Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Welcome to Friendly Newfoundland

After a couple of hard days of travel and a night in a parking lot we decided we would only drive about 100 miles to the Zenzville Campground in Stephenville and spend some time catching up and doing a little sightseeing. First impressions of Newfoundland are that it is a beautiful rugged land with unpredictable weather and warm friendly people. As I write, we have been here five days and the weather has been different every day with no day being a total washout. The first day everyone we talked to was complaining about the heat as it was the hottest day so far this year at 62 degrees. There has been rain, sun and fog and usually all three each day. As for the people, we quickly learned that the time needed to do anything will be longer than expected because so many people will want to talk. It could be the owner of a campground when checking in, the bank teller when exchanging money or just someone who is standing beside you enjoying the scenery, they will talk to you and it is not just hello and have a nice day. They want to know about you and to tell you about themselves. It has been great meeting people and learning about the local areas.
Cape St. George on the Gulf of St. Lawrence where we saw a whale spouting and buoys for lobster pots in the water. While walking along the cliff we met three groups of people who, of course, wanted to talk and know where we were from and what we thought about their province.
At the cape is this communal bread oven. Anyone can sign up to bake on the days they fire it up. Kind of a throw back to an older sense of community togetherness.
All these pics are from one stop at Hidden Waterfalls, a place the tourist office told us not to miss. You can't see it from the road and when you drive down to it there is a little "fish camp" that is typical of what you find in isolated spots all along the coast. The shed is for storage of equipment. The lobsterman coming in had emptied his pots into a holding pot in the water as it was to late in the day to take them to market. The boats are pulled out of the water on to the log ramp by a permanent winch in one of the buildings. There were three ramps at this camp. We talked for about a half hour with the lobsterman and the crew.

From Stephenville we travelled to Gros Morne RV Campground and Motel in Rockey Harbour. This park is well located to explore Gros Morne National Park. The first evening after a dinner overlooking the harbour we stopped in at the Gros Morne Bar, Grill and Convenience Store for a drink. There we met Carol and Dave Henwood from Alberta and several locals. We had a grand time and at the end of the evening Mona the owner asked if we would like to come back the next day at 4:00 and take part in the Newfie Screech-In to earn the title of Honourary Newfie. Hey, we are going to be here for five weeks so we should become honourary natives. The ceremony goes back to WWII when after a drink of unlabeled rum an American soldier let out a screech and the name stuck.
As you can see from the picture the ceremony involves two things near and dear to the Newfie heart, cod fish and Screech Rum. We first kissed the cod and then had to down a shot of Screech. That was followed by the swearing in oath where we were asked "Is ye an honourary Newfoundlander?" and had to answer, "deed I is me ol' cock, and long may your big jib draw".
Anthony, our ceremony host who must be a native-born Newfoundlander and wear a Sou'Wester, with the fish and Nanc with the Screech.
After the kiss, the rum and the swearing in we were surrounded by mummers and danced to the mummer song. This is another old Newfoundland tradition when at Christmas the masked mummers would visit homes in the village.
The hosts and new honouraries Anthony, Tom, Pat, Mona, Dave, Carol, Jim and Nanc. Can you pick out the natives? From the smiles I think all the tourists had a grand time.

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