On the west side of the island of Newfoundland, we enter the Bay of Islands in the morning. It is warm and bright with mostly clear skies. We are ship cruising, enjoying the scenery and encountering wildlife. Every once in a while, I see a desert-like headland or slope. Is it serpentine vegetation? Snake vegetation? No, it is the rock, filled with ‘poisonous’ minerals and lacking in plant nutrients. Dana, a naturalist with great expertise in geology (he is a geologist after all), gives a lecture about serpentine rock in the morning. We get some looks at the rock and its associated vegetation today, and tomorrow we will walk on it and explore. I am particularly excited because rare and curious plants abound in these habitats.

After lunch, we do a bit more cruising, this time off the ship. Some folks choose Zodiacs, and others go the more physical and intimate route with kayaks. We find steep, tree-covered, talus slopes, sparkling water, and a cooling breeze. It is almost hot! We are anchored near a small community. The locals are curious but courteous. Jet skis and speedboats come close but not too close. A wave and a nod, and they are gone. It is a beautiful day in a beautiful place, the perfect beginning to a faraway Labor Day weekend!

And what do you do on a Labor Day weekend when it is sunny and warm? Barbeque! That is just what we have on the aft deck, the sun deck of National Geographic Explorer. The Galley Crew are grilling hot dogs, and there are cold beers and sodas to wet-our-whistle. No marching bands, but plenty of smiles and conversation.

After dinner, it is a movie with popcorn. Yes, it sounds pretty tame, maybe traditional…but it all feels exotic out here on the ocean, in the fjords, in the north. Everything is just perfect. Maybe one more handful of popcorn? It’s a vegetable!

Photo caption and photographer: Head Chef Magnus, Sous Chef Mikael, and Hotel Manager Luis cooking and preparing hotdogs on the sun deck. Photo by Dennis Cornejo