Phase 1: Part 5 – Newfoundland & Labrador Edition; North America

After returning to the states from Colombia in Oct 2015, it was planned to drive to Newfoundland & Labrador. Many of you may recall, the previous roadtrip in August and after a successful tour, I was stoked to yet again explore the off-beaten path!

Jessica & Iceberg; Red Bay, Labrador; Phase 1: Part 4 Newfoundland & Labrador Edition; 2015
Jessica & Iceberg; Red Bay, Labrador; Phase 1: Part 4 Newfoundland & Labrador Edition; 2015

 

A total of 5,000 photographs taken, 100 videos filmed, and many travel stories were accumulated for this portion of the world tour. And, that is why Phase 1: Part 5 – Newfoundland & Labrador is broken down into 3 segments.

Fall Reflections; Gros Morne National Park, Canada; 2015
Fall Reflections; Gros Morne National Park, Canada; 2015

 

Segment 1  looks closely at more UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Canadian National Parks, and endless trails of off-roading.

Fundy Sign; Fundy National Park; 2015
Fundy Sign; Fundy National Park; 2015

 

Segment 2  goes in detail about hanging out with the Discovery Channel’s Cold Water Cowboys, taking in the most breath-taking view of the Pinware River, trying moose burgers for the first time, interviewing a Biologist/Mathematician on his conservation efforts with Bonnet Bay Marine Station in Gros Morne National Park, and driving the Trans-Labrador Highway. This segment focuses on Newfoundland & Labrador. A special in-depth look of our preparations, discoveries, and thoughts/feelings on driving the Trans-Labrador Highway may be found here.

Rick Crane & Josh; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015
Rick Crane & Josh; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015

 

Segment 3      COMING SOON!

 

Recap of Canada’s Phase 1: Part 5

After 6 months of preparations for this particular road trip and battling rain, sleet, fog, ice, and snow I have completed the Trans-Labrador Highway! This Canadian highway is located in the province of Newfoundland & Labrador and a total length of 774.66 mi (1,246.69 km). Due to the harsh winters and sparse population in most of Labrador, most of the road is a well-packed asphalt/gravel surface with heaps of pot holes along the way. Not to mention, few gas stations are in route, no cellphone reception (had to pick up a stat phone), minimal wifi, and the landscape flows with lakes, rivers, streams, and endless dirt roads. With a full tank of gas and a few spare fuel containers filled up, I was able to complete this treacherous terrain.

Cities Distances; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015
Cities Distances; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015

 

Ironically, I was on the highway for the first official snowfall in Labrador, and it has continued to follow me (the photographs speak for themselves!)!

Snowy Road; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015
Snowy Road; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015

 

Words cannot describe how much of an amazing journey traveling around the Eastern Part of North America has been. Even better was to have my younger brother, Josh, along for the ride! I want to thank all of those that I have met, interviewed (these articles will be on my website), and had the pleasure to learn more about the cultures within each region, taste the unique foods (moose burgers), and have the opportunity to meet more kick-ass people in the world. There is a bit of awesome everywhere, and I was fortunate to have discovered this on my exploration of Eastern Canada.

Moose Burger; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Moose Burger; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015

 

During my arrival in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador I did a follow up interview with CBC radio broadcast station and this will air on Tuesday for all my Labradorian friends!

CBC Radio; Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador; 2015
CBC Radio; Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador; 2015

 

An amazing voyage, to say the least, and a 3-day adventure filled with many mixed emotions – since I have finished this road trip, it is time to move on further west of Canada. I will never forget the people and my time in Red Bay, Port Hope Simpson, Cartwright, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Churchill Falls, Labrador City, Manic 5, and Baie-Comeau. Thank you to everyone for making “The Voyage of Discovery” a more unforgettable adventure!

Reflection Pond; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015
Reflection Pond; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015

 

One last note, it was lovely meeting Discovery Channel’s Coldwater Cowboys and learning about their show and ambitions for their 3rd season! And, thank you Dr. Bob Scott for a look behind the scenes at Bonne Bay Marine Station in Norris Point, NL – it was incredible hanging out with a professor for the afternoon and learning about the uniqueness of the marine station.

Dr. Robert J. Scott & Jessica; Bonne Bay Marine Station, Newfoundland; 2015
Dr. Robert J. Scott & Jessica; Bonne Bay Marine Station, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Next stop: Watching my youngest brother, Jake, play a soccer match at Reading, PA.

Road Home; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015
Road Home; Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador; 2015

 

Join Me in Costa Rica for an Adventure of a Lifetime!

The Landscape; Costa Rica; 2013
The Landscape; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Theme: The Adventure Tour of Costa Rica          Country: Costa Rica  Languages: English & Spanish        Unit of Currency: Costa Rican colon    Locations: Jaco Beach, Monteverde, & San Jose           Year: 2016  Bucket list: Zipping high above the clouds in “Cloud Forest”

Join Me in Costa Rica!

