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Northern Newfoundland, Canada

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After returning from having a great time up in the northern peninsula, we stayed a couple nights again at the Gateway to the North RV Campground in Deer Lake. It's is a jumping off point for both the Northern Peninsula as well as points east toward St. John's.

The north part of NL is normally a good place to watch for whales or even take whale watching tours. It is, in fact, called the Whale Coast. However, it was too late in the season for us to see any whales. It was also too late for the icebergs. We hated to miss both but it just wasn't in the cards. Lobster was also pretty much out of season in most places.

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Deer Lake to Robert's Arm

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The Trans Canada Highway (TCH) from Deer Lake to Robert's Arm is quite bad. It may not quite jar your fillings out, but you won't enjoy it. East of Shepherdsville is also quite bad.

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Crescent Lake RV Park
Route 380, Robert's Arm NL A0J1R0
Ph: 709.293.0299
31 August @ 2 nights, 29 C$/ night

This campground is pleasantly rustic, buried deep in the woods and next to a pretty lake called, naturally, Crescent Lake, where there is a real live honest-to-God "Loch Ness monster" near the water!

There was 30 amp, water, picnic tables and fire rings. There is a garbage can and recycle bin at each site, which I thought was a nice touch. There is wi-fi but only up around the "office". Cell phone service seems to be very, very spotty and slow for some reason. The campground is larger than you might think when you first pull in. There are over 40 sites with a mixture of back-in, pull-thru and tenting. Quite a few sites back up to the water.

We camped in site # 41 which was a back-in, plenty long enough for our 37-footer, as well as room for the truck next to the trailer. We loved the outdoorsy and rustic feel. As long time backpackers and tent campers this felt right at home to us. There is ample space between sites, more than most campgrounds we have been in, especially in NL, and each site is separated by a small stand of trees.

The campground managers Doug and Roz were very friendly and helpful. As soon as we had pulled in and parked our rig, they showed up with a box of free firewood, and sat down and chatted for about 40 minutes. They gave us some good ideas as to what to do in the area. Be sure to ask Doug about his mustard potato salad recipe.

When we left we decided to trash a rather big, heavy ottoman and a portable freezer that had stopped working. We asked Doug where we could find a dump since we didn't want to leave them laying around. As it was a weekend, Doug volunteered to take them to the dump on Monday for us. Thanks and kudos to Doug and Roz.

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Temps got down to 45 F the first night, but no wind. Great for campfires! Temps were back up into the high 60's the next day. We made a fire on the second night. It was the first fire we had since we began our trip. Yes, I know you have to have fires when you are in a camper, but since we are experienced backpackers, camp fires just aren't a big deal with us. We may do one more if the nights get cold again.

At the dump station on the way out, the campground provides a long sewer hose for camper's use. This is a very thoughtful gesture as it means you don't have to unpack your hose, use it, rinse it out and then pack it away again. And the fact that it is a long hose is a blessing for campers with short sewer hoses. Other campgrounds, are you listening?

We also stayed here for one night on the return trip from St. Johns.

Here is a nice introductory video of Newfoundland kindly sent by Doug.

Click here to see Crescent Lake RV Park photos.

Route 380 to Triton and Brighton
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As we were only here for a couple days we decided to limit our driving to route 380 through Triton and on up to Brighton. Triton is a smallish community with some lakes and a few places to get stuff, but it is not quite as scenic as Brighton. On the way up 380 we stopped to have lunch at Fudge's seafood restaurant. We both got the squid platter, as they were out of the stuffed squid which I really wanted to try. The squid was fresh but the batter was a bit salty for our tastes [we limited our salt intake years ago]. We also rightly or wrongly judge squid dishes by the Daily Catch restaurant mentioned earlier in the L'Anse aux Meadows writeup.

Next to Fudge's there is a Whale Interpretation Center. It is definitely worth a stop if you want to learn about whales in the area. They have a hanging 42' sperm whale skeleton which is pretty awesome to look at. Our guide and interpreter Terry gave us some fascinating info and tidbits. As we happened to be the only people there at the time, we wound up talking with him for about 45 minutes. There is also a pay RV dump station in the center's parking lot. 380 goes past the road to Robert's Arm but due to limited time we didn't go there.

