I’m back from Newfoundland, where Kate and I wore sweaters, hiked a lot, watched whales, and ate roast moose! Roast moose tastes like birch, it turns out. Kate tells me that game animals taste like what they eat; while living in Alaska, she ate moose, duck, even bear. Duck was the worst, apparently, because wild ducks taste like, well, algae, and a kitchen where duck is cooking smells like a steamy pond. Yuck, yuck, yuck! Anyhow, I took the Rich AssholeTM tour, renting a colossal red Ford Explorer and bouncing around the gravel roads while encased in a Gore-Tex parka. Every time I parked the car and walked away, the Explorer would be perched on some seaside cliff or other, making the countryside look like an SUV commercial.
I was in lots of company, though. Earlier this spring, one of the wild alpine meadows about a mile from the house was used as the setting for Qoyle’s house in the Kevin Spacey production of The Shipping News. A new road had been build to the meadow, and dozens of SUV-driving, Gore-Tex wearing crew members had driven out past the house to Fort Point, where they hired fishermen to anchor offshore with fog machines and add to the already-thick Newfie fog. Every local boarding house in the area was hired for the shoot, and the movie brought lots of business into the area. Our neighbor Frank Bartlett, who runs a small dairy farm, opened a small restaurant to cater to the film crew. At seven AM, two production assistants would come in and pre-pay for 150 orders of fish and chips that night. Frank was really happy about the extra business, and I was really glad to hear that nobody had a bad word to say about the production company. They paid all their bills on time, picked up after themselves, and left about six weeks after they had arrived, taking their SUVs and technical parkas with them.
I started going to Newfoundland when I helped my stepbrother Sam build a house for his mom and my dad about ten years ago. The house is almost a hundred percent finished now, with the final installation of a hot-water shower stall. That’s a long haul from the days when Sam and I would mix beer and cool-aid in a plastic vat, cook beef and cheese over a hotplate, and crap in the woods at night.
Kate and I have differing ideas of the perfect vacation. My ideal vacation is one where I can come back with harrowing tales of adventure: height scaled, wrongs righted, Malay pirates beaten back from the rigging until the scuppers run red with blood. Kate prefers a more vacation-y vacation; reading, sleeping late, cooking at home, taking walks. Malay pirates being scarce in Newfoundland, I have to admit that there’s really something to the restful variety of vacation. I came back actually rested, imagine that!