Tag Archives: Newfoundland

Newfoundland: Taking a Hike and Liking It….

Travelling across Newfoundland in a Recreational Vehicle, as we did, affords us a great deal of time to try new pastimes. As such our go to activity since arriving here has been hiking. 

Beaches of Burgeo. Miles of seaside pleasure

Let me say that walking for pleasure is something that I have taken up late life like the last five years. For much of my adult life I was pretty much a “couch potato.” However health challenges about twenty years ago forced me to re-think some my lifestyle choices. One of the new health conscious changes I made was to become more active and walking was a key  part of my health strategy going forward. 

Beach near Lumsden NFLD. Stormy walks…

I have taken the occasional walk in the woods or Recreational trail but I can’t say I made any effort to do so regular. I was pretty much an urban walker. Well let’s say that all of that changed we arrived in beautiful Newfoundland last July. 

Hiking and walking trails in Newfoundland are a key piece of their tourism infrastructure. All levels of government here have invested in developing and maintaining trails dedicated to hikers of all levels. The quantity and quality of the trails seemed tailor made for retiree’s like use with time on our hands. It didn’t take long before the call of the trails had us hooked. 

Tablelands Hike Gros Morne National Park

We are very much novices when it comes to the hike game. We limit out hikes to between 5 & 10 kilometers on any given day. The trails I choose are usually rated easy to moderate although Martha, who has always embraced physical challenges, has done a difficult trail with a friend while in Newfoundland. 

Newfoundland is a fabulous place to hike and not just because there is an abundance of trails, but because it an Island in the North Atlantic. There are many unique plant and ecosystems that make every walk interesting. Add to that incedibly scenic Mountains and Coastline and there is always motivation to take another hike. 

I don’t know if I have become more observant as I have aged or I just walk slower and therefore I see more. The fact is there is much to see in the forest here. Much of which I have never seen until now. Plants, varying  terrain, world class Mountains and amazing Coastline make every hike an adventure and a journey of discovery.

Trailside plants Terra Nova National Park

Since we have been here we have hiked the Coastline, explored miles of beach, circled lakes, climbed high bluffs using hand built stairs and walked over bogs on board walks that are popular throughout the province. 

I will not recommend specific trail simply because there are so many that can offer a variety of experiences. The internet is a great resource for researching your next hike or you can go old school and just speak to locals or other tourist throughout your journey. Most people you encounter are happy to share their favourite hiking discoveries with you. 

We will offer you a little advice however. Although hiking is a great way see the world and enjoy the great outdoors affordably. The experience can be greatly enhanced with the right equipment. Invest in good quality hiking shoes or boots and breathable rain gear. There are also a number of “technical” clothing options that although not necessary will keep you dry and comfy from both the rain and the heat and thus worth considering. Finally I highly recommend investing in some hiking poles. They are great for adding stability over rough terrain and helping with difficult climbs. For those of us who are “aged challenged” it is like having a portable banister with you all the time. 

Any Newfoundland vacation would not be complete without a few days exploring the vast network of hiking trails. Whether you’re a bird watcher, a plant lover, a walker or someone who just loves fresh air and open spaces; just take a hike because you just might like it.

Barachois Pond Provincial Park NFLD. Erin Mountain Trail. View from the bottom and the top. 360 meter climb of hiking splendour. All photos taken by Eric Morin

6 Amazing Things I Learned About Newfoundland’s West Coast and Ashamed That I Didn’t Know

I am one of those weirdo’s who loves history,.especially Canadian history. I have always taken pride in having, what I believe to be,  a better than average understanding of Canadian geography. Well it only has taken two weeks in Newfoundland to prove how woefully inadequate I am when it comes to knowing anything about this very special and amazing province. Sadly I’m not alone. I informally asked other gray haired first time visitors if they were aware of many of our discoveries here. Like me they muttered something about the sorry state of Canadian Education and then ashamedly admitted they did not.  So that you do not have be as challenged as I am in my golden years, here are 6 things I learned while traveling Newfoundland’s West Coast. 

