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A Photojournal of Our Vacation to Canada, August 12-21, 2005

I am an advocate of history. All kinds of history - United States national history, state history, regional history, continental history, world history, ancient history, military history, it doesn’t matter, I like it all and never cease to be amazed at the stories and events that have happened throughout time that influence us so significantly today. The Viking exploration of North America is one such event that remained virtually unrecognized for hundreds of years until relatively recent times. Seeing how this exporation occurred geographically close to where we live this event has interested me for a number of years.

Kiro2, my 2005 FLHRCI

Phase One - Planning - Portland, Maine

Sometime around 1,000 AD Norsemen arrived in Newfoundland at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsular and established a camp. This is the site of the first known European settlement in North America and in the 1960’s excavations proved unequivocally that this was a fact. The Vikings were in North America 500 years before Columbus ‘sailed the ocean blue’. Using the Canadian National Parks text: ‘In 1960, the Norwegian team of Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine Ingstad, following Viking sagas recorded in medieval Icelandic manuscripts, located the ruins of Straumfiord. Excavation by the Ingstads and, later, by Parks Canada, unearthed the remains of eight buildings and hundreds of Viking artifacts, mostly of wood but also of iron, stone, bronze and bone. Norse contacts with the New World continued sporadically until at least the mid-14th century, and knowledge of the new lands likely remained among European sailors, facilitating the reopening of the Atlantic sea lanes in the 1490s.’
I can remember as a youngster the hoopla this discovery created and have recently again viewed the newsreels with Italian-American citizenry up in arms when they learned that Columbus had been upstaged. All in all it didn’t make much difference in the long run, but I have an interest in Viking history and thought that one day I’d like to check this settlement out… Well, many, many moons have passed since that time but I never forgot.

Viking Trail, Newfoundland My friend and associate Kevin Corcoran and I were in Virginia working on a project in early 2005. We had both recently purchased new Harley- Davidson motorcycles and were discussing taking a road trip with the ladies. Kevin & Loretta (his spouse) own and operate a beautiful Limited Edition Screaming Eagle Softail Deuce (FXSTD). I suggested checking out L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland and shortly after started researching this trip and what it entailed. This is an excerpt of the initial information I wrote in February: “I started investigating a potential trip to the L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site located in the northern portion of Newfoundland, Canada. Background information - why propose visiting Newfoundland? L’Anse aux Meadows (LAM) contains an excavated Viking village dating back to an estimated period of 860 to 1060 AD. Note this is 500 years previous to the ‘discovery’ of the New World by Christopho Columbo. The archeological works conducted at LAM in the 1960’s proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Vikings were the first Europeans known to have visited North America. This village was unearthed after years of research and investigation by a Norwegian, Helge Ingstad and his wife. This trip offered an exceptional touring vacation with multiple places of interest. Accounts I’ve read indicate it is an truly amazing area.” By mid-March I had hammered out an 'Western Tour' itinerary that would be just under two weeks total.

Because you have to take a ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland along with everyone and everything else going to and fro unless transported by air, we learned quickly that you must have reservations and planning in place to make this journey successful. Well, we did… we had as good a plan with reservations as could be anticipated and we were ready with a launch out date of Friday, August 12, 2005 and really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, several days before our departure date, Loretta had a death in the family and they were unable to make the trip with us. So, Linda and I decided to go it alone.

I won’t go into the boring details of the plethora of things we investigated, researched and later purchased in anticipation of this trip. However I will comment that many things came under our scrutiny and we ended up buying all new raingear, helmets, a sissy bar pack, etc. and everything was trial packed, checked and re-checked to ascertain we had room for all the gear and us on my H-D Road King Classic motorcycle (FLHRCI). It’d hard to believe how much stuff you can’t bring when riding two up and everything has to be carefully considered for usefulness, packability and weight.
Map courtesy of Viking Trail Tourism Association

Phase Two - The Journey Commences

Day One, Friday, August 12th – Portland into Canada

The first two days were relegated to one purpose – travel the 700+ miles from Maine to the ferry terminal in North Sidney on Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia in time to take the 11:00 PM passage to Port aux Basque, Newfoundland. The scoot had 1,560 miles on the odometer when we left Portland at 8:30 AM. It was a beautiful, warm and sunshiny day - perfect riding weather. I wanted to get as close to the terminal as possible so the next day would be a shorter ride and we could relax some. We traveled just under 400 miles on Day One arriving in Moncton, New Brunswick around 6:00 PM local time. It was a fairly unadventurous but wonderful riding day and crossing into Canada at Calais presented no issues. We didn’t have to show identification or anything else, just indicate where we were from and off we went. I was up for riding further, hoping to get into Nova Scotia while we had such nice weather. However, we had stopped for lunch and met and talked with a couple riding an older Road King Classic who warned us about waiting too late to look for a hotel as it was near the peak of tourist season and it was possible you wouldn’t find a room on a weekend. Enough said, we waited until we came near an exit posting multiple hotels and managed to locate a really nice suite at a Holiday Inn Express. This was all they had left but the cost wasn’t too bad and we liked it quite well. We had dinner at the hotel and got a good night's sleep. However, the weather forecast for the next day was dismal and calling for rain on a broad front…

Traveling by motorcycle has one stopping more frequently to fuel up than in a car with a much larger tank capacity. The H-D specification for an '05 Road King indicated a range of 187 miles when fully fueled. We were aware of this and as our scoot is fuel injected, we’d been cautioned that once the reserve light came on to not dally in finding some gas as you wouldn't get too far. We only had one scare and it was late in the afternoon of this day. I’d been on reserve far too long on the open highway, not much traffic around and I was starting to get a bad feeling… We got off an exit and ended up stopping and asking where the nearest station was. It worked out okay but it was surprising on a major road, Route 2 - the Trans-Canada Highway in those parts, that this could occur. We figured Newfoundland could be an issue but we were still many miles from there.

Day One was also a learning experience as the pack and load on the bike was all untried for any significant distance, remember this scoot was new and this was the first extended ride. I soon developed a comfort level with this beautiful new touring bike… As I indicated to Linda several times during the day, ‘this is one fine road machine’. We clipped along without issues and had no problems whatsoever, it was wonderful. Of course the first day or so is always like that, once you get cramped up and sore but still have to ride – well, that’s a different story. Canada has a national helmet law so everywhere you go you have to wear your headgear. In Maine helmets aren’t required so we bought a new pair of helmets for this trip and I was worried about how we’d fair with this aggravation, but neither of us had a problem. I’d purchased a Kuryakyn Full Dresser sissy bar bag which straps and ties off to the passenger backrest. On top of this we had our raingear rolled and stowed in a waterproof stuff sack. This arrangement traveled well and when we stopped and I checked things out nothing ever appeared to move. I give high marks to this bag designer – it did everything they indicated and worked splendidly, plus it has wheels so you can roll it when dismounted. It was a bit of a pain taking it off and re-installing it each morning though. I’d purchased H-D saddlebag liners and these worked slick – just pull them up and out and carry them into the room. I told Linda she could have the main Kuryakyn storage area; I’d use the saddlebags for my stuff and we’d share the side pouches on the pack. This arrangement worked well in practice.

