Monday, August 21, 2006

Adventures in Newfoundland: A Horoscope, an Ugly Stick and a bit of Luck Day 7

The nice thing about a motel, despite contaminated water and questionable decor, is that you can sleep in (you get the BED without the BREAKFAST). 10am has never felt so good.

We dined at the Deer Lake Motel coffee shop….again. Then we chilled in our hotel room until checkout at 1. We were trying to kill time because our bus wasn’t scheduled to take us to Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne until 5:30. At check-out, the kind lady at the front desk let us leave our suitcases behind the desk so we wouldn’t have to lug them around with us for hours.

We phoned all the rental car companies in Deer Lake one more time. Still no cars. Avis said to phone back in the afternoon, but I wasn’t holding my breath. I’d gotten a good taste of what the rental car situation in Newfoundland was like this time of year – very very bad. In the motel itself, there was a Budget office. The man at the desk was very sympathetic and apologetic, but he had no cars either. He even took my cell phone number down and told us he’d phone if anything came up. He said he could even drive us to the airport if we wanted to check for rental cars there – we knew there were none though.

There was a Visitor’s Centre across the highway. Inside, I asked how we could get around Gros Morne National Park without a car (since the next three days we would be stationed there). The two people looked at each other, then shook their heads and told us it would be impossible. My heart sunk. I just wanted things to stop being difficult.

We went to the Big Stop Irving coffee shop and found a table where we could read newspapers and magazines and drink coffee. Mark read his horoscope aloud: Though you will experience minor setbacks in your travels, things will work out. When the waitress promptly brought us our bill (and I couldn’t order anything else because I was stuffed!) and I started to feel pressure to pay and leave the restaurant, it became apparent that we really had nowhere to go for the next three hours. It was pouring rain outside, so we couldn’t even camp out on the bench in the bus stop area. The stress overcame me and I began to cry.

Mark decided to go talk to the Avis rental car people one more time. When he came back, he was soaking wet, but he was smiling. “They have a car for us,” he said (the sweetest words I’d heard in about a week). It wasn’t cleaned yet and it had no air conditioning, but we were just so relieved to have our own transportation! We took a cab to the airport and within an hour, we were on our way to Gros Morne!

Gros Morne redefines beautiful. Hills after hills coated with pine trees and surrounded by rivers and lakes. The Ocean View Motel is located at the heart of Rocky Harbour (in Gros Morne). The rooms are clean and big and clean and there’s even a balcony. I don’t know if I’d call our travel setbacks “minor”, but things do seem to be working out.

* * *

We drove (yes you read that right – DROVE) out to the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse before dinner. There were inconspicuous trails leading through some of the densest pine vegetations I’ve ever seen. It looked like nothing could have gotten through and the tops of the trees were at shoulder-level and dramatically slanted, shaped by the wind. We climbed right down the shoreline.

As Mark ventured closer, the weather began to intensify and I realized that each wave the crashed against the rocks was getting closer and closer. We were witnessing the tide coming in. As we scurried back up to higher ground, it began to rain big fat droplets. Mark said he could have explored that countryside for hours.

Coming back into Rocky Harbour, we stopped at a craft store. The man at the counter was playing some wooden spoons on his knee along to a CD of Newfoundland folk music. I spotted a strange hand-made musical instrument. It resembled a walking stick. It had a tin can nailed upside down to its top, and rows of beer caps nailed around its bottom half. It came with a notched stick used for thwapping the can, the stick and for running along the stick to make the caps jingle. All this was done as he thumped the ground with the stick, and his foot, in time with the beat. For $27 I could have owned my very own Ugly Stick, but I was sure it wouldn’t fit in my suitcase. As I expressed my disappointment with this realization, I think I caught a glimmer of relief on Mark’s face.

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