New founKnowing we had a long drive today across Newfoundland to reach Gros Morne National Park at a reasonable time, we left the chic hotel for breakfast at McDonald’s. Although we got our usual McDonalds breakfast, we did notice lots of new choices offering a healthier menu than in the states. Egg on bagel, wraps, and a case of fresh pastries looked yummy. The locals with their Irish slanted accent greeted us a warm welcome and a good day as we left. Newfoundlanders like to talk and are very friendly.
On the way across Newfoundland we took a brief detour to see Dildo. Yes there is a town in Newfoundland called Dildo, which seems to have come upon hard times. Located on a picturesque inlet, there is not much there except the Needs Convenience Store, the Dildo Post Office and the Dildo Interpretive Centre, which was closed so it will remain a mystery what they interpret.
Oh yes, apparently once a year they have the Dildo festival. Supposedly it was once used for a long fairly thin pin stuck in the edging of a row boat to act as a pivot for the oar. Regardless after about 10 minutes we had had enough and moved on.
As we continued across Newfoundland we continued to be amazed at how much traffic there was for a province the size of California with less than a half of a million people. But the Trans Canada Highway (the TCH) was well built, with numerous third lanes for passing the trucks. We made a brief stop at Terra Nova National Park to stretch the legs and enjoy a beautiful overlook, complete with two Red Chairs, which are a Canadian tradition.
Our next stop was in We drove to Gander, Newfoundland to see the Gander International Airport. Gander is well know as a stop off in the early days of aviation for flights going to and from Europe made a fuel stop here. While it is still an active airport, their famous international lounge has been closed off from use, but still visible from an upper level overlook.
Decorated in the mid-century design that looks pristine yet today, complete with a 72-ft mural of people and birds representing hope, wealth, and peace was painted across the top portion of the wall. The blocks of colorful terrazzo floor spanned the large room. A wooden sculpture of a bird stood at one end of the room; supposedly kissing the top of the head of the bird gives you good luck.
Gander is near the great circle route between U.S. East Coast cities and London. On September 11, 2001, with United States airspace closed due to the terrorist attacks, Gander International Airport played host to 38 airliners, totaling 6,122 passengers and 473 crew members. With not enough hotel and restaurants to accommodate the stranded flyers, Gander’s residents hospitably brought homemade bagged lunches to the flyers as they stepped off the plane and converted schools and large buildings for temporary shelters. Some residents offered their homes as additional lodgings when the public buildings were filled. To thank the town for its role in helping thousands of temporary transients in the wake of the attacks, New Yorkers gifted Gander with a piece of steel from the World Trade Center’s south tower.
Finally we reached Gros Morne National Park on the western side of Newfoundland, where we had to go another 60 miles to get to our hotel in the town of Cow Head, giving us a preview of what we would see tomorrow. It is amazing to see the mountains and fjords, and realize you are on the east coast, not west coast.
As we made our way north we stopped at a number of overlooks, as well as Lobster Head Cove, complete with a lighthouse.
We paused for a time at an area where you could look back at Western Brook Pond, and the 2000′ high cliffs that line it. Unfortunately it was a few miles off in the distance, but I had made boat tour reservations for the next day to see it up close.
Finally we arrived in Cow Head, and checked into our room at the Shallow Bay Motel, with our ocean view room – literally 5′ out our window. The motel also had a restaurant and theater.As you can imagine there aren’t many restaurants in some place called Cow Head, Newfoundland, so we had dinner at the hotel.