Argentia, NL to Whitbourne
We had a smooth and enjoyable 16.5 hr sailing on board the MV Atlantic Vision, with its many amenities, including an excellent restaurant and comfortable cabins. We did not take advantage of the casino or cinema (Skyfall), but did listen to some live music in the bar for a while, before retiring to watch the ocean through our porthole. Newfoundland was visible in the grey distance this morning for a long time before we saw the harbour at Argentia. Our bikes survived the journey, having been secured with a number of rubber straps that Paul had been salvaging for the purpose from the side of the highways over the past several weeks. (Lois had not at first questioned the collection of these items, as this is the kind of thing Paul does from time to time!)
Just off the ferry, we stopped for photos at the “Welcome to Newfoundland and Labrador” sign, where we also said goodbye to Meghan, another cyclist also completing a cross-Canada tour. Thinking that an espresso would be nice before our day’s ride, we noticed a sign for Philip’s Cafe, in Placentia. Having just negotiated a very steep climb up from Argentia, this meant going down again to the next harbour (and back up), but it was well worth it. The roaring fire was not really necessary but there is definitely an autumnal chill in the air. Jim, from Florida, touring by motorcycle, with a friend on another motorcycle and another driving a Corvette, said we were his heroes and took a photo of us. Castle Hill, nearby, was the site of a French fort before the British took over the island in 1713. Our landing place, Argentia, was a US base during WWII and Churchill met Roosevelt aboard ship in Placentia Bay, in 1941, to finalize the Atlantic Charter.
We cycled north-east against a solid headwind, across the rugged “moorish”landscape, which looked bleak under the grey sky. We are staying in a rudimentary motel on the Trans Canada, where the water is running brown out of the taps, because of well contamination. Nothing, however, can damper our spirits tonight as we contemplate our final ride into St. John’s tomorrow!
Wildlife Notes: Northern Gannet
The original inhabitants of Newfoundland were the Beothuk People. The last known Beothuk died in the mid 19th century. They died out for a variety of reasons. The Island of Newfoundland was then the traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq People. There are several Mi’kmaq communities here. In 1949, when Newfoundland joined Confederation, there was no specific arrangement for the province’s Aboriginal people. While the Inuit and Innu of Labrador have negotiated land claim settlements, the Mi’kmaq are still struggling for status under the Indian Act.