My first time to Newfoundland

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by theshnizzle, Sep 28, 2021.

  1. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

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    After 2 years of no signifcant travel on my bike,unable to ride my bike across the border, and getting totally fed up with my work and everyone associated with it, I decided on a tues to go to Newfoundland and left on the Friday.

    I had made an attempt at NFLD about 3 years earlier,but stuck in my tiny one man tent for 3 days in pouring rain on Northern Cape Breton island, with nothing better to do than loook at weather reports for western NFLD, single digits and rain, this was a mid June trip, I packed it in and rode home.

    I had read reports of folks having a hard time securing a ferry bookng due to 50% capacity and when speaking to a Marine Atlantic agent, she said that even if I was able to get a booking over, I may be stuck on the island for a while trying to get off.

    I sat on the MA page and paitently waited for an opening. At this time, there was no penalty for changing bookings. Once one was booked, I started going through my gear to load the bike.

    I like to travel as light as possible but I knew that NFLD weather can be very changeable so I packed a bit more clothes than usual.

    I would be camping and I waffled about which tent to take....not the Redverz cause I didn't want to struggle trying to hammer tent pegs into super rocky ground. Maybe the Exped, which goes up with the inner and outer connected....excellant for rain camping....or go for weight savings and take the MSR Hubba.

    I went for weight savings. I also ditched my aluminum topbox for a plastic one, an instant savings of 7 lbs. I will be discussing my kit a bit more as we go along.

    I'm riding alone , as usual

    a few of my first pics are from one phone to the next, sorry...plus there is a crease line on my z flip....grrr...nope nver mind, they look to awful to post.
    #1
  2. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

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    I decided to split the island in 2, this trip explore the east side,next trip,the west. I used Grand Falls Windsor as my cutoff point,more or less. From what I had read, its to much to try and tackle the island in one trip.

    I chose to dock in Argentia on the way in and exit at PAB. It was about 2.5 days ride from my house to North Sydney. I camped at Mactaquac provincial park in NB and Woods island provincial park in NS.

    Mactaquac was a nice park but I noticed a lot of garbage at a lot of sites. I had to throw away a wadded up tablecloth and other garbge from my site. recommended for camping nonetheless. it's not right off the highway, I found that many of the PP were a bit of a ride to get to off my route.

    Woods island was a very nice park. I stopped early and kinda glad i did, they were almost full at 3.30 pm. it was very hot and once I had set up my site ,I walked to the beach and walked right into the water fully clothed. It was lovely. Recommeded for camping. Get there early or prebook, its very popular.

    I never book anything, just having to be somewhere at a certain time, like the ferry, is the NOT how I travel. I prefer to wing it.

    I arrived at the terminal and joined the line. It was very,very hot and I was sitting out in the sun with all my gear on for a couple of hours before I even got to the ticket wicket.

    # lines were established and I was definatley in the slowest moving lie. There were 2 riders, 2 spots behind me who said on each side of us, 4 to 5 cars would go through to 1 in our line.

    Someone came out and opened another line and all the cars rushed over from the back, there was no attempt to bring over others who had been waitng much longer,cars or bikes.

    after what was a endless eternity of sitting in the sun, I approched the wicket and got my ticket. The guy asked if I had completed my NFLD entry form. No....did I get a email containing the form? no....well, don't worry about it, he said. Umnnn......ok?

    I had filled out the Nova Scotia entry form, printed out and laminated 2 copies of my vaccination record, I was totally prepared when I approched the NS entry checkpoint, had the entry number written on my hand and had a copy of my immunizations tucked into my jacket,everything ready to show as soon as I pulled up....but instead I had been waved right through into Nova Scotia, didn't even have to stop.

    Anyway, let's go back to the lineup t the North Sydney terminal.....the bikes are funneled into their own line including ATVs. The 2 couples who had been behind me were also from Ontario, both on BMWs. They had reserved a cabin for the 16 hour ride over, I had not.

    Off we go, into the bowels of the boat. I am directed to my spot and go searching for the tie down straps. I don't ever have to tie down a bike so I had practiced at home.

