Quirpon Newfoundland

With our work at Gros Morne National Park finished…we were ready to head on to Quirpon NL which is way, way on the far northern tip of Newfoundland…all the way up to 51.5 degrees North Latitude…the northern limit of our travels for this season…so it’s pretty much all southward from here I guess.

Neil had dumped our waste tanks and filled our fresh water tank the afternoon before…we were warned at Cow Head that the water farther north was less than fully satisfactory…so we brought on a full 100 gallons before we left Seabreeze which had really good water…and decided to just live on internal supplies and our water pump for the 4 nights at Quirpon and the one night in Deer Lake as we head south back to the TCH (Trans Canada Highway) and east across the island to Eastport and then Saint John’s. With the relative scarcity…or so we had been told but there is actually plenty here but at a higher price…of diesel fuel…we had filled up halfway through our last travel day to Cow Head and this will give us enough to easily get to Quirpon and back down to the TCH intersection at Deer Lake…there’s an Irving there which is the Canuck equivalent of Pilot or Flying J. The only thing we really should have done in addition was get more propane…but when Neil checked we still had a full 40 pound cylinder and the other one was reading well over half…but when he looked on arrival in Quirpon the partially used one is down to about 1/4…but then we used a bit in Cow Head on a couple of cold mornings. No worries though…with our limited use what we have will be fine and if we are running short we’ll toss a cylinder in Little Red when we head down to St. Anthony on Tuesday afternoon for the Viking Dinner Theater.

Anyway…we were up and getting ready to get on the road early as we anticipated a slower than normal average speed due to roads…and we were definitely right although it wasn’t just the roads. As you get farther north in Newfoundland…the roads get even more Alaska like…as I discussed before they have issues with roads, snow, and snow plows and have just accepted a lower standard than we’re used to in the lower 48. They patch the potholes as best as they can…and put up these little warning signs with a black bar with a sinusoidal up and down top part indicating the rough patch ahead…basically the sign means “Rough Road…Tough Nuggies”.

That wasn’t really the only problem though…the weather didn’t cooperate either. It was foggy enough that we had to slow well below the speed limit of 90 kph (56 mph) several times and it was cold, rainy, and windy all day…which made driving in it a real joy. There were no rest stops…so whenever we had to pee we just pulled off into whatever wide spot we found and ran inside the rig. Then there was the short stop for an emergency repair on one of our slide seals…although Neil actually accomplished a complete proper repair instead of a temporary fix. RV slide seals have two parts…a set of wiper thingies sort of like wide windshield wiper blades that rubs along the edge of the slide as it goes in and out and seals the water with a secondary seal on top of it facing outwards so that when the slide seats fully in it contacts the secondary seal and keeps it weather tight. The wiper part is glued/screwed to the wall and the secondary seal slides into a track attached to the wiper part…with just a little plastic catch to keep it from sliding down and off. Well…the catch wore out and the secondary seal slide down…luckily Connie saw it and we pulled over to fix it. The fix is simple…just screw a small sheet metal screw through the secondary seal into the fiberglass wall to hold it permanently in place…we were only stopped for 10 minutes while he fixed it and while it was still windy on the side of the road at least it wasn’t raining at the time.

The last 30 miles or so the weather cleared up and it was just cloudy although it remained cold and windy…and we arrived on schedule pretty much at Viking RV Park in Quirpon…it’s right down the road from l’Anse aux Meadows which is a National Historic Site in Canada…it’s the location of the first European settlement in the New World around 1000AD by the Vikings. We quickly got checked in and backed into site 15…I’ll get Neil to grab a photo for ya when he’s next outside…but it’s pretty much like an Alaskan or Yukon campground…gravel sites pretty close together. Water and power are provided to the site but no sewer…again we’ll just use our tank for the 4 nights we are here are and visit the dump station on the way out.

We had leftover spaghetti bolognese sauce that we were originally going to eat…but instead headed up to Skipper Hot’s Tavern just a couple of klicks up the road…that’s Army speak for kilometers. We had a couple pints each of Rickard’s Red Ale…mighty tasty…along with a burger for Neil (that they actually left slightly underdone by Canuck standards…it was gray all the way through instead of pink but at least it still had some juices in it…Connie had home made chicken strips. We ran into the same Canuck couple MJ and her husband that Neil had met walking along the dikes at the campground in Hopewell NB and chatted with them for an hour or so…and fellow NHOGers the Garafolos are also here in Viking RV Park.

So…it turns out that June and July in northern Newfoundland is what the Newfies call Iceberg Season…we had really not thought about them being here until the past couple of days and it turns out that there are a goodly number of them in the area. Not surprising really…when you look at the map immediately north and west of Newfoundland is Labrador and immediately east of there is Greenland with the Davis Strait separating Greenland from Labrador…the exit from the strait into the North Atlantic is only about 450 miles north of Quirpon. Since something over half of all the icebergs in the world come from the glaciers on the western side of Greenland and since the current and prevailing winds in the Davis Strait are north to south…guess which way the icebergs go. Despite the distance though…it typically takes 2 full years for a ‘berg to make it’s way from the western side of Greenland down to Newfoundland and thence into the Atlantic…they’re big, heavy, and don’t have much windage so they really don’t move very quickly at all.

