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My Honeymoon trek.. NC to Newfoundland (Lots of Pics)
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Beaverboy
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:52 pm    Post subject: My Honeymoon trek.. NC to Newfoundland (Lots of Pics) Reply with quote

A week ago, my new bride, our dog and I finished up our two week long honeymoon trip to Newfoundland.

Before we left, I tackled a number of issues with the '84 vanagon.
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2...start=1332

Our original plan was to spend 4 days driving from our home in Western North Carolina to the ferry terminal in North Sydney, Nova Scotia. My wife had never been to Canada before, so we wanted to spend a little extra time in the Maritime provinces, so the plan was to rush to Maine, and then take our time from there.

Of course, things didn't go as planned. We got a late start due to a loud screeching sound from the van. I stopped by the auto parts store on the way out of town, convinced that it was the alternator belt, which I had tightened the day before the wedding. That wasn't it. I did adjust the belt tension, bought a spare belt and a can of starting fluid, as I was fairly sure the problem was actually a vacuum leak. I tried spraying down all the new vacuum hoses while the engine was running, but never got a change in idle. I shrugged, put my tools away and we drove on.

The first leg of our trip was exciting. There had been a VW campout at the NC/VA state line that weekend, so we saw about 6 or 7 Westies coming the other way and got enthusiastic waves from most.

Well, the screeching soon got louder and I pulled over just as we crossed into Virginia. We also had a small issue of the heat being slightly on.. and the bent control cable meant I couldn't turn it off in the cabin. It was fine to have a little heat when we started, but by then we were ready for cool air. I dropped the spare and turned off the heat, got the spare bolted back up and got ready to take another look at the mysterious shrieking vacuum leak.

Just as I was removing the engine cover, an early Golf with camping gear stacked to the ceiling pulled up behind us and a man got out and approached us. I gave him a nod while I set about gathering my tools. At first I assumed he had mistaken us for another ivory Westy owner... but then I realized he actually stopped to help! Awesome!

Turns out, he's Ronnie of The Bug Haus in Richmond, VA.

We chatted for a minute while I hunted down the leak. I was explaining to him that I had replaced most of the vacuum hoses between the throttle body and head... and as I went down the intake path I sprayed the starting fluid at each junction just to prove to him (and myself) that the leak wasn't from something that I had worked on. (go-go gadget ego) As I reached the end I said, "and I even replaced the intake manifold gaskets down here"... *spray* "stumble stumble stumble," went the engine. DOH! I had never torqued down the intake manifold after replacing the gaskets! Thanks to my new friend's expertise, I confidently cranked down on the bolts with enough pressure and started the engine back to the sound of no more shrieking.

I thanked him for taking the time to stop (at least, I hope I did.. I was fairly excited that we'd overcome the first obstacle on our trip) and we hit the road again confident that would be our last repair of the trip. Thanks, Ronnie!

We make it through VA without further fail.. and stop at a rest area in WV. My wife gives me crap for grinding the gears as we pull off the interstate. Turns out, the clutch wasn't disengaging. We're leaking fluid from the slave cylinder! We start asking other folks at the rest area if they're carrying any brake fluid (because for the first time in years, we weren't). No dice.. everyone has fairly new vehicles. Ah.. what about the truckers? "No. Air brakes. Sorry," responds one man. Another tells us that the Volvo tractors have some hydraulics. Still no luck. I've already tightened the loose fitting.. and I wasn't ready to sit and wait.. so we pushed the van out of it's parking spot, pushed it forward while it was idling, and I jumped in and managed to get it into first gear. Then I clutchless shifted it to the next exit where I caught a green light at the top of the ramp and pulled into a gas station. Sweet salvation! We bled the clutch in the parking lot of the gas station and were back on the road!

We made it as far as MD before we needed to stop again.. for food this time. We had been in such a rush getting our wedding together, we forgot to stock the van with food. I parked while my wife went into a market to get some groceries. When she came out the van wouldn't start. The starter wouldn't budge. Not ready to give up, and not ready to pound on the starter with a hammer.. I put my wife in the driver's seat and instructed her in pop-starting the van (I needed to push). She did great and had it running on the first try. As she climbed back into the passenger seat (she doesn't drive at night) she exlaimed, "Best.. honeymoon... EVER!"

The next issue that phased us didn't come until we were in Nova Scotia. We stopped for some road construction and the trucker behind us climbed out of his rig and approached us...
"Ya aren't plannin' to get on th' boat tanite areyah?"

