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Go jump in a lake, an ocean or a kayak

By Tom Buysse

 Are you having a black-and-white work week? Nothing wrong with that: you’re current on your email replies, your boss hasn’t given you “the look” yet and maybe you even made a customer laugh.

But last week I went to Newfoundland with my wife for our 25th Anniversary, and it was a 4-color week.

Many of the contiguous row houses there are painted in primary colors: a red house with a yellow door connected to a blue house with an orange door connected to a green house with a purple door. But it’s not just the paint colors that made it a 4-color week.

At risk of sounding like I work for the Newfoundland Board of Tourism, try to find the time and money to go someplace different from where you live.

A “town” in Newfoundland is really just a few homes along a beautiful cove or bay overlooking the ocean, with anywhere from a couple commercial fishing boats to a couple dozen tucked into the harbor. Throw in a church, a cemetery and a Royal Canadian Legion Hall and you’ve got a Newfoundland town.

Hike a trail with breathtaking views but don’t get too close to the edge of the cliff because Newfoundland should be called Newrockland. Take a sea kayak tour and figure out how to steer through the crevices of an island filled with nesting puffins. Slow down your stroke rate so you don’t lose sight of a family of eagles resting atop the highest pine trees (it’s not too easy to twist your body and do a double-take in a sea kayak).

Feel the salt air breeze in a rubber raft racing to the open ocean and try following a humpback whale as he searches for food. Count the puffins while your guide is trying to move in the right direction at the right speed in an effort to guess where the whale will surface next.

There is no Motel 6 or Holiday Inn in Newfoundland. Nothing but B & Bs. Wake up to a delicious breakfast at a table with an ocean view and enjoy the company of fellow travelers while sharing stories and ideas on what to do next.

History? Most towns were founded in the 1600s. The first transatlantic cable terminated in a small Newfoundland town, allowing communication between North America and Europe for the first time. Visit a wooden fishing boat museum and help hold boards while the master boat builder carefully constructs a 16-foot punt.

The seafood, as you would expect, is fresh and mouthwatering. You haven’t tasted mussels or codfish like this before. They’re long on fresh seafood but short on vegetables (except Irish potatoes) in this land with a short growing season. That’s OK. You can catch up on your Vitamin C next week.

Many “Newfies” are struggling since the codfish stocks collapsed 30 years ago, severely curtailing the commercial fishing industry which was the backbone of the economy. They need the tourism dollars but are too nice to be greedy. Nobody gouges you. Nobody tries to sell you trinkets. In fact, nobody really tries to sell you anything. You have to look hard to find open restaurants. You have to go to the big city of St. Johns to find souvenirs. The people are genuinely nice. They treat you well and welcome you into their world.

So go find YOUR 4-color place. Maybe it’s in your country or even your state; or maybe it’s on another continent. But it’s out there. Take a week off and find it. Come home smiling. Then promise yourself that you’ll do it again soon.

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