Will and Christine’s Monster Road Trip: September

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Bathurst to Woodstock


Okay, we saw our first moose in Woodstock.  Of course, going with the current theme, it was dead and dressed out on a trailer being towed through the McDonalds drive thru - yuck – talk about NOT food safe!



Two smiles from US border guards:

-when Will had to show his tattoo

-when I groused about driving back across Canada in the winter (yuck!)


At our Woodstock campground, there was some “discussion” about the flow of the river (Beta’s sticks seemed to flow upstream).  Then as we are driving along the river valley we comment on how little sign of the 400 years of settlement there…then we come to the Mactaquac Hydro dam.  In 1960, they built it and flooded the river for over 90 km upstream.  70 historic “loyalist” buildings were relocated to the Kings Landing National Park site and thousands of people were relocated.  So, the sticks were floating where ever the wind took them, we guess.


As many of you already know, our plans took a distinctly “northward” turn when we attempted to cross into the US.  Will was firmly (but very politely) told that the policy is no matter how long ago or how little, he can’t go.  Should he try somewhere else/some other way he would be arrested and they wouldn’t be “kind” about it.  We were given the distinct impression that, had it been up to the individuals, we would have been allowed to continue. (We were also given all the paperwork to fill out to apply for a special “entry permit”.  Goes with a $500 “bribe”, oops, I mean fee.  We’ll try to get that done for Santa Cruz in March.)


So, we spent a couple days in Woodstock (amazing fall colours) spinning our wheels and running through the scenarios….after a lot of time in a McDonalds parking lot (free WiFi and a payphone)  I have decided to bite the bullet, and take a rental car down to North Carolina.  I had hoped to bus but, with the kayak and luggage, there was going to be a lot of walking involved (buses in the Maritimes don’t cross the border – you have to go back to Montreal) and bus transferring (4, at the least) just to get to Norfolk, VA, where I would rent a car, anyway for the event.  And you can’t rent a car in Canada and leave it in the US…believe me; if there was another way to do this, I’ve looked into it.  My BCAA membership has been very handy because for every call I’ve made, Wendy in the Fredericton office has probably made 5!


A “team” at the Worlds is 6 people….and now I am very crucial paddler #6 – otherwise I would not even think of going through all this hassle/expense.


Will is going to take the trailer back to NS and surf at Lawrencetown until the campground closes (before I get back, otherwise he’d have the rental car and I’d have the truck) and then go back to Fredericton and hopefully brew us full of veg to start our trek home.  As I’ve said before: be careful what you wish for – now we’ve got time to see Niagara Falls and paddle Lake of the Woods (if it isn’t frozen solid!!!).  At least we know where the good roadside sleep spots are for our trip home (all the campgrounds are closing).  It might make more interesting reading for all of you ‘cause we don’t know where we are going – and neither will you until I update!!!


So, this will be the last update on this blog until I return from NC – Will is keeping the laptop with him (be prepared for interesting/cryptic comments on my FB page in the next bit)  But I do hope to do entries from North Carolina on www.surfkayak.org so check things out there in a week….fingers crossed!


View across the Saint John River at Woodstock campground

Digby NS to Bathurst NB



Yes, finally another NSDTR!

From this angle, you might think it was Fictitious…..



Will thinks he was taken to Hopewell Rocks as a kid – he wasn’t impressed by it then BUT he really enjoyed seeing it this time!



Home sweet RV!

Thanks to Dave and Sharon Gillis for taking care of our home for 3 weeks and making sure all was spic and span when we returned! 

Okay, we finally met a Nova Scotia NSDTR!  Her name is Jeanie and she is in the campsite next to us in Digby.  This is a very friendly campsite – nearly every site is “seasonal” and nearly every site has a dog, or two, or more!  We created a bit of a fuss - “look at those crazy people in the tent” – but now we are one of the dog-walk stops – Beta won’t need any dinner as every guest to our campsite comes armed with many cookies!  Our nearside neighbours are bringing in fall with a blow-out party (this is the last weekend the campground is open) so we have had ringside seats to some NS partying.  I have to say they go as hard as the NFLDer’s (and nearly as incomprehensible) BUT thankfully don’t get started the next day until noon.


