By the time you read this, we will have landed or be on the verge of landing in Newfoundland. Does one land if travelling by ferry? Deboat? Debark? Is “debark” worse than “de bite”? I would have to say yes.
The ferry voyage from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Argentia, on the eastern Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland, takes about 15 hours. It’s not exactly an Alaskan cruise, but it does hold the prospect of being Alaskan, given that Newfoundland is undergoing its coldest summer in 20 years.
I know this because my friend Rick, who lives in St. John’s, keeps posting weather-related links, including that bit about the RCMP arresting the local CBC weather man in connection with the unexplained disappearance of summer.
After I showed Deb the spoof of a tourism commercial Rick sent me, in which the sun comes out just one day a year, she asked, “Are you sure he wants us to visit?”
Yes, I’m sure, and I’m excited about visiting Newfoundland and tent-camping across the province. I’ve visited all the other Canadian provinces – if by “visit” you mean “drive straight through,” which is really the only way to see Saskatchewan – and Newfoundland is last on the list. Cold or no cold (or fog or rain or snow), I’m looking forward to whatever comes our way… even if I don’t quite know what that will be.
That’s because our research into this vacation has been minimal. We are ferrying by the seat of our pants.
Here are some of the things I know about Newfoundland:
– For starters, it’s not pronounced “new found land.” That’s a dead giveaway that you’re from away and probably American. Y.ou want to run the words together so that they flow from your tongue like cod oil, which is disgusting but what can you do? The correct way to pronounce it like a true Newfoundlander is “muffin man.”
– Newfoundland is commonly referred to as “The Rock.” This nickname was introduced by Newfoundlanders in 2003 in the hopes that former wrestler and action film star Dwayne Johnson might stop by for tea. They are still waiting.
– Newfoundland became the tenth province in 1949 on the promise of economic prosperity within the nurturing and protective arms of the Canadian Confederation. They are still waiting.
– The first premier was Joey Smallwood. I have no point to make here other than to say “Smallwood.”
– On the northern tip of Newfoundland, one can find the remains of a Viking settlement, indicating that Norse explorers reached North America around the year 1000. The location is now called “L’Anse aux Meadows,” which comes from the French for “This was a bad idea.”
– The full name of the province is Newfoundland & Labrador, although, since no one has ever actually seen Labrador, when people say “Labrador,” they generally use air-quotes.
– Newfoundlanders are famous for their friendliness and lead the country in organ donors for tourists.
– Newfoundlanders also have a great sense of humour. If you want to make a Newfoundlander laugh, simply tell him you’re tent-camping across their province.
– Then follow up by telling him there are three of you travelling in a non-air-conditioned two-door Hyundai Accent with a cargo bubble dubiously fastened to the roof.
– We plan to visit Gros Morne National Park. It has fjords. Just like Alaska! Except not quite!
– Look out for moose.
And that’s about all I have to go on, except to anticipate scenic vistas, funny place names, essentially one highway through the whole damn province and probably lots of souvenir sou’wester hats for sale. And, despite my reputation as a traveller, I will do my best not get cranky – a sour-wester.
I hope to post and reply during our travels through Newfoundland (but not “Labrador”) although there is no guarantee. The Internet in Newfoundland tends to be spotty because, as we all know, it runs on whale oil.