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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Walk in Argentia

Wayne was warned that on the way home from the airport in St. John's I was going to want to stop for a walk.

moose droppings at bottom right on the rocks

In order to get off the roads before dark and avoid hitting any moose we waited until we got to Argentia, and after dropping my carry-on bag at the fifth wheel I was dragging him up the path right from the campground.  Visiting family could wait, I needed my outdoors fix after spending the day in airports!  Besides, I wanted to spend some time alone with Wayne, I feel like I've barely seen him all summer.

Argentia used to be the home of the U.S. Navy base, but now it's home to nature again, including a ton of 4 inch slugs.  As for moose, we've only seen droppings and footprints...yet.

The bunchberry plants are sporting their red berries, and the leaves are starting to change a bit too.

I don't remember the last time we were home and there were wildflowers, we usually come too early or too late.

Of course the lichen doesn't care what time of year it is.

Between 1941 and 1994 the United States operated a strategic military base in Argentia that contained a three runway airfield and a large dockyard and sea plane base. It also contained bunkers, lots of them.

Hidden from the enemy, built into the hillsides, my father told me they used to store ammunition in them and he used to "guard" them during the night shift sometimes.

My dad on the right, look how young!

It wouldn't be Argentia without the fog rolling in, I suppose that had its place in military strategy too?  Not that the weather would matter when trying to find those German submarines.

From Heritage Newfoundland website:

Near the end of the war, German prisoners – typically survivors of bombed U-boats – were often interned at Argentia, with the first ones arriving in November 1944. Alongside these prisoners, two captured German destroyers and two captured U-boats also arrived in Argentia for servicing while en route to the United States. It was a dramatic turn of events for a harbour that just five years earlier was largely frequented by local fishing boats.

After the war, American forces used Argentia for the detection and monitoring of foreign submarines and other naval vessels. Military activity in the area gradually decreased over the decades until 1994, when the last remaining American forces withdrew from the area and handed over its facilities to the province.

It's hard to imagine the personnel that used to be here, all bustling around.  Now it's home to the Marine Atlantic ferry, and locals and visitors alike just drive the gravel roads and wander the old paths looking for moose...and finding nature's other treasures instead.

I can see why one of the names for monotropa uniflora is ghost plant, appropriate for a strip of land that not only has the ghosts from its military history, but the history of the natives who were removed from the area for the base to be built.  Try this website for more information on Argentia's history.


  1. The stacked bunk beds next to your dad are interesting… pretty close together :)
    Box Canyon Mark

  2. That is one unattractive slug! But it was very interesting looking:) Too bad you didn't see any moose. Love that the wildflowers were there to welcome you!

  3. Folks being removed from an area for government use is a familiar theme here where I am too. I think your dad and his friends are a lot better looking than the young men of today. Does that show my age or what?? Beautiful wildflowers. So glad you are there where I wanted to be but couldn't be this year.