We were the early risers when we had to clear the campsite by 6:45 am to get to the Digby ferry around 7 am for our 8 am reservation.  One of the first sunrises on the road!  It is a small boat – only takes 167 cars or 27 tractor trailers – and its status as a “tourist ferry” was clear by the collection of licence plates in the line-up.  One BC (us!),  3 NS,  3 Ontario and the rest from USA  (about 15+) and the BIGGEST 5th wheel we’ve ever seen!!!!  We immediately attracted a crowd that wanted to talk about 1) our boats, 2) where in BC  3) our cute dog and 4) what is all that stuff in your truck? (I had tailgate open, making coffee).  The ferry ride was mostly shrouded in fog, and the passenger deck was chilly so we did a fair bit of huddling, not sightseeing!  We were envying Beta, down in the truck with all the blankets and towels!


Coming off the ferry, the main route is under construction and we have a convoluted detour to navigate – unsuccessfully as we end up on the highway – going in the opposite direction from where we need to be going!  The nice thing about having to turn around and do it all again is we got to see the Reversing Falls downtown Saint John TWICE!  And once there was a jet boat playing in the Class 4(?) water.


I rushed Will along so we could try to get to Hopewell Rocks before the low tide was long gone – and we did manage to get down to the beach at Flower Pot Rocks before they closed it out.  Then we were able to put our kayaks in the water and paddle the shoreline.  Much to my surprise, the whole area isn’t the dramatic rock formations – the “park” is it – there are (extensive) mud flats on either side.  In order to take our own kayaks out we had to sign a waiver that was mostly concerned that we didn’t linger on the dropping tide and  get stranded out on the mud flat – then “damage” the mud flat trying to slog our boats in (protected shorebird habitat).  Apparently, it happens frequently!  Seeing as the park was closing at 5pm and the high tide was 4:15pm, we were in no danger – we were motivated to get off the water in plenty of time to get out of the locked parking lot so we’d be able to sleep in our RV.


The full moon was last week so the rise was a measly 12’ – but still a dramatic effect.  Beta was a real hit with the tourists who had been shuffled off the beach and onto the stairs by the rising water – Will had to do some fancy kayak manoeuvring so that she was in the “best” light for photo taking!  My camera ran out of battery before we were off the water – no wonder; I took over 100 photos just at Hopewell Rocks, not including the ferry photos earlier in the day, too!


We headed off to Bathurst – and if there was EVER a time to see a moose – this was it, no battery in the camera – but no moose.  Just the lovely welcome of Sharon and Dave and our memory foam mattress topper on our RV bed.  Thankfully Sharon and Dave checked in on our RV partway through our trip as the fridge/freezer malfunctioned and they removed the contents before they got yucky.  I dug out our extra blankets and quilt and we were nice and cosy under the blankets without toques and long underwear (as in the last 2 nights in Digby!)  First order of business in the morning (after a great breakfast!) was getting the propane situation straightened out – so we have fridge/freezer AND heater working for tonight. 


We’re now brewing our last Canadian batches of oil, drying out all our damp camping gear, repacking the RV and cleaning the truck in preparation for North Carolina.   I hope to get us to the border Wed evening/Thurs morning as we need to get to GreaseCar in Holyoke before close of business Friday at 5 pm.  And I need time to stop the truck and get some pictures of the amazing fall colours!  Many of the trees in our campsite are turning shades of orange and red – one or two more nights of almost 0oC and I’m sure they will all gone!




Hopewell Cape Rocks



NFLD ferry to Digby, NS



Just as moose are a myth in NFLD, we think Nova Scotia Duck Tollers in NS are a myth.  One day left and no sightings!!

(the Victoria people we saw on the ferry only saw dead moose – hunting season had started and they saw carcasses hung for aging at one place they stopped (and didn’t stay))

Brrr!  Fall is here in Nova Scotia!  The leaves are starting to turn and we’re wearing longies and toques to bed at night in an effort to keep warm – down to 5o last night and a risk of frost tonight!  We’re only one more sleep (and a long drive) back to our RV!


In what seems like a tiresome ritual, we left the NFLD ferry in pouring rain (again!)  Hurricane Maria was on the horizon and we put in a couple of long hours driving in rain and wind to get to Lawrencetown in hopes of some swell in the morning.  Thankfully Porter’s Lake Campground was NOT closed due to possible hurricane damage and the sky was even starting to clear when we set up the tent and crashed to sleep.  We woke to wind (not as much as Katia – we have a slightly bent tent pole to remember her by!) and some blue sky - -enough to dry out parts of our fly and tent before heading down the beach. 


Hum, no waves.  Guess Maria hasn’t got here, yet.  So we decide to drive further down the southern coast and check out some other surf spots on the other side of Halifax.  Our maps do not give us a clear route from the northern side of Dartmouth to the south side of Halifax so we have quite the interesting time wondering where we are until we finally spot a Hwy 103 sign.  Yah, saved!  We see some beautiful towns, lovely rivers, pretty sandy beaches and some potentially rocking surf spots…but no waves.  I guess Maria doesn’t want to play!  In the interest of getting back to our RV and getting ready for the Worlds we cut through the heart of Nova Scotia on Hwy 8 – what a beautiful drive!  The trees are just starting to turn their fall colours and every once in a while we’d see a brilliantly red tree surrounded by orange and green ones.  The sword ferns are all a startling shade of orange (Mom would love them!).


We’re parked in Digby for 2 days to brew a batch of oil, then across on the ferry to Saint Johns and to see Hopewell Rocks, then zoom back to Bathurst.  We’ve loved the Maritimes, we need more time!!!!, we’ll be back, for sure!


St. John’s to Dildo Run Provincial Park (Twillingate) and then back to JT Cheeseman Provincial Park




And there are the towns of Dildo Run, Dildo and South Dildo…we’re NOT making this up!



Last sighting of “Farmers Feed Cities” – they were heading east onto the Avalon Peninsula and we were headed west……




And at the NFLD ferry, we met back up with the Victoria family with the Arctic Fox travel trailer….




We did NOT see any moose in NFLD!!!!



Our last 2 days in NFLD – the mosquitoes come out!




We see some aftershocks have continued to rock Vancouver Island!



We made our first veggie-oil filter change in Deer Lake last night (filter installed in Grand Forks, BC)  we’ve been on the road from more than 10,000 km!

Wow, has it only been 12 nights “on the rock”?  We don’t want to leave – still so much to see and do in such a great place!  We highly recommend a trip to here for all nature lovers!


We headed back to St. John’s and had a surprisingly hard time getting veggie oil from restaurants.  Due to the limited (non-existent) space that everyone has the in the downtown area, there is a very efficient barrel-exchange method of used oil and garbage collection – finally we scraped up just enough to make a small batch – enough to get us off the rock!


Late in the day, we headed up to Twillingate, where we had heard there were off-season icebergs to be seen.  As soon as we could, we headed off the monotonous TCH and up the “Route of the Isles” road.   This took us along the central/eastern coast line, through fishing villages and winding over many connected islands.  The sunset was lovely behind us, the full moon rising in front of us even more beautiful.  The silver shining on all the water – a beautiful drive.  We were on hyper-aware for roadside sightings of moose – many locals had warned us that driving at night was dangerous as “moose just drop out of the sky”- but while moose may have seen us, we didn’t see any of them (maybe a rock or a moose butt at one point….)  We were very aware of our ferry reservation in 2 days otherwise would have stopped more than 2 hours out of Twillingate in order to camp on a possible surf beach just to see it in the daylight!


 We pushed onto to Dildo Run Provincial Park (or “the Provincial Park” as most folks call it   lol!)  In the morning, we found out it was the prettiest campground we have been in the whole of NFLD – possibly our whole trip!  The campsites are surrounded by a salt water archipelago of islands – SO MUCH poking around and paddling to do here….so little time – and washrooms are very clean with hot water on the first touch of a button!  Argh, curse the World Surf Competition…we wanna stay!!!


Heading into Twillingate (more islands, more amazing sea kayaking) we see our first iceberg - from the truck as we’re crossing (another) causeway between the islands – wow!  We have some time before our tour boat goes out so we head to Auk Island Winery (one of 2 in NFLD) and get some Christmas presents for you all at home, then off to the very tip of the island…to see at least 20 icebergs and ‘bergy bits spread across the horizon – so cool!!!!


On the boat, most of the passengers are a generation older than us and from the USA but we have a great time as we go out to the closest iceberg (LARGE – quarter mile by half a mile) I’m sure my pictures do not do it justice!  (I did take some movie footage on my camera, too!)  To get an idea of size, there was about a 6 ft swell and the iceberg does NOT move in the swell – the swell moves around the iceberg!  Then off to see some whales (whales/smales, we told the tour guide, we got those dumb things at home – she says “oh, you must be from BC  Haha!)  While we were on the tour boat, the first iceberg we had seen from the truck BROKE UP and we saw the pieces floating away from each other in the distance.  Gosh, am I glad that we didn’t ditch the boat tour to go look at that one in our sea kayaks!  (No wonder the locals thought we were nuts to ask if anyone goes out in kayaks to look at the ‘bergs!)


Leaving Twillingate, we promise ourselves that we will be back with LOTS of time to spare – the only reason (we can think of) this area isn’t on every paddlers to-do list is the ever-present wind, but there are many places to wind in and around it! 


We get a little more time off the TCH, but soon we have no choice but back to the highway.  This is the part we drove in a gross storm, so there is a little more to see than before but soon the sun sets and we are on “moose” patrol once again…but NO moose!!!


We’re splurging on a berth on the boat as it has a shower and internet connection – then we’re off to see if Maria is gonna send some swell to Lawrencetown.  We are starting to be very conscientious of the “to-do” list before we head off to North Carolina so we will be abbreviating the rest of our Maritime adventure.  The latest info we have is that the competition site has been moved 50 miles north of the original site as Waves, Rodathe and Cape Hatteras will not be open to non-locals until after Sept 29th.  The KOA campsite we had been looking forward to staying in has not reopened, yet, either.





Waterfall of pure, 10, 000 year-old water off an iceberg at sea.

The “surf zone” – we’re not gonna tell you where…..



Yes, there are WAVES in NFLD!!!!



This was the banner moment of our trip…so far!




And we find out that there has been some rockin’ and rollin’ at home…good to know everyone is okay (and our house is okay!!!) from the latest earthquake!


PS: I forgot to mention that Willie is awesome!  I locked the keys in the truck (with purse, cellphone and BCAA Roadside Assist info inside) and he was able to use his masculine prowess (and a fire poker and duct tape from Rob) to get us access back in – we were 3 hours in the middle of nowhere!

So, I’m not going to tell you exactly where we went, but we found WAVES and we found the NFLD surfing community.


  We checked out a couple of beaches in VERY strong wind (Visitor’s Center told us 50 km gusting to 70 km and I’ll believe it, truck was all over the road) and the swell was pumpin’.  We’re checking out the brutal beach break at one beach (and the gash in a surfer’s head from his board) when we spot some windshields flashing in the distance.  Some adventurous 4x4ing later and ….we’ve found Katia Swell headquarters.  Most folks were waiting for the wind to shift and the tide to change but a couple of guys were trying to stay ahead of the foam pile in the craziest off-shore conditions I’ve ever seen (outside of a magazine)  We hang for awhile but we’re not going in there – way toooooo windy and rocky – go farther along the coast to “the kiddie pool” and watch some decent waves but with a nasty rip.  An intrepid pair come down to try it out (less rocks) and no sooner than they hit the water than the swell really starts rocking.  Julie impressed us both with her fearless break out (see the “speck” pictures in the photo album) and then her ability to come back in against tide, rip and wind without a munching.  We go back to “headquarters” to watch the most amazing surfing we’ve ever seen – guys getting 25+ second rides – longer if they wanted a bigger paddle out.  The swell was bashing up against the cliff through “Ukee Secret Spot” type boulders so discretion was the better part of valour on Will’s part – he does need a boat in North Carolina in 2 weeks soo wrecking his here didn’t seem such a smart idea.  (He went out the next day when it was  much smaller - only 4-5 ft rather than 8-12 ft – and his first wipeout happened over 3 boulders and I can’t believe he didn’t smack anything as I saw his boat – Will underneath it - be run across one and through 2 others….)


Everyone was totally cool, we stayed and camped out with 15 or so others (fresh-baked, no secret ingredient, chocolate brownies open all doors…) while people surfed into the dusk.  The full moon was playing peek-a-boo, otherwise there would have been midnight surfing…moon came out after everyone was wayyy toooooo drunk to surf!   


It was good that the camaraderie kept us warm ‘cause the temperature dropped down to 6oC that night!


Before all the surfers we know back home pack up and head out to find NFLD’s amazing point-breaks, the folks here want you to know that the last time this spot fired like this was 2 years ago – the hurricane swell makes all the difference.  But there was not a face without a mile-wide smile pasted on it in the permanent grin, that is for sure!!!!


We also have a contact for some veggie oil in St. John’s so we’re planning to brew another batch (maybe two?!?!), see if there are any icebergs left and catch the ferry out on Thursday to possibly catch the next swell coming to Nova Scotia on Friday.    And then we’ve got to retrieve our much-missed RV and get our butts to North Carolina.




Like the Energizer Bunny, Katia keeps going and going all afternoon long

….the little black specks out in the water ARE surfers.

St. John’s to Chance Cove Provincial Park



No moose….still!

After a restless night; it’s a very unusual feeling sleeping in your tent in a city, we’ve got all our stuff dry and we’ve provisioned up to head down to the south coast.  Thankfully everything was packed away in the truck before the rain hit…..  We head over to Cape Spear, the easternmost part of Canada (where Canada begins…or ends) and see lines of swell hurtling themselves at the cliffs.  Wanna get tubed in NFLD?  If you don’t mind the crunch at the end, this is the spot! 


Showers turn to downpour as we head off down Route 10 – this is more Will’s cup of tea as we are high up, crossing marshes and “headlands” then we drop down into deep fjords where a small fishing community is perched at the head of the inlet.  We don’t make a speedy process as each inlet seems to have “a wave”.  The prettiest inlet had 5 large islands offshore – prime sea kayaking should it not be so windy/rainy!  At Ferryland, Will asks permission to cross private land to check out a really cool break (from a very puzzled landowner) …we may head back there yet.  Ferryland has an archaeological dig proving European settlement back to 1621 – Lord Baltimore’s Colony of Avalon.  After Ferryland, settlements become few and far between – however, in what seems like the middle of nowhere, there will be a small cabin or two.  Summer cottages?  Hunting lodges?  The mystery intrigues us.  


We find the turn-off to Chance Cove with a warning about its remoteness – the gravel road makes us feel at home – and when we get to the parking lot there are 6 or 7 RV trailers here, waiting for their owners!  We scope out a nice little tent spot on the other side of the hill from the parking lot, facing the ocean and in a moment’s pause in the rain get the tent up then go exploring.  Our NFLD connection had recommended this park as a place to surf and get away from it all – and it sure is that!  The southern Katia swell we were expecting has more east to it than expected, so the swell isn’t quite to our liking - but the park is!  I like it even more as, when we are setting up our tarp to make a kitchen, a rainbow comes out and the rain goes away!  Yah!  Beta likes being able to charge around, off-leash, in the grass chasing the very cheeky squirrels that surround the parking lot.  We do get company – several of the RV owners show up on the Friday afternoon and start up generators and chainsaws – they are quite friendly – and a German couple in their rented RV join us at our fire Friday night.  It turns out that when they toured the west coast a couple of years ago, then ended up camping in Ucluelet as all the spaces in Tofino were full!  Such a small world!  They have a good laugh when we tell them that we don’t understand “Newfie speak”, either!


Saturday morning is windy, cool and grey and one of the new arrivals to the campsite tells us Katia’s wind is going to rip through tonight –  I can believe it as the swell we thought would drop off this morning seems larger than last night.  Not sure what we are going to do today – head to Mistaken Point, go back to St. John’s and brew a batch of veggie or call up the Twillingate Visitor’s Center to see if the icebergs are still there!


Clarenville to St. John’s




It’s a small world: met a man from Victoria who has a 14 year old Duck Toller, who is pulling an Arctic Fox travel trailer (big brother to our Nash) and who is blogging about his trip, too!  He gave us a lead on a great diesel mechanic in Nanaimo – ‘cause I’m not sure that trips to Grand Forks to have our truck serviced by awesome Bernie are in the works!

Morning dawned cool, windy and sunny.  Yeah!  A nice little tailwind sped us on our way across the Avalon Peninsula and in towards St. John’s.  Last night, we thought that several places we drove through could have been used in the filming of Lord of the Rings – the Dead Marshes section – today we drove through “the Rohan”.


The monotony of the TCH got to Will so we deked off and came through Conception Bay.  Very windy – so lots of waves crashing on the shore – but nothing you would call “surf”.  This did mean that when we left Conception Bay we ended up downtown St. John’s (thank goodness we didn’t have our RV!) and at Signal Hill (instead of Cape Spear) without really understanding how THAT happened!  The harbour at St. John’s is very busy – boats of all descriptions – and cars driving like it is not a city (we saw 3 u-turns in intersections downtown).  A kind lady at the visitor’s center told me, “You may have come all the way across Canada but we’re not on a grid system, here, dearie.”   I think that Rae must have loved walking here – driving is just plain crazy – lots of brightly coloured building sandwiched together with little stairways/alleys/lanes sprinkled in where you least expect them.


Up at Signal Hill you have a wide view of the Atlantic Ocean – the Cabot Tower was closed due to the 100 km/hr winds – and we could see huge swells smashing themselves against the cliffs of Cape Spear in the distance.  We did take in some “education” and watched a film in the parks visitor’s center about the different French/English battles that took place throughout the 1600’s and 1700’s.   I was surprised to find out that German U-boats tried attacking St. John’s in WWII, and that a passenger ferry travelling between NFLD and NS was sunk by a U-boat.  I didn’t realize there had been that much action on our side of the Atlantic.


Several turns around the downtown of St. John’s - I’m sure anyone who has been here is laughing at that! – and the most round-a-bout route you’ve ever seen has us at the campground in the middle of St. John’s (Pippy’s Park).  We thought we’d take advantage of the sun/wind to get all our stuff dried out before heading off down the coast, rather than getting lost again and having to set up in the dark!



St. .John’s Harbour – Will asked a longshoreman why so many of the boats had really low sterns (we thought unusual in the types of water they must sail in) and he said they were supply boats for the off-shore oil industry – easier to get stuff off and on.

Gros Morne National Park to Clarenville



I’ve some to the conclusion that RV is a better deal than tenting.  The only time tenting is cheaper is when it comes to ferries.  The slightly less cost for an unserviced site is made up in getting ice for the cooler (every 2 days) and propane for the stove (every 2 days).  (we were still working on our 1st 30lb bottle of propane on our RV a month into our trip)   You also get stuck out too far to pick up the campground’s wireless network (usually).  And then you get hurricanes and troughs of low pressure…..

After 50+ mm of rain fell last night…(I left a soup tin out) we’re feeling (a little) disenchanted with tenting. 


Thankfully it really started to pour before bed so we closed up our veggie stuff, turfed the picnic table out from under the tarp and moved our tent fully under the tarp and mostly out of the way of the streams of water headed through our campsite.  Not the full night’s sleep I was hoping for, though.  Listening to our VHF in the gloomy morning we get the cheery message that “a trough of low pressure over the Gulf of St, Lawrence has stalled and is expected to intensify over the next 12 hours” and every section of the western coast is under storm/gale force wind and rain warnings.

Plan #2 emerges – get the heck out of Dodge!!!!  We pile all our somewhat wet (tent and one thermarest) and really wet (tarp and rain gear) stuff into the truck and decide we’ll check out one last spot and then we’re going east to try to out-run the weather.  This is only mildly successful – we do leave behind the 80 km/hr gusts of Gros Morne behind but the heavy rain follows us (or perhaps is attached to us?)


The plan was to drive until we saw a moose but apparently moose have more sense than to be out in this weather – we arrived in Clarenville around 9 pm (it is pitch dark – I can’t get used to how short the days are here compared to the same time at home) and get out of the truck – it is still raining but it is WARM!!!!!!  We book into a hotel – the guests checking in in front of us came off the Port aux Basque ferry and drove the same road as us, and they have never seen fall weather like this. (They are NFLDers)  I don’t want to contemplate that we brought this with us….. 


On the bright side, swell from Katia is supposed to reach NFLD on Friday and we have some local, insider info on where that might be best taken advantage of…     (And no bug bites since we touched down on the Rock!)


We’re off to Cape Spear to deliver our Pacific Ocean water to the Atlantic today and then hunt down a campsite and dry everything out in the forecasted 2 days of nice weather coming up…..fingers crossed!!!!  We need to brew a batch of veggie oil, too, but the moisture out here has us pretty freaked out to do that!!!



On the Cow Head Lighthouse Trail

Gros Morne National Park



“Farmers Feed Cities” just arrived at our campground…we’ll have to learn their names!!!

Apparently Newfies party harder than anyone else…and then get up earlier in the morning to continue on the same.  We had just a couple hours sleep but the campsite is pretty much empty tonight so looking forward to a full night’s sleep.  We did meet some really cool folks – one who is really interested in our veggie set up AND works for Marine Atlantic.  He tells us that the ferry we were on last night is the only one that rolls around in the swell like that- hence the reason the boat was not full – locals don’t ride on it!  If there is more than a meter going home, we’ll make sure we’re on another boat!


Off to explore Gros Morne today – got lots of great kayaking info at a local rental place but the weather is socking in for the next couple of day so we may not stick around to do it.  Terra Nova is “the place” for sea kayaking and St. John’s is for surfing.  We did hike several of the local trails today and hit some of the beaches – the place is deserted due to the end of the long weekend and the wind/rain/fog that reduces visibility to near 0.  (Thankfully our campground is in a protected rain shadow type area so now we’re drying off)  I’ve just checked the weather forecast and Gros Morne is under severe weather warning – 80 mm of rain & 50 km wind in the next 24 hours.  NFLD is feeling more and more like home, I have to say!!!


Good luck to all at school tomorrow!



NFLD ferry to Gros Morne National Park



We are leap-frogging with a couple from Ontario who also have a distinctive older-style RV van and a “Farmers Feed Cities” bumper sticker.  We saw them in NS, then at the ferry terminal, then on the ferry and at JT Cheeseman Park.  They were not sure of their next destination BUT we did see them at a pull-out near Corner Brook.  Further possible sightings await….. 

We left the NFLD ferry at 2 am in the morning, in what we hope is NOT a typical NFLD welcome – rain.  We managed to find JT Cheeseman Provincial Park in the dark, set up our tent under its fly and crawled in to sleep.


Thankfully we woke up to sunny skies and got all our tent stuff/coats and shoes dry before packing up and heading down to the BEAUTIFUL beach! (AND NO BUGS!!!) The water is soooooo  clear that you can see through to the bottom as the (small & mushy) waves stretch up and break – mesmerizing!


We head off up the TCH, loving the scenery of rolling hills covered in soft and hard wood with mountains in the background.  Every once a while the ocean peaks out on our left side and brilliant blue lakes are on our right.  We certainly do not understand “BIG” when it comes to lakes on the island!   To begin with we are all alone on the 4 lane highway but as we approach Corner Brook there is more company.  We are disappointed to find out that there is no “scenic” coastal route – each exit goes down to the water to that town and then ends – as we can see tantalizing spits and cliffs and breaking waves in the distance.


Heading into Corner Brook, Will decides we need to find a pub and have a beer there in honour of all the folks he knows from the area.  Well, we tried!  We spent almost an hour navigating one way streets and narrow alleys attempting to find a pub….we ended up at a Jungle Jim’s family restaurant instead.


Off to Gros Morne National Park….I’m starting to think that mountains, road side lakes, sandy beaches and winding roads are the real criteria for deciding where a National Park will be situated as, just like on Lake Superior, there is a strong sense of “home” here.  Well, except for the moose stomping on the car signage every couple of miles (apparently, driving early in the morning or dusk is a guaranteed way to see moose in Gros Morne until hunting season opens on the 10th)  We are settled in for a couple of days at the KOA campground – the busiest campground we have stayed in so far with very humourous, rich local culture in the site next to us – to do some paddling in Bonne Bay and maybe some surfing up at Cow Head.  Maybe I’ll be able to persuade Will to do some of the famous hiking here, too!


