Tristan’s Trip Report – Week 8

Atlantic Canada Roadtrip Route

Aug. 15th, 2016 (Day 50)

From: St. John’s, NL
To: Terra Nova National Park, NL Lockston Path Provincial Park, NL
Activities: Shopping for sunglasses, Driving
Stayed: Lockston Path Provincial Park, camping

It was a departure day for us. We had to pack up from our Airbnb loft which we called home for the past 4 nights. Amazingly, it has been the longest we’ve stayed in any one place so far on our trip.

Accommodations in St. John's, Newfoundland
Our Airbnb loft in St. John’s.

The constant moving has been one of the harder parts of this trip. Captain Obvious will tell you that Canada is a really big place, and in order to see a lot of it in one trip, you have to drive a ton and may not be able to spend as much time in one place as you might hope. I remember on our 8-month backpacking trip times where we would just say, “that’s enough of that!” and hole-up somewhere for days on end, drinking delicious Beer Lao and doing nothing but playing scrabble and reading Game of Thrones (I am looking squarely at you 4,000 Islands).

But this is not about South East Asia, is it?

It’s about leaving St. John’s, which was slightly delayed when Arienne announced she had lost her sunglasses. The good news is that St. John’s has quite a number of shopping malls for a city of 100,000 people, so we were able to find a reasonable pair of sunglasses for $4, which I’d say is a steal of a deal. The better news is that it turns out Arienne never lost the original pair in the first place.

We spent most of the day driving. The plan was to stay in Terra Nova National Park and use it as an access point to the Bonavista Peninsula. Then Captain Obvious said, “you know, Canada is a really big place,” and we realized we were way too far north to be able to make convenient day trips to Bonavista and Elliston. So we drove back the way we came and headed east to Lockston Path Provincial Park.

Once in the park, we set up camp and foraged for food (not really), remembering the mantra for the day.

Total Kilometre Count: 7,717km


 

Aug. 16th, 2016 (Day 51)

From: Lockston Path Provincial Park, N.L.
To: Lockston Path Provincial Park, N.L.
Activities: Bonavista, Cape Bonavista, Whale Watching (shoreside), Elliston, Puffin Watching, Trinity
Stayed: Lockston Path Provincial Park, camping

It was a big day for us with an incredible road trip of the Bonavista Peninsula.

It all started with a drive out of Lockston Path Provincial Park that took us along a barren bumpy road that began to bring back bad memories of our trip along Irish Cove Road on Cape Breton. Poor Jane (the civic) has been taking a beating.

Our adventure began in Bonavista where we enjoyed a tasty lunch at Mifflin’s Tea Room. We then drove out to the harbour where our jaws hit the rock when the ocean appeared to erupt with geysers. That’s what you would call them if you were a city-slicker such as myself, shortly before coming to the realization that you were looking at the magnificence of an early afternoon whale feeding. Even though they were hundreds of meters away, it was entirely majestic seeing the whales in their natural habitat. If your ego or sense of proportion is ever out of whack, look to whales and the ocean to remind yourself of how small you really are.


We then drove to Cape Bonavista for some stellar photos of the lighthouse and our first peeks at PUFFINS. Okay, they are pretty darn cute. Arienne now wants a little baby puffin but then again, Arienne also wants two little kittens when we get home. I’m no zoologist, but something tells me these two things are mutually exclusive.

Over by Elliston, we got the scoop on some ice-cream and then headed out to the “Puffin Viewing Site” where, you guessed it, we saw more puffins. A couple with immense telephoto lenses had set up shop limiting our photo potential, but as I mentioned in last week’s post, “beaten to the spot, get out of the shot.”

We wrapped up the day in Trinity for a tasty dockside supper at the Dock Marina Restaurant and Gallery where I had my first taste of Cod Tongues, that is if you don’t count when I kissed the cod in St. John’s (heyo!)

Such a fabulous day, capped off with a nice fire on our campsite. Should be a nice sleep tonight.

Total Kilometre Count: 7,864km


 

Aug. 17th, 2016 (Day 52)

From: Lockston Path Provincial Park, N.L.
To: Terra Nova National Park, N.L.
Activities: Hiking the Skerwink Trail, Driving
Stayed: Terra Nova National Park, Camping

It was not a good sleep last night. Cold, damp, hard ground, all the finest that camping has to offer. As we broke camp we debated whether or not we really wanted to camp again tonight, seeing as we would have to set up again, just to break it again tomorrow. We moaned, we whimpered, we drank coffee and decided that camping it would be. All tied to the sweet understanding that the next night we could find refuge in a hotel.

We made our way over to the Skerwink Trail for a magnificent hike that is a “can’t miss” should you find your way to Newfoundland. The trail slowly meanders over rocky green hills before bringing you up to coastal cliffs that give epic views of both Trinity and Robinhood bay. The coves along the bays are home to schools of capelin, which makes whale watching a bonus treat while you hike the trail. I absolutely loved this hike, which took us a couple hours with a number of photo stops.


After the Skerwink trail, we made our glorious return to Terra Nova where we had driven to just two days earlier before turning tail for the Bona Vista Peninsula. And by a glorious return, I mean that we ate pork and baked beans and cracked a few tall cans. The tent probably won’t be so cold tonight.

Total Kilometre Count: 8,046km


 

Aug. 18th, 2016 (Day 53)

From: Terra Nova National Park, N.L.
To: Gander, N.L.
Activities: Driving, Lazying
Stayed: Sinbad’s, Hotel

Day 53 was a very straightforward day.

