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Published: September 2nd 2012
VistaFerry from North Sydney to Channel-Port-aux Basques
Bonne Bay in Gros Morne
My last blog ended with us heading to catch the ferry to Newfoundland. Our planned 10:30AM departure had been changed to 4:30PM due to the entire ferry schedule being rearranged due to unscheduled repairs on one of the ferries. You have to arrive at least 2 hours early, or they have the right to give your space away. But you can’t arrive more than 4 hours early. So there is that 2 hour period of everyone checking in. We arrived around noon, so it was a bit before our permitted check in time, but we thought we’d give it a try. The entry to the ferry property has several lanes of tollbooth type structures. That then leads to the “parking lot” which is numbered lanes and all the lanes lead to the ferry loading dock. We were surprised to see all the lanes fairly full already. The woman at the booth told us they were still loading a different ferry than the one we were going to be taking and that our departure time was now scheduled for 6:15PM. There would be no room for us on the property until about 2:30. That
Western Brook Pond Tour
This used to be a fjord. Great weather for our boat tour.
presented us with a problem as we wondered where we could go until then. Our parking options are limited due to our size and unless we unhook the car we can’t back up. She was helpful and directed us to drive over to the exit road and to park on the shoulder. We had a nice view of the ferry property and could see when we could return.
From our spot we were able to see the line that formed at the gate prior to the check-in time, so we knew when they started admitting vehicles. It took a bit of a drive to get back onto the entrance ramp for the ferry property and then all went smoothly getting admitted to our appointed lane. Now was the time that Lizzie needed to go and visit the grassy dog area and take care of business. She enjoyed the fresh air, the smells and the attention, but was not interested in doing anything else. I lingered out there as long as I could while other lanes of vehicles were loaded. George packed our beverages, sandwiches and snacks, so we’d be ready once we were onboard.
Our ship, The Atlantic
Vision, ended up sailing at 5:15PM. It had been pulled from its normal run from North Sydney to Argentia to help with the backlog. It was fun sailing and I didn’t need my Dramamine. We wandered the ship, but spent most of our time in the area where there was entertainment. It was 2 men and they mostly played guitars and sang. There was some violin playing on occasion and jokes interspersed with the songs. The music also included some Newfoundland songs. It really did help pass the time.
The trip did take the full 6 hours, but disembarking went smooth and quick. Our goal was to get to somewhere nearby with grass for Lizzie. We had the Escapees Day’s End list of places for overnighting and quickly headed to the library. The directions were good and it was as described, so we took care of Lizzie and settled in for the night. We were surprised in the morning to discover that the big dark grassy lot that we were parked next to actually ended at the water.
Info for my doggie people: The ferry company no longer allows people to go to their vehicles during the cruise.
North Sydney Ferry lot
As you can see it's a big lot and there are lots of lanes of vehicles.
They are very clear about that and page several times prior to sailing to remind people of this and to mention that if you need medication that is in your vehicle you need to get it out prior to departure. Pets can stay in the vehicles, but they are there for the duration of the trip. The alternative is to board the pet in the kennel onboard the ship. This requires a fee and you need to provide your own pet crate. Also when you walk them to the kennel area your dog must be muzzled. We opted to let Lizzie stay in the comfort of her own RV home. We left a light on for her, as well as a battery operated garden type light. She had plenty of water and George had made a covering for the stairway so she couldn’t fall down the stairs. We put down coverings on the floor in case of accidents. She was wide awake and staring at the windshield when we came back to the RV. She was exhausted and slept well that night and all the next day. The Trip North
The drive along Trans-Canada Highway 1 was our
Loading the ferry
There are 2 decks of vehicles. We went onto the lower deck with the trucks...both passenger and freight.
introduction to Newfoundland. We loved the drive and there were periodic areas that were available for us to pullout in for breakfast or lunch (again thanks to the Escapees Day’s End list we knew when and where to look). It was scenic with the mountains misty in the distance. Our weather became rainy towards the end of our travels. The reason I mention this is due to the grooves on the road that the rain pooled in. The grooves seem to be the depression from the tires and the right lane is certainly more worn than the left. When cars or trucks would drive in these grooves they would send out an impressive plume of water. I saw a truck send one high enough that it went as high as the top of the utility pole. These water plumes also impaired people from passing another vehicle. We opted, as did most people to drive so that we weren’t in these grooves. There was one stretch of road with signs warning about hydroplaning. Gros Morne National Park
We left Trans-Canada Highway 1 and headed north on The Viking Trail (Highway 430). We camped south of the Gros Morne at
The road north
This is what we saw on our first day as we drove north.
Deer Lake while we explored The Tablelands. We visited the Discovery Center, various small towns and hiked the 4 km trail at the Tablelands. The park loaned us a GPS for our hike. It was designed to alert us at certain points along the trail and explain things or indicate what we should look for. It was fun when it worked, but the battery was having a problem, so it needed to rest periodically and was totally exhausted by the end of our hike.
I did not know anything about the Tablelands before this trip. They were barren and rusty color mountains and rather interesting set among much more lush mountains. I had never heard about a part of the Earth’s mantle actually being on top of anything. When I think of the mantle I think of something deep below the crust and plates, but this relatively small piece is sitting on top. It is high in iron, so that is why it is rust color. When broken open it is black.
