NEWFOUNDLAND (Part 1)

I forgot to post these in the earlier journals so I just did that but rather than have you click back I’ve repeated them here.

Here is the first half of the proposed trip from Acadia National Park to Sydney.

canada trip

Here is the second half of the proposed trip from Acadia National Park to Sydney.

canada trip

If you follow the journals for NB and NS you’lll see how much I skipped because of the car problems.

Here’s the map of the proposed Newfoundland jaunt:

canada trip

 
30 June

Rained most of last night and the wind never let up. Ought to make for an interesting ferry ride.

The cabin wasn’t too bad. Meant to take a picture but forgot. The floors are hardwood but there were no entry carpets and as they were damp from the shoes I could never go barefooted. Lacking a table is a big drawback. No microwave or fridge, either. Just the bed, night table, lamp and small CRT TV canted downwards from the ceiling support.

Great location for those getting the ferry. North Sydney is a tiny little place but it has 3 Tim Horton’s. And a Wal-Mart. I was looking for a place to buy soap and a soapdish (left mine in last night’s campground) and used the GPS. Closest grocery store was a Super Atlantic or something like that. Followed the instructions and there was Wally World.

Once again up at 5 AM with nothing to do. Never been the type to stay in bed once awake so I made myself some coffee and a PBJ for breakfast.

Don’t want to eat much more of anything because if the ferry trip is bad I don’t relish the thought of having to barf it all back up. Got my dramamine which I’ll take about an hour before getting on board and probably take another 3 hours later.

Still having doubts and feelings of trepidation about the van. I guess if I knew more about cars I’d have a better idea but since I don’t I will trust to my gut and constant observation.

For example, when I got the van back from the dealer the coolant level was on the line. The next morning I checked it and it was about about 1/2″ to 3/4″ below the line. I filled it to the line and began checking it regularly. Stopped once and looked and it was above the line. So I figured it was expansion. This morning I checked it was about 1/4″ below (even though, when cold before, I’d filled it to the line.) So that makes me think I lost some somewhere but don’t see where.

Knowing my luck it’s a gasket somewhere near the water pump that barely leaks out and anything that escapes evaporates against the heat of the engine block.

So this little dance will continue for the next couple of days while I keep checking and guessing.

Since I had time to kill I punched in what turned out to be the Wal-Mart’s coordinates in the GPS because I noticed a cafe last night but could not remember the name and figured it would get me close enough. For some odd reason Garmin’s programming must be messed up because it took me to that Super Atlantic instead of Wal-Mart this time. I suspect Wal-Mart bought the old store and the original store built a new one. They were within shouting distance of each other but on different sides of a cross road so I can’t understand how that can happen with the GPS.

Got to the port fairly early and got myself a decaf and a muffin. Funny how some transactions show up on my Visa bill immediately and others take days to appear. I had no sooner sat down then I got an alert telling me an international transaction took place on my card.

Then there are those merchants who try and charge you twice. I have two of those. One is from the morons at Straight Talk and the other is from the motel I stayed in at Sheet Harbor. They were both “pending” yesterday and today one is charged and the other still pending. It is always best to keep all your receipts just in case you need to challenge them later.

The ferry is pretty large and I was told they’ve been modernized to have stabilizers so the trip should be relatively uneventful. They parked me in the bowels on the vessel and when I went to leave the attendant indicated elevators or stairs. Told him I’d take the stairs. I should have studied the ships plans as the top deck was 9 stories up. It made for a brisk hike.

The crossing itself was, indeed, uneventful. Seas were calm and looked to be 2-4 feet.

What I was NOT a fan of is that these are not RO-LO ferries. IOW, these are first in LAST OUT. So while all the late arriving nellies sauntered on board last they were the first to bail out.

Lesson learned for the return!!

However, it wasn’t too bad as in 45 minutes everyone was off.

Clocks are also moved up 30 minutes. Instead of Atlantic Time it’s Atlantic Time+30 minutes. Weird.

Some people had long drives and lamented having to overnight rather than drive straight through because of all the moose on the roads. Hit one of those puppies at 50 MPH and your car will never leave the island again running.

FACTOIDS ABOUT NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

Half a million people live here and most are in 5 or 6 larger cities and just Newfoundland is about the size of Virginia.

Vikings settled here around 1000 years ago at L’Anse aux Meadows.

John Cabot claimed Newfoundland for England in 1497.

Heart’s Content was the site of the first transatlantic cable.

Marconi received the first wireless message at Signal Hill, near St John’s.

30,000 fishermen lose their jobs as overfishing almost wipes out the cod stock.

Arrived at JT Cheeseman park, the closest to port PAB and immediately swarmed with mosquitoes. So now the DEET comes out of my little arsenal.

If planning to go to more than 4 parks in NL it’s best to buy an annual pass for $20. Saves a bit of money.

The area is home to the piping plover, a very endangered species, and the sandy beaches are so because the waves pound the crap out of the shore. The beach is a 2 KM drive/walk from the C/G so I checked it out. There’s what’s called a “Smokey Cape” along the beach caused by the waves slamming against the shore and the mist creates a smokey effect. The waves are also greenish-brown here.

The park has a wi-fi hotspot which I used for a few minutes (but first slathered on some DEET.)

1July

Slept like a rock last night and got up late: 6AM!

Canada Day!!

It appears they roll together their Independence from Britain AND a Memorial Day all in one. At least that’s what I get here on the radio in Newfoundland. Lots of “patriotism” about the province, too, with the singing of the Province song, etc.

Took the dirt road towards the beach but instead of going straight, turned right to head into Cape Ray. 2KM later it was paved again and I headed out to Cape Ray lighthouse. What would have been an awesome picture in sunlight proved only so-so. This place used to be use by the “Dorset People” between about 400 B.C. to 385 A.D. as they hunted and gathered. I can not imagine what life must have been like here 2,000 years ago in the rain, wind and biting cold. How people survived is a miracle.

It was here that the first undersea telegraph cable was laid in 1856 connecting NL to the mainland.

Shortly outside the park, on the TCH headed north is the Tablelands area, home to wind gusts exceeding 100 MPH which used to routinely blow over trains. It’s also called Wreck House. A couple actually used to have the job of determining if it was safe enough for trains. He died in 1965 and she continued through 1972. They were replaced by CB’ers. Remember them? 10-4 good buddy!!

I was planning on going to Cape Anguille lighthouse but the fog made it impossible to see so I hopped on TCH 1 (Trans Canada Highway) towards Stephenville and saw a large sign warning of moose.

moose

No sooner did I pass it than a female moose darted across the highway.

moose

You CAN NOT let your guard down on these roads!!

Driving some of the side roads I got to see Canadian pride at its finest: little flags everywhere. Driveways would be lined with them; stop signs festooned with them as well as red and white balloons.

canada day

Adults and kids walked around in the mist and fog in t-shirts and faces painted with the Canadian flag.

Even saw what appeared to be some folks going to a parade ….. in American cars. Now there’s some irony for you. Also saw a big honkin’ 66 Cadillac in Stephenville.

In the 60s the US had an airbase there and as I drove it you could tell where the runways were because the road cut through them and all you could see through the fog was concrete on either see. Also saw what appeared to be an F-105 with USAF markings.

The sun finally started to peek out just before Corner Brook.

Corner Brook was used by Captain Jame Cook around 1760 as a staging base for his numerous surveying and cartography missions. His charts were so accurate they are still in use today, 250 years later. Little known to many was his insistence that crew eat citrus to stave off scurvy. Lots of stuff dedicated to him is seen here. However, getting to the biggest memorial, at the top of a hill, is a bit of a challenge since you intuitively think you’re going the wrong way as you drive through residential areas. But follow the signs.
Here’s a map of Cook’s travels:

cook-travels

More and more sunshine came through and my camera came out of hibernation.

Almost everything is closed today. It’s as if the town rolled up the welcome mat. All grocery stores, Sears, Staples, Wal-Marts, etc were closed. Must be a union thing as mom-and-pop places were open.

Corner Brook really is very well situated. The views from the tops of the hills are fantastic and the higher elevations outside town still have snow on them. I can imagine winters here are no piece of cake. Tons of snow. Dark most of the time, etc.

Followed Route 450 west of Corner Brook along the southern shore of the Humber Arm and it’s a roller coaster road to towards Frenchman’s Cove and the Bay of Islands.

Made it to Blow Me Down Provincial Park where I’d reserved a site (turns out there is little need to make reservations as I was led to believe. The place is virtually empty.

It’s a beautiful park with its own beach (albeit rocky) and fantastic views. They built a walkway to a panoramic vista site 750 feet above the beach and you can start up via the “Governor’s Staircase to climb through a volcanic tower hundreds of millions of years old and find yourself at the tower. Follow a regular trail for another 2 KM for an even grander view. I passed.

Counted the steps down: 320. Plus about 1/4 mile of boardwalk linking them. My ticker was tickin’ to beat the band.

Then I headed to Lark Harbor famous for being the place where the Viking ship in the movie “Outlander” is found. The movie feature James Caviezel, John Hurt and others. It was filmed in Little Port nearby and used about 100 locals. The Viking replica ship is located in Lark Harbor. The reviews of the movie which I’ve read indicate the movie is pure cheese.

Next stop: Southhead Lighthouse which has a 3.2 km trail leading to it and supposedly amazing views. The trail itself is not easy, rated “moderately difficult” and I would tend to agree. Made it about halfway and then the damned thing went virtually 30 degrees upwards with ropes tied to trees for handholds.

I had had enough climbing so gave it up and headed back engaged in chat with this couple from Australia about Melbourne, Tasmania, New Zealand, Antarctica and their national hero, Douglas Mawson.

2 July

Woke up to a stunningly clear day. Absolutely beautiful. My luck can not possibly hold out for long.

Did not want to dawdle around as I was hoping to make it to Gros Morne National Park and book a cruise up the Western Brook Pond Fjord (which is not technically a fjord as plate tectonics and lifting raised the shoreline such that over the last 10,000 years it is now a huge freshwater lake.