On up the road there are several convenience stores, a grocery store, and a couple gas stations. One station has diesel but you have to look closely to find the pump, as it is toward the back. We got diesel there but as luck would have it, after pumping I found that I had forgotten my wallet back at the campground. The lady was nice enough to let me leave Phyllis as a hostage and go back to the campground. As a result we ended up having lunch there which was quite good. Along the way there is also an Irving station with diesel which was closed for repairs at the time.

We found the town of Triton to be somewhat nondescript compared to Brighton. There is a small RV park next to the harbor - I didn't see anything with their name on it but it appeared from the road that they might have limited hookups. There is a pharmacy in Triton, as well as a building supplies store and an auto supplies store.

The village of Brighton was by far the star of this day trip. It is a beautiful little fishing town with gorgeous water views on both sides of the road. Be sure to make the short climb up the Lookout trail for a very nice panoramic view of the whole area. There is also a nice little picnic area out on the rocks.

We were told that you can get fresh squid. While we didn't see any seafood stores, local folks say that all you have to do is ask somebody who has fresh squid today and they will say something like "See that yellow house? Just go up and ask for Charlie. He just caught some." How cool is that?

We were told by Doug and Roz at the campground that on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Triton there is a short walking tour, culminating in a dinner. We didn't have time to do it but it sounds nice. They also said that puffins can be seen in the area.

By the way, beware of potholes on 380. We encountered one that felt like a sinkhole. We were just glad we weren't pulling the trailer, as we might well have lost a tire or axle, or both.

We wished we had more time to stay as there are several other roads we would have liked to explore. Unfortunately we were running out of time. We still needed to get to St. Johns and then start our return trip home since campgrounds were going to be closing on us soon.

As it was getting late in the season we bypassed Grand Falls/Windsor and Gander and head on to Terra Nova Park.

Click here to see photos of Triton and Brighton.

Robert's Arm to Terra Nova National Park

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The drive along the TCH through Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander up to Terra Nova was singularly unremarkable. There was heavy road construction under way between Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander. Unlike other parts of the TCH, small "billboards" are prolific along much of this section.

There are several service stations along the way, including some with diesel. One of the Irving stations also has a Tim Hortons ("Timmies"). There are also several restaurants on the TCH.

Just north of Grand Falls-Windsor there is a Salmonid Interpretation Cente on the Exploits River, where you can learn about salmon habitat, watch upstream migration, and have a bite to eat at the restaurant. In addition to salmon there are also trout and eels.

The Sanger Memorial RV Park in Windsor came highly recommended by a couple of different people. It is located on the Exploit River close to the Salmon center, and I had made a mental note to give it and the Center a try on the way back from St. John's. However, the RV park was closed then so we went on back to Crescent Park.

From what I saw Gander seemed to be a light industrial town. It also has a big airport. You may recall that Gander is the town where flights from Europe were diverted following the 9/11 terrorist attack in NYC. The nice people of Gander took stranded passengers into their homes, which certainly doesn't come as a surprise to us.

In the area of Glovertown on the TCH there is an Irivng station with diesel and a Tim Hortons. There is also a building supplies store, a pharmacy, a FoodLand, Dollar Store, Scotia Bank with ATM, Esso, police station and post office.

You get to the Shriners campground from TCH by taking the route 310 turnoff and going north. Be aware that the route 310 exit from the TCH is not marked, at least it wasn't while we were there. There is a water sports park close to the 310 turnoff with a Mary Browns and ice cream. On the way down 310 to the campground is the Malady Head campground area for Terra Nova Park.

Sorry, but I have no photos for this part of our drive but we didn't see much of interest anyway.

Harold W. Duffett Shriners RV Park
400 Main St, Hwy 310, Eastport NL A0G-1Z0
Ph: 709.677.2438, 877.313.2322
2 Sept @ 4 nights, 36 C$ / night

This campground is about 15 km from the TCH on route 310. The grounds are right next to the highway but we didn't notice any appreciable road noise. It is quite large, about 150 or so units, with a lot of seasonals. Sites are fully serviced with 30 and 50 amp, water and sewer, and there are showers, washrooms and a laundromat.

