New Found Land!

There’s really nothing that thrills me more than exploring “new found land.”  I got that wanderlust gene from my Mom and especially my (late) Dad, both who enjoyed exploratory travel as much as I do.  We were never “sit and stay” vacationers, but rather constantly on the move, always eager to explore new territory.  So to have a ferry crossing to an island of  42,000 square miles to explore is a thrill beyond compare.

At every jumping off point, I keep stocking up like the end of time is near, and North Sydney, Nova Scotia is no exception.  I spend my last evening in Nova Scotia with stops at Walmart, the grocery store, the liquor store (can’t buy beer or wine in the previous two,) and fueling up.  An overnight at the Arm of Gold RV Park, just six minutes from the ferry proves to be the perfect “staging” spot, as I fill water, dump tanks, do laundry, and enjoy a steamy hot shower before setting the Winnie off for Newfoundland!

I’ll be crossing the Gulf of St Lawrence on the “MV Blue Puttees,” named for the Newfoundland regiment soldiers that represented Newfoundland in WWI.  Part of Marine Atlantic ferry fleet, she is 654ft long, 88 ft across, and can hold up to 1,000 passengers housed in 96 cabins, 500 “airline-style” reclining seats, and bar and restaurant.  She can ferry 426 cars, 177 drop trailers, or 90 tractor trailers.

He's got one of those survey wheels, actually measuring me! Why http://taketothehighway.com/wp-admin/admin.php?page=cvg-gallery-overviewdo I feel the urge to suck it in?

He’s got one of those survey wheels, actually measuring me! Why do I feel the urge to suck it in?

What are the odds I line up right next to a Navion? Never did see the owners, though.

What are the odds I line up right next to a Navion? Never did see the owners, though.

The Maritime Atlantic ferry is bigger than I had anticipated.

The Maritime Atlantic ferry is bigger than I had anticipated.

Cars load from the upper deck via this ramp. I am grateful RVs go on the lower deck.

Cars load from the upper deck via this ramp. I am grateful RVs go on the lower deck.

Into the belly of the whale!

Into the belly of the whale!

Ferry cost is just one of the many reasons for my decision to leave the Tracker behind.  Just this leg alone would have cost me another $115.   I was told they would even measure the hitch, so I removed everything from the Winnie’s back end.  With no hitch, I am 24 ft exactly, which costs $220 CAD ($169 US)  for the “cheap seats” (no cabin or reserved seat.)  I know from being measured end to end for the PNW ferries that I am 42ft with the Tracker in tow.  This would have increased my ferry cost by $115.  And this is not the most expensive ferry crossing I will encounter.

Eighteen-wheelers fill up the back deck.

Eighteen-wheelers fill up the back deck.

Leaving North Sydney, Nova Scotia under cloudy skies.

Leaving North Sydney, Nova Scotia under cloudy skies.

The crossing to Port aux Basque, Newfoundland is six hours.  Some might wince at that notion, but for me, it’s a treat.  Rarely do I ever get to relax while I am riding.  It’s the main reason why I love the Mexican bus so much!  With only one set of eyes, I must do all the navigating, driving, watching for road signs, obstacles in the road, cars on my bumper, etc. etc.  So to be held captive in a nice comfy recliner for six hours while watching the ocean roll by outside my window is a little bit of heaven.

This is the seating area on the 7th level. It's a bit crowded and noisy with the movies going on and the coffee shop nearby.

This is the seating area on the 7th level. It’s a bit crowded and noisy with the movies going on and the coffee shop nearby.

Head on up to the 8th level where it's a lot quieter, less people, and more relaxing.

Head on up to the 8th level where it’s a lot quieter, less people, and more relaxing.

