North to Newfoundland

After our recovery week from Ironman Lake Placid, we needed someplace humidity...plenty of coastline and hikes...possibly some icebergs in mid-August...and we wouldn't mind seeing some moose and dolphins while we were at it!

So it was off to Newfoundland for a last-bash summer vacation!

(and if you're only interested in the pictures, just skip everything below and click here.)

First stop: Leisurely (read: BORING) St. John's. OK, OK - I will give the city the kudos it deserves. But since I hate museums, and Bart wanted to run everywhere, we spent the day on our feet, dashing from site to site, chasing each other and dodging senior tourists from Ontario.

View from one of the mountains we ran up: the outskirts of St. John's below!
Chasing Bart on our run through St. John's

So many swimming holes everywhere in St. John's...
and noone in them!
Want to know how far New York is from
Signal Hill in St. John's? 

Overlooking Notre Dame Bay

We drove west to Twillingate the next day - this is where the real fun and scenery began!

Runs through town, which happened to be just slightly larger than a village, took us up to random spots like this high rocky point, overlooking Notre Dame Bay. The weather was spectacular - clear skies and cool temps (compared to DC's 100+* heat!).

We did the obligatory boat tour in Twillingate - because of the record high temps this year, there were no icebergs in the bay this year. We did, however, spot several minke whales during our boat trip!

Our cozy bed and breakfast was right on the water - and within walking distance of the town's ice cream shop!

Minke Whale off the coast of Twillingate! Hello, flipper!

Twillingate Harbour

Some Newfoundland pride on our boat!

Twillingate's rocky coastline

Check out the names on these fruit wines!

We hooked up with a local fisherman, who took us out on his boat to catch some cod. I had imagined myself reeling in huge fish, but it wasn't that dramatic; there is no technique to cod fishing. Really, anyone can do it: unwind your twine cord, drop the steel anchor down, and wait. When you feel a tug, roll up the twine.

Fish are not the prettiest creatures, but they sure are tasty! Our fisherman host filleted our catch, and for the next 7 days, our styrofoam cooler traveled with us.

There were endless ways to experiment with my fresh cod filets. Once I crumbled BBQ Lay's over the filet and grilled it - not such a great combination. Another night, I dipped my cod in a packet of chicken seasoning that came with my Ramen noodles - pretty delicious! But the best recipe was just plain pepper and salt, slap that filet on the grill, and serve it with a side of grilled cheese sandwiches!

Next up: the highlight of the entire trip - Gros Morne National Park! Gros Morne is a World Heritage site lining the west coast of Newfoundland, and it was full of green, green, green!

We started off with a couple of hikes from a small town called Woody Point. Our first was a no-elevation, maybe 4-mile hike to the Tablelands. I was unimpressed, but apparently there's some pretty cool geological history to this whole area! I just wanted to hike up mountains, not down in valleys!

Tablelands hike...reminds me of Moab, UT!

Fording the river running out to Bonne Bay

We hopped in the car and drove 15 minutes to our next hike: Green Gardens Trail. I convinced Bart that we had enough water (1.5 L) and food (2 Nature Valley granola bars) to last us the entire hike.

I was wrong.

About a third of the way through the hike, I quickly realized that I was thirsty. But I couldn't drink, because our 1.5 L of water was rationed with a scrutinizing eye.

And then, at the halfway point, I was starving. My granola bar had done nothing but remind me how good food tasted, and I tried to pretend I wasn't a hungry and grouchy Mindy. I don't think I fooled Bart.

But even when you're starving and dehydrated and hot and sweaty, how can you not shout out, "I LOVE LIFE!" when you stumble onto an empty beach?

"I love YOU and LIFE, Bart!" shouts the overzealous photographer as she snaps a picture...
or when you come across 2 red lawn chairs sitting at the top of a cliff overlooking Bonne Bay?

I mean, check out our rest stop!! As cheesy as it sounds, the sound of waves crashing, the view of the endless ocean, and the simple pleasure of enjoying nature to a point only feet can bring you to...makes me...HAPPY. 

After surviving the Green Gardens Trail, we drank about 5 gallons of water each and stuffed our faces with potato chips and apples. Later that night, we enjoyed a well-earned meal of Ramen noodles, stovetop rice, and - what else!!! - grilled cod.

Our next stop took us a bit deeper into the park to the picturesque town of Rocky Harbour. 

Western Brook Pond - a cliff diver's dream!
And, because every local and tourist we ran into said this was an absolute must-do, we took the Western Brook Pond Boat Tour. It was pretty spectacular - a Canadian fjord surrounded by steep rock walls more than 2,000 feet high. The entire lake had been carved from the surrounding plateaus by glaciers. Pretty amazing!
Later that afternoon, we headed over to Shallow Bay Cove to hopefully get in an open-water swim. Well, the cove is aptly named because the water doesn't seem to get any deeper than my ankles. We ended up reading on the beach and dipping in our feet before agreeing that face-planting into the sandy bottom wouldn't be any fun.

Next up: Baker's Brook Waterfalls Trail. And yes, I know...we did a lot of hiking! 

Final stop in our adventures through Gros Morne National park was Gros Morne Mountain. It's only the second highest peak in the park, but beats 'em all for its panoramic views of the valleys below.

On the way up to the peak!
Pretty spectacular lakes everywhere in Gros Morne!
Our perfect lunch spot!

Yeah, I know...epic. 
After leaving Gros Morne, we decided to play it low-key and hit up the towns of Trinity and BonaVista. From Trinity, we hiked the Skerwink Trail, which hugged the coastline the entire time!

On towards Elliston Island, where we made friends with puffins!

That's a puffin perched there! 

Love the color of the water off of Elliston Island!
Elliston Island is also the root cellar capital of the world - see those tiny storage units built into the hill? The villagers store their vegetables and roots in these damp cellars year-round!

On our way back to St. John's, we stayed in Witless Bay. Of course, we found a way to throw in a hike and got to do a small leg of the East Coast Trail!

Skipping rocks - record was 8 hops!

And to wrap up our final day in Newfoundland, we stumbled into a movie set: they were blowing up cars in the streets of St. John's! 

Now, it's back to the Real World. We can't live like retired travelers forever! 

Check out Newfoundland garbage cans - protected from the bears! 
And one night, Bart wrote what I thought would be a love message on my foot...and then on my toe...

Photo album from our Newfoundland trip here

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