Newfoundland

September 13, 2014, Trip: Across Canada
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The ferry crossing was pretty calm and it was beginning to clear.  This ferry is pretty darn cheap. We paid $45.10 for the rig and us for a 1.5 hour sailing!  BC ferries could learn something here.

We drove up the north peninsula of NFLD passing through many small towns right along the coast.  Pretty drive.  We got to L’Anse aux Meadows historic site around lunchtime and spent some time here touring the place where 1000 years ago, Vikings had a small settlement – before Columbia, Cartier & Cabot arrived in North America.  The Parks Board has left the site to walk around with the mounds where buildings used to be and has recreated the site nearby complete with sod buildings etc.  They even have “Vikings” inside to chat with.   We made it to St. Anthony’s in the afternoon, found a laundry mat and got several things done on Tigger (oh the joys of owning your own home 🙂 ).  We’ve had a few issues beside tires and Doug is becoming quite the handyman at fixing things.

Next morning we had some work done on our hot water tank (a connection had sheared off probably due to that road in Labrador) and we continued on.  We drove back to the coast and stopped at Flowers Cove to see the thrombolites:  the oldest living organism in the world – literally living rocks.  We made it to the Gros Morne National Park Visitor’s Centre to plan our park visit.  We found a car wash in Rock Harbour (sorely needed after over 1000kms of dirt roads) and got ourselves a spare tire at the garage attached to it.  The owner said we could camp outback that night.

Next morning we had a leisurely drive after breakfast up to the parking lot for the Western Brook Pond boat tour.  You park and then do an easy hike of 3km to the pond.  This “pond” is a huge lake that used to be a fjord but is now land locked due to rising land around it.  This was a spectacular site; best boat ride of the three we’ve done this trip.  The sky was a bit cloudy at the start but cleared up quickly and the tall cliffs and rock faces were showing off well.  Highly recommend to anyone heading out to this park.  We then drove to the Gros Morne Mountain trailhead and hiked only to the “base lookout”.  There were awe inspiring views of the mountain and surrounding lands.  It was a gorgeous afternoon and we were actually overdressed.  We did not hike up as timing did not work for us.  It was now dinner time and we headed back to Rocky Harbour where we ate at a restaurant/store with wifi.

Wednesday, we started the day driving to the southern arm of the park and doing two hikes.  We began at the Discovery Centre at Woody Point and first off did the Lookout hike; a steady climb up 320m!  Beautiful panoramic views at the top made it worth it though.  Weather was partly cloudy so not as great as the day before but dry.  When we came to NFLD in 1999 to see the icebergs we barely saw the sun the whole week so we were happy to have dry weather for the most part this time.

The second hike was the Tablelands hike.  For this hike you can go on a guided walk or borrow a tablet from the Discovery Centre to give you an interpretation along the 2km walk. We did the latter.  This is the only place in the world where the geology of this sort is found so Doug especially found this really interesting.  It was an easy hike with lots of different rocks, plants and explanations of what is here, what will grow here and why many things won’t.

It was now midafternoon and we’d made arrangement to meet a friend’s sister for a short visit at the Humber Valley Resort near Deer Lake.  Beth is the sister of our friend Joanne whom we visited in London, ON.  She welcomed us to her lovely home and we sat on the deck in the warm sunshine with wine and beer and got to know each other.  She was a good source of information for a few things we needed to know and we enjoyed some of her smoked mackerel and pork before heading on to Corner Brook for the night.  Here we found our first Wal-Mart in NFLD and settled for the night with great wifi.

The weather inland is wonderful; like 22C or 74F.  Thursday morning we awoke to clear skies again and headed west the coast to check out Lark Harbour and a couple of hiking trails.  We stopped at the first one and although we found a sign with the name of the trail, we weren’t sure it was the one we wanted.  We started out and thought this is stupid as it was supposed to be a kind of geological walk but we saw no signage so we returned to Tigger.

Next stop was Blow Me Down Provincial Park.  Here the gate was across saying closed but there were two gentlemen taking down the flags and we asked if we could still go into the park and hike; sure they said.  So we parked outside the gate and walked about 1km to the trailhead to a set of stairs to an observation deck.  It was a good 500 step climb to views of the Bay of Islands and the surrounding Blow Me Down mountains.  There was a “Governor’s Staircase” that was advertised as being in a cave.  We took the detour to them on the way down but it was really just a staircase under a bit of a cliff; kind of a cave with a missing wall (?).  It took us down the rocky beach which was quite lovely.  We scored a nice smooth rock to put beside the rock we have the Sooke, BC coastline.

We were booked to take the ferry to Nova Scotia on Saturday but since we were ahead of schedule we called and changed the reservation to Friday.  We wanted to get to Port aux Basques tonight as from Monday to Thursday, they are supposed to have music on their boardwalk with kiosks etc. – perfect for tourists.  We had been unable, to this point, to find a place to listen to NFLD music so we thought this would be our chance.  There is also a museum here that Doug wanted to see so heading down early made sense.  Both Joanne and Beth had also recommended stopping in Cape Ray, just west of PAB.  So off we went.

The further south we went, the cloudier it got.  By the time we got to Cape Ray it was socked in with on and off rainy drizzle.  We still wanted to find the beach but it was quite windy and much cooler than it had been in Corner Brook so we didn’t stay long.  We saw a road out that was different from the one we’d taken in and seemed to go the right direction so we took it.  It was rather narrow and we discovered when we finished the 6km road that it was the old rail bed and now is using for walking and ATV’s!  Oh well, Tigger made it.

We drove to the museum only to find it was closed for the season already despite their website saying it was open well into September.  We were disappointed again when we went to the boardwalk only to learn nothing was going on that night there either.  Their website said Monday to Thursday nights; last night September 15th so no idea the story there.  We parked back at the museum which is near the ferry terminal and stayed the night.

So Friday morning we caught the ferry from Port aux Basques to North Sydney, Nova Scotia.  This is a 7 hour ride on a large ferry.  It seems to carry alot more walk on’s than passengers vehicles and alot of tractor trailers.  They pack them on real well and actually park the trailers without the trucks.  They get unloaded and hooked up on the other side.  We really enjoyed NFLD and Labrador and would rank Gros Morne one of the best national parks in Canada.  Well worth the visit here.

We will be driving south now to Doug’s father’s place in Lower Sackville near Dartmouth and staying about ten days.  Doug has to fly to LA on Monday returning Friday.  So Fran will hang with her in-laws and get some “housekeeping” things taken care of.

 

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