Another benefit to letting someone else do the driving. ;-)

Another benefit to letting someone else do the driving. ;-)

There’s plenty to do on the ferry.  They offer movies, coffee shops, a computer station, gift shop, restaurants, and a bar.   The ferry is not crowded, so I find a pair of recliners on the two-seat side next to a window.   Not knowing what the food selection is like on board, I’ve packed a picnic lunch and brought along my laptop to edit some photos.   I also brought along a book. (Once the ferry is underway, it’s not possible to return to the vehicles, so pack a bag with everything you think you’ll need!)  But I am shocked to find I have a cell signal most of the way!   So the six hours passes in the blink of an eye.

But half an hour before docking, I get a big knot in my stomach.  I suddenly feel very far from everything and every body that is familiar. It doesn’t help that it’s a bleak gray day outside. I remind myself I can turn around tomorrow if I want to. 😉

Port aux Basque, Newfoundland

Port aux Basque, Newfoundland

At first glance, Newfoundland looks very bleak and foreboding. Odd color for a navigational beacon!

At first glance, Newfoundland looks very bleak and foreboding.  Note the white lighthouse…odd choice of color for a navigational beacon!

Port aux Basque, Newfoundland

Port aux Basque, Newfoundland

Newfoundland Visitor Center, just 5 minutes from the ferry.

Newfoundland Visitor Center, just 5 minutes from the ferry.

The first stop out of the ferry is the big, beautiful Newfoundland Visitor Information Center.   I expect it to be crowded, but I am among the first to drive off the ferry, so there’s only one other car in the parking lot.  I decide to stop and let the “parade” behind me clear, while I inquire about Newfoundland information.   I have a list…

Friends who’ve gone before me tell me to be sure and ask for a list of propane sources available on the island.    And I want to ask for most scenic hiking trails.  But I also want to confess to the woman on the other side of the counter that “My name is Suzanne…and I am a lighthouse nut.”   She responds, “Well, then, you won’t want to miss our beauty on the Southern shore!”

She tells me the Rose Blanche Lighthouse, located along the “granite coast,” is one of the few granite lighthouses still in existence.  It will take me 60 miles out of my way to visit the lighthouse.  My intent was to head north as quickly as possible to see the icebergs, but I’ve never seen a lighthouse made from granite before. I’ll overnight in the J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park, and head out first thing the next morning.

J.T. Cheeseman is my first provincial park (equivalent to our state parks,) and there is a $7 CAD nightly provincial park fee.  I opt for the pass, which is $50CAD ($39US) on the bet that I will stay more than 7 nights in a provincial park.

All night, I hear two distinct sounds…one of rushing of water, and the other, a fog horn. The next morning, I awake to pea soup fog.  I set off for an early morning walk to search out the source of these two soundtracks that soothed me into slumber.

Newfoundland is nicknamed “The Rock,” so I never expected it to have patches of heavy forest. In my mind, it would all be barren. But the J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park is located in a thicket of spruce and fir trees. I find the rushing sound out my window is a beautiful waterfall just behind my campsite, #14. (Site #15 offers even closer proximity.) On my morning walk, I follow the sounds of the fog horn which leads me down a gravel road to a beautiful beach. Again, not something I expected to find on the rocky shores of Newfoundland.

Site #14 in J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park.

Site #14 in J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park.

This waterfall is right behind my site!

This waterfall is right behind my site!

Funny, I asked the guy at the park office if there were any hiking trails around. He said "No," yet I found this nice walk to the beach.

Funny, I asked the guy at the park office if there were any hiking trails around. He said “No,” yet I found this nice walk to the beach.

The source of the foghorn that blasted every 60 seconds all night...

The source of the foghorn that sounded every 60 seconds all night…

I am told I will see this sign often at provincial parks.

I am told I will see this sign often at provincial parks.

The 30 mile drive along the Granite Coast is just gorgeous.  Too bad I can barely make out the rocky coastline, marshy ponds, and rolling green hills due to fog.  The further I go, the worse it is.  I consider turning around several times, but how frustrating to come all this way with no lighthouse payoff at the end!   I stop to ask advice from some construction workers along the road.  “I came to see the lighthouse, but I can’t even see the road!  Do you think I’ll be able to see it?”  He replies, “Oh, you’ll see it, all right my Precious.  As long as you are adventurous enough to make it out there!”  What kind of answer is that??  And what’s with the “Precious?”  This is the second “Newfie” to call me that.  Of course, coming from the manly “Newfies,” I don’t mind!

This is "Lighthouse Road." I pull over and park it at the first place I can easily turn around, and walk the rest of the way!

This is “Lighthouse Road.” I pull over and park it at the first place I can easily turn around, and walk the rest of the way!

Up this path is a......lighthouse? Are you sure?

Up this path is a……lighthouse? Are you sure?

Finally, she comes into view!

Finally, she comes into view!

Hard to believe two friendly volunteers are waiting inside for me!

Hard to believe two friendly volunteers are waiting inside for me!

Pity it's not a clear day, as the view from the grounds is gorgeous!

Pity it’s not a clear day, as the view from the grounds is gorgeous!

I finally park the Winnie at a picnic spot along the road and walk the rest of the way, as I fear I won’t be able to see to turn around.  It’s not until I am almost there that the outline of my first granite lighthouse takes shape, and she’s a beauty!  Built in 1871, she was designed by D & T Stevenson, lighthouse engineers from Edinburgh, Scotland, named after the father and uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson.  She operated until the 1940’s when she fell into disrepair.   By the 1990’s, nothing remained but the tower, still structurally sound because of the spiral stairs inside.  The lighthouse was restored in 1999, using 70% of the original granite.

They have done their best to restore it with period furnishings from the late 1800's.

They have done their best to restore it with period furnishings from the late 1800’s.

This was believed to be the location of the light-keeper’s desk, as the window faces the open sea.

These granite steps are original, and were the fortifying structure that enabled the tower to remain standing when all else fell into ruin.

These granite steps are original, and were the fortifying structure that enabled the tower to remain standing when all else fell into ruin.

Looking up into the dome of the lantern room. This is as far as you can go...

Looking up into the dome of the lantern room. This is as far as you can go…

All that remains of the original 4th Order Fresnel lens is a strip of the beveled glass, however they have this pristine 6th Order lens on display.

All that remains of the original 4th Order Fresnel lens is a strip of the beveled glass, however they have this pristine 6th Order lens on display.

The lovely little Rose Blanche lighthouse is filled with antiques, staffed with friendly volunteers, and even has coffee and fresh made tea cakes for sale….still guiding modern-day wayward travelers, lost in the fog…

“For love of lovely words, and for the sake    
Of those, my kinsmen and my countrymen,    
Who early and late in the windy ocean toiled    
To plant a star for seamen, where was then    
The surfy haunt of seals and cormorants;           
I, on the lintel of this cot, inscribe    
The name of a strong tower.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

IMG_7733 IMG_7741 IMG_7744 IMG_7753

17 thoughts on “New Found Land!

  1. Lovely account of your crossing and first couple of days on The Rock. There is so much more than rock for you to see so don’t worry and the Newfies seem to get friendlier every day. I got a Hon and a Precious today as a matter of fact… See you soon we hope! Ed and Marti

  2. Great post and wonderful pictures. Due to circumstances beyond my control I had to sell my trailer. I’m trying to figure out the best time to go. If my son can take his pup, Bogey, for the month (he’s been living with me because Michael travels so much), I’m thinking of September. Do you think NF would be too cold. Oddly enough, I’m nervous about traveling without an RV. Would you say there is an assortment of lodging? Would I be able to fly by the seat if my pants line I did with my trailer? It may turn out that I’ll have to go earlier and weather won’t be a problem. It will be strange not having an RV and I don’t like the feeling, but if I’m ever going to go anywhere again…

    Thanks again for the information on your blog. I’m loving reading it.

    • Hi, Jack. I am certainly no expert with only a week behind me here, but I will say that there is more “infrastructure” here than I had anticipated. I have seen lots of lodging and very few “No Vacancy” signs, with the exception of the small town of Cheticamp at the beginning of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Otherwise, hotels, inns, cabins, etc. appear to be readily available.