He goes on to explain that one of the ferries suffered a fire that morning and that they had pulled some ships from other routes to cover for it. There were delays for most and cancellations for others. So instead of arriving in North Sydney and exploring for several hours we went straight for the ferry terminal.

Now, we'd originally intended to take the 16 hour ferry ride to Argentia, NL on the Eastern side and make the drive back to the West end of the island to pick up the return ferry a week later.
Google Maps: Planned Route

As it turns out, the fire damaged the other ship, but they were canceling our route to cover for it. Instead of getting on the ferry at 9pm, we got on it at 9am the next morning.... and took a ride to the wrong destination port!

On the plus side, they fully refunded our trip, and we didn't have any reservations to cancel or change... nor did we have any mandate for being on the East side of the island. It's a 9 hour drive from one side of Newfoundland to the other. We decided to simply alter our plans.
Google Maps: What we actually did.

We only had one more breakdown during the trip. The alternator belt kept getting loose. Finally it snapped. The coolant boiled over a little from the overflow tank (which I had left overfilled -DOH-). We replaced the alternator belt on the side of the road and happened upon a Canadian Tire shortly afterward. I picked up a gallon of premixed coolant, but wasn't sure how much we'd lost. We continued driving for another 10 minutes while I watched the temp gauge like a hawk. Sure enough, it pegs. We stop beside the road with a brilliant view of St. George's Bay.. and bleed/refill the coolant.

The next morning I put my head on straight and realize why the belt had been getting loose and why it eventually broke. I never tightened down the bottom bolt on the alternator after adjusting it. I could wiggle it an inch forward and back. DOH!! After tightening that.. the only other casualties we have to speak of are the winds hield (dump truck in NJ) and the driver's side window crank. It just snapped off in my hand.

We got disdainful looks, but the toll booth operators will participate in the transaction even if done through the vent/wing windows.

Thanks for reading.. On to the pics! Very Happy


Last edited by Beaverboy on Sun Aug 16, 2009 7:05 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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So, we'd barely left NC and we'd already stopped to fix the van twice... but we had 4 days to make the ferry, so we stopped at the Shot Tower (where I-77 crosses the New River in VA) to stretch our legs and walk the dog.

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Our first night.. we stopped off of I-78 in Still Valley, NJ and popped the top in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The Wal-Mart was closed by the time we arrived, so we never got a chance to ask permission.. so we were prepared to be chased off by the local cops (and we saw plenty of them), but we attracted no attention and were gone before the sun came up.

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My wife drove through NJ, NY & CT. I napped in the back. That's a portable toilet in the bottom right. She thought I was being ridiculous when I bought it.. but came to appreciate it before we'd even reached Canada. Wink We were using our iPhones for navigation duties.. just using the maps & traffic info.

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We stopped for breakfast in NJ and I spotted this when we returned to the car. That's right.. the first wildlife encounter of our trip.. the unmistakable track from a Jersey Tomaytah.

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Some ******* in a dump truck was going about 20 over on I-87, with large gravel flying out. All the cars he passed were slowing down and dropping back. We got hit with 3 pieces as he drove by.. one actually made it up to the windshield. Some guy in a 3 series managed to flag him down and they both pulled off the road.

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We had planned to drive through the Big Dig, but I knew that my wife really wanted to spend some time on the street level in Boston. That morning I got an email from a friend who used to live there. He said he wanted a pic of the Citgo sign. Suddenly we had a motive .. or rather, a scavenger hunt! We parked the van for 15 minutes and walked around the block.. spotted the back side of Fenley Park's scoreboard and were happy to see that Mal (the dog) was doing a fine job of ignoring strangers on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, he was trying his best to catch pigeons.

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We stopped for lunch just across the Maine state line and had some lobster rolls. My wife had only had lobster once before.. and never as a meal.

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We stopped at a Holiday Inn in Bath, ME so that we could have a shower. We were delighted to find out that they allowed dogs (it used to be illegal in NC for pets to be in a hotel room), so Mal got to watch the staff clean up the pool in the morning.

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We stopped at the overlook off of I-95 for Mt. Katahdin in central Maine.

When we crossed over the border, we had our van searched. Two young folks.. kinda scruffy looking and in a VW van.. we expected it. We walked the dog while the agent searched. He was sitting on the rear bench looking exasperated and talking to another agent when we got back. When we finally got the back in, I realized that he hadn't even made it into the rear bench. He'd twisted the knob off rather than lifting it.. and the knob was on the floor. I doubt he even found half of the storage nooks.