Tabletop Mountain. Photo Credit: Martha Morin
  1. Climb Every Mountain:  When we think of mountains in Canada our thoughts turn to the Canadian Rockies of the West, central Canada’s Laurentian Mountains or the Cape Breton Highlands of the east coast. Well the Long Range Mountains of Newfoundland more than deserve  to be a part of this illustrious group. As as an extension of the Appalachian Mountains Range of North America’s east coast, these amazing mountains run up almost the entire west coast of Newfoundland. Rugged and majestic they reach for the sky at times at the ocean’s edge. Their shape and structure varies significantly throughout the range. Key features are a part of Gros Morne National Park and include the Tabletop Mountains near Trout River and Fjords of West Brook Pond. Definitely a must see part of Canada. See more here:   https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Range_Mountains 
    West Brook Pond Fjord? Photo Credit: Martha Morin
  2. Salt Required:    While on the topic of Mountains, who knew that Newfoundland had a fjord. Well actually it is not currently a true fjord but it once was. To be a true fjord it must be filled with saltwater and although the the fjord at West Brook Pound was once filled with saltwater, glacial movement and changing seas levels has left it land locked and filled with fresh water thus loosing its authentic fjord designation. Salt or no salt this is a Canadian treasure. The two hour boat tour of this lake will be a highlight of any trip to Newfoundland.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Brook_Pond 
    Whales at St Anthony’s NFLD. Photo Credit: Martha Morin
  3. Have a Whale of a Time: I have been on two so called “whale watching cruises” in my life prior to coming to Newfoundland and never go a glimpse of a Whale until coming to this province. If you want to see whales Newfoundland is the place. You can see these beautiful giant mammals from shore with binoculars or you can spend a little cash on a cruise to get up close and personal. One word of caution. No tour guarantees seeing whale. But the chances of seeing them here is exponentially higher than anywhere else. If you do choose to do a tour, pleases so your homework to ensure the operator in ecologically ethical and will not use tactics that will anyway terrorize, disturb or harm the whales. The touring business can be very competitive so there are times when some operators will chase or approach seas mammals in a manner that may be harmful to give paying customers a cheap but damaging thrill. See this link below for more info about whales of Newfoundland.  Https://newfoundsander.wordpress.com/whales/ ,   
    Anchors Aweigh Live Rocky Harbour NFLD. Photo Credit:Martha Morin
    There are whales and then there is whaling of the party variety.  So if you want a whale of a good to time take in one of the many live shows around the province. Quality entertainment and talent at rock bottom prices. See the link below for more information about Anchors Aweigh in Rocky Harbour NFLDhttp://www.tripadvisor.com/3309403?m=19905
  4. Rocks Alive!: Flower‘s Cove NFLD is home to thrombolites, very rare fossils which can be seen on the coast in the southern part of the town, remnants of bacteria and algae. They are about 650 million years old. The only two places where thrombolites were found are Flower’s Cove and Western Australia.How amazing is that. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower%27s_Cove
  5. Historic MeetingL’anse aux Meadows National Historic site where archeologist discovered a Norse village that proves that Europeans actually reached North America around 1000 AD almost five hundred years before Columbus. The site recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1976 provides a peek into what life was like in this small settlement established by Lief Erickson as a staging point to allow further exploration of a territory referred to as Vineland.The site is also said to be where human migrants who originated in Africa thousands of years before met again for the first time after circling the globe. All humans are said to have evolved and got their start in Africa. In time some started migrate East and others west. So when Lief Erickson landed at L’Anse aux Meadows and made contact with the local natives, the Beothucks, it is likely that human migrants from the east and west met for the first time concluding human circumvention of the earth. Pretty cool stuff that happened in Newfoundland. Read more at the following link.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27Anse_aux_Meadows 
  6. Land of Plenty: Meanwhile another interesting story was playing out further south on Newfoundland’s western peninsula at Port aux Choix. This is one of the richest archeological areas in the world.  Three distinct groups are said to have occupied this area for over 5500 years. The area attracted migrants because of it’s rich resources such as fish, seal and furs. Maritime Archaic Tradition, Groswater and Dorset Palaeoeskimos, and Recent Indians occupied the area before Europeans arrived. Beginning in the late 1500s, Basque, French and English occupied the site.   Read more here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_au_Choix

Explore Canada: Gros Morne NL

Like many National Parks, Gros Morne National Park has the tree jewels of big mountains, big water and big sky. But Gros Morne has a fourth jewel; big personality making  it jewel laden grandslam . 

As National Parks go, Gros Morne is a relatively new park established in 1976. Because of this there are many coastal communities within the park along Newfoundland’s west coast. Each Community with their memorable names such as Rocky Harbour, Woody Point and Cows Head have a proud and rich local history. However it is the people of these communities that give Gros Morne it’s big personality. Whether it is a casual encounter with a waitress or a shopkeeper,  the warm welcoming demeanor is always present. It seems that every sentence ends with love, honey or sweetheart. 

The province’s is storied history of song and famous Newfie humor is readily present and available. Local bars and pubs offer nightly entertainment that provide a party like atmosphere by demanding unfettered audience participation. 

For those who prefer a more formal setting for their viewing pleasure the Gros Morne Theatre Festival offers a series of plays and concerts all steeped in local history, songs and laughter.

The physical features of Gros Morne are breathtaking. It seems that wherever you look the is a postcard perfect view in front of you. Some memorable sights include the Table Top Mountains, picturesque seaside towns and lighthouses that dot the coast. There are numerous hiking trails from easy to difficult. The beach at Shallow Bay offer hours of walking and exploration with it’s massive sand dunes. 

The highlight for most people is the hike into West Brook Pond followed by a boat tour of the Fjord. There no question that this magnificent combination of sparkling water and towering rock walls is a national treasure. 

All business at Gros Morne are owned and operated by local people. I found the absence of national brands refreshing. All forms of accommodation are available. Motels, Bed and Breakfasts, Cottages along with campgrounds can be found throughout the park. Restaurants featuring local specialties of seafood and moose are also abundant. 

Gros Morne is a feast or the eyes and the heart. If you have not been to Gros Morne National Park it should on your bucket list. You will not be disappointed. Promise!!! 

Too Old for Adventure? Not!

Today we embark on the travel adventure or misadventure of our lifetime. The ultimate road trip across Canada. We have driven across Canada before but not like this.

My wife Martha and I retired earlier this spring and are fortunate to begin this phase of our life before our sixtieth year. We shared a vision of retirement filled with travel and in particular extended travel a across our beautiful homeland of Canada. We have travelled to most parts of Canada over the years but this trip is the is going to be totally different….

About five years ago we decided that we wanted to spend the our summers exploring Canada once we retired. We wanted to do it in a way that was more than sightseeing. We wanted to spend time in communities across the country exploring and having conversations with locals from sea to sea. We want to have a true experience of small town Canada beyond what we read in travel brochures or on the internet. We quickly decided that the way to do this was by travelling by recreational vehicle. This is where things kinda got crazy.

Other than a small pop-up tent trailer we have no experience travelling with a recreational vehicle so there was a huge learning curve just determining was type of RV would be best for us and our plans. We eventually made decisions and only time will tell if we made the best decisions. 

We settled on a truck and a fifth wheel trailer combination. In future blogs I will detail how we came to our decisions and why we settled on this 51 foot long and 14,000 pound behemoth of an RV and truck combo. 

So here we are senior  citizens embarking a trip of a lifetime with no experience chauffeuring a vehicle this huge vehicle to our first destination: Newfoundland and Labrador. So keep checking in to see how our adventure or misadventure goes as we push our limits well beyond our comfort zone ensuring that everyday will bring something new and exciting.