Exploring Canadian Backroads Coast to Coast 2007 travel blog

The scene we awoke to in Port aux Basques

Port aux Basques

A river along the road to Rose Blanche

Burnt Islands Harbour

Burnt Islands Harbour

Burnt Islands Harbour

Rose Blanche Lighthouse

Rose Blanche Lighthouse

Rose Blanche Harbour

The day started sunny enough and stayed that way most of the day but the temperature was pretty cool; about 15 C.

Rather than head straight up the TransCanada highway from Port aux Basques we decided to head east on the only other road out of town towards a little dot on the map named Rose Blanche. This turned out to be a great decision.

The road was fairly narrow, paved and very twisty. It was about 45 km to Rose Blanche which is the end of the road in this direction. The terrain is like no other we have seen. Rugged and rocky with next to no trees but covered in lush green vegitation, mainly low bushes. In the creases between rocky ridges (you would be hard pressed to decribe them as valleys) there were lovely ponds, brooks and rivers as well as patches of short evergreens and what looks like juniper.

The road runs along the coastline, so on one side you have the rocky hills and lakes and the other side blue green ocean. As I said, the terrain here is absolutely unique from our experience.

Along this road there are multiple fishing villages with names like Margaree Harbour, Fox Roost Harbour and Burnt Islands. These places are magical. We understand them to be lasting examples of the outport villages that existed here prior to the government forced migration from the outports to comunities with road access and services, around 1960. Prior to 1960 these communities were accessable only by water and did not have electricity until 1965.

The homes and work sheds are located hap-hazardly on the rocks and are the very image of Newfoundland I have always held. We stopped in each community along the way. The scenes were fantastic and the people we talked to (or rather listened to since these people dearly like to talk) were all a joy to meet.

At the end of the road we found the Rose Blanche lighthouse, the only remaining lighthouse built of granite and very unique. We took a short hike around the site, toured the building and generally just kept scanning the sights with this dazed look on our faces. The beauty of this place is simply overwhelming.

When we got back to the parking area near the lighthouse we noticed a truck with an Alberta licience plate so said hello. What a surprise when we started talking to the couple, who were from Calgary, and soon relealized I had worked with the fellow on several jobs.

Like many places in Newfoundland there is only one road in and out so we backtracked on the road we arrived on all the way to Port aux Basques where we stopped for a late lunch. In the parking lot we ran into a guy from Ottawa who was riding a Kawasaki 650 KLR, a japanese version of the overland touring bike. He was pretty hyper and related his story of woes traveling through the interior of Newfoundland.

He had worn both his sprockets down so far they resembled washers, gouged his swingarm on one of several occasions that his chain had come off and caught the rear fender on fire when the plastic gas can he had strapped on the back had melted on his exhaust pipe. His troubles were all bike related and (in my humble opinion) the result of a lack of maintenance/attention to the machine. He was waiting to get on the ferry. I suggested he might want to crate the thing up and ship it home. Some people should stick to public transit if they are this mechanically inept.

We headed out of Port aux Basques once more only this time we headed up the TransCanada, the only other road out of town. The ferry had just arrived so there was a lot of traffic, especially trucks. The wind had picked up and overall it was quite an unpleasant ride. What a contrast to the road we were on this morning.

As soon as we were able we found a backroad that headed towards the coast. We found some quaint little cottages on the Grand Codroy River in the Codroy Valley. After checking in we took a ride to the end of the road then stopped at a little cafe that served a huge home cooked halibut steak dinner for a very reasonable price.

Our first full day in Newfoundland has been awesome. We can hardly wait for tommorow.

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