Over five hours on the ferry and I didn’t get sea sick! Either the small patch behind my ear worked or the ocean was calm enough not to make me feel queasy. We finally arrived in Newfoundland and it didn’t take long to notice people spoke very differently on the island known as The Rock. We also quickly learned to pronounce Newfoundland as the locals call it, New-Fun-Land. The ferry docked in Port Aux Basque, a tiny town that took us just minutes to ride around. We were in search of a bite to eat and our options were limited. We surprisingly ate a Subway sandwich. It has been well over a year since I’ve been able to stomache even the smell, but it actually tasted delicious. I’m not about to eat one (or two) every day like we had on our last trip, but I’ll definitely enjoy one every now and then.
It was late in the day by the time we were ready to search for a place to set up the tent. Even though there was enough sunshine still out, we were warned by many to keep off the roads during dusk to avoid hitting moose. There is a large population of moose living in Newfoundland. We decided to stay near Port Aux Basque for the night and it didn’t take long to find a great place to camp. Newfoundland once had a railroad that traveled across the entire province. Since it was no longer in service, a gravel path is left where its tracks once were. Locals find this useful to ride their off-road-vehicles on. It seemed like everyone owns an ATV or a skidoo.
We rode for a few minutes down the gravel road until we reached a wooden deck just big enough for our tent. It was perfect. We unpacked as quickly as possible so that we could admire the incredible panoramic view before it got dark. It didn’t matter what direction we looked, the view around us was breathtaking. As the sun began to set and we both just stared in awe. It was one of the prettiest moments I had ever experienced. We were speechless. Early the next morning, we continued down the gravel road until it became sand and knocked us over. It was a gentle drop and we got up easily but the sand got deeper as we continued, and we eventually got stuck. Half of the rear tire was buried and moving the motorcycle felt impossible. Rocky and I removed our bags and the panniers as two kind strangers offered to help push the bike out. Riding through off-roads always seems to be a crazy adventure but it was well worth the view we witnessed. As we pulled onto the highway, we learned that we had just spent the night in JT Cheeseman Provincial Park.
After a beautiful but windy ride, we arrived in Corner Brook, a small city on the western side of Newfoundland. We sat in a parking lot next to a park waiting for the sun to set because we planned on setting up the tent somewhere nearby. As we waited, we were approached by a man named Delano. He was riding a Kawasaki KLR and asked a few questions about our KTM. We shared a few words, and shortly after he left he returned to tell us of a really great place to check out. We followed him up a hill to an area named Cooks Lookout. The site was used by Captain James Cook as he kept an eye out for smugglers and privateers from 1763-1767 when he charted the coast. It offered a fantastic view of the Gulf of the Saint Lawrence. After a short walk around, we came to a memorial monument boat, built of stone. It was the perfect size to fit our tent and motorcycle. It seemed like the perfect place to set up our tent.
The following morning, we decided to stay in Corner Brook. We stopped at the local YMCA for a shower and enjoyed the rest of the day laying under the sun at a local park. Since we really loved where we had camped the night before, we decided to spend another night in the boat. Even though it was a popular place to visit, the locals were very friendly about us being there. Some even complimented the idea of camping there. Early the next morning as we were packing up the tent, we were approached by a man on his morning walk. He spoke with us for a few minutes and invited us to his house for breakfast and a shower. There was no way that we could possibly say no. I love meeting kind strangers. We finished packing and met with Dennis at his house. While sitting on his back porch, we enjoyed a great view of the city. He made us coffee and brought out bowls of fruit, including a fruit we had never tasted. Cloud berries, also known as Bake Apples, are an orange looking blackberry with a tart taste to them. After freshening up, filling our bellies and sharing some stories, we exchanged hugs and he wished us well on our journey. What a great, friendly city.
We got back on the road and planned on going to Gros Mourne National Park where we would pay to camp in a campground. We usually don’t pay for camping because we can’t justify paying $30 to sleep on the earth and also because we can’t afford to, but it was a special occasion. Rocky had never tried a hallucinogen and I found us some magic mushrooms before we left home. Unfortunately, they weren’t as strong as they should’ve been but it was enough to heighten our senses. During an evening walk past another picture perfect scene, we ate the ‘shrooms and eventually made our way back to our campsite. We gathered the wood to build a fire and lit up a joint. It was really dark and it took me a second to notice that there was a man standing beside us. Initially I was startled. He appeared out of the darkness and, once my eyes properly focused, I realized that he was the park ranger. I looked at Rocky to warn him but he was busy smoking the joint and that made me want to laugh. Suddenly, the park ranger began to speak and I could barely contain myself. Apparently, I can’t understand anything Newfoundlanders say. It is English I assume, but I began to understand why they are called ‘funny talkers’. To make matters funnier, the park ranger stood there talking to us long enough for us to wonder if we were supposed to offer him a few puffs. Rocky and I laughed for a while after he had gone.