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Finally.. the turf roofed visitor center on route 95 in New Brunswick.

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We took lots of pictures of Southeast New Brunswick... all from a moving vehicle. Very beautiful place.

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Dinner at the cafe overlooking the reversing falls in Saint John, NB.

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I couldn't get Mal to poop in the proper area of the campground the next morning. I regret not getting some pictures of Saint John at night. The view from our site was spectacular.

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The causeway to Cape Breton Island, NS.

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(from L to R) Matchbox VW Bus, additional rear view mirror, Windowseat iPhone mount and the ever vigilant.. Casey Jones (TMNT).

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Mal's awesome dogbed.


Last edited by Beaverboy on Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:14 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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MacNeil's lighthouse as seen from the Seal Island Bridge on Cape Breton Island.

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Approaching North Sydney, NS.

Oh, look! A ferry! ... NOT YOURS. That's the MV Atlantic.. the one that suffered an engine room fire earlier that morning.

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We arrived and lined up at 4:30 in the morning for what we thought was our 6am ferry. That ended up being the MV Leif Ericson.... which didn't leave until sometime after 6am. We were more than a little brokenhearted that it was leaving without us.. but very shortly after, our ship arrived and there was a scurry of activity to get us onboard.

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Finally on the ship. We ended up shoving off at 10am.

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The MV Atlantic Vision.. the burnt up one.

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Newfoundland was dead ahead.. but we were so socked in by fog that we couldn't see it.

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Finally.. after traveling for 5 days, we spot a piece of Newfoundland! A harbor jetty in Channel-Port-aux-Basques!

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That evening we drove out to the Rose Blanche lighthouse. It was probably the coolest lighthouse of the 5 that we visited. Granite construction.. and it was a complete restoration.. all that had remained of the original was a portion of the tower.

We were also blown away by the landscape during the drive. We could only see about 300' due to the fog, but even so, it was incredible. It's all varying levels of solid rock, so there are little still ponds everywhere surrounded by heathers, berries and dwarfed trees that are growing in 4" of peatmoss. It was like driving through a model train set built by a landscape feature obsessed nut.

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That night we found a nice little site at an RV park near Codroy.

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The next morning we went to the Cape Anguille lighthouse. Beautiful weather.

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Nearby, in Saint Andrew's, was the Precious Blood RC Church. Story goes, it was put up by boat builders.

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Then we went back to Port-aux-Basques to check out a museum. They had a nifty snow plow.. I've seen one of these before on display in Northern PA (I think).
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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After that we went to see the Cape Ray lighthouse. There's a nifty little museum there (donations only) with some nifty paleo-eskimo artifacts and lots of information about the missing/sunk ships and lighthouses of the area.

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Mal needed some real exercise, so we headed to the beach. He's part Border Collie (obviously) and part Labrador. He's got the speed, energy and body shape of the border, but the webbed toes, thicker muzzle and gumption of a lab. He LOVES water.. and this was his first encounter with the ocean/waves.. so we took precautions.
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Another night at the RV park and then onto Corner Brook.

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The Newfoundland Railroad Society in Corner Brook. Very nifty collection of the trains that used to operate on Newfoundland up until 1988. They were narrow-gauge and operated under CN.

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I like trains. This stop was an unexpected treat.
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I've never been inside a Diesel-Electric locomotive cab. I've never seen one that's been decommissioned in the US. Parallel hybrids FTW!

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Inside the plow.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While driving around Corner Brook, a guy on the sidewalk takes a picture of our license plate and says to his friends, "North Carolina! That's far away!" Heh.

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Heading North.
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RV park outside of Deer Lake. One of these things is not like the others.
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I had a minor freak-out here. The butterfly house gave me the heebie jeebies.. the pinned sea spider had me heading for the door.
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My wife isn't a big wuss like I am.
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Lobster Cove Lighthouse in Gros Morne National Park.
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Mal gets a chance to run again, once we're North of the Park.

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Route 430 up the Western coast is impressive. Not quite the Pacific Coast Highway.. but very similar.

So, I'd been looking out for moose since we got to Maine. I was getting a little upset that we hadn't seen any. Then...





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Hey, moose! Do something, moose! I thought about walking out and beating it with a stick just so that I could use the term "beating a dead moose" in the future.. but one step into to the vegetation and I realized why moose are so tall. It was deep.. and soft.. and I wouldn't have a chance to run from the coyotes if they showed up.

