There were no moose living in Newfoundland prior to 1904. That is when the British introduced four moose to the island in an effort to promote better eating habits among the islanders. From that modest stock there are now well over 100,000 moose in Newfoundland. There favorite pastime is to jump in front of moving cars. So it was a little bit scary when the fog rolled in midway through our journey south from St. Anthony back to Gros Morne. While locals and kids on bikes passed me by, I gripped the steering wheel tight and made it back safely to the national park.
Gros Morne is like no park I have ever been. Among the oddities are bays with water so still they look like lakes along with fjords that have been landlocked for tens of thousands of years. Oddest yet are the Tablelands ands which are portions of the earth’s mantle exposed for tourists to climb over. There is no other known place like it.
It is also very much a living museum. Created the same year Corey and I were (1973), it is nestled in a hard-working family fishing world where many of the park interpreters spent summer after summer salting and canning the fish their fathers caught. Within the park boundaries there are several villages that consist of little more than a few scattered houses facing the sea and the equipment needed to bring the fish to market. Many of the people we have met over the past week are fishermen elsewhere on the island who have done this work for generations. Talking with them (especially the older generation) gives one a real appreciation for how hard it is to make a living off the sea. Catching the fish is the easiest part (and is done almost exclusively by the men). You then had to gut them, salt them, wash them, dry them, can them, and then clean the cans for market. One family operation cleared over 100,000 pounds of fish in a single summer. They were paid a cent and a half of pound so $1500 was divided among three families (with a work week lasting every hour of the long Newfie summer day).
The curious thing about Newfoundland is the limited amount of fish ready to buy at market. Fish here is a commodity sent south to Maine or east to Europe. Maybe you keep a little for the home, but there is none to buy at the local grocery shelves. Truth be told there is little else to buy and in the end that might be why we come home.