Traveling to Newfoundland

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We said goodbye to Judy and Richard on Friday June 25, and headed north from Gorham up to visit Amy and George and our boatbuilder friend Kit in Brooklin, Maine for a day. It’s a 2-3 hour drive which usually feels like a big trip, but this time we were all geared up for a loooooong drive, so the trip to Brooklin seemed to go by in a flash.

We’ve been talking a lot with the kids about the intensely foggy weather we’re expecting to find in Newfoundland, so it felt very appropriate to wake up Saturday morning amidst a thick fog in Brooklin. The kids loved it there, running like crazy around and around Amy’s big grassy lawn. We got to see some wild bunnies and lots of wildflowers. We had lots of new coloring books and worksheets bought for the long trip, so Harriet and Sadie were very excited about drawing and coloring in their new books. We all had fun picking up road trip snacks at the Blue Hill food coop, and stopped by the toy shop, Out On A Whimsy, and got a few extra special road trip toys and fresh sketchbooks. It was hard to choose, cause everything in looked really fun. We had a wonderful summer dinner on the porch with Kit and Jesse and Deb and Amy. What a sweet way to say goodbye to Maine.

Sunday morning, up & early first thing on Sunday to head north for the border. We drove about 2.5 more hours to Calais and crossed at the St. Stephan’s 3rd Bridge border station. We were so anxious about crossing at the border, whether or not we had remembered all of the correct papers and documents, whether we had all the correct permissions and everything to get through. The borders are still closed due to Covid pandemic restrictions, and we were only able to enter with Mike’s official job offer and work permit in hand. It took about 2 hours to process the work permit at the border. I just walked the dog in big circles around and around the perimeters of the parking lots the whole time, while the kids sat inside watching iPads (thank god for iPads!) and Mike waited anxiously, answering occasional questions about his paperwork. After we finished the paperwork, we drove through a Covid testing tent, which was another elaborate process, and then finally we were free to go! We just followed the Trans-Canada highway northeast along the coast, through lots of countryside and occasionally beautiful glimpses of coastline and ocean. We weren’t really supposed to get out of the car, so we had to only eat drive-through food and pay at the pump for gas and only make quick bathroom stops. Hopefully one day we can redo this trip with lots of stops along the way to visit Prince Edward Island and Lunenberg and small towns and beaches and eat real food and stay in campgrounds … but with Covid restrictions we weren’t allowed to stop until we reach our final quarantine location (in Newfoundland). So we had to make the 27 hour drive all in one go.

Kiddos were pretty excited about being on the road, and also pretty much pacified with shows and games on their iPads. Sometimes I feel bad about screen time, but it’s a 27 hour drive soooo… I think it was the only viable option! We had to stop at the Nova Scotia border, out in the middle of nowhere, to show our pre-registered travel plans and IDs again, due to Covid restrictions. The day before we left, this border crossing had been cut off for about 18 hours by anti-vax protestors who stopped traffic until the RMP came and moved them aside! They were still camped out there, holding up signs in the blowing rain by the roadside, but they weren’t blocking traffic anymore. Around 5pm we pulled over for a dog break, and found ourselves in this deserted spot by a brackish lakeside in Nova Scotia… it was SO BEAUTIFUL that I had to let the kids out of the car to see the lake. There was absolutely nobody else around so I felt ok about bending the rules to spend a few minutes together on the pebbly beach, counting daisies and finding pretty oyster shells and driftwood and pebbles.

We stopped one more time to look at the view from a high hilltop on Cape Breton Island, the whole island was so beautiful and I wish we could’ve spent more time there!

We made it to the ferry terminal in Sydney, Nova Scotia by dinner time and had to wait a while before boarding. Laika got very upset about all the other dogs hanging out by the ferry terminal, so once again we passed our wait by walking in circles around the parking lot. The ferries are HUGE! There were dozens of cars and big trucks lining up to drive on, and finally in the blue hour after sundown we got to drive on and park. Poor dog had to spend the night in the car, curled up in her bed in the way back, with all the windows cracked. The rest of us had a little cabin with four bunks! It was very cute and fun. The kids were so exhausted they konked out right away. I loved sleeping with the gentle rocking of the boat and the low hum of the engine.

We woke up in the waters off Newfoundland! I think the crossing took about 7 hours? I couldn’t find my watch and we had changed time zones twice so I was totally disoriented in time. We had to get dressed and packed up quickly, then we were docking in Port Au Basque and we had to get back to the car. The poor dog was very relieved to see us! As soon as we drove off the ferry, everything was lush and green and foggy and seemed very much like how we’d always imagined Newfoundland!

And then we still had to drive for 9 MORE HOURS, across the entire island of Newfoundland. It was a long day. Beautiful drive, lots of pine trees but distinctly different from driving around Maine. Shorter, scrubbier trees, more dramatic rocky landscape. We drove through fog and rain and some gorgeous sunshine too. We got our first Tim Horton’s coffee in Corner Brook. Hopefully we’ll be back to visit Corner Brook again before too long! Everyone was feeling kind of groggy and definitely a little grumpy by the afternoon, but also excited to be getting closer and closer to our new home! We stopped by the road at a scenic pull-off on the edge of Terra Nova national park, and bought lunch from a older fella who had a hot dog cart set up next to his camper van. It was a very windy but beautiful spot!

We made it in to St. John’s around 6pm and caught a quick glimpse of the city on our way out to our AirBnB house in Portugal Cove, about 15 mins outside the city. It all looked wonderful and it was kinda sad to catch glimpses of the city and the landscape and the seaside that we couldn’t actually stop and visit. Our rental house was finally a welcome sight, we were all SO EAGER to get out of that car. 1242 miles in 2 days! Hopefully we don’t have to do that ever again. But we’re excited to be here, finally!

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