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See The Sun Rise

AN-WBP-SunriseFrequent readers of these notes might be aware that my favorite place in the world is Gros Morne National Park, in western Newfoundland. I’ve seen plenty of spectacular sights over the years, but none compare to this remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is as beautiful as it is magical, and while that might sound like hyperbole, I strongly encourage you to go visit there, to see what I mean.

My affair with Gros Morne started with commercials produced by Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism. Ironically, despite being born and raised in St. John’s, I’d never been to the park –– it was too far out of the way, relative to my home. The commercials convinced me I’d missed out, so plans were struck to visit in the summer of 2011. Woody Point would be the destination, Seaside Suites the accommodation, and we’d go as a family –– see if the real Gros Morne could live up to the televised version.

When we landed in July of 2011, the fog was heavy and there was drizzle –– a typical Newfoundland homecoming, which I enjoyed. Driving from the airport in Deer Lake for about an hour, we reached Woody Point when it was still misty, and were introduced to Ken and Darlene Thomas, the owners of Seaside Suites. Immediately we felt at home, but it was just the first day –– I imagined some of my enthusiasm was simply due to the excitement of being back on the rock. I doubted the feeling would last.

Then came the next morning.

For reasons unknown, I woke around 6:00 AM –– despite being exhausted from travel and determined to sleep in, I was abruptly wide awake. Rising from bed, I wandered to the massive window that fronts the Gros Morne Suite, and pulled aside the curtain. This is what I saw.

Seaside Suites Sunrise
Dawn from the Gros Morne Suite.

I was lost to time. I pulled my camera from its bag. I put on flip flops and (thank God) pants and a sweater. I stormed out onto the deck, to capture the most magnificent dawn I have ever witnessed (or as the people who live in Woody Point call it: sunrise). In the process of doing all this, I locked myself out of my suite –– despite Ken and Darlene warning me to take my keys if I was going out onto the deck.

Didn’t matter. This is one of the dozens of photos I was able to take in the hours that followed:

Seaside Suites sunrise

There is a principle among Sikhs called Nam Japa, which (among other things) calls for a person to rise before dawn, and to see the sun rise. Living in Ontario, or Alberta, or even in St. John’s, I’d never really troubled myself with the dawn. Like many of my generation, I often worked late into the night, and rose after the sun.

But that morning in Gros Morne, it was as though my home rock was saying welcome home, this place is for you. I’ve never experienced another dawn quite like it, but fortunately, it has stayed with me. Whenever I need to recall what real peace feels like, or why I work at the things I do, one photo is all the reminder I require. I was fortunate to see that dawn… and perhaps unsurprisingly, I became determined to share the feeling with some of those characters I envy.

While Lady Alex‘s connection to Gros Morne thus far has come in her love to swim, Stephanie Shylock‘s bond is through a sunrise. Today the excerpt for War Footing went up, and it’s about our elite American Second Lieutenant hurrying from bed in the darkness, so that she can see the sun climb over the mountains of the new world. Admittedly, that dawn is on another planet, but the peace she finds is awfully familiar… and her friendship in sharing it is right on.

Also: since she is from that other world, there’s no direct competition between her hometown-sunrise and Gros Morne. Different stars, after all.

Neither you nor I will ever see a sunrise on His Majesty’s New World, but fortunately, every day there are an infinite number of them here on Earth. As such, I must highly recommend you make a point of witnessing a beautiful dawn… and if you want the very best, go to Newfoundland and Labrador. There you’ll learn what it means to be among the first people in North America to greet a new day.

Trust me, it feels brilliant.