The Buzz from Pistolet Bay

It was a wet, insect infested, sleepless Monday night in Pistolet Bay.  The provincial park sits at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula, famous for L’Anse aux Meadows, the first known Viking Settlement in North America and the town of St. Anthony’s, patron saint of icebergs and whales,.  There are 30 of us here, hiding in tents and boxes, as the mosquitos have taken hold and secured their rights to the land.  In measurement of “how bad is it?” It’s worse than the Everglades of Florida or Grand Island of the UPER in Michigan.  It’s that bad.

Sunday Jiggs Dinner in Rocky Harbor. Root vegetables and salt beef in one pot.

Where Florida mosquitoes were ear piercing and big enough to see, these Viking buggers are like F-22 Raptors, stealthy and fast, attacking right through your socks, jeans, and flannel shirts.  They cannot be deterred, only managed.

Back in the gear from UPER trying to survive.

An unexpected soaking rain fell in the brief 4 hours of darkness that characterize the northern latitudes in June.  Dozens or hundreds or more F-22’s worked their way into tent from the vestibule and clung to the wet interior tent walls.  Eric was in jeopardy of losing his Trango tent card based on the shoddy rigging of the rain fly. The weather app predicted a clear and breezy night.  Sad excuse.  

Trango properly tensioned. Why is it so hard to do it right the first time?

The insect buzzing that pierces your ears in the pitch black compartment breeds paranoia, making sleep an impossibility. We were back to incessant swatting until hiking to the showers at 4:30 a.m., bringing back the horror of the moth invasion at Jacob Lake near the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. The worst were the ones Sheri drank in her morning water cup. Gross! Cough! Spat! Ack! 

Last night was tough. Move on. Noof wisdom.

The everyday conveniences of home are absent in the Great Northern Peninsula.  There are no choices.  You can’t go to one of the seven grocery stores within 3 miles of your house.  Forget about Dunk’n on the way to work, a workout at the gym, a car wash or pickleball.  Here you get what you get and be appreciative of it.  

Buy it here or don’t buy it anywhere.

Grocery stores are in metal barns called co-ops.  Hydrocortisone cream for the burning rash you got from picking hogweed flower for a future art project is in a different metal barn called a Pharmacie.  You get your booze at Liquor Express and if you need anything else, it’s at the Canada Dollar, which are few and far between, also in a metal barn.

The Whole Foods of the Great Northern Penninsula.

The Viking Highway winds along coastal route 430, where the seascape gives way to spruce forest and back to coastline dotted with a colorful array of the exact same houses, randomly placed where the ground allows.  Brightly painted sheds cling to the shore in an attempt to stave off the grey of the foggy coast.  There are no landscaped yards, only what grows wild.  Boats are dragged up on land, next to stacks of lobster cages and cords of cut wood for the stove.  There are no movie theaters or gyms, shopping districts or thrift stores.  

Coastal lunch from our rolling pantry in 30 mph of wind in some forgotten cove.

Touristy towns like Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne have art, laundry and restaurants like Earle’s Mug Up, where we got a traditional Sunday Jiggs dinner for $20.  Every few towns have a tiny library in a metal barn, open after school a few days a week to provide a version of afterschool care for the children, but not on weekends.  Other than that, it’s just you and your neighbors.  Locals wonder why we came.  Tourists race from lighthouse to ancient Inuit excavation.  They provision at the tourist sites and barely slow down as they pass through the tiny Capes where the distinctive lobster boats with the steeply streaked bow can be spotted off-shore plying the protected waters of the cove for some income.

DIY Fish Chowder

On a wild goose chase for cod chowder, the proprietor at the Little Red Wagon food truck in Cape Saunders explained that the fisherman are on lobster duty and she can’t get a fresh catch so it’s all fried chicken right now.  We followed signs to the French Bread Oven Program, where two ladies in long dresses and aprons were preparing the dough for baking, but had nothing to sell.  The few restaurants at Port au Choix were closed, open later for dinner.  

Little Red Fish & Chips Wagon. No fish for you!.

The fisherman are all out fishing shrimp for the shrimp plant or working the dry dock, and with little tourism there is no need to be open. Out of options, we settled on the frozen cod covered in frosted ice on clearance from the Cape Barbe Co-op with little potatoes (that was a surprise) and an onion, plus leftover kale and provisions from our brought-from-home food storage bag.   Embrace improvise.  Pitch your tent correctly.  Be ready for all types of living conditions.  Go to the pharmacie and find some DEET.

Shhhh, Noof’s shed party location later this week.

The Buzz from Pistolet Bay