Monday, July 31, 2006

I am a rock

Newfoundland is more The Rock - and land of lakes, forests and granite. The Rock has its own time zone being three-and-a-half hours behind the UK. After a six-hour ferry ride we made it to Port Aux Basques in the dark - we were literally the last car off the ferry and at the tail end of the charge for St. Christopher's Hotel - we ducked the queue for check-in by propping up the bar next to a bunch of late-night slot machine freaks at midnight.
Next morning we watched the German Grand Prix from Hockenheim which ended coincidentally with the local checkout time at 11:00. Another boring procession and a cakewalk for the ugly boy.
We rolled out of town after checking out a rather uninspiring railway display on the defunct "Newfie Bullet." More anon.
Listening to folk and eastern music on the radio - big in these parts - anticipating the folk festival in St. John's later in the week. Diverted to Stephenville, a forces base where we couldn't decide whether it was still operating - as we arrived at Tim Horton's a guy in the parking lot stops his truck and says "You have to be over 15 foot to come into town!" I said "60mpg mate, who's laughing now?"
We took the scenic route around the Port Au Port peninsular - brilliant sea views on empty roads. Back on the Trans Canada Highway [TCH] and the reality of all the warnings about moose hits home - a vehicle has hit a moose and killed it stone dead - a moment of sadness by the side of the road.
We continue on to Corner Brook where we find a delightful railway museum featuring the "Newfie Bullet," - given its nickname by U.S. troops stationed in these parts, a narrow gauge train which ran for over five hundred miles through Newfoundland before giving up the ghost about twenty years ago. The route roughly follows the TCH and there is much evidence of trackbed and bridges along the way. After a chilly night under canvas we make an early start, tailgate breakfast at the mall talking to the locals about the virtues of the smart [missionary work] and stopping for a picnic lunch at Grand Falls - not very grand in the less prosperous interior. More train memorabilia at Bishop's Falls, an old railway town, mostly about train wrecks and floods. Now at Gander looking forward to a birthday supper - hope there is no repeat of last year when the waitress tipped the red wine over me in New Westminster, B.C. Tomorrow we reach the farthest point of the trip but plan a few days in the Newfie capital before turning for home.

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