When we were about halfway through our journey on the island of Newfoundland, we decided to continue traveling eastward and take the longer ferry back to Nova Scotia from Argentia instead of driving the 562 miles from St. John’s back to Channel-Port aux Basques for the shorter (and cheaper) ferry. Both ferries end up in the same place in Nova Scotia, at North Sydney.
With the cost of diesel averaging over $5.00/gallon, we figured the out-of-pocket expense would be about the same as the difference in cost for the ferry, to say nothing of the wear and tear on the rigs. We already had to replace the drive shaft on the right front wheel on the car (about $300) which may have been exacerbated by hitting so many potholes along the way. The Trans-Canada Highway is in fair condition for most of the way, but secondary roads are bad to terrible!
Some of the locals say the road conditions are bad because of government graft, but others say it’s just due to the harsh winter weather taking its toll on them. Whatever the reason, the potholes are a challenge to drive through! Here’s just one patch I caught on the camera, and it’s definitely not the worst – we were both concentrating so hard on watching for bad spots and potholes that I didn’t think to take pictures.
So, on Tuesday we drove from St. John’s to Placentia, which is about 3 miles from the ferry docks at Argentia.
We found a lovely spot for boondocking as listed in the Escapees’ Days End directory, next to the Unity Parc Arena with a nice view of the water.
There was no one to ask permission for staying overnight, or rather two nights as we came a day early due to dodging wind/rain storms. So we parked on the outer perimeter and enjoyed a cookout.
The next day we visited Castle Hill, a fort built by the French in 1693 to guard the harbour at Placentia. It was never captured in battles with the British, but was ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The French colonists were moved to Ile-Royale (now Cape Breton Island) where the Fortress of Louisbourg was soon to rise and ultimately fall. The story of life in the Castle Hill fort was well-represented by life-size displays.
By now the windy, rainy weather caught up with us, and I bailed out of the outdoor part of the tour with a broken umbrella. Don, Susie and Denny continued while I perused the goods in the gift shop.
Don actually did a little shopping later, but I couldn’t talk him into buying this Newfie traditional Sou-wester hat.
The next morning, as we prepared to go line up for the ferry boarding, the town constable came by and asked us to leave, as no overnight parking was allowed in this lot! He recommended that we stay in the RV park in Argentia. While he was very nice, we were surprised, as there were no signs posted saying overnight parking wasn’t allowed. We may have triggered the attention because we stayed two nights. However, we were leaving anyway, so we just passed along the information to the Days End editor and other friends we knew were coming this way.
While waiting to board the ferry, we met several other RVers. This lady from Washington State wore a T-shirt with the same phrase as we had seen at a beach shop in Dartmouth, NS near Halifax.
Here’s the sign at the shop, from my blog post of July 13.
When I said, “I know where you got that T-shirt,” she said, “No you don’t!” She bought it at a garage sale in Washington State! Is it a small world? At least it was fun chatting with other RVers and before long it was time to get in our vehicles for boarding the ferry Atlantic Vision.
After boarding and getting somewhat settled, Don and I went out on the ship’s deck to bid Newfoundland a fond farewell as we sailed away from the island. The 5 weeks we spent on “The Rock” will forever be remembered as one of the highlights of our tour of the Maritime Provinces, possibly our favorite one!
Since we had changed our ferry reservation to an earlier date, there were no cabins available. We were on a waiting list for one, but our name didn’t rise to the top of the list. So we spent the night in reclining seats, but there were no footrests so it was hard to get comfortable. The projected crossing was shown on the website as 14 hours. After boarding we discovered the actual time was to be 17 hours! One of the agents said it had been taking that long all summer. I’m not sure why, and it didn’t matter. It was one of those times when you just have to accept a situation as “It is what it is.”
While it wasn’t the most comfortable trip I’ve taken, I can remember long international flights I took during my career when I had much less space and far fewer options. Don and I both got a little sleep and treated ourselves to an overpriced breakfast the next morning. We got to sit with some RVers we had met while boarding, and before long we arrived in Nova Scotia.
We’re now in Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island and have spent two days at the Fortress mentioned above. So now we know the rest of the story! But I’ll save that for another blog entry.