Yesterday was a long day made longer, because the ferry boat from Labrador had something wrong with it and could not go at top speed. We were supposed to be back in St. Barbe by 9:30, but it was closer to 11pm by the time when we followed our flashlight beams back to the rig. So we were extra grateful that today’s drive was a mere 75 miles and we didn’t get on the road until noon.
The sun shone brightly and the blue water sparkled as we drove along the shore. It wasn’t long before a town with a light house caught our eye and we stopped in a parking lot, unhooked the car, and spent an hour clicking away with our cameras looking for the best light house views. The foggy days have been a frustration and mean that days like this are appreciated even more. The towns in northern Newfoundland are neat and well kept as they have been all over Canada, but there is absolutely no landscaping. Many flowers are blooming at the moment, but they are all wild and happy to be here. One house we saw had a pine tree in the front yard that Charlie Brown would not have used for a Christmas tree. One side of the tree was stripped bare by the strong winds coming from the Strait of Belle Isle. We do pass some stunted pines that remind us of the permafrost forests we saw in Alaska. The cold temperatures is obviously a factor, but the last glacial invasion scraped the land here down to the bone. It’s hard to grow much of anything without topsoil.
We are crammed into a parking lot in a campground at the northern most point of Newfoundland, the northern most point we will be driving on this trip.
All the towns here are small; population 19 would be pretty typical. So St. Anthony with its population of 2,500 feels like a big city. A very imposing building dominates the downtown - the Grenfell Hospital. And as we drive around we see many things named Grenfell. Once we went to the Grenfell Museum and home we understood why. Grenfell became a British doctor in the late 1800's and he wanted to do something good for mankind. He began his career working with fishermen in Northern England. In 1892, Grenfell was sent to investigate the conditions in the Labrador fishery. There had never been a doctor in the area before. This was the start of Dr. Grenfell's lifelong work on a coast that was ice blocked and inaccessible for several months of the year .He devoted the rest of his life to helping the people there as a medical missionary and in Newfoundland, often working under the most adverse conditions. One medical emergency had him driving a dogsled onto the ice and falling in. He had to slice open one of his dogs and shelter in its hide while waiting for rescue, which came many hours later.
The way the Newfies speak really threw us for a loop when we first got here, but after two weeks here, we are beginning to get the hang of the basics. Whenever a word begins with an “h,” you don’t pronounce it. Whenever a word begins with a vowel sound, you add an “h” before it. So you might look hunder the ouse to see if the chickens have laid any heggs there. You could feel heager to give your sweetie a ug. Hanger might cause you to take an haction you might later regret. You might wonder if that big nest in the tree belonged to an heagle or an hosprey. Eaven elp hus!