As would be expected, the fresh fish in Newfoundland is soooooo good, and this was no exception.
Fish History Lesson: Cod is the local fare here, and it comes fresh off the boat...but you won't get a whole lot of Cod from here elsewhere. Why? Well in the late half of the 20th century the Cod fishery here was dramatically over-fished and it suffered a massive collapse. So much so that the Canadian government had to ban Cod fishing starting in the 1990s, forcing tens of thousands out of work as the industry imploded. The few processing operations that survived had to pivot to shellfish (snow crab, etc). After 25 years, the fishery is showing good signs of recovery in what is arguably the most significant rebound in fishery management ever. Commercial fishing is still restricted, but is sustainable now. There is plenty of Cod to supply the local establishments and some exports..... and the Royan family of course.
Bellies full, we desperately wanted to take a post-ferry nap, but knew that it was probably better for everyone if we took a jet-lag approach to this day and pushed on through. A visit to The Rooms was just what we needed. These rooms full of interesting and interactive exhibits about Newfoundland came with a creepy security guard that followed April around, repeatedly telling her how much he liked her shirt. Not to be outdone, the gift shop also offered a large selection of canned stuffed animals. Creepy all around.
Every day, every hour, day and night, smoke billowed from the otherwise lifeless trailer. Were they setting an hourly alarm? How could they be so punctual... especially considering the activity? What was happening in there? Were they trying to euthanize a polar bear? We never saw the occupants, but did note that one of their tires was completely off the ground... balanced solely on an upside down tire chock (Marcus Lemonis would not be pleased with the mis-use of such Camping World equipment).
In our semi-private pine forest, Eagle Scout Mark helped the boys build a debris hut, which quickly became the kids’ “fort.” The fort was put through a series of tests (pouring a bottle of water over the branches) to determine if it was “waterproof enough for sleeping.” It was most definitely not waterproof, but was approved by Andrew for sleeping nonetheless.
Up at the crack of dawn, April sent Mark to the campground office with a list of "must-sees" and instruction to "get a map." The super helpful clerk cheerfully highlighted all the hot spots, and Mark piled back into the F350 with map in hand and a smile on his face. April taped the list and map to the dashboard with the determination of a foreign tourist. We were on our way!
First up, Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site. A bit of a drive out of town, we fell speechless as we finally emerged from the kilometers of trees and saw the deep blue sea before us with hundreds of whales splashing about.
Having both endured whale watching boats as children, Mark and April were relieved to finally see whales some thirty years later from the stable serenity of land.
We sat for about half an hour exclaiming "There's another one!" as the whales splashed and blew their spouts into the air. We could hear the screams of passengers hundreds of meters below us on the whale watching ships as they tossed and turned in the rough sees.
We eventually moved on from the whales and cliffs to explore the actual structure at Cape Spear, its Lighthouse. Giddy as a couple of Americans near a foreign lighthouse, April lost her mind in the gift shop and started collecting all things Newfoundland. Andrew, much more reasonable, settled for a knit newsboy cap and coordinating scarf. Totally cute.
Risking trouble and condemning glances in a foreign country, we gave the kids the bread anyway. The ducks ate it anyway, despite the fact that the calories would go straight to their thighs. Our guilt was assuaged by the fact that the families from a nearby picnic were unloading their leftover hamburger buns into the water as well. #takingchances #rebels #quackquack
Lady: "You got dogs in the back! I seen 'em with my own two eyes shagging around back there. You got dogs so you don't park here. Not on my watch."
Mark: "The house made beer... I should probably try that, right?"
Waiter: "Definitely not, it's terrible. Don't get that."
Mark: "Glad I asked! So what is that Iceberg lager I saw a sign for outside? Should I try it?"
Waiter: "Absolutely, everybody loves it! It's made with water from real icebergs, ya know! You have one of those, you're drinking 10,000 years of history, mate! Right there in your glass! Ya know, climate change and what not... ya better get one while ya can! We had a whole mess of icebergs come through this spring... they literally go out on a boat and chip off giant chunks of the things for the beer!"
Mark: "Seriously?! I'm not so sure about the climate change... but taking giant chunks off the bergs probably isn't helping matters! Nevertheless, that sounds fantastically refreshing! I'll take a pint! After a few of those I'll be ready to head back out and bag myself a whale! I know exactly where they are right now!!"
They're not sure... but we're sure that it's not worth the $25 entry fee. It's a man-made pond with glass on one side. Like an aquarium... but not... because it's a Fluvarium. Anyway, if you ever see a Fluvarium, skip it... and be glad they gave it a unique name so that it's easier to avoid in the future :)
Below is the extent of the fish you will see in the wild at the Fluvarium: