Monday, June 4, 2012

Newfoundland Part I

You've heard of the guy who left his heart in San Francisco? Now you know the woman who left her jeans in the Deer Lake airport. And no, it wasn't an overenthusiastic patdown by security.

I like to travel light, partly so that things don't go missing in transit, partly to make a quick exit from an airport and partly to prove that it really is the kids who need all the stuff. Both Dave, who spent a week in Newfoundland, and I, who joined him after his work in St. John's was done for four days of fun and exploring brought one pull-behind-you-carry-on bag and one other small bag. I will note that Dave's contained hiking boots and a camera, two jackets and all the warm clothes he would need, and mine had a hot water bottle, heels, several books and all the warm clothes I would need. The only thing I didn't use was the skirt I brought.

It's hard for me to know where to start in telling all our stories of just four days, so I'm starting at the end and working my way backward. It may be a series of posts.

We traveled the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, driving 1200 kilometres of mostly coastline. We saw Labrador from up close and it made my heart stir. Labrador is to me something almost mythical, the Remote North. And there it was, only a channel away. Suffice it to say that there was not one single McDonalds and that the mall in St. Anthony contained a grocery store, a liquor store (we went for screech and came back with partridgeberry wine), a drug store, a government office, and a bargain shop.

Nevertheless, despite the blessed relief from retail opportunities, we did manage to purchase the requisite souvenirs. (An aside: I hate souvenir shopping and the pressure to find something for people. I much prefer the approach of finding something perfect for someone and bringing it home. The problem then is that the hard-to-buy-for or the never-found-the-perfect-thing people end up feeling sad.) We also stopped at a small coastal beach on Saturday afternoon -- not in a national or provincial park -- and I chose a good-sized gray rock to bring home to plant in my garden.

So, space was at a premium. I had brought a book to read and review and didn't like it, so I left it behind in our hotel room. I had brought fresh fruit along -- we had been told, wrongly, that fresh fruit was only occasionally found in the north and that the cost would be astronomical -- and we ate it. And then, Dave noticed that two seams in my jeans had been thoroughly frayed to the point of no return. It was he who suggested that we could acquire space if the jeans stayed behind.

And so, yesterday morning, once we had finished the super-scary beach cliff hike to see where two continents once collided and two kinds of rocks in one cliff tell the tale, and once we had walked on the earth's mantle (the earth's mantle, people! The rock beneath the surface. The rock that is visible almost nowhere on the planet because usually in tectonic collisions the mantle slides beneath the other guy) for a couple of hours, we returned to the visitors centre, where casually and ever-so-gracefully, I stealthily removed my jeans and replaced them with a pair of yoga pants.

We had planned our morning well, but the walk took about ten minutes longer than we had planned, and we hadn't calculated on one last restroom visit, and moose lined the highway to bid us farewell and to keep us from speeding, so suddenly there was some possibility we would miss our plane. I was not altogether unhappy about this prospect but there was a dreadfully homesick child at home who might implode if we announced we were staying away another night, so we sped as quickly as we dared along the road, paid the penalty for not filling up our rental car, checked our bags, went through security (where Dave did indeed get selected for the dubious honour of a parting Newfie pat-down -- which he said functioned as a nice massage after a morning of hiking) and had five minutes to spare before boarding. It was there that my jeans and the plastic water bottles we had toted around the island found their final resting place.

And then we were in the air on our way home, leaving more than just jeans behind and taking more than just a rock in exchange.

1 comment:

  1. L'Anse Aux Meadows was the highlight of our Newfoundland and Labrador trip in July 2003. It's beautiful.