Destination: Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
That morning, I awoke rather early and as I often would, used my phone while waiting for Christine to wake up. Because we were so far from our friends and family, we both used our phones to connect and share our journey. Throughout, we frequently posted photos and short videos to the facebook page we’d set up to document our adventure. I also posted photos to my personal Instagram, and tried to keep on top of texts and emails. I’ve never been one to really talk on the phone, so anyone who wanted to reach me that way had to be in a bad way!
Christine began her day and we swapped the bins into the back seat again after clearing out and packing up our sleeping bags and mats. It was just another morning chore, and one I didn’t mind because it was kind of neat to see the interior space constantly redefined. We both used the wal-mart facilities and then got back on the road after a Tim Horton’s coffee stop.
We drove almost to Deer Lake but we stopped because we came across the Insectarium! It seemed like something we absolutely had to do. There was a butterfly conservatory attached to it, which we both really love. This was the most amazing one I’d seen. The entire place was beyond description. It was three storeys not including the butterfly zone. There was a butterfly nursery with hundreds of chrysalids with different moths and butterflies are various stages of development. We admired their bright and beautiful, or camouflaged and unassuming cocoons. The owner shared a lot of his story with us. He’d actually written a book about his experiences with butterflies. His son had died, and that tragedy spurred him on to learn more about the butterflies he kept seeing. He then interviewed other people about their experiences with those insects, and, in the book, talked about the spiritual connection many people feel with them. It was really interesting and rather sad. He knew so much about them and we asked all kinds of questions. We were lucky to get time with him to learn about all he knew, because by the time we left the place, it had become really busy!
In the butterfly conservatory, we spent at least an hour. There were so many different varieties and we took hundreds of photos, I’m sure!
We both got landed on by plenty and at one point I had three butterflies on me. It was a little sad to see the dead ones but it reminded us of how fleeting and precious life truly is and how necessary it is to live as wholeheartedly as possible because no one knows when the end is. And we felt good about that because that was exactly what we were doing on our cross-Canada adventure. Taking everything in, enjoying each moment as it existed, and experiencing things that would inspire and guide us for the rest of our lives.
The rest of the insectarium was really neat as well. The collection was massive, with golden beetles and ghost praying mantis and tarantulas and everything you could think of.
After several hours, we spent a bit of money in the gift shop and went on our way. Since that morning, we had been in contact with the boat tours operating in Western Brooke Pond, one of our excursions. They sometimes cancelled their tours because of weather, and it didn’t look good that day so at the last minute we decided to risk going the next day and hope it wasn’t as foggy or rainy. We rescheduled for the next day at noon.
We drove on to Shallow Bay campground in Gros Morne National Park. It was completely devoid of campers! We had finally reached the point in our journey where summer was over for most people and we would no longer be battling for space at every campground. But what an abrupt change! That change of seasons is all the more distinct on Newfoundland, it seemed. We were really excited to have so much freedom of choice. We found a lovely, deeply recessed campsite with no neighbours that we could hear, let alone see. We set up camp – it was still a little misty. Behind our site there was a little trail, so we took that to the ocean. Again, we were completely alone. It still blew me away to be so close to the ocean – it just feels so huge.
Our visibility was a little low due to the mist. We stayed for a bit and then took the car and drove to a trail. We decided on the Lighthouse Trail in Cow Head, a little town nearby. It was a 2k and very beautiful, with cool rocks to climb on and a lighthouse with a neat story. This is the trail where Christine and I brainstormed my novel Song, about a female pirate and a siren whose song enthralls her and only her. We had a great time talking it out!
Afterward, we went to dinner at the Shallow Bay Hotel Restaurant. We found it to be extremely overpriced and not very good. I had fish and chips and I wasn’t thrilled, but I was hungry, so that made up for it. We loved listening to the locals talk over their dinners.
When we returned to the campsite, we went to a little cabin that had a woodstove and wifi, and Christine read over my interview questions and helped me edit them – and I submitted them. We met two women there, one who had solo hiked the West Coast Trail, which I had hiked with Jenn in 2016. We had a great time talking with them, and we drank some of their wine and their hot chocolate, and Christine played rummikub with them while I worked on my writing.
It was well after dark when we decided to get back to the campsite. We really enjoyed the privacy, and we could faintly hear the ocean not too far away. It rained and stormed a little bit during the night, but we both slept solidly.