Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Oh Canada!

Gros Morne, NL – We’ve had a sunny, warm summer day to enjoy Canada’s 148th birthday, with a 300 km drive through some spectacular scenery, and glimpses into local celebrations in three different places on the way.
If you picture the Newfoundland map as a triangle, we traveled about half-way up the left-hand side of it today. For the early part, we were by the water, turning inland later on but still seeing lots of brooks and lakes there too, with some major mountains thrown in -- some even with snow on top.

We took a detour off the TransCanada to have a look at Stephenville, a pretty seaside town. We noticed that every cross street was named after one of the US states, and then we came to a US Air Force fighter jet mounted on a pedestal. We figured Stephenville must have been a strategic military location during the war years.

Just then, to our left, we saw a crowd at the local cenotaph, where a memorial ceremony was under way. The Canadian and Newfoundland flags were at half-mast and wreaths were being laid by uniformed personnel – in Newfoundland, July 1 commemorates the decimation of local boys at Beaumont-Hamel, near Vimy Ridge, in World War I, as well as Canada Day. It was a touching sight.

Back on the main road, we passed the turnoff for Corner Brook, which we may visit at another time, and at Deer Lake, we turned left off the TransCanada (which will take us toward Gander and St John’s later in our stay) and headed north on Highway 430.

More great vistas of rocks and trees awaited us at every turn. At one point, after passing many warning signs about moose, we saw a dead moose by the roadside. It reinforced our vigilance in a way signs cannot.

On entering Gros Morne National Park, the attendant told us it was free today, being Canada Day, so we continued on our way. The familiar yellow-orange KOA sign can’t be used within the park boundaries, so we missed the turn. However, we took a roundabout route through Rocky Harbour and eventually located the RV park. This was not before we passed the town’s park where the entire population was gathered for a decorated bicycle parade and games and fun for the kiddies. A happy sight!

Once settled in our site, we explored Rocky Harbour and Norris Point in the car, locating a good spot for a seafood dinner to end the day. We had our first taste of cod tongues as an appetizer, and Val had halibut while I chose the Fisherman’s Catch – cod, scallops and shrimp! Delicious!

As we were turning back into the KOA park, the junior division of the park guests all filed by, dressed in red and white with balloons and flags and decorated bicycles, headed for a weenie roast on the beach! We’re told there will be fireworks in Rocky Harbour at 11 pm (the sun doesn’t set till quite late here) but I think we’ll be sound asleep by then.

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