Carl laughed when I started to introduce yet another “Great story” to a group we were escorting across the island last year; “Have you ever told a story that wasn’t a “Great Story”, Andrew? I dare say you’d make rocks look interesting!”
Funny you should mention that Carl, because I do have some interesting geology stories and I’ve even got a “Bloody good yarn” about throwing rocks.
Back in the early part of this century (Seriously right?) we were trying to develop a luxurious wilderness retreat in Newfoundland’s Humber Valley. We had secured an acreage of riverfront property from a private land owner and had convinced the province to sell us enough lake frontage to develop an 18 hole golf course and over 300 chalet lots. It was a spectacular concept and we had every reason to believe our German investors would support us on the funding required to bridge the river and start construction.
“… develop an 18 hole golf course…”
Essentially our sales pitch focused on the endless array of outdoor activities, the boundless wilderness terrain, ease of access, an abundance of quality infrastructure, a sparse population and the year-round appeal that Newfoundland promised European visitors.
However, on this fourth, and supposedly final round of meetings, I was truly at a loss. Each time our new friends / investors paid us a visit we managed to up the ante with an array of activities that somehow out performed their last experience. We brought them whale watching in Bonne Bay, snowmobiled to the lip of Western Brook Gorge, hooked beautiful Atlantic Salmon, and witnessed an iceberg roll in White Bay. They skied Marble Mountain, snowshoed Blomidon Brook, crawled through Corner Brook’s limestone spelunking caves, sea kayaked the upper Humber and shot the waters of Breakfast Mountain on a raft at low tide. They Heli hiked to the island’s highest peak, jet skied as far north as Trout River, rode a ‘Quad’ through Kitty’s Brook on the T’railway, dined on fresh lobster, and drank gallons of wine and ‘Screech’ rum.
“… dined on lobster…”
This is an extraordinary place after all. But, as I said, this trip was supposed to be a final testament to our claim as a four-season destination, and I had little to offer. It was early in December, there was nothing but rain in the forecast, all the tourist attractions were closed for the Christmas Break and I needed something fresh and exciting for this final event.
Upon consulting my brothers and business partners, we decided to play a profile card. Knowing how much the Germans loved driving anything in an unrestricted environment, we rented a half dozen jeeps and spent the afternoon tearing around the hills through a labyrinth of abandoned woods roads that intertwined the wilderness area. They had a ball!
For lunch, we arranged for the ‘Chief’ (our faithful guide and entertainer) to meet us on the shores of Grand Lake. There he’d built a comfortable ‘Lean-to’ shelter, set a huge bonfire, and started a monstrous mussel boil. He had warm blankets, a kettle full of hot tea and a most spectacular view of ‘Little Harbor’ and the imposing cliff sides of this hidden Shangri-La.
“… on the shores…”
When we finished eating and started to clean up, I noticed the beach front was covered in thousands of perfectly shaped skipping stones. As done a million times before, I palmed one and let it fly across the water where it skipped a dozen times before pitching on the other side of the cove.
“Yeah!”, they exclaimed. “Do that again.” Which I did. Again, and again, and again. That’s just the kind of guide you get when you travel with McCarthy’s Party Tours. Which was quite fortunate, for I had no understanding of their fascination until we later visited their home country in Cologne, Germany; a place where you’d have a hard time finding a stone of any description, let alone a body of water large enough to skip it on.
“… body of water large enough…”
They were so enthralled with the performance and so determined to skip rocks themselves that they lost all interest in driving and kept me on the land wash, skipping stones until my fingers actually bled. Thus, the legitimate claim we made after our meetings were finished and all the documentation was completed; That this was a contract we’d literally signed in blood.
“Bloody good times for certain.”