The next day we prepared to go on a hike. I’ve been on many hikes before. I thought I knew what to expect but Rocky decided to create his own path that day. He wanted to climb to the top of a mountain but we had to walk through thick dry brush. I like to be adventurous but I was wearing knickers, I had just shaved my legs and moisturized. I bitched and complained the entire climb up that mountain. Once we reached the top, I realized it was worth every scratch. The view was incredibly beautiful and we even found a lake up there. We laid on on the grass for a while (wink wink) with not a person in sight in all directions. Rocky took the opportunity to say something romantic, along the lines of “See…I told you so. Isn’t this awesome? You should just trust me from now on.”
When we returned to the campsite, we were charging our electronics under a large overhang and met a couple from New Brunswick. Martin and Cynthia were riding throughout Eastern Canada on a BMW. We exchanged stories over a bottle of wine they were sharing and Cynthia made me laugh to tears. We found out, weeks later, that Martin and Cynthia were related to Adrienne (their niece), who we stayed with in Halifax, Nova Scotia. What a small world! We hung out with them for a while and then Rocky and I headed back to our site for a nice big campfire to toast some marshmallows. I wish we could have a campfire everywhere we camp.
The next morning, we packed up all of our belongings so that we could continue traveling north. I wasn’t feeling well and I wondered if I was experiencing an allergic reaction to black fly bites. I had over ten bites just on my neck and scalp and all of them were extremely swollen. After searching on-line, I am convinced that I had black fly fever. I felt weak, nauseous and feverish. We left Grose Mourne and rode for a few hours until we reached Hawkes Bay. Rocky was annoyed with the way the motorcycle was riding and wondered if the problem was coming from the wheel or if it was electrical. He said the the motorcycle has been riding weird for a couple of weeks, just after we spliced the electrical wires together or since we replaced the tires. We pulled over to investigate and Rocky noticed that the ABS sensor was slightly rubbing against the ABS grill. That could’ve been the cause of the surging and wobbling he was feeling, but everything was assembled properly. He couldn’t figure out why it was scraping. As the sun began to set we decided it would be best to spend the night next to an abandoned office across the street where we had a perfect view of the Bay. We weren’t the only ones to think it was a good spot to stop. The coast guard helicopter parked there as well.
We enjoyed a lazy morning and continued riding north towards Saint Anthony. It was a beautiful ride with the ocean to our left showing many shades of blue. Saint Anthony is a small town on the northern reaches of the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. We rode through until we reached the furthest tip of the town and decided that camping beside the lighthouse was a great spot. We were on a cliff top, high above the ocean with the view of icebergs in the far distance. It was a great place visually, but it was also intensely windy. But, then again, most of Newfoundland has been windy. Early the next morning Rocky took the bike apart as I packed everything. I knew he was stressing about what the problem could potentially be because he woke me up numerous times throughout the night saying “I wonder if it’s…”. As I packed up our things, I took a moment to look out at the ocean as I folded the tent and noticed a bunch of dolphins swimming past. That was probably the coolest thing I have ever waken up to. I was mesmerized, staring out into the distance.
After waiting a while for Rocky to work on the motorcycle, I warned him that I really had to pee. Rocky told me he would be a couple of hours and that I would have to find somewhere outside. What? Not only am I in a very open touristy area with no bush to hide behind, the morning sun shining bright and the wind blowing hard, it is difficult to be unnoticed especially if I was squatting with my pants around my ankles. There was no bathroom for a couple of kilometers and I hadn’t peed in more than nine hours. I was upset that he couldn’t have waited to take the motorcycle apart at a more convenient time and location. I must’ve looked annoyed because a man approached us and asked if everything was ok. I asked him if he knew of a nearby bathroom and he offered to drive me to one.
Richard was a sweet man (much sweeter than Rocky, hah!). He drove me down the street to his house and let me use his restroom. Before driving me back up the cliff, he stopped at a Tim Hortons and insisted on buying Rocky and I a coffee. Once we reached Rocky, Richard told him to put the motorcycle back together, just enough to be rideable down the cliff. We were invited to use his garage, take a shower and wash our laundry. He even offered us some jarred moose meat and drinks prepared with iceberg ice. The thought of drinking something that had been frozen for thousands of years just blows my mind!
With the bike taken apart, Rocky re-spliced a few wires with hopes that it would stop the surging. He also changed the spark plugs just in case that may have had something to do with it. And, in the process of all that, he discovered and fixed an oil leak. Rocky had worked on bike for hours as we all hung out in the garage. Richards brother Todd was visiting and many of their friends would stop by to say hello but I think Richard became concerned with me being bored. He invited to take me to the top of a cliff that offered the best view of St. Anthony where he shared a lot of the local history with me.
