Monthly Archives: November 2017
Woody Point was once bustling Newfoundland community
After a quick trip south from Rocky Harbor to Deer Lake where a computer doctor diagnosed a defunct laptop, we headed back north on Highway 430 and decided to take a side trip to Woody Point.
The first lighthouse at Woody Point was built in the early 1900’s. This one was built in 1959. In the background is the water taxi which runs from Norris Point to Woody Point.
Gros Morne Provincial Park, a huge facility named for the largest mountain in the park, extends westward and includes Woody Point and some other small communities. Highway 431 is a pleasant drive on a nice smooth road that cuts through the mountains and skirts Bonne Bay to Woody Point, 18 miles from the main north-south Highway 430.
The little town of about 300 was the major shopping community for the area in the early 1900’s. Today it’s mostly a fishing village with a large fish and lobster processing plant that dominates the downtown waterfront. Just southeast a few miles from Rocky Harbor is Norris Point which provides a water taxi and a much quicker route for visitors arriving from the north. The water taxi carries only passengers, no vehicles, which is not really a problem because Woody Point is only about three or four blocks long.
Downtown Woody Point, Newfoundland.
Situated on the shores of Bonne Bay, Woody Point is a Registered Heritage District and has a waterfront with many heritage buildings including four Registered Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Structures.
The British started settling here in the 1800’s, arriving in the summer to fish the offshore waters primarily for cod. They would return to England after the fishing season but later started staying here year-round and the settlement grew in numbers.
A pickup load of firewood is raffled on main street in Woody Point.
Gros Morne’s Western Book Pond scenery is hard to describe
The upper deck offers the best view for visitors to Western Brook Pond, Newfoundland.
Nights in the 50’s is fairly common in Newfoundland, particularly along the coast where we are camping at Rocky Harbor, a small town along the western shore that borders on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Mountains surround the landlocked Western Brook Pond which is located in Gros Morne Provincial Park, Newfoundland.
Since we sleep with the RV windows open, it’s frequently so cold in the morning that I turn on the gas heater, close the windows and crawl back into bed, giving the RV a half hour or so for the place to warm-up. Kind of strange for July where back home in Florida summer heat of 90 degrees is almost a daily aggravation.
Today’s agenda includes a hike and boat tour of nearby Western Brook Pond in Newfoundland’s Gros Morne Provincial Park. Long considered the crown jewel of provincial parks in Newfoundland, Gros Morne records more visitors than any other park.
Part of the 45 minute trail leading to the pond crosses a wetlands area where park officials have constructed a boardwalk.
They call large bodies of water “ponds” here, rather than lakes which is a little confusing. We were expecting a pond, maybe small enough to walk around or small enough to swim across and were surprised to learn the “pond” is more than nine miles long.
Getting to Western Brook Pond, a landlocked fjord, requires about a 1 ¾ mile easy hike along a well-maintained and mostly flat trail that ends at a visitor’s center for check-in and a boat dock. There’s also a snack bar offering some hot foods, including soup, hot dogs and hamburgers along with beverages and a gift shop.
The only water access to Western Brook Pond is by tour boats which take visitors on a two hour ride with guides providing information in both French and English.
There’s no way I can adequately describe the scenery. The boat travels the entire length of the fjord at a slow pace, allowing plenty of time to soak in the huge mountain cliffs, waterfalls and occasional wildlife. Guides on board the two-deck tour boat, which carried about 85 guests, were speaking both French and English.
Western Brook Pond is a UNESCO World Heritage site. No boating, fishing or swimming is allowed. There is no public access, however, there are about 65 miles of trails within Gros Morne Provincial Park, some that are primitive and require skilled hikers. The waters of the pond are among the purist in the world.
NEXT: Off the main road to Woody Point
Tim Horton’s coffee and scenery keeps us going in Newfoundland
Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse, Rocky Harbor, NF.
Lobster Cove Lighthouse at Rocky Harbor, NF.
Two things one can always expect in Newfoundland–windy days and Tim Horton’s coffee/donut shops. Tim Horton’s are everywhere, even in the middle of nowhere.
Driving north on Trans-Canada Highway 1, we found our first Tim Horton’s of the day just past Marble Mountain. It’s becoming a daily habit to skip a healthy breakfast in the RV for a hot mocha latte and a warm blueberry muffin, always available at any Tim Horton’s throughout the Maritimes and Canada.
Old House Rocks is a little fishing village off Highway 430 near Gros Morne Provincial Park.