Day Two, Saturday August 13th – New Brunswick into Nova Scotia, Canada

We were up around 8:00 AM, got some breakfast, coffee and were ready to ride by around 9:30. As Linda was getting stuff ready I went out to the bike and was reloading the gear in a light rain. When she came out we discussed wearing the rain gear and broke it out to change. My thinking was it wouldn’t amount to much so I didn’t really take the necessary pains to get damp proofed. Yikes, did this turn out to be a mistake… Almost as soon as we got on the highway it started raining hard; I’m talking vertical sheets of rain here followed by wind driven horizontal rain. I was soaked through in about 45 seconds. The rain I could handle okay but the wind was whipping across the road about 30 knots and this made for some white-knuckle riding. I didn’t put rain gloves on and the light summer gloves I was wearing were useless. I wasn’t particularly cold and we didn’t have any choice but to keep going anyway, so that’s what we did. What really saved me was the fact that I had a leather face guard – just like the old days, I had a triangular face wrap on which made it bearable to ride in the rain with my sunburned face, but later this did have consequences - my face was a mess with the sun & rain beating I'd received. Linda said she fared okay although it wasn’t the most pleasant of days I’m certain. Fortunately after about 100 kilometers the weather started to clear a bit and the wind died down to a level that didn’t have the bike buffeted constantly, a relief for both of us. Still, we had many miles to go, estimating 300 to travel for the day. We were on the Trans-Canada Highway going around 115 kilometers per hour when in my mirror I spotted a Harley coming down a ramp onto the highway. It wasn’t long before this bike, a black Road King Custom, caught up and passed us like we were standing still. The rider had a bright yellow slicker on and a trash bag tied around his luggage at the back of the bike. I remember thinking that this was one crazy SOB both with the road conditions and going that fast with the chance of getting stopped. Where we live they would impound your vehicle for such a high rate of speed…
It wasn’t long before we crossed into Nova Scotia and we kept kicking out the miles heading towards Cape Breton Island. Around mid afternoon we were nearing the approaches to the Canso Causeway to cross onto the island and decided to stop for some food and relaxation. Us and about 10,000 other folks as it turned out – the causeway, very near where we stopped, was closed and nobody was going across. Come to find out they were holding a 50th year celebration of the opening of the Canso Causeway and really making a time of it. We were stopped at the restaurant for several hours before it reopened and things returned to normal.

At last traffic started across and we followed through and it wasn’t before we were going along at the usual clip. We were reasonably close to the ferry terminal according to the GPS and around 5:00 PM local time we pulled up to the little booths where one checks in to confirm the passage reservations. From the time we got to the booth for the next several hours, our trip was going steadily downhill…

What we found out from the booth attendant was that the largest of the three ships operated by Marine Atlantic had suffered an engine malfunction and was taken out of service. This created an instantaneous passenger and cargo crisis and people had been stranded at the terminal waiting to take passage since early morning the day before. It didn’t take us long to learn that there were some really unhappy folks hanging around and it was discouraging to say the least. Our cabin reservation made months before was pretty much not going to happen and we may not even get aboard a ship until noon the next day from the latest information. None of the news was good, plus being on a motorcycle, it wasn’t like you could get in the back seat and sleep… Linda and I talked things over and decided that as we were on vacation, we’d make the best of things. I was thinking that if we didn’t get to Newfoundland that night as planned that we would be one day off on all the reservations across the board.

I’ll jump ahead in the story… In the end result, we got aboard a ferry for an early morning run. We even managed to obtain a cabin and got at least some sleep. But before all that happened, we met a group of folks and had some fun just hanging around with the hundreds of stranded passengers. First, as we left the booth receiving all the bad news, ahead of us was a rider on a Yamaha with North Carolina plates. Once we got into the line as directed by the attendant, we had a chance to talk with Ed Gaskins for the first time that night. We were parked and had plenty of time to change out of our raingear, grab coffee, dinner or whatever as the night progressed. A few hours later I heard the familiar roar of a Harley and up comes a black, Road King Custom with a Nova Scotia plate. I told Linda that bike looked familiar and later we learned this was indeed the rider that had passed us all those hours ago. We talked with Ron; an Englishman now living in Canada and asked why it took him so many hours to get here when he had passed us going so fast. He had stopped for dinner with some 'mates' and was just now getting ready for the Newfie passage from what he said. He had no idea that the ferry had been delayed however. It was a few hours even later from Ron’s arrival that we met the last two folks on a scoot, and real H-D enthusiast at that. Mike and his daughter were riding a Classic Electra Glide in Black with Newfoundland plates and it was fully dressed. This cast of characters would be our traveling companions for the next hours to come. Having Mike along would prove to be a boon in more ways than one – being a Newfie he provide a great deal of insight and was most helpful providing local knowledge of where we planned to go that the Internet or books just can’t help with. One of the first things we learned was to not plan on riding between dusk and dawn… There are so many Moose that riding a scoot as the sun goes down was downright dangerous. I thought I was having my leg pulled but after asking around found this to be the absolute truth. We never did ‘push the envelope’ and made certain we were at the day’s end destination for the entire trip.
Map courtesy Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism
Island of Newfoundland

Kiro2 - 2005 Harley Road King Classic So we talked and laughed and commiserated with all the folks stuck in North Sydney, Nova Scotia. The local security guards spent a good deal of time with our group chatting and we enjoyed learning about the local attitudes about things and listening to the Canadians complaining and praising the things about their existence good and bad. Certainly this was no different than being at the corner store in Maine… We were informed that an in-bound ferry was docking around 1:30AM. What this meant to us was unknown except that because we were on motorcycles, we were informed there was a good chance room could be found for us when this ship departed. When the word came to go aboard and tie down it was quick and unexpected… A guard came over and indicated that the ‘group of bikes’ were to go up the ramp as directed immediately and this is what we did. Once on board we checked with the purser who indicated we did indeed have a cabin, which slept four. The Newfies had one as well, so we asked Mr. No. Carolina if he wanted to stay with us and as Ron had no accommodations, he was given the berth Ed had reserved. In the end result, we all had a place to sleep. We were concerned about waking up in a timely fashion when we arrived in Newfoundland. However, we needn’t have worried because an hour before we docked the loudspeaker came on and no normal person could ever sleep through the wake up call they provided on-board… We got up, made the best of our toilet we could and went out on deck to have a look – we were docking on the Island of Newfoundland.

Phase Three - Province of Newfoundland

Day Three, Sunday, August 14th - Port aux Basques to Norris Point

The weather report still wasn’t too great and all of us dressed for inclement weather. This is just part of what you do as a rider and nobody really complained, just waterproofed ourselves and the bikes the best we could. As the ferry unloaded we unshackled the scoots, two on each side of the ship and got ready to ride; it was just about 8:00 AM local time. The four bikes drove off the ramp together and we traveled a short distance to a gas station so those who needed fuel could top off. We would share a common road for a good portion of the day before splitting up and going our separate ways. In our case, the combined road took us all the way to Rocky Harbor, very close to where we would be spending out first night at Norris Point, Newfoundland. We quickly adapted to the beauty surrounding us as we traveled the coastal road heading up the Great Northern Peninsular. All in all, we were pleased the ferry passage worked out close to the time frame we had panned so we didn’t have to start rearranging all our reservations.

The gray and overcast sky looked much like home as we headed north towards Corner Brook & Deer Lake. I’m not certain about Linda, but I wasn’t cold as we entered the highway and quickly got up to cruising speed. This part of the journey was uneventful as Mike set the pace at about 100 kph. We were making good time with little traffic or other interruptions. As he knew this road from his many trips to the ferry and off the Island, we were able to relax and enjoy the scenery as we traveled. His scoot was similar to ours in fuel consumption and ours were probably better than the Yamaha and RK Custom we were with so he had fuel stops planned out.
Long Range Mountains Before noon we were coming into Deer Lake where a fuel and lunch stop was planned. We ate at a rather busy Irving station that looked like a truck stop and tourist center rolled into one. It was simply delightful and the most difficult decision we had to make was whether we wanted breakfast or lunch. I pulled out a map and took a look at the next phase of the junket. This was interesting because the Viking Trail actually starts at Deer Lake, so we were commencing our journey in earnest from here. Mike continued to aid us in planning for the next few days and told us we simply had to take the ‘fiord boat trip’. We could buy tickets at Rocky Harbor, our next destination and he planned to take us to the place, a hotel, where one could get these tickets so they wouldn’t sell out during our time in the area.

After lunch we got back on the highway, both us and the scoots fully fueled and ready to go. The weather was turning quite nice and we took the opportunity to dress down at lunch. It was great getting out of the raingear and we re-rolled/packed everything and got a bit more comfortable. It didn’t take too long to get into the town of Wiltondale, which is considered the gateway to Gros Morne Park. To provide some idea of the distances involved, Port aux Basques to Gros Morne Park is about 329 kilometers (205 miles) and this was the approximate distance we had planned for today’s ride.

Linda and I had reservations at the Sugar Hill Inn at Norris Point for the next several evenings including dinner reservations. We wished to find a place where we didn’t have to travel out to have dinner once we checked in and it didn’t take long to figure out there weren’t that many choices to investigate. I’m not certain that we wouldn’t have been okay without pre-planned reservations but we were pleased with the way things worked out…

So we entered the area of Gros Morne National Park of Canada. The scenery all day had been fairly spectacular and was getting better all the time. This certainly appeared to be a rugged, mountainous island full of hardy folk and tough living… Everybody was most helpful and friendly along the way so far, just what I’ve always experienced and come to expect when in Canada. We arrived at Rocky Harbour, the destination where our little band of scooter trash planned to disperse. This was a delightful little harbor, much like many in Maine and we walked about and took in the sites. Mike took us into the hotel and to the booth for the boat tickets. We learned there are multiple boat tours but we elected to stay with the fjord tour that Mike had suggested and bought tickets for the afternoon trip the next day. We figured the afternoon would be better as we didn’t have to get out of bed too early and the sun would be up and hopefully, it would be warmer then.

For this vacation I’d purchased a Nikon Coolpix 8800 digital camera. It has a great zoom capability and is relatively small and compact, an important consideration when traveling by motorcycle. I’d purchased the optional battery grip and made certain I had plenty of AA batteries available so I didn’t get caught short on power as we were going to some rather remote areas. So, I had the 8800 camera, a fold up portable tripod and plenty of memory cards so I didn’t have to worry about storage during the entire trip. Normally I would have had one of my laptops available to download the image cards but being on a bike precluded anything like that on this journey. I learned that the Nikon 8800 is a wonderful camera and it takes superb images for a fixed lens device. It was about at this point that I kept the camera out and accessible in the event we wished to stop and shoot something. All the photographs you see in this account were taken with the Nikon 8800 camera.

Rocky Harbour View

As we milled around outside the hotel I gathered everybody up and took the following photograph of the mean looking bunch… Because I took the shot, I’m not in this image nor any others.. Shortly after the ‘photo shoot’ we said our good-byes and the merry band broke up. Ron talked Eddie into going with him to visit a ‘mate’ and ultimately, he cancelled his hotel reservation and they all stayed at his friend’s house for the evening. Mike and his daughter took the road to Gander, due west from Rocky Harbour and Linda and I headed to Norris Point, the next town over and only a few miles away.

We drove into Norris Point, another quaint little harbor and looked for the Sugar Hill Inn. On the way into the village, we passed it without seeing the sign and after we got to the water and the end of the road, realized this was the case. Going out the way we went it, we viewed the sign and pulled in. This was our first look at the facility. The Sugar Hill Inn is ‘a luxurious country inn situated in the heart of Gros Morne National Park’ according to their website and I’d have to agree. ‘We combine quality accommodations, gourmet cuisine and warm hospitality to provide our guests with a memorable experience’… Again I’d have to agree, this place was like an oasis in the desert as far as we were concerned. We arrived just before two o'clock and went to the office to check in. The facility consists of six rooms of various sizes and quality and one cottage. We’d had reservations for two couples all along, but I’d contacted them to let them know it would just be one couple and left it up to them as to which room they retained for our reservation. We were both beat and the ferry trip was neither long enough nor restful enough for us to be revitalized after the hard ride out from home. We were ready for some R&R and this looked like the place to get it…

Our room was wonderful. We unpacked the bike, took long, hot showers and changed into fresh clothes that felt absolutely terrific. We were right where we planned to be, even a bit early actually, as there wasn’t much to stop and check out between Port aux Basques and Rocky Harbour, so we made better time than planned. Riding up form Port aux Basques is similar to riding the Airline from Bangor to Calais – you just want to get it done… I checked the GPS to learn how we were doing and found the following: Trip distance to date: 961.47 miles Road time to date: 16:53:29 – this only records when you’re in transit above 5 MPH, so this constituted our ‘saddle time’. I’m pleased to report that Linda is holding up really well so far and the next few days will have minimal riding compared to the trip out.

Have I told you about the GPS unit purchased and used on this trip? Not too long before we left and in preparation for this trip, I decided to buy a GPS unit that would serve both on the Harley and in my four-wheeled vehicles. The end result of my investigation was the purchase of the Lowrance iWay 500. I’ve learned how dependable this device is and when it is required, find it quite indispensable in use. I even travel with it for work these days when flying into another state; to find an office or property, I simply input the address, fire the unit up using the rental car cigarette socket power and go on my way. Where we were in Newfoundland it wouldn’t be too difficult to find one’s way but the GPS was great at indicating where we were, previewing the road ahead and tracking the road time and mileage. This was mounted to my handlebars using RAM Mounting Systems components. I had the wiring harness installed at my local Harley shop in Maine and the wire is out of the way and secured when the iWay isn’t installed on the bike. This is a great device and it worked splendidly for this trip. Would I recommend the particular unit I purchased? You bet, it’s easy to use, dependable and portable enough to be used in my various vehicles.
Our Riding Group-Scooter Trash All
After resting up a bit we got the bike ready to roll without the pack. This was a simple matter; pack a few necessities in the saddlebag and get on the road. We took a quick putt around the roads in the area and near the park entrance to get oriented. We traveled several back roads around Rocky Harbour and ended up back in the village where I stopped and took a series of images. Upon the return to Norris Point I did the same from a lookout point, including a four-image panoramic which was okay but not too straight so I didn’t print it - you can view it below though. Afterwards we returned to our room and rested up for dinner, scheduled at 7:00 in a single sitting.

The Light at Lobster Cove Head

When the Sugar Hill Inn indicated they have ‘gourmet’ meals, this is not an overstatement… The food was wonderful and truly well prepared. They appear to offer two meals in the event you don’t care for or cannot eat seafood for example, and we were advised and asked to choose from the dailey offerings when we checked in. We both selected Scallops Coquille St. Jacques and I must say it was phenomenal. They also have a nice wine selection which one can enjoy by the glass or bottle and we ordered an Amarone Valpolicella with dinner, one of my personal favorites, which proved exceptional…. Not too long after dinner we were back in the room and not long after that I was sleeping the sleep of the road weary, content and well pleased with the world.
8800 photo courtesy of Nikon website

Nikon 8800 & iWay 500 on my Harley

Day Four, Monday August 15th – Norris Point

Village of Norris Point

We were fairly exhausted and sleeping in such a comfortable bed was a bit detrimental to getting the day started. All the same, we were up before 9:00 AM and getting things prepared to start the new day.

I went outside and checked on the scooter. It was a frosty, damp morning and I moved the bike out of the lee of the building and into the sun to dry it off while we showered and had breakfast. The Inn offers baked goods, toast, homemade jams and jellies, coffee, tea, etc. in the mornings. One could have an omelet prepared or whatever for an additional charge but we were content with the spread as such. Besides wonderful food, the dining is fun at the Sugar Hill Inn because you’ll end up at a table, or at least in the same room, with whatever guests may be staying there at the same time as you. Everybody’s on holiday and generally happy, so it makes for some interesting conversation with people from many walks of life and locations. We had a few discussions that proved to be quite a learning experience.

This was the day we had the boat tour reservations and we were informed that we had to be at the parking area for the walk in between 1:30 and 2:00 PM, so we didn’t have any major plans until that time. We rode around a bit, went down to the water at Norris Point and returned to Rocky Harbour, where we walked about and I photographed the scenery in the area. It was turning out to be a warm and beautiful day as the sun climbed in the sky – perfect weather indeed. We were in Newfoundland on vacation as planned; the weather was great, we were rested and happy – life is good!

Entrance to Western Brook Pond We arrived at the parking area early, parked the scoot and started looking around. There were cars in the lot, some for the upcoming tour and others from the earlier trip. According to the tour guide, the walk into the Western Brook Pond is 3 kilometers and they indicated you should figure 45 minutes overall. This estimate was fairly accurate if you figure in people going both ways and the sites to be viewed along the path including moose, birds and other wildlife. There are also markers and sign explaining things about the flora and fauna and aspects of the topography; all of this was quite interesting. In the wetter areas, much of the walk was through a bog, we were on a boardwalk so stayed high and dry. You an see the mountainous tops surrounding the lake all the way in and you wouldn’t think it would take quite so long to get there predicated upon this view.

There are two boats that service the Western Brook Pond tour. Both were constructed, disassembled, transported into the lake area and re-assembled for use. The run the tours around the same time and it doesn’t appear to make much difference which one you take for the tour. As in all things Canadian, the folks providing the tour information over the address system on-board, do so in French and English. For those of you not familiar with how things are done in Canada, governmental and provincial signs of every type are in both languages everywhere. The Atlantic provinces appear to use English as the primary language but French is still relatively common, plus we were in Newfoundland at the height of the tourist season and many folks from Quebec and other French speaking sections were in the area touring as we were.

The Western Brook Pond fjord is spectacular and in the heart of Gros Morne National Park. Linda and I discussed this boat tour as well as the other options and in the end result, we believed this was exactly the right one to take because our schedule didn’t allow long hikes and this put us right in an area of beautiful sites with abundant wildlife. To get on the height above the lake would consist of a five or six hour hike in depending upon where you wished to end up. We clearly didn’t have that kind of time planned. We talked to others on-board and as usual most folks asked where you’re from and similiar questions. Many appeared to be from Toronto, but it was a mixed group from all over with quite a few children. They saw that I was interested in doing some photography so made room for me as I moved about the vessel imaging different parts of the cliffs. It wasn’t a great time of day for this as the sun was overhead and there were deep shadows and bright sunlight. However, I’ll let these photographs speak for themselves of the wonder of the place as these were shot from the tour boat….

Tour Boat on Western Brook Pond

Gros Morne Falls

Views of Gros Morne National Park of Canada

Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne National Park

As the tour ended the vessel was returning to the pier and we watched some moose resting on the sandy beach. Linda and I were surprised how many of the people reacted so excitedly to moose sightings as this isn't so uncommon in Maine. We’d seen a really small black bear cub up in the rocks and I managed to get a shot although the cub was running quickly and was very far away. There’s a building near the docking station and they serve light lunches, water, soft drinks and some souvenirs. I don’t believe Canadians are much different from those of us from the States when it comes to collecting stuff that says, ‘been there, done that’. We hung around the area some and drank some bottled water. It was hot and we had to make the walk back to the scoot and were in no great hurry. We saw more moose on the return walk and I got a few pictures before getting back to the parking area.

Moose & Black Bear Cub in the Park

We returned to the Sugar Hill Inn as we were running a bit late for dinner. They knew we were on the tour and planned accordingly but in the end result there weren’t many in the dining area this night. There were a couple of guys having dinner as we were seated and they were discussing various aspects of their journey to Newfoundland. We later learned they’d flown in and rented a car and this is a trip they make as often as they can. The older gentleman was a retired Doctor of Botany and his younger associate a hobbyist of sorts but extremely active in the field. I believe they hailed from Philadelphia and although I don’t recall the doctor’s name, his associate informed me he was well known and in his field and a ‘mover and shaker’ in his day. We learned that there are certain plant life that can be found in Newfoundland and no other place else on earth. Interesting stuff all things considered and as we were heading up the peninsular in the morning, we were informed of several things to look for on the way north. After a wonderful cod dinner and some more good wine, Linda and I returned to the room as we were relaxed, tired and ready for a good night’s sleep. In the morning we would re-gear to head up the peninsular.

Day Five, Tuesday August 16th – L’Anse aux Meadows

We were up around 8:00, showered and started packing up. We’d made a reservation at the Sugar Hill Inn for the return trip and had considered leaving some stuff behind to lighten the load. Ultimately we didn’t do this, we weren’t overloaded per se and as we did laundry at the facility we had clean clothes. We visited the dining area, had some breakfast and spoke to a few people getting ready to start their day in Gros Morne National Park. It appeared to be another glorious day in the making and fine day to ride the 360+ kilometers (226 miles) to the tip of the Great Northern Peninsular. The last few days had been light duty on the bike and Linda appeared to be doing okay with the riding aspect of things. Getting road worthy isn’t all that easy when you go from little to a lot of riding in a short time. I was concerned about this because there were days in our schedule where we had to ride rain or shine to keep on track with reservations and other commitments. We’d been told by some folks just returning from the St. Anthony, near our destination, that most of the road north was okay but there were sections that were broken up badly and could be dangerous on two wheels. I should mentioned that there is only one road to get up and back on the peninsular; it follows the coast and if you were to look at a map, you’d learn there are no roads to get into the interior until you get all the way north. We learned why close hand on this day, the Long Range Mountains are on your flank all the way up Route 430 and on the other side of the mountains perhaps +/- 70 kilometers on the average from the highway is once again, the cold North Atlantic Ocean…

At The Arches We departed Norris Point and the Sugar Hill Inn about 9:30 AM Newfie time. Not too far from the northern edge of Gros Morne National Park is a scenic pullover called The Arches. This is a area of rock outcropping that over the millennia have been cut and shaped by the ocean and in one case, bored a hole creating an arch through a large outcropping. Tourist stop and relax, picnic, take photographs and hang out for a time in their travels. I can see why, there are few places to stop along this section of coast and this can be a welcome respite. We hadn’t traveled far at all before we arrived here so didn’t linger too long as we were dressed to ride. Here is a photograph of some trees Linda asked me to shoot at this stop.

The Arches

We got back on the road and continued north. We decided to find lunch and some fuel and around 1:00 stopped at the town of Anchor Point where we found a gas pump and a lunch counter. It had proven to be a decent riding day and as we were informed, there were times when the road was quite poor and slowing down was warranted, but there was little traffic and I was able to pick and choose where we went along the centerline of the two lanes so it could have been much worse. Overall, we were averaging close to 100 KPH most of the way. The wind was up in places and this too had an effect on what we were doing. There are places along Route 430 where if you had the bad sense to not pay close attention and went off the road to your left, one would find yourself in the ocean as it was that close to the roadway… Some sections had a beach or rocks before the water but much of it did not. This was no easy road to stop along to take a photograph or whatever. Most of the roadway in Newfoundland has about a 2 or 3’ section of paving outside the painted line indicating the travel lane. There’s just no way the scoot can get completely out of the way without driving off the paved road and I was definitely not interested in doing this because one never knew what may be found beyond that pavement drop off. Scenic turn outs were few and far between and the general practice was to pull off wherever you felt like it, which was what we did most of the time as traffic was minimal in both directions. Anchor Point wasn’t too far from our day’s end destination and I figured we had enough fuel when topped off for the balance of the day. This was a relief actually because the concern on when and where to fuel up was constant with the sparsely populated areas we were traveling into. You don’t go by too many gas stations when you’re not certain when you’ll come across the next one.

It was just after 3:00 PM when we came to the intersection where 430 splits off to go south to St. Anthony or heads north on 436 to L’Anse aux Meadows. Shortly afterwards we viewed the entrance road to the
L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada and decided to find the bed & breakfast we’d reserved for the next two evenings. It was close, really close, to the park entrance. The Viking Village Bed & Breakfast is located in Hay Cove, which in essence, is a short street from the main road down to the water. We could nearly have thrown a rock to the park entrance from the facility. We found the Owner, Thelma Hedderson and checked in. We figured Thelma for a no nonsense type of individual that ran a tight ship after we met her. The building was quite nice and we were pleased with the room provided. All the rear decks looked out over the cove although walking down to it wasn’t all that easy with a good bit of scrub growth between the building and shore. Linda and I unpacked the bike and decided to go to L’Anse aux Meadows; this was the very reason we traveled so far. We re-mounted the scoot and headed into the park road…

Landscape at LAM

Anne Stine & Helga Ingstad The park has a visitor’s center quite typical to most facilities of this type. Inside they have a small shop with souvenirs and books, a short film about the excavation and goings on over the years at the site and a museum display section about the various peoples that have lived at or near the site, information about the Norse settlers and artifacts that had been excavated right outside the rear door of the building in the 1960’s and later. We found all of this fascinating and I knew right away that the trip had been well worth the effort. I really enjoyed the film presentation as it had interviews with Helge and Ann Stine Ingstad as well as other folks involved with the initial excavation as well as the Canadian efforts afterwards. Linda and I checked out everything inside the building and I spent some time looking over the books about the Norse and Newfoundland in general. Being a book person and having done a good bit of research previous to making this journey, I was familiar with most of the works pursuant to the discovery and excavation. I was well versed on the route the Norse had taken from the Greenland settlements west across the Davis Straight to Helluland (Flatland – Baffin’s Island), 250 miles south to Markland (Land of Forests – Labrador) and the 165 mile journey (two day’s sail) probably to tiny Belle Isle and onward to landfall at Cape Bauld in Newfoundland, sailing on until they made landfall and a camp at a beautiful, lush and green site with good and plentiful water, bountiful salmon and rich pasturage for grazing domesticated animals. They established a Viking presence in what is now known as the village of L’Anse aux Meadows, a fact that remained undiscovered for centuries. I won’t recount the saga of the Vikings in Newfoundland in this narrative, but this is well worth reading about even in the simplest form and I urge you to do so should you have an interest.

Linda and I went outside and found another boardwalk to keep visitors high and dry from the marshy ground. I set up my tripod and took a series of images with the Nikon 8800 of the original excavation site, now reburied to protect it from the elements. Below the actual dig site the replica sod buildings and fenced surround are in place to provide an idea of what a Viking village of the time period would have looked like. There is ample evidence in existence from Greenland and Iceland of sod construction and how the Norse lived 1,000 years ago. We thought all this was pretty neat and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We walked the grounds around the excavated area and went down to the replica area, looking around in this beautiful spot. We wondered what the winters must be like here, certainly long and terrible if you’re not a winter person. We suspected life in this area was hard 1,000 years ago and probably no bargain in modern times. We viewed many boats in all sizes in Newfoundland coming up the coast, but we didn’t see one pleasure boat in all that distance… This place may appear like home in many respects but differs dramatically in others I believe.

Boardwalk at L'Anse aux Meadows

Ocean views at L'Anse aux Meadows

Views of L’Anse aux Meadows National Historical Site of Canada

Replica Norse Sod Workhouse & Chapel at L'Anse aux Meadows

Maine Built Replica Viking Vessel & Longhouse at L'Anse aux Meadows

We were told of a recommended restaurant nearby by our acquaintance from Philadelphia at the Sugar Hill Inn. It’s called the Norseman and was just a short distance from the park. Linda and I decided to go there for dinner. It really was quite good and cost us about $100 Canadian, fairly expensive for the region but a nice meal. I tipped our waitress, a student working for the summer I’m certain, a $20 bill in US currency and she was ever so thankful. I was happy that I could please someone as much as she appeared to be. They had a small gift shop at this restaurant as well with local art, crafts and paintings. Much of this was related to the Inuit as these people had been established in the area many years ago and probably had much to do with driving out the Norse presence.

After dinner we took a ride to see what else was around; this turned out to be not much of anything but beautiful scenery and quaint homes. We viewed the replica Viking knar at anchor in one of the coves. We were scheduled on a charter with this vessel the next day, an eight-hour whale tour. Whales and icebergs were big business for the locals in the area, but the Captain, Paul Compton, had notified us that he had a catastrophic engine failure on his inboard that may preclude his taking the vessel out until repaired. I don’t think this had been accomplished by the time we got in town but in the end result, he would have cancelled no matter what as the wind and seas were up the next day and it was rough. I called him several times that night and he got a message trough Thelma to us that he cancelled out – a fact I wasn’t too pleased about at the time because he guaranteed whale sightings of one of the two major pods in the area and I was looking forward to getting some fluke flapping photographs. This used to be a prominent business in Maine as well as our coast was/is on the migration route for the great whales. They still do whale-watching here but the pods are so diminished from the killing and over hunting of these magnificent creatures that sightings are far more rare and they keep off shore in deeper water for safety. We were quite disappointed by this chain of events and the missed photo opportunity.

One business we drove by not far from our room was a lounge and dance hall looking kind of place. As there were a few cars around we decided to stop in and perhaps chat up some of the locals. We went inside and ordered a beer and sat at one of the numerous tables. Except for the fellow behind the bar, everyone else was playing on digital slot machines, which appeared to be the big draw of the place from what we could make out. We talked with the bar keep for a bit about Harley’s and the usual stuff, finished our beers and went on our way back to the room for some R&R. When we returned most everyone that was staying for the night was there and settling in. There was a couple from the States, North Carolina I believe and the guy’s wife had a little pet dog that she was obviously crazy about. Well, briefly, Thelma had a no pet rule and wasn’t having any of that besides having no plans to relax her position. Linda felt bad for the lady, she appeared nice enough and all, but we never did find out what she did about the dog. We hung around the common room and talked for a bit, filled out the card indicating what we wished for breakfast in the morning, included in the room charge, and retired to our back porch to watch the sunset. I went out to our Road King Classic to make sure everything was prepared for the evening. It was parked out back near our rear door and out of everyone’s way so there wasn’t much concern. Checking the GPS indicated the following information: We’d traveled 246 miles today, an easy and comfortable distance The trip distance too date was 1,270.31 miles & the road time 22:56:44 hours. I pulled the camera out of the saddlebag, grabbed the tripod and made my way through the brambles to the water to photograph a panoramic view of the sunset. This series was taken right behind the Viking Village building. You can judge the results for yourself here….

Sunset at Hay Cove, L'Anse aux Meadows

Day Six, Wednesday August 17th – L’Anse aux Meadows

We’d placed our breakfast order for an 8:00 AM sitting. We were up, showered and ready to get on the road before then so breakfast was leisurely and quite good. We enjoyed speaking with the cook and helper that Thelma employed for the facility. Thelma has another B&B next door to this one and I believe it’s her house and she lives in it. All things considered, I was pleased that we were where we were. We had breakfast with a great bunch of folks and it was interesting and fun to speak with them about various topics. Some wished to talk politics which I had no interest in doing but it was generally the usual topics about where we live and things of that nature. I did tell a few folks about my Tory ancestry and Levi Youmans (Yeamans) the English patriarch of my grandmother’s clan and how he was a captain of the South Carolina Royalists during the American Revolution… We had folks from Ottawa, Ontario, the City of Calgary and various places in Canada, it was great. Everyone was doing more or less the same thing, the Western Newfoundland Coastal Tour, one of the most common trips if you wished to visit Newfoundland I found. Some folks were heading south, others like us, were touring the area for the first full day.

When we’d gone to dinner the evening before I viewed several photo opportunities I wished to take advantage of when I had a chance. I also noted a boat tour shack advertising short tours around the immediate area and I saw that this vessel was fairly good sized. After breakfast I jumped on the scoot and went down to see these guys. I asked if they had seating available for the 10:00 trip and inquired if they were going out today. They said yes to both and I paid the $70 Canadian for a pair of tickets and talked with them for a bit – all nice folks. This was a two hour tour and this particular one didn’t really get out of the more or less protected part of the harbor. I wasn’t sure about all this but I figured two hours was okay to use doing this and the only opportunity we had to get a whale shot.

Medee Bay at L'Anse aux Meadows I returned to the Viking Village and picked up Linda returning to the harbor around 9:30. We looked over where the boat was and as we didn’t see any activity, I pulled the camera out and selected a higher point of land to get some photographs of Medee Bay and the surrounding area. It was very New England like with far less people and houses around and as noted – not a single boat that looked remotely like a pleasure craft. We were noticing the high poles they used to mark the road edge for plowing purposes; you can see these in the sunset image above if you look at the horizon. I’m not certain how high the snow banks get here in the winter, but I have an idea I don’t want to find out as these markers must have been 16 feet high. I later learned that everything we were looking at, Medee Bay and all the water we took the 2-hour tour in, freezes solid in the winter and then the primary transport is via snowmobile. Yikes, mister man, we’re talking some cold weather here – I’ve done a good deal of cold weather diving in the dead of winter in Maine and pushed my share of ice off the shore to get in and out of the water but I’ve never viewed a salt water bay frozen solid in Maine that I can recall…

Linda and I headed over to the vessel, surrendered our tickets and got on board. I estimated there was room aboard for 45 or 50 people in several deck elevations. For this trip we weren’t too crowded. Besides Linda and I there was one other couple, which made us laugh – not too crowded at all. I thought they may cancel out when I saw this but they were set to go with the Captain and a crew of two. Paul Compton wasn’t off the mark – the wind was up and there was a swell running but we weren’t going out far and not outside the protective headwalls and islands in site from what I was told. In the end result, two-hours proved ample and I wonder how we would have held up in an eight-hour day – that’s a long time in a fairly rough sea. This was definitely what I expected it to be - a tourist run, but it was enjoyable all the same. We located one solitary humpback whale off in the distance and gave chase. After that about half the trip was spent waiting for this whale to blow so we could find out where he was and try to get a photo – note: I recognize this whale could have been female but I’ll keep it simple for this account and refer to ‘him’ in the masculine. I never did get a decent opportunity and neither did the other fellow we were with trying to photograph the whale. When he came up to blow and breath, he stayed on the surface just a matter of perhaps 20 to 25 seconds and I got the impression he wasn’t interested in fooling about with the tourist today and wished to be left alone. After ten minutes or so, he’d blow again, we’d spot him and the Captain would head towards that location. As soon as the bow was pointed towards the whale there was no chance for an image because it was nearly impossible to get a clear view over the boat’s superstructure. The only way for this to work would be to get inside a pod with multiple target opportunities over the port or starboard gunwale unfettered by all the stuff in the way. We cruised around the islands a bit, saw the shipwreck while the store was told once again; sailed by the Quirpoon (Car-poon) Lighthouse, which I photographed multiple times from the boat and soon afterwards returned to the pier. All in all not bad and the two hours was ample in my view. We had a lunch at the Norseman and then it was on to other things for the balance of the day…

Landing at L'Anse aux Meadows

View from the Boat

The Lonely Humpback The photograph at left was taken directly after the Humpback whale we were chasing dived. You can see his dark outline submerging, but not well.

One thing we planned to do today was visit Norstead, a replica Viking Village across the street from the park. These two attractions go hand in hand and you can buy a pass at either that includes both and this is what we did. I think it was good for three days although I don’t know what you’d do for three full days in the area other than enjoy the ocean and beautiful scenery. I suspected if they hadn’t discovered the Norse settlement they wouldn’t even have constructed the paved road to the area although I can’t be certain. When the excavations started in the mid 1960’s there wasn’t a road of any consequence in the area; the air and the sea were the main travel avenues. Anyway, Norstead was pretty neat and there were very few people around. We spent a good deal of time talking with the employees in period clothing and talked about all kinds of things. We ventured into the longhouse where a group of ladies from the area were knitting and making period wears and we sat down and chatted with them for the longest time. They were as interested in Maine as we were in Newfoundland and we laughed when they indicated the thought Maine was fairly far ‘south’. We also visited the boat storage building where the replica long ship is stored. This was constructed for the 1,000 year celebration when many people, the largest group of folks ever assembled in this area, came to L’Anse aux Meadows for the celebration and multiple ships sailed in including this long ship constructed for this one purpose. It was really impressive and most impressively of all – Maine built. The guys in the boathouse were more than pleased to tell of its building and the stories of the launch and sailing to bring it to Newfoundland. It was apparent that this relatively poor province had great pride in what this vessel represented and the funds that had been raised and expended to make it a reality. After we’d seen and done all we wished at Norstead we got back to the scoot and took a short ride around. As our passes were still active, we returned to the Visitors Center and purchased two tee shirts, one each for our friends Kevin and Loretta. We talked about them often during our travels and wondered what they would think about some of the things we’d done after planning them together with them. I knew Kevin would be proud to learn that we were staying to the itinerary we’d developed so long ago. By the way, have I mentioned that my cell phone had absolutely no service once we arrived in Newfoundland? For the first time since I’ve owned a cellular phone I was unable to contact my office via this device – man, it was great!

We knew where there was a store and we headed to it; I fueled the bike so we could start south in the morning with a full tank. We also picked up a six pack of good Canadian beer to enjoy on our humble porch overlooking Hay Cove. We got back to the room a bit after 5:00 and stayed in for the evening. Later we watched the weather report on the communal television – the news wasn’t good for traveling on two wheels… The freshening wind was a sign of a storm front entering the area and it was large. The entire peninsular was going to receive rain directly over the entire route we had to run tomorrow.

Linda Taking a Breather...

Scenery of Newfoundland

Scenery of Newfoundland

Day Seven, Thursday August 18th – L’Anse aux Meadows to Norris Point

Clouds & Overcast We were up at 7:00 AM and started preparing for the return south to Norris Point and the Sugar Hill Inn. I went outside to take a look around and was dismayed to learn that the weather report had been more or less correct – it was a cold, wet and blustery day. The wind was up and it appeared to be the harbinger of a nasty day in the making. I was thankful as I looked at the water that we had a mere 250 miles to get through today’s leg. Full rain gear was the order of the day but first breakfast and some last minute preparations. We were dressed, packed and ready to ride by 9:30. We paid or bill and got back in the saddle. Linda and I discussed the situation and the inclement weather. We weren’t in any great hurry and we had more than ample time to travel the distance we had to go, so we elected to keep it easy and to play it by ear as we went. I could tell several of the folks we met at the facility were wondering if we'd ride out in this weather. I laughed and indicate to them this is pretty much expected and planned for, although we would certianly prefer a nice, warm day with sunshine... They'd seen my beat up face in the process of healing up and probably felt bad for us.

It rained most of the morning and this time we were properly prepared for it. I had my Aerostitch rain gloves over my leathers and plenty or other layers under my rain gear. The wind wasn’t too much of an issue, a fact I was pleased about because as stated earlier, in places you’re riding mighty close to the ocean on this road. We stopped at our single gas pump station at Anchor Point on the way back, stripped down and hung out for awhile. We had some coffee, enjoyed the facility and eventually put all the gear back on and started south again. We weren’t a great distance from Port au Choix National Historic Site (pronounced port-a-swah locally) a stop we had discussed making on this leg of the journey. It wasn’t out of the way much but in the end, I didn’t make the turn to head in, the weather and things I’d been told about the facility got the best of me and I didn’t wish to stop & strip down when I was comfortable and making decent time; we just didn't know what the weather would do next. The Historic Site focuses on the various peoples that settled in this area over the years. A native gravesite was found during some excavation work and the government stepped in to learn more about whom the people were and eventually it developed into the site it is today. Our friends from Gander indicated it was okay but should be placed low on the ‘to do’ list. So, we went on by and Linda didn’t seem to mind either.

Cold & Rainy Day

So we continued to ride, clipping off the kilometers in the wind and rain. We topped the fuel tank off at Hawk’s Bay but didn’t dally, fueled up and kept going. We traveled another hour or so and were approaching the village of Daniel’s Harbour, where I’d remembered seeing a lighthouse on the way through before. I wanted to take a shot of this so we pulled into town and found the road to get us as close as possible to the light. Although it was operating, the houses nearby appeared to be privately owned so we didn’t approach them. I took a series of shots, re-packed the camera and off we went. The rain started to slack off so we weren’t always getting pummeled, but all the potholes and areas of broken pavement were filled with water. There was virtually no crown to this road and riding on the centerline wasn’t much of a help. When it came to the really bad sections, we had to slow down due to the roughness of the road and the amount of water trapped on the surface causing us to hydroplane from time to time. Every now and then a car would pass and splash us but good, but I could tell even they were having difficulties and this was indeed a rough ride. Like on the northern leg though, traffic was light and few cars were traveling in either direction. When we did see traffic, it would be like four cars at a time traveling together it seemed. Fortunately the really bad section of road wasn’t much more than perhaps twenty miles or so.

Daniels Harbour

After a time we viewed the signs to The Arches where we’d stopped previously and we knew we weren’t far away from Norris Point, so we decided to stop for a late lunch. We ended up doing a small jog off the main road to the village of Cow Head near the northern entrance to Gros Morne Park, where we found a nice, modern looking restaurant and pulled in. We ran into an elderly couple that had stayed at the Viking Village with us and we were pleased to speak with them again. I think they were from Ottawa and were heading home. Linda was enjoying not having to wear her rain gear for a time so I broke out the camera and went into the backyard of the place and took a series of photographs. Not long afterwards we got ready to ride the last segment into our room for the evening, having made better time than expected because we didn’t stop at Port au Choix or anyplace else for any length of time, I wished to investigate a waterfall I’d read about in the park. I’d noticed the sign to Brooks Falls previously and read it was fairly spectacular so pulled in as we had time. We didn’t have a valid park pass for the day and stopped at the booth to learn about where the falls were and to pay if we decided to enter. Well, we weren’t there long; we were told it was a five kilometer hike in an as it was already approaching 4:00 PM, they were recommending against going. It didn’t take much to convince us and we were on our way. Soon we were at Rocky Harbour, our ‘back yard’ so to speak and familiar territory. We topped off the tank at an Irving station we knew of there so in the morning we’d be fueled up and ready to go. Overcast, Blustery Day

Rocky Harbour Panoramic

The weather appeared to be clearing and was much better by the time we got into Norris Point. So we checked in and spent our last night at the Sugar Hill Inn enjoying their wonderful evening meal and wine selection. We were fairly well beat after dinner and retired to the room for the evening. We didn’t have the same room this time but a smaller version albeit every bit as nice. We didn’t especially care anyway, it was great, cozy and we were tired… GPS information at the end of day seven: Trip time 298:15:29, distance too date – 1,534.72 miles; we’d traveled 238.07 miles today.

Phase IV – The Return – Newfoundland to Maine

Day Eight, Friday August 19th – Norris Point to Port aux Basques

Harbor View This was the day where we started our return in earnest. Our ferry passage to Nova Scotia was reserved for early Saturday morning at 1:30 AM, so we had all of Friday to travel to the terminal. We were up about 7:30 and prepping the scoot for the journey. We went into the dining area for a bit of breakfast and some coffee and talked with Vince, the Proprietor of the facility, about our visit and things we’d done during the course of the week. He suggested several diversions to tour on the bike on the way to the terminal. We checked these out on the map for location and distance. We’d talked with a couple riding an older Road King Classic on the way to Cape Breton on the inward leg and they highly recommended we visit the village of Larks Harbour, indicating the ride in was particularly beautiful. This had been recommended to them and they felt it was a ‘must see’ after they made the run. I programmed Lark Harbour and Grand Jardin, as recommended by Vince, into the GPS as possible side trips off the highway to Port aux Basque. Both would be lengthy diversions to a straight shot back to the terminal, but we had time provided the weather was cooperative.

As we went outside to pack the bike we noticed that the weather was shaping up to be absolutely glorious and appeared to be a perfect riding day in the making. We were ready to depart by 9:00, checked out of the room, said our goodbyes and got on the road. Traveling south on Route 430, we went through Deer Lake and on to Corner Brook. It was here that we picked up Route 450 to Larks Harbour, which was pretty much as far as one could go on this road. This trip would be one road in and back so we’d be covering the same ground. It was indeed a beautiful ride on a wonderful day – perfect riding weather indeed. The motorcycle was roaring along, we hadn’t had a single bit of trouble of any kind since we commenced this journey so far from home. We rode to the point at Larks Harbour where you run into the water and the roadway ends. Here we found a small coffee shop with a few souvenirs and we decided to stay for a time and have some coffee. While Linda looked around, I pulled the camera out and photographed the area. I’d noticed how beautiful the entrance into the village was and indicated to Linda that on the way out, we should stop and shoot back towards the village. We did this, stopped for a few minutes when I pulled out the tripod and took a few shots. The finals of this stop can be viewed below. We headed out and back towards the main road. Our next destination would be towards the town of Stephenville on Route 460. Breakwater at Rocky Harbour

Larks Harbour

After a time we arrived at Stephenville, which was about as modern looking as any place we’d seen in Newfoundland. The presence of the U.S. Military formerly in the area could be seen all over as we traveled around. Being raised in a naval family, I recognized navy housing and base buildings when I saw them and soon we ran across a series of roads named after states. Were you aware that when Newfoundland and Labrador joned Canada they had also considered becoming part of the United States? Well, it's true and there was quite a debate about what to do at the time. In the days before jet aircraft, Newfoundland & the City of Gander in particular were key fueling stops for aircraft crossing to Europe. With the advent of long range planes, Newfoundland's significance was downgraded and the island by-passed by progress... We needed fuel and located a gas station next to a McDonald’s. After speaking to a few of the locals and conferring with Linda, we decided to not continue on the Port au Port Peninsular loop, but to head back to the Trans Canada Highway and on to Port aux Basques. It was around 3:30 when we came into the area where we would meet the ferry for the return trip. Southwestern Newfoundland

One detour I’d had in the back of my mind was a run to Rose Blanche, a restored granite lighthouse on the road heading west from Port aux Basques and directly out of our way. However, we had ample time and daylight and decided we would take the ride and check it out. The map indicated it was just over 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) to the lighthouse but we found quickly it was a slow and winding road and the journey would be longer than anticipated. It was a beautiful and scenic ride though and we kept going. It seemed like we’d been riding for hours when we came to a sign indicating a waterfall called Brachois Falls. We couldn’t see this from the road so pulled into the gravel lot and noticed they had another one of the boardwalks winding around a small knoll. We walked put and soon could see a small waterfall in the distance. We walked along for a few minutes and I took a few shots before we started back to the bike. We were about five miles from Rose Blanche at that time. We followed along and soon viewed the lighthouse in the distance. By this time I was getting a bit tired and thinking about the return trip; this was taking longer than anticipated. I couldn’t locate the road that went to the lighthouse after driving around a bit and it did not appear to be marked. In the end result, I gave it up, stopped at the top of a hill, pulled out the camera and shot it in the distance. This was okay with me and Linda didn’t seem to mind so we repacked the camera and got back on the road towards the ferry as dusk approached.

Brachois Falls & Rose Blanche LIghthouse

Landscape along Route 470 We arrived at Port aux Basque and drove up to the booth to purchase our ticket for the passage. We asked about a cabin and ended up on stand by as they were all reserved. We knew this way back when we made the reservation but the problem I had was everything was planned out well except when/what day the group wished to return to Nova Scotia. It took much longer to finally decide in our planning about this before it was determined. Loretta and I wished to do a daytime passage so we could look around although out to sea. In the end result, we didn’t have much choice as the available was such that we ended up with the reservation at 1:30 AM or we would have had a delay of several days. We purchased our ticket and went into town to find some dinner and kill some time as we had a long evening ahead of us. We drove around Port aux Basque and found a restaurant overlooking the harbor, kind of a fish and chips place from the looks of it. We learned they must have been shorthanded for help because the service was terrible, but fortunately the food was better although not by much. While we were in this facility, one of the three ferry vessels of Atlantic Marine came into the terminal. It was pretty neat watching them come in, dock and start the process of discharging vehicles and passengers. After dinner we discussed what there was to do, which was really nothing, so we decided to go to the terminal and wait it out until the ship left. The terminal building had some seating, a small restaurant, gift shop and a lounge upstairs. We didn’t check out the lounge really, we stayed either inside the building downstairs or walked the parking lot outside where all the vehicles were lining up for the loading process. The hours ticked by and we were most certainly bored… There were several other motorcycles parked out by ours now, they keep these together for loading and I noticed a black dresser with a Massachusetts plate. Later I saw a couple and the lady’s face was sunburned with ‘raccoon eyes’… I figured she was on the Electra-glide and later found this was correct.

The hours ticked by ever so slowly and I talked with folks in the terminal and hung out. After a time and announcement was made that we would be launching out later than planned due to some kind a glitch, I’m not sure what, but eventually we were asked to stand by our vehicles for loading. So we rode up that slippery metal ramp, parked in the area designated and found some straps to tie down the bike. This is accomplished by running a strap hook into an anchor fastened into the steel deck. A pair of these are used, one at the front and rear of the motorcycle. I knew what this was all about and had a pair of soft straps that went around my frame and the strap hook into these so no damage to my paint would occur. Once the straps are ratcheted tight, the motorcycle is fairy well immobilized and when in gear doesn’t move around at all. We completed this task and headed up to the lounge deck to find a place to sit down and sleep. One must remember that these ferry ships are the primary means of transport to and from the island… Some Newfie folks even commute this way for work on a weekly basis. These people have these trips down to a science… They know which vessel runs when, it’s capacity, sleeping arrangements, cargo and vehicle arrangements, etc., it’s all part of everyday life on the island. Most appear to utilize the reclining chairs and set up camp for the night; rarely would a true Newfie pay for a cabin from what I can see, this was mostly for tourists like us. We were told to find one of the reclining chairs to claim a place to sleep – we’d be in these chairs for the six hour plus passage, arriving in Nova Scotia around 8:00 AM or so. If we were able to get a cabin they would announce it over the loudspeaker or we could check with the Purser. As we sat down and looked around I was thinking this was going to be a miserable upcoming six hours… There were kids running around hollering & screaming, video games and slot machines blaring, all kinds of racket and distractions. I looked at Linda and indicated I was tired, what did she think was going to happen when I fell asleep and started snoring like a caged animal? We were liable to get lynched... I suppose our chairs were as good as any, we were in a row of three with a vacant in the middle where we’d placed or jackets. Soon one of the crew was in the space indicating that all seats must be available for use by passengers and that nobody, regardless of age was allowed to sleep on the floor or anywhere on deck. Yep, this was going to be a great time and we had to be ready to hit the road riding as soon as we got off the vessel… I closed my eyes and tried to tune out all the ambient noise surrounding me when I heard my name called over the speaker. Linda stayed in our seats while I went to the office and learned we’d managed to get a cabin. We were pleased by this news for sure and gathered up our things and went to find a place where we could almost stretch out for the time it took for the crossing. Linda on the Brachois Falls boardwalk

Day Nine, Saturday August 20th – Nova Scotia to New Brunswick

Accomodations On-board The ferry arrived in North Sydney, Nova Scotia pretty much on time from what I could tell, 7:50 AM local time, 6:50 Eastern Daylight Time – yep, we were getting ready to re-enter our world once again. We’d received the obnoxious ‘we’ll be docking in one hour’ message in the cabin and were up and about shortly afterwards. We really didn’t have much to do to get ready to depart the vessel; it was a simple matter as we didn't bring much in expecting to sleep in a chair with no storage room. When the time came we went below, un-tethered the bike and got ready to go. It was cold and frosty and the steel ramp was looking a bit icy when we started down. I told Linda to hold tight and off we went. The ramp was skirted in less than a minute and we were on the pavement and heading out.

Photos courtesy of Marine Atlantic website

MV Leif Ericson

We were both hungry and decided the first order of business would be some breakfast to energize us. We’d had a cup of coffee on board but now we were ready to find some real food. We hadn’t gone too far when we viewed what looked like the perfect breakfast stop. This was proved correct and the food was good, hearty and welcome; this went far to revive us. While at breakfast we discussed the return trip. We’d purposely added a few extra days off work so we didn’t have to rush back once we left Newfoundland. I’d turned on my cell phone for the first time in days and the multiple messages that came up certainly had reality crashing into my thoughts. Things had been extremely active at work when I left, so much so we had actually cancelled the trip at one point. Now we had to decide what to do and when to do it. We were considering riding the Cabot Trail around Cape Breton, certainly a worthwhile and beautiful trip. I believe that the ferry crossing and lack of sleep had much to do with us deciding in the end result, to head for home. Linda was road weary, sore and tired; I wasn’t far behind and didn’t baulk at the idea of getting back into Maine. We knew we were 700 miles plus to home from where we now sat - a long distance, much on the Trans Canada Highway. We needed to travel some miles but we also needed to be a bit better rested so we talked it over and decided to reverse the schedule we used coming out – we would travel to Moncton, NB, get a decent night’ sleep and do the remaining 400+ miles the next day. It was another beautiful day, perfect for riding and I planned to make the most of it and enjoy being in the wind.

We did just what we planned and were in the Moncton area about 4:00 PM. We’d liked the Holiday Inn we visited on the way out and at a gas stop I called and made a reservation for this evening at the same place. There were three or four hotels in this area so we figured we could get into one of them. Everything worked out; we checked into the Holiday Inn and unpacked the Harley for the last time before we got home. After resting up a bit we went to the hotel lounge/restaurant and had some dinner and a few beers. I was more tired than I realized and a few of those good Canadian beers pointed this out to me. We returned to the room, watched some television and went to sleep early. GPS info: Trip time: 40:32:38; distance: 2,184.64 miles; 313 miles this day

Day Ten, Sunday August 21st – The Last Day - New Brunswick to Portland

Folks we met

Folks we met

We were up around 8:00 AM and I went out to have a look around. As the weather channel had predicted, we were viewing overcast skies with fog, drizzle and a high probability of outright rain. Not much we could do, we broke out the rain gear and got ready for a wet ride. Off we went determined to make the best of it and to sleep at home this evening. The day went about as expected, wet, cold and rainy. All things considered, it was a miserable day and more like a chore riding then a fun time. We didn’t stop often, only when we had to for fuel as we didn’t want to strip out of our rain gear for a short stop. Eventually we passed through St. John and into St. Stephen and the United States border. As we came into town and followed the signs for the crossing it didn’t take long to figure out traffic was backed up far from the customs stop. We were in stop and go traffic for well over an hour, dressed in raingear still and the heat from the pipes was causing me great discomfort as we sat in line for so long. After doing this for a time and not really having gone anywhere, I shut the bike down and got off to keep my pants from melting on the pipes. After the cars ahead had gone a suitable distance, I’d fire up the bike and catch up, then shut it down again. By and by it was our turn to speak to the Custom’s Agent to cross into Maine. Getting out of Canada was no more difficult than getting in we found. We were asked a few questions and off we went…

My Road Companions

Once across the border we stopped for fuel in Calais so we could cross the Airline, Route 9, about 95 miles of secondary road that all things considered was fairly boring. It started to rain again and the roads were already wet and being so close now, our thoughts were on getting home. Rather than go into Bangor we dropped down to hook up with Route 1 because we wished to take Route 3 into Augusta and then 95 to Portland. We decided to stop in Belfast for a late lunch and we found a nice restaurant that was kind of between lunch and dinner so we stripped down and took it easy for an hour or so. Although it remained a bit rainy, the day was warming up and I was getting hot in full rain gear. We got some fuel, picked up Route 3 and commenced the final leg of our trip. By the time we got around Augusta I was downright hot but determined to get home rather than stop, undress and have to re-pack the raingear. I was miserable by the time I made it to Portland and was pleased to see this day behind us. However, we were home… It was 6:50 PM, we were beat but happy and the last ten days had been a great deal of fun. I parked the Harley in the ‘Condo’ and shut it down. Before going in the house I checked the GPS to get the final tally: Total time in the saddle – 47:39:41 hours 2,668.71 miles overall; the odometer was reading 4,228 miles.

As 'they' say, 'there's no place like home'...

The Journey Concluded

It’s been months since we took our motorcycle vacation to Canada. In almost no time we were back into the routine of work and home upon our return and finding the time to finalize this account was something I had to plan for to get it done. Most of the details related came from notes I kept daily in a notebook during the trip and tried to log in each night. This would be a recommended practice as the days run together quickly even a short time after the event. Of course the photographs go far in sparking one’s memory as well when recalling the days. The people of Canada we’ve met have always been gracious and interesting individuals and a pleasure to deal with. We feel certain your experience would be similar should you plan to visit.

This adventure was planned with the idea of testing out the new 2005 Harley-Davidson FLHRCI on an extended run. To this end, the report is all favorable. This is indeed one fine road machine that provides a smooth ride & handled the cargo load, human and otherwise, splendidly. It also conveys an attitude of being solid and stable on the open highway, its designed environment, which goes far psychologically to conveying a feeling of safety to the operator and passenger. Not all motorcycles I’ve owned have done this… I offer my appreciation to my local H-D dealer, Big Moose Harley-Davidson of Portland, Maine, for their assistance in my preparation for this trip.

I developed a great deal of material in planning this trip including a reading list pursuant to Newfoundland and Viking history and their exploration of Iceland, Greenland and North America. I created a log of websites with all the businesses indicated in this account, nearly all have an on-line presence and many more related to all aspects of the trip planning. Rather than add this information here, feel free to contact me with questions or comments; I’d be happy to help in any way possible if you’re going through this process.

A note about the photography...Unless specifically credited otherwise, all images in this account are by the author. Any images viewed that are digitally framed and labeled have been printed at approximately 16"X20" and added to my collection of works for sale. These are displayed when at shows and events either packaged on mount board or professionally framed as a final for purchase. The web versions are nice, but a full resolution print significantly enhances the beauty of these Newfoundland images; all are 2005 Photography by Kirk M. Rogers - any reproduction, publication or transmission of this content without the written consent of the author is prohibited. Please contact me should you have an interest in obtaining any of the images.

November 2005

Viking longship
Image courtesy Time-Life Books

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