– Deer Lake, Newfoundland to Gros Morne National Park –

So we woke up this morning to rain. The stupid rain ruined my chance to go for a run, as it was too wet and cold to be worth doing. We would’ve just come back soaked, and who knows if our sneakers would’ve been dry for tomorrow. I will run in warm rain, especially when we are staying in one place for two days, but there just wasn’t a way to make it work today. I was sad.

Instead, we had a bit of a leisurely morning. We all got ready more slowly than usual. The coffee drinkers had a pot of coffee. We dawdled. It was raining, after all. Still, we left the hotel around 8am, and drove over to the local truck stop for a big-ish breakfast. We haven’t had breakfast out on this whole trip thus far. Would you believe that a truck stop is the only real breakfast restaurant this town? I guess everyone just has Tim Horton’s here. (Have you noticed we haven’d had it at all so far? Burger King bought it.)

Family portrait at the truck stop restaurant

Our restaurant, despite being in a truck stop, was pretty good, and we we glad to have eaten a hearty breakfast, so we wouldn’t need to worry about finding lunch later today, since we would only need a snack. Everyone had eggs over easy with toast and potatoes except Mark, who had an omelette. I had mine with tomatoes instead of bacon. Mark’s didn’t come with meat, so he didn’t get the chance to substitute.

Since the place was conveniently attached to a truck stop, we also got our ice and took a pre-emptive bathroom break. It was still pretty early when we finished, so we were on the road back to the national park to explore in no time. It was only about an hour back to the furthest we were interested in going back to the north, which was perfect for keeping the day nice and light.

The backs of Mom and Dad’s heads in Adirondack (Muskoka) chairs

It finally stopped raining along the way and started to warm up, eventually reaching nearly 80 degrees, and it felt even warmer in the sunshine. We made a few stops on our way up to the visitor center for photographs, then ducked into the visitor center to look around. They had nice displays and a little gift shop, so we spent some time checking it out.

From there, we drove a little farther up the road to Lobster Cove Head, where we stopped at a lighthouse. That’s really going to be a theme for this trip. I hope you are enjoying the lighthouse photos, since I suspect there are many more to come. They are kind of neat, especially when they are older. This one looks quite a bit different from Point Amour. Instead of a stand alone tower, the light sort of pokes out of a house.

Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse

There’s a little museum inside, and we spent some time there as well. It’s interesting thinking about how being a lighthouse keeper used to be such an important (and sometimes hazardous) job. It’s all automated now, for the most part, when it is still needed at all.

In the parking lot for the lighthouse, we saw signs about a bear in the area, and the park employee we talked with said the bear had literally been in the parking lot earlier in the morning. I’m glad we didn’t run into him. By the time we were there, tons of other people, including a tour bus, were there too, so I guess we probably weren’t in too much danger. It’s just a black bear, anyway, which is definitely the bear you want to run into if you have to run into a bear. My mom still didn’t like it. If you followed along on our Alaska trip, you’ll remember that she has an unnatural fear of running into bears. It’s a little funny.

Green as far as the eye can see

Gros Morne National Park is made up of mountains that were once part of the Appalachian Range, which is pretty wild to think about. Part of the park is lush and green, and filled with evergreens. The mountains and tall and grey in that area. In the coastal areas, the coast is rocky and the sand is gray, with clear water. In another area, the mountains are a deep golden color, and flat on the top. It’s a really interesting place.

In addition, the park is divided by a bay that ducks into the island. We had first driven up on the right-hand side, to go to the visitor center and the greener side of the park, then we had to come back down a ways, to the point of the “V,” to do the left-hand side of the park, which is mostly coast and the golden mountains.

Mark jumps for joy at the Gros Morne National Park sign

On our way out of that the visitor center side, we stopped at the entrance sign, and I took a silly picture of Mark leaping off of a rock. It turned out really well. Look at that vertical distance! I think my parents must sometimes think we are crazy. We stopped at a gas station after for some chips and chocolate for our lunch snack. Touring parks is hard work.

Anyway, we turned to the other portion of the park not long after the sign. Most of this portion of the park is called The Tablelands. This area looks like a desert, and if you were shown a picture of the place, I don’t think you’d ever guess it could be found on Newfoundland. Driving down the road, once side is gold, and one side is green. It’s kind of crazy.

Trout River area. Man this place is pretty.

We drove all the way out to Trout River, which is where this particular road (mostly) ends. Trout River is, of course, next to a river that’s full of trout, and it ends in the ocean, with pretty, craggy cliffs. There’s a climb to the top that warns visitors to use at their own risk, which we decided to avoid, despite what were probably very nice views. That’s a little more work than we were interesting in doing today.

On the way back from Trout River, we stopped to take our photos of The Tablelands. They are pretty spectacular, and the tops of some of the mountains and still dotted with snow. I wonder what it is like at the top. There is a hiking trail, but I think it only goes around one of the mountains, instead of up it, since the trail guide says it is only a 9km hike of moderate difficulty. There’s no way you could make it to the top with those specifications. It was really warm in this area.

The Tablelands

After The Tablelands, we stopped by the park’s Discovery Center, which was a museum, art gallery, and little shop and cafe. It was cute, and we had a good time looking around there, too. It had a really nice observation deck that looked out over the river.

From there, we were basically done with our touring day. We switched drivers and Dad took us back through the mountains to Deer Lake. It’s a nice drive, but we’ve done it several times now, and I’m getting a little sick of the mountain roads. They are too curvy and slow for me, and it is too easy to get stuck behind people hauling RVs and going half of the speed limit.

Chore 1: Washing Mark’s stinky shoes

Back in Deer Lake, we checked to see what local restaurants were available, to see if we saw anything we wanted for dinner. When we didn’t come up with anything particularly exciting, we decided to buy ingredients to make our dinners at the grocery store. We also stocked back up on a few items for the cooler.

Mark and I managed to replace our cheese and pickles, and buy some crackers for our hummus, but they had a really poor selection of yogurt, which I am starting to miss very badly. I love yogurt, and I’m starting to feel deprived without it. Hopefully we can find some good yogurt in St. John’s.

Big living room featuring Dad and Ripley

We were back at the hotel around 4pm, and we immediately set to doing our chores. We unpacked our groceries, started our laundry, and began boiling eggs to replenish our supply. Mark made tea for us, and watched the laundry. Meanwhile, I had some washing to do.

Mark’s shoes and Miss Ripley have been getting stinkier and stinkier as the days go by, so I washed his shoes first, then I drained the bathtub and started over with the puppy. She also had her ears cleaned and her toenails trimmed. We even washed the blankets in her bed, just like we would do at home. Mark still needs to brush her teeth, but overall she’s a much nicer-smelling puppy now.

Chore 2: Washing the little Ripley

Sometime before 6, we made dinner. Mom made potatoes and pork chops for herself and Dad, and I made rice and stir-fried green and yellow beans and carrots for Mark and me. We also had some of their leftover potatoes. It was really nice to have a homemade meal again after eating out every day for more than a week. The vegetables came frozen, but it was better than none at all.

After dinner, we did the dishes and folded some of the laundry. I was hoping today would provide a bit of rest, but the chores have kept us pretty busy. It’s nearly 10pm as I’m finishing up this blog post. We will get some rest when we get home, I guess.

Tell me that doesn’t look better than any of the restaurant food we’ve had

Tomorrow takes us out of our nice house in Deer Lake and on down the road, though another national park and into Clarenville. Hopefully it won’t be raining in the morning, and we will get to run. I suspect we will have our first Tim Horton’s breakfast tomorrow morning, but we will see.

– Trip Total : 4,071 miles

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