My first official tour is kicking off with 1 exclusive tour date!  After having an amazing time during my travels in Costa Rica, venturing around Central America for the following months, and integrating with cultures all over the world, I am happy to say that I am returning to Costa Rica this spring! And, I am bringing some friends along for the ride!

Official Tour: March 18th-March 25th (8 days)

The Adventure Tour of Costa Rica kicks off on March 18th with a week packed of adrenaline, conservation, education, and loads of fun! For my personal world tour, “The Voyage of Discovery” it highlights all the above, and I am stoked to bring these elements into hosting my own group tour!

Location of Costa Rica in Central America
Location of Costa Rica in Central America

Routes: Jaco Beach, Monteverde, San Jose, and a surprise location!

 

Day 1 & 2

Everyone will arrive Friday in San Jose, Costa Rica, where we will stay here for the weekend and head for a day trip on Saturday for a surprise location. Hint: Monkeys, monkeys, and more monkeys!

Monkey; Costa Rica; 2013
Monkey; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Monkey Street Art; San Jose, Costa Rica; 2013
Monkey Street Art; San Jose, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Day 3

After exploring the country’s capital city, it is time to scope out some of Costa Rica’s most invasive animals, plants, and trees! Add in adrenaline, then we have Monteverde, a majestic land known as “Cloud Forest.” On Sunday a mini bus will take us on a 4-hour ride from San Jose to reach this remote destination.

Sloth in a Tree; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Sloth in a Tree; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Day 4

Zip lining over the forest, hanging out on the suspension bridges, and spending Monday up close and personal with Costa Rica’s wildlife will have you saying, “Let’s do it again!” There’s an option to check out the Frog Pond (the home of 25+ species of native frogs) or the Bat Jungle (an exhibit of 95 bats and 8+ species). If you are interested in both, we can plan accordingly.

A Look at a Canopy Tour's Adventure Cables; Costa Rica; 2013
A Look at a Canopy Tour’s Adventure Cables; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Day 5

The next day on Tuesday we will hike 45 minutes to San Luis Waterfall, where one can jump, dive, and submerge into this 100 metre (330ft) waterfall buried deep in the rainforest.  Monkeys, birds, lizards, and other animals are likely to be spotted here.

Waterfalll; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Waterfall; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Day 6

After all the adrenaline pumping through your body, it is time to chill out at a beach! On Wednesday we head to one of the Pacific’s most beautiful white beaches and my personal favorite, Jaco Beach. Beach volleyball, surfing, snorkeling, etc. are just a few activities that are available.

Hanging Out with a Few Fish; Utila, Hondruas; 2013
Snorkeling in Central America

 

Day 7

After traveling to 60+ countries, and 48 US states, I know how important it is to relax before your flight departure out of the city to your hometown. Thursday can be spent chilling by the pool, exploring the city, or doing absolutely nothing. The choice is up to you, and I will have a few suggestions for those feeling a bit more adventurous that day.

 

Day 8

Sadly, Friday is our last tour day and departure from San Jose. This will not be a good bye, but a “see ya” later! I am sure that our paths will cross again!

Street Art; San Jose, Costa Rica; 2013
Street Art; San Jose, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Included in the Tour:

  • All accommodations (mixed dorms) – these hostels have free breakfasts
  • All dinners
  • Transportation costs – Important: Depending on your flight arrival and departure, I may be able to pick you up and drop you off. We will have to discuss this further!
  • Zip lining, suspension bridges, and other adventures in Cloud Forest
  • Entrance fees to all exhibits
  • Entrance fees to hike San Luis Waterfall

Not Included in the Tour:

  • Flights – I suggest going on cheapflights.com to find the best deals
  • Visas on arrival and fees for departure
  • Alcohol
  • Lunches – Here, we will take advantage of more inexpensive local meals
  • Souvenirs
  • Travel Insurance – As mentioned below, this is part of the  requirements for these tours

Recommendations:

  • Mosquito repellent (DEET is best)
  • Suntan lotion
  • Shower shoes (for hostels)
  • Dry towel (perfect for a bath towel)
  • Comfortable sneakers (for adrenaline activities)
  • Carry on-sized luggage (smaller luggage is better for modes of transportation)
  • Small flashlight (Always come in handy)
  • Sense of adventure

Requirements:

  • Travel insurance – I recommend World Nomads, they have great plans including an explorer package! Please provide proof of insurance on your arrival.

Tour Prices:

    • $900 USD- Deposit of $450 USD is due to book a spot on tour, and an additional $450 USD is due 3 days before the tour starts. This service is through Paypal. Important: If you are unable to make the tour date, then we can discuss a partial refund, full refund, or other options. Please refer to the Q&A portion of this post.

