August 31st, 2011 - Newfoundland & Labrador By Blacks
I’ve really come to appreciate our form of transportation and our way of travel. I knew when we left that a motorcycle could take you places that not everyone could go and expose you to your surroundings in a unique way that not everyone gets to experience. You feel the rain, the sun, the cold, the heat and can read the road below you as if it’s your own form of brail but I had no idea the extent of that experience. You truly form a bond with your motorcycle and it’s this companionship through the elements that creates that unique experience forming life long memories. In a car a drive in the rain is rarely remembered and just seems to disappear in the back of your head with the other hundreds of rainy day drives. On a motorcycle a ride in the rain is rarely forgotten because you are experiencing it and good or bad at the time, you’re creating memories.
Erin and I will never forget the day we rode into St. Johns, NL soaking wet, cold and exhausted. We had spent the previous two days riding a portion of the Irish Loop, a section of roads spanning the Avalon Peninsula on the south east corner of Newfoundland. We had enjoyed sunshine, a beautiful coastal ride with some amazing views and best of all free camping. Standing in St. Johns the water seemed to pour off of us harder that the rain itself and we decided to pay for a campground and enjoy a hot shower. The next day with patches of blue sky trying to break through we rode over to Cape Spear, the most eastern point of Canada. I found myself enjoying these trivial moments as I stared out at the Atlantic Ocean. “This is it.” I thought to myself. “The end of the road.” Erin and I had now crossed the largest country in the world and it felt great.
Our motorcycles seem to attract attention and will often spark some kind of childish curiosity in people who see them. Even if they don’t catch a glimpse of the licence plate they know that we plan to travel the way we are loaded. This is another great attribute to travelling on a motorcycle that you would rarely get driving. I’ve explained our trip to well over a hundred people and I love it every time. I’m living my dream and it feels great to share it with people. They seem so excited for us they will often offer their assistance in some shape or form even if it’s only advice or recommendations. The people of Newfoundland take this “roadside manor” to a whole new level. Erin and I have received more acts of kindness and hospitality in our 3 weeks in Newfoundland then I would have ever imagined. We have been sheltered, fed, taken out of the rain and given a hot shower, toured around town by car, escorted to amazing camping spots, entertained around a campfire, given clothes and have been loaded up with food for the road. The people of Newfoundland have gone out of their way to help us and have truly touched our hearts. I realised when I started writing this that I could fill pages and pages with the amazing stories of kindness we received from our new friends in Newfoundland. We experienced so much in our short time in Newfoundland that perhaps some of it is better left for the pages of a book.
The riding and the scenery of Newfoundland continued to amaze us as we rode west for the first time since the beginning of our travels. We slowed down and enjoyed our time at the world famous Gros Morne National Park where we were able to set up camp and enjoy a short hike. It felt good to be active and the narrow trail led us to a secluded beach covered in thin flat stones that sounded like cracking shells when walked over them. One of the wonders of Gros Morne is the former fjords of West Brook Pond and Erin and I had a chance to explore the beauty of these towering cliffs. They were a magnificent sight to see, however Erin and I both agreed afterwards that after seeing the Canadian Rockies we were desensitized and did not find them as mind blowing as many of the people around us did.
Since our first day in Newfoundland people have been talking about the icebergs in St. Anthony so with hopes of spotting some ancient floating ice we headed north. As we followed the coast towards St. Anthony the weather took a turn for the worst and the Northern Peninsula was engulfed in fog. With no chance of spotting icebergs in a dense blanket of fog a last minute change of plans put us on a ferry over to Labrador. I’m sure the ferry was twice my age but at $23 for both of us and the bikes the 90 minute ferry ride seemed like a steal of a deal. The landscape of Labrador was fantastic and seemed to encompass all my favorite parts of Canada. With its vast spaces and lack of people it was a perfect place to explore on a motorcycle. However our stay was short lived due to the overwhelming amount of tiny vicious blood thirsty swarms of flies. I know it sounds crazy but I would happily take mosquitoes over these wicked little flies. They surrounded you by the hundreds filling your nose, ears and mouth eating at your flesh and driving you insane. After one night we made a mad dash back to the ferry not even stopping to make breakfast.
When we arrived back in Newfoundland our Labrador detour had worked perfectly, the fog was gone and the sun was shining. We raced off towards St. Anthony and just as we entered the city limits you see them… Like the stars scattered across the night sky the icebergs filled the bays surrounding St. Anthony. As any good adventure seeker would do I ran down to the shore to capture and devour my very own piece of iceberg.
We spent the next three days camped in the nearby town of St. Lunaire and with a front row seat we watched the icebergs deteriorate from pieces the size of a house to nothing more than ice cubes on our shore. These icebergs had traveled as part of a massive ice island that had broken off a glacier in Greenland and had spent the last year and a half traveling down to Newfoundland. As the island floats off the coast of Newfoundland pieces are breaking off and filling many of the northern bays and some of those pieces measure over a kilometre long. I found it pretty cool that I ate potentially millions of year old ice that traveled all the way from Greenland to my mouth. People that have lived in this area their whole lives said they have never seen the abundance of icebergs they have this year and especially this late in the season.
In between our iceberg watching we managed to fit in some short rides around the area. We rode up to L’Anse aux Meadows, a National Historic site that preserves and re-enacts a Viking settlement. It was one of the more interesting and well presented historic sites we have visited and one that I would recommend visiting. We squeezed in another ride with our new friend and host in St. Lunaire and managed to turn him into an adventure rider as he led us on a rough gravel road into an Ecological Preserve riding his 1976 Harley Davidson. Erin and I really enjoyed our time in St. Lunaire and like any place you feel comfortable it was hard to leave.
Even as we made our way down to Port aux Basque to catch the ferry, Newfoundland seemed to find a way to keep us there longer. It was as if the island knew that I didn’t want to leave but after a final night of fireside hospitality we were given a handful of snacks for the ferry and we made a run for it. The weather was perfect so we rode solid, no stops for 300kms, all the way to the ferry terminal and purchased two tickets for the next ferry. As we sat in the terminal I had a weird feeling almost like butterflies in my stomach. It felt wrong to leave Newfoundland, a place I had so easily fell in love with but at the same time I was excited to finally head south and start exploring the United States. Erin and I would like to thank all our new friends in Newfoundland who made us feel so at home and we look forward to the day we can visit with you all again.