We are driving to the far northern tip of Newfoundland with stops at popular Gros Morne Provincial Park, Port aux Choix, the northwest fishing capital of Newfoundland and St. Anthony for a whale watching trip. The road north ends at St. Anthony on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. It will take us eight days to meander along the coastline and see the sights before arriving in St. Anthony.
At Deer Lake we drove on Highway 430 to Rocky Harbor, where we will camp for the next four nights. Highway 430 is also known as the Viking Trail and runs along the western coastline of Newfoundland to St. Anthony.
The trail to see the Cows Head Lighthouse was well maintained and an easy hike. The lighthouse is no longer operational.
Wildflowers were in full bloom when we visited Cow Head, Newfoundland in late July.
As luck would have it, we happen to be in the Maritimes when admission to all provincial parks is free as Canada Parks is celebrating its 150th anniversary.
We drove a few miles outside town to Lobster Cove Head lighthouse and toured the lighthouse keepers home which is now a museum. The light here is still active. We walked the trails around the lighthouse and along the coast for some incredible rocky shoreline and huge cliffs views as the sun was setting on the horizon.
The following day we drove north to Cow Head and hike 1.5 miles to see another lighthouse and the seashore. The lighthouse here was smaller than most and had been decommissioned years ago. It was made of steel and refurbished in 1990’s. During the hike we met two students from the University of Miami who were spending a month in Newfoundland on a geology field training trip. The University has been bringing students here since 1981.
We visited a museum of a prominent resident who once lived in Cow Head and returning to Rocky Harbor, stumbled into the little community of Old House Rocks.
A hand-carved wooden sign welcomes visitors to Hickey’s Cove, a place you will not find in the visitor’s guide. It’s primarily a summer fishing operation with docks along the waterfront and about 20 small cabins fishermen use for lodging while they are here. We could not determine where Hickey’s Cove ended and Old House Rocks begins. They seemed to be one in the same place.
Broom Point fishing exhibit.
Sunset at Lobster Head Cove Lighthouse.
At nearby Broom Point, a full-time interpreter with Parks Canada told the history of the Gulf of St. Lawrence natural harbor, beginning as early as 300 BC when it was used as a base for spring seal hunting and later for cod and lobster fishing, ending in 1975. Parks Canada acquired the land from the family of three brothers who fished here every summer from 1941 until 1975. Along with the land came all the boats, fishing equipment and buildings the brothers used in the fishing operation.
NEXT: Newfoundland’s crown jewel, Gros Morne Provincial Park
Joining a community pig roast at Robinson, NF
Wildflowers seen along the trail in the Codroy Valley area of Newfondland.
With threatening skies, we are back on the Trans-Canada Highway and driving north through the Table Mountains, which are half covered with low hanging, moisture laden clouds and threatening rain.
We stopped in the Codroy Valley area to take a hike through a wetland preserve, hoping to see some birds. Maybe it was the time of day or the time of year, but we didn’t see many birds and after a mile walk, got back to the RV.
Heading north to Robinson, our destination for tonight, the highway left the coastal areas and cut through the mountains. Martha noted there were no homes, businesses or signs of civilization in her trip journal. No traffic. Kind of eerie for a weekend when one would expect some vehicles on the highway.
Found a service station in tiny St. David’s and filled the RV with fuel that cost $1.23 per liter which relates to almost $4.75 per gallon. Most commodities are shipped into Newfoundland, by sea or air, accounting for the higher price of goods. That is not the situation with oil since the province has several producing offshore oil fields providing crude to its’ Come By Chance Refinery. In a conversation with a local, he speculated that taxes are responsible for the expensive fuel.
We left the highway and drove toward the coast to Robinson and Pirates Haven RV Park, our destination for tonight. We have driven only about 60 miles from Port aux Basque because we wanted to eat fresh pork at Pirate Haven’s pig roast.
The RV campground check-in was at a bar, which was full of happy patrons who obviously had been there for several hours, waiting for the pork. We parked the RV, connected to water, electricity and sewer and proceeded to the bar for a roast pork dinner.
The owner told us he has been cooking a whole hog annually for the past 23 years and it has become a community as well as campground success. The dinner consisted of pork, pork stuffing, browned potatoes and corn for $18 Canadian which made the cost about $15 America. The pork was nice and moist but needed some barbeque sauce, Martha wrote. “Newfoundlanders don’t drown pork in sauce,” said a local, preferring their pork “naked.”.
Although I’m not sure that’s what he said. Newfies talk fast and have a serious accent, obviously a mixture of several cultures plus some local slang. The accent is becoming more obvious and undecipherable as we head north.
A four-piece band played music until the wee hours of the morning, long after the pork was finished and long after we had gone to bed.