Costa Rica Tour Payments
Date



Ways to Book:

  • Book through PayPal, select the payment and date of the tour, and then you will receive an invoice with your order.
  • Email my personal account – jrbenford0518@gmail.com (0518 are all numbers) and we can discuss further payment.
  • Leave a comment to this tour page, but please remember to email me so that I have your email address for my records.
  • Message any of my social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter are best.

Questions & Answers for the Tours:

  • Is this the right tour for me?

If you have a keen sense of adventure, adrenaline, conservation, education, and fun then this is the absolute best way to go! It is encouraged to be over 18, and is suitable for a first time traveler, a world traveler (like myself), or one that has completed a handful of trips.

  • Am I tour group material?

I will admit that I was part of my first group tour in March of 2015 traveling in El Salvador and Guatemala. I love meeting new people, sharing common interests with others, and above all else, exploring foods & cultures. I was nervous at first to join a group tour, but realized that on occasion, it is nice to travel with others and not plan my own itinerary.

My experience after the tour is what has led me for the past year contemplating to run my own tour groups around the world. I love educating others and am a huge adrenaline junkie. I hope that my tours will persuade you in either trying your own first tour group out for size or adding another tour group to your CV.

  • The total amount of people in the tour?

The tour will consist of no more than 11 people, 12 including myself. All modes of transportation can hold up to this amount, with luggage, so I wanted to keep the groups personal and small enough to fit into a pub.

  • You mentioned adrenaline activities, what is the proper attire for this?

The best gear to wear for adrenaline activities are sneakers (able to hike in), non-tight fitting shorts, capris, or pants, and shirts (I recommend button down shirts that have mosquito repellent built into them). As an advocate for anything travel related that you can purchase, try REI for dry towels, mosquito repellent, clothes, shoes, flashlights, etc.

  • Is it best to carry credit cards, ATM card, or cash?

After traveling around the globe, I find myself carrying all 3 methods of payment. In Costa Rica, there are ATM’s, please remember to let your bank know that you are traveling outside the country, along with the dates, and the locations where you will be at. Some places will take American dollars, while others only want Costa Rican colon. And other places will take cards.

  • What is the climate in Costa Rica?

For those bundling in winter jackets as you read this, I am happy to announce that you will leave those at home. The weather is going to be hot, sunny, and anxiously awaiting your favorite tank tops, board shorts & flip flops. Costa Rica is known for its quick rain showers throughout the spring and summer months. At night, it is best to bring a long pair of pants and a long sleeved tee for cooler evenings.

  • What if I have an emergency and cannot make the tour?

As soon as you notify me of an emergency situation and/or that you cannot make the tour, then depending on the date you can get a partial or full refund. Due to the deposits that need to be made earlier next week, we will have to act fast.

  • What other tours are you planning this year?

I cannot tell you how stoked I am to host this group tour in Costa Rica! And, with my love for Central America, I am definitely in the process of planning more trips within this region. Spoiler alert: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica (more destinations for adrenaline)!

  • What qualifies you as an expert in Central American travels?

I have spent the last 6 years touring the world.  I always find myself submerging, plummeting, diving, abseiling, hiking, etc. into the vastness of Central America’s jungles, lakes, and oceans.

In between my career as a Marine Mammal Scientist and my own world tour of driving my Jeep around the world, “The Voyage of Discovery,” I have made time to explore many of Central America’s countries and cultures. From the conservation projects I worked in Guatemala and Costa Rica, to the adrenaline activities all within this region, and the educational lessons that were taught to children in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, my love affair for Central America is deeper than I had ever envisioned. Central America is the perfect hub for sunshine, molding great friendships, eating local foods, breathing in the wildlife and beauty of each region, and overall just having a brilliant time exploring each country.

I will admit, the only country that I have not visited is Panama. I hope to change that this year!

 

Zika Virus Update:

It has been brought to my attention while I have been in Colombia, South America that the Zika virus has been more active in South America, Caribbean, Africa, and even North America. I am providing documents and recommendations on how to prevent tour members from getting the virus while we are traveling in Central America, specifically Costa Rica.
  • After all these years of traveling and not running a tour company, why are you doing so now?

The main reason why I am running a tour company, is because I have first hands-on-experience being part of a tour group. I have been involved in day, multiple days, and several week long tours. It is common to jump into a day group tour when you are traveling in a larger city. There are always attractions to see, and most of these excursions run tours. I have been on my fair share of day and multiple day tours while traveling in Europe and Central America.

I had the privilege to join my first tour that lasted for almost 3 weeks last March. I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to travel with Kate from AdventurousKate and Leif, the Runaway Guide. Both travel bloggers were a lot of fun, and the continuation of swapping travel stories for those weeks sparked my interest into thinking that I would love to do something like this. That particular tour took me through El Salvador and Guatemala with 14 people, and a thirst for adventure, great food, down-to-earth cultures, and overall an amazing time. This tour really did open up a new way for me to continent hop and travel in a way that I have always dreamt about.

  • The Zika virus is obviously an issue, how are you equipped to handle this virus during your travels?

The Zika virus is the newest public health threat, especially to pregnant woman. I am advising women who want to be pregnant this year, or are already to pregnant to NOT join my tour. Central America is vast with jungles, lakes, streams, waterfalls, and cities. From my personal travels, I always get bitten – ask any of my good mates that have ever traveled with me! After working and trekking around Africa for several years, I was on a Malarone fix. The truth is that the symptoms are horrible, but getting malaria is not something that I particularly want. With that being said, I have never gotten malaria or any diseases from mosquito, because I have a few simple rules that I follow.

The prevention methods, in my opinion, that works best:

A) Deet – it is very strong, but it fully does its purpose. My recommendation is 95-100%, and this works best. When applying deet or any kind of mosquito repellant, always place it over your clothing, squirt at the cuffs of your pant legs, and ALWAYS avoid eyes and mouth. This process takes if going slow, 10 minutes. It still amazes when I met travelers on jungle paths and/or next to waterfalls and they do not have any mosquito repellant on. It is better to be safe than sorry! Mosquito bites itch like crazy, believe me, before I was that traveler who did not put on mosquito repellant. After 500+ bites and days worth of headaches and itching, I soon realized that that I need to be more cautious (and travel savy).

B) Long-sleeved mosquito repellent clothing – I cannot tell you how many of these long-sleeve shirts and long pants I have stashed away in my drawers at home, but needless to say, there is an incredible variety, ranging from colors and thickness. There’s even long-sleeved shirts (I have a few) that come with mosquito repellent and SPF 50. These long-sleeved shirts and pants are perfect for hiking, adrenaline activities, night out, etc. I am a huge advocate for mosquito repellant clothing, because you never know when you’re going to be partying on an infested island of mosquitoes!

C) Avoiding being outside at dusk – Every entomologist will tell you that this is the worst time to be outside, when traveling in mosquito areas. Once the sun goes down and the breeze calms, then this is the time that the female mosquito is the most active. I avoid being outside at dusk like the plague, and always make sure that if I do want to be a rebel and head outside, that I deet up, grab a long-sleeved shirt, put on pants, deet one last time, put on sneakers with long socks, and venture out.

I cannot promise that my tour members will not get the virus, but I can reassure you that the prevention methods that I have mentioned really do work! I have been all over the world and have never gotten a virus/disease from mosquitos!

  • Why should I join you in Costa Rica?

I could give you a million and one reasons why you should join me on my first official tour; however, I believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are a handful of photographs to help persuade!

Here’s a look at your guide exploring the Best of Costa Rica:

Waterfall Repelling; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013
Waterfall Repelling; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Superman Harness; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013
Superman Harness; San Ramon, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Welcome to Manuel Antonio; Costa Rica; 2013
Welcome to Manuel Antonio; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Class V Rapids; Costa Rica; 2013
Class V Rapids; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Posing during Hiking; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Posing during Hiking; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Basking in Lake Chetal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Basking in Lake Chetal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Volcan Arenal; Costa Rica; 2013
Volcan Arenal; Costa Rica; 2013

 

Lake Chetal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013
Lake Chetal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Blue Jean Poison Dart Frog; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Blue Jean Poison Dart Frog; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013

 

Dead Green Sea Turtle Hatchling; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013
Dead Green Sea Turtle Hatchling; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; 2013

 

GET READY FOR AN ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME!

 


Costa Rica Tour Payments
Date



Phase 1: Part 5 – Newfoundland & Labrador Edition; North America (Segment 2)

The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 5 Route in North America
The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 5 Route in North America

 

A Close-up of The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 5 Route in North America
A Close-up of The Voyage of Discovery Phase 1: Part 5 Route in North America

 

Theme: The Voyage of Discovery    Phase Phase 1: Part 5 (Segment 2) Country: United States of America (USA)  & Canada    Language:   English & French      Unit of Currency: Canadian dollars    Location:  Canada: Labrador & Newfoundland    Year: 2015   Bucket list: Driving the Trans-Labrador Highway and Meeting a Discovery Channel team filming

Night Driving; Trans-Labrador Highway, Canada; 2015
Night Driving; Trans-Labrador Highway, Canada; 2015

ADRENALINE:

  • Continuing the Viking Trail in Newfoundland

Phase 1: Part 4 – Newfoundland & Labrador Edition; North America highlighted the UNESCO World Heritage Site, L’Anse aux Meadows and touched base on the history behind the famous site.

This time we re-visited the Leif Erikson statue and followed the Viking Trail until we could not go any further (the rest of the way led us into the ocean!).

 

  • Driving and ferrying to Newfoundland & Labrador
The Road Ahead; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
The Road Ahead; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Ferry Route #2:

This ferry route was from St. Barbe, Newfoundland to Blanc Sablon, Quebec.

 

 

  • Photographing the remnants of the Appalachian Mountains

 

  • Reflecting the beauty of Gros Morne National Park
Fall Reflections; Gros Morne National Park, Canada; 2015
Fall Reflections; Gros Morne National Park, Canada; 2015

 

Gros Morne National Park had the most incredible views of lakes and rivers. I found myself restlessly looking over the lake and gazing on the reflections of the fall leaves dancing off the water. The colors of red, orange, and yellow swayed back and forth on the lake’s surface.

 

  • Roadtripping to St. John’s, Newfoundland from Port aux Basques in moose territory

 

 

 

The drive to St. John’s was filled with wildlife. Josh and I managed to view 3 moose on the 10-hour drive from Port aux Basques, to St. John’s, Newfoundland. I swear the moose were bigger than the Jeep! Luckily, the 50-inch Rigid Industries light bar scared away all the moose running towards the vehicle.

The Road to St. John’s; St. John’s, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Once we arrived at HI City Hostel St. John’s, we were greeted by old friends, as well as new ones. We later met up with Igor, who joined us on the jaunt to reach Eastern North America’s farthest point, Cape Spear.

Jessica, Joshua, and Igor; St. John's, Newfoundland; 2015
Jessica, Joshua, and Igor; St. John’s, Newfoundland; 2015

 

The surprise of the night was that Sarah and Bridget, two of our old good friends, was singing in a karaoke competition. My favorite cover of theirs was “Riptide” by Vance Joy. This reminded me of my upcoming concert of Shawn Mendes, Vance Joy, and Taylor Swift!

Sarah and Bridget; St. John's, Newfoundland; 2015
Sarah and Bridget; St. John’s, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Here’s a clip of them singing Vance Joy’s “Riptide”

Jessica, Sarah, and Joshua; St. John's, Newfoundland; 2015
Jessica, Sarah, and Joshua; St. John’s, Newfoundland; 2015

 

 

  • Tackling the Trans-Labrador Highway

 

Before the Trans-Labrador Highway venture began, Josh and I were advised to try Dot’s Bakery, with their selection of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, donuts, cookies, and famous chocolate bakes. Our friends, Andy and his family that we met in St. Barbe, Newfoundland told us about this delicious bakery that we must try! I am sure Josh can agree, and we are so glad that we did!

Our favorite chocolate bakes consisted of chocolate and coconut, and chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers. Between the hot chocolate and the chocolate bakes were officially ready to tackle the Trans-Labrador Highway!

Dot's Bakery Goods;  L'Anse-au-Loup, Labrador; 2015
Dot’s Bakery Goods; L’Anse-au-Loup, Labrador; 2015

 

It was the first snowfall in Canada for the winter season. The weather ranged from 18-34 degrees Celsius and the vinyl of the Jeep Wrangler started to freeze. We had encountered many different elements of weather, ranging from rain, sleet, ice, hail, wind chill, and snow.

The towns that were in route of the Trans-Labrador Highway were Port Hope Simpson, Cartwright, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and Labrador City. The furthest North that we could physically drive was Cartwright, anything past that was all ferry routes to the local Inuit towns. Torngat Mountains National Park is the only preservation in Eastern North America that requires a few helicopters to reach there. Further past Cartwright was a valley of all woods with no roadways, and eventually that led into the Torngat Mountains National Park.

A book could be written from our experiences on the Trans-Labrador Highway, the 774.66 mile (1,246.69 km) road stretched from dirt, gravel, paved, to semi paved. When sleet mixed with these unique road systems, the roads got quite treacherous. On top of this, there were few gas stations between each town, and timing had to be just right in order to fill up right away and continue the journey. Accommodations were very limited, in fact, we came across a handful of hotels mainly in the larger cities (i.e. 1 in Cartwright, and few in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador City).

With a strategic stop in Cartwright and filling up my 2 spare fuel containers, the longest I drove on 1 tank of gas was 5 hours. Believe me when I say that I stretched that full tank of gas to the max! I told myself in the beginning that I would not night drive as frequently as I did, but on occasion I found myself in very remote locations exploring the towns and finding the road to continue towards Labrador City. Due to no cell reception, a satellite phone was needed for this particular trip, and mostly hotels and gas stations have these on standby. I was fortunate to pick up one in Cartwright!

After 3 days on the Trans-Labrador Highway, and a quick interview in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, I finally reached our destination of Labrador City.

Once we continued our voyage South towards the border of Quebec, we knew that the the Trans-Labrador Highway would be finished. As I crossed the snowy border of Quebec in the early morning hours, I shed a few tears remembering all the preparations I made for the year and the 3-day drive was soon to be a distant memory. And, in the blink of an eye my voyage of the Trans-Labrador Highway was officially finished and Josh was all smiles.

The climatic conditions, wildlife, and adventure added to the unique experience and if provided the opportunity, I would surely do it all over again! More in depth stories of our time on the Trans-Labrador Highway may be found here.

 

  • Trying moose burgers for the first time
Beautiful Fall Day; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Beautiful Fall Day; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015

 

Throughout my world travels, I have always been keen to try new foods. The opportunity to try moose burgers was not as frequent as I thought it would have been driving in the region. Josh and I witnessed a few sightings of moose and the locals told us that we have to explore the taste of this unique animal to truly appreciate the flavor of the burger.

The time had finally arose, and “Shells Meals on Wheels” was poking out from the distance as we made our way towards Dorset Trail. Dorset Trail lit up with Fall vibrantly colored leaves, various native rock types, and a trail leading down the valley.

The different rock types were sedimentary, virginite, massive sulfide, and altered gabbro. The Baie Verte Peninsula was home to tectonic elements and a famous geological site in the Eastern Part of North America.

Native Types of Rocks; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Native Types of Rocks; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015

 

The motorhome turned food truck, offered a variety of drinks, pub food (finger foods), seafood, and a mini latte bar.

 

The words, “moose burger” caught our attention, and quickly we ordered a moose burger, french fries with vinegar, BBQ chicken taco, and a honey mustard chicken taco.

Moose Burger; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Moose Burger; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015

 

Luckily, we met Roy Richards (he was very enthusiastic about pronouncing his last name as well), an older kind-hearted man who has spent his entire life working with the electricity lines that ran through the Eastern Part of North America. He explained how things were before electricity made its way through Newfoundland & Labrador. It is amazing to think that many locals did not have the ability to communicate with each other or watch TV during that particular period.

Roy Richards & Jessica; Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015
Roy Richards & Jessica; Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Roy Richards spoke non-stop about his admiration for traveling and cultures, his career in the electrical department, his family, his adventures in Labrador, his open-mindedness to meet new people, and his love for calamari. And, to top off the day he shared his calamari that he brought from Shells, and spent the next hour or so talking to us about our world tour. We both agreed, after we had eaten and continued driving, that we hope that all the people that we can encounter on this world tour are as incredible as he is.

Lonely Shed; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Lonely Shed; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015

 

In Josh’s words, “He was a really nice guy.” Roy Richards you are amazing, we hope to cross paths again in the future!

Shells Meals on Wheels & Oakley; Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015
Shells Meals on Wheels & Oakley; Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015

 

  • Venturing to the Point Amour Lighthouse

The sun was quickly setting and the last destination on my list was to visit the Point Amour Lighthouse in L’Anse au Clair before hitting the Trans-Labrador Highway. This specific lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada, and the second tallest one in all of Canada.

Darkness was peering outside the clouds and it was evident, that this was my last chance to explore Point Amour Lighthouse. I snapped a few photographs of the surroundings, lighthouse, and my Jeep positioned within the lighthouse. A solid 30 minutes had passed, and it was time to move on for the next adventure – starting the journey on the Trans Labrador Highway!

Point Amour Lighthouse; Labrador; 2015
Point Amour Lighthouse; Labrador; 2015

 

Below are a few creative shots that were taken in a dramatic and pop setting on my camera.

CONSERVATION:

  • Hanging out with Professor Dr. Robert J. Scott of the Bonne Bay Marine Station
Newfoundland Map; Bonne Bay Marine Station, Newfoundland; 2015
Newfoundland Map; Bonne Bay Marine Station, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Another visit to Gros Morne National Park led us to a long conversation about the nearby marine station that brings in 15,000-25,000 annual visitors in 3 months during the summer. This particular station was called the Bonne Bay Marine Station.

Bonne Bay Marine Station; Norris Point, Newfoundland; 2015
Bonne Bay Marine Station; Norris Point, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Gros Morne National Park was beautiful, and expands into its own region. The mountains in the distance were breath-taking and led my eyes down a trail of wonder. One of my favorite times to travel is in the Fall, especially since the colored leaves rested in the water during this time of year.  With the leaves and the overcast,  my photography in this region brought out scenes that were more dramatic.

 

Before heading further north to L’Anse aux Meadows, I spoke with the staff of Gros Morne National Park to ring the marine station and let them know that I was going to drop by. Before departing Gros Morne National Park, the visitor center was packed with loads of information of the park and surrounding areas.

 

I arrived at the Bonne Bay Marine Station and it looked like an absolute ghost town, no one was outside and there were few cars in the parking lot. Josh and I drove through the town of Norris Point seeking signs of civilization. We remembered that we were traveling in the off-season for tourism, which later explained why we had met few people during our time there.

After circling around Norris Point a few times, I decided to see if the Bonne Bay Marine Station was open. There was a sign outside the building that said, “Closed.” After much careful consideration and realizing that we just drove thousands of miles to be here at this very moment, we decided to follow the blue fish and orange starfish path into the front of the building.

 

To my surprise, the doors opened wide and I walked into a room of aquarium tanks and a small personal desk to the right of the door. A woman, Jocelyn, approached me and quickly became enthusiastic as she asked if I was the Marine Biologist that Gros Morne National Park called her about. Without hesitation, I grinned ear to ear and said, “Yes, that is me!”

 

Jocelyn discussed her husband’s work as a local fisherman and mentioned about the lobster population in the area. The elusive blue lobster is one of the rarest lobsters in the world, with only 2,000 left.

 

In a deep conversation about lobsters, fishing practices, and the beauty of Norris Point, Bonne Bay Marine Station’s Director and University Professor, Robert J. Scott made my acquaintance. He was helping to provide organisms to different schools in the area, with the assistance of Cornerbrook’s Environmental Officer and another biologist named Dennis. All 3 parties were collecting specimens (i.e. sponges, sea urchins, lobsters, flatheads, starfishes, tetras, scallops, sea mollusks, etc.) for the touch pool for the elementary and high school students.

 

It is refreshing that Bonne Bay Marine Station takes great pride into educating not only the visitors that experience the marine station, but also students locally and globally that are interested in Newfoundland’s diverse marine life.

We spent late morning and all afternoon discussing Robert’s curriculum that he teaches to his university students referencing both Science and Mathematics. I went on a solo mini tour around the station and like a kid on Christmas Day, was super excited to find all sorts of marine-related display items! The whale bones and baleen were interesting to physically touch and admire.

It was a behind the scenes look of the entire Bonne Bay Marine Station, its history, statistical analysis of annual visitors, and the organisms in the surrounding waters. It was definitely a highlight being part of that experience. Thank you Dr. Bob for showing us all your hard work and strong efforts of conservation within Newfoundland!

Robert J. Scott & Jessica; Bonne Bay Marine Station, Newfoundland; 2015
Dr. Robert J. Scott & Jessica; Bonne Bay Marine Station, Newfoundland; 2015

 

EDUCATION:

  • Exploring the Pinware River

On the way to the unpaved road of the Trans Labrador Highway, as crossing a wooden bridge,  I stumbled into a green scenery of trees and a river known as Pinware.

The view was magnificent with the bright green trees and a roaring bold river underneath the bridge that followed into the salmon community of Pinware.

 

 

  • Meeting a team from Discovery Channel’s “Cold Water Cowboys”
Rick Crane & Jessica; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015
Rick Crane & Jessica; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015

 

While waiting outside the ferry to board, I noticed a team of 2 guys taking video footage of the semi trucks, plow trucks, cars, and other vehicles. I later found them on the ferry and asked them what they were filming. A film crew that showcases a reality TV show about Newfoundland’s fishermen heading far offshore in treacherous conditions on the high seas, looking for new species to fish in the post-cod world. Tallying 6 boats and highlighting the lives of 20 men.

Josh & Tyson Hepburn; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015
Josh & Tyson Hepburn; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015

 

I met Tyson Hepburn, the show’s mastermind behind “Cold Water Cowboys,” a really awesome captain named Rick Crane from Cox’s Cove, NL, and a few guys that made up the film crew. To follow Rick’s journey, check out his website.

Jessica & Tyson Hepburn; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015
Jessica & Tyson Hepburn; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015

 

For the entire hour of the journey Newfoundland to Labrador, we discussed Tyson’s methodologies on how he got his show debuted on Discovery Channel a few years ago, Rick’s greatest catches along Newfoundland’s coast, and the lobster and crab target specimens for the show. The crew was filming for Season 3, and my Jeep may have made an appearance.

Rick Crane & Josh; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015
Rick Crane & Josh; Apollo Ferry, Canada; 2015

Special Message for Josh’s 26th:

Happy 26th birthday to my younger brother, Josh Benford! It’s been an amazing journey traveling around the US and Canada with you for the past year on my world tour, “The Voyage of Discovery.” Jeepin’ around the world would never been the same without my side-kick gripping onto the passenger seat as we off-road in various destinations within US and Canada.

I have had the pleasure to watch you engage with people of all different cultures, interview some of the coolest human beings on this planet (including Rick Crane from Discovery Channel’s Coldwater Cowboys), experience your first hostel, open yourself to new friends and acquaintances, embrace the world tour as a way to help both humans & animals, remind others why we are traveling, and taste many new foods along the way (Moose burgers, escargot, and haggis, just to name a few).

Your French is coming along amazingly well, and before our travels end in Canada, I am sure that you will become bilingual. This is something that I have always wanted for you, since you have an art for learning another language. It’s been a wicked transformation to see you start out as someone is well-traveled in the US to someone who is now well-traveled in both the US and Eastern Canada. The best part is that we still have a ton of exploration to do in the US and Canada.

I cannot think of anyone else who I want to spend this Halloween with, and at Taylor Swift’s concert! And, I truly do appreciate you being such a sport and coming with me to see my musical icon.

The photograph above is one of my favorite moments of your travels – we had the opportunity to sail with Rick Crane on a ferry Newfoundland to Labrador earlier this month. This was the first time that I really saw your personality shine. You talked to him about the fishing industry, their fishing methods, locations of the best fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador, asked about Discovery Channel’s Coldwater Cowboys TV show, and inquired about their involvement with Discovery Channel. You were very confident speaking to him, Tyson, and the rest of the crew.

 

 

  • Studying the maps of Labrador

With a trusty GPS, Atlas, and our smart phones as resources, before driving around Labrador and getting on the Trans Labrador Highway, we felt that it was important to stop and take photographs of the maps of Labrador. These were the most up to date maps that we had found in the area.

The maps were found posted outside the Labrador Coastal Highway Visitor Center. The Visitor Center was closed due to the off-season, but we were able to take a few snaps of the maps outside the building. The most useful information, in my opinion, were the distance charts and icons of what resources are available in each town.

 

INTERACTIONS AROUND THE WORLD:

As the journey continues, new photographs of the friends and family, my Jeep Oakley, and exciting destinations are revealed. I have learned so much about myself, the road before me, locations that I have visited, and why traveling holds a place in my heart.

From time and time again, I am reminded of why I started this world tour, and continued my global travels. The locals and friends that I have met uniquely make each new and exciting experience. The world has so much to offer, and I hope throughout this world tour that I can inspire others, and even you to open your heart and soul to a world that you may have never known existed.

Roy Richards, Jessica, & Oakley (Jeep); Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015
Roy Richards, Jessica, & Oakley (Jeep); Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015

 

Roy Richards & Josh; Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015
Roy Richards & Josh; Dorset Trail, Newfoundland; 2015

MEDIA COVERAGE:

It was incredible to be able to visit with CFBS radio station and catch up with the staff in Blanc Sablon, Quebec. After copying over my most recent radio interview in August 2015 on a memory stick, I spoke with the staff about keeping up with live interviews while I continued my travels around the world. I will keep you posted with this progress and for the next update!

 

The main focus of this segment was to drive the Trans Labrador Highway, and a lot of my attention and time went into prepping for this particular 3-day tour. Therefore, media coverage was minimal, but I did manage to re-visit our friends at CFBS radio station in Blanc Sablon, Quebec and attend an interview in Happy Valley-Goose Bay with CBC.

 

ENTERING LABRADOR:

It was hard to pass up an opportunity to take photographs such as entering Labrador. The big blue sign that read, “Welcome to the Newfoundland & Labrador, Home of the Big Land” caught my attention right away!
Signature Jumpin' Photograph; Labrador, Canada; 2015
Signature Jumpin’ Photograph; Labrador, Canada; 2015

 

Jessica & Josh Posing; Labrador, Canada; 2015
Jessica & Josh Posing; Labrador, Canada; 2015
I have to admit, I most likely took 100 photographs of this particular moment, and I am presenting you with some of my favorites! I used the settings on my camera, ranging from dramatic, pinhole, black & white, pop, and portrait. The results speak for themselves!

RECAP – CANADA’S TRAVELS IN PHASE 1: PART 5: 

It’s been a whirlwind of an adventure returning to Eastern Canada. With stumbling into limited wi-fi connections, coming across an increased abundance of moose, having grouse drop out of the sky (explain more later), hanging out with good mates that we met on the last segment of the world tour, introducing ourselves to new friends and acquaintances, trying moose burgers, capturing breath-taking photographs, and driving the open dirt/gravel/paved roads that lay before us.

Some of my favorite moments have been spent in a historic fishing village of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; watching the sunset over Terra Nova National Park; driving the red dirt roads in Prince Edward Island; learning about the tireless Acadians in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grand Pre; gazing at the reflections of the fall colored leaves over Gros Morne National Park’s lake; visiting the world’s largest globe, Eartha has been printed out via computer; and listening to my good mates,Sarah and Bridget singing their hearts out at open mic in St. John’s, NL. I must add, they did a beautiful cover of Vance Joy’s “Riptide.”

The most random event was driving earlier today from St. John’s to Gros Morne National Park, and a grouse literally flew out of the sky and landed right on top of my Jeep hood! Luckily, I have a hood jack that saved my windshield and left the grouse squeezed underneath it. It was definitely a heart-wrenching moment, and I was extremely thankful that it was not a moose or deer that hit me!

 

ROAD HICCUPS:

Imagine yourself driving down the highway. Traffic is minimal  and an array of sunshine is peaking through the clouds. You are rounding a turn, and “THUD!” a loud noise rickets across the hood of your vehicle.
Well, it was definitely a wake up call to have a bird (pictured), such as a Ruffed grouse fly out of the sky and land right in front of the windshield. Thankfully, my trusty hood jack prevented the grouse from actually hitting my windshield and possibly shattering it.
As I travel, I realize that roadkill may be encountered more often, and as a lover of animals, I am hoping that I do not run over these beautiful creatures. Cross your fingers (and toes!) for no more posts like this one!
Ruffed Grouse; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015
Ruffed Grouse; Newfoundland, Canada; 2015