But I did take a couple of small deviations.

Made a beeline for Deer Lake and refueled. Then it was off to Wiltondale, the gateway to the Gros Morne. For some reason the GPS is very lacking in information about this province. Usually I pick a place and then a gas station in it. That way it gets me going at least on the right path and if I deviate into a small village I can bail out right back on my route without trying to figure out where I am. Except Garmin is not updating its maps. Several times I am driving along and all of a sudden I am either in the ocean or in the middle of some lake according to their maps.

Stopped in at Norris Point and got great views from Jennieux House. They have this boardwalk trail that takes you to an observation deck where you get spectacular views.

It didn’t open until 9 and it had arts and crafts I would not have minded looking at. I headed into town and got a few shots. I especially liked one near some rental cottages where they had the sheets on lines outside to dry. The wind was whipping about and they made an interesting picture.

Then it was off to Lobster Cove Head and wander around the lighthouse. Great shots there, too.

At the entrance to the main information station to the park I used their local phone to book passage for the 2 hour boat trip. Pricey at $65 but what the hell. All the guide books and stories I’ve read bemoaned how all these places and campgrounds need reservations weeks ahead of time. I am here during peak tourist season (July and August) and campgrounds are mostly empty. Since I was early I decided to go to Cow Head and check out their lighthouse. Turned out to be harder to find than I thought and the drive in was over nasty roads so I backed off that and returned back to the entrance for Western Brook Pond.

Did I mention you need to hike in 2 miles to get to the boats? Yep! No cars, trucks, jeeps or buses. It’s mostly a trail on boardwalks built over bogs. Years ago the boats were dragged in over the frozen bogs in winter but the last boat, a 75 passenger job, had to be airlifted in in 4 pieces and then assembled/welded back together. You know that was not cheap. But at $65 a head and the boat I was on having 27 people and they have tours at 8, 10, 11, 1230, 1330, 14530, and 1730…..well, they’re making good money. They have to, given how much in taxes they have to pay, too.

Fact file for Western Brook Pond:

— the water is 600 feet deep at its deepest
— surface temp of the water only gets to 16 degrees C (about 61 F) in September. Deeper water is about 40 degrees.
— the last glacier here was 9,000 years ago (must have been man-made global warming that made them recede. Damned Indians and their whale blubber fires as they industrialized the east coast and raised Mother earth Gaia’s temperatures!!
— it takes a good 40 minutes to hike in and people make the trip in wheelchairs. It can get rough.
— thousands of moose and hundreds of caribou call the park home
— the water is some of the cleanest anywhere but lacks ions and minerals so there is little life; some fish, eels, etc but they have little to feed on
— in tests the water failed to conduct electricity

What a gorgeous place and what luck with the weather. I feel like I felt at Milford Sound in New Zealand. That place was more spectacular and you needed to book an overnight sailing to see everything. It was also a true fjord but this one is no slouch by comparison. I think I got the best time (1330) for lighting. Sooner and it’d have been too washed out; much sooner too dark. Later would have been full of shadows.

western brook

Left there for the campground and got smothered by mosquitoes. DAMN!!! They were gorging and I was not even feeling it. They also leave no itching sensation which is a plus, I guess.

Grabbed a quick bite as I rapidly edited out the shiite pictures and then a quick shower before going to Arches Provincial Park. This is a pretty cool place but as I was trying to get sunset pictures lighting them it was impossible as the tide was too high and the arches faced the water and were not sideways like the Twelve Apostles in Australia. They are two large natural archways carved out of rock by the tides while the arches were still underwater. Land uplift brought them out of the water millions of years ago.

It might be better in the morning and since I have to double back to the campground I will see tomorrow in the AM.

Continue reading Part 2

6 Responses to NEWFOUNDLAND (Part 1)

  1. McMurdo says:

    Great story Vilmar, I love reading them. OBTW, what year is your Kia van? I remember you buying one a couple years ago, is this the same one or did you buy a new one? You shouldn’t be having so dang much trouble with it though. No fun I know.

    Thanks-A-Bunch for the great story!

    Darrell

  2. antzinpantz says:

    Hey, Darrell, it looks like the van problem has gone away. Could have been air bubbles that needed evacuated (in other words, it needed to fart) And, yes, it is the same van.

    Glad you like the stories.

  3. redneckgeezer says:

    Wow Vilmar, I’m jealous. I just got back from Lake Powell and I’m catching up. It was 112 degrees the day I left. I think Newfoundland would be more comfortable. I can see us touring all this in my C-Dory though. Way better than walking or taking a car. Maybe someday!

  4. antzinpantz says:

    Hey Tony! I read your story about the heat and needing maintenance on the HB. 112? Keep it! Although it will be close to 90 today in the central province (Gander/Grand Falls)

  5. Diane Davis says:

    Memorial Day was determined before Newfoundland joined Confederation. Here’s a blog about the Newfoundland sacrifice in the war. Enjoying your blog, btw.
    http://rickmercer.blogspot.ca/2005/07/memorial-day-in-newfoundland.html

  6. antzinpantz says:

    Thanks for the link!

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