I’m up early from my boondocking spot at Cape Spear, because I want to be among the first to see the sun rise at 5:35am on the furthest eastern point on the continent. But long before my alarm beeps to life, I wake to the long and low moan of the fog horn, warning of low visibility. It’s like trying to see the sunrise with a white blanket over my head. Oh, well, my consolation prize was getting to spend the night beneath another lighthouse.
I drive south along the coastal road toward Ferryland. I’ve read several articles recommending “Lighthouse Picnics,” a company run by a couple of female entrepreneurs, one whose great grandfather was once the lighthouse keeper, while her grandmother was born in the Ferryland Lighthouse residence. Once the light was automated in the 70’s, the light keeper’s residence was vacated, and began falling into disrepair. So they leased the abandoned building from the community of Ferryland, built a kitchen inside, and began offering picnics, complete with basket and blanket.
This sounds like a novelty I’d like to try, because just about anything with “lighthouse” in the title is my cuppa tea. I phone in advance to attempt a reservation, but they are sold out through the rest of August and all of September. Alrighty then!
As I stop in Ferryland to have a look around, it’s an absolutely gorgeous, picture perfect day…one of the best I’ve experienced in Newfoundland. The fog has lifted, and the real rarity of the day…no wind. The temperature is warm enough for shorts with a light sea breeze blowing, just enough to keep the flies away. The Newfies have a slang saying when the sun is shining and it’s a warm day, “The sun be splittin’ the rocks!”
Even though the picnics are all reserved, I decide to make the 4km/2.5 mile RT walk out to the lighthouse. It’s only accessible by footpath down a narrow gravel road. Up and down a few hills, the path continues through a grove of evergreens, opening up into a clearing before one gets a glimpse of the lighthouse. This is an added bonus in my book….less drive-by tourists. Those who are there to see the lighthouse, not just for the picnic, must earn it. 😉
Once I arrive and take my photos, I decide to check in with the picnic office and see if they have had a cancellation. She tells me since I am “only a party of one,” they can accommodate me! “Pick your menu selections and grab a blanket, and we’ll have your basket right out to you!”
I ask her where her favorite place is to enjoy the picnic. She directs me to a point where whale activity has been spotted. I climb down the gully and high up on a ridge to get away from the others. I find a perch with a slanted rock for a back rest. I spread out the soft, padded plaid blanket, and set my basket of goodies in the center.
Sitting cross-legged on the blanket, I unpack them one by one. A roast curried chicken sandwich on soft, molasses oatmeal bread made onsite that morning. A warm orzo and fresh mint salad with peppers, tomatoes, and chunks of Parmesan cheese. A slice of chocolate ganache cake with a dollop of whipped cream. And a mason jar filled with iced, fresh squeezed lemonade with just enough pulp to prove it’s the real thing.
It’s a quintessential perfect day on all counts, one I want to remember. As I lean up against the rock, my legs outstretched in the warm sun, I savor the lunch little by little, but not as intently as I savor the view. To my right, I see the Ferryland Lighthouse, it’s iron tower now a little faded and weathered after serving as navigational beacon high up on the hill since 1870.
To my left is a small rocky crag of an island from where a cacophony of squawking seabirds serenades me. I can hear the rush of the waves as they pound onto the rocky surface below. And in front of me, whale spouts are firing off in the distance.
There are times when a “solo experience” can feel a bit awkward, most often in romantic setting like a fancy restaurant on a Saturday night. A picnic certainly has enough “romance factor” to fit in that category. As I walk across the moor carrying my picnic basket, looking at pockets of families and couples perched on the hillside, I wonder if I have put myself in an awkward position. I always maintain that it’s not being alone that feels awkward, but rather those sympathetic looks from others who project empathy for that “poor woman who is all alone.” But it doesn’t take long, stretched out on the blanket in the warm sun, a sweater wrapped around my shoulders, soaking in the sights and sounds around me, to feel myself drifting away on my own magic carpet, oblivious (impervious?) to judgment.
I sit there in the sun on this perfect day, basking in the bliss, and wonder, “Why don’t I have more picnics?” I vow to rectify that in the future…