Friday, June 27, 2008

Homeward Bound

I could have taken a plane straight home to Pittsburgh from St. John’s. But then I would have missed everything in between: the winding roads through the hills and forests of central Newfoundland, the beautiful coastal vistas out over the ocean, the geologically fascinating and visibly stunning table mountains of Gros Morne, the picturesque fishing towns of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, the most famous fisheries museum of maritime Canada in Lunenburg, the mud flats of low tide in the Bay of Fundy. It was my last chance for adventure in this year of adventure, and so I skipped the plane and road tripped home instead.

This called for a car and traveling companions. Lucky for me, Adam and Michelle were crazy enough to drive Adam’s Honda Civic, Jib, all the way to Newfoundland to road trip back with me.

Jib has served us loyally, not only for thousands of miles of driving.
He dried our tents,

and even served as a replacement tent the night we took the ferry from Newfoundland across to Nova Scotia (long story short, the ferry schedule was shifted unexpectedly and we missed our night’s sleep while en route only to discover we couldn’t make it to a campground because none of the gas stations on Cape Breton Island are open in the middle of the night).

And, of course, Adam and Michelle are pretty awesome too for coming all the way out to road trip with me.

Given that Amherst, Massachusetts was our final destination all together (and also all being former or current Amherst College students) it seemed fitting to begin the journey at Fort Amherst in St. John’s.

Fort Amherst is indeed named for the same Lord Jeffrey Amherst who led the British Army in North America during the French and Indian War and is infamous for distributing smallpox-infected blankets to the Native Americans. Towns are named for him throughout New England and Atlantic Canada, and his influence apparently stretched all the way to the most distant peninsula of Newfoundland.

We also began with a trip to the very tip of Newfoundland – Cape Spear, just south of St. John’s, is officially the easternmost point in North America. It was so foggy that we could barely see the lighthouse and cliff face, let alone the view out into the Atlantic (typical for the Avalon Peninsula, this easternmost piece of the island), but Adam came equipped with a GPS to ensure that we made it to the very easternmost point.

And then, we set off on the final adventure. We explored and hiked and camped our way back to the States over a period of two weeks. We hiked to the top of Twillingate, an island in northern Newfoundland (near Fogo Island, my first outport destination), where we saw great sights and great signs.

And we hiked to the base of the Tablelands in Gros Morne, a rare piece of the mantle and deep ocean crust preserved above ground (a geologic sight not to be missed!), and a strangely barren landscape due to the inability of the rocks (mostly peridotite) to provide the nutrients for plant life.

We blackened our pots over nightly campfires,
and slept in beautiful spots – in a forested area right by the water in Dildo Run Provincial Park near Twillingate,

on a hill overlooking the fjords of Gros Morne,

at the Ovens Natural Park in Nova Scotia, known for sea caves you can actually climb down into and a beach where you can pan for gold,

and on a cliff looking out over the wide mudflats washed by the enormous tides in the Bay of Fundy.

The most exciting camping experience, though, was discovering that despite setting up our Gros Morne campsite in an isolated spot, we had a neighbor. A big neighbor.

Sometimes Adam and Michelle seemed dubious about my excitement (or just reluctant to be in pictures…look behind you! It’s so pretty!)

though they usually seemed pretty excited about the adventure too (they can tell the waterfall is pretty).

Maybe it was the slow onset of summer as we headed south in June, maybe the joy of having friends back in my life on a regular basis, maybe the determination to truly enjoy these last few weeks of my incredible year, but I have been constantly thrilled by everywhere we went. The ideal ending – a gradual blend from the life and self I created throughout this year of travel back into the world I left a year ago. Which brings me to the next step of my adventure: coming home.

1 comment:

Eirik said...

Love your blog. I am from Lofoten, so the cod fishing I know about.