Monday, August 21, 2006

Adventures in Newfoundland: Salmonids and Deer Lake Day 6

Breakfast at the Hill Road Manor was beautiful. We got the royal treatment. Fruit salad in wine glasses, tea in the good china, homemade toast and jams, omelette and fried ham and grapefruit and orange juice. Elizabeth and Brett even joined us to chat for a while.

Then we went to Murph’s internet cafĂ© for a pick-me-up and a connection to the rest of the world. With another two hours to kill before the bus would arrive at the Highliner Inn again to take us on to Deer Lake, we decided to do the main thing people in Grand-Falls Windsor suggest to tourists – go to the Salmonid Interpretation Centre. Alas, it was two and a half kilometers down a logging road. So we walked and walked and walked. It was the only warm day we’d had during the whole trip. We toyed with the idea of hitch-hiking, but most of what passed us were dump trucks and logging trucks.

The fish ladder was neat. We’d both seen fish ladders before, but in this one, you could go into an Observation Room below ground-level and watch the fish through a glass window. I took a whole bunch of pictures that didn’t turn out. The guide taught us how to tell the difference between male and female salmon based on their snout shapes.

Then we walked back into town. We had some poutine (again at Jim’s convenience store) and searched for fridge magnets that said Grand-Falls Windsor (we collect fridge magnets of places we’ve visited). No luck.

Back at the Hill Road Manor, we chatted some with Brett and Elizabeth as we waited for them to be ready to take us to the “bus stop”. During our conversation with B&E, Lady demonstrated her affinity for certain articles of bathroom trash (much to my embarrassment). En route, we asked why Grand Falls-Windsor had such a strange name. Apparently there were two towns. You could only live in Grand Falls if you worked at the Mill. Windsor became a town that provided services for the people of Grand Falls. Over time, the two merged (similar, Mark would point out, to Port Arthur and Fort William amalgamating to form Thunder Bay).

The trip from Grand Falls-Windsor to Deer Lake was much prettier than our first bus leg. Instead of flat stretches of uninhabited land with pine trees and the odd Big Stop Irving, we saw lakes and rolling hills as well as flat stretches of uninhabited land with pine trees and the odd Big Stop Irving. We saw no moose, but there was one moment with everyone in the bus stood up and rushed to one side of the bus as it slowed its course. We soon discovered that all the hub-bub was about a runaway horse wandering up the gravel shoulder.

* * *

The Deer Lake Motel was located directly across the road from the Big Stop Irving where the bus let us off. For the steep cost of a room, I found it surprising that the bathroom sink was outside of the bathroom itself and that the tap water wasn’t potable. Moments after reading the sign indicating that we shouldn’t drink or brush our teeth with the tap water, I brushed my teeth with the tap water. Oops. Mark decided to take advantage of our unplanned time in Deer Lake by cabbing it to a local golf course – The Humber River Golf Club.

I ate in the Deer Lake Motel coffee shop. Then I returned to our room and decided to book our Western Brook Boat Tour for one of our days in Gros Morne National Park. I’d heard wonderful things about how popular and incredible this tour was. And everyone strongly recommended we book well in advance. Sadly, upon phoning, the woman informed me that the boat tour began far from the hotel we’d be staying in in Gros Morne. A thirty minute drive and forty minute walk, to be exact. Not normally a problem, except we had no wheels. It was going to be a gamble, but I booked anyway.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I HATE to take risks. I had no idea how we’d get to our boat tour (and I’d just given my credit card number, essentially paying the $70 for our tickets). So I phoned the local taxi for that part of Gros Morne. They said it would cost $32 each way for a ride to and from the boat tour. I phoned the hotel that sells the boat tour tickets and they suggested we camp out at the ticket booth and ask random people for a lift. Newfoundlanders are friendly, and I figured our odds of getting a ride were pretty good, I just hated not being in control. I left our boat tour reservations, but I was beginning to feel nervous about the situation.

* * *

Mark only played 9 holes at the Humber River Golf Course. He said he didn’t play well, and he lost 7 balls, but he did hit a few nice shots and saw some very nice scenery. He also struck up a conversation with a taxi cab driver who came to Deer Lake a year ago on vacation and just never went home.

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