If you’ve ever been to a high school party, or any gathering for that matter, you know that nobody shows up early. If it starts at 7, do not be there at 7! You show up early, and you’ll find yourself either put to work making the guacamole and doling out snack mix into multicolored bowls, or sitting in a corner awkwardly staring at your shoes and wondering how many more trips to the bathroom you can make before your hosts begin to question the integrity of your digestive tract. Killing time at a party before the party, is no party.
So you take your time: spend an extra thirty minutes doing your hair, beat the next level of some video game, stop by five coffee shops along the way; whatever you’ve got to do to drag your feet and avoid the pre-party prep. In any large social situation, being fashionably late is key.
This, at least, was our approach when we decided to finally make the trek out to the east coast of Canada. Our destination in particular was Newfoundland, but we also intended on seeing every province along the way…places where, up until a few weeks ago, were as mysterious as the Great White Beyond of previous posts. I always knew I wanted to go; I love seafood to a fanatical degree, the idea of tiny little fishing villages along the coast makes me want to squeal with delight, and I have an (apparently) unhealthy preoccupation with laundry hanging on a line and blowing in the breeze. It’s just cleanliness and color everywhere!
Needless to say, going East wasn’t something I wanted to do, it was something I absolutely needed to do. And this year, finally, it happened. And because nobody wants to be that guy preparing the guacamole, we decided to skip the regular tourist season and go in the fall, at the end of September. Fashionably late. Because that’s how we roll.
And apparently we’re the only weirdos who roll like that.
A few years ago, Newfoundland stepped up their tourism initiatives and began running a really incredible advertising campaign. The commercials, which I believe have been running ever since, always looked a little something like this:
Don’t you want to go now? It’s Incredible, it’s inspiring, and [what they won’t tell you], it’s only applicable for about 3 months of the year. We learned it soon after arriving: Newfoundland literally closes on September 30. Campgrounds, trails, restaurants, shops…if you’re planning on visiting October 1, be prepared to drive for quite a-ways before finding an “OPEN” sign, another out-of-towner, or in some areas, another person in general. And of course at every turn you’ll meet with local reactions like, “you’re going where now?” and “do you even know what time of year it is?” The tourists are gone, the sunshine is gone, the icebergs are loooooong gone, and the major events of the season are largely over and done with. Come to think of it, nobody really understood what we were doing there.
So when we finally arrived and I first realized that my dream of seeing “Anchors Aweigh” live at a local pub was shattered, my heart sank right through my rubber boots and into the mud. I may have even cried a little…ok, a lot. It was a tragic time, and I’m a bit dramatic. But then I picked myself up, dried my eyes, and actually took a good look at where I was. And what I found absolutely blew my mind. Yes, the cultural activities and touristy stuff is fantastic here, definitely offering unique experiences and making forever memories. But the truth is, it truly doesn’t matter what time of year you visit. Sure, we saw an eerie amount of abandoned (possibly haunted) campgrounds and darkened storefronts as we drove along the western shore. Sure, we froze our little tooshies off trying to make breakfast in the backcountry in Gros Morne after a night of snow. Sure, the only seafood I tried was a fish and chips meal that I’m fairly certain came pre-frozen. The point is, in the end, none of that really mattered. In fact, it made for some incredible and all-together weird experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
It turns out this trip wasn’t about having the quintessential East Coast adventure, as much as I thought I wanted it to be. Instead, it became about seeing the wild East raw, unpolished, and as it truly exists for the vast majority of the year. The weather is harsh, unpredictable and unforgiving; the people are some of the warmest I’ve met and speak a variety of languages, although apparently it’s all English; and every day the wind will beat into your ears with such wanton abandon that for a time you’ll forget that the air could be still.
It is magnificent, it is unexpected, and it is larger than life.
And even at this time of year, thank goodness, it is chock-full of laundry.