    It still took me forever and the ferry guy had to help me. I had made a written list of what I was going to take with me off the bike but it took me so long to tie my bike down once I had found the box with the few remaiing straps in it, that I was running around just throwing things into my backpack.

    I had taken off my gear and boots, and helmet and left them draped across the bike. I wasn't worried about anyone stealing my gear.

    Up I go to find the theatre seating chairs. I am directed to a lounge area by one of the staff. The room is small and there are zero outlets for chargeing. I ask a differnt staff member where I can charge my things and she directs me to reception.

    I ask there and am told to try the other room with theatre seating. I go to that one and it;s much larger with fewer peope in it. I grab a row of seats and settle in. Remeber, the ship is running at covid levels of 50%.

    I wander around and step out onto one of the observation decks where I see this guy.... 20210818_171828.jpg

    puppy wasn't small by any means. He was beautifully groomed and was a spectacular example of a Newfoundland dog. Even his name was cool...Fogo!!
    He was....this big!

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    A pic of what the seating area looks like.
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    If you can't sleep in a chair, I can't, this is how much room you have on the floor between the seats. The mark on the chair is water from my water bottle. 20210819_073635.jpg
    #2
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  3. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

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    One of the items on my list to bring off the bike was a very small Thermarest inflatale mat. I ean, small, its rolls up to the size of a 500 ml bottle of water. Also a costco down blanket and a Exped inflatable pillow.

    On my middle of the night exploring of the ship, I noticed I seemed to be the only one who had thought to bring a mat, so many people were lying directley on the floor. The lounge was filled with folks sleeping on the couches.

    I went out onto the deck at around 3.30 am. It was thrilling and frightening at the same time. It was so dark and the loud swish of the boat as it powered through the water ,the total blackness of it all was almost unsettling. I seemed to be the only one up and about other that the night staff.

    I finally went back to my sleeping area and tried to get some shuteye.

    Some observations about the ferry ride....bring some disposible gloves to wear when you are strappng down your bike. I had some but in the rush, I couldn't find them quickly enough. he straps are very dirty and greasy.

    Have a written list of what you are takeing with you off the bike. Have your knapsack ready to load. Use the time waiting in line to board the boat to organize what you are bringing.

    What I brought included bottle of water,book,tablet,phone, mat,pillow,blanket,a small cooler with a sandwich,choco milk, some fruit, a bit of a choco bar, a bag with some dry snacks, some facial wipes, travel toothpaste and toothbrush, charge cords,long ones, earphones and earbuds, my maps,my journal, 2 pens...I may be missing a couple other small items, oh, a extra layer, earplugs, no eyeshades, I don't like those but I wore a hoodie with a longer hood so I could pull it way over my eyes. I was quite comfortable and even though that seems like a long list it all fit neatly into my foldable knapsack.I didn't want to buy food on the boat and that was a good call as it was expensive and the lines were long.

    Once we docked and were let back to the loading deck, I found myself just throwing my stuff into my panniers, there as a lot to do,unstrapping 4 straps, finding the box to toss them into, then put all my gear back on. It was a rush again to do it all.

    I had noticed a pair of Harleys tied down ahead of me in the line but hadn't seen any owners on the boat. We will come back to that.....the kerfuffle hadn't started yet...
    #3
  4. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

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    Remember the guy at the entry ticket booth told me not to worry about the NFLD entry form?. I should have been worried.....We roll off the boat and are funneled into another several rows of lines. Each line has a clipboard guy walking around. I notice people are holding up their phones for clipboard guys. I get a feeling that I may have missed something along the way.

    I am behind the 2 guys on the Harleys, they both are wearing leather vests with a recognized biker gang logo, the type of gang I get emails at work about.

    The biker guys aren't holding up thier phones either. The 3 of us are pulled out of the line and directed to an open space. Clipboard guy asks us if we had filled out the NFLD entry form. Oops,oops...dammit!

    Clipboard guy tells us to hold our phones over the QR code on a piece of paper on his clipboard, it should open up the form that we can fll out and email immediatley.

    CG says once we complete it and send it,we should get a confirmation reply almost straightaway. 40 mins and 4 tries later the biker guys are beyond frustrated and seem ready to clear leather.

    We had filled it out and uploaded the proof of vaccination over and over and over, we weren't getting any reply back. CG finally relented and handed us a paper copy.

    Three pages long. I pass out pens to the biker guys and we get busy scrbbling. CG wanders over and he looks over the forms. He gets to the last page of mine and stops..." You are from Ontario"? You will need to provide a name,adress and phone number of where you will self isolate" Wait?! What?!

    I'm double vaccinated. It says so right here on my Government form that i printed out and even laminated and everything!

    CG insists I must provide that information before I can be released onto the island. He walks away and biker guy growls to me " Fuck that guy, put down my name, address and number". Okey,dokey, so thats what I do.

    Biker guy gathers our forms and takes them to CG, thrusts them in a tangle towards his clipboard,walks back to me and say " Get on your bike right now and get out of here".

    Okey dokey,boss. And thats exactley what I do.

    Hello, Newfoundland!!
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    I figured that the crowd would all be headed towards St. John, well, actually, I had been there so long there wasn't really any crowd left, nonetheless, I decided to head south. After 16 hours on the boat, I was ready to ride. Southbound on the 100, I think I saw less than 5 cars all the way to the Cape St. Mary. It was fabulous.

    I had ridden out of the drizzle ito some sunshine. Water! Rocks! But not Ontario water and rocks, Newfoundland water and rocks. Much more exciting.
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    The road was pretty choppy and I was glad to be on an adventure bike soaing up all the bumps and heaves. I decided to go to the Cape St. Mary Ecological reserve. I recommend it highly. The road in was pretty cool, narrow with a rolling fog.
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    As an aside, this was pretty much my first time using a GPS. I didn't really have a clue how to use it. I just would stick it in the cradle and let it do whatever it did. I planned out a very loose route on my paper map which I much prefer. I don't know how to use waypoints, or basecamp, or any of the features. Frankly, I found the thing fairly distracting. Moving on....

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    Arrival at the information center. It's a good 20\25 minute walk out to see the birds, hot tip, try not to wear full gear on that walk including motorcycle boots....sigh....

    It was very peaceful there, I was digging the fog, it gave everything a otherworldlyness that i liked. Peaceful except for this big crowd of riders from Quebec, with the loud pipes, radios blareing and the shouting to each other back and forth, I was very happy when they rolled out.
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  5. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

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    The bird area was awesome, once I finally got there. You can stand right on the edge of the cliff if you want, there aren't any fences or anything. Use at your own risk. Like.....

    The noise of the gannets,the activity of them all flying around so close to you, the fog and down below the crashing waves and rugged rocks. I stayed there for almost an hour. Just sitting. Observing. Enjoying.

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    I hooked my foot under a rock and was hanging out over that rock that the bird is perched on taking video. Use at your own risk....so I did. I highly recommend this side trip.

    Up 92 north to 90 to look for a campsite for the night. I stopped at the Blue Fin? campground but the tent sites were just right out in the open, I like some shelter.

    Onto Butterpot Provincial Park. It's a long gravel road into the park. There seemed to be nobody there. Many sites with Rvs with no one there. I never found any water spouts and it was a bit of a walk to the comfort station.

    My site was nice though, large, on the water. Nobody around. The bathrroms were clean, the showers were the ones where you have to keep hitting the button,like every 30 seconds, only warm-ish water and low pressure. I remove a couple of points for that.

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    I headed into town for some supplies, time to replenish my cooler. Yikes!! everything was so expensive! Fuel and food. This small supply run cost me close to 50 bucks, fuel was 1.55 a litre. I admit to a bit of sticker shock.
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    A small white and chocolate milk, a 5 slice pack of Havarti and a 6 slice pack of ham, hummus, 2 small lemonade, couple bananas,small fruit salad and a pack of tortillas. Lasted me quite a while,actually.

    Tomorrow my plan is to ride to Bay Bulls and head south,down, around and up the other side.
    #5
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  6. damurph

    damurph Cold Adventurer

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    This RR makes me happy that you finally made it. As for prices….everything comes in on the boat just as you did.
    #6
  7. snglfin

    snglfin this statement is untrue

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    terrific report and photos so far, thanks for sharing your trip… i’ll be following along.
    #7
  8. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    I thoroughly enjoyed my trip up there before the boarders got closed. Hoping to get back some day! Will enjoy your report in the meantime.
    #8
  9. naustin09

    naustin09 Been here awhile

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    Glad to come along with you. Thanks for posting!
    #9
  10. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

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    The next morning I packed up camp and headed east towards witless bay. I followed 10 south enjoying the quiet of the morning ride. At Ferryland I pulled over to have my breakfast, the expensive fruit salad I had picked up at the grocery store.

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    the view was aceeptable.....lol
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    I had gone in and out of a couple cove roads on a whim and had passed this charming setup at the side of the road.

    20210820_084800.jpg

    Continuing south the landscape changed to the barren wilds that I liked. South of Cappahayden was a whole differnt worldfrom Ferryland and down at Portugul Cove it was a drizzly mist and I could hear the waves pounding the shore. Through Trespassy and over and up around the other side,now heading north on 90 through Barachois.

    I was really enjoying the varied landscape of Newfoundland, sometimes green and lush, then barren and rocky, the days ride so far felt like I had ridden on 2 different islands.

    I continued on north, saw my second moose, my first had been the day before. I saw three moose the whole trip.

    Up 90 and then west to Colinet. On my map it looked like 81 N would take me where I wanted to go. I did not pay attention to the differnt color assigned to that road on the map. And it looks like a straight line on the map, I assure you it is not.

    It was a long slog as the entire road was torn up for construction and the gravel was deep with no apparent tire tracks for me to ride in. The whole road was at the limit of my comfort zone for gravel, actually I was pretty far out of my comfort zone but I was determined to stick it out until the end.

    I stood on the pegs the whole way, I had to, with brief spurts of sitting down as my back was on fire. The bike was much harder to ride with my ass in the seat so I kept shifting my shoulders, hips, whatever I could to make it easier on my back.

    I guess the locals knew the road was a mess as I didn't encounter a single car all the way up. Have I mentioned yet I am NOT a dirt rider? I was very thankful for my Mission Trails tire I had on. They gave me a bit more confidence and I needed every bit that I could find.

    Finally, I was at the end. Unscathed and miraculously upright. I pulled over in a pavd parking lot to shake out the tension and check the weather. Uh-oh, they are calling for heavy rain and thunderstorms overnight.

    Tme to grab a motel room. I call a motel that looking promising and most importantly, within my meagre budget. Legge's motel and restaurant in Heart's Content.

    Off I go, not to much in a rush to get there, it was still a bit early but I did want to get there before the rain started in the late afternoon.

    Heart's Content was a lovelt little village and the motel was an unexpected gem. You know when you open the door of a motel room and that musty smell hits you? When I opend the door to my room, I could smell only clean. I think it's a first.

    The room was immpecable with a spotless bathroom, parking the bike right outside the door is a must for me. I unloaded the bike and got settled. I spent my time reorganizing my panniers, making a little "map" of how I wanted to load the bags each time to keep the weiight as balanced as possible. I stuck my "maps" into the lids of the bags. Had a hot bath, washed and hung my clothes, went and ordered a burger.
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    #10
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  11. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

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    I picked up my burger and brought it back to my room. It was 5.50 I think for the burger and it was a suprise...hand formed fresh patty with caramilzed onions with fresh topping on a lightly toasted brioche bun. I wolfed it down and it was so good I thought of ordering a second one. I did get myself under control but it was a internal struggle.

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    Tent, tarp, pillow, down blanket, sleeping bag,mat,tent pegs. On top of that my tent poles and medical kit fits neatly...bag one.

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    Ziplock holdsmy fry pan,drying cloth, fold flat dishes, and stove windscreen. The packing cubes each have their use, one is my cook kit,another my toiletries kit,another my utilities kit. The jet boil and fuel canister share space and my "ferry mat" sits in the middle with the helinox chair that fits on top of everything...bag two.

    On my seat I have a 40 litre dry bag holding about 20 litres, the seat bag has my clothes and shoes,maps, tablet, a sheepie seat pad and a airhawk, and some other small items. The topbox holds the cooler and extra maps,my raincoat, a couple extra pens and a block of sticky notes. I tend to write down my route on a lined sticky note and stick it to my windscreen. Tool kit is attached to the bike.

    I travel pretty light, I don't like to get bogged down with " stuff". And weight is always a concern. At the end of the trip there was only a couple items that I didn't use or only use once or twice, not enough to make a return trip. I will post my conclusions at the end.

    I highly recommend Legge's motel and restaurant, I believe the room was $100 all in. It was worth it when I rode out in the am. it must have rained hard overnight as the road was covered with dirt and gravel runoff from peoples driveways. I didn't hear a thing.


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    Shag Rock. Next stop...Trinity...

    Trinity was very scenic and easily walkable. Lots of great photo ops. In Newfoundland ,every 20210821_110432.jpg thing seemed like a great photo op.

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    I forgot to mention on the way to Trinity I stopped at a farmers market in Clarenville and pottered about there for a bit. I wanted to buy a few things but, you know...its " stuff".
    #11
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  12. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

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    Next, onto Elliston to see some puffins. And root cellars. Unfortunatley, there were very few puffins left once I got there, to late in the season. I walked around and checked out several of the root cellars.

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    I had noticed riding in a municipal campground right across the road from the shore. It was still a bit early to stop for the day but I couldn't pass up camping right next to the shore....and it was only $8.00 for a tent. Camping there seemed like such a romantic idea. NooB.

    What did I learn? That camping right close to the shore can be a cold,wet,WINDY experience. I was woken up in the night by the wind snapping my tarp like a guitar string. I thought I might get up and just take the tarp down but I really didn't want to get out of my sleep bag. I stayed awake for quite awhile before I thought of just sticking my earplugs in.

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    It doesn't look like it in the pic but the water was a lot closer than it seems. In the am I was packing up and I see something out of the corner of my eye and this little guy runs right at me,almost into my tent...

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    #12
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  13. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

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    It started to rain shortly after I left the campground, I was heading to Bonavista. I stopped at a Robins to get out of the rain for a bit and had a chat with a few of the locals. There were a couple of them there that I could not understand, the accent was pretty thick. Lovely group of folks.

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    At Kings Cove I veered off to check out Keels and Duntara. Just wandering...and then another side trip to Tickle Cove. I could have spent all day at Tickle Cove, population 30 or something.

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    I parked myself at the sea arch for a long time. Walked around on the rocks. Sat looking at the water. Just hung out.
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    It was an overload of Newfoundland beauty and ruggedness, truly....one of the highlights so far. Loved it.
    #13
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  14. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Super Supporter

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    Your RR brings back good memories! I did the Translab highway and NF in 2019. It was such a magical place. I am definitely going to go back one of these days.
    #14
  15. damurph

    damurph Cold Adventurer

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    So near as I can tell your doing it right. Tickle Cove Pond is famous in Newfoundland folklore/music.
    #15
  16. BigMule

    BigMule Adventurer Supporter

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    Love your report and pictures!!
    Newfoundland is definitely on my “do it” list.
    I’m going to study your report with a map in my hand…..so I can plan my own trip.
    Keep up the great work!!
    #16
  17. naustin09

    naustin09 Been here awhile

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    I just roughed out a Route including the TransLab and watched an hour long documentary on Newfoundland... Lol
    #17
  18. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

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    Bigmule...stay tuned, I have some map pics coming up at the end!
    #18
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  19. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

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    Sadly, it was time to leave Tickle Cove....although if I had arrived a little later in the day, I may have just camped somewhere. Onto Salvage...I did the little detour around at Blundon's Siding, poping out at Port Blandford,then onto 1.

