Saturday, August 17, 2013

My first taste of Newfoundland

My first experience with riding in Newfoundland has begun and I couldn't be more excited.

Working with Newfoundland Tourism, my 11 days on the Rock are to be action packed.

Jason O'Rourke from the CAV and some of the gals from the Cape Breton Saddlebags rode me to the ferry from just outside of North Sydney.  We said our goodbyes after a few hugs and lots of photos.

My tickets were given to me at the terminal entrance and I was directed to ride to in front of the blue line!  As I rode to the front, I saw that there would be at least a dozen bikes on this ship with me.

After chatting with some of the other riders, we were directed to head to the ship.

I was as excited as a little kid.  I would finally be taking Newfoundland off of my bucket list.

After tying down my bike, I went towards the elevator to go and find my cabin.
From the deck of the ferry at 9:30 pm
The Shower

The staff of Marine Atlantic were awesome.  The gal manning the elevator asked which cabin I had, and she directed me as to how to find it.  I was pleasantly surprised when I found it.  The room had a small desk, power outlets, 2 single beds, a TV, and a shower in the bathroom.
The single beds
The single beds
A nice desk - lots of power outlets
TV with lots of channels
There is a TV with lots of channels 
customer service area
The customer service area

Kinds of places to sit
All kinds of places to sit
 kids zone
The kids zone

 kids zone
kids zone
The Lounge
The Lounge
The canteen
The canteen
I unpacked my gear and got my cameras and cell phone charging up and headed downstairs to the lounge/restaurant deck.  We smokers are allowed to smoke outside on this deck.  I chatted with a few other riders and then went and grabbed a beverage.  At 11 pm I headed off to bed. I was beat, but set my alarm for 4:30 am so that I could get some writing done.

We were supposed to be disembarking around 7 am.

I slept like a rock and was shocked to wake up to an announcement that we were in Port Aux Basques.

It was only 4 am!

I packed up my bags, did a double take of the room and headed down to the 7the deck.
I was greeted by what felt like pandemonium - all kinds of people waiting to go down to their vehicles!

The gal running the elevator was in full charge though, asking each newcomer which deck their vehicle was on and making sure everyone knew the process for disembarking.

As I was on a motorcycle, I was among the first to go down to the 3rd deck.

After leaving the ship, I headed to the Tim Horton's on the Trans Canada Highway. I was not riding here in the dark. This land is FILLED with moose and these are totally unfamiliar roads - in the dark, this is not something I was prepared to tackle.  I ordered a large black coffee and sat outside with Rita, my Beaver mascot and took photos of her with other riders who had the same thoughts as I did, and yet more who were coming in to grab a coffee before heading to the ferry.

At about 6:30 am the sun broke and I headed out on the bike to ride around a little and get the lay of the land so to speak. I had an appointment with Cathy of the Port Aux Basques Hotel at 8 am.

After a wee ride up to the tourism information centre, which was not yet open, I landed back over at the hotel and walked over to the memorial monument and then over to the train museum.

At 7:30 am I made my way to the hotel restaurant and ordered some breakfast...cod fishcakes and eggs.
I had never eaten cod fishcakes before, they were salty and yet not, light but substantial and I quite liked them.

At about 8:10 am Cathy came in to the restaurant and she and I had a great discussion about hunting, wild game, the hotel industry in Newfoundland and many other topics.

She is a lively and engaging person who is so enthusiastic about her community and province.

Hotel Port aux Basques 
Hotel Port aux Basques is located at:
2 Grand Bay Rd, Port aux Basques
Phone: 1.709.695.2171
Toll Free: 1-877-695-2171

Hotel restaurant
The hotel restaurant 

Cathy with Rita
Cathy with Rita
Rita rides the Moose!
Rita rides the Moose!
The Moose
The Moose

It began to rain, hard and the wind was incredibly high, gusting at 70-80 kph.  Cathy insisted I take her SUV up to Rose Blanche where I was to have a guided tour of the old lighthouse.

I was grateful to accept the offer and armed with a map, off I went to explore the region.

