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In Woody Point

Woody PointI’m home in Newfoundland this week –– in the community of Woody Point in Gros Morne National Park. This is the fourth straight summer that I’ve made the pilgrimage back to this place, to stay in the same suites over the same bay, and hike the same land. To people who haven’t been here, that might sound rather dull… but for anyone who has been, I suspect my reasoning won’t be difficult to divine.

There’s something especially inspiring about Gros Morne in general, and Woody Point in particular. Together with Trout River –– the place where that unfortunate whale nearly exploded earlier this year –– and the other small communities around the south side of Bonne Bay, the town is special. Not too touristy, extremely welcoming, and nestled amongst some incredible landscapes.

Now, I know everywhere with a view claims ‘incredible landscapes’, but there’s objective proof that Woody Point is extra-special: it sits beneath the Tablelands, a formation of red rock that isn’t quite unique in the world… but is close. Consisting of the Earth’s mantle thrust to the surface by geological activity, the Tablelands are nearly incomparable. They look like some other places, but when you walk across them, you’re touching the bones of our planet. I’m pretty sure the only other place with such a vast range of exposed Earth’s mantle is somewhere off Tasmania… so that makes Woody Point, and Bonne Bay, pretty special.

Not that anyone here would be too pleased with themselves about that. The thing about Newfoundlanders (that we’ve tried to capture in both His Majesty’s New World and Champions, and which caused trouble during my thesis defense) is that we’re chronically hospitable, and none to impressed with ourselves — even if we should be. I certainly was never taught to be too self-important (I picked up my massive ego elsewhere), and this cultural resistance to being self-aggrandizing has left many of the Rock’s most remarkable treasures, like the Tablelands, blissfully secret.

Except when idiots like me start blabbing about them in author notes… or worse, in actual stories.

It’s a happy coincidence that I was here in one of Newfoundland’s small, outport communities for yesterday’s release of the latest Champions novella, Outports. I’ve already explained that my most-beloved ship, HMCS Sackville, is in this story, but the other half of the plot follows Stephanie and her officer candidates as they go out for a final field test in remote southern Newfoundland.

Now, I’m in western Newfoundland — nowhere near the communities of Francois and Grey River (and the abandoned community of Cape La Hune) that figure in Stephanie’s exercise. Even today, those communities are only reachable by boat or air, and I’ve never been to either (though my old nemesis Matthew LeDrew hails from Francois). Still, I can’t help but believe the common tenets of Newfoundland character are as true in those places as they are here in Woody Point.

So in the ways that matter, I’m in the very place that Outports takes place, for the week of its release. The only meaningful difference: we’re getting better weather, and we’re not being pursued by soldiers. I guess you can’t have everything.

I should point out that is isn’t the only coincidence we’ve enjoyed this week, but I’ll leave the other one –– which also involves the Tablelands –– for Jacqui to explain in a few days. Stay tuned for that, as well as a rare web story about something big that’s occurring.

For now, I’m going back out onto the deck. There are whales in the bay, and they’re mocking me for sitting inside.

Woody Point