Monday, July 11, 2016

Day 8 Codroy Valley

Just when you think you’re done with the best of it, along come Rose Blanche! Our friend Charlie, originally from Port aux Basques, sighed happily when I mentioned it was one of our destinations. Now I understand why!

The forecast for today predicted a 99% chance of rain. Since there was still a 1% chance that it wouldn’t, we went with that and headed down along the south coast to Rose Blanche. Great choice! I love it when God sends direct messages that you’ve made the right call!

The road along the southern tip of the west coast winds through a bog and present a beautiful, desolate landscape. At times the road disappears into the bog and the rise on all sides can have you believe that you have been dropped into a bowl in the earth – just you, no other sign or sound of life apparent. Other times along the way the road rises so that you are looking out to the vastness of ocean and the power of the sea is a constant reminder of just how insignificant you are in the great scheme of things! Now that sounds all rather cold and depressing. In fact it isn’t at all. There is an incredible sense of tranquility and peace that all is right with the world. No matter what I thought about today, I just couldn’t drum up a feeling of worry or concern!

Although the clouds continued to threaten, deciding that the worst that could happen is we got wet, we stopped when a small space at the side of the road advertised the Barachois Falls Trail. The stone path and boardwalk led directly through a bog to a beautiful waterfall. To be honest, the walk through the bog really was the highlight. Not that the waterfall wasn’t pretty, but the bog was incredibly beautiful. Leaving the parking lot we headed directly downhill so very quickly a sense of isolation prevailed. We couldn’t hear or see another sign of human existence but the bog was overwhelming in presentation of life. There were carpets of wildflowers – orchids, Labrador tea, blueberries, bakeapples, partridgeberries and pitcher plants, the provincial flower. There were mosses of all kinds and collections of water in low spots that were home to little noisy birds, frogs, water lilies and water striders. The most spectacular hike that just appeared without fanfare!

As we were sitting at the end of the trail, by the falls, four people came over the rise to join us. They were two couples about our age, one from Albany, NY and one from Chicago IL. They had been at a family wedding in Halifax and because they had never been to Newfoundland decided to rent a car and come over for a week. They knew little about the island but had tons of questions, so we sat at the falls and I told them what I knew about the plants around us, things worth seeing on the island and about life in general in Newfoundland. They really seemed to appreciate it and it really was fun to brag about home to a captive audience!

Continuing on our way we came to the pretty little village of Rose Blanche. A perfect example of Newfoundlanders clinging to rock at the oceans edge. We began our visit at the stone lighthouse that was built in 1871. The lighthouse was in operation until the 1940s. After it was abandoned, it fell to ruins with only the main stairway left to support the light. With help from the province, local volunteers collected and cleaned the fallen stone, recovering 90% of the original building. The lighthouse and a path along the sea have been lovingly restored and locals offer visitors a glimpse of days gone by. This visit was particularly interesting for me. My current summer read is The Light Between Oceans, a story about a lighthouse and its keeper in the early 1900s! Certainly helped both the visit and my book take on greater meaning!

By the time we had finished exploring the countless picture opportunities that Boss Photographic will show off in the coming days, it was time for lunch. We had seen a sign for a Tea Room on our way out to the lighthouse so we set out to find it. The road down through the town was nothing more than a single lane path between houses. With the windows open you could easily reach out and touch a house on either side of the truck as you passed! With David muttering about the places I bring him, we found the Madolyn’s Tea Room and Studio – and what a find! On the other side of a veranda from the RoseSea Bed and Breakfast, we weren’t even certain it was open to the general public and were even less certain when we opened what looked like a main door. We were assailed by heavenly smells but realized we had walked into a kitchen where two women were busily cooking. We apologized and began to back out when we were welcomed inside. We explained that we had been looking for a place for lunch and we were invited to make ourselves at home! The next hour and a half was spent in delicious delight as we enjoyed a delicious lunch, learned the story of the Tea Room and got to know Lynne and Lorna!

Lynne Sawford is a retired principal from Renfrew County in Ontario. She grew up an army brat with a devotion to Newfoundland. Apparently during the war her dad was on his way home to his family in Halifax for Christmas, when nasty weather found them stranded in a Newfoundland outport. Despite having arrived unannounced they were treated to a Christmas dinner and each of the men received a  pair of hand knit wool socks as a Christmas gift. When the weather cleared and her dad finally arrived home safely, with tales of his Christmas in Newfoundland, Lynne says she was taught to never pass up an opportunity to do a kindness for a Newfoundlander. She says it was a lesson she had been reminded of throughout her life. When her dad retired from the military he began a business in Waterloo, ON, and would only hire Newfoundlanders! When she and her husband had the opportunity to visit Newfoundland, they fell in love with it. The missed the ferry home and stayed for the entire summer, returning year after year! A few years ago, when Lynne was 70 and retired, her mom died leaving her some money. She bought property and an old garage and general store in Rose Blanche and set about to transform it into a B&B, Tea Room (she is a Cordon Blue chef) and artist studio (another of her passions). At the time her friends all thought her ‘mad’ to launch into such a venture in her 70s! She says their heckling led her to calling in Madolyn’s (mad ol’ Lynne’s) Tea Room!

She hired a local woman, Lorna, to help her about a year ago. They both claim it’s a match made in heaven. We learned all this while Lorna moved around the kitchen barefoot cooking up the most delicious fishcakes and Lynne served us, showed off her paintings with pride and occasionally sat with us at the kitchen table for the most interesting parts of the story. David said he felt like he had dropped by someone’s house for lunch! Along with the fishcakes we scoffed delicious cod chowder with fresh homemade buns, and finished off with butter tarts, bang belly and a fine pot of tea! Oh the complete joy of finds like this! It scarcely mattered that the rain had begun to pour!

Heading back we had hoped to stop in Harbour Le Cou and Isle aux Morts but now the rain was steady so a drive through, to lament the fact that we don’t get to explore more fully, is all we got!

Tonight as we sit and listen to the rain on the trailer roof and file back through all the pictures that will help keep the memory of this wonderful day alive for us, we have a dilemma.  Do we head off in a different direction tomorrow or do we go back to continue with the things on the south shore that we missed?? Oh the problems that vacation can bring!
Now if you had a spot like this to put your gazebo, why wouldn't you put it there?

Columbines growing wild in the ditch

Pitcher Plant - Newfoundland Provincial Flower (this shot is David's)

So much grows in the bog...big, lush trees, not on the list!

The boardwalk through the bog!

Barachois Falls

Rose Blanche

Sometimes sitting and appreciating is all that's required

Charming Rose Blanche lighthouse - David's pictures are so much better

From out on the lighthouse point, looking back toward town

It was a bit windy!

Quite the main road

Waiting for lunch in Madolyn's Tea Room, while barefoot Lorna fries the fishcakes

Yummy fishcakes

Yummy chowder


  1. Loved this story. I've spent some time in Rose Blanche and love the atmosphere and the friendliness of Lynn and Lorna. Your story described things beautifully. How I'd love to return to Newfoundland and Rose Blanche. thanks for sharing your experiences.

  2. Loved this story. I've spent some time in Rose Blanche and love the atmosphere and the friendliness of Lynn and Lorna. Your story described things beautifully. How I'd love to return to Newfoundland and Rose Blanche. thanks for sharing your experiences.