Tristan’s Trip Report – Week 9

Aug. 22nd, 2016 (Day 57)

From: Gander, N.L.
To: Springdale, N.L.
Activities: Touring Gander with old friends
Stayed: Indian Brook River B&B

Unfortunately, there were no exploding cherry tomatoes at the Mystic restaurant’s breakfast buffet this morning. Apparently too much fun was had last week and guests complained that it ruined the mystique of the dining room. The only real mystery in fact was what happened to the second coffee we ordered.

Today we got to hang out with my old grade school friend Lindsay and her fiancé Keith, who is a local Gander… Ganderian? Ganderite? Ganderonian? Gandee?

Keith is from Gander.

It was pretty sweet having Keith demurely show us around Gander, quietly revealing some particularly interesting and unique sights and perspectives on a town that one might imagine flies under the radar.

Funny that I should write that, as Keith brought us to the Gander International Airport (seriously, they dropped the international on the front sign leaving a large gap between Gander and Airport). Long ago, before expanded fuel tanks, transatlantic flights used to stop in Gander to fuel up before crossing the Atlantic. Now that that is no longer necessary, the international area of the Gander International Airport is barely used, and appears locked in a time warp. The seating area looks like it is straight out of the 1960’s, and therefore REALLY COOL LOOKING. I’m not joking, it was definitely worth going to the Gander International Airport.

The waiting area for international flights that’s no longer in use. Could easily have been used as a set for Mad Men.

After checking out some old airplanes at the Gander Aviation Museum (one of them recently ruined by an idiot Pokemon Go player), enjoying coffee at Jumping Bean Café, and generally learning to appreciate Gander, we said goodbye to our friends and hit-the-frog-and-toad.

Made our way west to Springdale, stopping along the way in Grand Falls-Windsor for tasty Indian food at Kumar, which happens to be the only Indian restaurant in all of Newfoundland.

Tomorrow we go to Gros Morne National Park. We are super excited!

Total Kilometre Count: 8,968km

Aug. 23rd, 2016 (Day 58)

From: Springdale, N.L.
To: Gros Morne National Park, N.L.
Activities: Driving to Gros Morne, Planning for Gros Morne
Stayed: Gros Morne National Park, Trout River Campground, oTENTik

When your host says that you better be ready for breakfast by 8am because that’s when she gets the ‘ugly-stick’… you darn well get your ass to breakfast for 8am.

While you probably are thinking, “Tristan, isn’t an ugly-stick that the thing you got hit upside the head with when you were a kid,” you would be wrong. You turd! In fact, an ugly stick is a Newfoundland traditional percussion instrument that has charmed both locals and travelers for years. It’s a mop turned upside down, footed with a boot, bedecked with bottle caps, and beat with a ridged wooden stick. Over breakfast, our B&B host Doreen treated us to some songs played on the ugly-stick, as well as the spoons, and a little wooden fella on a stick whose feet swung and rapped a wooden board. Apparently, Newfoundlanders can make music outta nothing, and they sure do make it sound good.

Doreen with her female Ugly Stick

And so, with that we drove off to Gros Morne National Park, the crown jewel of Atlantic Canada National Parks. We knew we had arrived when the earth rose up, our eyes with it (look out for moose!), and grey, brown, and green mountains wrapped their arms around crystal blue harbours, inlets, and lakes. It didn’t take us very long to recognize that this was, and would be, the most beautiful and awe-inspiring destination of our trip.

We met with our Parks Canada rep Sheldon and put together a very loose plan for our time in Gros Morne. Unfortunately, the forecast for the next 5 days showed cloud and rain, each and every day. Arienne and I wondered if our trip was going to end the way same it started, a depressing and rainy mess. Fortunately, we were comforted by the fact that weather in Newfoundland, and especially at Gros Morne, is unpredictable and so plans will change as quickly as the weather does.

After our meeting with Sheldon, we did a little grocery shop and headed over to our oTENTik in the Trout River campground. Have I mentioned that oTENTik’s are great?

Parks Canada Accommodations

A cloudy mountain time-lapse and a North Star centered star-lapse later and we were off to bed.

Total Kilometre Count: 9,221km

Aug. 24th, 2016 (Day 59)

From: Gros Morne National Park, N.L.
To: Gros Morne National Park, N.L.
Activities: Hiking to Green Gardens, Hiking the Tablelands
Stayed: Gros Morne National Park, Trout River Campground, oTENTik

The great thing about bacon and eggs for breakfast is that it is really easy to cook on a Coleman stove. The bad thing about bacon and eggs is that since it is so easy to cook, you eat it pretty much everyday for breakfast. Unfortunately, it is often that simplicity thwarts creativity.

Today, we were accompanied by Sheldon (our Parks Canada Rep) as we hiked a couple trails on the south side of Gros Morne. It is important to note that Sheldon was with us because we were going to be flying Alice (our drone) and drone flying is essentially banned in the park. The only way you can do it is if you have an SFOC (Special Flight Operation Certificate), have a couple million dollars of liability insurance, have Queen Elizabeth II named on your insurance coverage, have express written consent from Gros Morne National Park, and have a Gros Morne National Park rep with you at all times that you are flying the drone. In other words, drone flying is banned unless you do a shit-ton of work, which impressively, Arienne did.

So you can understand why we were a little discouraged yesterday when we saw 5 days of rain in the forecast.

Another thing you need when want to fly a drone is a beast of burden to lug it on the 15km hike to the spectacular Green Gardens of Gros Morne. But with no donkey or mule around, the lugging was left to me. Arienne may not have found a nice donkey, but she sure did find a nice ass.

The return trip was exhausting. While most of the journey to Green Gardens is downhill, the return is 70 minutes uphill (steep at parts) before 20 minutes down a rocky slope. Needless to say, both of us were gassed.

Unfortunately, in the land of travel blogging, there is no rest for the wicked. We went off to the spectacular Tablelands for another 1 hour hike, this time into vicious wind gusts that would force you a step back from time to time. Regardless, the Tablelands provided ridiculously beautiful sights and will probably require an earlier return visit at some point when the sun is in a better position to light up the valley.

With all of this in mind, it’s off to bed. We are supposed to hike Gros Morne Mountain (over 800m) tomorrow and I am simply spent. I really don’t want to have to carry that drone anymore. Don’t tell Arienne.

Total Kilometre Count: 9,299km

Aug. 25th, 2016 (Day 60)

From: Gros Morne National Park, N.L.
To: Gros Morne National Park, N.L.
Activities: Return to Tablelands, Changing Camps, Shot scouting
Stayed: Gros Morne National Park, Berry Hill Campground, Rustic Cabin

Despite the call for rain today, there of course wasn’t any, which I wouldn’t normally complain about other than the fact that we had told Sheldon that we wouldn’t need him to accompany us around today for drone shots. That’s okay. We don’t have this snazzy Sony camera, GoPro, and iPhone for nothing. Am I right Arienne?

We packed up our oTENTik and then some genius named Tristan said, “Look, the sun is peaking through a bit. Why don’t we go back to the Tablelands and do some more shooting. I’ll bet we can get some great shots” And so we did. #IShouldGetPaidForThis

We ate lunch at the Granite Café. I so viciously devoured my delicious chicken melt and beef vegetable soup combo that I probably made onlookers fear for their meals. When your dinners lately have been pork and beans, ramen soup with egg, and pasta ala nada, you #EatTheWholeThing

We popped over to the South East Brook Falls and planned a return trip with Sheldon and the drone, the same occurring with our stop at Lobster Cove Head. We thought of trying to capture a timelapse sunset at Lobster Cove Head, alas, the clouds had set in again and sent us running to the liquor store.

Parks Canada Rustic Cabin
The Rustic Cabins at Gros Morne are brand new this year. Insider’s Tip: book either cabin #5 or #6 for these awesome fire pit areas.

Before wrapping this up, I feel it’s worth noting that the rustic cabins here at Gros Morne are really sweet. They have more space then the oTENTiks (which you must know by now I love), a wood burning stove, bunks for 4-5, a BBQ, and ours even has a sweet view of Berry Head Pond. Going to enjoy the solid roof, because it’s supposed to rain cats and meows tonight.

Total Kilometre Count: 9,422km

Aug. 26th, 2016 (Day 61)

From: Gros Morne National Park, N.L.
To: Gros Morne National Park, N.L.
Activities: Return to South East Brook Falls, Return to Lobster Head Cove, Scouting Western Brook Pond
Stayed: Gros Morne National Park, Berry Hill Campground, Rustic Cabin

Yup, sooo glad we had a solid roof over our head last night. It rained, and rained, and I slept and slept.

We met with Sheldon so we could go back to both South East Brook Falls and Lobster Head Cove in order to get the drone shots we dreamed up yesterday. Here’s a picture to tide you over before Arienne edits the footage together into a video.

From the ground, you can only see the waterfalls on the right. But once we got the drone in the air, we could spot a second one to the left!

As the majority of the day was once again cloudy, misty, foggy and occasionally rainy (and therefore a rather typical day in Gros Morne), we loafed around Rocky Harbour eating lunch, doing laundry, and getting a little grocery shop done. It was a little tough in the grocery store. Much of what’s available is frozen food (understandably) and rustic cabins don’t come with rustic ovens that you can set-and-forget. Sooooo… primo chicken noodle soup for dinner? #WhatDreamsAreMadeOf

In the late afternoon, we decided to go and scout out the Western Brook Pond Trail which delivers you to the edge of Western Brook Pond, the piece-de-resistance in Gros Morne. Alice (the drone) is going to make sweet love to it tomorrow (we hope).

