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'01 Trip to Atlantic Canada
Second Leg: Newfoundland


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Tues, Aug 7, 01. From Channel-Port aux Basques to L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. 770 km  

J.: The night on the ferry was pretty terrible. The passengers were not allowed to sleep on the floor (safety regulations and a way of making people spend more money on cabins). The ship’s crew rudely interrupted our sleep on the cafeteria’s floor.  The way to deal with it is to make up a "bed" above the floor - on chairs.  So we did.

Entering New Foundland

First thing we did in Newfoundland was to visit Tim Horton’s, the best breakfast place in Canada. We had tea/hot chocolate and some doughnuts. The roads in Newfoundland are good but because of the distances the drive becomes boring after first 200 km. An exception is vicinity of Corner Brook and Deer Lake and especially Gros Morne National Park - picturesque mountains.

The wind was southern which helped because it was very strong (we headed north). 

Arches near Gros Morne Park

Even though the temperature was around 19 C, it seemed that it was much colder. There was a small village every 50 km or so. No trees, just bunch of white houses. Winters must be really cold and windy here.

We arrived in L'Anse aux Meadows around 7 p.m. It was too late to explore the historic sight of what is left of the Vikings after thousand years. We decided to do it the next day. The closest camping was 40 km away. This is just an example of distances in Newfoundland.

 

Wed, Aug 8, 01. From l'Anse aux Meadows to Eddie's Cove, Newfoundland. 260 km  

J.: There was an unpleasant surprise in the morning: 9 Celsius and light rain. We put on our rain gear and headed for the museum. It was worth seeing. We spent around 2-3 hours there. 

Reconstructed Viking residence   What Vikings were all about..... Really?

We left in the afternoon and decided to go as far as possible. After 100-150 km the rain stopped. We reached Eddie's Cove when a scary thing happened: the moose began to appear near the road. You don't want to hit the moose especially when you are riding a motorcycle. 

Warning sign: Moose!

We found a nice place not far from the road - a dead-end forest road full of garbage: an old car, fiberglass, bricks, etc. There must have been a settlement nearby.

The reason why Newfoundland is called the Rock is that the whole island seems to be exactly this: the rock covered with 2-3 feet of dirt.

Thurs, Aug 9, 01. From Eddie's Cove to Saint John's, Newfoundland. 892 km  

In the morning we visited a picturesque Gros Morne National Park with a fjord that ends in a lake. 

Gros Morne National Park

We decided to reach Saint John's even though the last 200 km we drove after the sunset. I was quite scared of running into a moose so I used the "follow the moose" technique. The moose of course was another vehicle. There were a few tractor-trailers that were speeding in the darkness not afraid of anything, either police or a moose.

We didn't want to waste any time too, even though it was after midnight, right after checking in to the hotel, we headed for George Street - the party place of Saint John's.

G: Naturally we couldn’t resist not entering a bar for a pint of Irish beer. Most of the music you hear on George Street is Irish too. 

Fri, Aug 10, 01. Saint John's and Bulls Bay, Newfoundland. 80 km  

Relaxing a bit after a long ride, we limited the sightseeing of Saint John's and vicinity to a whale watching trip and a few motorbike rides around the city.

There were around 40 people on our whale watching boat. There was a group of seniors citizens from the States. I was quite amazed how well they coped with the trip. Large waves were tossing us up and down and there was only one passenger that had to “use the washroom”. We saw 4 or 5 humpback whales from a distance. We also cruised by the island inhabited by millions of birds - so it seemed. The stench was unbearable. 

Whale watching boat   A humpback whale - or rather her tail  Sea bird island

Greg's bike has a defect - speedometer failed.  Generally, it is not a big problem.

Before enjoying the bar scene again, we checked out the Signal Hill with a beautiful view of St. John's harbour. 

Signal Hill

Friday night is a busy time in Saint John's. George Street is a stretch that contains over 60 bars. And in many of the bars there is live music.

G: We spent the whole evening in different bars listening to music and striking conversations with locals.  In general most of them complained about the lack of opportunities in their city and they thought about moving away.  Still they were very happy with their city and its heritage.  Their friendliness was more than noticeable. It was rather easy to strike a conversation with a complete stranger.  St. John’s experience overall rating: two thumbs up.

 

Sat, Aug 11, 01. From Saint John's to Gander, Newfoundland. 351 km  

The night was eventful, so we had trouble getting up. 

Captain's Quarters Hotel, St. John's, NF

We had to adjust rear breaks in both motorcycles. We did this on the Canadian Tire (chain of stores) parking lot. A lot of people talked to us about our trip and how we liked Newfoundland. Very friendly people.

We left Saint John's around 3 p.m. We found a free place to sleep near Gander.

Sun, Aug 12, 01. From Gander to Channel-Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. 583 km  

It was an eventful day. The roads in Newfoundland were quite boring so the only way to make the driving interesting was to speed. 130-140 km/h was our “speed of the day”. The drawback was that going that fast made the bikes burn more fuel. At the 250 km mark my Interceptor stopped.

After getting some gas from friendly locals and spontaneous tourists, we continued on trying to reach the 5 p.m. ferry. Well, that speed was too fast for Greg's bike. The chain broke. Greg managed to put it together with an extra link I carried and we continued driving this time 80 km/h. At a construction zone of a road near our destination, I wiped out nicely on a huge pothole in a gravel stretch of the road. The bike survived, the rider too. We continued driving. We reached Port aux Basques in time to board the 10 p.m. ferry.

We met Gille and Joanne, the Kawasaki Vulcan riders from Toronto. They were travelling around Atlantic Canada just like us. Few days back they went to Madeleine Island, which according to their description is the Canadian Riviera. Next time.

The ferry was larger and it had sleepers (bunk beds). $16 a bed was a good deal.

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To continue the story, click After Nuf'nland or go back to '01 Atlantic Canada.