Friday, August 18, 2006

Adventures in Newfoundland: The Booming Metropolis of Grand-Falls Windsor Day 5

We woke up early. Well, I woke up early – 6am. Mark was still recovering from a night in George St. with Cory, so he pryed himself from the covers around 6:30. We cabbed it to MUN (Memorial University of Newfoundland) where a crowd was already gathering for the DRL Coach Lines bus – the only west-bound public means of transportation in Newfoundland. There are no Greyhounds in Newfoundland. I guess Greyhound can’t be bothered with non-mainland routes because PEI doesn’t enjoy their services either.

So here’s how it works. The bus is old and stinky and the window next to the fire exit rattles a lot. We watched part of a movie, then the VCR just stopped working. There’s a bus attendant – kind of like an airplane stewardess. She sometimes says things on the PA speaker, but it’s so thick with Newfoundland-ness, we aren’t yet skilled enough to interpret it. She comes around with a fanny pack and collects our cash and keeps track of who gets on where and who gets off. After every pit stop, she counts us to make sure we don’t have anyone behind (even so, it still happens on occasion). We almost expect someone to yell “Soundoff!” We stop at every single goddam Big Stop Irving gas station on the Trans Canada Highway. No, that’s an exaggeration. During a seven hour trip, we counted the number of Big Stop Irving’s we didn’t stop at – two.

Finally, we arrive in Grand-Falls Windsor, or at least we pull over at the Highliner Inn which is Grand-Falls Windsor’s bus stop. I already like our Hill Road Manor B&B hosts, as they’ve offered to pick us up from the “bus stop”.

They are Elizabeth and Brett or maybe Brent. They have a big calm black lab named Lady. She is the only calm lab I have ever met. And their home and yard are lovely. Most importantly, the bed is incredibly soft (Olga would not approve). We have our own “private” bath, but we have to go out into the hallway to get there.

After resting for a bit, we decided to wander around Grand-Falls Windsor by foot. It’s a Sunday night and nothing and I mean NOTHING is open. In fact, Grand-Falls Windsor is a ghost town. Imagine Bancroft, then get rid of the Tim Hortons and about two thirds of the population and that’s Grand-Falls Windsor (or the part that we could access by foot). There is an operating Pulp and Paper Mill just near the Hill Road Manor. We discover that our room is called the Mill Room because it faces the Mill and we can hear the machinery if we open the window. We’ll choose to call that quality “quaint”. We saw an internet cafĂ© and a nice-looking restaurant called the Blue Fish, but they were both closed. It’s eye-opening to realize how we’ve become city-slickers, expecting the convenience of near-24-hour service seven days a week. We began to panic – we might starve! Finally we found a family diner called Teri’s place. There wasn’t anyone else in the restaurant but us and a waitress, but the food was decent and we definitely got good service. And we did discover a convenience store called “Jim’s” with homemade Peanut Butter Caramel Cookie Dough ice cream. Yes, you read that correctly. I think that just about speaks for itself.

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