Distance = 933 km Gas = $41.25 ($1.28/L in Halifax, NS) and $40.19 ($1.30/L in North Sydney, NS)
The last two days have been a study in contrasts. Yesterday I started off in Peggy’s Cove, which is everything a little Nova Scotia fishing village should be, and ended the day in the most nightmarish driving conditions on Cape Breton Island, on my way to catch the midnight ferry to Newfoundland.
Peggy’s Cove is a total tourist trap, but worth the 45 minute drive south from Halifax. It’s a tiny little village right on the water, with a gorgeous lighthouse, lively little cottages in various colours dotting the shoreline, and little coffee shops and souvenir huts that must do a roaring trade in the summer. The best part, though, is exploring the huge rocks at the end of the village, where the view of the lighthouse is best. I capped off a great afternoon with a fish ‘n chip lunch on a seaside deck just down the road before heading up to the ferry in North Sydney (at the top of Cape Breton Island), but the while the drive started out all lovely, with sunshine peaking out from behind dark clouds, highlighting the dinghies drifting in the coves, it later turned into the ultimate test of nerve and driving skills by the time the sun went down and the sky unleashed a torrent of rain that my windshield wipers could not clear fast enough. On top of that, there are no street lights or road markers on the highway up there, near the top of the province, so it was like trying to drive in the bottom of a murky lake. The only way I made it to the ferry terminal was by tailgating a semi, following its brake lights through the blur of water in front of me.
The ferry trip was possibly the worst part of my journey so far. I could write a whole other blog post just about how much I did not enjoy my first time at sea, but as our mothers like to tell us when we’re toddlers, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So I’ll just note that if you’re going to get the ferry to Newfoundland, I suggest taking it during the day (unless you really don’t care about staying up all night listening to hockey highlights on TV and a two-year old letting the whole world know all about her problems).
Travel tip: If you’re catching the ferry to Newfoundland from Nova Scotia, it leaves every day at 11:45 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. and costs $152, including tax for one person in a vehicle. You can book a sleeping berth for another $135, (which I now believe might be a good option) but from what I’ve heard and read on Trip Advisor, it’s better to save the money and just tough it out trying to get some sleep in a chair or in the lounge.
If yesterday started well and ended badly, today was the opposite. This morning I woke up in the foulest of moods, with crazy hair, morning breath and that crummy feeling of having slept in my clothes, but by the time I’d reached Gros Morne Park and met Bowman, my host in Woody Point, I was once again happy to be alive.
The first thing I did after leaving the ferry was drive past the ridiculously long lineup for Tim Hortons in Port-Aux-Basque (the village where the ferry docks) and looked for somewhere to get bacon and eggs. Fortunately, it took no time at all to discover a cute little breakfast diner right on the water where I was the first customer of the day and was served by a local woman who called me “sweetheart” and “my love” with an accent and not the slightest hint of irony. It was a good start. Then, as I drove north, and managed to avoid death by moose (I didn’t see a single moose, despite the incessant signage warning of their presence on the highway), I only had to stop twice to cat nap and finally found my way to Gros Morne National Park where the view is again stunning and the house where I’m staying incredibly peaceful. This evening Bowman and I walked past fishing boats on the shore to go for dinner just up the road, and tomorrow he’s going to be my guide on a hike in the park.
I can’t believe I’m already in the 10th and final province, and almost near the end of my journey (at least, in this direction!)
NEXT POST: Gros Morne National Park