Gros Morne

August 20 to September 5, 2005

Corner Brook

10:47am, August 21, Corner Brook Holiday Inn

So far things have not gone swimmingly. We arrived in Deer Lake last night, as scheduled, at 11:30pm. Half our luggage, on the other hand, did not. We were without one of the two massive duffel bags we've packed for our two week car camping extravaganza.

Irene, being brilliant, had inventoried the contents of both bags so we knew in an instant we were missing:

We had booked a patch of ground at a municipal campground, but it was cold and raining. Camping was looking really unpleasant.

So there we were at Deer Lake airport, the terminal emptying rapidly of airline agents, security guards and all other human life. The two motels were full. The B and Bs were all closed.

At the suggestion of the security guard, we drove the 50km to Corner Brook to try to find a room. We arrived at around 1am and were somehow happy to pay the Holiday Inn $129 ($143 with tax) for a room with a jet-powered heating/cooling unit and a bathtub tap that won't turn off.

We were quite tired and not exactly in the mood for adventure, so we were secretly relieved when we let ourselves go find a hotel. We had envisionned how we would manage with one sleeping bag and no warm clothes.

We awoke this morning to rain, though it's not all that cold.

Irene's teal rad pants fit me – though they're a bit short – so at least I don't have to hike in jeans.

2:45pm, Deer Lake Airport

We've spent the morning re-provisioning in Corner Brook's Canadian Tire and Dominion (which is really Loblaws). The good news is that the organic section is pretty much the same size and selection as the Vanier Market, around the corner and down the street from where we live.

The other good news is that you can buy pretty much everything you need to go camping in Corner Brook. Gear snobs beware, though. "Woods" and "World Famous" figure prominently on the Canadian Tire shelves.

The bad news is we have a bunch of stuff we really don't want and won't (with any luck) need in a few days. But there wasn't much choice. We don't want to put our holiday on hold while we wait for Air Canada to locate our duffel bag.

I have to say, I spent most of the morning feeling pretty defeated. Corner Brook - what I saw of it - is a modest mill town, nestled in one end of the mountains at the shore of massive Deer Lake. Houses and offices tacked to the side of steep hills and settled in valleys.

But we were in the mall sprawl on some plateau just outside of town. And but for the accents, we could have been anywhere. Wal Mart, Staples, Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, Loblaws scarred the landscape.

More bad news: Rogers/AT&T/Fido/Whoever else they've bought have apparently never heard of Newfoundland. There are all kinds of people talking on cell phones but they are no doubt using Aliant.

Last night at the airport we ran into people who'd been waiting for their bags for a couple of days. We'd heard tell of longer waits than that. Irene's inside talking with the Air Canada people and checking to see if the bag arrived on the afternoon flight. I'm betting it didn't.

9:23pm, Lomond Campground, Gros Morne National Park

We're here, we've camped, we're fed and we have all our luggage.

We headed out from the airport empty handed. But the drive out to Gros Morne was pretty and not too long. We stopped for a $7 bucket of raspberries along the way. We got here around 4pm.

There are around 30 or so sites here. Maybe six of them are in use. In retrospect, making a reservation may have been unnecessary and expensive, given that it costs $11.

There's no gate attendant either. But don't get the idea you can camp for free. There's a guy named Terry who patrols the place every two hours in a red Parks Canada truck. We know. He brought us our luggage.

These days when Air Canada loses your luggage, they commit to bringing it to where you are. Anywhere. We arranged for them to bring it to a nearby church camp, (Camp Killdevil - love the name). And then we set off to hike the 4km trail to Stanleyville. As we were coming back, we saw the red truck carrying the big black bag.

Suddenly, we find ourselves with too much food, too many sleeping bags and an extra pair of shoes. Oh well. Tonight I have clothes, a sleeping bag and tofu jerky.

We had pasta and tomato sauce for dinner, cooked in this nifty kitchen shelter that even has drinkable running water.

The campground seems really empty of both bugs and humans. The rain is starting again. Good night.

Trail to Stanleyville. Different lense. Glad I brought it.

Trail to Stanleyville: Different lense. Glad I brought it.

Stanleyville: The site of the former lumber town. A beautiful setting.

Stanleyville: The site of the former lumber town. A beautiful setting.

The mighty hunter victorious: Irene stands over the relocated luggage.

The mighty hunter victorious: Irene stands victorious over the relocated luggage.