Last August, we hitchhiked from Halifax all the way to St. John’s, Newfoundland. It took a bit over 2 weeks time and about 28 rides to get there. We caught many lucky breaks and had the pleasure (and risk) of voyaging alongside old school fishermen, speed-loving loggers, huge-hearted surveyors, proud truckers, terrifying linesmen, generous tour guides, worried parents, Native activists and two of the most hilarious middle-aged ladies I’ve ever met in my goddamned life.
My good friend Doug was working at the French Shore Interpretation Centre this summer and visiting him was my original impetus for the trip. After crossing on the ferry, we weren’t sure if we would be able to make it to such a tiny, far-off tip of the world without one of us being in the driver’s seat. Amazingly, despite our initial four hour stuttering start of a roadside wait, we were able to get from Port-Aux-Basques to Conche on our first day on the Rock. Here’s Doug looking dapper in front of his workplace.
Inside they have a bad-ass 220 ft. embroidered tapestry illustrating the history of Newfoundland’s French Shore. It took almost 5 years for the women to create and it was unveiled in 2010. Such a prime example of how a well-executed art project can aid in an isolated town’s vitality; employing able-fingered women and boosting tourism, all the while empowering the residents to reflect on, and take pride in, their unique history.
Dolphins, icebergs and fern gullies are aplenty in Conche. You don’t even have to try to find them. We ended up staying for four days, one of which was spent entirely in bed recovering from a night at the “club”, essentially a good ol’ shack on the water. The locals fed us so much Screech and just as many high-fives that we were unable to find our way home in a town with only two roads; one high and one low. Unaware of how far we walked, we ended up stumbling into the next community, pushing through patches of dewy meadow, tripping onto the rocky shoreline, as the fishermen headed out to sea at dawn.
Newfoundland is one of those places where you start planning your next trip before your first is through. I can’t be sure that our next adventure to the Rock will be as chock-a-block with coincidence and sunny days, but I am convinced that there’s a hell of a lot more where that came from.