Heading Up the Road

Polly and my wagon trip into Newfoundland has begun. From here on the northern tip, we proceed slowly south along the coast. Unlike previous trips, where I carried along a solar panel and battery to charge my laptop, my current wagon is rigged more sparsely. More in tune with what’s needed in this foggy, damp climate.

This is cold country. Even with summer around the corner, the air is damp. Moisture permeates my bedding, clothes and food. For heating, boiling tea and clothes drying, instead of my usual Optimus Ranger 8R gasoline stove, I’m using the wood stove I designed and built.

The view from the wagon ceiling. Here, you’re looking down at my stove from above. I’m cooking steel cut oats for breakfast. Visible in the twelve o’clock position is the kerosene lamp I use for lighting. From stone cold, it takes 30 minutes to light the stove and boil a potful of water for tea. Makes you think twice scarfing down your food…

A closer view of the wood stove. Only 12 inches long, the wood I burn in it has to be cut no longer than 10 inches so I can close the door. A load will heat the wagon 2 to 3 hours. Here, I’m cooking moose with rice and soup.

The simplicity extends to record keeping and lighting as well. In lieu of laptop and LED lighting, I’m making do with a paper journal and kerosene lamp.

And I must say, I’m enjoying the forced un-connectedness. With no email to check, I can spend time making audio recordings of some pretty amazing Newfie stories. Folks up here are grand story tellers. Past generations have live a hard life. The stories have been passed on.

Like the 96-year old grandfather of one of the folks I stayed with. He froze to death one bitter cold winter day smoking his pipe. He was in his favorite spot on a remote hill. Rigor mortis set in by the time the rescue party found him. He was all hunched over, frozen solid. Had some pipe tobacco still clenched in his hand. They had to break his arms, legs and back so they could straighten him up and fit him in the coffin. True story.

But you can’t collect those stories if you’re constantly checking your email or posting to the website.

Now get off the internet and get living!

See you up the road a spell.

2012-06-20 11:15:18

96 years old – that’s impressive. I hope you found out what kind of pipe tobacco he used.

butterbean carpenter
2012-07-02 12:58:16

Howdy Bernie,
Glad you and Polly got to Newfoundland, okay..
What do you mean ‘that’s where Polly lives’??
You mooch off of the old man, too, also!! You had better be aware of those ‘Vikings’; they
‘cleaned-out’ every place they landed and took it ‘home’ with’em!! Hope you find some warmer place so Polly doesn’t freeze..DON’T LET HERSEE THE POPCORN IN THE FIELD IN HOT WEATHER!!
Be careful and stay safe!!

Laurie Dempster
2012-06-27 06:22:12

Hi Bernie, my husband and I just heard you on the CBC morning show. What a great story to wake up to ! When you go through the south end of Gros Morne Ntnl Park, it should be lots warmer for poor Polly, and there’s more grass but the hills will give her a good work out for sure. For a nice break for you check out the Kayak Cafe in Norris Point, they have great soup and coffee. Not sure what they’ll find for Polly’s treat but they’re great folks there.
The staff at the Parks visitor centre are very helpful too and with a phone call or two can probably find Polly some free fodder !
Unfortunately for your off line break, Rocky Harbour and Norris Point do have wifi. You can pick it up at the parking lot of the Oceanview Motel in Rocky Hbr btw. It’s another good spot for friendly assistance and a good meal. Or you can get a nice feed of fresh fish at the fish plant, down the end of the main road, anyone will show you the way.
Best of luck out on the road, at your speed at least you don’t have to worry about hitting a moose, or a mouse !!
Regards from Laurie and David Dempster

mule man
2012-07-05 13:24:48

hey its hot down here on the river ,send one of them ice bergs down .i will be watching the river so i can grab it when it comes by


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