Newfoundland: Gander to Gros Morne

Driving from Gander to Gros Morne, I got on the road around 0745. There was intermittent rain all across the island. I got to the edge of the park around 1200 (St. John's to Rocky Harbour, in the middle of Gros Morne, is a 700 km journey: this isn't a small island). Some fellow B&B dwellers told me that picking up a car in Deer Lake and dropping it in St. John's would save you time ... but the drop-off charge is an additional $450.

I attempted to visit the Tablelands. No, that's wrong: I succeeded, but the experience was ... less than optimal. It had stopped raining momentarily when I got out of the car, and I thought "okay, I've got my rain poncho and my waterproof shoes, I'm ready." It was a gamble - will it rain? So I tromped up the trail into slowly increasing rain. And I can now tell you that once your jeans are totally soaked, the water runs down your legs into your socks and shoes ... and because the shoes are waterproof, all the water stays in, and your feet get their own spa bath. But wait! It gets better! Because when you turn the corner around the hill at the 1.7 km mark, you're into oncoming horizontal rain. Seriously: I think I was walking into 100 km/h wind. I got about 200 metres into that before I'd had enough. Glad the police didn't drop by the parking lot: getting caught changing your pants in your car might not be ideal.

So what do the Tablelands look like? I'll tell you, because you won't be seeing any pictures from me ... Yellow orange rubble stone interspersed with a couple kinds of flowers and some low shrubs, with looming steep hills. Apparently the soil is quite toxic (to plants - to a human it just looks like ... rocky soil). But unusually and beautifully barren.

I poured as much water as I could out of my shoes, and squished my way to my B&B where I spent quite a while with the hair dryer trying to balance my need for dry shoes with an almost equal need to not completely fry their hair dryer.

I described the rain experience to Ken, who said "Sounds like you're experiencing the real Newfoundland." Thanks. He says there's a common expression here: "RDF," which means "rain, drizzle, and fog." And of the horizontal rain, which is fairly common: "We tend to laugh at tourists who bring umbrellas." I brought one ... but I twigged to its uselessness early on and never attempted to actually open it.

Conclusion: waterproof shoes are great on wet trails after a rain ... but without other gear, they're useless in even moderate rain. Seems obvious in hindsight ...

I was headed to see if one of the nicer joints in town was open for dinner when I went by Fisherman's Landing Restaurant, which had a sign advertising Moose Burgers. That pretty much did it. Moose burger tastes a lot like I remember beef tasting ... but that's a dubious comparison at best since I haven't eaten beef in about 14 years. Possibly denser and leaner and a little more flavour, but again, my judgement is suspect.

There were real live Newfoundlanders working there and sitting at the tables ... With their "den" ("then") and their "dere" ("there") ... - one at the next table had a full-on NFLD accent, complete with regional colloquialisms, really something. The rest appeared to be family, and the accent manifested in varying degrees. I actually kind of like it, but it's confusing. Words I've learned so far include "tuckamore" (a severely twisted tree found near the seashore), "starrigan," which is a dead tree, and "buddy" which refers to any anonymous person. One of their strangest (to us) expressions is "Where are you to?", which actually means "where are you from?", or, on the phone, "where are you?"