Next we moved to the north end of the park and camped in Cow Head. I love these names…I can pronounce them and they are easier
This is a piece of the Earth's mantle that is on top of the crust. It is high in iron and turns a rust color as it is exposed. It looks rather Martian and other worldly.
to remember! As you can see we had a great water view at The Sea Breeze. We planned to stay 4 nights but ended up staying 5 due to high winds on the day we were planning to leave. We are so lucky to be able to be flexible in our schedule.
One day we took the Western Brook Pond tour. It used to be a fiord, but has become cut off from the salt water of the channel. It is cold and deep and has an extremely low mineral content. To get to the boat it is a 2.5 km hike inland. My question during the hike was “How did they get the boat to the lake?” The first boat was brought in on a skid by tractor during the winter when the area was frozen. Several years later when they brought in a second boat, it was brought in by helicopter in sections, because the bog was no longer freezing enough to bring it safely in overland.
Reservations are needed for the boat tour and only cash is accepted at the dock. If you want to pay by credit card then you can do that at
It was interesting to hike here, but I was happy to get back to the usual lush forests and plants. It was a surprise when we learned about a piece of the Earth's mantle being here and we had to come and see for ourselves.
the Ocean View Motel in Rocky Harbor. We received some advice regarding the system: to call and make the reservation, but not to pay ahead by credit card. That way, if they feel the weather is good for the tour and we disagree, then we just don’t show up. Also Rocky Harbor is not close to us, so it’s both time and gas to go there to pay by credit card. Fortunately we still had enough cash, so this was an option. St. Paul’s Old Fashion Time
We saw a flyer for this and later saw this sign. We opted to go and at least ask questions. Then we opted to stay and enjoy the food, entertainment and friendly company. Dinner was $10 and the entertainment was $5. It was a good deal for a night out.
Dinner was at the Municipal Hall. When we walked in looking a little lost and definitely not familiar to anyone, we were greeted by the table of diners closest to the door. It was 3 men who laughingly proclaimed themselves the greeters. They answered our questions and we headed over to the kitchen window/counter to pay and get our food.
Villages and boats
We saw lots of small villages and lots of fishing boats of various sizes.
It was Fish and Brewis (pronounced Brews)….but the question was what exactly was Fish and Brewis? We received a plate full of food which included salt cod, lightly breaded pan fried cod, and boiled potatoes. We were asked if we wanted cooked onions on it. The other item that we were asked about was pork fat and pieces of salt pork. We opted for the works. I forgot to list the Brewis in the list of food but it deserves its own special description. I have been looking in cookbooks at gift shops to get a better idea of how it is made. It is in the bread family but it perhaps dry bread that is then soaked. If you are interested you can probably Google it. It was bland and different and reportedly only found in Newfoundland.
Dinner also had a tasty white bread that people were putting molasses on. We tried it and surprisingly really liked it. The other thing that surprised me that I liked was the little pieces of salt pork…I ate every last little piece. There were also molasses rolls. We had fun and shared our table with 2 couples from Ontario.
Sea Breeze B&B and campground
This is where we camped in Cow Head...great view out the front window....actually out most windows!
we went over to the Parish Hall for the entertainment. We heard Pamela Morgan. She played the guitar and sang some of Bessie’s songs, traditional songs and some of her own creation. We also heard The Shed Band which included a diatonic accordion, 3 guitars, a violin, occasionally a harmonica or a penny whistle. Then we were treated to watching 4 couples dance 2 different dances with a short break in between. One dance was called An Old Fashion Eight and the other dance was A Goat Dance. There was a similarity to square dancing, but without a caller and much faster. We were both impressed. George counted 170 beats in a minute. The dances lasted at least 15 minutes each. The dancers did have a glow about them as the dance progressed, but never were out of breath. I chatted with some between dances and complimented them on being in such good shape…I was impressed! Odds and Ends
Some evenings before sunset we hiked to various places to watch the sunset. It was always interesting hiking back in the deepening dusk. During the days we visited various points of interest and learned lots about the local history.
Trail to the boat
This was the 2.5 km trail that we had to take to get to the boat for the Western Brook Pond Tour.
It was a hardy group of folks who settled this area. When I think of a Canadian accent I think of the stereotypical and perhaps more the Ontario version, but there are certainly a much wider variety of accents. The USA has a wide variety of accents and local sayings and customs, and on this trip we are learning some of the many differences here in Eastern Canada.
We’re heading north again… to see where the Vikings landed more than 1000 years ago is next on our list of places to visit.
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You do such a great job with the descriptions. I'm really enjoying this trip - since I lived in Newfoundland once upon a time. Don't remember it though.
Good Blog -Brings back a few memories.
Hi, Eileen was born in Newfoundland and we had been there several times. Her father and grandfather were schooner fishermen. There is a good dish called "Spotted Dog" and the "Caplin" fish that wash-up on the beach are quite tasty. Wonderful people the "Newfies". They at one time had the nickname of "Herring Chokers". Mind you bring back a wee dram of "Screech" to warm your insides come December month. The family home was in Summerford ,on Notre Dame Bay-- Norm
Lynne & George Thomas
We were just talking about you and Eileen today and that she was from Newfoundland. Unfortunately we won't be getting that far east. We hear Twillingate is somewhere we should visit and we thought long and hard about it, but have decided it's time to start heading south, as there is other provinces to visit. But now I know exactly where in Newfoundland Eileen was from and what wonderful people the are....but knowing Eileen I should have realized that.