Final days in Central Newfoundland
It was so quiet at 6am in the fishing village of Triton. Not a ripple on the water, the boats so still that the scene looked like a painting. The sky was a brilliant blue without a cloud breaking its saturation. I had woken far to early, but my reward was a sensational sunrise over the harbor. After taking a few photos I launched my quad-copter for some area footage of the area. I soon went back to my room at the Blue Water Inn to shower and pack up. I then had a lovely breakfast on the deck overlooking the water at Fudge’s Restaurant. After my meal I inhaled a gulp of fresh air coming off the water. The sight was simply stunning. I could have sat there much longer than I did, but had a full day of exploring ahead of me.
Just down the street I stopped by the Triton Sperm Whale Museum where I met Terry, the curator of the museum. I would have to think long and hard before I could recall someone more passionate, enthusiastic and knowledgeable about a museum display. The stories and information Terry told me about whales, specifically the Sperm Whale, was captivating. Come to find out, Terry was a school teacher for a great number of years , which made sense given his clear ability to educate. After I left, I couldn’t help but think how lucky Terry’s students must have been to have him as a teacher.
The day was so glorious that I wanted to get out and go on a hike. I had asked Terry if you could make a few suggestions before I left the museum. With directions in hand I continued driving through Triton and eventually went through another small village called Brighton, where the road eventually stopped. Just before the end of the road was a hike up a bluff through a forested area, back down the other side exposed a rugged coastline where the waves were crashing up on the rocks. The views and the serenity of the hike was just what I needed.
Back in the car I drove out of Brighton and through Triton toward Pilley’s Island. From there I boarded a ferry en route to Long Island, which took all of 6 minutes. I was famished, so I stopped by the only place in town to grab a cup of soup. The island has but a couple hundred residents, similar to many of the other villages I was driving through, so everyone of course knew I was not from around those parts. As soon as I spoke, they instantly knew I was not Newfoundlander and were a gasp when I told them I was from Arizona. “A mighty long way away” some would say. Everyone I met, everywhere I went, was so incredibly friendly and hospitable. I will be sharing some of the stories of people I met in the upcoming article I write on Central Newfoundland.
After exploring Long Island a bit, I headed back to the ferry. There were only two crossings left for the day, and the ferry only had a 12-or-so car capacity. I didn’t want to get stuck on the other side, so I headed back early with a buffer of one ferry crossing left. It ended up that I was the last car on the ferry.
It was getting late so I headed toward Grand Falls-Windsor since I had reservations in the area the next day to go rafting. I stayed at the Hotel Robin Hood, a motel that clearly has not robbed from the rich to give to the poor. It was a generic run-of-the-mill motel. Given the size of the town, I was surprised there were not better lodging choices. Even the restaurant scene was dismal. The one place that looked promising, 48 High, was closed. I had to settle for some crappy fish & chips for dinner that night.
The next day I headed to Rafting Newfoundland a guided rafting tour company offering a variety of trips down the Exploits River. The trip I signed up for was about four hours long. After everyone arrived, we donned our wet suits and life jackets and boarded a bus with three rafts in tow. About 15 minutes later, we were at the put-in point, where we received some last minute instruction and boarded the boats. I’ve been rafting and kayaking many times before, but what set this trip apart was the sheer enthusiasm of the guides, they made every effort to make sure not only was everyone safe, but had a great time. The Exploits river was not the most adventurous river I’ve ever been down, but it was fun nonetheless. We navigated a few class two rapids the first part of the day, then we stopped for a snack break where everyone had an opportunity to get out of the boats and stretch. Those interested could get back in a boat, and with a guide, paddle back upstream to a hole, where if timed just right, you could get the raft nearly vertical. It was a blast! There was plenty of antics along the way too with splash fights during the slower stretches of the river. We ended our trip at the starting point where the bus took us upstream. After peeling off our wet suits and getting changed, the guides had hamburgers and hotdogs waiting for us.
From Grand Falls-Windosr I headed back to Gander and checked into the Comfort Inn again. This time, I was given one of their newly remolded rooms, which I have to say was pretty nice. I’ve actually stayed in quite a few Comfort Inns and this was certainly one of the nicest rooms I can recall ever staying in. The Comfort Inn in Gander would be my home base for the next few days.
The following day pissed rain the entire day, so I just putzed around town. I heard that the Gander Airport sometimes offered tours of the International terminal, so I went down there to check it out. I had to wait around for about 45 minutes while they cleared one of the few flights on the tarmac. I waited along with another guy who was also interested in the tour. I did not realize that the Gandar Airport has quite a few well known stories to tell. I’ll be sharing some in my upcoming article.
After the airport tour I went to the North Atlantic Aviation Museum, which has a variety of artifacts and displays chronicling Gander’s role in the development of transatlantic aviation. I also learned the story behind a piece of World Trade Center steel that’s in the museum, which again, I’ll share in my article on Central Newfoundland. The story is so fascinating I ended up getting the book, “The Day The World Came To Town.”
I then went back to my hotel room for a while to do some work and finally ended the day having one of the best meals while in Central Newfoundland at Bistro on Roe. The restaurant is located in what looks like a strip center. It didn’t look all that appealing from the outside, but once in, the open space is quite inviting, with original local artwork adorning the walls. In the front of the restaurant is a lovely bar. The dining tables had intricate ironwork I immediately saw as soon as I sat down. My meal was so good that I ended up eating at the Bistro the next night too.
My last day in town I drove about an hour southeast of Gander to Terra Nova National Park, which I found to be quite stunning. In many ways, it might have been the most beautiful area of Central Newfoundland that I visited. It was my last opportunity to see some whales, so I went out on a zodiac with Happy Adventure Tours. It was very late in the whale watching season, so as predicted by many, no whales were seen. It was however still an enjoyable tour as our guide took us to some really cool coves and harbors. After the tour I drove to The Inn at Happy Adventure (same company) for some lunch and then a sea kayak tour where we entered sheltered inlets and fjords, which provided scenic highways to abandoned island which are now nesting areas for eagles, puffins and other wild animals. Our guide was telling us that during the whale season that the massive creatures will come right up to the kayaks. I told him that would probably scare the bejesus out of me. I can imagine that if you escaped unharmed, it would be an incredible experience to look back on.
All-in-all it was a fantastic trip to Central Newfoundland. I have to get up in the wee hours of the night to catch a 5am flight to Toronto en route home to Phoenix. Please check back soon for more photos, stories and videos from Central Newfoundland. Click here to read my previous update from the region.