We packed up camp (again) which Arienne recorded as a timelapse. It’s actually pretty impressive how much stuff we can fit into ol’ Jane’s trunk.

Roadtripping Atlantic Canada
Everything plus the kitchen sink that we’ve brought on the roadtrip.

Up the Trans Canada Highway we drove, making our way to Gander. We got to check into Sinbad’s (Hotel) early and were so, so, so happy to have beds to lie on. Yes, we ran things Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver style and had separate queen sized beds.

We spent the rest of the day catching up on loose ends, making plans for the rest of our trip, and generally de-evolving on our beds. I am pleased to say that there will be no photo of this portion of our trip.

Total Kilometre Count: 8,218km


 

Aug. 19th, 2016 (Day 54)

From: Gander, N.L.
To: Dildo Run Provincial Park, N.L.
Activities: Driving, Checking out Twillingate
Stayed: Dildo Run Provincial Park, Camping

We woke up and enjoyed a simple buffet breakfast at the “Mystic” restaurant in the Sinbad Hotel. Had a good laugh over the grilled cherry tomatoes that would explode when we tried to fork them, spraying hot tomato juice all over the place, shattering the mystique of the “Mystic” restaurant.

We packed up Jane and headed north to Twillingate where we ate lunch and drove around the coast a little. Twillingate is part of Iceberg Alley and known for tours where you can spot them, as well as whales and other marine life. Unfortunately, we arrived after iceberg season, and having seen whales for the past couple of days we decided not to take any tours. The skies were pretty gray and uninspiring despite the beautiful terrain and rustic homes, so we decided to head back south to set up camp.

Yes, we were staying at Dildo Run Provincial Park. That is all I will say on the matter. You may giggle if it pleases you.

We set up camp with the satisfying knowledge that it would be the last time doing so on this trip. Then lit an immense fire and howled at the moon. Living out of our car is getting to us.

Total Kilometre Count: 8,379km


 

Aug. 20th, 2016 (Day 55)

From: Dildo Run Provincial Park, N.L.
To: Dildo Run Provincial Park, N.L.
Activities: Ferry to/exploring Fogo Island
Stayed: Dildo Run Provincial Park, N.L.

It’s strange that every time I go to write the date for each entry in the trip report, I always write July, and then have to correct myself. I suppose my subconscious is telling me something.

Wow was it cold last night. 1 more night in a tent. Just 1 more.

We took the 45 minute ferry to Fogo Island to check out the photographers paradise. We ate lunch at Nicole’s Café and had THE BEST FISH AND CHIPS on our entire trip. Holy-moly you gotta eat there!

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland
The uber exclusive Fogo Island Inn.

In an attempt to spur luxury travel to the island, an immense hotel called the Fogo Island Inn was built a number of years ago. It was an ambitious project seeing as the island is kind of remote. I mean, you have to get to Newfoundland, a somewhat remote island, and then take a ferry to Fogo Island. The building is pretty impressive if you’re into the whole post-modern nuke dropped on a rustic chic canvas style of architecture. We were allowed inside to take some photos. Arienne snapped away while I ambled around looking for a corner to hide my self-conscious awkwardness in. I mean, it does cost $1,500-$5,000 a night to stay.

Anyways, we spent the rest of the day driving around the island with Arienne snapping some pretty wicked shots. Right Arienne?

Fogo Island, Newfoundland
Joe Batts Arm on Fogo Island

Later that night, back on the mainland, we got lost trying to find a pizza joint in the township of Summerford… which is pretty impressive considering there are only about 5 roads in the township of Summerford. Show me a genius with a smartphone and I’ll show you an idiot with a paper-weight.

So, for those Canadians reading this, you will understand when I tell you how special tonight was as it was the final concert of The Tragically Hip. It was such an important evening for a great many Canadians who love their music, and while I was dismayed that since we were camping I wouldn’t be able to watch it live on the CBC, I could at least listen to it on the radio. It was perfect. Pizza, cold beer, me and my wife sitting around a fire in the great Canadian outdoors, listening to The Tragically Hip’s final concert Honkytonk Country Radio care of the Hillbilly Hoedown 6 sites down from us. BLARING!

I was upset.

Total Kilometre Count: 8,594km


 

Aug. 21st, 2016 (Day 56)

From: Dildo Run Provincial Park, N.L.
To: Gander, N.L.
Activities: Driving to Gander
Stayed: Sinbad Hotel

My oh my. Last night, the entire Twillingate Division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (all 3 cars) were busting it down the highway it hot pursuit of… I don’t know. There must have been a moose-on-the-loose or something because the Newfoundland skies were lit up like Uncle Bob on a night at the legion.

Well folks, today we packed up the tent for the last time. I love camping, but I think we’ve had our fill for the summer. Yes Arienne, I understand. We need a proper air mattress.

We drove back up to Twinllingate to fly Alice (the drone) a little before making our way back to Gander, which interestingly is rated one of the top 10 places to live in Canada. It does have a McDonalds after-all. Build a mini-golf course and I’m certain it can crack top 5.

I just turned around to Arienne and asked, “anything else interesting happen today?”

She shook her head and calmly replied, “no.”

This is your week 8 trip report.

Total Kilometre Count: 8,750km


Coming up for week 9: Driving to western Newfoundland, Gros Morne National Park, Cornerbrook, ferry back to Nova Scotia, and the final full week of our roadtrip!

Missed any of Tristan’s previous trip reports? Check them out here: