Saturday, August 1, 2009

A day in Newfoundland

Newfoundland is known for spectacular scenery, icebergs, whales, moose, Screech, and incredibly friendly people. I'm happy to report that, except for spotting a moose, we experienced everything else. In fact, we experienced them all in one day during our visit to Trinity Bight on the Bona Vista peninsula. (Please click on photos for larger, and much more enjoyable, images.)

A "bight" is a bend in a coast forming an open bay, and in New Bonaventure, one of the settlements around Trinity Bight, there is a charming man named Bruce Miller who runs Rugged Beauty Boat Tours and provides terrific boat tours of the area where he grew up.

Our first stop was the set of Random Passage, constructed in 2000 for the filming of the TV mini-series of the same name. It was built to represent a typical fishing outpost in the early 1800's complete with sod roof houses, fishing stage and fish flakes and a traditional vegetable garden. Bruce's family came to Newfoundland in the early 1800's and made their living from the sea. Bruce tells tales of his ancestors and takes visitors on a small boat to the abandoned villages of Kerley's Harbour and Ireland's Eye,

so named because looking east, the next thing you see is Ireland. The photographs show the abandoned church and ruins of the village with lobster pots in the foreground. Bruce has wonderful old photographs of these communities during their prosperous years, and it is amazing to see how many buildings there used to be. As the fishing industries died, people moved away, often taking their houses with them, and not much is left today. In addition to showing old photographs and telling stories, Bruce also shares his opinions on politics and what life is like for rural Newfies today. He also takes guests to a cabin he built on the site of his grandfather's home in the abandoned outport of British Harbour and lets them enjoy the view while he brews up some tea. (The brown cabin on the left is Bruce's and the other photos show the wildflowers by the house and the view from the deck.

To add to the pleasure of historic sites and scenery, there is often wildlife and icebergs to see. We saw two bald eagles and were able to get close to a pod of humpback whales. The first thing you see is the spout. Then the huge body appears and gracefully goes into a dive. Finally, all you can see is the disappearing tail fin. Truly awesome.

Then we went to see the iceberg. This lone hunk of ice was melting rapidly, so it must have been much bigger when it first floated into the bay.

Some small pieces of it had broken off, so Bruce pulled the boat up next to one and used his gaff to break off some chunks for us. After returning to our B&B, we spent the rest of the afternoon sipping Screech, the infamous Newfoundland rum, made cold with bits of 10,000-year-old ice from the iceberg. The ice is full of air which escapes in bubbles as the ice melts.

More to come on Newfoundland in a couple of days.


i-Spring said...

Thanks for the travelogue, I want to go there now. Does the ice from the iceberg, when put into your drink, taste salty as "from the sea"?

Cynthia Blanton said...

No, the ice does not taste salty assuming you rinse off the seawater. It is from a glacier and is ancient snow that has been compressed into ice over the last 10,000 years. It is pure and unpolluted frozen fresh water.