N.L. gets a summer — who knew?
TRINITY, N.L. — It is said that July and August in Newfoundland and Labrador are so glorious because it has to make you forget about last winter.
Sitting on the wharf looking out at the still waters of Trinity Harbour, it does seem that this summer could be endless.
Newfoundland and Labrador is having one of the best summers it has seen in recent memory. Or maybe it seems that way after the weather misery inflicted on the island last year with fog, rain and cold temperatures that seemed to never end.
We are still talking about the 28 straight days of fog last June. So if you ever thought about a Newfoundland and Labrador vacation, now is the time.
The parade of icebergs is all but over and you have missed the jazz festival and Sound Symposium, but the whales are putting on a great song-and-dance show, and summer weekends seem like every man and his Newfoundland dog has a festival for one thing or another.
The big events for “townies” (denizens of St. John’s) are the Royal St. John’s Regatta held on the first Wednesday in August and the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival the following weekend at Bannerman Park in the centre of the city.
These are the major events that predate the many newly minted, more-tourism-driven events.
On the western coast, the Writers at Woody Point literary festival (Aug. 21 to 26) has grown into one of the most delightful events of the summer for bookish types. This year, you can catch the likes of Alan Doyle, Lisa Moore and Michael Ondaatje.
On the eastern coast, the area around Trinity has become tourism central with its preserved historic homes and buildings, and anchor attraction Rising Tide Theatre’s Summer in The Bight series.
In just about every town and village you will find salmon, blueberry, lobster and other food-related festivals and live music or theatre, but the real treats are the more traditional garden parties that some of the smaller communities are beginning to resurrect.
Local crafts and baked goods, teas, cold plates and games of chance will show you a summer event straight out of the 1960s.
If you want to take the plunge on a great adventure, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Newfoundland and Labrador is a big place and people have limited time. Most mainlanders grossly underestimate the size of the place and the travel times required.
How many times do I hear visitors say that are coming for a week and want to see St. John’s, Gros Morne and L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. Don’t even consider this if you are travelling by car. St. John’s to St. Anthony is an 11-hour drive. If you get off the Marine Atlantic ferry at Port aux Basques bound for St. John’s, be prepared for a nine-hour, 800-kilometre drive.
All the tourist destinations are great and fun, but getting off the beaten trail and going slow is always the best way to experience a new place and provide a memorable adventure.
The true Newfoundland and Labrador is found in the small coastal villages at the end of the road.
If you want to experience nearly deserted white-sand beaches, then make your way to Burgeo on the island’s southwestern coast or Musgrave Harbour on the northeastern coast. There are few places in the world where you can walk a beach like these in near solitude.
For you hiker types, the 540-kilometre East Coast Trail along the most eastern edge of the North American continent is not to be missed.
It is summer, so get out there and enjoy it before you-know-what returns.
Greg Locke is The Chronicle Herald’s correspondent in Newfoundland and Labrador.