Do We Really Have to Leave?THE BIG CHILL, CHAPTER 10: IN WHICH WE LEARN ABOUT AN ODD IMPORT
Days 14 - 16: Labrador to Home. With an 8:00 Monday morning booking, we had to be at the ferry office in Blanc Sablon by 7 to purchase our tickets and get in line. Guiding drivers where to go and folding in side mirrors on each car, the meticulous ferry agents packed vehicles in the hold with only inches to spare. These guys would be a great help if you were putting a jigsaw puzzle together.
After parking below deck, we followed the crowd upstairs to one of the passenger lounges. Had our journey been an overnight cruise, rather than just 1.5 hours, berths are available with beds. Instead we hung out in the cafeteria area, even indulging in a bit of breakfast to supplement the meager rations we stirred up before leaving the hotel.
Reaching Saint Barbe on schedule, the ferry was efficiently unloaded, and we drove south on the familiar Highway 430 down the west coast of Newfoundland. We had run out of time to stop at the Port au Choix National Historic Site on our way north last week, and this return trip south would offer another opportunity. When we arrived at the site, however, we learned that Monday was a government holiday—Discovery Day—commemorating John Cabot's 1497 arrival in Newfoundland. So we didn't visit the prehistoric archaeological sites of Port au Choix on Monday either. But the local Foodland was open so we were able to secure some lunch supplies. Even though NL-430 is a main highway in Newfoundland terms, it is more like a county road in the U.S., so food options along the way would be limited.
|Scenic lookoff at Squid Cove|
So we continued moseying down the coastal road and checked back in at the Holiday Inn Express where we stayed last week in Deer Lake. With plenty of afternoon left, we decided to drive back east on the TransCanada Highway and visit the town of Howley on the opposite shore of Sandy Lake, not because we knew anything about it but because we had some time and saw it on the map. Little did we know, we were stepping into a significant piece of Newfoundland history.
In this humble little town (pop. 241), moose were introduced to Newfoundland island in 1904. With the island's caribou herd dwindling, the government was seeking an alternate source for big game hunting. Arrangements were made with the neighboring province of New Brunswick, where seven moose were lassoed in deep snow and then transported by sled, rail, ferry and rail again to a wooded area near Howley. Only four moose survived this lengthy travel ordeal, and they were released—two cows and two bulls. From those four, the population grew over the next hundred years to a herd of more than 120,000 moose. Now Newfoundland has the most concentrated population of moose in North America.
Howley has memorialized its claim to fame in a city park complete with a large interpretive sign and a 4-ft. statue of a moose, all very nice, except there was something a bit off about the moose. The second look of our double take revealed the problem. This moose was equipped with... deer antlers? Well, that was certainly a mystery to be solved, especially after we found a photo of the beast with his rightful moose antlers on the interpretive sign.
Lorna knew the story. It seems that vandals stole the original bronze antlers off the statue. With no funds in the town budget for repair, some clever local conceived the money-saving idea of replacing the missing horns with a real rack from a deer. Bob was just as excited as we were to solve this mystery. We clinked our bottles of Black Horse with his Bud Light. No doubt Bob will tell the story every chance he gets. He seemed like a storyteller kind of guy.
Our Tuesday flight from Deer Lake to Toronto was scheduled for 8:30 p.m., giving us a full day to check out Corner Brook, just 33 miles west on the TransCanada Highway. With a population pushing 20,000, Corner Brook is the province's largest population center outside the St. John's area. Target even has a store there. But we weren't there to shop.
|Humber Arm at Bottle Cove|
In a move to ease us back into the hotter temperatures back in Georgia, the weather fairy sent Corner Brook's temperatures soaring near 80 degrees, diminishing our melancholy as we returned to Deer Brook to turn in our rental car and catch a flight to Toronto. Like all small airports, Deer Lake procedures and laid-back staff eased the officiousness of the security screening.
Two uneventful flights later and we were back in Georgia, where the ever faithful Faisal picked us up at the airport without a hitch. To facilitate our transition back to the reality of summer in the South, the temperature stayed below 90 degrees that day.
Our journey to Newfoundland and Labrador was all we hoped it would be and more. It was one of the most scenic places we have visited, and the weather was just what we were seeking. Did we really have to leave?
Monday, June 23-Wednesday, June 25, 2014
A Few More Photos
|The original Howley moose (photo from interpretive sign in park)|
|Our buddy Bob from the Trapper's Lounge|
|View of Gulf or St. Lawrence from Bottle Cove Trail|
|Gulf of St. Lawrence from trail's end|
|Little Port harbor near Bottle Cove|