What I knew about Newfoundland before I came to Corner Brook:
1. It’s way out east.
2. It’s in a funny time zone.
3. It’s rocky and cold and windy.
Incredibly, it turns out that’s not all there is to know about this place. Here are some things I learned from touring around the Gros Morne National Park today:
1. It’s not nearly as rocky as I imagined. Much of the island is covered in dense forest and actually has a thriving pulp-and-paper industry (in truth, it looks a lot like BC, though it’s a tenth of the size — our guide said BC was like “Newfoundland on steroids.”) Gros Morne does has some unique geology: the Tablelands are 500 million-year-old rocks that were originally part of the earth’s crust and were pushed upwards when the tectonic plates shifted. Combine that with fjords, waterfalls, and mountains 20 times older than the Rockies, and you get some really impressive scenery.
2. It’s not that cold, at least today. We had gorgeous sunny skies and a high of 17 degrees, which our guide says is the warmest October day this place has had in over 20 years. There was still a nasty wind off the water that chilled us to the bone, but the sunshine made it all OK.
3. It lies on the main air route between North America and Europe. That means that at any given time, there are at least three or four planes passing high overhead. I’m used to seeing one, maybe two white contrails in the sky. It was a little unnerving to see six at once.
4. According to our guide, until very recently it was not at all unusual for Newfies to not know how to swim. Sure, they live on an island that’s surrounded by water, but it’s frigid North Atlantic water. Only an idiot would swim in that stuff.
So that was Newfoundland. Now on to Sydney…