Monday, August 08, 2005

Rocky Harbor, Newfoundland

Only the very hearty need apply to join this community at Salvage Harbour, Newfoundland.

10:30 p.m. KOA near Rocky Harbor

After a late start (1:00 p.m.), we rode about 300 miles today, nearly the width of Newfoundland. Arrived in town around twilight. The small village of Rocky Harbor was bustling with tourists.

A beautiful, almost startling landscape here at the edge of Gros Morne National Park, Gros Morne peak looming ominously to the north. Just up the road a few miles, we saw our first moose, a cow and calf. Cars had pulled over, people grabbing cameras and approaching the animals half hidden in the woods alongside the highway. Some kind of a mammal (fox-like, but not a fox) was cautiously approaching a car that had stopped in the roadway. Except for a wide variety of birds, this was the most wildlife we've seen up here in Newfoundland.

The roads into Gros Morne offer great sweeping curves, but the speed limit drops to 80 KPH. Jeff and I disregarded this, allowing traffic to pull far ahead before we dove into the turns with wide-open throttles.

In Deer Lake we stopped at the Visitors Center. The young woman working there was preparing to close up. Jeff asked about local motels. She thought we'd probably have to pay about $120. I didn't want to spend the money here. She then provided information on a whole host of camping facilities around Rocky Harbor. This convinced us to press onward to Rocky Harbor, about 40 miles further.


Began the day, following Hayley's advice, with a ride out to Salvage Harbour, a wonderful, picturesque fishing village nestled in the rocky headlands. Basque fishermen used this harbor in the early 1600s and it was settled by the mid-1600s.

Parked the bikes and I walked the perimeter of the harbor, observing it from different angles and snapping a few photos. Outside numerous houses I passed, men young and old were busy with repairs. I imagine the weather is not often so conducive to working shirtless outside. Along the wharfs, crab pots and lobster traps were idly stacked.

Salvage ("solve-AGE") Harbour, Newfoundland

Salvage Harbour, Newfoundland

Paused to watch a fishing boat crew inspecting a purse seine net in preparation for the mackerel season, which opens next week. I could barely understand the older fishermen. ("What language are they speaking?")

I asked a younger fellow, who appeared to be the skipper, if it's often this sunny. “It’s warm, but wait around. We can have three seasons in a day here.”

Preparing a purse seine net for the mackerel season.

Typical Newfoundland shoreline.

Again following Hayley's suggestion, we stopped for lunch at "Killick's Restaurant" in Salvage. Jeff looked over the menu and asked our server, who was sniffling from a cold,

“Is the Killick Deluxe Burger good, very good or great?”

“It’s good.”

“Then what do you recommend?”

“I don’t know. I’m sick of eating everything.”


Something smelled really good. I asked her what they were making in the kitchen.

"I don't know."

Obviously, she didn't have a trace of curiosity.

So, I asked a more mature woman who had come out of the kitchen.

"Do you know what smells so good back there?"

"I don't know. They're always cooking up something," she replied, and moved on.

Jeff ordered a regular hamburger plus French fries "with dressing and gravy." I opted for a club sandwich. The portions were very large (as were many of the patrons, coincidentally.)

A club sandwich with a few fries at "Killick's". Sorry about the "Pepsi". I prefer "Coke".

A typical local meal. A small order of "fries with stuffing and gravy," and a standard, non-deluxe, burger at "Killick's Restaurant," Salvage, Newfoundland.

"Jeff's Island". Near Salvage, Newfoundland. He want's to buy it. Probably a slightly different scene in January.

Another one for Drew. Perfect point break at Eastport, Newfoundland, and no one's out there! Surf was running 8 to 12 this day. Inches, that is.

After lunch, moved on to the city of Gander. Strange weather coming out of the west; tropical-looking storm clouds. The chorus of "Sally Ann", a Natalie Merchant song, runs in my head. It in some way expresses the feel of this land.

Approaching Gander, a C-130 cargo plane crossed low over highway, then we saw a sign for the "Silent Witness Memorial." We followed a dirt road down the hill toward Gander Lake, until we came upon another large sign with the insignia of the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division ("The Screaming Eagles"). A memorial marks the site where, on December 12, 1985, an aircraft carrying 248 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division and a crew of 8 crashed less than a half-mile after take-off from Gander International Airport. All 256 perished. Jeff had served with the 101st in Vietnam, and I'm sure felt a connection to these soldiers. (Jeff also flew on C-130s as an Air Force Crew Chief.)

At the west end of Gander International Airport is the "Silent Witness Memorial" at the site where, on December 12, 1985, an aircraft carrying 248 soldiers from the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division, and a crew of 8 crashed on take-off. All 256 perished.

Once a heavily-wooded area, the forest was leveled by the inferno that followed the crash.

Marker at "Silent Witness Memorial."

Stopped in Gander to refuel and get something to drink. There we met two characters from Grand Falls on Suzuki Cruisers. They were all decked out in leathers, serious riders. They said, for the “real bikers” (like them) the riding season up here lasts from March to November. A call to one of them from the "little woman" back at home told of rain heading our way.

Jeff called his doctor in Vermont to reschedule tomorrow’s appointment. I don't think we'll make it back in time.

Near Grand Falls, we started to run into a few showers; nothing worth donning the raingear for. In front of us, a thunderhead was coming across the mountains, traveling in our direction. We paused at an underpass to discuss the plan. "Keep going," we agreed.

On a collision course with the storm, making a high-speed run through the middle of it, lightning struck to the right of the highway, then to the left. And suddenly we were sailing along on a causeway! I could only hope that the power lines off to the side would be a better antenna than our motorcycles. Jeff out ahead, we were racing along at 80-85 mph, running under the storm, now dumping rain. Would I even know it if I were struck, or would everything just go blank? I just kept my head down and clenched my teeth, and hoped I wouldn't start feeling my hair stand on end (the static build-up that sometimes precedes a lightning strike.)

After about five miles, we broke into the sun and the tension began to ease. I could sit up in the saddle and relax again.

We kept up a steady pace, over 70 mph, across the island, and confirmed that you really DON'T see too much from the Trans Canada Highway. Under sunny skies again, the temperature soared back into the upper 80s.

Jeff got a chance to read my blog yesterday. Consequently, there is a new rule: no photographs of him!

All day long the Salmonellosis still bothered me. There's a lump in my gut from that heavy lunch in Salvage.

Learned that Jeff has only a one-day supply of his meds left. He had anticipated being out on the road until August 10th, and packed precisely what was needed for that duration. I was unaware of this and had treated the timing of our trip as rather open-ended. I should have communicated better.


Anonymous said...

I've travelled to Newfoundland a good many times! I think that place is wonderful, and we had excellent service! I think your very ignorant and if your going to be so pessimistic then maybe you should stop travelling! I don't know why your complaining about the portion sizing, you aren't exactly small yourself (coincidence)!!
*The Happy Traveller*

timtraveler said...

Well, it's refreshing to have someone challenge my observations.

I certainly would like to have another look at New Foundland. We crossed the island in too much of a hurry.

Thanks "Happy"!