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  • Writer's pictureJosette Abruzzini

One Sunday "up Sandy"

#4 in a series of posts called "My Newfoundland".

I usually visit my native province each August but this year the Canada-US border is closed. Instead of going to Newfoundland in person I'm sharing my favorite places and fondest memories. Come along!

After we’d bought the little cabin, Dad towed the old Airstream over the Exploits River and a couple of hours up a dirt road. It was “up Sandy”, as they say, an area south of Grand Falls-Windsor. There’s nothing but pine forests, lakes, dirt roads and a logging camp for hundreds of miles until you reach the south coast of Newfoundland... except that the roads didn't go that far. The island of Newfoundland is about 42,000 square miles so there’s a lot of “interior” that’s undeveloped.

Dad had parked the trailer in a small clearing on the side of a little-used dirt road. He and his buddies were planning to use it for the occasional fishing or moose-hunting trip. No campground. No permission. No services. No problem. Whether or not there was a sign saying, “Use at your own risk” people knew they were on their own.

That said, if you get into trouble, Newfoundlanders are quick to help out … if you can find any of them in such a desolate area.

It was late September or early October, before hunting season, when Dad brought us up Sandy for a weekend. Scott's friend, Mark Maguire came along as well. Mom wasn’t thrilled with the idea of camping in the middle of nowhere but Dad had gotten all of us excited about seeing a moose so she went along with it. It turned out differently than we'd expected...

The only thing I remember about Saturday was the long dusty bumpy drive up, but Sunday was a different story. We woke to a winter wonderland - a surprise snowstorm had blown in overnight.

I stepped out of the trailer that morning to a white silence I’ve not forgotten. We were surrounded by at least a foot of white snow, green fir trees for miles in every direction, a wide blue sky… and a dead car battery. In a typical Des move, he’d used it power the trailer and had no backup.

Dad had left at the crack of dawn to walk several miles to a woods camp. Mom was stranded with five kids.

Being the oldest, I was aware of the dangers. I think, to some degree, my siblings were as well, but we carried

on and built a snowman and a few forts on the side of the road.

Luckily Dad found the camp and returned midafternoon… in the cab of a tractor that had been outfitted with a snow grader.

The plow driver helped Dad charge the car battery. Then we followed him, or should I say we slid after him, back to the woods camp and ate like there was no tomorrow. Eggs and ham, raison buns. Woodsmen eat well!

We didn’t see any of Newfoundland’s 200,000 moose that weekend, but the old Airstream later made a great little camp for Dad and his buddies.

That journey into the woods was our first and last family fling across the Exploits. I’d not recommend such an adventure to other families, but the Kenny kids are no worse for the wear.

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Thanks for reading!

Twice a teacher and always a writer, Josette Kenny Abruzzini is a native Newfoundlander and a current Pennsylvanian. As a child she wrote letters to her favorite aunts. As a teacher she enjoyed writing report card comments and letters to parents. In time she realized her love for writing about Newfoundland and anything else that caught her curious eye.

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