In just a few days Bill and I and his daughters are leaving for Newfoundland. Bill and I went there in July 2004, on our motorcycles. That was a fun little adventure. We loved being there, exploring the backroads and remote little communities on our bikes. After staying for a few days in St. John’s in a house owned by well-known (in Newfoundland) writer Des Walsh, we headed off with a vague plan to make our way toward Gros Morne National Park and eventually to the ferry at Port aux Basques. After our comfortable stay in town, we camped for most of the rest of the trip. In Newfoundland you are expected to practice “gravel-pit camping” which means camping wherever opportunity strikes.

Searching for a campsite

While we never camped in an actual gravel pit, we pitched our tent in several scenic locations that were not graced by the usual infrastructure of a campground.

 Very picturesque … until that foghorn starts blowing in the pre-dawn hours!

We loved every minute of our visit, but our favourite had to be Fogo Island. It is like a microcosm of everything that is beautiful, breathtaking and tragic about Newfoundland. We spent a few days there and it felt odd to think of Newfoundland as the “mainland” when we took the return ferry from Fogo.

Some of the most beautiful hiking trails I’ve ever seen were on Fogo Island. On this day, a family was out for a picnic on the beach, down where you can see the boats. They had a boombox that was blasting accordion music,and the sound was clearly audible up where we were. I loved it because I have a secret wish to be able to play the button accordion.

We mostly went where our fancy took us, but one place I had insisted we include on our itinerary was Glover’s Harbour, Home of the Giant Squid. This was definitely off the beaten tourist path, despite the attraction of the Giant Squid. Here we had a truly Newfoundland experience: after spending a night or two in the only campground we actually paid for (a lovely campground, with an iceberg in the background) we were looking for a breakfast spot before heading back toward the Trans-Canada highway. We made a second stop at the Giant Squid museum for a souvenir purchase, and I asked the nice ladies working there where they recommended we go for breakfast. They informed us that the one and only restaurant in the community did not serve breakfast. When they saw my dismay, they whipped out their own supplies and fed me Purity crackers and margarine. Yumm! Newfoundland Giant Squid ladies to the rescue! That was such a good snack, we later bought the same crackers and margarine for our ferry crossing when we returned to Nova Scotia.

We spent a few days in the Gros Morne area, camping for free near Cow Head. Free camping is great and adventurous but after a while I miss the finer things in life like furniture. Even just a simple picnic table seems like a luxury. So I have to admit that I was a little relieved when heavy rains were forecast and we decided to find a place with a roof and furniture. We were scrambling for a rare motel room when I bumped into a fellow motorcyclist. To be specific, I was riding along on my own, heading back to our campsite to start packing up while Bill completed a hike. A guy on a fully tricked-out Goldwing pulled alongside me and waved me over, so I pulled over. I didn’t know if he was trying to pick me up or what (so I made sure to mention that my boyfriend was on his way somewhere behind me). It turned out that he was just a friendly Newfoundlander (imagine that!) who noticed my Nova Scotia licence plate and wanted to say hi to a fellow biker. I explained that we were hurrying to try to find a room before the inclement weather struck. The only one available was in Woody Point, half an hour’s ride from where we were camping. Didn’t it happen that this guy had a house he rented out to tourists, that was available, and only two minutes drive from our campsite! So for a very reasonable rate we had a whole house with a kitchen and a laundry room, right in Cow Head for the next two nights.

This summer’s trip will be a different kind of adventure. Bill’s two daughters are going with us, for their first trip to Newfoundland, so we won’t be taking the bikes. All four of us, plus Molly the dog, will pile into Bill’s tiny little car. It will be a challenge for me to be confined in a small space with anyone for that amount of time (planned trip duration: 10 to 14 days). I’m trying to be optimistic about how I’ll manage my personality flaws during those long drives. But of course we will spend lots of time in the great outdoors too.

*Vehicle may not be exactly as pictured

Each of us has a personal MP3 player so I think that will help create the illusion of personal space when necessary. It will be fun to show the girls what The Rock is like, I think they will enjoy it. Also it’s the longest stretch of time I will spend with them, so it should be a bonding experience for all of us. I can’t wait to get there again!

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