Newfoundland: The Place That Will Remain on My Bucket List

After you visit somewhere, you’re supposed to check it off of your bucket list.  However, every once in a while you find somewhere with so much depth and so much to see that you feel that in order to truly experience it you have to spend at least a month there, seeing numerous sights and getting to know the people who call it home.  That’s how I feel about Newfoundland.

To be honest, it’s a place that I knew very little about.  But, everything that I did know said that the place was incredible.  As a result, when the fall foliage was being stubborn (due to the drought and a warm fall), I rearranged what was supposed to be a Maine vacation to a trip to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.  We couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.

Arriving off of the ferry in Newfoundland, we were greeted to some of the island’s famous weather of 50km/hr winds, 4 deg. C temps, and rain squalls.  However, the skies began to clear and the island soon revealed it’s glory.  Autumn color had begun to arrive, turning the tundra like “barrens” red and the boreal forests a mix of bright colors.  By the end of the week, bright blue skies abounded and an “Indian summer” was in full swing, helping to usher in even more brilliant autumn foliage.

Typical scene along the Trans Canada Highway along Western Newfoundland. Fall colors had just begun, turning the tundra-like barrens red.
Typical scene along the Trans Canada Highway through Western Newfoundland. Fall colors had just begun.

To an American who’s never seen the island, the best way to describe it is to cross what Maine was in the 1950s with the scenery (and wilderness) of Alaska.  Between the small fishing villages that dot the coast (and produce incredibly delicious seafood!) and the boreal/sub arctic landscapes, this land is a landscape photographer’s dream.  However, there’s more: Newfoundlanders are a wonderfully friendly people with a distinct culture all their own.  While most are proud Canadians, there is a strong sense of independence here, born out of the island’s isolation and the self sufficiency that it requires.

Take away the deciduous trees, brightly colored buildings, and if someone had told me this was Alaska, I would've believed them
Take away the deciduous trees, brightly colored buildings, and if someone had told me this was Alaska, I would’ve believed them

While we spent 5 days on the “rock”, most of it within the confines of the massive sized Gros Morne National Park, there is so much more to see.  Everyday we were out from sunrise to sunset and only saw a small fraction of the island.  And based upon that fraction, I can only imagine what the rest of the island looks like.  For that reason, Newfoundland will remain on my bucket list.  That and I want to come back and see the island in spring/summer when whales, wildflowers, and icebergs (melting off of glaciers in Greenland) abound!

What American Public Lands Mean to Me

When I think back on many of the best moments of my life, several common denominators can be observed.  One of the most typical of these is the type of places that these occurred.

My family has always seeked out places of natural beauty for our vacations and other recreational pursuits.  I certainly continue this legacy, as I am always heading out to some beautiful place to pursue my latest photographic or hiking pursuit.  Since meeting my wife, we have planned vacations that centered around places like this. Lucky for us, some of the most spectacular scenery to be found on terra firma is right here at home and it’s open to us all.

Whether it was combing the surf battered rocks of Oregon’s coast or craining our necks to see the canopy of a virgin redwood forest, most of these moments occured on American public lands.  We are fortunate that our country was expanded and settled in a time when awareness and respect for the natural environment wasn’t far off in the future.  Even more so that we had visionaries like Gifford Pinchot, Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, Thomas Moran, and countless others influencing/creating national policy towards our wild treasures.

We hear a lot about what has made our country great in terms of our economy and our tenacious defense of liberty.  Our beautiful (and plentiful) public lands are one of the things that sets us apart from other countries.  Achievements like creating the world’s first national park and the Wilderness Act of 1964 have made us a worldwide leader in the preservation of earth’s natural treasures.

Below are some of my favorite memories created on our public lands: