All the love for the West Coast of Newfoundland

Looking back …

Thursday of last week – our merry band of Newfoundland tourists (ok some tourists and some local and acting like tourists) took a break from the pea soup fog hiking conditions and decided to explore the best of the west coast in the glorious 24 degree sunshine Mrs Mother Nature offered us!

We started out with a yummy breakfast at our cabin in Norris Point and the headed in the direction of Steady Brook with ‘Nick our tour guide’ at the helm. First stop – the lookout of Gros Morne Mountain!

We climbed that sucker the day before! Wow it looks amazing when it’s not half hidden in fog and when I am not Gollum-ing up that gully on the left. Urgh what a climb and what a memory!

Next stop – Pasadena Beach! Oh this beach is nothing like the one in California but it is a very close second. As we arrived we scrambled out of the truck (I don’t think we have ever unloaded so quickly) and made our way across the hot sand to dip our after-a-hard-won-hike toes in the water. The sun was shining and temp at 24C – I could have stayed all day … or long enough to enjoy the ice cold Rolling Rock Lager our resident, happy go lucky comedian Chauncey bought us!

This beach is a real beach! Complete with an awesome amount of sand for castles and lounging, clean crisp water, a marked off family friendly swimming area and a full service, large beach side restaurant at its centre. If you have a day in west coast Newf and it’s warm enough for the beach – this is definitely a good way to spend that day!

Well, before Chauncey’s fish belly white legs could get crispy in the hot sun we high tailed it out of there to our next destination.

Next stop – Corner Brook and the James Cook monument and look out! Despite the perhaps less than ideal things some of the colonialists of the past have done, we do have to give credit to Mr Cook for his skills at literally putting Newfoundland on the map. Crazy to think about how much time he would have had to spend in and around the 10,000 square kilometers of Newfoundland’s amazing but harsh coast to get it all mapped out. Wow!

Next stop – lunch! Now his was extra special and extra delicious! Our very own Nick has a friend who owns, operates, and makes all the amazing sushi creations at Newfound Sushi in Corner Brook. Can you say yummy? I can and did about b-zillion times over lunch. Yummy! No joke with the menu this sushi-whisperer as created this restaurant would be slammed in big cities like Vancouver, Montreal, and more!

We started with some pork belly boa buns (drool) and then I moved into a yummy California roll topped with chunks of delicious (cooked) lobster, the yummiest tuna sashimi ever, and of course had to have The Yamocado (yam and avocado) roll because I love them and the name made me happy! All washed down with a local pint that had the best glasses ever – check out the marking on the side ‘high tide’ and ‘low tide’

Next stop – caffeine! We headed to an awesome little coffee roaster Nick bragged up called Brewed on Bernard. Loved it! Loads of fun coffee options, sweets and all kinds of fun lunch ideas. The roasting coffee was particularly fabulous to smell and I loved see all the games and books they had available. Wish we could have spent the the afternoon but we had things to see!

Next stop – another little amazing path and look out which sadly I do not remember the name of (oops – travel writer fail! I know it’s near the old hospital?! lol) In any case this one was also a gem! A great little path and an amazing look out over the town and bay. The big bonus? We even had a chance to Geocache on this one. Cheryl, Shar and I have geocached but I don’t think our other peeps have. It so fun and the first few times is especially exciting!

Geocaching is such a great way to add a little more adventure to your travels – for adults as much as kids! If you have never done it, so worth a go! Oh and if you need someone with you who is willing to poke about spider webs and places with bugs for the cache … call Charmaine! Rock star!

Next stop – some waterfalls! We made our way out of Corner Brook and headed to Steady Brook to see the falls. They are really proud of their brooks in this part of Newfoundland. There is even a Hughes Brook but two brooks is enough for a day, any more than that would be brook overkill really.