We closed the RV windows, put one of Martha’s homemade quilts on the bed and called it a night. The wind was blowing hard and it was cold outside but the temperature didn’t seem to slow the pork crowd. It didn’t bother us, either.
NEXT: A stunning seashore drive on the French Ancestors Route.
Rose Blanche Harbour, NF turns to tourism after cod collapse
The six-hour ferry crossing from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland was an uneventful ride on smooth seas. After settling into cushioned reclining chair, reading books, having lunch, taking a nap, and whale watching, we arrived at Port aux Basques, on Newfoundland’s southwest coast.
The town of Rose Blanche Harbour in southwest Newfoundland, is built on barren land, mostly rock facing the harbor.
We checked into an electric only campsite at J. T. Cheeseman Provincial Park a few miles outside Port aux Basque, population about 4,000. A boil water notice was posted throughout the park, a requirement for campgrounds in Newfoundland that rely on wells for drinking water. Fortunately, we had plenty of bottled water on board the RV.
A couple from Ontario that we met on board the ferry stopped by our campsite and invited us to enjoy their campfire and adult beverages, which we gratefully accepted.
The 144 year old lighthouse at Rose Blanche was recently reconstructed and now open to the public.
The weather is cool, probably in the low 60’s, perfect for a fire.
We slept with the windows open and were serenaded with the low frequent rumbling sound of ship foghorns blowing in the distance, arriving and leaving Port aux Basque, about six miles away.
The next morning, we drove into Port aux Basque, which serves as a shopping hub for a half dozen or more small villages in the area. The entire town of about 4,000, appears to have been built on a mostly rock hill. Lots of the homes have water views.
Martha writes in her travel journal that houses appear freshly painted with bright colors and situated on small lots. None of the houses had front porches or even overhangs. Drying laundry on a clothes line is the norm here.
Later in the morning, we drove east along the coast, passing through the little fishing villages of Margaree, Isle aux Morris, Burnt Island and arriving about an hour later at Rose Blanche Harbour, another little fishing village but a lot more people. About 500 of them. I don’t know if they have boonies in Newfoundland, but if they do, Rose Blanche surely qualifies. Route 40 dead ends here. To keep going east, you have to board a local ferry which takes riders to LaPoile, about 20 miles east. LaPoile is isolated, with exception of the ferry. Maybe they are more qualified to be in the boonies.
Rose Blanche is located in a barren area, mostly rock, with two harbors for fishing boats.
Since this is our first real Newfoundland fishing village visit, we literally fell in love with Rose Blanche—it’s very colorful small houses built facing the water, the picturesque small boat harbors, the rugged granite coastline, the white cliffs of Diamond Cove and of course, its 144-year-old lighthouse, naturally built of granite.
Fishermen from France were first to fish the area for cod in the early 1700’s with the first settlers arriving in 1810. In fact, according to the 1869 census, the population had grown to 663, more than live here today.
The town showed promise in early 1961 when the road from Port aux Basque was extended and several outlying communities were resettled here.
But the early 1990’s collapse of the cod industry, the staple of employment for almost 200 years, halted any promise of success in the future, sending many locals to work in Port aux Basque and some taking jobs as far away as the Great Lakes. They are hoping tourist will help fill the gap.
We walked the harbor shores, hiked up the hill to the old restored lighthouse and enjoyed a picnic lunch, sold daily to visitors by local volunteers to help boost tourism.
Barachois Falls walking trail is almost a mile long and leads to a high waterfall. The trail is mostly a wooden boardwalk system across a wetlands area that was dotted with colorfull small flowers when we visited this summer. It is located near Rose Blanche.
A light rain was falling when we arrived back at the provincial campground.
NEXT: Pig roast at Robinsons
RV’s, semis, cars, join 1,000 passengers for ferry ride to Newfoundland
Driving into one of the ocean going Canada Maritime ferries lower decks with the 32′ Winnebago Aspect motorhome.
The ships that provide ground transportation between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are huge ocean going vessels that carry passengers and freight on a year round basis.
Referred to as Ro-Pax ships (roll-on-roll off passenger vessels) they operate from North Sydney, Nova Scotia with service to Argentia and Port aux Basque, Newfoundland.
Two ferries pass near North Sydney port.
They are huge nearly 700 feet long comfortable vessels that carry up to 1,000 passengers and up to 661 cars, freight hauling semi-trucks, motorhomes and buses. Some are 10 decks high with amenities comparable to ocean going cruise ships. The ride from North Sydney to Port aux Basque is 6 to 7 hours and from North Sydney to St. Johns, 13 hours. However, the trip can be longer depending on the weather and seas. Friends told us the longer trip can be 16 to 18 hours long. We opted to take the shorter route, coming and going.