There is wi-fi internet. I had a hard time accessing it in the beginning but later on it became pretty stable. I'm not so critical any more about campground wi-fi access since I found out that it costs about $60,000 to install a wi-fi system complete with relay stations for an area this large.

There are a large number of seasonals here, and most that we talked to seem to come from not that faclose vicinity. I expected to see folks come from the mainland such as Ottowa and Montreal, but apparently many simply come here just to get away from home for a few days of the week during the summer.

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Our site # 97 was somewhat unlevel but this is to be expected with gravel sites where big rigs constantly pull in and out. We have some wheel levelers but elected not to use them since it didn't bother us too much.

The only real negative I found in an otherwise positive experience was that the water faucets are very low. I had to lay down on the ground to even screw on the hose. My first thought was "What do people do who are rather old and/or have infirmaries that limit their movement?" My other thought was "Are any campgrounds actually designed by campers?"

The sites are as you would find in most NL campgrounds - not roomy, but not cramped either. There are picnic tables, and fire rings do not seem to be the norm, although some seasonals do have their own.

Be aware that the gate at the campground closes at 11 pm.

While at this campground I experienced some battery problems. I had noticed on one of our drives the little auto shop [Pete's Service Center, 118 Main Street, Ph: 424.1367] so I gave them a try. Pete was helpful and had a new battery for me the next morning.

I want to give a quick atta-boy to the Shriners for their longtime work with kids that have special health issues like burns and spinal cord injuries. Their Shriners Hospitals for Children operates strictly through donations and never charges kids or their families for the help they give.

Click here to see photos of the Shriner's RV Park.

Traytown and Glovertown

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On route 310 west, just before you get to the long bridge on the way to the campground, there are two roads down to Traytown. If you want a pleasant drive, go explore this road. Be sure to take the road closest to the campground. Drive down to the water and take the bridge over to Culls Harbor. This is a neat little community that is obviously of an affluent nature.

There are lots of nice houses to see; some are residents, some appear to be rentals and some are likely seasonals. The road ends with a turnaround at a graveyard. On the way back, see if you can spot the very nice chalet nestled up on a hill.

After you come back over the bridge, take a right on Main St. and go to Glovertown. This is a nice drive that eventually comes out back at the TCH, one exit before 310. We had planned to take the side road back to 310 at the other Traytown exit, but we're glad we missed it because it turns out that there are several facilities to know about in Glovertown: a pharmacy, an Esso station, s ScotiaBank, a convenience store, a FoodLand, an Irving station with diesel, an auto store, a garage, a building supplies store, a health center, a police station, a library and a post office. Continuing on past Glovertown on Station Rd. takes you back to the TCH.

There is also a nice little marina with a number of expensive looking boats.

Click here to see photos of Traytown and Glovertown.

Route 310 to Salvage

Taking the 310 in the other direction (east) leads you down to Salvage, a photogenic little fishing town. It was unlike most of the other places we have seen in NL. We never encountered anyone who knew how the name came about.

The large building on the wharf used to be a fish processing plant, but since the fishing industry has been dying out it is no longer functional. Most of the residents are retired, and a lot of homes in the area are for tourist rental. Along the way there are two or three restaurants, a FreshMart, another grocery store and a pharmacy.

There is a beach on the left side of the road that seems pretty popular. It is one of two beaches that together comprise what is known as "The Beaches" in the area. While I saw people wading in the water I did not see anyone swimming. It was close to Labor Day in Newfoundland!

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One of the interesting things about Salvage is the panoramic view you get when standing at the marina. Simple photos don't do it justice - you have to take a sweeping movie to capture the feel.

The drive up to Salvage and back isn't too long. It only took about and hour, including photo taking time. Here is a writeup of the current state of Salvage, which unfortunately seems to be in for some hard times.

On the way back to the campground we ate at the Little Denier restaurant on 310. The baked cod I had was very good. They topped it with a sort of Thanksgiving dinner stuffing one might find in the southern states of the U.S.

