Newfoundland: L’Anse Aux Meadows to Rocky Harbour

Another big day of driving and sight-seeing, but I think we’re finally getting the hang of it.  Unfortunately, we’re doing that on the second-last day of the trip.  

So it was another long, exhausting, but still awesome day, one that started with more rain than we had seen since the drive to St. John’s.  It mainly fell while we were in the car, fortunately, and we were able to hit up our first site of the the day, L’Anse Aux Meadows, without much hassle.  
L’Anse is another UNESCO site, being the point of first contact between the First Nations and Europeans, over 400 years before Christopher Columbus made his way to the Caribbean.  The site is more historically significant than impressive, but they’ve done a good job of recreating what a Viking village would look like in Newfoundland, and the visitor’s centre displays various artifacts found on the site, and provides a good written history of how the Vikings got to Newfoundland, and how they interacted with the First Nations.  The natural scenery, though rainy today, was still obviously beautiful, with green fields blowing in front of the giant cliffs in the background.  
The rest of the day involved some smaller stops along the way to our final destination of Rocky Harbour.  We made a quick stop at Flower Cove to see the Thrombolites, which are gigantic, fossilized microbial colonies that can only currently be found in Flower Cove and Western Australia.  Really, they look more like interesting rocks than organisms, but it makes for a sweet little stroll off the highway, complete with covered bridge.
Next was a stop in Port Au Choix for some of the kitschier moments of our trip. First, we stopped off at Ben’s Studio to visit the infamous Golden Cod that was created by artist Ben Ploughman.  The cod is on sale for 2.2 million dollars, and is meant to represent the closing of Newfoundland’s cod fisheries years ago, complete with  detatched fin that isn’t going on any time soon because of how long it will take for Newfoundland to fix its cod problem.  Ben showed us some of his raised woodwork art depicting Newfoundland life (which is all over the island) and also demonstrated his idea for Backyard Extreme Golf.  It was a neat, local artisan experienced, followed by lunch at Anchor Cafe, which had some solid seafood and an amazing amount of kitsch on the wall, too, including a relatively frightening looking stuffed grandma doll at the front door that actually took Emilee back a few steps.  
Next stop was the wreck of the S.S. Ethie, which we obviously had to see after our dinner theatre experience from a couple of days ago.  We were going to try to hike up Berry Hill to get some views of Gros Morne but, unfortunately for all involved, we were confronted at the trail head by an ambulance with flashing lights and two Parks Canada trucks, one of which was blocking the trail.  With a third truck joining shortly after and a mildly ominous dead frog smashed on the nearby ground, we figured it wasn’t the time to do this hike, so we found nearby Lobster Cove, which literally had bunny rabbits, a lighthouse, and a beachside campfire.  Maybe not as impressive of a hike, but a beautiful one.  
We ended the day in Rocky Harbour, scrambling to find a restaurant to eat at before stumbling into the Treasure Box, for tasty fast-food fish cakes, toutons, and moose burgers, before saying goodbye to Emilee and Jeff, who were driving back to Cow Head to stay at the Shallow Bay Motel again.  They were just fantastic to travel with!
Tomorrow night, we fly out.  We’re going to check out one last section of the park tomorrow, even though I’m sure there’s days more for us to check out in this province.  It’s amazing.

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