I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “west coast/best coast”? Well, a short while ago we had the opportunity to put that theory to the test. We decided last summer that in 2022 it would be nice to visit Gros Morne since we hadn’t been there since 1997! Shocking, I know. Every year we’d say to each other “Let’s go back to the west coast”. We finally nailed down our plan and laid out an itinerary. 25 years since our last visit was a long time and we were anxious to see what changes awaited us. Back then all we had were film cameras and John was the photographer, I was like the second shooter so to speak. It was just after we got married, we stayed in Rocky Harbour for a few nights before traveling up along the Great Northern Peninsula to L’anse Aux Meadows and eventually back to St. Anthony where we stayed with friends Jeff and Laurie Reynolds who were living there at that time. We had so much fun exploring the area and the hospitality shown by our hosts was second to none! I’d say between the two of us we might’ve had 3 or 4 rolls of film which may have seemed like a lot and it was, considering you had to pick and choose your shot without wasting film – a great way to learn the fundamentals of photography. This trip to the west coast would prove to be much different. I was the primary shooter, camera ready, batteries charged and SD card prepped to hold several thousand photos. And so it began…
After attending a beautiful family wedding in Gander we started our trek and the first stop on our itinerary was the Insectarium in Deer Lake. It is definitely a world class facility and a must see for the area! I only posted pictures of butterflies but there are many more creatures, big and small, to see there.
It was late in the afternoon when we finally reached Rocky Harbour. By the time we unpacked and had supper we were just in time for sunset at the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse. Lots of people there taking in the scenery and as soon as the sun went down they all left. To me, the best time to take a few snaps is after the sun sets. That’s when the sky presents it’s best colours.
On a beach near Cow Head lies the wreckage of the S.S. Ethie, or what’s left of it. During a vicious storm in the winter of 1919 the boat ran aground. Miraculously, not a soul was lost. There’s even an interesting tale about a baby who was on board the ship being placed in a mail bag and sent to shore by rope that had been tethered to a nearby cliff by some of the rescuers. Here is an interesting article on the Downhome website that speaks of the ordeal.
Some of the most spectacular scenery came from a boat tour of Bonne Bay with the Tablelands looming in the background, it was a sight to behold. Although it was a beauty day there was plenty of haze as you can see in the pictures.
Below are some lenticular clouds hanging over the mountains of Gros Morne. In a nutshell these “flying saucer” shaped clouds are usually formed by warm, humid air flowing over the top of the mountain and forming waves on the downside of the slope. If the temperature is cool enough on that down slope the moisture in the air will condense and form this cloud shape.
Shallow Bay Beach in Cow Head was something else! The literal kilometres of white sand at your feet was spectacular. All was missing was a cabana boy!
As we were leaving the beach, we spotted this guy having a snack on the side of the road. I hopped out of the car and crossed the road to get a few close ups. He kept his head down eating for the longest time. So, I decided to do a few moose calls (or at least what I thought a moose would sound like). Lo and behold he raised his head and gave me this look like WTF and then he started moving. That’s when I yelled back to John to keep the car doors unlocked in case I needed to make a run for it. I always said I would only run if a bear is chasing me, I guess I can add moose to that list!
A few snaps from Norris Point and Bonne Bay. I’m running out of adjectives to describe the scenery! You get the picture. 😉
The morning we left Rocky Harbour it was overcast. As we were driving along the highway it looked as though the clouds were falling out of the sky and the water was eerily calm!
Our final stop in Gros Morne was the Tablelands. I swear it felt like we were on another planet. The Tablelands are the inner earth or mantle that was pushed up to the surface when two plates of the earth’s crust collided hundreds of millions of years ago. As you can see in the photos there is very little plant life over most of the Tablelands. This is due to the fact that when the mantle rock decomposes it produces a soil that is toxic to most plants. The Canadian Space Agency has studied this area to try and learn how microscopic organisms survive in this extreme environment, which may help them in their search for life on Mars.
And now, off to a place I wanted to visit my whole life – Codroy Valley. This is definitely a nature-lover’s paradise. We stayed at Codroy Valley Cottage Country while we explored the west and southwest coasts of the island. One stop we made was at the Cape Anguille Lighthouse which is the most westerly point on the island. We also spent a day checking out Margaree-Fox Roost, Isle Aux Morts, Burnt Islands, Diamond Cove, Harbour Le Cou, and Rose Blanche – the farthest we could travel by car along the southwest coast of Newfoundland. We covered a lot of ground that day.
We made a stop at the Cape Ray Lighthouse as well. It’s located on the south westernmost part of the island.
And of course the infamous Wreckhouse, where the wind speeds get so high (they have been measured over 200 km/h) that they flip tractor trailers on their sides like a Hot Wheels race car. An interesting story about Wreckhouse: The Newfoundland Railway often had their railway cars blown off the tracks during hurricane force winds when traveling in the area. There was a gentleman by the name of Lockie MacDougall who apparently had a sixth sense regarding changes in the weather. Seems like people were so confident in his ability that the railway hired him to inform them if it was safe for the railway cars to pass through the Wreckhouse area. For 30 years he was paid $20 a month for his services, which he provided up until his death in 1965!
One of the things I was most looking forward to was the dark skies. Unfortunately, most of the nights we were there it was overcast. Our last night in Codroy the skies cleared somewhat which allowed me to capture a few sky shots. Not perfect but I’ll take what I can get.
Codroy Valley is well known for it’s abundant wildlife, especially many varieties of birds. We got a chance to explore the estuary that is home to many of these species but unfortunately luck was not on my side that day and I was unable to snap a single picture of anything, not even a crow, LOL!
On our way to Bishop’s Falls we made a quick stop in Corner Brook to have lunch and visit the Glynmill Inn. There’s something so lovely and grand about it, don’t you think? My great aunt Agg Power worked here many years ago. Maybe that’s why I feel a special connection to it.
We stopped by the Mikwite’tm Garden; a place to remember and honour Missing, Murdered, Indigenous Women and Girls. The name Mikwite’tm means “I remember”. The little shoes were placed along the wall as a tribute to those children who never returned home from residential schools. I didn’t take many snaps of this place, it felt disrespectful to do so. There was a sacredness about it and a very humbling experience.
Our last stop was Bishop’s Falls. While Bishop’s is not on the west coast I still had to include a few snaps because it was such a lovely spot.
Breathtaking, beautiful, lovely, majestic, awe-inspiring, stunning, amazing, incredible, magnificent. These are just a fraction of the words one can use to describe the west and south west coasts. Every town and community we visited we would say to each other “I could live here!” It’s very easy to understand why people say the west coast is the best coast. I can’t argue that. Having said that there’s no place like home in good ol’ Torbay. Don’t worry, we will go back to visit but next time we won’t wait 25 years!
Until Next Time,