Click here to see photos of the village of Salvage.

Terra Nova National Park

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A few km east of route 310 on the TCH is the Visitor Center for Terra Nova National Park. This park is not on the same scale as Gros Morne, either in terms of size or spectacularness, but it is well worth visiting.

The Visitor Center has a nice gift shop, a little eatery [the steamed mussels are great], and a little stand that offers 2-hour Zodiac boat tours of the area. Reservations may be needed.

Although you cannot officially drive through the park, there are two ways to drive up and get some nice views. The Ochr Hill exit [I think] on TCH is a little further east, on the left. The road will come to an end at a boat launch and pier, where you can get some good photos. Be sure to take a short walk on the trail on your right to the little waterfall.

The Blue Hill exit off the TCH is a bit west of the park entrance. If you can only do one of the two drives, this is the one. At the very top of the road is a scenic lookoff that is breathtakingly panoramic. Word is that you can see almost the entire park from there. This is where the pic above was taken. Be sure to take your binocs with you.

There is also a little Forest Demonstration area along the road that shows how destructive moose can be to the forest.

Click here to see photos of the Terra Nova National Park visitor center.
Click here to see photos of the Blue Hill road through Terra Nova.
Click here to see photos of the [unknown] road through Terra Nova.

St. Brendan's Island

Exit the campground and go left on 310 toward Salvage. A few kilometers up the road is the turnoff to the ferry. It's on the left side of 310. The route number is 310-32, but look for the sign. The ferry is located at the town of Burnside.

The ferry ride is about 45 minutes long. It's certainly not a boring ride as you will see lots of pretty islands along the way. Be aware that the ferry sometimes leaves early on either or both legs of the trip, so be there in plenty of time. If you're the first one to arrive, park next to the "line up here" sign; if not, then pull in behind the other vehicles.

Here is the ferry schedule. The ride over to the island is free but the trip back costs 25 C$. Pretty good deal, I think.

The island itself is rather, shall we say unimproved. There is one dirt road [310-41] which goes a few kilometers and then ends, so it's hard to get lost. Most of the interesting photo ops are on the side roads leading to this cove and that cove. Don't be afraid to explore. If you're interested in panoramic views and stunning photos, you won't be disappointed by visiting this island. Take what you need with you, as there isn't much in the way of conveniences. We found two very small stores with a few basics and not much more.

To illustrate how friendly the folks are, while we were exploring the little side roads with gorgeous views, one of the local residents stopped his truck and started chatting. We covered, among other things, where we were from, how we liked NL, the weather, visiting Florida, how he had retired from fishing, his and our accents, and what we thought of our American president [no comment]. This was not a unique experience, as I cannot recount how many conversations we have had with folks in local communities as well as the RV parks. All you have to say is hello and you are off and running.

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We had another interesting but growingly predictable experience with one of the locals. I stopped into one of the little stores to see if they had coffee, as it was a bit nippy out around the first part of September. They didn't have any, so we continued our exploration and then went back to the ferry. While we were waiting to depart, the store proprietor actually came down to the ferry and hunted us down, with a mug of hot coffee and some cod! We couldn't believe it. This was so nice, and simply reinforces the opinions we have formed of Newfies up here. I'm sorry we didn't get her name but she was either from the St. Brendan's Convenience Store or the Island Snack Shack. So if you see a woman behind the counter at one of these little stores, ask her if she's the nice person you read about in the blog.

We heard there are lots of moose in the area but we didn't run across any, at least not literally.

The temp was in the mid 60s during our excursion, with scattered sprinkles.

Here are some photos of the island I found on one of the NL websites.

The other of the two batteries in our dualie truck crapped out on the ferry ride back from the island. Naturally, our truck was first in line to depart. Luckily, the ferry personnel had a battery booster so it only took a few minutes to get us going. Also luckily, there is an auto repair station [the aforementioned Pete's Service Center] just up the road from the campground so I was able to get a battery the next day. We're quite thankful that the battery didn't die while we were on the island.

Ok, now it was time to pack up and head down to St. John's.

Click here to see photos of the ferry and St. Brendan's Island.

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