Friday, January 9, 2009

Twillingate and Fogo Island: Exploring Newfoundland, Part 5

The view from the lookout near the lighthouse in Twillingate, Newfoundland

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~Mark Twain

The last leg of my time spent in Newfoundland was spent in Twillingate and the surrounding area. We appreciated the different topographies and qualities of the east side of Newfoundland versus the west side. However I had heard that Twillingate was an area not to be missed. 

We departed Gros Morne National Park and drove for about 5 hours to reach Twillingate. This area of Newfoundland is known as the Iceberg Capital Of The World...numerous tours head out during the summer months to spot the icebergs and whales which are both abundant at that time of year. On our way towards our destination we noted with smiles the absence of law enforcement. The roads were narrow and undulating, clean, relatively quiet and boasted miles and miles of undisturbed forests. It brings me great happiness to look at a map of Newfoundland and Labrador and see that the centre of Newfoundland contains virtually no habitation by human beings...apparently it is mostly composed of bogs and forests, realms not very conducive to human settlement.  I have not been to Labrador but from what I hear it is even more remote and undisturbed by development. 

The view from our hosts' backyard in Twillingate

We explored Twillingate for really only one full day but it was enough to get a taste for this gorgeous corner of Newfoundland. When I see those lovely commercials advertising Newfoundland Labrador on television, the ones with the cliffs and clotheslines flapping, that is what Twillingate is to me. We drove up to the lighthouse beyond Crow Head, a truly stunning drive. Near the lighthouse are a web of hiking trails, some very steep, and we meandered along them for a good distance. 

The rather abbreviated sign at one of the small restaurants in Twillingate

The view along the road at Crow's Head on the way up to the lighthouse 

Not surprisingly, I did not get a picture of the lighthouse but preferred to capture the sunset. The quality of light reminded me a bit of Alaska with a similar palette of colours.

While in Wesleyville a new friend had suggested exploring Fogo and/or Change Islands. We researched the two places, knowing that we could not cover both areas in one day. We settled on Fogo Island and preceded to plan our ferry trips to and from this little piece of paradise.

This graffiti that we passed on the way to the ferry was, like all of the other graffiti we saw in Newfoundland, quite tasteful, and even a little artistic!

The small town where the ferry departs from is called Farewell. I adore the names of places in Newfoundland....they range from the charmingly optimistic (Come-By-Chance, Bumble-Bee-Bight, Heart's Content, Heart's Ease, Comfort Cove, Little Paradise) to the melancholic (Famish Gut, Confusion Bay, Misery Point, Empty Basket, Breakheart Point).

When I think of Newfoundland I think of purple-blue water, stalwart rocks, uninterrupted miles of trees and the open expanse of possibility.  We drove on to the little ferry that took us over to Fogo and were met with an area of Newfoundland that was even more unique than we anticipated. There is a strong Irish presence on FogoFogo Island has a faithfully preserved fishing stage on the Dwyer Premises. We visited this piece of history and were greeted by a lovely woman who showed us around and also took us up to Lane House Museum, the oldest house in Tilting. 

At the far side town an Irish cloverleaf stands near a cannon.

The beautifully preserved fishing stage, flakes and wharf of the Dwyer Premises

While touring these historical places I was struck once again with a somber feeling at what a difficult and often short life many Newfoundlanders once lived. Many families had children numbering into the double digits and would have been a challenge to support. They had to subsist on what small amount of money they could earn from their cod fishing. Their lives, sometimes brief, were hopefully full of happiness despite their hardship. 

The beautiful little town of Tilting

The view from the trail just outside of town. The trail continues around the cove after passing by the Old Irish Cemetery which is purportedly the oldest Irish-Catholic cemetery in Newfoundland. 

We approached this interesting little farm near the trail that we were hiking along. I love the supports that ballast the fence. There were sheep who eyed us suspiciously just to the right of the frame here. 

We stopped for a few minutes at Sandy Cove Beach on our way out of Tilting. The colours of the landscape were so vivid, even the lichen seen here on this rock were shouting out their personalities. I loved the blue tinge to the rock compared with the orange of the lichen...a perfect example of the inherent resilience that ALL the inhabitants of this land possess.

Further along the road towards the ferry that would take us to Farewell we spotted this beautiful church, back lit by the sun. Berry-pickers were everywhere, and I ate more jam in two weeks than I have in my whole life. Cloudberry jam was my favorite, followed closely by Partridgeberry jam. All of it was delicious and I happily dined on toast and jam very frequently as Newfoundland has a dearth of vegetarian options! 

The church on the road to the ferry

On our way back to Wesleyville from Twillingate we were told that Pike's Arm, a nearby lookout, was quite stunning and worth a stop. 360 degrees of beauty greeted us at the top of steep flights of stairs. The land seemed to rise effortlessly out of the water like whales breaching and heading back down to the depths below. These strings of little islands formed a beautiful archipelago dotting the horizon. If you are in the area, I highly recommend stopping in Pike's Arm, Twillingate and  Fogo fact it is hard to recommend just one place to experience as they are all very special. If you wish to see a painting that I recently completed about the return trip to Farewell you can read about it here.

For two weeks we saw no moose...not a one. I had been warned numerous times about them, to avoid driving at night, to avoid driving at dusk and of course to avoid driving early in the morning. Nevertheless I had expected to see moose over our two weeks in Newfoundland and we were beginning to wonder if we would ever see one. I kept saying "you wait, we'll see one before we leave". Sure enough, on our way to the airport in Gander, our wish came true.

It was about 8am and we rounded a bend in the road to come upon these beautiful moose the road. They looked at us rather skeptically and I stopped the car lest they feel threatened and become aggressive. In a moment they had disappeared into the woods as quickly and deftly as they had appeared. 

As I have mentioned before, the lack of air pollution lets you see clearly right to the horizon in Newfoundland. Here the light was refracting off of raindrops in the distance, giving them a pink hue. It was a fittingly moving image as one of the last that left an impression on us as we headed home to Ontario.

"To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong."
~Joseph Chilton Pearce

Here is some information on my solo exhibition in November 2009. If you have any questions please contact Abbozzo Gallery. 

You can read about some of the paintings for this exhibition on my other blog, Heather Horton Artwork. 

Newfoundland Portraits
November 5-22nd, 2009
Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario
Opening Reception November 6th, 7-10pm

Have a wonderful day and take good care,


1 comment:

Diogo said...

Dear Heather, I'm from Brazil and I found your blog when I was looking for some pictures of Chris Mc Candless. I saw the movie and read the book, it's fascinating and really touched me. I hope someday visit Fairbanks and see the place where Chris wasted his last days.
I liked yours pictures so much and paitings too.