With that in mind…we headed out this morning for a drive down to St. Anthony…that’s another strange thing about NL…St. Anthony is usually referred to with the St instead of Saint…weird…anyways we headed out as the website Connie checked…icebergfinder.com…who knew…said that there were a couple down there in some of the bays. First up was Mass at the church down there…well actually it was really a prayer service since no priest was available. Their local parish priest is on vacation so the fill in guy only gets there every other week for a full Mass. In the alternate weeks…one of the parishioners does a service which looks and sounds strangely like an actual Mass would be…except he skips the parts that only a priest can do like the Consecration of the bread and wine and the blessing at the end…lay people can’t do that part. What they do is make sure that when the actual priest is here he Consecrates enough bread to cover the service the following weekend. Never been to a Mass like that before…but it works. After that…we stopped by Tim Horton’s (Canuck Starbucks but really more like a Dunkin Donuts in atmosphere) for a couple of sandwiches for lunch and a couple of pastries for breakfast tomorrow…maple pecan danish…yum.

Then it was off to Fisherman’s Point for our first iceberg sightings…and man was the wind cold whipping off of the North Atlantic…brrrr.

A couple of views from Fisherman’s Point.

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And the iceberg right off the point. All of the icebergs in this post are no longer drifting…they’ve run aground. They generally are drifting south in the Davis Strait and then southeast into the open ocean…but some of them get caught up by wind or tide and shoved into the bays and inlets along the coast where they run around and stay there until they melt enough so that the draft is less then they drift a little farther into the bay…they never get out as that would be upwind and up current…and eventually they just melt away…or get so rotten with melt that they collapse like the edge of a glacier does when the iceberg originally calves from it.

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Slightly wider shot of the same ‘berg for scale…that’s about a 16 or 18 foot boat at the far left side of the frame…so this one is probably 200 or 250 feet wide and 60 or 70 feet tall. Don’t forget…these are just really big ice cubes so most of the mass…about 90%…is underwater and the maximum draft of an iceberg is about 5 to 10 times it’s height above the water…no wonder they run aground.

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Connie got a shot of the Fox Point Light with it’s associated loud sumbich fog horn…seems they have a lot of those up here. We saw several fog banks drift across the points and bays during our day so it can go from this clear blue sky to pea soup fog in 5 minutes then back to bright blue sky 15 minutes later after the bank passes.

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A smaller iceberg…this is probably what would be classified as a bergy bit based on it’s size…ti’s off to the right from the big one above and in a smaller cove next to the point. It’s only about 40 or so feet wide and maybe 15 tall…although you can see some of the light green areas that are shallowly submerged portions of the berg.

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Neil got another shot of the Fox Point Light with the big one in the background…it’s actually only about 100 or 120 yards from the shore.

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The big one again…but the sun came out and highlighted some of the areas…take note of the bright spot at the center of the bottom edge…it’s in another photo later.

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Turning around 180 degrees from the above shot…this is the reconstructed Viking Longhouse where we’ll be attending the Viking Dinner Theater on Tuesday.

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This is the bright spot from a couple photos back…zoomed in. We originally thought it was a hole melted through but it’s actually just a piece sticking out from the side and illuminated as it comes out from the shadow of the top part. Icebergs actually melt from the bottom rather than the top…the heat transfer ice to water is much greater than ice to air so throughout it’s life a berg keeps flipping over as the bottom melts and it becomes top heavy. I’ve seen videos on youtube and such that show the flip and it’s a pretty quick thing…one minute this huge chunk of ice is sitting there and in the next 15 seconds it rolls completely inverted.

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Next we headed another 10 or 12 klicks south to Goose Cove where there was an even larger iceberg. On the way out to the point…we passed Redneck Santa’s abandoned sleigh…

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The entrance to the harbor at Goose Cove…the marker marks the rocks on the near side of the inlet with the ocean out of frame to the left and the harbor to the right.

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The largest one we saw today…the pillars are about 120 feet high by our estimation and it’s over 100 yards wide. It used to be much larger but the center section between the two remaining pillars has completely melted except for the shallow submerged greenish section you can see in-between the pillars.

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Neil was able to zoom in a little more on both the whole thing and each of the pillars. Nice detail in the surface…definitely too big to fit in our cocktail glasses.

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Bill…we found you a plane. This is a WW-II era US Navy amphibious patrol plane known as a PB-Y Catalina. This one was re-purposed by the Canuck Forest Service into an aerial tanker for fighting forest fires…it’s here as a memorial to the crew of another PB-Y that crashed and killed the crew during fire fighting operations. In flight…it would come down like it was going to land on the water and open a scoop on the front of the boat portion…then skim right over the surface and scoop up a plane load of water in 10 or 15 seconds.

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With that our day was mostly done…so we headed back for the 40 or so klick trip back to Quirpon. Passed Triple Falls along the way…literally right alongside the highway and Neil took these from the shoulder.

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Another small berg we passed just before reaching Quirpon again…this one is only about 10 or 12 feet high and 50 or so wide.

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Everybody heats their homes with wood up here…this is the wood pile at one person’s house…and it was not the largest one we say today…and this is what’s leftover from last winter’s pile unless he’s already started working on next winter’s pile. There are numerous piles of firewood out along the sides of the highway that folks are in the middle of cutting…so more likely this is starting to build up for next winter. 

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About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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