First though a quick stop at 2 tourist attractions – the Old Man in the Mountain and the tree of Newfoundland. Let me explain …

The Old Man in the Mountain is a rock formation on a cliff face that absolutely, without a doubt looks like a fisherman looking down over the nearby river. Legend says he is looking over the treasure that has been buried on the small island in the middle of that river. Seems some people find it hard to find him so they offer a little help at the pull over site – once you do find him though it’s so obvious! It’s a great story and cool spot!

Now this Tree of Newfoundland business – this is a massive tree trunk, think totem pole on steroids, that was shipped from west coast Canada to Newfoundland and a very talented artist has literally carved the history of the province into it. Pretty cool! There is even a few blank spots with just ‘future event’ carved in it lol.

The only odd part about this tree/pole thing was the strange doppelgänger of our resident Swede, Chauncey… perhaps Chauncey has a wood carving modelling career he needs to come clean on?!

Now onto Steady Brook Falls – so great. A short hike up (totally flip flop compatible) and voila there were the falls!

I could not believe that some folks, not in our crew this time, take the path farther up and then swim in the pool at the top of the fall – a sort of natural infinity pool! Ok that’s basically what we did in the Devil’s Pool on the Victoria Falls a few years back but that’s not the point. Cray-cray! I prefer a full panoramic view of rushing water from massive heights and will therefore stay right her on this purpose built platform!

Now I have to say as great as the waterfall was … the highlight was definitely the little fairy door we found! Complete with some moss and a little box of fish. So super cute and in Newfoundland, with its fairy and gnome legends, sort of believable. Mr and Mrs Fae live there – I am sure of it – but were off collecting fallen flower petals for their dinner salad so we didn’t have a chance to say stop in but next time we are in town we will say hi for sure.

Next stop – dinner and amazing conversation with Nick’s dad and stepmom. Can you even believe volunteered to host the 6 of us for dinner? Oh and what a dinner it was! We pulled up to balloons for Charmaine and Cheryl’s bday – cute! For the rest of the evening we sat on their deck having beers, eating all the cheese toast you could dream of as a yummy side to the delicious chilli, and finished off the meal with a bday rendition and some cake! Perfection! Happy birthday twinsies!

Before leaving this little spot on Steady Brook heaven, the 6 of us walked down to the water (about a block away) to check out this great place Nick lived in as a kid. What a community. Oh and we also accidentally geocached one more time! This time it was a nano size cache (think of a thimble as reference for size) and Charmaine in her awesome-not-scared-of-spiders way found this wee gem hanging from a tree branch!

What a day! After some goodbyes and thank yous, we departed Steady Brook and made our way the 1+ hour back to Norris Point for some evening pints and games at our cabin.

While we didn’t get to see all the amazing things the west coast of Newfoundland offered, I have to give total kudos to our tour guide Nick for showing is a day of highlights!

Now let’s see what the east coast has to offer…

Brande

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Losing Stars on Yelp

Tuesday’s hike was amazing, wonderful and absolutely, totally fear factor for this gal! The rest of our merry band had no issues of course but this ‘scaredy cat of heights’ had to resort to full Gollum (crawling on all 4s) for a good hour+ … here are the details:

We woke up in the morning and had a great eggs and toast and granola breakfast with fabulous coffee and by 9am our crazy crew was out the door the bottom of Gros Morne Mountain. Today the new addition to our band, Amy and Sheldon, are joining us for the fun! We met them at the mountain for 930 and off we hiked!

The path was beautiful instantly – wow! Lots of rocks and roots to step over, some muddy muck and built in boardwalks! Beautiful! I was feeling like I could hike this thing all day – my favorite kind of trail!

At about 4kms into this 16km hike we came out of the tree filled path into the rock gully. The very steep, crazy, uphill, hell gully we would be climbing the rest of the way to the top! Ok so not all of us considered it hell – for me it was though and I had to crawl most of it on all 4s! The pictures do not do justice … to showing you what I can only imagine is a great view or showing you just how steep the ascent really was but I promise you it was super sketchy! My favorite part was the snow pack on the way up – slick, icy snow on a steep hill where you could slide to your Gros Morne death. So the very best!