I drove through Port Aux Basques and eventually made my way out to the Trans Canada to find route 470.

I passed through the communities of Isle Aux Mortes and Burnt Islands. I took the time to drive into these communities and grab some shots - in spite of the less than perfect weather, the communities are captivating - the fog, the boats, the colorful homes and the amazing rocks not to mention the water.

After getting a pin at the Burnt Islands town office, I continued on the way to Rose Blanche.

Even in the rain, this is a lovely place and I found myself thinking that this is what Scotland must be like or maybe Ireland.

I was truly grateful for the use of the SUV as the secondary roads here are not in the best of shape.
The Trans Canada is wonderful, but the secondary road was not. Big pot holes and lots of places where the pavement is eroded away on the sides along with frost heaves made the road a challenge in a vehicle, on a motorcycle, in the rain I'd have been crawling along!

As I got to the the gates for the lighthouse, my gratitude went up 100 fold - the road into the lighthouse is gravel and it was muddy and soupy.

I got out of the truck and headed to the museum office.  The gals there called my tour guide, Madonna Lawrence and I spent a few minutes admiring the local art and and books.

I was directed to go the the fisherman's house museum while Madonna took care of a few things and that she'd be down to take me through the lighthouse.

The museum was filled with all kinds of artifacts and art.
The most captivating being the scaled models of various ships.

When I had toured the small museum, I went back to the gift shop where Madonna was waiting for me.

Madonna is an engaging human being with an absolute passion for her community and this amazing lighthouse.
The gift shop
The gift shop
Inside the museum
Inside the museum

As Madonna and I walked and chatted she expressed that the lighthouse must be cursed as every time a journalist comes to do photography, it pours buckets and the wind howls. Apparently, the week before, Discovery Channel had been there and they experienced the same driving winds and rain that I had.

Madonna spun the tale of the harbour and it's history and explained how the lighthouse had been built from granite in the harbour quarry in 1871. The lighthouse opened for work in 1873.

Oake and J.T. Neville along with D & T Stevenson, lighthouse engineers from Edinburgh, Scotland, advised and designed the lighthouse and supplied the original lighting apparatus. The company, named after the father and uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson, designed a number of lighthouses in the UK and Newfoundland, including the one at Ferryland.

Over 70 years there were 6 light keepers, John A. Roberts, John Cook, Bruce Cook, Philip Hatcher, James Skinner and again Philip Hatcher. Hatcher was the last keeper to serve at the lighthouse!
Walking path and view on the way to the lighthouse
Walking path and view on the way to the lighthouse
Rose Blanche Lighthouse
The refurbished Rose Blanche Lighthouse

Views from the Lighthouse
The views from the Lighthouse

Madonna Lawrence
Madonna Lawrence
Ladder into the light tower
The ladder into the light tower
Amazing period specific artifacts fill the lighthouse

Woolen underwear
Woolen underwear
A class 6 light used for illuminating some
lighthouse towers
Weddings and engagements have been held here
Weddings and engagements have been held here

ladies cosmetics case with the Queen's likeness embossed on it
A ladies cosmetics case with the Queen's likeness embossed on it

View from the Room
The view from the lookout

The lighthouse was abandoned and fell into disrepair. in 1988 the long process to see the lighthouse be reconstructed and restored to it's former glory began.

During the reclamation process, they were able to find over 90% of the original stones and 70% of them were reused. The steps up to the actual light dome actually kept the entire tower of the lighthouse from crumbling, because they were used as the corner stones of the building as well as steps. 

The masons who rebuilt the lighthouse, actually cut new stones from the same quarry that the original ones were cut and the old stones were painstakingly washed and cleaned to be relaid.
The artifacts inside the lighthouse that stands on this magnificent bluff are provided by the locals, many being donated and others on loan.  All are period specific.

The place is amazing and Madonna, with her gift for story telling made me feel like I knew the light-keepers and as I looked out through the windows of the lighthouse to the cove below I wondered at the hearty souls who called this place home all that time ago and today. 

