Earlier in the day, we had spotted it. A jagged, raw strut of land that reached out defiantly to the sea. It was the perfect vantage point.
After riding around through the small fishing villages that are tucked away along the northwest coast of Newfoundland, we rode back over to the cliff as the sun was starting to lower. We took the bikes as far as we could on the single track leading up to the hills and eventually left them with cameras and drone in tow to hike up.
And suddenly we were there, all alone on a remote cliff's edge at what seemed like the end of the world. The wind screamed through us, the sun dragged across the rugged landscape, and 800 feet below us, an impossibly blue iceberg took it's final stand.
The night before leaving Gros Morne National Park, we hit up a few out of the way places where my drone wouldn't be a problem. These things have become a public enemy as of late, mostly because there is a group of pilots that can't figure out that they shouldn't fly in heavily populated areas. It's all common sense to me. Either way, the video we can get from it is so cool. I'm excited to put one together at the end of this trip.
We headed north towards Twilingate because we had heard there were icebergs in the area. At a gas stop, however, someone told us about www.icebergfinder.com which shows confirmed iceberg sightings (I don't know why, but I'm kind of obsessed with this site). So, seeing a ton of ice near the less populated, harder to get to St. Anthony, we made our way north. We ended up near this place, about as far north as you can go in Newfoundland:
We spent a couple of days riding around the nearby towns and scoping out areas to take pics of icebergs. It was unsurprisingly freezing, by the way...
It sounds a little hokey, but the Viking Village was actually kind of great. Some people built a traditional Viking vessel and actually sailed it up here several years ago. Also, with my now formidable beard I think I'm becoming more viking-like every day...
Then, one evening we had our "moment" of the trip. At this point in our marriage we can just look at each other with a certain expression, and our complete and utter feeling of gratitude is conveyed. I flew the drone for awhile, Kris took some pics, but more than anything we just soaked it in.
The next day, we rode our bikes down another dirt track to run into some more icebergs that were seemingly way too far away. I learned something that day: I'm reckless with my drone and my range is about 2000 feet away. The shots are so cool though!
After a quick dance with masked women and a lobster bake, we headed back south wishing we had way more time to explore the island. We only scraped the tip of the iceberg (just horrible, lazy word play there but you know you like it) of Newfoundland and we will be back. We HAVE to come back.
As is reinforced by where we've chosen to travel, Kristen and I are a bit hooked on seeing the ends of the earth. There's a certain feel to those exposed tips of civilization that seem to draw us near. We've felt this rawness in Patagonia, certainly in Tierra del Fuego in South America, on the Dempster Highway while crossing into the town of Inuvik in the Arctic of Canada, on the tiny blip of land in the South Pacific called Ha'apai, and now on the island of Newfoundland.
Don't get me wrong, Newfoundland is very civilized. It's not even all that difficult to get to but this environment is a HARSH place to survive. As evidenced by how the trees along the coast have bent over sideways due to chronic harassment from wicked winds, this is a place of extremes. And let me tell you, it is not lacking for rugged beauty.
There are two options for ferries across the Cabot Straight - a 7 hour ride to the southwest town of Channel Port aux Basques or an over-night, 16 hour ride to the far east town of Placencia. We opted for the shorter as we thought we would have an easy time running around the whole island and back in a week. Turns out Newfoundland is much bigger than we imagined and it's nearly impossible to not stop every few minutes to take a photo.
Our first stop was the national park of Gros Morne. We had originally planned to only stay for one night but ended up there for several days hugely because of the amazing campsite we ended up with.
We spent several days just exploring the epicness (not a word?) of Gros Morne. What's interesting about the park is that we found it to be fairly underdeveloped, which is actually pretty awesome. There are some killer back country backpacking routes to absolute wilderness that we would have loved to do if we would have brought the right gear. Next time...
One of the biggest draws of the park is Western Brook Pond. A glacially carved valley of the most grandiose proportions, it is well worth the effort. There are a couple ways to view it, including a 25 mile back-country hike that Kristen and I are definitely coming back for some day.
This is as close as we got to a particular outlook that I really wanted a photo from - I mean, I was straight obsessed. Next time I will not be denied.
