andrew burke





Iceberg Beer and the Newfoundland Insectarium

Posted on: 2013-05-09

Most of our time in Gros Morne, the weather was spectacularly sunny and warm. We had packed for rainy weather, so had started running low on appropriate attire. On the second-last day, we hiked to a lovely set of waterfalls:

Misty Waterfalls in Gros Morne

Waterfall Close-Up

And on the way back got caught in a torrential downpour. Funnily enough, this is the one time we hadn't brought our full raingear, and we got thoroughly soaked. My Gore-Tex enhanced boots ended up getting soaked from the inside by water wicking through my socks from my water-saturated trousers. We gave up on the campground and got a hotel room in Rocky Harbour. We abused the hair dryer and hung our clothes and damp camping gear all around the room. I bought some Quidi Vidi beer, made from icebergs.

Iceberg Beer!

Our flight out was in the late afternoon, so we had some extra time in Newfoundland. We bid farewell to the fjords and cliffs of Gros Morne and headed back towards Deer Lake. Near the town, we discovered the Insectarium and Butterfly Garden - and we just had to check it out:


The heart of this museum is a greenhouse / butterfly garden. It turns out that butterflies only live a few weeks, so they're constantly importing new ones, mostly from South America. Near the entrance is a big cabinet full of near-hatching cocoons. Further in is a large greenhouse full of lovely coloured butterflies.

Freshly Hatched


As I carefully stepped through the butterfly garden, a beautiful black-and-blue specimen landed on my hand and just wouldn't leave. I had found a new friend.

My new friend


On closer examination, it seemed to be eagerly licking my wrist - probably picking up the salt from my sweaty climb up the Tablelands only a few hours earlier.

Landed and Licking

Licking Butterfly

I finally managed to carefully deposit my new friend on a nearby leaf, and we went upstairs to the insectarium.

The insectarium has a lot of pinned and mounted dead bugs, some looking like jewels and others looking like nightmares. It also had several cabinets full of living insects - ants, bees, cockroaches, and tarantulas. I discovered that seeing too many bugs all at once kind of freaks me out at a subconscious level - this might be from a bad cockroach situation I had at my first Toronto apartment, or it might be a deeper instinctual reaction. It's a shame, since many of the exhibits were cool, like the bee tunnel:

Bee Tunnel

There was also a large walking-stick creature that the docents would let you walk on your hands. It seemed friendly and even sort of happy.


I declined the chance to have it crawl around on my hands, and let Shannon do it. As you get older, not only do you realize you have more neuroses, but you get to understand them better!

We did a quick tour of the gift shop, which featured some insects preserved in glass and amber, and others boxed up as snacks (!). We then headed to the airport.

Just like when we arrived, the epic cloud-spangled sky suggested epic paintings and Sigur Ros.

Epic Sky at Deer Lake Airport

Epic Sky at Deer Lake Airport

As our plane headed out of Newfoundland, I think I caught a last glimpse of Gros Morne mountain and the Tablelands, silhouetted in the sunset.

Gros Morne and Tablelands from the air

We crossed over the ocean and made a cloudy landfall near Pictou - I caught a fuzzy but evocative shot of the complicated shoreline, lights, and clouds:

Lights and Clouds over Pictou

An appropriately epic conclusion to an epic trip. If you get the opportunity to visit Gros Morne, you should definitely go - it's an amazing and unique part of the world.

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