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Grand Bruit Newfoundland

vaneramos posted today a link to his 100 Words travelogue about Canada which mentioned that he'd never been to Newfoundland. This reminded me of our 1974 trip to Newfoundland.

Curiously I googled Grand Bruit which was one of the places we'd visited and saw that it had been closed this summer - the residents were paid $90K to move out - all 31 of them. Grand Bruit was only reachable by ferry. There was a short road in town and a couple of people had cars.

For that trip we flew to North Sydney NS, took a ferry to Port aux Basques and stayed the night in a motel. At the small restaurant where we had dinner there was one waitress and it seemed that she served each table one at a time so we waited forever for a menu and then for the food. Also she walked very slowly and there was a big counter to navigate around between the kitchen area and the tables and it seemed that she carried only one dish at a time. The people in the next room had a huge fight in the middle of the night and it sounded like they were throwing furniture at each other. The next morning we had breakfast in the same restaurant and it was quick to our surprise. We also hiked around in the muskeg which was a soggy mess that never changed even when we climbed the hill.

When we went to the ferry dock I tried to buy tickets to Grand Bruit (Big Noise since there is a waterfall in the middle of town) pronouncing it in a mediocre french accent - the clerk had no idea what I was talking about. Finally I discovered it was called Grand Brit. This boat was called the MV Marine Sprinter.

When we got there we found a small town with maybe 100 residents. We planned on camping out but someone who had seen us on the ferry invited us to stay at his house. There were no restaurants there, but we eventually found a little store. People there tended to talk with their mouths closed among other things so it was hard to understand what they said. The next day we went to the Ferry Dock to catch the Sprinter to Burgeo and pickup the MV Hopedale for the next day (we had a reservation and a cabin on it) to continue our trip. No boat came - apparently there was a storm. That night we camped out in the Ferry dock shed. The next day the Hopedale came and we got on it.

The following day we were supposed to catch another boat but the schedules didn't mesh properly so we took a mad taxi ride that included a flat tire to get to the ferry that was going to St Pierre which we made. St Pierre and Miquelon are a department of France. We stayed in St Pierre for several days at a nice B&B occupied by french speaking quebecois tourists. We we supposed to go to Michelon for the day by plane but it wasn't flying. We did rent mopeds.

We returned to Newfoundland and rented a car to go to St John's. I remember driving on the most awful road with huge ruts to get to Cape Spear, the easternmost point in Canada. We also spend a night in Terra Nova National Park. I've never seen so many stars in my life. That night there was a very noisy drunken party nearby.

Newfoundland cuisine wasn't very good - we never tried Cod cheeks. There were lots of things with blueberries. Once when driving we encountered a bunch of kids selling wild blueberries and when we stopped they all thrust their containers in our car shouting blueberries, blueberries trying to get us to buy theirs. If we'd bought one from each kid we'd have had a huge amount of them; we bought a jar.

This was our first big trip together and we survived it in spite of the various weirdnesses. I think I have some photos somewhere in my carton of slides - a project to deal with someday.
I read that the Hopedale caught fire and sank.
vessel. the esses there, the excess breath
whistled through lips; the sinuous promise
of floss, press, caress, kiss. S, the sound
and shapelessness of misfired fireworks,
of indecisive rivers. vessel, possibly
a shell, envelope, bottle, fist; anything that simultaneously
holds and is held.

ferry insinuates
an eternal to and fro, like a misaddressed letter
lost in the mail. from north sydney to port aux basques
to north sydney, to port aux basques. the mv caribou,
the mv joseph and clara smallwood. merchant vessel. why do i think
of mussel, kestral, sessile, fossil? of fissile, of driftwood or bone
split along the grain, of ventricle, vascular, of plumes of steam
from smokestacks as thick as a butcher's wrist,
smokestacks the colour of shallowed veins. whistle, the shrill
of a kettle threatening hell, visceral. yesterday
i dropped that glass with the hairline crack, it shattered i swear
before it ever hit the floor. the mv hopedale, twenty-three years ago,
guttered on fire for thirty-six hours before going under. the records say,
sank at berth. seven weeks later she rose again
to be properly scuttled, twelve miles south. glass slivers easily
into invisibility; sweeping up
is something you shouldn't be careless about. SOS
because it was easy to morse, not because
it meant anything.

Mathew Hollett
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It's an invariable rule that if two or more people experience the same event, their memories of it will differ, at least in some small details.

There was a short road in town and a couple of people had cars.

I do not recall this as being the case. I think John is remembering reading what Farley Mowat wrote about Burgeo.

the clerk had no idea what I was talking about.

My memory has him saying "Grand what? Grand Brit?"

This was our first big trip together and we survived it

Not only did we survive it, but so did our relationship. I think that's when we figured that the whole thing was actually going to work.

It was an amazing trip. I think I might like to visit Newfoundland again sometime, although there are a few things ahead of it in the queue.

Thanks for a taste of The Rock! Actually it's a wonder you remember so much. If I don't write stuff like this down within a short period of time, all I remember is images.

On another note, Happy Birthday! :)

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