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
- 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
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
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.
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.
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!
Here’s a clip of them singing Vance Joy’s “Riptide”
- 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!
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
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.
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.
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 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.
In Josh’s words, “He was a really nice guy.” Roy Richards you are amazing, we hope to cross paths again in the future!
- 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!
Below are a few creative shots that were taken in a dramatic and pop setting on my camera.
- Hanging out with Professor Dr. Robert J. Scott of the Bonne Bay Marine Station
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.
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!
- 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.
- Meeting a team from Discovery Channel’s “Cold Water Cowboys”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!