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!

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Day Ten: Newfoundland!

We started our day in Labrador with a long hike along the coast outside L’Anse-au-Clair. The trail took us to the remains of a house built by settlers from Jersey in the Channel Islands between Britain and France. They arrived in the 1800’s and settled along this barren coastline for the seal and cod fishing.  Beautiful as the area is, I can’t imagine coming here 200 years ago and creating a life from scratch.

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Then we drove a few minutes along the highway into Quebec at Blanc Sablon. The ferry to Newfoundland leaves from there.

It was a 1.5 hour ride across the Strait of Belle Isle. No whale sightings today.

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We meandered up the coast from St. Barbe, stopping to check out a couple of hiking trails.

The first one led to a series of unusual bun-shaped “rocks” that are actually among the earliest life forms on Earth. They are called thrombolites and are rare. The only other place they are found is in a place in Western Australia.

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After that we wandered through an area of limestone barrens where 118 of the 300 known rare plants in Newfoundland exist. Many of the low trees and shrubs are several  centuries old.

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I saw a stark contrast in the landscape between Labrador and Newfoundland. In Labrador, the terrain was mountainous with tall black spruce and tamarack. In Newfoundland, the land is very flat along the northwest shore and into the interior. The few trees tend to be scrub brush and you can see for miles.

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Further east, the land becomes hilly and mountainous and the trees grow a bit taller but the variety is different.

On our way to L’Anse-aux-Meadows, we stopped at The Daily Catch, the only restaurant that’s open in the area at this time of the year. The haddock had been freshly caught just off the coast of L’Anse-aux-Meadows and the partridge berry pie was delicious.

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I have it on good authority that the bread pudding with Screech rum sauce was good too 😉

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This is the sunset that greeted us as we turned into L’Anse-aux-Meadows where we will stay for two nights.

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We’re eager to explore the Viking archeological site tomorrow.

Day Six: Churchill Falls

Today was a lovely relaxed day. We picked up our satellite phone (available free to residents and visitors driving the Trans-Labrador Highway – there is no cell service and the communities are 300 km apart or more with nothing in between).  Then we hiked up to see Crystal Falls near Labrador City.

 

The start of the hike was hard to find – just a clearing in the woods and a steep path of boulders. We climbed and climbed until we realized we had somehow missed the (also unmarked) turn to the falls. After backtracking, we did find the path into the woods and it was worth the trek.

 

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The highway to Churchill Falls is well paved and we did see some vehicles from time but mostly it was just our car for as far as the eye could see in any direction.

We climbed hills, crossed bridges over immense lakes, passed bogs of tamarack, black spruce and low shrubs, and watched for caribou.

 

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We saw two otters playing in a lake and stopped for a photo. The wind was so strong, I couldn’t hold the camera still and I was nearly blown off my feet.

Just before arriving in Churchill Falls, we pulled over to take a photo of a large split rock.

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Then we noticed a road leading down further. We followed it and discovered a hiking trail that took us through the woods, clambering over fallen trees to a series of lookout points over the Churchill Falls.

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The community itself reminds me of Fermont, Quebec. It’s also a company town and includes a large building that houses the hotel, library, post office, swimming pool, school, and sportsplex. The houses are clustered not far from this central building. And for a good reason – it gets really cold here in the winter.  The school is only closed when the temperature reaches -50 C (-58 F). So if it’s -49C, kids still have to go to school!

When we checked in at the hotel, we were asked if we wanted to do “the tour” (the tour of the Churchill Falls generating station). As soon as I heard it involves going 90+ stories below ground, I was out.

Instead, the desk clerk told us of a steep gravel side road we could take down to a section of the Churchill River where the diverted water rejoins the river. The company has created a lovely recreational area with benches, a boat ramp and dock. That is where we watched the sun set tonight.

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And on the drive back up to town, an Arctic hare bounded across the road in front of us!

 

 

And I’m Back!

I haven’t posted here for a while, although that doesn’t mean I haven’t been out there finding joy 🙂

Last night, for example, a friend and I went to a Paint Nite, an event where a group of people spend a couple of hours painting, guided by an artist. We all work on the same picture although we have our own canvases. It was a lot of fun.

I used to paint with watercolours but I’ve never tried other media. We worked with acrylics which, to my delight, are far more forgiving and easy to work with than watercolours!

And here’s my “masterpiece”.

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Desert Night ~ by Julie Wise

What matters to me most is that we had fun – no pressure and lots of laughter. Definitely a night to remember!

Sunrise, Sunset

I love sunsets, and sunrises (although I’m not often up early enough to see sunrises!)

Each one is unique. Each holds a surreal beauty, subtly shifting from moment to moment, ushering in a sense of peace and serenity. A feeling that all’s well with the world.

Is there anything more beautiful?

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Sunset at Smiths Lake, Australia. Photo by Julie Wise

Let There Be Light

Sometimes, as William Wordsworth said, “the world is too much with us.” Events in our own lives, and around the world, can weigh heavily on our hearts and minds.

At such times, I close my eyes and surrender…to the feelings of loss, of sadness and disbelief. And as I breathe in, I notice…the feel of the wind on my face, the touch of the sun on my shoulder, and the melodies of birds in the trees.

I recognize that in the midst of sorrow, there is also joy. It may seem more fleeting, hard to capture, and yet, like a butterfly, it hovers around me, at the periphery of my vision, just waiting to be noticed.

And so, I choose…to notice joy; to feel my own aliveness and wellbeing; to celebrate all that is good in the world. In so doing, I honour those in my world who are no longer able to do the same.

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Let there be Light… (photo by Julie Wise)