This is the beginning of a series of articles offering information that may turn into a book, Easy Walks goes to Newfoundland. We spent a month in our teardrop nuCamp camper (yes, it is very cozy) touring the island and taking in the varied geology, having delightful wild life encounters, picking (and eating!) wild berries and meeting people along the way, both native Newfoundlanders and visitors to the island like ourselves. These articles will not be comprehensive–Newfoundland has so much to offer and we have barely scratched the surface of what the island has to offer. We will have to go back!
In 2018 we flew to Deer Lake in Newfoundland specifically to take in views of Western Brook Pond, a part of the Gros Morne National Park on the western side of the island. This whet our appetite to see more of what the island had to offer, but life and the pandemic delayed our return till 2022.
That first trip offered many outdoor explorations and a few Easy Walks but other than the boat rides we enjoyed, most of our outings were quite challenging for me. Our way of describing Easy Walks (not too many roots or rocks, relatively level, firm footing with something of interest along the way) helped some to understand what I need to be able to safely enjoy the outdoors with limited mobility. Others gave us blank looks, indicating that the rugged Newfoundland landscape is a difficult place to navigate for lots of folks, not just those of us with mobility concerns.
When telling people that we were headed to Newfoundland (or that we had been) I was often asked, “Did you go to St. John’s?” Our preference is for the less crowded spaces, but since we wanted to see puffins, our best option was on the east coast, an hour or so south of St. John’s. The capitol of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s is a modern city with traffic that reflects its denser population than the surrounding areas on the island.
One rainy day day while on the east coast we headed to the Mun Arboretum in the city to see if we could learn more about the plants and geology of the island. We had noticed in our travels the stark differences in vegetation growing in various places, depending on the type of geology that is predominant in any one area. In my book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are, visiting local arboretums is near the top of my list of places you may find Easy Walks when visiting a new area. It turns out that following my own advice was a good thing since we found wide graveled paths throughout the arboretum, including an adjacent network of improved paths that followed the edge of a pond and woodlands.
The arboretum displayed incredible varieties of plantings, including yellow lady slippers, and other plantings that are native to Newfoundland. We recognized vegetation we had seen on our travels and learned the names of some of them. The arboretum was not organized as we had hoped since we were most interested in learning about native plants that thrive in various habitats. Regardless, it was an enjoyable visit. The rain mostly held off and we found our way along the woodland paths where few others ventured on that wet, cooler day.
The arboretum hosts a variety of programs and art installations on the grounds. The day we visited a series of art–painted doors–were placed throughout the arboretum.
We also encountered an art installation that is a nod to the beloved puffins that return to the island every spring and summer. The puffins we found at the arboretum were cooperative in posing for photos, whereas live puffins were much trickier for us to photograph.
Next up will be our encounters with puffins in the wild. Fulfilling a dream of many years, we encountered puffins up close, and hanging out on a island a half mile from where we camped on shore. Till then, happy trails.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.
2 responses to “Easy Walks goes to Newfoundland”
I must save this one as being Canadian I have always wanted to go to this area of Canada. Hoping to do this trip when my husband is retired and we can have the time needed.
Great to hear from you Diane–It does deserve time to get a sense of what is there. Our first trip was two weeks and was not enough!