      It’s hard for me to say about the weather in September. I would do online research to see what the average temps are for that time. I will say that July varies, as it’s warm during the day, and only cold when it’s windy.

      I don’t know what your situation is…if your truck would allow you to sleep in it. If not, another option might be to consider renting one of the “CanaDream” camper vans. I have no idea what these cost, but I see quite a few on the road here.
      Best of luck to you, and thanks for following along!
      Suzanne

      • Thanks so much, Suzanne. As usual my plans are jello, but have cleared the month of October and have ordered some books about Maine and Nrw England. You are so kind to answer a question from someone who is sadly is no longer an Rver, but one with wanderlust intact!

        I’ll pack a blanket and warm clothing in case I get stuck at one point and have to sleep in the truck, but it’s nice to know that lodging seems to be plentiful. I’m taking my computer so will be following your footprints as I go…the trip up from Atlanta is always a bummer but I’ll take a more westerly scenic route to ease the pain. II’m so happy for you–living your dream. I feel a sense of hope and excitement just planning this trip. Let’s just hope that my HVAC system doesn’t decide to go after I’ve spent the money to fix it! LOL HAPPY TRAVELS!

  3. Sorry about the fog, but you wanted a genuine maritime experience, right? Glad the ferry trip was ok; it can be rough sometimes. Are you planning to take the longer ferry ride back from Argentia? You did find a quite unique lighthouse once you got there!

  4. My trip to Port Aux Basques was in 1978 when I was 19, with my 14 year old sister & we left our parents & younger brother back in Cape Breton with the car & camper. We stayed in a BnB in Port Aux Basques & it was the greatest adventure of my life! Even more exciting than the Yukon, NWT & Alaska, since I always had my security blanket; my car. I tend to go into hyper-ventilation shock if I don’t have my car within walking distance at all times (having had to live in my car on more than one occasion, I think that’s understandable). I am enjoying this part of your journey even more (if that’s possible!) than your past posts. Please keep blogging; there are many of us out here living vicariously through you & enjoying the ride immensely! Someday I’ll go back to the Rock!

  5. So that’s where you got the wanderlust… mom and dad of course! The Maritimes and Newfoundland look just awesome, perfect for touring.

  6. Great article and I love the hazy and foggy pictures as they seem to be a specialty of mine. As I wrote previously to go to Newfie has been a dream for a long time and I think that by the time I finish your tale it shall be the top of the list. When I think of all the lobster we could have on that trip I become befuddles. Deede too although she makes me crack her shells as well as mine. Thanks.

    • Allen, tell Deede she is missing the best part…the primordial satisfaction of ripping a crustacean apart with her bare hands. 😉

  7. So glad you did cross over to see the island. We’ve never made it that far. Our friends told us we need to visit. Maybe next trip! You are making me miss the the Maritimes. May be time to revisit! What a perfect little spot in the park! While your drive to lighthouse looked very uncomfortable, the fog did make for very dramatic photos. What a beautiful lighthouse! Aren’t people in Canada (not Quebec) just the friendliest! We found everyone so helpful and pleasant. Safe travels! Can’t wait to read more!

  8. The foggy photos from “Lighthouse Road”, especially the ones surrounding the treasure at the end, are glorious! What a beautifully quaint little lighthouse emerging from the fog!…

    “We sail toward evening’s lonely star
      That trembles in the tender blue;
    One single cloud, a dusky bar,
      Burnt with dull carmine through and through,
    Slow smouldering in the summer sky,        
      Lies low along the fading west.
    How sweet to watch its splendors die,
      Wave-cradled thus and wind-caressed!” ~ Celia Laighton Thaxton

    • Sorry…that should read “Thaxter”; she was the daughter of Thomas Laighton, a lighthouse keeper. Ms. Thaxter wrote many poems about coastal living in the late 1800’s. This verse is from the poem “Song”…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *