Sunday, August 02, 2009

Day 6: M&N’s, But No M’s

We left Gros Morne National Park and returned to Port aux Basques, but had a few leisurely side trips today.

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After our dinner in Trout River, we headed back to the campground and set up our tent. After several nights of camping without problems, we’ve finally found the land of M&N’s, mosquitoes and no-see-ums that is. They both can drain a pint of blood and leave a nasty welt! We sat in our chairs outdoors for a little bit, but decided the best course of action was to get in the tent and close the doors. And fortunately that did the trick. We slept well with no more problems.

We took a short driving tour of Gros Morne National Park from our campground in Trout River to Rocky Harbour on the north side of the fjord called Bonne Bay. To get there, you first have to back track to Wiltondale. Glacial cut fjords abound here, but their sides are less steep than those back home in Coastal BC. Even so, they are beautiful and majestic.

We first stopped at the Tablelands to see the orange-brown rock, called peridotite, which is where a piece of the mantle layer was thrust up to the earth’s surface. It is an example of plate tectonics, and being a rock nut it was really exciting to see. About 470 million years ago two continental plates collided and the resulting fault pushed the inner earth upwards. The Tablelands is one of the most accessible examples of mantle exposure. Other rocks around the park formed from sediments that were once on the bottom of an ancient ocean that existed until 420 to 570 million years ago. Uplift and faulting twisted and raised them to form the land of today.

We stopped in Rocky Harbour for breakfast. Wayne went “normal” and I went “traditional.” I had something called toutons. They are fried bread dough. The outside was crunchy and the insides barely cooked dough, but covered in homemade Partridge Berry jam they were really tasty. If we had stayed for lunch, we could have stayed for the moose burgers. In fact, in the land of moose (over 4,800 here in the park alone), we didn’t even see one M. We even took Monsieur Argent off road a bit, but still no luck.

The drive south on T.C.H. 1 seemed quicker than up, but I guess that’s often the case when you know the route. Well, it was faster except when we got behind a “touron” in an RV! Our destination was J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park near Cape Ray, just north of Port-aux-Basques. We planned that so we could get to the ferry early, but things are still running late.

On the way to dinner in town, we took the back road to Cape Ray and went out to the lighthouse. This coast can be treacherous, and fog is an almost constant problem, especially early in the morning and late in the evening. Tonight, as we sit in camp, we can hear a foghorn sounding every few minutes.

In addition to some spectacular views of the rugged coast, Cape Ray was the site of a prehistoric Dorset Eskimo village. Wayne and I have read quite a bit about them in books about the arctic. Cape Ray was one of their most southerly sites. The Dorset came here to hunt harp seals in the early spring when they migrated to the ice floes for whelping. They also stayed into the summer to fish for salmon in the rivers and caribou in the nearby Table Mountains. Stumbling onto the display and interpretation site was pretty exciting for us.

Cape Ray is too small to have a restaurant, so we headed back to Port aux Basques to get dinner. We are traveling without cooking gear, so eating out has been simpler. Plus, we had a chance to sample some local dishes. But I think I enjoy that more than Wayne sometimes. -- Margy

FREE HOTSPOT WATCH: The Marine Atlantic ferry MV Caribou has a hotspot on board, but it's too slow to upload pictures.

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We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy