Days 13 – 19 – Comfort Cove and Newfoundland
We’re actually going to reach Comfort Cove today. If you haven’t heard about it, you’re probably not alone. It is a small village located in one of the “fingers” if you will that jut out from Newfoundland. It lies between Lewis Port and Twillingate.
So we did our morning routine, noting that another rv had found sanctuary in the same lot that we had spent the night in. Then we set out, very excited that we would reach one of our destinations on this trip.
Again, the roads were winding, lots of traffic, rain and construction. This has continued to be the theme throughout our trip. We stopped at a gas station along the way and this one had no green space whatsoever save some clumps of weeds here and there. I was really questioning what Comfort Cove was going to be like. Larry had been there once before, but there was no mention of it being at all dismal. My poor buddies had to find somewhere to do their business, and that was no easy feat.
With wild anticipation we continued on our trek, finally reaching Lewisport, which we understood was only about 30 kms from Comfort Cove. At one point we were unsure whether we had made a correct turn so I called Larry’s sister to check on directions. She assured us that we were indeed headed in the correct direction and so we motored on. A few kms away and I called again to find out where their house was. There was never any mention of an “address”. It should also be noted that as soon as we got near to Comfort Cove, it was like the heavens opened up and the sun was shining brightly!
My sister in law said “just keep coming, you can’t miss it, I’ll watch for you”! This confounded me as I had never lived anywhere where I could actually see someone drive in off the highway! But true to her word, there she was waving in the distance!
What a reunion! I was able to capture it on a picture and was even able to take a small video. This is something I had promised Katie I would do. This is where we would stay for approximately the next week. The kids could settle down hopefully and we could get to know family we hadn’t seen in 20 plus years!
After taking Max and Maggie out for a brief walk to shake off the cobwebs, we settled in to Linda and Roy’s house and had our first of many visits. Their house is large, on a very large lot. They are quite comfortable here. They treated us to a genuine Newfoundland meal of boiled vegetables, salt beef and roasted chicken. It was delicious, we hadn’t had a real home cooked meal in quite awhile.
We visited some more and they invited us to stay in the house as a break from rv living and we accepted. The kids didn’t settle though, it was a night of little sleep.
During the next few days we did a lot of visiting, I call it visiting, but really we were being schooled on the ways of life in Comfort Cove, getting up to date on each others lives.
We spent some time cleaning the rv, getting things back to normal. Larry checked all the inner workings, making sure fluids were topped up. The kids were settling in very nicely and they loved Linda and Roy.
Linda invited me to do some laundry and I was able to do something I hadn’t done for a very long time – I hung some clothes on the line! There was a lot of that going on in the cove.
Comfort Cove is a small place, only a little over 400 people, but this is changing almost daily. The people that move here nowadays are people who come seasonally, young people move out. There is very little for young people to do in the cove and as soon as they are old enough, they leave to find jobs, further education.
Comfort Cove has only one store. I use this word rather loosely, because it does not have a lot in it. It is an old house and when you go in chest freezers line one wall and there are about 3 rows of approximately 4 foot high shelves housing all things from canned goods to toilet paper and other essentials. I peaked in one of the freezers to find it empty and one half so. Roy says the only thing you hear a lot when you go in there is “nope, we don’t have that, we’ll put it on the list”.
The only gas station is not actually in the Cove but about half way between the Cove and the next village. Roy and Linda go to Lewisport quite often to get the things they need and doctor’s appointments, etc.
Linda and Roy know a lot of people and Roy has a lot of family still in the Cove and surrounding area. A cousin of Roy’s “Pete” is an interesting character. He cuts Roy and Linda’s lawn and visits quite often, dropping in and helping himself to coffee and a chat. He is true Newfoundland. His speech is quick, and hard to understand. Roy tries to fill us in on what’s being said.
Apparently “bad” can mean “good”, “Naffle” means a pile or a lot, “See ya mara mornin” is self explanatory, “gert” means great. Just to mention a few.
Larry spent time on the front porch with Roy and Pete and we had some people come by the rv to have a peak.
We spent time exploring the Cove, taking pictures and walking. Roy and Linda took us to Lewisport where we had “Chinese” one evening and he showed us around looking at all the new development, where they had lived for a time, and all the fishing boats. We toured Comfort Cove with them and he showed us the fish plant and a beautiful red sunset.
All in all we had one day of rain while we were there, and it turned out to be just a really nice quiet day.
Roy and Linda also took us on a trek to Twillingate. This is the northern most tip of the “finger”, about 80 km from Comfort Cove. He took us to many of the fishing villages along the way and it seemed they knew everyone! He even stopped a gentleman walking down the highway and turned out he knew him as well. We stopped at a roadside market and bought vegetables, we picked real apples off a tree and ate them!
