EAST TO THE AVALON
The problem with drinking coffee is that after about an hour or so you need to make a comfort stop along the highway, and suitable places are quite often few and far between.
There was one rest area along the highway and while I didn't think all that much of it, I certainly would not have put up a derogatory sign about it. I mean, it wasn't all that bad and I've certainly seen worse.
But someone found it quite an enjoyable place to visit. Strawberry Moose recognised one of his cousins and couldn't resist the opportunity to go and make his acquaintance.
And so while I was answering a call of nature they went off for a gallop around the woods together, doubtless to make the acquaintance of certain lady moose in the vicinity. He's like that. But the back of a moose is nothing like as comfortable as the passenger seat of Casey and he soon came back so that we could resume our journey.
But resume our journey? I hadn't really all that much of an idea where it was that I was supposed to be going.
Some way down the road I made another stop. I was attracted by the view from a place called Joey's Lookout and this was worth a couple of photographs. The first one is the view down towards a town with the rather poetic name of Gambo, and the sea, or rather Freshwater Bay.
Another reason for stopping was that I was in danger of no longer being able to see the passenger seat or to look out of the nearside window of Casey, what with all of the rubbish that had accumulated in the foot-well. This called for a shovelling job into the nearest waste bin.
But it was the view in the second photograph just here that really caught my eye - the embankment and bridge across that inlet just there.
Every so often I had been seeing a track all along my route across the island, a track that had been levelled and graded, in cuttings and on embankments, and with bits of bridge. I've been thinking to myself that it can't be a road. The groundwork is excellent yet it is narrow and they wouldn't go to all this trouble for a single track road.
The double track Trans-Canada Highway came in the 1950s and it's probably four times wider than this. It's far too narrow to be a major road and you wouldn't do this grading and all of this tracking and bridges and so on for a narrow kind of road such as that, especially for what motorised traffic there would have been in the 1920s - the other period of major roadbuilding.
Its not standard gauge railway either - it's too narrow for that, and so I was interested as to what it might be. Of course, had I known that I was going to spending 5 days here on Newfoundland I would have read so much more about the island and all my questions would have been answered. Instead, I had to wait until St John's to find out the definitive answer to this.
The third photograph would have been quite nice too if it hadn't been for the sun shining right into the lens of the camera. Mountains, lakes, rivers and trees, and all of this is significant in the name of the spot upon which I was standing.
I mentioned that this place is called Joey's Lookout and like me, you are probably wondering who Joey might be. He was a guy called Joe Curran who was a forester - explorer - guide in this area and his fame comes from having taken at various times all kinds of important people on fishing trips around here round about the turn of the 20th Century.
On the Trans-Canada Highway around the top of Clarenville I noticed a petrol station that had fuel at a reasonable price and so I took the opportunity to fuel up Casey. Twice in a day that was - this is serious stuff.
In fact, what I saw of Clarenville looked quite interesting and attractive, and so it was here that I decided to stay the night on my return from St John's.
It was gathering dusk when I left St John's on my return journey and so I put my foot down through the evening and headed to Clarenville. I'd made a few enquiries and noted that there was the possibility of some reasonably-priced accommodation. But for once I was disappointed.
The sat-nav guided me to the cheapest B-and-B but my arrival was ... errr ... unexpected to say the least. In fact although it was only 20:00 or so, it was as if I had awoken the proprietress from a deep slumber, and she was of no help. A couple of cheap hotels were closed, and so I ended up in yet another outrageously-expensive hotel.
Luxury it probably was and good value for money it may well have been, but with me on the economy package I would have been quite happy to settle for much less, both in price and quality. It seems that budget travel in this part of North America is definitely not encouraged.
The positive side of that was that I gave a run-out to the slow cooker that I had bought at the Walmart in St John's. Slow is definitely the word but at 80 watts you don't expect miracles. A handful of pasta, a tin of 50-cent beans and a bread roll from the stock in Casey's boot, it was a meal fit for a king, even though I had to wait a couple of hours for it.
If you have been with me since I started at Baie Comeau on the Trans-Labrador Highway you'll know that I've picked up two punctures. Each morning it involves tracking down an airline and reflating them. Not by much, but it has to be done. Next morning though here at Clarenville, I was presented by one extremely flat tyre, and a definite hissing noise after I pumped them both up
Here I am now, rushing for a ferry that has limited space and I have a definite booking after a 5-day wait. And never finding a working airline when I need one, and risking something quite serious at a crucial moment when I have a 1000-kilometre drive to do in a hurry. This offside front tyre is definitely getting me down.
Accordingly I have bitten the bullet and taken Casey to the local Canadian Tire where he is receiving attention. It seems that there's a hole in the tread of the tyre - just a small hole but a hole nevertheless - and the cheapest option is to patch it. And so Casey is having a patched tyre. He's a hire car remember and he needs attention, but only enough to get me safely back to Toronto.
They say that it is an ill-wind that doesn't blow anyone any good, and that was certainly the case here at Canadian Tyres. I had a wander around the shop while I was waiting for Casey to be fixed, and look what I stumbled across.
Not just one but a pack of two inverters - 12-volt to 110-volt. One is 75 watts and the other is 140 watts. And all for $19:99 too. If they had have had more than one pack left (and I'm surprised that there was still one left) I would have bought the lot. I've already examined Casey thoroughly and there's a cigarette lighter socket in the boot that runs off the ignition circuit (i.e. not permanently live) and so I can now run the slow cooker in the boot of the car while I'm driving around. That will save me a pile of waiting time in the evenings.
Not only that, just take a look at many of the DC adaptors that you have powering your appliances. Computer powerpacks, mobile phone chargers, all that kind of stuff. Many of them state their range as 100-240 volt, which means that you can use them equally with European 230 volts and North American 110 volts. I'd brought with me a couple of socket adaptors so that I can use these things in North America, as you can see. With these inverters I can use them in Casey too and more importantly, I can use my slow cooker when I'm back home.
This was an exciting discovery right enough - it almost made the puncture in Casey's tyre all worthwhile.
I've been talking quite considerably about the weather here in Newfoundland and with the deciduous trees still in leaf and turning all of these glorious autumn colours. While I've been discussing it I've been trying to find a suitable spot that has everything so that I can show you what I mean but for one reason or another I've not so far seen "THE" photograph.
That is, until leaving Clarenville. And if there is a better autumn photograph than this one I would dearly like to see it. These colours are truly gorgeous.
To change the subject ever so slightly, something else that is getting on my wick quite considerably is the North American power distribution system. You can't take a decent photograph of anything without power cables getting in the way. Why don't they run them underground?
Knowing all about the severe winters and heavy snowfalls that they can have here, there would be far less disruption to the service if the cables were underground, as well as making for much better photo opportunities.
But of course I'm getting ahead of myself here. Back to leaving the fuel station on the trip out towards St John's, the road swings round a bend and drops down a steep hill onto the Avalon Peninsula and almost straight away I'm enveloped in a huge, thick claggy fog. All of the beautiful weather has gone.
So here I am, having lost the glorious sunny weather that I was having along the Trans-Canada Highway and my arrival on the Avalon Peninula, which is the extreme south-eastern part of Newfoundland, is swathed in a greasy, clammy, claggy, foggy cloud.
But occasionally there are gaps in the clouds as we drive around the north-facing sides of mountains, and during one of these gaps I observe this in front of me.
Unless I am very much mistaken, which is always possible of course, ahead of me is a car towing a caravan and also towing a trailer as well. I didn't know that that was authorised in Newfoundland. He's doing about 110 kilometres per hour and his trailers are swaying all over the road. I had to stare at this set-up for quite a long time to take all of it in.
And just after here the weather closed in again. And then it rained. And how! Casey had something of a clean yesterday morning on the way down from L'Anse aux Meadows . This ought to finish off the job, I reckon, if it keeps up like this.
And as I'm groping, or rather inching my way through this this claggy fog where I can hardly see a thing, A road sign suddenly looms up out of the gloom informing me that I am "1 mile to the Bellevue camp site".
Belle Vue? Now that is really taking the mickey in this weather.
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