Our evening was an ‘in the flesh’ episode of National Geographic. Hares dined away all over the campground on our walk to our cabin. Later, two huge Great Horned Owls sat perched atop dead trees immediately in front of our cabin, which sent me into a tizzy (I love large birds of prey) and left Arienne wondering if it was some ill-omen that the two of them kept watchful eyes over us. And then finally, Arienne was treated to a total toad takeover around our fire pit, as at least half a dozen toads surrounded her as she stoked our immense fire.

Two Great Horned Owls keeping watchful eye over our site.

This is when I say, Gros Morne is awesome!

Total Kilometre Count: 9,586km

Aug. 27th, 2016 (Day 62)

From: Gros Morne National Park, N.L.
To: Gros Morne National Park, N.L.
Activities: Drone filming, Return to Western Brook Pond Trail, Western Brook Pond Boat Tour
Stayed: Gros Morne National Park, Berry Hill Campground, Rustic Cabin

Today was our final full day of filming with the drone in Gros Morne and therefore, filming with Sheldon our Parks Canada Rep. It’s a little funny how Arienne and I have on a number of occasions now worked with a Parks Canada Rep for a couple of days, and at the end of it, you feel like you’re saying farewell to a co-worker who you’ve worked with for months. Yes, I’m getting a little sentimental here and I don’t care who knows it!

After some sweet drone filming at a couple of sites around the foot of Gros Morne Mountain, we stopped for lunch at Java Jack’s for some tasty wraps and a couple of caffeine infusions. Jane (the Civic) took some fuel as well ($1.30/L!!!), and with everyone percolating nicely we headed down the road to Western Brook Pond.

As promised, Alice (the drone), under the proper supervision of Sheldon, was released at various points along the 2.5 km trail to make sweet love to the Western Brook Pond scenery. While we don’t have any footage ready for you (you cheeky monkey!), here is a photo of what the trail looks like. With that in mind, imagine what kind of fun Alice got up to.

Walking along the trail with Western Brook Pond in the distance.

At the end of the trail, Arienne and I ‘splurged’ and treated ourselves to two tickets on the Western Brook Pond boat tour. This tour brings you in between the glacier carved mountains that loom over the pond and… mountains… waterfalls… … … no words… just photos. Arienne, photos for the people.

It was worth every single penny!

Now settling in for a night of another starlapse and hopefully a sunrise timelapse from the comfort of our cabin’s front porch.

I’ll say it again. Gros Morne is AWESOME!

Total Kilometre Count: 9,711km

Aug. 28th, 2016 (Day 63)

From: Gros Morne National Park, N.L.
To: Port-aux-Basques, N.L. / Atlantic Ocean
Activities: Driving to Port-aux-Basques, Boarding Ferry to Cape Breton
Stayed: Marine Atlantic Ferry, Reclining Chair

Today is the beginning of the end. The end of our trip that is.

We said our farewells to Gros Morne with one more short photo/drone shoot down by Norris Point, which offered a particularly impressive view of the Tablelands and Woody’s Point. Looking across the water you would find hard to believe Woody’s point is an hour’s drive away.

With that we headed out of the park and began our trip home. We drove out to the Trans Canada Highway and made our way South down to Port-aux-Basques where we will be taking the ferry back to Cape Breton at 11:45pm tonight. As we discussed where we were going to eat our last supper in Newfoundland, I stammered, “no more fish and chips! I love em’ but can’t take another deep fried meal.” Arienne nodded in agreement.

I ate a deep fried chicken burger and deep fried potato wedges for supper. I really need to do some push ups and sit ups. My friends who I workout with are going to have a field day with me.

This is the last “Tristan’s Trip Report” that will cover a full week of travel. I have spent many many evenings detailing our daily activities, trying to dabble in some humour, but mostly, desperately, obsessively focusing on keeping my writing trapped in the past-tense.

It is almost with trepidation that I now step over that tense barrier.

After watching Arienne snap great pic after great pic, I tried my hand at snazzy photo-taking too.

Over the past numbers of years of my life, often, far too often, days will blend into one another, morphing into weeks, and eventually unrecognizable months. Far too often I struggle to remember what I did last week. It’s not Alzheimer’s (or Old-Timers as my friend Heath calls it), so please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. Keeping a daily journal has really helped me to appreciate each day. While I still have to ask Arienne, “What did we do today?” the writing process has made me reflect on the wicked adventure that every day is. It certainly is easier to appreciate each individual day when on a big trip like the one we are wrapping up, but it is possible to find appreciation in the more subtle occurrences each day has to offer. A funny comment from a friend. A kindness from a stranger. A moment of clarity amid the hustle and bustle.

I don’t know… I guess what I’m trying to say, is if you’re ever having trouble recognizing each day for what it is, maybe try writing a trip report, even if its just about your trip from home-to-work, and then back to home again. It may be more of an adventure than your collective memory gives it credit for.

Thanks for reading.

This is your week 9 trip report.

Total Kilometre Count: 10,085km

Coming up in the final trip report: the epic drive home!

Missed any of Tristan’s previous trip reports? Check them all out here:

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