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Iceberg! Just before route 430 peeled away from the coast (to head East towards St. Anthony) we spotted this. It was small.. the iceberg 'season' has been over for months at this point.

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We finally made it to St. Anthony and got one of the last open spots at an RV park. The air temps went from shorts weather to parka weather during the previous 50 miles. This part of Newfoundland is blasted with air off the currents that flow down from Baffin Island. Brrr.

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L'Anse aux Meadows.. finally.
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The site of the first (known) iron forge in the new world.

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My wife.. probably wondering when I'm going to stop playing with the camera.

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The site of one of the viking houses.


Last edited by Beaverboy on Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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L'Anse aux Meadows, like most of Newfounland, can't really be summed up in pictures (even if you've "got a good camera"). It's an extraordinary place with more texture and variety than a camera's optics can really capture.

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Back in St. Anthony we visited the "Grenfell Experience".. a museum dedicated to a Doctor/Missionary (Sir Wilfred Grenfell) who basically brought modern medical care to Northern Newfoundland and Labrador starting in the late 1800's. My wife is an RN and is starting on her MSN this fall.
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The falls adjacent to our RV park. We were wondering why it was called the Triple Falls RV park.
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Heading back South.. I finally spot another..
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Moose! Hey moose!
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My wife spotted the second one.
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We camped near the beach.

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Mal loves the whole 'no leash' thing.
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We were basically camping near a scrap heap surrounded by ATV trails. Whatever. It was clean.. and wide open... and nobody told us to leave.

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The waves smacking up against the rocks scare Mal from a good 150' away.
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I'm calling him, and he's unsure of whether or not he's more afraid of me being mad at him or of the big mean waves.
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Lots of flowers in bloom... everywhere.

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A dry dock we spotted the next morning.
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A Rock Lobster!
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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The Dark Tickle "jam room". They make jams and syrups from the berries found all over the meadows. Tasty stuff. That's a bowl full of bakeapple berries (aka cloudberry).

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We went to this little museum and had two lovely Newfie girls as our guides.
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There are very few tweens in Western NL from what we saw. Lots of kids, lots of middle-aged folks.. but very few young adults. Apparently very few want to hang around little fishing villages once they're old enough to move out.. but many of them seem to return to raise their kids.

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The Arches. The ones formed from Granite layering on top of limestone.. not to be confused with the arches with the McRib (or McLobster if you're in Nova Scotia).
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We all had to climb them.. even the dog.
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Amateur inukshuks near The Arches.
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One of the hundreds of little fishing village ghost towns seen up and down the coast. These places are only used during the fishing season (mostly the 10 week lobster season) and used as storage for dorys, lobster traps and nets the rest of the year.
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A reproduction seasonal fishing settlement from the mid 20th century in Gros Morne.
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She was explaining how the cod nets are used with this model.
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Me, taking a shot of Gros Morne with my iPhone.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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We made our way out to Cox's Cove for our last night in NL. We were hoping to find a place along the beach like we had previously. No luck.. the flat land was a prime commodity in the cove. We didn't want to park near anyone's house to camp.

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Fortunately, we spotted these cabins (top right) just as we were getting into the van to leave town. $50/night. What a deal.
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So, as we were checking into the cabins, we noticed a flyer on the wall for traditional fishing dory tours of the bay. The cabin keeper called the guy up for us and he came out. Darren Park was his name. For a very reasonable charge we got a tour of the bay (including ospreys and eagles) and got to do some fishing. It was open season on cod, mackerel and perch. We filled up a 5 gallon bucket with a combination of the 3 while he answered some of our many lingering questions about western fisherman-Newfie life. After that, we went to shore at his fishing cabin (across the bay from Cox's Cove) and he boiled up some mussels in seawater. Delicious! Anyone looking for a great guide for all seasons in the area just North of Corner Brook should look him up. It was the high point of an already stellar trip.

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Darren
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The dory. I was amazed at how sturdy this thing was. For being a bunch of pine planks strung together, it's incredibly solid and a decent ride through the waves.
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The bucket of fish. The small cod (~10lbs) was already out and being filleted. Darren gave us all of it.

From the advice of everyone I'd talked to prior to the trip.. I'd been on the lookout for a Jiggs Dinner. Every time we went to a restaurant we'd see the info about theirs on the board.. and it was always either the night before or the next night. Well, we'd had no luck all week, so on our last afternoon, we headed to a place we'd already been in Codroy to sample their Jiggs Dinner because we knew they'd have it on Thursdays.

