With significant regret we left our roadside whale watching motorized perches and rode on towards Blanc Sablon. I was somewhat gloomy leaving such a sight, and the darkening weather matched my mood. Overhead clouds were gathering and the skies brooded and darkened. By the time we reached our hotel, a cold misty fog surrounded us. We were looking forward to a nice warm room and a hot dinner. We were able to accomplish both and fell into the rack for a good nights rest.
We awoke to overcast and heavy rain. It seems like each time we visited Newfoundland it rained and it looked like this visit would be no different. I dressed and we packed our bags for mounting on the bikes. It was while I was mounting the bags on our bikes that an older gentleman approached and quietly watched for a while. I clearly remember him. He was wearing a clear raincoat and a yellow Gloucester fisherman’s hat. I noticed he was wearing a Cessna belt buckle and he had the pilot’s wrinkles around his eyes from squinting into the sun. Just by looking at him, I could tell that this man had had some adventures of his own. Nearby, a tour bus idled its rough and slow diesel drone and he looked at it disdainfully. He would then watch me packing in the rain with a look of longing and desire. It truly appeared like he was ready to jump on and ride
After a while, he walked a bit closer and asked where we were headed and where we had come from. I told him that we had ridden from our house in New Hampshire and we were headed to Newfoundland. We chatted a bit about the trip so far and what the Trans Labrador Highway had been like. While we stood there in the rain, he looked me in the eye and looked over to the bus he would later board and he said, “I wish I was traveling with you.” You know what, if I’d had the space on the bike, I would have taken him along. Pilots have to stick together you know.
Before we knew it we were in line for the ferry getting ready to ride churning grey misty seas. Finally this signal was given and we rode our bikes aboard, tied them down and made our way to find some seating for the trip. Even though the trip started in the morning, the entire ride was dark and rainy. A few ghostly icebergs silently passed in the distance their silhouettes a grainy shadow against a backdrop of white-capped grey and green. A few whale and dolphins passed, breaking the water’s surface, spouting and seemingly pointing out the way. It seemed that in no time, we had arrived in Newfoundland and it was time to disembark and start our Newfoundland part of the trip.
Unfortunately, for most of this journey through Newfoundland, poor weather surrounded us and we decided to make a beeline to our first destination near St. Anthony, the Glacier Manor Resort. Now closed, it was a wonderful little place being built by a couple; John and Edna Simmonds using their own two hands. Dinner was home cooked by Edna while John literally serenaded us on the guitar while we ate. It was terrific. We sat and chatted and discussed the US and Canada and before we knew it we had transitioned from acquaintances to family in the breadth of a few short hours. Together with John and Edna, we’d been able to shrink the planet a little more on this trip. Wonderful!
We went out for an early evening walk in an attempt to see some moose. As the sun set, we came across a pair of very large great horned owls. One flew off quickly and the other stayed for a while and watched us watching him. We remained very quiet and did not make any quick movements or loud noises which might scare him off. Finally he had had his fill of watching us and as he flew away. But as he did, he left us a gift of one of his large feathers which we still have to this day. It was if he were saying, thank you for not disturbing us. For doing so, I leave you a part of me to remember us and Newfoundland by.
As the sky grew darker, we walked towards the more open fields and waited for the moose to come out. They did not disappoint us. They came out in fairly large numbers and quietly and calmly walked across open fields looking for some snacks. We watched in amazement wondering how such large animals could move about so silently. We watched for an hour or so and headed back to the resort for a good night’s rest.
Come the morning we made our way towards Newfoundland’s table top mountain National Park Gros Morne. It was green and gorgeous. Sheer walls of green with bare spots of rock shot straight up. Not to points, but to vast flat table tops that stretched for miles. Surrounded at the base by trees, as they rose, the mountains lost their leafy cover and instead were covered in huge patches of velvety green moss. The moss often undulated up the sides of the mountain giving the slope a wavy texture until reaching the table top. They were extraordinary sights.
While we stared at the table topped mountains, we were also treated to ocean view stretches. We rode alongside twisty two lane ocean roads with clouds racing perpendicular to our course. Fresh air treated our senses with variety. When the wind blew from the sea, it was sweetened with the brine of the deep. When if came from the land, it was pungent with pine. This ride had turned into a truly sensory delight.
We made a brief stop for lunch in a small town called Port Aux Choix. It was a charming place and it was clear that we were in Canada. One of the locals had hand carved a Viking statue and outfitted him full hockey gear including stick and shin guards. Of course, because he was cool, he was also outfitted with some rather trendy shades. Of course, we had to take a picture with him.
Continuing our southward ride, we made our way towards Rocky Harbor. To get to there, we again found ourselves on narrow twisty mountain roads with mountain and ocean views. At the higher elevations, snow was still on the ground and it was mid June! Along the way we spotted moose grazing and running alongside the road during the day. Beautiful to look at, but also an important reminder to be alert when rounding corners.
Rocky Harbor turned out to be another small town surrounded by mountains and the sea. When we arrived they were having a local regatta, and the townspeople were out and about in all sorts of small craft plying they way all over the harbor. It was a day of community on the water. We enjoyed the festivities for a while, but we really had to get going for our time was running short. The following day we had to be in Port Aux Basques to catch the ferry to Nova Scotia.
Arriving at our little hotel, which consisted of several separate little cottages and a restaurant, we caught a quick dinner and turned in for the night. Before we fell asleep the rain had begun to fall and tomorrow looked to be a damp ride to the ferry to Nova Scotia where we’ll take you in Part 7.