Parking the motorhome on the vehicle deck three.
Large reclining chairs and food service are provided on several decks. Private sleeping cabins are also available for an extra charge. Internet service is also provided along with a kennel for dogs.
The ferry we rode between Nova Scotia and Newfound-land was impressive. It was comfort-able, food was very good and other than a few noisy active children which prevented taking a nap, it was a five (out of five) star ship.
Skyline Trail and Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia
The boardwalk at the end of the Skyline Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
There are not many places that can rival the scenery of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
We are traveling around the island, waiting for the ferry ride to Newfoundland in a couple days, blown away by the seashore, small waterfront fishing communities and of course, the forested mountain scenery that rises up out of the ocean and extends untouched for miles.
A adventuresome hiker teeters on the edge of a high cliff on top of French Mountain along the Skyline Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands.
Starting from North Sydney where we left the RV, we drove south and west across Cape Breton Island, emerging on the western shore at the little settlement of Margaree Harbor. We exited the car and took time to walk along the shoreline to the mouth of the Margaree River and imagined how much fun it would be to live here, at least in the summer.
The mountains meet the sea at Cape Breton National Park, Nova Scotia.
Back in the car we passed the small communities of Grand Etang and Point Cross and stopping occasionally for Kodak moments of the craggy coastline before reaching Cheticamp, another fishing community along the Cabot Trail. Cheticamp receives a lot of pass- through- traffic, en route north to Cape Breton Highlands National Park, one of the most visited places in the Nova Scotia.
The boardwalk makes hiking much easier to visitors to views the ocean and mountains on the Skyline Trail.
The downtown area has an unspoiled view of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and a population of about 4,000, making it the largest town on the western shore of Cape Breton Island. Settled by Acadians, it is very common to hear French spoken here.
It’s the Saint-Pierre Catholic Church, however, that prompted us to pull of the highway for a closer look. We could see the church bell tower before reaching the town’s southern limits.
Along the shoreline at Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
The church, constructed in 1892, was built of native sandstone mined from the north end of Cheticamp Island and ferried across the ice to the shore. It is one of a few stone churches on Cape Breton Island. The doors to the church were open, allowing us to see the interior which is described as “a barrel-vaulted nave with two aisles and upper gallery leading the eye straight towards the main altar. ” We were the only people inside the church.
We entered Cape Breton Highlands National Park just north of Cheticamp and walked the four mile round trip Skyline Trail on French Mountain to the ocean’s edge, finding ourselves hundreds of feet above the shoreline and overlooking the highway. It is best described as the place where the mountains meet the sea.
We could see the bell tower of St. Pierre Catholic Church in Cheticamp, Nova Scotia, long before we entered the town.
An interior photo of St. Pierre Catholic Church, Cheticamp, NS.
Surrounded by forested mountains as far as the eye can see, we parked ourselves on wooden park benches and tried as much as possible to absorb the surroundings. Parks Canada has installed a wide boardwalk with steps that follow the steep cliff of the mountain and zig-zag back and forth, making it easier for hikers to get a panoramic view of the ocean and surrounding mountains. This is not the place to turn loose small children.
This lighthouse once stood along the shoreline at Dingman, NS but was relocated into town when it was decommissioned.
Although the trail is well traveled, hikers need to be aware that bears and coyotes are present in the mountains. A 19-year old was attacked in 2009 while walking the Skyline Trail by a pack of coyotes and later died from her injuries. It is the only known fatal attack on a human in Canada.
There are no trees growing at this elevation, providing undisturbed opens views. We were surprised to learn the mountains here are part of the Appalachians. My, what a view!
This colorful lighthouse at Neil’s Harbour also housed an ice cream store, which is the real reason we stopped here on our tour of the Cape Breton Highlands.
Back on the Cabot Trail we stopped for a late lunch at Rusty’s Anchor restaurant near Pleasant Bay, enjoying a bowl of seafood chowder while sitting outside with another view of the mountains while listing to live celtic music.
The northern part of the road has sharp curves, deep canyons and strong winds but the splendid views continued. We drove off the main road a few miles and visited the small settlement of Dingman and took photos of a recently relocated lighthouse. We found another lighthouse and a colorful small boat harbor at Neil’s Harbor. This lighthouse also featured an ice cream shop, the real reason we stopped.
NEXT: Loading the RV on the ferry for a six hour ride to Newfoundland.
Small boat harbour at Neil’s Harbor, NS.