We were there during such harsh light and it was still astounding. We're coming back for you Gros Morne. Look out.
The overarching goal of this particular trip, even more so than actually getting up to Newfoundland, is to give Kristen some seat time with her new Ducati. (Have I mentioned how proud I am that she’s so committed to become a better and experienced rider?!). We have some more lofty trips planned in the nearish future, so Kris is trying to figure out just how much solo riding she may or may not want to do.
So we’ve been on the hunt for interesting rides as we’ve made our way north and one loop that kept coming up as we talked to people was something called the Cabot Trail. It sits at the tip of Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island and is only 190 miles or so. Most people told us it was going to take most of a day to ride it which made no sense since it’s seemingly a pretty short distance. Ten and a half hours later…
We didn't do much research on the loop which turned out to be a good and bad thing. The good: our minds were blown when it turned out that this thing is the truncated, Canadian equivalent of the Pacific Coast Highway in California. Like it is for real a stunner. The bad: it is FOR REAL a stunner and we couldn't stop taking pictures. Also, I strapped my new 3DR Solo on the bike and flew my drone a bunch of times, causing even further delays.
Pretty much all of Nova Scotia has been having a crazy cold snap with a ton of rain, so we were super grateful for the sunny, 55 degree weather. July in Canada, who knew.
Probably the best piece of advice we could give to anyone visiting this area: head up to Meat Cove. It sounds gross and at the end of a gravel, twisty road but it has some of the most epic, empty coastline on the whole loop. Once we left the pavement, we were pretty much by ourselves.
If the Cabot Trail loop is a clock (stay with me here), Meat Cove is at about noon. Our stuff was down at about 4 o'clock and we were riding the loop counter clockwise... Wow, this is a convoluted explanation. What I'm trying to say is that by the time we left Meat Cove we had already been riding for about 6 hours and we were only halfway through the loop. So we did what we always do in a time crunch: let's take more pics!
We had been told to watch out for moose and for good reason. We rolled up on an adolescent male that looked about as big as a Clydesdale horse. Kinda blew us both away, to be honest.
All in all, it was exactly the kind of thing that we were looking for on this trip. It gave Kristen some new challenges and she tore through them. I can admit we were both pretty beat at the end of the day after 10.5 hours of riding in the mountains but it was just so, so good.
Kristen's grandmother, Nana, was a fiercely witty, God-fearing, well-traveled woman with a gypsy's love for wandering. Everyone in the family is fairly certain that Kris inherited some of her adventurer's spirit naturally.
For years we've talked of going to Nova Scotia because of Nana's love for the area. And so, in a pilgrimage of sorts, we spent several days taking it all in.
We had majorly false notions about what this whole area was like. I don't know why, but both of us kind of figured that both coasts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia would be lined with towns and tourist traps. Turns out it is heavily wooded and super wild. We were very pleasantly surprised.
The Bay of Fundy is kind of a big deal around here. With a massive tide recession (allegedly the biggest in the world), secret caverns and sites like the Hopewell Rocks are revealed on the coast every day.
The extra long days actually saved us at the Hopewell Rocks. We rolled in at about 9 PM (mainly because someone had told us that low tide happened between 9 and 10) to find that the park was closed. We ended up running fairly blindly down unmarked trails trying to find the beach in hopes of catching some photos before it was too dark. The effort paid off with us having access to a totally deserted site.
As a kid I was forced against my will to watch Anne of Green Gables over and over and over again by my older sister when all I wanted to do was watch another episode of Knight Rider or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Because of my ingrained suffering, we had to visit Prince Edward Island and the "house" that inspired the setting of Anne of GG. The island greeted us with windy and rainy conditions, soaking us on our way to the farm. We promptly rode off to the tune of a $46 bridge toll so that's cool. Gilbert would have understood my frustration.
The highlight was Peggy's Cove, an area west of Halifax. Again, we had no idea what the expect but the entire region is very PNWish, which we like very much.
Plus, who doesn't like a good lighthouse, eh?.
All in all, the whole area was pretty chill and perfectly easy to ride around. We get it, Nana!