At about 8km we finally made it to the top – let’s be clear most folks were there before me. Seems crawling takes longer than walking. I felt sort of bad as I had the lunch sandwiches in my pack but also vindicated as I was confidently advised the trail would not be a problem for my fear of heights so making them wait for sustenance was a little payback lol. Stick with Nick (our ‘travel guide’) was losing stars on Yelp with every Gollum-like crawl I had to complete … at one point his fake guide company we made up received a rebrand to Nick the Trick!

Once at the top, we toasted the ascent with a massive shared can of local brew and the sandwiches I trudged up in a crawl. The fog was even thicker on top – making the lunch stop a little cold but also eerie in a really cool way! Still recovering from the gully of satan I was giving this hike a thumbs down!

After a short break and before the fog and cold seeped into the bones – we started to make our way down. We walked clear across the top (the shape of which Chauncey, our resident comedian and mechanical/wood working Rain Man, described as a bread bun) on well makes rock paths and boardwalks – so cool. If you were any more than 50feet apart you might as well have been alone though, the fog just swallowed everything up!

The Yelp stars were going up on Yelp again for Nick our friendly, neighborhood guide with this cool on top stuff. I loved the random built in boardwalks – felt so good to get a full stride in after crawling about for a couple hours! On the initial part of the descent down the back side of the mountain we even came across a random ‘staircase to nowhere’ – so cool!

From there we just continued down and around the mountain for another 8km – it felt like the longest 8km ever, ever though I have to tell you. I think the heart rate of 270 up the gully climb made me pretty tired for the downhill. I felt a little like an overlooked noodle but the company was fabulous! A 8km hiking conversation among me, Shar and Cheryl was like coming home … we just needed Rosa! (We missed you Commander Butter)

We started out at 936am and wrapped up at about 530pm and could not have been more thankful. Sheldon and Amy provided some yummy homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies at the finish line, Amy chucked her super muddy and now fully worn out sneakers (my boots should have probably followed) and then we set off for Rocky Harbour for some eats and a pint!

What a day! What a trail! What a crew! I would hike any day, anywhere with these geeks but next time I am picking the trail!

Brande

PS want to know what the dinner bun (aka Gros Morne Mountain) actually looks like without all the pea soup? Here you go – the arrow marks our route! This picture was taken the day after the hike.

Soggy Bread in My Pocket

We arrived safe and tired and happy on Sunday at the beautiful St. John’s Airport! What a fabulous airport – all blues and tiles and so clean!

We were greeted by our hiking and shenanigans crew – Charmaine and Nick, and Cheryl and Chauncey. A, for the most part, a bunch of born and raised Newfoundlanders! Great tour guides!

We left the airport in our rocking Red Ford truck (thanks mama and papa Newfoundland) and made our 7+hr drive all the way across the island – literally east to west coast! Amazing! A stop at Mary Brown’s, the signature fried chicken chain on this rock (mmmmm) and we arrived in Gros Morne around 6pm! Shar and I after our red eye did pretty good on route with only a couple of pass out cat naps on route!

We grabbed some groceries … stocked up with a little Screech and made our way to our oh so cute Air BnB. (Ok for real no I did not buy this Screech)

Our place in Norris Point, a wee baby town in Gros Morne, is adorable. Three bedrooms that are so cute and a fabulous view of the harbour and table lands – more on that to come!

We headed up the road to the only place open for eats on a Sunday at this time – Rudy’s Pub! A quaint little pub / convenience store / gas station. They had only Coors on tap and only fries, chicken tenders, onion rings and mozzarella sticks on the menu – a round of each please! Shar sweet talked the lady and she made some deep fried pickles happen too … we needed something that resembled a salad!

A game of banagrams, a pint and deep fried dinner and we were set!

After dinner a little walk about the harbour was in order. What a sweet little place we are staying so many amazing little boats and such!

Exhausted we played a few games of cards and some pints at your rental cabin – and then to bed. Oh when I hit that pillow I was out!

Up on Monday morning feeling so excited to see this amazing province we had some granola, yogurt and berry breakfast and some fabulous coffee – thanks to the great coffee cook off, judges are still held up on final decision!

From there, ready to hike, we headed to Tablelands – wow! It’s just a short 4km hike but it is on the one place in Canada where the mantel is above ground! Amazing!! It was raining and we did not care one bit – rain gear on and smiles on our face!

Oh and while at the Tablelands we saw the Newfoundland & Labrador flower! It’s carnivorous… the flower draws bugs in which drop into the tube shaped leaves and yum yum!

From there we headed to a boat tour which also included a hike – about 3km each way to the dock which made me happy! We had to race to the boat on the way out as we were cutting it tight and it was so worth hoofing it. The tour was $65/person for a 2hour of the fjords and I was keen to see the cliffs from the water! It was foggy as all heck but whatever the eeriness of fog on a boat we knew would still be so great!

(Queue the Jurassic Park theme song! Shar has the t-Rex roar on her phone from Jurassic Park and played it for us – hilarious!)

Oh and it was so fabulous .. the most best part was the tour was cut short at about the 1.5hour and they gave us a full refund! Whaaat!

On our hike bike we took this awesome detour to Snug Cove – another fabulous bonus to this adventure! I loved this detour and it only added a few km to our 3km hike!

After the hike and some showers, we heading out for supper at Fisherman’s Landing in Rocky Harbour! Shar and I ordered local pints and shared 3 local inspired dishes – cod au gratin, bacon wrapped scallops, and roasted moose meat with mashed potatoes and gravy. All local mmmmm

From there it was back to Norris Point for some games and a pint then to bed! Oh and I was ready to sleep after a long day and a time change 4.5hours later than home for me.

Tomorrow I will share today’s hike – so great!

Brande

PS. Why bread in my pocket? Well in these lands if you don’t want a fairy to steal you … bread in your pocket or wear something backwards when walking in the woods!

Packing Lighter Than Expected

Of course sitting at the airport with just a short week ahead of me in Newfoundland, I have only carry on … my trusty Missy Morado (yes she has a name) 35L osprey and my soft ‘purse’ Osprey will get me through this most amazing of adventures!

So what is packing lighter than you expected title about then? Well this morning playing with our new, crazy pup Bella Bean Pup Pup … I literally tore my pinkie toe nail off right to the raw, flesh core. I have photos of course but know that only my twisted sister Hailey, bestie Lana and hubby Lance would want to see them so I will spare the rest of you the gore.

Needless to say this is not the best timing … I am heading to hike in 90% humidity Newfoundland where it is slotted to rain EVERY day we are there and I have my raw toe in a boot all day. Can you say fungus and bacterial infection kids?

What is there to do? Well suck it up. Really! Got me some first aid supplies (it pays to have an expert foot wound care nurse on your friends list for advice!), a decent pain threshold and a sense of adventure greater than a gaping wound. Yah!

Found my way to the airport, ordered a pint and focused on the fun of a flight x3 ahead and a new Young Adult Fiction book to read all washed down with a pint … and fizzy water of course – I do need to be hydrated to fight the infection! Oh for those of you all caught up on the YA Fiction reference – no judging. I am just done a 20-30hr a week Academic writing class and this brain needs some Fairy world teen romance and mythology to cleanse it of citations, argumentative clauses and naysayer statements.

A small part of me thinks that walking for a week in foot pain is my way of bringing Lana along for the trip! For those of you who have read about our Kilimanjaro and Camino adventures here on the blog you will remember Lana comes with a fantastic sense of humor and horrendously misbehaving feet! Poor thing. Every step in pain Bean (Lana) is like we are on the Camino again together!

Ok off to board my first of 3 overnight flights – super bonus … I get on the next 3 with my sister Shar once I land in Calgary. Not so super bonus … this flight is delayed and now lands 2mins before the next one boards. I may need one of those little golf cart things! Hold the door Shar! ( who didn’t just think of GOT Hodor? )

I will check in again once we hit Newfoundland!

Brande