Published: June 26th 2010June 25th 2010
I am not sure I will ever have a Bed and Breakfast experience quite like what I had at the Tickle Inn at Cape Onion. Beyond the gorgeous setting at the northern extreme of Newfoundland, beyond the comfortable accommodation in a lovingly restored nineteenth-century wooden home, even beyond the amazing food, staying at the Tickle Inn proved an immersion in Newfoundland culture and, more specifically, the Newfoundlander hospitality of Dave Adams.
Dave’s unique approach to managing the B&B became apparent my first evening, when I decided to partake of the optional dinner. All of the guests had chosen to stay; all of us sat at the large wooden table that had been used by the Adam’s family for several generations. First came a delicious soup, carrot laced with Newfoundlander herbs, followed by a medley of local seafood in rich cream over pasta, followed by a decadent blueberry ginger cake and fresh coffee. I knew that I would be electing to eat at the inn the next two evenings! But this was only the tip of the iceberg (see previous entry). We retired to the living room, where Dave then regaled us with stories of his family and the history of
the region - some in the form of song or poetry. I could imagine sitting, on a cold winter night, huddled next to the wood stove listening to him slip into the lilting Newfoundlander cadence he used for the tales. I was utterly entranced. Then, before we all retired to bed, he pulled out the Newfoundlander national-cum-provincial anthem, which he cajoled us into singing along with him. This was the pattern for the rest of my stay: fabulous dinner, Newfoundland stories, and the Newfoundland anthem.
Before leaving this morning, after consuming one of the enormous breakfasts Dave provided (complete with homemade breads, muffins, and jams), he pulled out a camera and took a photo of me. He keeps a photo of every guest that stays, keeping the pictures in albums organized by year - all the way back to 1991. Several of the other guests, perusing this record, located friends who had stayed and recommended this magical inn.
I know I am already planning on returning in the not so distant future.
But all good things must come to end. I set out in the much-changed weather - cold, lashing rain and whipping winds - to
begin my backtracking down the Viking Trail. Somehow I didn’t mind the weather. It seemed fittingly Newfoundlander. And, luckily, the rain abated by the time I reached my destination halfway back down the peninsula: Port au Choix.
As you have probably noticed, I like to mix up my experiences of nature with historical explorations. Port au Choix is on a jut of bleakly beautiful limestone shelf, nearly devoid of trees. But not devoid of life. It is covered in small plants, many of them unique not simply to Newfoundland, but also to this tiny corner of the island. But the town is even more famous for being the site of several important archaeological excavations that revealed a rich store of material from the earliest settlement of the area, some from as far back as 4500 years ago. There’s evidence of the Maritime Archaic Indians, the Groswater and Dorset Paleoeskimos, and the more recent Beothuks. There’s a great little interpretative center out on Point Riche that puts all the archaeology into perspective. The area also became important when Europeans - French Basque and English - began to fish and settle here in the 1700s. (I am sure the Vikings also
made it down this way sometime before these interlopers!)
Although the rain had stopped by the time I made it to Port au Choix, the winds remained. I made a couple of short forays along the paths along the coasts, even enjoying the buffeting. But the powerful gusts made it difficult to travel very far. Several times I was nearly swept off my feet! I retreated to my new B&B for a couple hours, until the weather improved a bit.
When I ventured forth again, the winds were no longer so fierce and the sun had re-emerged. I walked alone through Point Riche, the evening glow setting the Barrens on fire.
There are more photos below