Things Travel Guides Ought To Tell You About Newfoundland

  1. It’s always referred to as “the Rock”

This makes the place sound sexier than it is. In our extensive travels of the island, I met no former pro wrestlers. This would have been disappointing if Dwayne Johnson was my type, as it is, I’m partial to Pierce Brosnan and his squinty eyes. Also it should be called “the Cliff”, there were hills everywhere. I thanked the fates that we chose to bring an umbrella stroller because I forget to put on the safety strap when using the nice stroller and it tends to roll away on me. I would have spent the entire time speeding down hills after the Bob had we brought it. Also, at one point in Cornerbrook, I’m fairly certain we were walking perpendicular to the ocean. The city is built into the side of a cliff.

  1. It is Hawaii of the North but don’t tell the locals this- they’ll injure themselves from laughing so hard and then you’ll feel badly for harming the Newfoundlanders because they were so kind.

Mini-Tex made friends with bunch of firefighters and got to drive two of the big red trucks. While my son and I were waiting for a firefighter to return with a giant prize bag of firefighting related goodies and a personalized hat, I shared the Hawaii comment with the rest of the fire company. Once EMS finished stitching up the firemens’ sides after they busted a gut laughing, I shared that as long as one dresses for the cold, the outdoors are pleasant and that the untouched beauty of the island reminded me of Maui. They still looked at me like I had three heads. What can I say? Rugged, wild landscapes are my thing, regardless of climate.

  1. Newfoundlander is a synonym for Mother Theresa

In the same way that Canadians wear pins of the flag abroad, I feel like Newfoundlanders should have some sort of distinctive marking to let others know that they’ll give the shirt off their backs and then apologize for shivering. We encountered countless kind people, but the ones that stood out were the firemen, the Airbnb host who made us stuffed squid for dinner just so we could try local food and the park ranger who took her lunch break to drive home, get us her daughter’s toys and three pairs of snow shoes from her personal collection. The ranger lent us all of this during our stay.

  1. If given the chance, the island will kill you and swiftly bury the remains. In snow.

Tex and I are outdoorsy; we’re accustomed to signs like “No cell signal. Be self-sufficient”, or having to make a call to his parents or the ranger to say that we’ve made it out of the bush safely. Newfoundland took this, and ratcheted the difficulty and fear level up about thirty-seven thousand notches. There’s nothing quite like avalanche warnings with accompanying messages of “Do you have a pickaxe and collapsible shovel with you?” to make a person question their decision to hike with their baby on their back.

 

We were never in the avalanche areas of course- the map outlined their locations and Tex claims he understood the inscrutable instructions to skirt the danger areas. Had I been traipsing through the wildnerness with anyone else, I would have turned back. As it is, the man has two more professional degrees than I do and I take him at his word. So away we went through deep, deep snow.

 

There’s only been one other time in my life, where I’ve had to cling to various plant life to hold myself onto the mountain while hiking. And that was in Maui, where there was no snow and I didn’t have a two year old on my back. The adrenaline released by the prospect of tumbling off the cliff with your offspring sharpens your reflexes. That said, Mini-Tex loved every minute of it and talks about scaling the 800 foot waterfall.

  1. Seal tastes like wet dog fur

I suggest combining a gram of it with a pound of ketchup to render it palatable. It was Tex’s goal to eat as many forms of wildlife as he could in as many ways possible. We ate moose pie, moose soup, moose burgers, moose sausage, seal flipper pie, seal flipper stew, seal flipper sausage. The man would roast up a porcupine and declare it scrumptious. On occasion, Tex reminds me of Bart Simpson when the cartoon family visits New York City. In the episode, Bart attempts to attract sympathy and spare change from his fellow metro passengers by claiming that he was born without taste buds, then licks a subway handrail as proof. The difference being that my face after tasting seal looks like Bart’s whereas my husband wears an expression of contemplative delight.

None of this is published in the travel guides, but I thought you should know. Also don’t eat seal. It’s not an animal cruelty thing- it’s a taste thing. Even months later, I still sometimes burp the flavor.

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