The wind was driving the rain hard as she and I left the lighthouse to continue on the walking path to the next look out.  You can see Diamond Cove from here and Madonna expressed that it was called Diamond Cove because of the way the white granite shines in the sunlight.

Roche Blanche - which means White Rocks in French - (Named by the French, who were the first European settlers here), became Rose Blanche because the English had a hard time saying it's original name!

For more information on the Lighthouse at Rose Blanche visit:

After spending an entrancing 2 hours with Madonna it was time to head back to Port Aux Basques to return the SUV and head out on the bike to Cape Anguille.

When I got to the hotel, after refilling the SUV, Cathy and I shared a late lunch of seafood chowder and a moose meat burger.  The food was magnificent, flavourful and absolutely filling.

I said my goodbyes with a promise to stop back in if the ferry I am scheduled to leave on out of Argentia ends up being cancelled and I have to sail out of Port Aux Basques. (One ferry had recently run aground and two others were down, one with electrical issues and the other with mechanical issues)

With the help of the directions I had from Newfoundland Tourism I found my way out to Cape Anguille.

The Lighthouse Inn is a quaint place with a stunningly stark landscape.
There is no Internet, no TV, no cell service.
The rooms have fans but no air conditioning - and there is no radio, no coffee maker either.

It is an ideal place to completely disconnect and take in the magnificent sunset, the wonderful wild orchids and the water fowl that flies here. Make sure however that you bring bug spray. The black flies, gnats, no seeums and horseflies will devour your hide if you don't!  I used the Botanical Bug Guard from MAX Skin Therapy - it worked wonderfully and it's all organic and even smells good!!!!

For more information on the Lighthouse Inn B & B at Cape Anguille visit
Dining area in the main house
The dining area in the main house
The common area
The common area where you can listen to the managers radio,
read books or just visit with other guests.
The lighthouse is manned during the day but not
at night
The house closest in the picture was where my
room was, the farther building is the main house

 Cape Anguille Lighthouse
The Cape Anguille Lighthouse
A field of thistles and other weeds and wild
flowers including wild orchids
The fog horn
On the far right you can see the fog horn

Beacon shines brightly at night
The beacon shines brightly at night
Renee Samms from the Wreck Riders came and picked me up and we went to a wonderful restaurant called the Silver Sands where I had the BEST fish and chips I have had since being in the Maritimes.
The scenery on the way to the restaurant
The scenery along the way to the
restaurant with Renee Samms
After a great chat about local riding and the region, Renee dropped me back off at the B & B.
I climbed into bed and drifted off fast.  In the morning I wandered to the main house for breakfast and was treated to French Toast piled high with bananas and peaches and real maple syrup.

I had to be in Stephenville for 10:30am to meet with Laura Walbourne of Western Newfoundland Tourism so I left the B & B at 8 am.  The road in was rather treacherous as it had been washed out from heavy rain a while ago so I like the trip in, I picked my way through the wash outs and pot holes carefully.  The winds were harsh and it began to rain as I hit the secondary highway.

I rode towards the exit to Stephenville and crossed the causeway - OH MY - I have never been so scared - the winds were blowing so hard that even though I was leaning hard, I was being forced over from the center line to the shoulder. I was about 2 inches from being knocked off the highway!  I got to our meeting point at the Days Inn and we had lunch. It was decided that since the winds were so dangerously high, that I would not ride around Port aux Port but instead was taken for a trip through the region by car.

Once we were finished our time together, I rode from Stephenville on a different road than the one with the causeway. It was more protected and although still windy it wasn't nearly so dangerous as riding along the coast.

I arrived into the Comfort Inn in Corner Brook around supper time and was greeted by Rita and her staff who were only too happy to have their photos taken with Road Trip Rita.

After a hearty seafood supper at Jungle Jim's right in the hotel, I set about editing and tagging photos, answering emails and phone calls and uploading more video to my computer be processed.

I turned in around 10:30 pm hoping and praying that the rain and wind of the day would decide to leave....

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