    Uneventful ride up 1,then the tyrn to Eastport/ Salvage. A quick note....sometimes I'm in the mood to stop and take pics and other times I'm not. I may or may not have pics for a particular part of the narration.

    Cause I don't seem to have any pics of that part of my ride. Anyway....I stopped at Rockys Restaurant in Salvage and had a nice bowl of chowder, my second " bought out" meal of the trip. The first was the burger but this was my first restaraunt meal of the trip.

    The chowder filled me up and warmed me up as the day was a bit chilly. I passed Gambo and stopped in Gander to have a look at the Nort American Aviation Muesuem.

    I was suprised at how small it was. With the name North American I expected something a bit grander. It was a $7.00 fee to go in and I am a cheap bastard and didn't go.
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    I was mainly interested in 9/11 events , I read a wonderful book quite a while ago ,The day the world came to town, about the 9/11 Gander experience and I have pics of our family on the observation decks of the World Trade center one year before the event. I rode my bike to New York city a couple years after 9/11. I have also visited the memorial in Shanksville PA a couple of times.

    From what I understood, the aviation museum has a seperate 9/11 bus tour that has been cancelled due to covid and I wouldn't do a bus tour thing anyway.

    I did have a long dialog with myself if I wanted to go north at Gambo up 320 and around or straight through to Gander. One of the little side roads I took had one of those cute painted rocks..

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    I had noticed several houses with lots of painted rocks around or decorating the properties. Whenever I spotted one, I found they really cheered me up. Delightful.
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    At the intersection of 330, north to Twillingate, I stopped and supplied up. Lots of shops there. I arrived at Dildo Run Provincial Park and secured my site ,number 12, which was awesome.

    I very much enjoyed DRPP. I stayed there a couple of days, one day was a rest day,something new for me. I never stay in one place for more than one night, but those lost couple years of not touring had aged me in dog years.

    I had developed a knee issue that hinders me and earlier this year I dropped the bike u-turning, landing on my hand and the wrist still bothered me.

    And ,well, I just got tired quicker,I'm officially in the over 60 group now. I highly recommend DRPP. The staff were terrific, the park is very walkable, the sites are excellent, many of the waterfront,well situated for wee day trips with a grocery store close nough.

    Just so you know, ALL the NFLD provincial parks I stayed in all called for a boil water advisory. I'm not sure if thats just a liability caution or it's unsafe to drink for whatever reason.

    I had differing opiniond from those I asked, some folks said the water was fine to drink, others said no. I ended up just buying a jug of water for less than $2.00 but they were heavy and I ended up leaving at least 2 jugs at campsites or gave them away,only to have to stop gain and buy another jug.

    If anyone can shed light on the water thing, please do. I did notice when I filled up my bottle the water had a definate tinge to it though.
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    #19
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  20. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,833
    Location:
    Lost somewhere
    A few steps down from the picnic table was a little area where I sat my chair and just relaxed and enjoyed the view.
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    I was quite pleased with myself. There is always LOTs of work to do at a campsite. Clothes to wash and hang, water to fetch, a meal to cobble together, then hike to the wash station to wash up, the list goes on and on.
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    The bag of firewood was pretty expensive at $10.00 a bag but it did come with everything you needed to get the fire started although I did have a good time making little wood feather sticks with a rock and my knife.

    The next day I rode up to Twillingate. This may sound strange but I didn't really enjoy it there. I found it quite busy and touristy. I, of course, visited the lighthouse and walked around town but once I did that I was ready to move on.
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    I headed out of town and wandered in and out of cove roads, not going anywhere in partcular. I would see another littl road off THAT road and would go there. Usually it took me though the " residential area" of a tiny " town" with like 20 houses, if that.
    Kettle Cove, Hillgrade, Virgin Arm, Bridgeport, Cottlesville, here and there,out and about...
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    #20
    scudo, soberjoe, AngusMcL and 7 others like this.