Once we reached Twillingate, we headed for the lighthouse and the view of the ocean splashing on rocks. I was awestruck! We took many photos and videos. This is what I had hoped to see! Again, the vastness of the ocean amazed me. We spent a few minutes in a gift shop buying fudge and souvenirs. Then we headed back to Twillingate for dinner. This diner was overlooking an inlet that housed tons of fishing boats. Just beautiful!
We toured Twillingate before heading back to the Cove.
While we’re there, Larry spends time with Roy and I spend time with Linda. At one point I asked her what it was like when she first arrived in Newfoundland, Comfort Cove. She tells me that she had a five month old baby at the time and she and Roy had been living in an apartment in Toronto before that. She had running water, a real bathroom. She was used to being able to rinse out her diapers and do laundry. This was more than 50 years ago, as Linda and Roy just celebrated their 50th anniversary.
She says that when she arrived it was muddy and dreary. As she explained this, I had a picture in my mind of that gas station we had passed on our way here. She goes on to say that when she arrived at her home there was no bathroom, only a bucket. She visited with her new in-laws, asked to use their bathroom and couldn’t believe that that is what they had as well. Just a room with a bucket!
I’ve heard it described, that women get “drugged” to Newfoundland. Of course that means dragged, and some leave again. It is very remote and life even now is very different.
Even now, the people in Comfort Cove work very hard doing whatever they need to do to make a living. We always knew Roy to be a fisherman, but we found out that he also did trucking and actually cooked! Linda earned money doing home care and babysitting. A lot of people in the Cove are also on Social Assistance to be able to live. They help each other a lot when someone needs a ride, Roy as well as others will help. We met a lot of really nice people here. They are willing to confide and wear their hearts on their sleeves.
We spend time here watching reruns of “Murder She Wrote” and “Coronation Street”. This is Linda’s only real connection to the outside world.
We’ve learned a lot about this part of our family. We of course knew that Linda and Roy have 3 daughters, many grandchildren. They love them dearly. They all live in B.C.! It may as well be the other side of the world. They live for pictures and telephone calls, and visits when it is possible, which are not very often.
They tried to move off the island once. They came to Calgary where we were living at the time. Roy has family there too. Katie was about 12 at the time. Linda and Roy’s girls had already moved to B.C. The pull of the rock was too strong and after only a few weeks they headed back to the Cove. Newfoundland is so far away and so expensive to get to, this was the first and last time till now that I and Katie had seen them.
Linda is close to 70 now and Roy 75. Linda is a mom through and through, she wears her heart and her mind on her sleeve. She says a lot of what is on her mind. I could tell that she is lonely, living here on the rock with her girls so far away. They even sort of adopted a family, Linda had babysat their children when they were young and now they are 15 and 17. Soon to be heading off as well.
Linda came to Newfoundland as a young bride with a baby and found out that her life would be anything but easy. She longs to move closer to her children. She is very loving and caring, a good cook and home maker. I see that she has a great deal of pride. My heart bleeds for her as I can’t even imagine having this life.
Newfoundland and the ocean run deep in Roy’s veins. His family has lived in Newfoundland for generations. There are things named after his descendants. Even now, he lives across the street from the cemetery that houses his father, mother, brother and baby boy.
He also loves his girls and grandchildren and is very proud of them all, and that they are all doing well.
Roy is an interesting man, he has a wealth of knowledge about Newfoundland and is only happy to share it. He has shown me maps and explained the different parts. When he speaks to you, I get the impression he is truly trying to get to the core of you. He explains the Newfoundland tongue and makes every effort to explain what things mean.
Our final day was spent getting the rv ready, a final real shower and trying not to think about actually leaving the next morning. But as any good thing, they all must come to an end. I think we talked ourselves out. We combed through a myriad of family pictures and made copies. We felt comfortable that we had accomplished what we had set out to do here in Newfoundland.
Larry was a little disappointed he didn’t get to kiss a cod and that Lobster and Crab season were over. I was a bit disappointed that Ice Berg season and Whale season were over. Oh well, perhaps something left for another time.
We spent a final evening together, having a potluck of sorts and Linda made a beautiful Lemon Meringue pie. We all promised to keep in better touch.
We went to bed on our last evening in the Cove. We woke and made our last preparations to leave. At the end, we took the kids and headed to the door for the dreaded goodbyes.
Linda and Roy were awaiting our visit. Yes, there were tears, Linda was the first to cry. Roy had tears in his eyes and Larry was teary eyed as well, although he probably wouldn’t admit it. On the porch Roy said that next time we should fly and we had to agree.
A few more waves, and I love you’s and we were off. It was as we rolled away I had a catch in my throat and tears threatening. These people had reclaimed that place in our hearts. That place that sometimes is set aside when distance and time get in the way.
The trip back to Port aux Basques was fairly uneventful. We stopped at the same Heritage museum we had stayed at on the way there. Two other rigs joined us this time. There would be little sleep though. Max and Maggie were again sick.