It's not only overcast, it's raining now, too, but the clouds are high enough to allow some great panoramas. In fact everything has a special enchantment as mountains, forests, lakes, cliffs and little shore-side fishing villages loom into and out of the mists in Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park - all very Brigadoon-like, after that Broadway musical of the mystical Scottish village that appears only once every 100 years.
A misty view
The human fauna, however, are anything but Brigadoon-like as Yours Truly takes a boat trip from Norris Point round Bonne Bay inlet. First, I board before the passengers of the previous tour disembark, They're all from a bus tour group and are being inducted as 'honourary Newfoundlanders' by one of the crewmen who is playing drunk. Oh, he's not playing.
The old fogie is all tarted up in a bright yellow souwester, bellows with a Devonshire accent, and reads a spoof pledge of allegiance. This the brain-dead group of ancient nincompoops is faithfully repeating after him, stomping their feet when told to do so, flashing their cameras and taking selfies.
And a great time is had by one and all. Gawd, groups! And they all have plasticated name tags, too. Hi there, Rita. Well, hello Mary. Why, if it isn't Alma.
Another Norris Point view
A new group comes on, only 10 and all very ancient. The rain has stopped and the views of the little fishing villages, the green pine-clad mountains, the snow-streaked peaks and the reddish ramparts of the Tablelands are perfect.
Two black crows are chasing a white and brown eagle, pecking at it. It probably was eyeing their nest with a hungry gleam, The crows are much faster than the majestically gliding eagle, dive-bombing him from above, but he just glides on, apparently unperturbed.
Bonne Bay view
Bonne Bay shore
Oh dear, it's a singing crew. They stand at the front of the little cabin, two with electronic guitars and the third with a squeeze box, performing Scottish songs and stomping their feet, first one foot, then the other, as if they're in desperate need of a pee. The squeeze box guy is the best stomper. He looks just like Putin, with the fixed eye stare of a dead sheep.
More Bonne Bay views
A highlight of any stay in Gros Morne is the boat trip round Western Brook Pond, a fjord carved out by the retreating glaciers of the ice age. The boat leaves at 1100, but you have to drive 20 miles up the road from Rocky Harbour, then walk almost two miles inland, since the fjord was cut off from the sea as the land flexed upwards again from the retreating glaciers' weight.
A Gros Morne rock
Calling it a pond must be some sort of joke as it's almost 10 miles long, its spectacular cliff walls soar more than 2,000 feet above the water, and it possesses one of the highest waterfalls in North America at 1,148 feet, delighting in the name of Pissing Mare Falls.
I don't know about Mrs. Horse, but what is most definitely pissing on this particular day is the constant rain. A thick fog is clouding everything and it's blowing a gale, too, with the result that my umbrella is useless as it's continually f...ing itself inside out.
Gros Morne view
But the hike along the trail, with a boardwalk over peat land and dwarf plants, is delightful, and the craggy cliff gates to the fjord are pure enchantment as they loom through the swirling mists. All very mystical.
Fenland leading to fjord
And that's what they remain, just that - pure mystical enchantment. The boat captain cancels the 1100 tour because we'll see nothing through the fog. There's another tour at 1230, there's a possibility the fog will lift sufficiently for it to operate, so some of the motley crew who have turned up wait on.
Fjord fogged in
The clouds do in fact begin to lift, and we see a moose and her calf gamboling on a headland. Moose are not endemic to Newfoundland. Just four were introduced in 1878. Now there are 50,000, so do the genealogical mathematics.
Moose and calf
The hands of the clock approach 1230. The clouds descend with a vengeance. The mists surge up with a vengeance. The 1230 tour is cancelled, too.
So that's it for Yours Truly's visit to one of the prime sites of Gros Morne National Park. The Mare may pee, but I no see.
It's absolutely peeing buckets now on the walk back, though, and guess what. The unlockable Ford Con-Fusion has miraculously locked its doors. The contrarian bastard which for the past three days has forever unlocked the doors 10 seconds after I lock them, has chosen this Noah moment to function properly.
Flowers on the fenland
The umbrella has again f...ed itself over my head, it takes me forever to extract the remote pad from the bottom of my fanny pack, and I'm drenched by the time I unlock the foul beast, which then mocks me by again flashing at me: 'Blindspot Not Available, Sensor Blocked, See Manual.'
Well, having nothing else to do in the rain, I do see the manual. On page 101 of the 454-page tome, the 15th page of a 23-page 'Information Displays' section says of my current display: 'Displayed when the system sensors are blocked.' Jeez, that's what the signal already says. How tautologous can you get. Oops, there's more: 'Contact your authorised dealer as soon as possible.'
Gros Morne view
I'm also directed to page 191 where I'm told the blind spot zone extends from the exterior mirrors to approximately 10 feet beyond the bumper, that it does not prevent contact with other vehicles; does not detect parked vehicles, people, animals or infrastructure; and even then won't alert you to vehicles passing quickly through the blind zone, typically fewer than two seconds, when it will not 'trigger.'
I don't know about blind spot zone, but I'm really entering the twilight zone with my Ford Con-Fusion.
Some partings are indeed sweet. I reach the car rental's parking lot at Deer Lake airport with nary a scratch on the frigging beast, not for want of trying as I veer left, right and everywhere as I try to scope the wonderful scenery. Before I hand it back to its tamer, I hurl another glance at the 454-page manual.
Aha, now what is this on page 186 on the Driver Alert Warning with its steaming coffee cup: 'It monitors your alertness level based upon your driving behaviour in relation to the lane markings and other factors.' And I thought it was triggered by the length of time you'd been driving non-stop. It doesn't reveal what the other factors are, obviously classified under federal secrecy laws.
Also it won't issue warnings if you're travelling under 40 mph, as if no accidents occur at that speed level. It has a status bar that moves from left to right as the calculated alertness decreases, with the colour turning progressively from green to yellow to red.
Gros Morne waterfall
And who would have thunk it! That icon between the dotted green lines that kept on flashing on near the steaming coffee alert is meant to be a car as seen from above. So what bloody use is a car seen from a helicopter when I'm not aboard a helicopter? Green means the system, showing if you're in the right lane, is available. And what's this note? Ah, the angle of the sun can throw the gizmo out of whack. Great!
How stupid could the rental company be in entrusting Yours Truly with breaking in a brand new car? Now I've hit something among all those dials and knobs that's made the left side wing mirror squint dangerously inwards, revealing all the contours and secrets of the right back door, and I can't get it to move back, not even when I smite it one. A glancing kick to the front left tyre is no more successful.
Now's there's a weird smell of burning, like rubber done medium-rare to saignant.
Bye-bye, Gros Morne
But who cares. I'm back in the parking lot and the odometre - no, I haven't managed to bugger that up yet - shows 1572.9 kilometres. Wow, 977 miles 624.35 yards!
Enough of this already. I'm outta here and back on the DRL bus for the nine-hour trip from Deer Lake to St. John's.
Gros Morne, adios
By the same author: Bussing The Amazon: On The Road With The Accidental Journalist, available with free excerpts on Kindle and in print version on Amazon.