• The Ultimate Road Trip Newfoundland to Barrie, ON and Return

    May 1, 2011
  • Hubby and I had often talked about someday taking a significant road trip out of Newfoundland to mainland North America. About four months before I retired we purchased a new car, a 2011 Susuki Kizashi, a beautiful road car if there ever was one, lots of horses under the hood, AWD and a premium speaker system the Rockford Fosgate. This gave us the idea that perhpas now would be the ideal time for a road trip.

    Going on the road to Barrie!

    Once the snow started to go and it was safe to drive across Newfoundland, we decided in late April to go for it. Our daughter in Barrie needed a babysitter so that she and her hubby could take a well deserved vacation down south. Our services were required the first of May so we left about a week before on our journey off the Rock to mainland Canada. Many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians make this trip every year to visit sons and daughters and grandchildren who have become a major export from our province to find employment.

    Day 1 – April 23-Saturday

    The drive across Newfoundland took about ten hours. Our Kizashi did not dissapoint. A great drive, with light traffic, the Mounties were scarce so we made good time. The weather was perfect for late April. Our first pit stop was at a roadside Irving in Clarenville. The bathrooms were very clean, as are the case with most of the Irvings we visited along the way. You get to appreciate the clean bathrooms with a good supply of toiletries.

    We stopped for lunch in Gander at the Jungle Jims right off the TCH (very convenient). We both had the Normie Burgers, 2 for $12.00, a special lunch deal. The burgers were really good as they are at most of the Jungle Jim Restaurants, however, some are better than others. Our favorite is the Jungle Jims in Bay Roberts, NL.

    Our afternoon drive through our fair province was nice, the weather great and the scenery was wonderful. The highway across Newfoundland is in pretty good shape. There were some rough spots around Sandy Lake which you need to watch out for. Our next pit stop was the Irving in Deer Lake. The washroom here was not as clean as the one in Clarenville, but it was later in the day. The Irving in Deer Lake actually has showers. 

    The Grand Moose in Deer Lake outside the Irving!

    There is a grand Moose sculpture in front of the restaurant which I am sure is well photographed.

    The TCH through the Humber Valley is a beautiful road, twinned four lane highway. The scenery is spectacular, with the mountains, Deer Lake and the Humber River. The TCH down the west coast of Newfoundland is in pretty good shape with a small number of rough spots. There were a number of bridges being upgraded which required detours which you have to take slowly if you care about your vehicle. The scenery also impresses as you pass through the Codroy Valley to Port aux Basques.

    The Snow topped Table Mountains

    The Table Mountains in late April really stand out with broad expanses of white snow on their flat tops. We stopped to take photographs.

    Sunset over the Gulf of St. Lawrence

    The sunset over the Gulf of St. Lawrence was very pretty, reminiscent of Treasure Island without the heat. 

    About 15km out of  Port aux Basques you encounter an interesting area known as the Wreckhouse. A most beautiful area of the province, however, very dangerous when the winds are up. Many transport trailers have fallen prey to the high winds by being blown over when the wind can reach 150km per hour.

    The Wreckhouse Area with Table Mountains in the background

    When the railway was the main form of tranportation in Newfoundland  (stopped in 1988) CN hired a local guy named Lockie McDougall to report by telephone on the wind conditions in the Wreckhouse area. Hubby tells me that growing up in this area he and his father often stopped to talk to Lockie who was often referred to as the Human Weathervane. Lockie actually lived in a house located in Wreckhouse in the 1960′s. Lockie’s job was to telephone and warn Port aux Basques when the winds coming off the Table Mountains were too high for trains to safely proceed up the tracks which were right on the seashore. Before Lockie took the job, the trains were actually blown into the ocean by the sheer force of the winds coming off the Table Mountains. If you watch the Weather Network, they often report on the winds rolling across the Wreckhouse as a precaution to motorists in general and those who drive tractor trailors.

    As we rolled into Port aux Basques, the Kizashi was running on fumes. In hindsight we should have gassed up in Deer Lake. We still had not learned our lesson though! More on gassing rules later. We made sure that we had a full tank for the next day.

    We had booked the St. Christopher’s Hotel in Port aux Basques for the night after the long drive. We could have taken the overnight crossing on the CN Ferry but after travelling all day we felt the need to rest as sitting up all night and driving again the next morning after the 6 hour crossing was not very appealing to us. I’ve had relatives who have done this and are fine with the long drive and the ferry ride but at my age I felt the need to rest and be fresh for the next day.

    Port Aux Basques from the St. Christopher’s Hotel

    The St. Christopher’s Hotel, in my opinion is not very good value for $100.00 per night. The room was small, enough for what looked like to small double beds. There was a strange odour in the stairwells. The Internet/Wi-Fi is free and this was a bonus for me and my Netbook. The dining room closes at 8pm, so we settled for Mary Brown’s chicken strips, taters and gravy which was expensive for the small portions that you received. Fast Food Heaven!

    Another hazard of road trips. You can’t always finds decent reataurants, so be prepared. We should have packed a lunch/dinner. We did enjoy a great hockey game on TV, Game 5 of the Montreal-Boston Series. Unfortunately for Montreal (Hubby is a big fan), the Habs lost in double overtime. Hubby wasn’t too depressed by the loss and managed to fetch us breakfast from the local Tims Horton’s.

    MK
    Date Posted: May 2011