Shortly after arriving back at the house, Richard prepared dinner and invited us to join him and his beautiful wife for a meal. His wife Gay had just finished her day of work at the hospital and she was just as friendly as Richard. During a hot cup of coffee with our bowl of dessert, she told us stories of Saint Anthony and how there was once a Polar bear in her back yard. Ummm…. Polar bear? I never imagined Polar bears in Newfoundland. Supposedly, the Polar bears that visit the area are from the Davis Strait population (a strait lying between Greenland and Nunavut, Canada) which is estimated to occupy 1400 bears. They accompany the heavy pack-ice that occasionally drifts further to the south than normal during the spring break-up. Whoa! I would be super scared if I ever had a Polar bear roaming my yard.
With the bike fixed and ready, Richard suggested the route that we should take to return towards the ferry. But first he suggested that we pitch our tent in his yard or garage instead of searching for a place. After hearing that there was a Polar bear in their yard, the garage sounded like a lovely spot to sleep. Richard, his wife, Gay, and his brother, Todd, were a fine example of the hospitality in Newfoundland.
We were on our way through L’Anse Aux Meadows, the only confirmed Norse/Viking site in North America outside of Greenland. On our way there, we stopped for lunch and enjoyed a meal I have been anxious to have for a very, very long time. Fresh crab is my absolute favourite and there was no way I was about to reject the cheap price. With our tummies full, I was ready for sleep but it was still early. After all the work that Rocky had done on the motorcycle, he was still experiencing what he described as a feeling of surging and a wobble in the front tire. Rocky became obsessed with fixing this problem. He took the wheel off in the parking lot of the restaurant and still found no problem. Once we arrived in L’Anse aux Meadows at the most northern tip of Newfoundland, Rocky took apart the tire once more. People always gathered around to offer their help. As everyone exchanged ideas on the potential problem, I could see the frustration in Rocky’s eyes, and then a hint of hope. When Rocky replaced the front rim, after the accident, he used the old spacer. Maybe, just maybe, the spacer was slightly smaller than the new one. He reached in his tool bag for the spare spacer and compared it to the old one he had installed, it was slightly different. That would definitely cause the abs sensor to rub against the plate! But would it cause the surging and the wobble?
Richard had told us of a place he called, the Salmon Hole. We planned on camping there for the night. The Underground Salmon Pool is where we witnessed an Atlantic salmon river, surfacing from an underground cave. Thousands of years of physical weathering and erosion to the limestone has formed an underground river and the continuous water flow has widened the river channel which has become a resting stop for the Salmon. It is the only known place in the world where Atlantic Salmon swim through underground river caves to get to their spawning grounds. I was having vivid thoughts of diving in and catching one with my bare hands. I even went as far as to wonder where I could find some soy sauce, ginger and wasabe. It’s a good thing I had eaten all that crab earlier, otherwise, I’m not sure that I would have been able to control my urge. That could’ve been the best sashimi in my lifetime.
Our ride back south was windy, extremely windy. There were many moments that I thought we were going to blow over. It was early afternoon and as we were riding past Grose Mourne National Park for the last time, we pulled over so that we could hike one of the trails. It took us approximately 3 km there and back to complete and the last 10 minutes threatened rain. Luckily, we only felt a light mist as we rode south, away from the storm. After an expensive meal the day before, Rocky punished me with Subway. As we were eating, we were approached by a guy that politely asked to talk about our motorcycle. Troy was a true motorcycle enthusiast. When he spoke of the hundreds of bikes he had owned, he reminded me of John, our motorcycle guru, we had previously met in Calgary, Alberta. Troy was a really nice guy who shared many stories and was very interested in hearing ours as well. Just before leaving, Troy told us of a cottage he was building for his family. He said it was under construction but it had the most incredible view of a lake. We were given the address and were told where he kept the key hidden. He wasn’t kidding, it definitely had the most incredible view of the lake. It was a beautiful place to spend the night.
On our way back south, Rocky pulled over to take the tire off once again. The surging and wobble still existed. This time, we decided to remove the rim strip. When we put the new tire on in Halifax, Nova Scotia, we applied rim tape to the tire because the rubber rim strip kept sliding to the side. After applying the tape, we kept the rubber stip over top of it because we thought if anything it would be added protection. Maybe the surging was caused by having them both on? We removed the rubber, left the tape and crossed our fingers. Nope, but at least the wobble in the wheel was gone!
We were sad at the thought of leaving Newfoundland. We made one last stop in Corner Brook to shower at the YMCA before riding to Port Aux Basque to catch the late night ferry. Newfoundland is such an incredible place. It is breathtaking at every corner, an absolutely stunning place to visit. When Rocky and I imagined this trip, we always talked about the beautiful landscapes we would see. But, throughout our adventure we are also constantly amazed by the beautiful characters we meet. Newfoundland is one of the friendliest places we have visited. We were greeted by everyone, if not with words or acts of kindness, we were greeted with big smiles. Everyday we were greeted by strangers. I have never met kinder, more caring people who are genuinely interested in at least saying hello. It was a very sad moment as we left The Rock.