REPORT ON "DOWN EAST" TRIP
July 20 - Aug. 14, 2008
6269 km (4,000 miles)
Happy Easter! -- high time that we reported on last Summer's trip "Down East".
First stop was for Quebec City, located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. We stayed near the Trans-Canada Highway, on the Levis (south) side at "Camping Transit". One can ferry to the centre of the city, with or without a vehicle. We opted to back-haul a bit and cross via the bridge for an interesting full day in historic Quebec City.
Prince Edward Island, via the new Confederation Bridge, was tranquil. Hint: to PEI, bridge or ferry, is free. Back to the mainland costs, more via the ferry. We were the only FGRV at Abrams Village, for the 2008 Atlantic Fiddlers' Jamboree. Cavendish and Stanhope National Parks still have great beaches but basic camping. Other federal campgrounds nearby are abandoned and reverting to nature; probably due to pressure from local private operators. Charlottetown's waterfront is worthwhile and lively. We camped within sight of it at Southport Motel & Campground, a short drive around the bay, over a bridge.
We have commented here previously about traveling without a set schedule and just showing up at the ferry from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. First available reservation was in about one week's time!!! Yikes! But we stood by, on the dock, with dozens of other vehicles and we all got out on an extra sailing about 03:00 the same night (morning). We didn't know how long we would stay, and had exactly the same show-up-and-go experience for our return to the mainland..
In fairness to Marine Atlantic, they appear to save a percentage of capacity for commercial traffic, their bread-and-butter. If a full complement of trucks doesn't materialize, they are quite happy to have automobiles waiting. And while you can't use your trailer on the ship, you can on the dock. We were allowed to fire-up our propane refrigerator
(to keep the beer cold) and had a few hours of sleep before boarding. Besides, the ferry dock is a fun place to hang out for a while — restaurants, showers, entertainment and lots of people to watch.
Having "done" Gros Morne National Park and St. John's some 15 years back, we opted this time to travel up the Great Northern Peninsula to St. Anthony (saw about 20 whales but it wasn't iceberg season), and L'Anse aux Meadows, a reconstructed National Historic Site settled by Vikings around the year 1000. Well done, sod dwellings, fascinating!. The road was patchy in spots but overall very good. Of interest were vegetable gardens in roadside ditches, miles from any housing, and row upon row of firewood, up to 8 bush cords can be cut from Crown Lands for a $21. permit. Saw 5 moose individually; 660 collided with cars last year.
Back within Gros Morne, bought fresh cod fillets (yum) at dockside shop in Rocky Harbour, enjoyed basic camping with fabulous views at "The Water's Edge", Woody Point, and hiked Green Gardens and Tablelands — unique, turned-out bowels of the earth.
On Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, spent a few days at lovely Ingonish Beach, as planned, but were disappointed in the terrible condition of the Cabot Trail, to that point at least.
Homeward bound we enjoyed a stop in picturesque St. Andrews, NB; took the tour, including a sample, at Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory, Montpelier, VT, then followed pastoral Route 2, practically up the middle of Lake Champlain, through NY (lots of wind turbines) to ON.
All in all, we experienced many new facets in a thoroughly pleasant refresher trip.