It is very satisfying when you set a goal and you work hard to achieve it! So Make #100Days Count in 2021!
In July 2019, I achieved something monumental that took me years to complete. My goal was to visit every community in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2007, after spending a year in Europe, I had visited more than 30 countries on that continent. In 2008, I moved to Alberta and realized there was much of Canada I had not seen, so I began exploring. I came home in 2009 and didn’t realize it at the time, but there was a lot to be explored in my own backyard.
If I fast forward to 2016, I finally recognized I was spending a lot of time on the road, often visiting the same larger or neighbouring communities, but I wasn’t getting to see the full context of what is rural Newfoundland and Labrador. I was repeatedly passing by many communities and routes in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, that is, until I started the map.
The large Newfoundland and small Labrador map on the wall tracked my journey with hundreds of push pins. With every pin I pressed, I had gained new knowledge, a unique encounter with a local, took hundreds of photos and furthered the burning desire to see it all. Over the course of more than 1,000 days, I was able to finally push my last pin the map – it was La Poile on the Southwest Coast of the island. I feel forever richer for spending so much time exploring the collective of our rural communities and building upon what it means to Live Rural NL.
My last pin ended in La Poile. It proved to be a challenging community to visit given there are no nightly accommodations and the ferry begins its daily crossing in La Poile and makes one trip back in the evening, requiring an overnight. I finally got a place to rent after the teacher left for the summer and one of which I had to spend two nights because of the ferry schedule. After waiting months to complete this goal, I wouldn’t pass it up for anything.
As the ferry rolled into La Poile, there was an overwhelming flurry of activity. Freight and mail exchanged hands and the movement of people off the ferry to their homes was definitely the highlight of the day. The population of this small town according to the 2016 census was 87, but I believe the population was around 75 in 2019. This isolated community did not offer cellular coverage or wifi and that was quite fine with me. It was nice to have a couple of days to completely disconnect from the outside world.
This outport is dwindling in population and aging, like many rural communities in the province. The lobster fishery though is thriving and the importance of the fishery can not be understated. It is visible all around La Poile, with nets, gear, sheds, boats, wharves and in conversation everywhere.
It was nice to slow down, to fully appreciate my surroundings of the water and the people as a few older residents sat for a chat to talk among one another. I’m sure this was a regular occurrence in their same old meeting place. To walk along the pathways, explore the community, chat with residents, see the school, church and the local store, it all brought a very calming feeling upon me, to know that this place exists and has for centuries. A tight knit community, that will represent for me far more than that final push pin – it will be a place that rejuvenates the soul.
This quest to experience all of live rural Newfoundland and Labrador wasn’t simply about checking a box or pushing a pin to achieve the goal. I’ve continued since my first trek across the province and have returned to all of the Avalon, Eastern, most of the West Coast and many parts of Central and some of Labrador. It’s been quite a journey!
In 2020 all our lives radically changed with the global pandemic of Covid-19. I took the opportunity to re-evaluate and focus more on health and wellness. I began walking daily and then advanced to hiking and snowshoeing. After a decade of public service, I retired from politics at the end of March and with it decided to take the first 100 days for me. It has been the best decision.
Making the next 100 days count was a goal of completing 100 hikes in 100 days. I started on the Baccalieu Trail exploring places like Red Head Cove, Grates Cove, Western Bay, Hants Harbour, Winterton, Harbour Grace and Port de Grave. I ventured to Placentia, St. Mary’s Bay, Ship Harbour and Holyrood. From Harbour Main Lighthouse to finding Gingerbread at Willie’s Walking Trail to Spectable Head at Cupids and may more in between, there was so much to explore. It was amazing to do trails in Gros Morne National Park to Humber Valley, Clarenville, Gooseberry Cove, the Isthmus, the Burin Peninsula, the Great Northern Peninsula, the Irish Loop, the East Coast Trail, the Eastport Peninsula, Paradise, Grand Falls Windsor to Blue Hill Mountain.
On top of Blue Mountain overlooking Conception Harbour was the perfect way to conclude my goal of 100 hikes in 100 days. I felt success as the sun brightly beamed down on me and the wind gently blew. Well, maybe, I’m romanticizing it a little, but I knew at the top I had done it, and could drink up that incredible view. I hiked many hundreds of kilometres to reach this peak and knew this was not the end, but just the beginning of my next big adventure. I couldn’t be more excited!
Although, like most goals you set, you often do not sit idle when you complete them. I continue my hiking adventures and with them see rural Newfoundland and Labrador in ways I’ve never dreamed I could.
I’m looking forward to sharing my stories with you as I continue to make 100 days count in 2021! I also hoped you enjoyed reading this, which is my 100th post on Live Rural NL in 2021. I encourage you all to think about your next 100 days or the next 1000 and do something to make them truly count. Today can be the start of your next big adventure too!
Live Rural NL –
Here’s 95 Hiking & Walking Trails on the Great Northern Peninsula: https://liveruralnl.com/2021/01/20/at-least-80-reasons-to-visit-our-great-northern-peninsula/