|Gros Morne National Park|
Land Ho! And there it is......'The Rock', as it is aptly called, is rugged, often barren, and at times foggy and wet, and always breathtaking in it's unexpected beauty. The names alone are as enchanting as the fairies; 'Little Heart's Ease', 'Come-by-Chance', and 'Heart's Delight', are only a few. For years the life's blood of Newfoundland was Cod fishing, so the settlements, often inaccessible by land, grew up around the fishery. As the fishing died out the residents were offered an incentive to relocate to the urban centers. Consequently, most of the small outposts are now virtual ghost towns. Former residents and their families return to these abandoned outposts, to their roots, usually in summer to reminisce about the old times.
|Lobster Pots galore!|
|Port aux Basque, NFL|
Safe as houses once again, we opted to take time out to visit Cornerbrook by bus and the well-extolled Gros Morne National Park. The taxi driver assured us there was ' nothing of interest along the way', but as we settled in for the ride the soaring peaks and rocky faces around every turn, told us otherwise. We soon ascended into God's Country, Gros Morne, a vast expanse of green mountain fiords and clear lakes. After a days hiking and exploring we returned to our coach bus and charming Newfie tour guide Sarah of the red hair. Our second attempt to head out of the harbour was more successful and next morning we cruised into the forgotten French colony of the St. Pierre Miquelon Islands. This tiny enclave of France clings hesitantly to the coast of Newfoundland, a relic of the old seafaring days of colonization.
And he lived on an island in the bright blue sea.
He ate little fishes that were most delicious,
And he had them for dinner and he had them for tea".
St. Pierre, Miquelon
Zut Alors! Who would expect this miniature outpost of the French republic here of all places, off the East Coast of Newfoundland? In the 1700's and 1800's England and France fought over the islands and eventually in 1816 they came permanently under the French flag. The town of St. Pierre is nestled between verdant rocky hillsides surrounding an industrious fishing harbour. And yes, the Puffins have arrived huddled together in little flocks! Once ashore we investigated the quiet streets, stopping in for a baguette lunch and observing an amazing selection of delicacies from escargot to truffles in the shops. We dined at L'Atelier Gourmand, a little slice of Paris transported to SPM. In true French fashion it was a 'belle experience culinaire! Back out in the fog we planned our final leg of the journey north via the outposts of Burin and Merasheen, to St. John's.
|St. Pierre, Miquelon|
'Oh a little piece of heaven fell from out o' the sky one day'.....and they called it Merasheen.
The waves were crashing over the decks and the winds snorting when we spotted the channel marker and made our way tentatively into the tiny harbour of Merasheen Island,(from the French Mira-Chien or Sea Dog Island ). Inside, a minute dark figure awaited us on the dock. We gratefully threw a line to Ray Hann, brother of our friend and 'boat chaplain' Father William. The usual hearty Newfoundland welcome followed with greetings from Gail, his wife and friends. The majesty and serenity of this remote outpost is startling! There are only nine actual summer residents and virtually no one in the wintertime. However, this gem of a hamlet was once the home of the Hann family and many others. The government relocation program has left most of the cabins empty but every few years they hold a reunion. With the proliferation of the generations there are now over 250 people who attend the gathering of the clans.
|Ray and Gail on Merasheen|
|Little Merasheen Bay|
|The villagers sing Farewell to Merasheen!|
|Merasheen Harbour entrance|
a screaming gull flew overhead; the two hulls wildly rolled;
we gave three heavy-hearted cheers, and blindly plunged like fate
into the lone Atlantic."
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
|Painted houses of St. John's|
|The crew of CBC awaits us at the dock!|
|Arrival at St. John's, NFL|
|Celebrating with Brendan|
|Merasheen Boy, Father William and Friends|
|Rob, the new First Mate arrives for the long trek home|
|Bermuda or Bust!|
"We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to find ourselves at the beginning,
And know that place for the first time."