Toronto to Newfoundland - the long way east

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by NonstopBanana, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. NonstopBanana

    NonstopBanana Thumper Rider

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    Some of the most impressive photos of Newfoundland feature Western Brook Pond, and pretty much everyone would say that it's a must to check out, so today we were going on a boat tour there. But before that, we still had plenty of time to check out a few other spots.

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    Lobster Cove Lighthouse

    One such spot was Norris Point. It is a small picturesque village on the north side of Bonne Bay, just opposite to Woody Point which we visited the day before. It is the nearest village to Rocky Harbour, less than 10km south. You don't even need to go to the Viking Trail (hwy 430) to get from one to the other, there is a small quiet road that links them directly, Pond Road. It is called that way because of the Rocky Harbour Pond, a small scenic spot that we had to stop and explore.

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    Outskirts of Rocky Harbour

    What really caught my attention right away was not the pond, but a tall abandoned water slide, which was part of an amusement park on the shores of the pond. The only things remaining from that park were the slide with its adjacent climbing tower, and a little shed that used to sell tickets and snacks. The area was overgrown with weeds and field flowers and looked very beautiful in the bright morning sun. We climbed the stairs to the top of the water slide and took some photos of the surrounding landscape. It was a very calm place, the peaceful waters of the pond being so different from the roaring ocean along the edges of the island.

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    When we got to Norris Point, we headed straight for the shore, which was rough and rocky. The water was a very clear blue-green and provided a great contrast to the backdrop of the mountains on the other side of the bay. Rocks a little further from the shore were covered in flowers, and we climbed up for some variety in the shots. Looking back, these field flowers are something that I will always associate with Newfoundland, a kind of softer side of this rugged island. They were always on the side of the road along the highway, peaking out of the crevices in the rocks, everywhere.

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    Pittman's Towing gave me a call back letting me know that my oil is in the shop ready for pick up. I guess that takes care of plans for the evening ;). I dropped off a postcard at the Norris Point post office (wondering how long does it take for a piece of mail to make its way out of this tiny town), and headed towards the highway to check out some areas close to Western Brook Pond.

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    As we passed Rocky Harbour, we spotted our first moose. The moose on the other hand spotted us and Alex pointing his finger at it and quickly smelled trouble and began to make it back into the woods. It appears like every time we see one, it doesn't come out of some thick bush or forest, but often through a clearing or passage big enough for a human to fit through. It makes sense, they are large animals. I suppose just like in the city you need to be extra cautious when approaching driveways and alleyways, up here you have to be alert near gravel passageways - it will not be a neighbourhood kid jumping out, it will be a moose!

    Our next stop was at the site of S.S. Ethie shipwreck. The rusty boat parts were spread out across the shore and the history of that boat was posted at the entry. It was a fairly large ship when it was still sailing, but almost 100 years after the wreck, there was not much left of it. I once read that of all inorganic materials, metals are the easiest for nature to break down and reintegrate into the ecosystem, and it certainly seems that way from the looks of the remaining heavily rusted pieces. I don't think any of this will last another 100 years, the merciless water of the Gulf of St. Lawrence will eat it up, little by little.

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    After that brief stop, we continue north. There are many coves along the shore, many with one or two fishing houses and no permanent settlements. They are quite photogenic, if only a bit repetitive. Many are propped by a huge number of lobster traps, adding that extra authenticity to the resulting photos. Yet their emptiness and a certain abandonment are somewhat depressing. The whole notion of this huge amount of land, with sparse small communities - it feels a little lonely in an odd sense. Wherever I travel, I try to imagine what it would be like to live there, and frankly, I don't like what I come up with in my imagination. Of course, this is coming from a hardcore urbanite. I like that there is food from 100 different cuisines within a 10 minute radius and that if I wanted to change careers tomorrow, I could be looking at 100 different realistic options. But I digress.

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    It was time to get to Western Brook Pond, as we'd still need to hike for about half an hour to the boat launch. We pulled over for photos a few times, as the flatlands near the road with the mountains further in the background are simply breathtaking. The lowlands by the road are actually marshes, and are sometimes dotted by small ponds, with geese in some of them. Here is another Newfoundland lesson: any random land-locked body of water is called a pond here (in Ontario we would have called it a lake). These ponds were a great contrast to the sharp rocky highlands further inland and we took some extra time enjoying them.

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    Canadian Geese in a small pond

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    The trail leading up to Western Brook Pond was flat and not challenging, but you better plan for some extra time to slow down and enjoy it. The terrain was quite unique. We passed through forests, marshes, bogs and areas of bare thick mud that looked like half melted dark chocolate. As you looked across the marshes the landscape seemed endless. Western Brook Pond was connected directly to the ocean and contained saltwater thousands of years ago, but when glaciers melted, the earth rebounded, leaving these marshes and a series of tiny creeks as the only connection from the pond to the sea.

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    The boat was quite crowded, and did not leave until about 10-15 minutes past its scheduled time. While waiting in the harbour, we saw a moose on the other side of the pond, drinking water. We were told that the water in the pond is so clean and contains so few impurities, it does not conduct electricity. It is some of the purest naturally occurring water in the world.

    The tour was quite interesting, covering a lot of the history of the pond, its geology and exploration efforts. For example, the boats used for these tours were disassembled, carried through the same hiking trail that we took on the way in, and reassembled in a small boathouse in the harbour. This area is heavily protected from industrial development and there are no plans to build a full on road and allow motorized vehicles to travel to the pond.

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    One of the numerous waterfalls that feed this pond.

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    The far side of the pond.

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    Notice the tiny red spot near the rock / water boundary - it's the other tour boat, to give you some scale of the surrounding fjord.

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    On the way back we took it slow through the hiking trail, taking more photos along the way in the golden afternoon sun. Once we got back to Rocky Harbour, we stopped by Pittman's and bought the oil for my bike. The owner was kind enough to let us use his premisses to do the oil change. After that was done, we hung around chatting with him. He was born in Newfoundland, but at one point lived in Ontario for several years, operating a towing business in Brampton. He told us that competition between towing companies in Toronto area was so fierce at one point, they got very violent, to the point of murder. Who needs that when you can live in Newfoundland instead? Another eye opening story was about icebergs. Apparently they are not only very old, but also very cold. If a large iceberg came ashore near a town in spring, it would mean no summer that year, as it would not melt fast enough. When an iceberg is spotted near the shore, many people try to get to it and cleave a piece off for themselves. They use that ice to cool their drinks and apparently a few chips of iceberg ice will stay frozen in a glass all night long, you just keep re-filling the beverage. On a more practical note, he mentioned how a motorcyclist passing through Rocky Harbour got a flat tire once, and it was a major hassle to fix it, because there are no motorcycle mechanics in the area. All the guys in this shop only deal with cars and wouldn't even know how to take the wheel off! Moral of the story: you better know how to fix your own bike when you come here. But as long as you know how, the locals would be happy to help out if they only can.
    #21
  2. NonstopBanana

    NonstopBanana Thumper Rider

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    It was yet another beautiful day in Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula, so we took advantage of it by making a long trip north to St. Anthony and back, traversing the entire Viking Trail. It's about 3 hours each way, if you don't make any stops or side trips, which wasn't going to happen anyway, so we started the day fairly early.

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    Morning in Rocky Harbour

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    A mysterious something in the St. Lawrence Gulf

    We passed the Gros Morne National Park and all the familiar scenery we have seen on the previous day. Near the northern edge of the park is a small community of St. Pauls, situated near a bay, with the highway marking a separation of the inland bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We stopped for some photos, and chatted with a local man, who mentioned that seals often spend time in this inner bay, coming from the gulf. The bridge over the bay was grated metal, and a bit shaky to ride over, but no big deal (the bigger deal was still a couple days away).

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    A bay near St. Pauls

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    The landscape changed bit by bit and became more flat and grassy, with no mountains in sight shortly after passing the park boundaries. The highway became more elevated and there was now a cliff separating it from the shore. Occasionally it came back down to sea level, allowing us to see the picturesque empty beaches. On one of them we saw a motorcycle making its way through rocks and sand.

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    It was time to find fuel, and we planned to do that in Port Saunders, which is about halfway to St. Anthony. We had reason to believe there could be a gas station there, so we headed that way. It's only 6km from the highway.

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    Riding through Port Saunders

    Port Saunders is a town where fishing is alive and large scale. There are many boats on the shore, both small, local vessels and huge, from other provinces and states. This was one of the best boating photography sessions we've had so far. We hung around a shipyard and admired the painted bows of the numerous ships. Despite not finding a gas station, we were still very glad to have turned to this town.

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    Clear blue water, lobster traps and fishing vessels in Port Saunders

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    Fish processing plant in Port Saunders

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    Large vessels in the shipyard

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    Pirate ships, arrr!

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    After that small side trip, we went back to the highway and continued north.*Soon enough, the mountains reappeared, in all their majestic glory, rising ahead of the curves in the road.

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    Definitely one of the most beautiful views on the northbound Viking Trail

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    Eventually we stumbled into two gas stations side by side. Seriously, in the middle of pretty much nowhere, when you are counting the meters left until your tank runs out of gas, and there is not one, but two fuelling stations!

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    After a while we were finally in St. Anthony, travelling all the way to the end of the highway, which gets renamed a couple of times, follows the southern side of the St. Anthony harbour and terminates at Fishing Point. This is where we stopped for lunch at the Lightkeepers restaurant, feasting on some seafood and bakeapple desserts (bakeapple has nothing to do with baking or apples, see <a href="http://www.darktickle.com/content/7-bakeapple">additional info</a>). Although we did not stay overnight, we still had time to hike around the area, which is a municipal park and has several trails and boardwalks with great views of the town and the ocean. The grassy hills were full of flowers, bakeapples, and curiously, pieces of crab shells and sea urchins. My theory is that birds catch those right in the water and bring them up to the hills for a picnic, so that the sea creatures have no chance of escape.

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    This aircraft is a memorial to flyers who served in the Fire Fighting Services, with a special dedication to a pilot who died while fighting forest fires in 1967.

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    Fishing Point Park

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    St. Anthony Harbour

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    View of the restaurant and gift shop at Fishing Point

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    Bakeapples. Red means green - ripe bakeapples are solid orange in colour.

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    An old lighthouse keepers residence at Fishing Point was converted into a gift shop, where we could not resist some bakeapple flavored tea and partridgeberry jam, apparently made by the shop keeper's mom.

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    View towards the ocean

    It was time to head out if we wanted to make it back by nightfall, so off we went. Again we stopped quite a few times for photos as the scenery was just amazing, and the light was very different than on our way at midday. At some point the Labrador coast comes so close you can actually see it from the road.

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    Flower's Cove

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    The winds going across the coastal highway were very strong and we had to ride at an angle for quite a bit. Because of this wind we really couldn't go very fast and had to stick to the middle of the road so it wouldn't blow us off the lane. SV rider kept suggesting to line up the bikes to reduce drag on the TU. I did not feel it was worthwhile, and in the end (or rather in the middle) the low fuel light came on my bike 3/4 of the way it was expected. Wow, 25% reduction in range for riding in the wind and constant uphill/downhill conditions. A bit disappointing, but we did get to a gas station before it completely ran out.

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    As it kept getting darker we saw a pick up truck parked on the side of the road - apparently the driver spotted a large moose nearby. It was a male with huge antlers, the first we ever saw this way.

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    We stayed there for quite a while taking photos of the moose until it went into the forest. By that time we were still an hour away from Rocky Harbour, but the sunlight was almost gone. That meant that as much as we wanted to get back to the cabin faster, we had to drop the speed to avoid any wildlife surprises. And it was actually a great idea, as at one point we saw a young caribou on the road, just standing there and refusing to move even as we came closer. It only strolled off lazily when honked at. We thought it might have been a deer at first, as it was dark and hard to see, but in retrospect found out that there are no deer in Newfoundland. That's the first time we saw a caribou in the wild! Made it to the cabin at 10pm and went to sleep soon after (but not before tasting some of the goodies we brought from St. Anthony) in anticipation of the last day in Gros Morne the next morning.

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    #22
  3. damurph

    damurph Cold Adventurer

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    I ride the great Northern Peninsula yearly but the wind always blows and the scenery never gets old.
    As for the crab/sea urchin shells...the gulls carry them and drop them from height to break them open on the rocks. Easy pickings.
    The southern most caribou herd in the world reside here.
    #23
  4. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    This is a very interesting ride.
    I long to explore this area someday in the future, so I really enjoy the photos and reports.

    I noticed on your route map that you bypassed Prince Edward Island ? I would think that being so close you would have checked it out, or maybe you are saving that for another trip ?
    #24
  5. NonstopBanana

    NonstopBanana Thumper Rider

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    It's always a tough choice - so much to see, so little time. We skipped PEI, skipped the often recommended L'Anse aux Meadows - there is just no way to see everything at once. I tend to try and give more time for each destination when traveling, so that means reducing the number of destinations to make it less of a rushed experience. Maybe will revisit some other time :)
    #25
  6. Clipper

    Clipper Been here awhile

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    Love your RR. I live in NL but still love reading ride reports from people who make the effort to come here. Myself and my Wife did that trip a couple years ago. Did Western Brook Pond and rode all around the area. You have some great photos.

    I have to go to St Anthony twice a year for work................its not so nice in February:D

    Cheers!
    #26
  7. NewHampWoodsRider

    NewHampWoodsRider Tag Captor

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    Excellent reporting!
    Love the IF shots!
    Cant wait for the next installment!
    #27
  8. max384

    max384 Bandaided

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    Subscribed!
    #28
  9. TorontoAlex

    TorontoAlex Adventurer

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    Nice trip report! I did Newfoundland in June and wished I could have done it on a bike. Once you were in Newfoundland, how much time did you spend there? You appear to have seen more than I did. I stayed on the west coast for 2 weeks and didn't see alot of the things you did. I guess I gotta go back!

    How do we subscribe to a thread??
    #29
  10. NonstopBanana

    NonstopBanana Thumper Rider

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    We stayed for about 2 weeks on the island, with a total of 4 full days on the west coast - not counting the day of arrival (which was short as we slept through half of it) and departure (which I will get to very soon, it's gonna be a pièce de résistance of sorts).

    Really hoping to get another update soon, but it's not easy, as anyone who tried to write a good report will know. I think I may be getting better at it though ;)
    #30
  11. TorontoAlex

    TorontoAlex Adventurer

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    Subscribed.
    #31
  12. NonstopBanana

    NonstopBanana Thumper Rider

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    And we're back by popular demand ;). Too many photos, as usual, but what can I do, the landscapes there are so wonderful.

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    After three days of glorious sunny weather, the infamous Newfoundland rain and fog caught up with us. We woke up to a gloomy, wet morning, just as forecasted. Weather can be unpredictable near the coast, but for the time being it seems a large cloud descended over Gros Morne park and was here to stay for a while.

    First things first, Sunbandit came out for some quick grocery shopping, since we did not have time to replenish our supplies the night before (FYI: there are no 24 hour grocery stores in Rocky Harbour). Having purchased some fresh bread and eggs for breakfast, he tried to convince Earle to send us a parcel of his moose meat, since we could not really carry too much on the bikes. Earle did not trust the postal service to handle the jars carefully enough and declined ;). After breakfast we decided to stay in for a while, and made a few phone calls to arrange for tire change on both our bikes in St. John's. Honda One in Mount Pearl promised to have them ready and reserved us a service spot.

    The tires on the SV650 were getting worn to the wear bars and gaining the texture of an alligator&#8217;s tail:

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    But they will still need to last until St. John&#8217;s. ;) With that out of the way we headed out towards the Tablelands.

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    View from hwy 430 on the way to the Tablelands

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    There are quite a few lookout points along the highway, offering views such as thing.

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    It's always fun to pass a huge truck, stop to take pictures, watch it swoosh by, and know that in a few minutes you'll have to pass it again. On a wet curved road, no less.

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    The winds were high and the clouds numerous. Both the sky and the land were enveloped in mist, the landscape looked quite different from the previous few days. The main highway, 430 is all curvy in its Gros Morne section, with limited visibility, but the 431 that leads through the Tablelands has a long straight stretch that seems to reach into infinity. With the weather reaching for its local minimum, constant drizzle and lower temperatures, the area was almost empty, barely any vehicles on the road.

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    Views from 431

    We stopped at the top of a small hill on the road, with long stretches of it visible in either direction and took a few photos. It felt a bit surreal to be there at that time, so empty and alone, as if we had the road all to ourselves. To the south, the bare brown earth of the Tablelands seemed alien. To the north, the lush green hills were the exact opposite. The rain and remaining snow meltwater was gushing from the hills into numerous streams, feeding creeks and ponds in the lowlands. The long slab of pavement separated the two sides in both literal and metaphorical ways. As we rode, we went in and out of the fog several times. It felt as if we were riding through the clouds on an alien planet.

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    The brown Tablelands with their soft cloud covers

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    The green slopes just opposite the Tablelands

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    Eventually the fog got thicker and condensed into constant rain. We got to Trout River, a tiny village at the end of highway 431, which faces the St. Lawrence Gulf on one side, and Trout River Pond on the other. The fog and rain felt somehow natural there, they did not detract from the quiet town at all. Everyone was going along their business, grocery shopping, out boating, chilling on porches, one of the kids was dirt biking around the town. It was perfectly fine weather for locals, although the tourists were notably absent. We went towards the pond and the dock to get some photos. The eponymous pond runs along the southern boundary of the Tablelands, so boat tours and hiking must be very beautiful there. Despite that, no one was out there having fun in the rain. I have already seen the effects of prolonged exposure to the elements on camera equipment, so the amount of photos we took was a little limited.

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    The village of Trout River

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    Trout River

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    Where Trout River Pond becomes a river

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    Trout River Pond

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    With no end in sight for the rainfall, we headed back to the cabin to dry up, warm up, and have lunch. We did not have high hopes for the remainder of the day, but surprisingly enough, the sky cleared out to the beautiful deep blue. We fried some potatoes for lunch and decided to enjoy the improved weather.

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    Rocky Harbour in the afternoon sun

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    Without any motorcycle gear we headed to the south end of the town on foot, towards the pier. This was our last evening in Rocky Harbour and it was great having a beautiful sunset for it. The ever evolving mix of golden, pink and purple was splendid over the town and surrounding landscape. We stayed out on the windy pier all the way until nightfall, enjoying the changing light and clouds over the Long Range Mountains and the sea.

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    Sunset in Rocky Harbour

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    Barn at the south end of the town

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    Lobster Cove Lighthouse

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    Sunset light display over Rocky Harbour

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    The pier with the lighthouse far in the distance

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    The red balls and the silver boat, as seen in purple light

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    A full rainbow of colours in the western skies as the sun hides behind the think clouds near horizon. You can barely make out the lighthouse light on the right.

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    Office.
    #32
  13. TorontoAlex

    TorontoAlex Adventurer

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    We brought some moose meat back home and it spilled out of the seal. I think the pressure on the airplane messed it up. Still not sure if I should eat it 4 months later. Love the pics! I'm seeing all these places that we were at as well.
    #33
  14. Beatlunch

    Beatlunch n00b

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    Thank you for sharing your words and pictures - beautiful country, captured so aptly. This goes on the 'must ride' list.

    Cheers
    #34
  15. TorontoAlex

    TorontoAlex Adventurer

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    What kind of gear were you guys wearing? How did it hold up in the cold wet rain?
    #35
  16. UT R1150R

    UT R1150R Long timer

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    What a great trip report. Thanks for sharing!

    The pictures brought back so many good memories for me. I lived in Quebec for two years after high school. Then, I moved to New Jersey for 13 years. During that time I would frequently explore the Maritimes. I've been all over Quebec, as well as all the way around the Gaspe Peninsula. I've also explored New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI.

    Seeing your pics made me feel like I was at "home" again.

    :*sip*
    #36
  17. NonstopBanana

    NonstopBanana Thumper Rider

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    Each had waterproof pants and a jacket over jeans and a mesh riding jacket. It was warm enough for the summer. Sometimes we put the rain gear on just for wind protection on colder days, even if it was not raining. His jacket was a BMW made one, mine and both our pants were just generic lightweight rain gear from MEC - packs reasonably small. I might reuse the same pants in the winter as over pants for snowboarding. Two sets of gloves - mesh and warmer waterproof ones. BMW Allround boots for both of us, they took a beating on the hikes but stayed comfortable throughout all the temperature ranges.

    It's a bit of a challenge to get a good seal between the jacket and the glove and the first few times I didn't do it right and water seeped in that way :(

    I've been away the last week but now on my way home, will soon post another day's update AND will be working on another trip report (this time something nice and warm)! It's 30° where I am now and I hate the thought of Toronto's balmy 0°. People here put on sweaters when it's 27° 'cause it's cold, oh well.
    #37
  18. NonstopBanana

    NonstopBanana Thumper Rider

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    Toronto, Canada
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    One of the things that was on our to-do list while in Newfoundland was the T'Railway. Before the Trans Canada Highway linked St. John's to Port aux Basques and everything in between, the island's transportation relied on a railway, which was in operation for some long 90 years - from 1898 to 1988. As the paved highway replaced the railroad, the latter was disassembled and converted into a multi-use recreational trail, a provincial park to be precise. How nuts you have to be to attempt to go for it on a motorcycle is up for debate. Previous accounts of such adventurous trail riding included everything from plain gravel roads to knee deep water crossings with rocks the size of microwave ovens thrown in for good measure. What can one possibly expect with something like this?

    The trail follows the highway fairly closely on the stretch between Port aux Basques and Deer Lake, and also does not veer too much between Gander and St. John's. With that in mind we thought that it would maximize the amount of fun to be had if we start at Deer Lake and head east by the trail from there. The further you are from the civilization, the less likely things are to seem familiar. And new is always better*. (* - some conditions apply.)

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    Looking south on highway 430, Gros Morne National Park

    The day was cloudy, but the chances of rain were not too high. We said good bye to Gros Morne and headed south on 430 to Deer Lake. There we fuelled up, filled up a couple of small extra fuel canisters and got a few extra bottles of water. In the grand scheme of things, even though it was not going to be as remote as the middle of the Sahara desert, extra fuel and water never hurts. With the help of the GPS tracks other riders made available online (http://graveltravel.ca), we quickly found the trail and headed out, with the intention of making it to Grand Falls-Windsor by evening.

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    The trail greeted us with some large puddles every few metres. Fortunately, there hasn't been too much rain lately, or they could turn into full blown ponds. Excess water on the trail was my biggest concern. Newfoundland and rain go very much hand in hand, and you never know how much of the rainwater could stay in the numerous creeks and flood our passage. I did not want to get so deep into it that my waterproof boots would fill up from the top ;). This turned out to not be a problem, there was hardly anything bigger than just puddles. We figured you can cross those slowly on the edge, where the water is shallow or absent, but eventually I got more confident and just headed straight through the middle, picking up huge waves and having way more fun than I anticipated.

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    Views from the trail near Deer Lake

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    Lots of bridges on the trail!

    We travelled at an average speed of 20-25km/h, which was unreasonably slow for the distance we planned to cover, but we hoped things would speed up as we got used to it. Then about 7km in we found our true nemesis - deep loose large sized gravel. This stuff is worse to ride in than sand. It's indescribable, but pictures tell some of the story. The SV650 took it a little too fast and slid to the side. That's what you get for having all that "power", laughed my 250cc engine.

    After picking up the bike we found no major damage to fairings, lights or the rider, but the chain was kind of loose. In fact, it was off the sprocket. Make that two, it was off both sprockets. In preparation for the trip we carefully compiled a toolbox with stuff we might need to fix things on the road. Did we have the right sized socket to take off the front sprocket cover and put the chain back on? Yes. Did it fit into the narrow recess that separated one of the bolts from the outside world? No!

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    Slipping the chain onto the rear sprocket was easy... but not sufficient to get it going

    After mucking around a bit, trying to put the chain on without taking the cover off, we decided that I would make a run back to Deer Lake and get the required tools. Thankfully there was an alternative road that intersected the trail just 50m from the incident site and lead all the way back into town. It was unpaved, but in much better condition than the trail we were on.

    Just as I was putting my helmet on, we saw an ATV approach on that side road and flagged it down hoping he had an 8mm socket in a 1/4" drive (the nerve!). The man was not excited to travel in that fun gravel towards us and ultimately couldn't help us because he left his own tools at home and had nothing like that. He barely made it out of there himself after making an 8 point turn to head back to the side road. So off I went, back to Deer Lake.

    The road was beautiful! It ran along a large water reservoir and was framed in typical Newfie purple and white wildflowers. On the T'Railway I was so involved in watching the road, I was barely looking around, but this ride could actually be enjoyed for the scenery.

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    Side road back to Deer Lake

    In the meantime, Sunbandit pushed his bike to that road, and when I got back with the tools, we got on to fixing the bike. It took a while, and the local flies were trying to eat us in the process, but eventually we fixed the chain and put everything back as it was.

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    With all the necessary tools, it was only a matter of time before we could go on

    Here I want to thank Bell Canada for making sure we had excellent data coverage throughout the trip. I don't think I ever saw my phone display the dreaded "No Service" message to me. The chain repair would not be possible without some very helpful Youtube videos on the subject :type, and accessing those videos would not be possible without a data connection. It took us a good 3 hours, including the head scratching and the extra trip to the parts shop, but we managed to do it, it actually worked and did not implode when test riding it. True story.

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    Up and running, back to the highway

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    Hard packed dirt - easy!

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    Seeing how we did not want to repeat the repair process again or gamble with a new issue on that stretch of the trail, we decided to stay off the T'Railway and head to our destination by the Trans Canada Highway. We made our way back to Deer Lake by the newly found easier road and continued casually on the highway. We could check out the coastal communities north of the highway with all the extra time we now have, says I. Ok, but there is this other entrance point to T'Railway from another town an hour out of Deer Lake, says he... You can see where this is going. :norton

    We turned off the TCH to highway 401 and found our trail in a village of Howley. This time there would be a stretch of about 100km before the trail meets another road. We took a look at it, and the thing appeared much better than the crash site at Deer Lake, so we proceeded. We got much better speed this time, around 40km/h average. This might just work out.
    :dllama

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    Back on the trail, back to the numerous bridges

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    This time we even stopped several times for photos. The landscape was very beautiful, and for much of the path it was fairly open and unobstructed. There was an occasional drizzle, but not enough to bother putting on rain jackets, which was great. The gravel was alternating between better and worse. The potholes, sometimes with water, sometimes dry were sprinkled liberally throughout, and worst of all, a huge section in the middle of the trail had a sort of "median" track divider made of loose medium sized gravel, which turned the fairly wide trail into two single tracks side by side. Switching between the two tracks was tricky, but sometimes had to be done to avoid particularly nasty obstacles. It was tricky enough that I dropped my bike a couple of times, but all of those were at low speed (and once when I was stopped to take a picture), so there was barely a scratch on the bike to show for it. Nothing that needed road side repair, so I rate that as a glowing success.

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    An old train car converted into a seasonal residence - with satellite TV and a terrace!

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    Somewhere in the middle of it all, there was a sign that said something about motorcycle being prohibited, and violators facing fines and prosecution. Too late.

    It was by no means easy. In fact, it felt pretty damn challenging. But somehow, a certain amount of survival instinct kicked in and I just kept going. Somewhere in that middle of nowhere, bouncing up and down on my not-quite-optimal suspension and just trying to keep everything straight and loose and together, it occurred to me that there is probably nothing I can't do. Aside from the physically impossible things, like travelling back in time, there is not much a person cannot do if they only give it a shot. Sure, if you think hard enough you can probably come up with something you cannot do, but 99.9% of the time, the things we think are too hard or impossible are completely doable. 99.9% of the things we regularly come up with and dismiss are actually obtainable, they are just not easy. Those were the things running through my mind as I was dodging cantaloup-sized rocks, running through the middle of puddles, and looking in my mirrors checking if my luggage fell off.

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    The drizzle was making the rocks slippery, but at least it was no downpour. We should give a special sacrifice to the Viking gods for that. The scenery was very beautiful and quite unlike anything we saw on the Viking trail or in Gros Morne. Rivers, lakes, wooden bridges (in very good condition, especially compared to the road surface), meadows, marshes, big boulders scattered around the grass, a couple of rocky low mountains.

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    If you wander why so many photos feature bridges, it's because these smooth wooden bridges are much easier to stop on than the gravel before and after.

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    We eventually made it to Millertown Junction, a tiny settlement on the trail that did not look particularly inhabited. There we switched to another unpaved road, which, according to Google Maps, led to the highway. It was a shorter path that led to Badger, a town 30km away from Grand Falls-Windsor, but I'm pretty sure we travelled through the best parts of the T'Railway already, so I didn't mind dropping out early. It was hard packed dirt, much easier to handle.

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    On one of the hills we were coming up and saw a moose coming down on our side but in the opposite direction. There was a guy on an ATV with a big grin on his face slowly following it down and enjoying the lack of creativity the moose employed in getting away. Sunbandit was not in the mood to play chicken with a moose so he honked, the moose woke up from its trans, and went off into the bushes. The guy on the ATV proceeded to head in our direction and his wide moustache covered grin didn't change as he greeted us. All signs of civilization approaching.

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    Actual GPS recorded route. Note the overlapping back and forth trips near Deer Lake ;)

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    And then there it was - a paved highway 370, with 15km to go till the town of Badger, which is located right on the TCH. A high five and a nervous salutary scream later, we were on our last stretch. :clap

    We stopped at the gas station on the TCH in Badger to cool off and then headed to our hotel, which was conveniently just off the highway in Grand Falls-Windsor. More importantly, it had an onsite restaurant where we had a celebratory dinner highlighted by Twillingate blueberry blended wine.:freaky Oh well, who am I kidding - after skipping lunch, the real highlight was the pork tenderloin, not the wine ;) Off to sleep in a large soft bed, it was a day we will not soon forget.

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    #38
  19. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    8,183
    Location:
    Atlanta
    That last picture is a perfect end to your day.....Tired, happy, drinking, eating........adventurer. Love the photos...thanks for the stories.
    #39
  20. andymach23

    andymach23 Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    61
    Location:
    Belfast
    Stunning photographs. You have your 250 really nicely set up. :clap :clap

    The mirrors on the SV look like they are adjustable for length? Is that correct and do you know what they are?

    Cheers, Andy
    #40