The ferry pulled into Port-Aux-Basques, on the west coast of Newfoundland at 6 in the morning. We stopped into the visitor centre outside of town and waited a little while so we wouldn't have to share road with the hundred other vehicles also exiting the ferry. Also had to change the time on the clocks on the bike. Did you know NL has its own time zone and just to be different, it's a half hour ahead of Atlantic Time! Despite our little stopover and losing 30 minutes, the seaside community was still fast asleep as we left in the rain and fog, to ride north up the main highway.
Pulling into Port-Aux-Basques
Riding the west coast of Newfoundland
They call these the Table Top Mountains, a leveling off of the terrain that gives rise to a natural wind-tunnel effect, the same winds that blow 18-wheelers and trains off their tracks.
Bearded dragon stops to say hi to us in Corner Brook
Corner Brook is the first large town about 2.5 hours north of Port-Aux-Basque, and are they ever friendly! Seems like our stop for lunch brought half the population of the town out. As we hung out in the Timmies parking lot eating our sandwiches, we had a parade of people asking where we were from and giving us advice on where to go on the island and everyone warned us to be careful of the killer moose on the roads - they like to jump out in front of vehicles. Normally our conversations went like this, "How's it going der, eh? Watch out for dem der moose!". Lots of stories of moose strikes on The Rock, especially during the early morning and evening hours.
Gros Morne Park - wiped from the ferry ride
We got to Gros Morne Park in the early afternoon and set up camp. Because I opted to take pictures on the ferry ride instead of sleep, I passed out immediately while Neda took the opportunity to hike around see the park. Later on, we met up with Ben at the visitor centre, who happened to be a fellow ADV rider on an XT600 from New York who told us that a GS rider had died on the Trans-Labrador trail that he rode on the week before. Sad news.
Neda's hike through Gros Morne Park
Gros Morne Park
The next morning, we made a decision to hot-foot it across the island. We're remorseful because we would have liked to spend more time here but we had to meet friends in Halifax in a few days time, and it turns out the ferry from NL's east coast only runs three times a week! Neda really likes it here and it is high on her list of places to move to whenever we decide to settle down again. We both really wanted to ride to St Anthony's to see the icebergs glide down between Labrador and Newfoundland, but Ben assured us that there weren't a lot of them. Next time!
The scenery off the main highway was pretty uniform as it cut its way through the boreal forest of the island. I had the depressing feeling that we were missing so much of Newfoundland and I vowed that after we wrapped things up at home, I mean Toronto... :), we would go about the rest of our journey very differently. After trekking 700 kms eastwards and a whole day later, we pulled into St John's, the capital city of NL.
Neda hams it up at Cape Speer. Took forever to dry her off...
Looking pensive at Cape Speer
The fog was pretty thick in the early evening as we rode the steep and windy road out to Cape Speer, the eastern-most point in Canada. It's just outside St John's, and Neda remarks how understated our tourist attractions are compared to the US. No wall-to-wall T-shirt/hot-dog stand/souvenir stalls here, just the beauty of the eastern Newfoundland coast. We stared out at the Atlantic ocean together, watching the salt waves spray the rocky coastline below us and wondered what we'd see and where we'd end up next.
This is where our journey really starts...
Following the yellow brick road to the lighthouse at Cape Speer
Starving, we rode back down to St John's for dinner. We were parked somewhere in downtown St John's looking for a place to eat, with no success when we walked back to our bikes and there was a guy on a huge red Kawi waiting for us! Roy is a paramedic in St John's, and he was just riding around when he saw two unfamiliar bikes (everyone knows everyone in St John's) and he wanted to give us a tour of his city. So we hopped on and followed him around town as he showed us the sights. He was a great ambassador for the town and we felt like we had the red carpet treatment!
Roy, our tour guide around St John's
Our final stop on Roy's tour was the restaurant we were looking for, the Bacalao, billed as "nouveau Newfoundland cuisine". After a long day of touring, the food was excellent: Labrador caribou and traditional salted cod. Amazing food, all washed down by some dark ale from a local brewery called Quidi Vidi.