Exploring Canadian Backroads Coast to Coast 2007 travel blog

The Arches - North West Coast - Newfoundland

The Arches - North West Coast - Newfoundland

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Labrador ferry

Leaving stormy Newfoundland

Welcome to Labrador!

When we left Rocky Harbour this morning it was cool, wet and cloudy but not quite raining. We headed north through Gros Morne National Park then followed the coast line to the northern tip of western Newfoundland. Much of the scenery along the way was beautifull but the weather got gradually colder and wetter mile by mile. By the time we reached the ferry terminal at St. Barbe we were pretty much soaked. We had a 3 1/2 hour wait for the ferry but were just happy to be inside drying out.

There was only one family of 3 in the terminal and no ticket agent when we arrived. They told us they tried to make a reservation last thursday but the ferry was fully booked then so they were just hoping to get on. We did not have reservations so we just waited, hoping we too could get on.

The waiting room slowly filled with people, all hoping to get on without a reservation. When the ticket agent finally arrived she put out a box with numbered cards and told everyone they had to take a number and hope for the best. Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly here in Newfoundland), there was no mad rush to grab the numbers.

Instead, everyone took the number that corresponded with when they had actually arrived at the terminal. There was no one policing it or enforcing a rule; the people just did it because it was the right thing to do. We were second into the terminal and picked up number 2. The numbers ran well into the 20's.

The other thing that told us we were in Newfoundland and not Calgary was that not a single person seemed to be the least bit stressed or concerned about the situation. They just chatted, joked and laughed for the next two hours even though they had no idea if they would get home to Labrador today, tommorow or the next day. Can you imagine the stressed out people if this same thing was going on at the Calgary Airport?

They finally started calling the first few standby numbers to the ticket booth and we got our tickets. It would be another hour before all the standby people found out they were able to get on. In the end, everyone got on however at the last minute one family had to leave their truck and trailer on the dock and board as walk on passengers. They just laughed and grabbed a few things out of the truck. I can only assume the truck and trailer would be shipped tomorrow.

The trip was actually very smooth and the rain stopped for most of the crossing. It looked like it might be nice when we arrived in Labrador. Well....

We arrived in Labrador at about 8:00 PM. The wind was howling, the rain was comming down harder than I think I have ever seen rain come down, it was very cold and it was getting dark. We had booked a cottage while waiting in the terminal so at least we had a place to go. It was only about 50 km up the coast.

What a ride. On top of the wind, rain and darkness it got very foggy soon after we left the ferry dock. There was a vehicle in front of us so I was able to follow the tail lights for a ways but they turned off at a small town and we were completely on our own. The fog got thicker and we were down to a bout 25 km/hr with our four-way flashers on, feeling our way through the storm and trying not to get blown off the road. This was absolutely the worst conditions I have ever ridden a motorcycle in or perhaps driven in period.

By the time we found the cottage, we were completely soaked and freezing cold. We quickly got rid of our wet clothes, dried off , cranked up the heat and crawled into bed.

Welcome to Labrador!

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