Category Archives: PHASE 1: PART 5 – NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR EDITION; NORTH AMERICA (SEGMENT 2)

Driving the Trans-Labrador Highway

Roadmap of The Trans Labrador Highway
Roadmap of The Trans Labrador Highway

 

The Voyage of Discovery’s Part 1: Phase 5 Newfoundland & Labrador (Segment 1) and The Voyage of Discovery’s Part 1: Phase 5 Newfoundland & Labrador (Segment 2) wrapped up the main highlights before and during the trip up to Newfoundland and Labrador; however, the Trans-Labrador Highway added a whole new level of adventure! A unique and adventurous experience that will all be revealed here.

Trans-Labrador Highway, is often referred to as the “world’s loneliest road” or the “most dangerous road.” I had spent months meticulously planning this particular route and at the start of winter in the far North-Eastern part of Canada. I wanted to complete this last portion of my tour, since after this trip, I would have driven the entire Eastern Part of North America. This was an accomplishment that took me exactly a year to achieve while balancing a full-time career as a Marine Mammal Scientist and my own personal world tour.

This was it, this was my moment to shine, and in October I was going to tackle one of the most isolated routes in the world, the Trans-Labrador Highway!

Final Destination of Labrador City; Labrador; 2015
Final Destination of Labrador City; Labrador; 2015

Let’s rewind a moment.

August’s last segment of the world tour was absolutely brilliant – ice bergs, humpback whales, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, to name a few. I was able to discover new terrain in Newfoundland, off-road in some of the most remote places that I have been to with my Jeep, and spend a few days in Labrador exploring Labrador’s Coastal Highway. I had just left a project in Colombia and was scheduled to head back in September, a month later. I had already spent a few weeks in Newfoundland, and was pushed for time. I could not continue my world tour to Central Canada and not fully embrace this untouched part of the world. I decided that I would plan my tour for October, and continue my route of ferrying and driving through Newfoundland to reach Labrador with my trusty sidekick, my middle brother Josh.

The Voyage of Discovery’s Part 1: Phase 4 Newfoundland & Labrador edition had finished. I made enough time to quickly drive back down to Myrtle Beach, SC, unpack from that tour, re-pack for my upcoming project, and head to the airport for my September project in Colombia. While I was on the plane all I could think about was that I needed to drive back up there, pack more survival kits,  and complete my tour of Labrador. Most of my good friends and family will know that when I am at work, this gives me time to plan for my next joint around the world, really wherever my head is at that moment. Majority of the holidays are adventure-related in one way or other, and this particular time with the continuation of my driving my Jeep around the world, this most extreme adventure was going to be tackling the Trans-Labrador Highway.

I laid out all my routes, looked up the gas stations in between, emailed accommodations and RV parks, computed my mileage in between towns, and even went as far to research small convenient stores along the Trans-Labrador Highway. It took me 3 weeks, but before I received my flight tickets to the US, I was officially finished with my road map and had even had memorized the limited gas stations that were available in that region. I gave myself one day to catch up some much needed sleep, bouncing back and forth amongst airports for two days, and that next night I was on the road.

Here is the route that will take me on the Trans-Labrador Highway, broken down into 3 parts and types of terrain:

The Southern part of the Trans-Labrador Highway, runs 254 miles or 409km:

  • Quebec to Labrador boundary (Blanc Sablon) to Red Bay ->          53 miles or 86km  *asphalt surface
  • Red Bay to Lodge Bay -> 46 miles or 74km  *gravel surface
  • Lodge Bay to Mary’s Harbour -> 7.5 miles or 12km  *gravel surface
  • Mary’s Harbour to Port Hope Simpson -> 36 miles or 58km *gravel surface
  • Port Hope Simpson to Cartwright -> 111 miles or 179km  *gravel surface

The Northern part of the Trans-Labrador Highway:

  • Lake Melville/Hamilton Inlet/Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Cartwright Junction -> Intersection: 54 miles or 87km + Highway: 177 miles or 285km  *gravel surface, with some sections paved

The Central/Western part of the Trans-Labrador Highway runs 341 miles or 549km:

  • Churchill Falls to Happy Valley-Goose Bay -> 179 miles or 288km *asphalt surface
  • Labrador City/Wabush to Churchill Falls -> 148 miles or 238km *asphalt surface
  • Quebec to Labrador boundary to Labrador City/Wabash -> 14 miles or 23km  *asphalt surface

Southern Part of the Trans-Labrador Highway:

The Southern part of the Trans-Labrador Highway is the most scenic, as it intersects with the Coastal Labrador Highway and continues on towards Quebec. I had stopped by the radio station, CFBS, in Blanc Sablon, Quebec to tell the staff hello and update them on my latest conquest. The staff there is absolutely brilliant, their positivity was the perfect boost that we needed to continue our journey.  After dropping by at Dot’s Bakery, we photographed Point Amour Lighthouse, once again, and started towards the Trans-Labrador Highway.

As I filled up my gas tank in Red Bay, I looked around the small coastal town, glanced at the sunset,  and it finally sunk that the preparations for 6 months was now into full drive, and I am moments away from hitting the asphalt and gravel surfaced roads ahead of me! This was it, this was the moment that I have dreamed about for so long. I had spent 2 years turning my basic Jeep Wrangler Sport into a proper African safari vehicle, and now she was about to take on the ultimate test! One last deep breath as I secured the gas pump, tightened up the spare fuel containers on the back, and rubbed the thick dirt off my shoes before jumping in the Jeep. I was minutes away from starting a remote voyage into the unknown.

The roads were full of gravel, Josh and I cringed each time a rock bounced off my Jeep’s bumper. Darkness was getting closer and we literally were in awe of the terrain that we were driving on. I have done a lot of off-roading with the Jeep, and it was guaranteed that at least two of the three days was going to live up to every off-roader enthusiast’s dreams. Once I reached Port Hope Simpson, I had decided to stop and fill up, even though I still had a little over half a tank left of gas. I had promised myself on this journey that I would take full advantage of every gas station on this road, even if I was only stopping for a few minutes to fuel up.

First Fuel Up on Trans-Labrador Highway; Port Hope Simpson, Labrador; 2015
First Fuel Up on Trans-Labrador Highway; Port Hope Simpson, Labrador; 2015

 

A woman shop owner of P & K Sports & Automotive was really sweet. She greeted me with a huge grin and then asked if I needed any help. I bought a few souvenirs and a few bags of chips for the road, since we had an unlimited supply of water in the backseat. She had started talking about moose hunting and how the season was almost over in Labrador. I went on to tell her how surprisingly good moose burgers were, and she gave me a big grin. She explained earlier that her son had shot a moose, and brought it to the shop to skin it – she said that if I would have seen it after he was done skinning it, that it would have a good travel story.

A woman and her daughter came into the store, commented on my Jeep outside, and told me that she had heard of me through the grapevine of Labrador. Crazy as that was to believe, it turned out that it was true – I was featured in a newspaper article that someone wrote about me in Labrador, and I did not even know about it! And, all of a sudden the question came, “Are you that Marine Biologist and World Traveler that had her Jeep broken into last time you were in St. John’s, Newfoundland?” I was caught off a guard to her question, but I replied, “Yes, unfortunately that was me!”

Fans of "The Voyage of Discovery;" Port Hope Simpson, Labrador; 2015
Fans of “The Voyage of Discovery;” Port Hope Simpson, Labrador; 2015

 

The shop owner walked outside with the woman and daughter, they stood outside for a few minutes looking at my Jeep. And, all three cheerful faces came back into the store and smiled back at me. They thanked me for stopping by their small town, the local shop, and snapped a photograph, and chatted a bit longer until I got back in the Jeep. It was an experience that I will never forget, because this town symbolized the kindness that I would continue to receive during my time on the Trans-Labrador Highway.

Northern Part of the Trans-Labrador Highway:

The road to Cartwright led me into the world’s most well-known area for salmon fishing. One of my new friends at the shop told me that presidents will stay up there during the summer months to fish for salmon. Considering I was standing in two feet of snow, I took his word for it. It snowed right after leaving Port Hope Simpson and it kept dumping white flurries everywhere! Inches and inches were forming on the roads, the highway, and next to the gas stations.

Cartwright is the furthest Northern town that you can go, there are only woods, dirt, and no roads. If you walk for a long period of time you could reach the Torngat Mountains National Park (but you have to hike for a long time, in order to do so!). The only accessible way to the Torngat Mountains National Park is by helicopter, which will drop you off to camp for a few weeks in the mountains.

Before my departure, I knew that I had to fuel up not only my gas tank, but two of my spare containers on the back of the Jeep. This was going to be an expensive fill up in Cartwright, but I could not risk being stranded in the cold on a very isolated highway. Up until this town, I had not seen any vehicles on the highway yet!

As the climate got colder and it got darker, you could feel the nip in the air. Rumor has it when you own a Jeep soft top, the inside gets really cold, especially while driving in negative temperatures. Personally, my heater stayed mostly on low, my brother and I were bundled in cold water gear (mostly hoodies, hats, and jeans), and inside the Jeep was cozy and warm.  So, we will keep them rumors for now. Regardless, we were comfortable, but the roads on the other hand, were covered in sleet, ice, and snow! And, this is how the Trans-Labrador Highway venture continued!


 

Central/Western Part of the Trans-Labrador Highway:

The small intersection from Cartwright to the Trans-Labrador Highway was completely covered in ice and snow. There were a couple of snowshoe hares running across the road as I slowly drove towards the highway. The plow trucks were not in sight, well, actually no vehicles were. It was the first time on this journey where I felt completely alone and somewhat, vulnerable of not knowing what to expect. Were my 33 inch tires going to rough out this adventure with me, and not get a flat? Am I enabling myself to run out of fuel by driving slower than I had originally anticipated? Was I going to encounter any vehicles before getting to Happy Valley/ Goose-Bay or Labrador City? With my brother passed out in the passenger seat, I took a few minutes to reflect on this world tour and the accomplishments that I hoped to achieve in the future. I know that I am meant to travel the world, as this was all that I ever thought about from a very young age and into my adult life – I pushed myself to be here in this moment, and to conquer one of the loneliest roads in the world. It then hit me, I now know why the Trans-Labrador Highway was and is still called one of the loneliest roads in the world.

Reaching Quebec; Canada; 2015
Reaching Quebec; Canada; 2015
Distance from Churchill Falls to Quebec Border; Labrador; 2015
Distance from Churchill Falls to Quebec Border; Labrador; 2015
Onwards to Baie-Comeau; Canada; 2015
Onwards to Baie-Comeau; Canada; 2015

 

Top 10 Essentials for Driving the Trans-Labrador Highway:

Most of the regions of Labrador are connected by road, except for the north coast of Labrador. In addition, there are also a few isolated communities that do not have road connections on the south coast and to Mud Lake in central Labrador. These are useful tips to keep in mind for preparations of driving the Trans-Labrador Highway:

1) Slow down when you see large vehicles or transport trucks approaching as gravel may spray and crack a windshield. Please ensure you have emergency supplies and a spare tire on board as the gravel can be sharp.

2) Your vehicle should be serviced before the road trip, ensured that the windshield wiper blades are in good order, plenty of window washer fluid, and make sure that the oil change is up to date. Personally, I had gotten an oil change before I entered Newfoundland, which in return, reassured no oil issues in Labrador. For snow: winter tires are highly recommended between the months of October and May. Optional: metal studs placed on winter tires to remove the factors of slipping, sliding and less gripping on the road.

3) In winter months, snow clearing equipment ALWAYS has the right of way. Important: be cautious of ‘black ice!’ A shovel, blanket, matches, flares, extra windshield washer fluid, spare tire, snacks, and water are critical.

4) Check the road conditions and weather forecast before you depart. Also, make sure that you have spare fuel canisters in your vehicle, as gas or petrol stations are few and in between!

5) There is no cellular service on the highway. The government has created a safety program so you can borrow a satellite phone for your road trip. This service is completely FREE. Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador must provide their driver’s license, while others must provide a credit card number for replacement if the units are not returned. Satellite phones are programmed to dial directly to the police and are for emergency use only. Pick up points for satellite phones: Wabush (Wabush Hotel), Churchill Falls, Happy Valley (Midway Travel Inn & Hotel North Two), Goose Bay, Port Hope Simpson (Royal Inn/Suites), Charlottetown (Alexis Hotel), Mary’s Harbour (Town Office),  L’Anse au Clair (Riverlodge Hotel) and Forteau (Northern Light Inn).

6) If traveling in the winter months, it is recommended to have a ‘block heater’ in the engine that will help prevent the battery from draining and the engine fluids from freezing. A small electrical plug will be visible in the front grill. Using an extension cord, ‘plug in’ your block heater when your car is parked for long periods (mainly overnight). Don’t forget to unplug before you turn on the engine and drive away! When it is extremely cold, it is a good habit to let the car engine warm up for 3-5 minutes, letting it idle before driving. Block heaters can be purchased and installed in Labrador City and Goose Bay, if your vehicle doesn’t have one already.

I will admit that I did not hear that a ‘block heater’ would be essential, until I was already in Happy Valley. My Jeep worked fine without one, but it depends on your preferences.

7) A portable weather radio with a built-in flashlight and lantern to keep up to date daily on the weather conditions happening around you. Also, it is important to know the highway weather conditions as well.

8) In winter, hat, gloves, boots, thermals, winter jackets, and long pants is suggested. Then in summer, toe-closed shoes, shorts/pants, hats, sunglasses, and suntan lotion could definitely come in handy.

9) During the summer months, insectivores or bugs can be plentiful. It is best to wear DEET covered clothing, spray for ticks and mosquitos, and wear SPF sunscreen long sleeves.

10) Have fun, be safe, and enjoy the outdoors! Remember to respect the wilderness, animals, and the beautiful surroundings ahead of you!

 

Distance from Churchill Falls to Toronto; Labrador; 2015
Distance from Churchill Falls to Toronto; Labrador; 2015

 

Journey to the Unknown:

Josh and I’s main mission was to drive the Trans-Labrador Highway for 3 days, a mix of paved and dirt roads. And, of course packed with lots of off-roading! Pumped that we brought you videos, photographs, and more travel stories! To top it off, there were very few gas stations, so the extra fuel containers on the Jeep definitely came in handy.

See you on the road! ;)

GPS on Trans-Labrador Highway; Labrador; 2015
GPS on Trans-Labrador Highway; Labrador; 2015

 

 

 

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