A Travellerspoint blog

DAY 21 - ST. ANTHONY, N.L. TO GANDER, NEWFOUNDLAND

rain 15 °C

I got on the road from St. Anthony at 7 a.m. hoping to beat the rain that was forecast. My plan didn't work because about 15 minutes out of town, the rain began. At first it was just a few drops but it became heavier as the morning wore on. I stopped for breakfast about 2 hours out at a local place (the cafe from yesterday wasn't open at 8 a.m. when I rode by). Back on the road and the rain really started. It was only 7 celcius at that time in the morning and I was glad that I had donned my heated jacket liner and that I had heated handlebar grips on the Wing.

It was as bad or worse than the rain that kept me in Corner Brook for an extra day last Sunday. The good news is that it wasn't that windy at first but just before Gros Morne National Park, the wind really whipped up. It was as bad as any wind on the prairies. My Aerostitch suit performed admirably. I rode over 500 kms in the rain and the only part of me that got wet was my butt because my sheepskin that I keep on my seat acted like a sponge.

There were a few things I would have liked to have seen today that I passed-on yesterday because I wanted to see the Viking Settlement. I had to let them go by today because of the weather. Many of the villages looked quite picturesque. As well, Gros Morne National Park has some spectacular scenery.

It was over 400 kilometers to Deer Lake where I picked-up the Trans Canada. After fueling-up I headed east towards Grand Falls-Windsor where I planned to overnight. Once again, the rain became torrential. Fortunately, there's not a lot of traffic so I just slowed-down a bit and rode it out. The rain finally stopped about 50 kms from Grand Falls.

I couldn't find a motel in Grand Falls. The only decent one wasn't near a restaurant. Once I'm off the road for the day, I don't like to get back on the bike to find a place to eat. So I rode on another hour to Gander where I found a place. Gander is a gritty place. Nothing looks new. Parking lots are full of cracks and potholes. At one time Gander was a going concern when most airlines used it as a fueling stop on their Trans Atlantic flights. With the advanced range of modern jets, the airport isn't used that much anymore. The hotel I'm staying at has sure seen better days.

Gander became famous after 9-11 when U.S. air space was closed. Dozens of airliners were re-routed here and not allowed to continue on to the U.S. for 2 or 3 days. The people of Gander opened their homes to thousands of passengers. Check out http://www.ganderairport.com/911.htm

No photos on this blog. It was raining too hard. Tomorrow I have about 320 kms to the end of my cross-country journey. The weather forecast for the next 3 days is much like today. I have to get an oil change for the Wing in St. John's. If I can get that done tomorrow (13th) I may take the ferry from Argentia back to North Sydney on the 14th.

Distance today - 753 kms
Distance todate - 9,097 kms.

Posted by wpcross625 16:17 Archived in Canada Tagged newfoundland gander Comments (0)

DAY 20 - CORNERBROOK, N.L. TO ST. ANTHONY, N.L.

North From the Trans-Canada on N.L. Hwy. #430 the Viking Trail - L'Anse aux Meadows Viking Settlemen

sunny 20 °C

The weather in Corner Brook this morning was the exact opposite of yesterday..... sun and blue skies. I loaded up the bike and got on the road by 7:30. I would have been earlier but I got talking to a couple from Pennsylvania who were loading their bike too. They were riding 2-up on a BMW 1200GS.

After fuelling-up in Corner Brook, I headed east on the Trans Canada for about 40 kms then headed north on #430. The first thing I ran into was a construction zone. Being a bit of pessimist, I assumed this was an omen that it would be a long 400 km leg to St. Anthony. I was pleasantly surprised that this bit of bridge construction was the only construction project of the day. I was also surprised with the road conditions. There were a few places at the north end where there were some dips and potholes but generally, it is a good highway in terms of surface but not a great motorcycling because of a lack of curves.
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Being unsure of the availability of gas on this fairly remote highway, I topped-up my tank in Rocky Harbour, with is about 350 kms from St. Anthony, well within the cruising range of the Wing. I also too the opportunity to visit the local cafe for breakfast. It seems you always get a good meal at a decent price in "non-chain" restaurants and this was no exception. They also had a great display of paintings from local artists hanging on the walls.

As I travelled up #430, I became so thankful that I didn't try this trip yesterday. Much of the highway goes right along the oceanfront. With the rain and wind yesterday, it would have been a brutal trip. On the radio, the local station was talking about people who were on top of signal hill in St. John's during the height of the storm. Apparently, they were screaming. The winds were blowing over 90 kmph.

I was impressed with the number of small communities along #430. The fishing business is pretty-well inactive. You see quite a few lobster pots laying around. I don't know how these people support themselves. The chopping of firewood appears to be a popular pastime as there are stacks of cut wood all along the highway. I suppose that's the most economical way to heat a home in this isolated area. I stopped at a cafe at Plum Cove for a cup of coffee. The place had about 15 tables and they were all full, mostly with mums and dads with their kids. I didn't eat but the food being served looked really good. It might be a good breakfast stop tomorrow as it's about an hour out of St. Anthony.

I also noticed that every once in a while along the side of the road, there are vegetable gardens. Most of the settlements are built close to the ocean and are very rocky. I presume that the locals establish these gardens away from their homes because of the lack of topsoil.

I got into St. Anthony about 2:30 p.m. I checked into the Hotel North, dropped some of my gear in the room and got right back on the bike and rode about 29 kilometers to the Viking Settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows. This was a highlight of the trip. The Vikings settled here about 500 years before Columbus "discovered" America. The site has been declared a World Heritage Site by the U.N. Canada National Parks runs the site and it is impressive with an extensive interpretation centre and guides that show you through the site.
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The "ruins" are actually reproductions of the originals, which collapsed and were taken over by nature. They were discovered in 1960 by a Norwegian couple who figured out through Norse literature where the settlement might be. You can still see the outline of where the original buildings were. Check out http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=4219
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i got back to St. Anthony at 5 p.m. and proceeded to the lighthouse lookout to have a look at the icebergs. Yes... it's July and there are icebergs. A local told me that there is an iceberg about the size of Manhattan that broke off the glacier and is floating off Greenland. They think it may take 2 years for this ice to melt. In the meantime, there are hundreds of "bergs" calving off the main piece of ice.

The Lightkeepers Restaurant is located at the lookout so I went in and had dinner. Atlantic seafood (except their salmon) is so much better than Pacific seafood (in my opinion). There were lots of American tourists in St. Anthony. Other than the Viking settlement and icebergs, St. Anthony doesn't have much to offer. There are a number of businesses that will take you out whale watching or a closer look at the icebergs
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I went back to the hotel (which was no "great shakes" and worked on this blog. Unfortunately the Wifi link was weak and I couldn't upload any of the photos I want to attach. So I'll publish this blog tomorrow in Grand Falls or Gander, my next stop. The weather forecast for tomorrow is for rain. I'll go rain or shine because I don't want to spend another day here. Also, the forecast for the day after is identical.

Distance today = 577
Distance todate = 8,384

Posted by wpcross625 15:34 Archived in Canada Tagged ruins vikings icebergs Comments (0)

Day 19 - CORNER BROOK, NEWFOUNDLAND

July 10, 2011 - A Day of Rest

storm 18 °C

It looked like a day in mid-November when I looked out the hotel room window at 7 a.m. The wind was howling and the rain was coming down in sheets. I checked the weather channel and they predicted the storm would continue until 2 p.m. On their weather map, there was a big blob of green with yellow splotches centred right over Corner Brook. So I quickly decided that Corner Brook would be a good place to take a day off from riding.

So, after checking with the front desk that I could indeed stay, I crawled back into bed and caught a couple of hours more sleep. After a leisurely breakfast in the hotel dining room, I took a 2 mile hike up to the local Canadian Tire and Walmart to see if I could find a replacement for the bike cover I lost back in New Brunswick. My search was successful. I found one at Walmart. It's no where near the quality of the one I lost but it wasn't expensive. I returned to the hotel and covered the Wing, apologizing profusely to her for letting her sit in the rain overnight.

I did a little laundry and basically just lazed around all day. I took a walk downtown and had a bite to eat for dinner then back to the hotel for an early turn-in. I went to bed hoping for better weather in the morning as was forecast.

Distance today - 0 kms

Posted by wpcross625 14:56 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

DAY 18 - NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. TO CORNER BROOK, NEWFOUNDLAND

July 09, 2011

overcast 22 °C

The Marine Atlantic Ferry service from North Sydney, N.S. to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland is quite an experience. The Blue Puttees is a new ferry to the fleet and it is "deluxe". You can't really compare the sailing to a B.C. Ferries sailing because they are "apples and oranges". I took the 10:30 p.m. sailing because that would put me onto Newfoundland at 6 in the morning. I didn't want to arrive at night when all the moose are on the highways.

Because the sailing to Port aux Basques takes 7 hours, they offer staterooms. Those of us who chose to sit in a chair for the trip have large screen T.V.s all over the place in the lounges. The seating is like on an airplane. The seats recline (with more legroom than a plane). You plug earphones into the seat and watch whatever appeals to you. Being a Friday night, I was able to watch back-to-back CFL games which went on until past 2 in the morning because of the time difference 4 1/2 hours ahead of B.C.) My seat choice wasn't too wise as I was close to the snack bar and got the smell of cooking hot dogs all night. I did however, have a seat with a 110 plug so I was able to amuse myself on the computer. Unlike BC Ferries, Marine Atlantic has WiFi.

It takes a couple of hours to load all the vehicles on these ferries. That doesn't include a couple of hours before that when they load the commercial traffic. Because the sailing is over the open Atlantic, each vehicle has to be secured. Motorcycles are strapped down so they don't fall over. Another huge difference is the unloading procedures. They don't allow you on the car deck until the ferry is completely docked. When they let you down on the car deck everyone takes their time and waits patiently while they slowly unload the vehicles. This is not like the unloading of a BC Ferry which resembles the start of the Indy 500. Fortunately, the sailing was as smooth as glass.
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The fare for myself and the bike was $87. Considering the length of the trip (about 4 times the crossing from the mainland to Nanaimo), I didn't think the price was that bad. They really sock it to the RV'ers though. One guy told me it was $400 each way for his trailer and pickup truck.

I had neglected to fuel-up in North Sydney so my first stop in Newfoundland was at the local Irvine station. Unfortunately, they didn't open for and hour and a half so I had to wait rather than risk running out on the way to Corner Brook. This is pretty desolate country and there was only one station along the way that was open. So I went to Tim's for yet another cup of their coffee. No matter how small a place is in the Maritimes, there always seems to be a Tim's.

The Trans Canada to Corner Brook is in good shape except for a couple of kilometers of highway construction. The topography is anything but inspiring. There are no real trees until you get inland from the coast for a few kilometers. The mountains are flat-topped and the vegetation is scrubby. With only a couple of hours of sleep, it was hard to stay alert. So, as I planned, I pulled into Corner Brook and got a room. I had a good 3-hour power snooze until about 3 p.m. The hotel, the Glynmill, was built in the 1920's by the pulp company. In it's day, it must have been pretty fancy. My room is quite comfortable.
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I took a walk around town and grabbed a bite to eat. Back to the room to do this blog and get an early night's sleep tonight. Corner Brook is a pulp-mill town. It reminds me a lot of Prince Rupert. As you would expect, the people are extremely friendly. Almost everyone you walk past on the street says hello. There is a nice system of trails that the Pulp Company has created. Some pictures are attached. The economy doesn't look good. About one-half of the units in the local shopping mall are vacant.DSCN1074.jpg

Tomorrow I am going north to St. Anthony where I will visit the Viking Settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows.

Distance today = 238 kms

Distance to-date = 7767 kms

Posted by wpcross625 15:39 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

DAY 17 - NEW GLASGOW TO NORTH SYDNEY, NOVA SCOTIA

July 08, 2011 - VIA THE CABOT TRAIL AND HIGHLANDS NATIONAL PARK - CAPE BRETON ISLAND

sunny 28 °C

Last night's cloudy and blustery weather in New Glasgow was replaced this morning with beautiful blue skies. I wasn't that hungry last night so I had a Tim Horton's bagel for dinner. So I was hungry this morning and It was lucky I was because the Country Inn and Suites had the best motel breakfast I've ever experienced. They had scrambled eggs, sausages, hash browns, waffles, fresh fruit, fruit salad, bagels, muffins, cereal, toast and even fresh orange juice. Outstanding! I limited my self to the cereal, eggs, sausage, and hash browns.

I got on the road at 7:45a.m. heading east to Cape Breton Island. Traffic was light and I covered the 110 kilometers in just over an hour. I fueled-up at the Canso Causeway and then crossed over to Cape Breton, taking #19 up the west side of the island towards Cheticamp and the Cabot Trail. The roads are poor. You have to keep your feet firmly on the pegs so that you can lift your butt off the seat when you hit a rut. Like on the Gaspe, poor roads are replaced periodically with good roads for a while then back to poor roads.

I stopped at a local bakery (not Tims) for a coffee. There was a fellow rider who had been following me and he pulled in also. We had a coffee together. He was a guy about my age from Ottawa, riding an older BMW. We saw each other a few times over the rest of the morning and exchanged waves. At the town of Mabou, I met-up with Karl and Derek who I travelled with in Ontario. They had spent last night in Cheticamp and were heading south to Saint John, New Brunswick then through the States and back into Ontario. We chatted for a bit then went our separate ways. It's too bad they weren't going to Newfoundland.

Just south of Cheticamp I stopped and took some photos at Joe's Scarecrows. This is a classic example of Cape Breton yard art. This guy has created manaquin (sp?) like figures and placed them all over his yard. Each character has a name and a little story attached on a sheet of paper. I was impressed with this when I saw it 15 years ago when we drove the Cabot Trail. It's even better now than then. I left a donation in the collection box to help Joe keep up the good work.
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Just north of Cheticamp, the Hightlands National Park starts and the scenery gets quite impressive. The roads also become more fun for a motorcyclist with some curves and hills. Road quality in the Park was excellent. Traffic was fairly light but there were a couple of RCMP cars on the road. At the top of the Island there are some real fun roads around Ingonish. Except for a bit on the Gaspe, these are the only "fun" roads I've encountered on the trip so far. That's one drawback of covering long distances. You don't spend enough time on the backroads where riding is more fun.

The Feds charge you for going through the Park. I asked if there was a senior's rate and the attendant said yes, if you're 65. I told her I was an honest 64 so she gave me the senior's rate as an early birthday present. Allen Smith would be proud of me.

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At Ingonish, I took a break and stopped at a local sandwich shop called the Clucking Hen for a coffee and an egg-salad sandwich on Porridge bread. I was impressed with the number of small businesses along the highway that were not here the last time I travelled the Trail. There are art shops, leather shops, pottery shops, restaurants and pubs. I'll bet a lot of them are run by people who are from the city and trying to get out of the rat race. I recall 15 years ago that Cheticamp had one restaruant. Now there are 8 or 10 including a Tim's.

My GPS got me into some minor trouble again today. About 30 kilometers from North Sydney, it took me down a country road and out onto a jetty across an inlet. At the end of the jetty was a small ferry..... the most expensive ferry in the world. The ride across the channel was all of 30 seconds and they charged $5.25 for that. Anyway, the crew was very friendly. Once on the other side, it was just a short distance to the Trans Canada into North Sydney.

I went through the gate at the ferry terminal and settled down for a 5 hour wait for the ferry. I struck up conversations with a number of people during the wait One chap was from Fort MacMurray, Alberta, riding a 2009 Harley Lehman trike. Nice bike. Larry Meade would have loved the white walls.
Another fellow, Bob, was from Goose Bay, Labrador and was riding his brand new BMW 1200GS. He chose that bike because he has 400 kilometers of gravel road in and out of Goose Bay. I also met a lady and her husband from Edmonton. She is a native Newfie but has been away for 50 years. She still has the Newfoundland accent. They were travelling with their 16 year old Shitzu cross named George. You're never lonely in the Maritimes.
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The routes over to Newfoundland are across the open Atlantic and the seas can be quite rough. I parked the Wing on it's side stand, in gear. Then I had to attach 4 straps to secure it to the deck so it doesn't fall over if the seas get rough. Fortunately, the weather is looking very good this evening and hopefully it will be a smooth crossing.

I'm writing this on board the ferry. My camera is downstairs in the bike to I can't add any of the photos I took today, to this blog. So I will wait until tomorrow before I publish this.

The ferry leaves at 10:30 p.m. and arrives in Port aux Basque at 6 a.m. I am planning a short day tomorrow up to Cornerbrook where hopefully I can find a motel and relax for the afternoon.

Distance today = 486 kms
Distance to date = 7,529 kms.

Posted by wpcross625 14:22 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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