Brice Evening Entertainment:

listening to the Newfie 20-somethings in the site next to us drunkenly argue and then try to figure out HOW to cook their hamburgers. (There are 4 of them and 5 conversations going on.)  I figure Will should go over there and intro some BC appetite inducer – then they’ll eat them raw.  We are laughing ourselves sick over the accent and the colloquisms.

Canso to NFLD ferry

As I type this, I am rocking back and forth in the swell the VERY large ferry is experiencing while looking at the sunset over the Cape Breton Highlands!!!


The drive from Canso to North Sydney continued the lovely precedent set up from Lawrencetown.  The first part followed Chedabucto Bay, where there is evidence of English explorers landing in the late 1300’s, up to the Canso Causeway (which connects mainland NS to Cape Breton Island) and then along the Bras d’Or Lake system.  We’ve scouted out our route around the Cape Breton Highlands for our trip back, as well.  


We were less than impressed to find out that the new policy on Marine Atlantic is that pets need to be leashed AND  muzzled when out of the vehicle/on their property.    Apparently there have been some biting incidents due to stress of travel (no doubt – it’s a 6+ hour trip with no exercise/bathroom breaks).  We pleaded ignorance and got away with just leashing – not sure what we’ll do on the way back!  Beta is in the truck right now, hopefully we got all the food put away or we’re going to be greeted to quite a mess in 6 hours time! (no going to the car decks while at sea)  I’m quite happy that I booked us a 2 bed berth – we have our own room with shower/bathroom, TV and WiFi/plug in – Will is impatiently waiting his turn on the computer right now!!!  We get off at 3 am in the morning…talk about an adventure!  Gros Morne National Park is our next destination – we’ve been warned that amenities may be few and far between after the Labour Day so not sure when I’ll update this next!  (hopefully before we return on the ferry in a week – the connection is VERY slow – hence no pictures on the right hand side!)


Lawrencetown to Canso



“Ah, that is such a calm duck toller.”

-the common phrase from NS when they met Beta …. and we think she’s pretty hyper!



Porcupines become the road kill in NS (replacing racoons Ontario/Quebec and skunks in Manitoba)

We left Lawrencetown in the late afternoon – got everything dried out and repacked – said good bye to the beach and off on our next adventure.  We chose to drive the “Marine Route” up the eastern coast towards Cape Breton Island.  This is a lovely route skirting the ocean side going through many tiny villages.  Sometimes the road goes up to the top of an estuary and then hairpins back to the ocean and sometimes we cross a causeway right next to the sea.  Amazingly, there appears to be no swell on this exposed coast and many interesting islands for poking around.  I guess the main reason that this is not on every kayakers “to-do” list is the lack of public land – everything is private and has belonged to families for several centuries.  (Every village has one or more churches with cemetery with a  memorial to seaman lost at sea)


We had been warned that this was a very bumpy route and we were cockily thinking “Well, we drove HWY 44 in Manitoba so this should be a piece of cake” ….  then we left Peter MacKay’s riding……   HWY 44 still has the Marine Route beat – but not by much!!!


We had a moment of panic when we came to a “Highway Ends in 500m” sign partway up the coast – but no worries, there is a small cable car that runs back and forth 24 hrs a day.  The crewman wanted to know where we were from as he has a son in Kamloops! (He was one of the folks who thought we had a calm toller.)


We pull into Canso after dark and set our tent up at the end of the field in the RV/marina park.  In the morning, we awake to a lovely view of a harbour with many islands.  Saying to heck with more driving, we decide to stay another day so we can paddle this amazing coast.  The RV manager rustles up a nautical chart for us and off we go!  It turns out the island across from us is a National Park due to the archaeological work that has gone into  excavating the French/English forts built on the island.  We would have explored the island more but the bugs were FIERCE so we hopped back in our kayaks and headed off around the island.  The water was sooooooo clear!


The whole community of Canso is a big Historica Fair project – there is the National Park for the Grassy Islands as well as the community info center/museum that details Canso’s history as the trans-Atlantic cable landing and supply town for the Grand Banks fishing boom.   It is currently struggling to survive with 900 inhabitants and minimal sport fishing.  (the local Co-op is undergoing renos similar to ours)  Everyone is very friendly and we are loathe to leave as there is so much more exploring to do in this area.