Day 9: Port Saunders to Big Brook
I was up around 6 with the sun and quickly packed everything, thought about making a cup of coffee but decided to get moving. My hands were wet with dew from rolling the tent which made them a bit chilly inside my gloves for the first hour.
The scattered showers overnight left the humidity very high but temps in the upper 40's. It was a bit cool but smelled like fresh pine.
Just before hitting St. Barbe, a calf and a cow ran across the road in front of me. I scrambled to take out my camera while downshifting and steering away. This is the only photo that almost came off before they ran into the woods.
(See on right)
Reminder to stay alert. This is the reason I haven't been riding at night!:eek1
Aw I guess I'll stop in St. Barbe to check out the ferry schedule to Labrador and get a big breakfast. I checked out the schedule for tomorrow then walked next door to the motel restaurant for a cup of coffee and some eggs.
This mural was painted on the walls inside. I was the only diner.
Man this was SOOOOO good.
I charged some batteries while I ate, paid the bill and saddled up for the ride to the tip. My destination this morning was L'Anse Aux Meadows at the northern tip of Newfoundland. In two days I would have gone from the Northern tip of Nova Scotia to that of Newfoundland. That's fun.
Just before some long stretches of straight highway across the Taiga, I had a GSA tail. :freaky He followed me all the way to L'Anse Aux Meadows.
The first thing you see when parking is this sculpture high on the hill overlooking the visitor center.
UNESCO World Heritage Site as evidenced by the UN flag.
I attended the informational film in the dark movie theater. After spending a week on the bike, sitting in a dark theater and watching something on a screen felt incredibly foreign. I don't watch much TV at home anyway but it felt quite novel to go from riding and camping all the time to watching a film. I enjoyed it.
The artifacts found at the site are on display behind glass throughout the visitor center. This was one of the cloak pins discovered. It is 1000 years old!
This butternut was also found preserved beneath the peat soil.
Walking the path down to the recreated settlement, a small cold creek flows through the low vegetation.
The remnants of an old workshop.
The recreated structure was a fraction of the size of the largest multi-room structure from 1000 years ago. It was still quite large and the construction impressive. I'd love to build a sod house one day.
Reinactors inside were chock full of information regarding Norse life and the settlement.
I had to take advantage of the opportunity to try on some berserking gear.
This replica dingy displayed the original methods of construction using wool, tar and various other naturally available materials.
A view looking back.
I chatted with some French Canadian adventurers from Quebec currently serving in the Army in New Brunswick. One was riding a 990 and the other a KLR. They suggested I check out Burnt Cape and some ghost town that direction. I was very vague on the destinations but figured I had a whole day to explore and find a place to camp.
The Dark Tickle is a nationally recognized jam, tea and herbal shop available throughout the province. I thought the name was a bit bizarre and sexual until I learned what a "Tickle" was.
The definitive answer comes from the Newfoundland English Dictionary. The word Tickle was first recorded in 1770.
"A narrow salt-water strait, as in an entrance to a harbour or between islands or other land masses, often difficult or treacherous to navigate because of narrowness, tides, etc; a 'settlement' adjoining such a passage;"
From here I rode over to Cape Onion as far as I could get without falling into the water.
The cliff is very steep :deal
After taking a break and trying to push the bike backward uphill on moss, berries and spongy ground, I set off for Burnt Cape Ecological Preserve on the suggestion from the French Canadians. On the way back toward Burnt Cape I came across a couple walking in the road that suddenly stopped. I look around trying to figure out why they quit walking and notice a figure 100 meters down the roadway. It is the biggest male moose I have ever seen standing broadside to the roadway. He stood there for the better part of a minute while I chatted with the locals about this being the best traffic jam ever. Eventually he lumbered off into the bush and I carried on down the road.
Burnt Cape is a large area of exposed limestone with a naturally harsh climate that permits the growth of rare dwarf flora often found in arctic and alpine areas.
The road here was awesome hardpack limestone or just barren boulders curving along for a mile or two uphill. It was fun, a couple puddles, not very technical but fast and open with water on all sides.
These carins must have been 6 feet tall
Can you find the GS?
After munching down a chocolate bar, I turned around and set out for Cape Norman ligthhouse outside Cook's Harbor. The limestone towers further down the coast were interesting and home to many saltwater creatures.
This is the only photo I have of the tall stacks of drying wood I have seen throughout the trip. The farther north I travel, the shorter these stacks become.
The road to Ship Harbor is wide fast dirt and I make it to the dead end quickly, wave at some locals and head back toward Cook's Harbor. On my right are large open expanses of limestone, sand and low growing vegetation covered with vehicle tracks in all directions. It looks like a bloke on a dirtbike could have hours of fun out here.
I notice a dashed (gravel) road on my map leading to a dead end about 15 or 20k west. This must be that ghost town place the dudes told me about.
Sleds like this are all over the place along the roadside for hauling cut firewood.
While taking the above photo I hear a motorcycle, look up, and my two friends are turning right where I am. Hey dudes let's ride some dirt!
I took off in front and very quickly left them far far behind. Travelling at 60-70mph on good gravel is comfortable for me depending on conditions and I was having a blast. I'd stop and wait for them every few kilometers and snap a few moving shots as they approached. One time when I stopped, I heard motors coming down the road in front of me. A few folks two up on ATV's approached and stopped. The bearded and tough old man looked me over "You're not from here are you? Are you lost?" "I'm working on it!" I replied just as my newfound friends came roaring down the road and stopped in a cloud of dust. We chatted about the town up ahead and found that the bridge was out and the road past there is in terrible shape. Thanks!
Just before the ghost town we came across a very old shipwreck rusting away in the salt air.
After riding around here we take the ATV path through a few big puddles on back to the main road. It shortly ends at a washed out bridge support.
I bet we can get across that! I will check...
Knee deep and slick rocks. This is a no-go.
The moose don't seem to mind.
The view of Big Brook from the vantage of an old dory weathering away.
My friends decided to return back to their campsite in St. Barbe while I chose to scope out this town and stay here for the night.
Much of the belongings and items were still around the town and the small buildings dotting the open landscape.
This was the view inside the old schoolhouse
An old swingset sits idle, the children long gone.
I stank, therefore I bathe.
After bathing, I set up my tent in the foundation basement of an old home that had been removed. I hoped this would keep the strong winds down around the tent. Just as I was pulling out my sleeping bag, I heard an ATV approach. I stood up above the wall and waved as they road past. They pointed and drove straight down the grassy hill to where I was setting up camp. I talked to the weathered and somewhat suspicious gentleman whose wife kept her full face helmet on the entire conversation. He remembered when the town was still there not long ago, he had many friends who lived here, who moved on and knew people who had lived here until their death or they were moved out by the government. The foundation I was camped in was his friend's old house. It was transported down the road to Cook's Harbor years ago. He motioned toward a well kept shack near the road and said he knew the guy who owned it and visited rarely. I was welcome to set up my tent in the soft grass and use his fire ring and firewood. "Nobody would sleep in a basement!" he said as he keyed the starter and roared up the hill to meet his waiting friends.
Dude where's my roof!?
The reflection of the sunlight in these old windows and the warmth of the sun/salt beaten shack demanded a photo. I just wish I could have captured it better.
After the sun set, I made a small fire and burned all the semi-charred wood scattered about. Others had camped here before as evidenced by the makeshift fire rings on nearly everyside of a large clump of trees. Clearly this windbreak was used in various seasons as the wind shifted and more fire pits were needed.
I smoked a pipe and looked up at the stars. The surf crashed 20 feet away, the wind howled and I couldn't have been happier. I sipped some whisky then doused the fire and fell deeply asleep.