If you drive even further north than Gros Morne in Newfoundland. If you drive five and something hours past The Arches, past River of Ponds, past St. Barbe – where you catch the ferry that will take you to Labrador – past the barrenness that is Eddie’s Harbour, past the seemingly endless muskeg Route 430 crosses over the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula toward St. Anthonys – and yes – even past the original Viking settlement of Eric the Red at L’Anse aux Meadow – you will find yourself at a dock which represents the village of Quirpon (pronounced “Car-poon”).
And there, before you – a 30 minute boat (and I use that word loosely) ride away – sits the most northernly point on the island of Newfoundland – Quirpon Island – an island roughly 6 kms long and at its broadest 3 kms wide.
And if you’re really adventuresome you can cross to this barren rock set on the Strait of Belle Isle and own the island as your personal kingdom, complete with servants for as long as dare.
And that is exactly what G and I did. We booked 3 days on the island where, aside from us, there was but two grandmas – Mariah and Margaret – who prepared all our meals in the old lightkeepers house where we stayed. Even the locals in St. John’s gasped when they heard we were going there, saying; “It’s like going to the moon” which indeed it is. It was worth every penny and the vast distance we traveled to get there, and will remain – I believe – one of the most exceptionally amazing travel experiences we’ll ever have.
Quirpon Island was ours to explore. There is no television or radio and your mobile won’t work out here. It is just you, the ocean, the whales, the sound of the foghorn – blowing deep and wailingly long at night – and the wind; always the wind.
2 & 3) caribou, like moose, are everywhere and you must drive with great caution
4) one last stop at Western Brook Pond before going even further north
5) Western Brook Pond from a distance; 6) and way up close with thanks to my zoom
7) our little car that got us there and back; 8) G moves in to explore The Arches
9) there are some very strange dead trees at the Arches where I am sure a witch must once have lived; 10) near Quirpon a beautiful iceberg – a ‘growler’ or ‘bergy bit’ as the locals call them – wanders a small harbour as two ducks (lower right) pass by
11) finally reached it!; 12) these two are of course famous for ‘discovering’ the Viking settlement
13) this group of moose are smart – grazing in the National Park where they are protected from hunters; 14) look … Vikings ho!
15) over 1000 years ago, here is where the Vikings landed and set up home (I can’t imagine!)
16) the wee bay their settlement looked over; 17) the Vikings lived here for a generation before retreating back to Greenland (you can click on any of these pictures to make them bigger)
18) a decidedly bigger berg wanders by at L’Anse
19 & 20) the dock at Quripon where we awaited someone to pick us up
21) finally we’re off – with Kevin, Margaret and our captain; 22) leaving civilization behind and into the unknown
23) our first sighting of ‘home’
24) our base camp for the visit; 25) I jump for joy on the helicopter pad upon arrival (the Canadian Coast Guard uses this pad for their infrequent visits to the Island to provide maintenance to the Lighthouse and fog horn)
26) our first sighting of a sea otter but a dozen feet away; 27) the Lighthouse (known as the Cape Bauld Lighthouse) is always our beacon when out hiking
28) the fog horn station and indoor whale-watching station; 29) G edges to the tip of the island
30) our wee livingroom where we drank lots of red wine and read; 31) our bedroom
32) our bathroom; 33) the diningroom table is set for us
34) you can buy a beer here – from Quidis Vidi of course; 35) the ladies will cook you real, hardy homecooked meals like this
36) they will also serve you iceberg water – ice harvested from growlers that is some 10,000 years old and delicious; 37) lunch this day was a hearty soup and FANTASTIC homemade bread
38) way out another growler sneaks past … he disappeared by the next morning
39) you will see minke whales here too; 40) the hiking is all on this unique ground cover of tiny mosses and wee firs
41) who owns this island? … G does!
42) there is a trail that cuts through the centre of the island but a better – and drier one that runs across the tops of the mountains
43) it will rain – bring raingear … here we are hiking the mountain trail to the far side of the island … it rained and was terribly foggy and we loved every moment
44) I stop to get my requisite Brent the explorer pose
45) Belle Island sits way out between us and Labrador
46) G goes down to explore this crevasse; 47) the view from the Lighthouse down toward the boat dock
48) the Lighthouse; 49) and the fog horn station (avoid standing right in front of this when it is going off)
50) the sun sets late one evening … this is around 10PM; 51) it was sunny the next morning
52) G heads up to the house for bed
53) one of the quiet ponds atop the mountain range
54) the views are spectacular and to think it is only G and I here
55) heading out one morning and looking back to home from the top of the first hilltop
56) G on the lookout for whales and icebergs
57) there’s G way up there to the left of the roofline; 58) me seeking some respite from the wind
59) our last day – G heads down to the dock
60) here is the view looking back from the dock
61) here comes our ‘boat’ for the 40 minute ride back to the mainland
62) G enjoys the sunset with red wine in hand … what an awesome adventure!
I love the scenery but not sure about the cold – I am spoiled in Florida.