Darn. They don't have enough stuff left... for two plates. My wife had a cod plate.. I had the Jiggs.


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OMG! Delicious!

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One last leash-free romp before we board the ferry home. Our ferry was due to leave at 1am.

... it was delayed. 4 hours. We boarded for the (now) 5am ferry at 3:30.
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We were glad to have a room for this trip.. it was much longer than the first. 8 hours total.

This was the MV Atlantic Vision.. the burnt one. They'd patched things up and had it back in service. It's about 10 years newer than the Joseph & Clara Smallwood that we rode earlier.
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It was kinda posh inside.
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Rossignol trashcan in the head. Awesome!
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The best shower of our trip.. was on the ship??? Yup.
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Beaverboy
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Ready to hit the road.. ~5 hours later than we had hoped.
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Mal.. still drowsy from the Benedryl.
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An insane storm front we drove into in New Brunswick.
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Old Town Canoes in Old Town, ME.
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Halfway home. Had to stop for some NY style pizza. No time to clean up.
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The Bronx.
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The George Washington Bridge! Not a big deal for those of you in the Tri-State area.. but a huge deal for me. The original plan was to drive through Manhattan in the early morning during the drive North.. but we were too far behind schedule then.. and now. This was about 5pm.. very little traffic.
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Stopped traffic in the Northbound lanes.. for many miles into Jersey.

We drove on until we got tired.. then I drank a giant coffee and drove some more. I finally started to crash around 3am just South of Staunton, VA. I pulled into a truck stop and crashed. My wife, who had taken a brief nap and wasn't suffering from a stimulant crash.. couldn't sleep with all the noise from the idling rigs. She tried to sleep for a few hours than shook me awake and drove us home. She didn't tell me that she'd only had about 3 hours sleep (including the nap) until...
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... we pulled into the driveway.
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Finally back home. The trip odometer had turned over '999.9' 4 times.

4,767 miles. That's 7,671km.

Most importantly.. we weren't tired of the van, of the dog or each other.

.. and of course, we aren't tired of Newfoundland. We're going back someday, that's for sure.

----------------

and the stuff I forgot.

[edit] Such as the alpaca farm!
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^^^ llama vvv
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And where we tried to drive up the road to the summit of the Table Mountain... but failed. We sank into the dirt. We had been told by a lady that the road was definitely 4X4 only.. so I took it as a challenge.
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.. and I had really hoped to camp up top that evening. *sigh*
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:47 am    Post subject: Fascinating! Reply with quote

First of all, congratulations to you both on your marriage, and I wish you both a long life of shared joy and adventure.

What a fascinating, beautifully-illustrated post! Thank you for the time it took to tell us of your adventures, and misadventures...

'84 Vanagons are gurus for many of us apprentice gearheads. The lesson they teach, with infinite labor and suffering--ours--is...

HUMILITY

Shocked

But, it has to come from somewhere.

Best!
_________________
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many ways, but never, never, never in silence."
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fastwagens
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice trip, nice pics.
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stormforge
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! What a fun and inspirational adventure. Thanks for sharing all the great pictures!

-Bill
'89 Syncro
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Randy in Maine
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice trip. I hav never been to Newfoundland. I need to go.

However, I do have "Great Big Sea" on the stereo right now.
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great trip and GREAT attitude! Very Happy

It is obvious you both have what it takes to really enjoy a Westy. I'm sure that in a short while that your Westy will be sorted out and you'll be able to handle just about anything while you are on the road.

I too have been to some of that portion of the NE and it really is beautiful country.

Keep having fun. Very Happy
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Dave O
'87 Westy w/ 2002 Subaru EJ25 and Peloquin TBD

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive." Robert Louis Stevenson

MD>Canada>AK>WA>OR>CA>AZ>UT>WY>SD
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=620646

Building a bus for travel in Europe (euroBus)
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=695371

The West Coast Westy
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=746794
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taigagreen
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was a great read Very Happy

Definately makes me want to take my camper to North America Very Happy
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Emeritusx
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for this wonderful Sunday Morning read... It felt like I was there..
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camit34
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds and looks like a great trip!!!
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wavanagon
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing the stories and pics! It made working on Sunday a lot easier!
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Raynor Shine
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beaverboy- thanks for sharing, forgot how cool it is there. Its been many years. The pics made me feel like I went with you . great story telling.
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Beaverboy
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, thank you guys (Sambaistas) for helping me get the van back on the road. This trip never would have happened for me without this place answering all my questions.
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