocooned in fog.

The rain and clouds finally began to lift as we approached Cape Breton.

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As we drove away from the ferry, my first impression of Nova Scotia was one of brilliant colour. Oh maple trees of orange, gold and red, how I have missed you! It was dusk and too dark to take photos but I know tomorrow’s drive will be spectacular!

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Day Fifteen: Gros Morne Park (Part Two)

We are now halfway through our trip. We have seen so much yet it feels like we have only skimmed the surface.

Speaking of which, today we had the rare opportunity to walk on the Earth’s mantle. The Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park look like a barren desert with steep slopes rising to flat-topped mountains.

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The golden brown rock – peridotite – is thought to have been forced up from the depths several hundred million years ago during a collision between tectonic plates.

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The rock has toxic amounts of heavy metals and lacks nutrients to sustain plant life so the area looks like a moonscape.

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Yet the land and mountains on the opposite side of the road are lush and green.

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The plants that do grow on the tablelands are alpine and found only in the lower part of the landscape. The pitcher plant (a carnivorous plant like the Venus flytrap) is vibrant red and prevalent.

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So is the creeping juniper. We saw some tiny ferns near a waterfall as well as some purple asters.

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The whole day was one of contrasts. I had no idea that this part of Newfoundland was so mountainous. Every time we came around a corner, a new breathtaking view arose before us. And what a mix! Snow-covered mountains, jagged peaks and flat table tops, lush valleys, deep lakes and fjords…

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We stopped as always in a few coastal villages along the way. We were particularly charmed by Norris Point nestled between Bonne Bay and the East Arm and surrounded by rolling hills and mountains in glorious fall colours.

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In a couple of valleys we saw the unmistakable crimson of maple trees – the first maples we’ve seen since Quebec. It actually made me feel a bit homesick for the range of fall colours we usually see this time of the year.

Tomorrow we continue south to Stephensville, and the next day, we’ll be catching the ferry to Nova Scotia. Only two more sleeps in Newfoundland. I will miss the extraordinary land and sea as well as the open and welcoming people who have made us feel so at home.

Oh, and the partridge berry pie!

Day Thirteen: Rocky Harbour

Just for a change, let’s go backwards through our day today.

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It ended in Rocky Harbour at the lighthouse, watching the sun set over the mountains.

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The drive there was spectacular, and couldn’t be captured in photos. The road followed the shoreline with the vast Gulf of St. Lawrence on one side and the towering range of Long Mountains on the other.

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We slipped in and out of tiny coastal villages and stopped at the breathtaking Arches Provincial Park.

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Before we left Port-au-Choix this morning, we went for another hike along the coast.

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We came upon a herd of caribou grazing. We counted ten: several young males off to the side and a large male with his “harem” at the other end of the meadow.

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We were able to follow the path down toward the ocean, passing quite close by the young males. Once we reached the trees, the large male began to charge one of the younger males. It was a bit unnerving to see how quickly he could cover the ground without any effort.

We now have two full days to explore the Gros Morne area. So many vistas and trails to choose from!