:: Saturday, June 04, 2005 ::
Monday May 30th Vacation Notes
Written in Jungle Jim’s restaurant in Cornerbrook with a pint of Keith’s in hand.
After I gave up on the lounge onboard and it’s singing cougars (with guitar) I crashed and woke up around 5 hours later to sunrise and imminent docking in Port Aux Basques, NL. I ate some breakfast in the cafeteria and went outside. It was cool but pleasant. At about 711am NL time I launched my shuttle from the hangar bay , err drove off the Leif Ericson, and went into town and got gas. 102.5 geez that’s too much! And I am not even at the end of the trail yet. I drove in and around Port aux Basques as the sun slowly came up and it was how I pictured NL towns to be. Run down and haphazardly built with small one story houses that are simply utilitarian and not ‘pretty’. Uninspiring as a first introduction to the Rock. This soon changed though.
I drove East on 470 towards Rose Blanche which is as far as you can go in the direction of St. John’s. 40km. A further 5-600km are in-between and involve a huge detour on the TCH. No roads around here. I saw still mountain lakes in the midst of barrens and tundra like settings. Shallow crater like bodies of water. And some tiny flies which just loved my Ontario scent. (at which point I discovered the bug spray was still at home…). One thing I found in search if the Rose Blanche Lighthouse is that tourist attractions are tough to find. This lighthouse is awesome. But it is so well hidden and at the end of the road –literally – I was not surprised I was the only one there. I missed it the first time I went hunting for it but was bound and determined to see it so kept looking. And it is not as if you can ask for directions here. There are really few people around! But I did find it and it was worth it. A granite square lighthouse up on a barren spit of land about 150 feet up from the sea. Brilliant blue sky and I was completely alone. Not a single person – tourist or tour guide. I took several spectacular pictures of the structure and the area and was quite pleased with the change in the weather after all of the rain.
I thought I kept hearing cars approaching and then I realized it was the surf on the rocks below or in the distance. Yep I am a city boy. I actually heard ‘quiet’ for the first time here. Not a sound of civilization. Was very pleasant and peaceful.
I headed back through Port Aux Basques and up the TCH north towards Cornerbrook and saw some spectacular mountains. I stopped in Stephenville – which is a former large allied airbase of cold war vintage – and the main approach to the town is across the airfield’s former taxiways and beside fenced in piles of thousands of tired. There must be a facility to tear them apart as the different piles were in varying states of disassembly. My destination was a church in Port aux Port West which is the largest wooden structure on the island. It had a gorgeous barrel vaulted ceiling. And I was quite impressed with the architecture.
I napped by the side of the road somewhere between Stephenville and Cornerbrook I think and took some pics by coincidence of this abandoned saw mill. I had headed off the side of the road down a foot path to find a place to take a leak and found the place. The building was gone, just the concrete foundations were left. As was the caterpillar engine used to cut the wood and the now bent huge circular saw blade about 1.3M across. Everything was rusted brown from years outside. I also found a truck that had been left nearby and the trees had grown up around it. From the truck, and the tree growth, I would say it was an early 80s pick up. I was half expecting to find a body still in the driver’s seat… Too much CSI I think!
I drove around Cornerbrook getting completely lost and missing a nice sunset due to the poor directions of the front desk at the Comfort Inn. The WiFi made up for that, but still.
Oh, from Rose Blanche to Cornerbrook, I used the GPS with the laptop plugged in to a power converter. I set it to create a trail and it mapped my every move from A to B. this was very impressive. Only once did I lose the satellite connection when the receiver slipped off the dash and onto the floor and the laptop went to sleep. When I woke it up again, the GPS didn’t reacquire the signal and had to be set up again, but that was after 15km of driving. And I found that the KPH I was driving matched pretty much what the GPS was telling me was my speed. I would glance over at it now and then and take a look to confirm it. There is something about taking a quick look at it and knowing you are somewhere and knowing you can’t get lost. And knowing exactly how far you are from your destination is very helpful. FYI when I got lost in Cornerbrook, I left the laptop in the motel. ?
:: Mike Wood 13:09 [+] ::