Noof’ n Lnd

Eric put Boss in Park behind a long queue of vehicles bound for the Rock. Marine Atlantic’s MV Blue Putees is an enormous ten deck ferry making an eight hour Cabot Strait crossing from the eastern tip of Nova Scotia to the western port of Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland. It was a sundown to sun up crossing, just like a redeye from LA to NY except without the time change. After more than 2400 miles of travel from the sun belt, and nearly 600 miles that day alone, we were ready to take whatever we could book.

There are no lines in either direction at our northern border.

A late dinner at the white-table clothed onboard restaurant followed by a retreat to the private 2-bed cabin with ensuite shower sounded amazing. People who had meticulously planned ahead did just just that while we elbowed for two seats together in coach in the brightly lit, noisy main cabin for the overnight transit.

Like Jonah of old, we were swallowed by the Blue Putees whale.

Locals who make the crossing frequently eschew the pricey cabins and instead throw yoga mats down on stained carpet between rows of seats for a Noof’ nLnd nap. Eric turned the multiuse Snuggy into a ground pad and blended in. Sheri twisted like a pretzel in the rock hard seat. Silent reruns of Wheel of Fortune played on multiple CCTVs. A long night later, caffeine from the snack bar coffee compensated for the sleepless night. Marine Atlantic was running on a reduced schedule which took one of the three ferries out of service making a cabin reservation inside of 6 months window impossible. It didn’t bother the locals so it didn’t bother us, recalling the T-shirt mantra from Big Bend, TX, Comfort Kills.

I was able to nab this premium floor accommodation without a RESERVATION!

Eric washed down a slice of leftover pizza from Joe’s in Nova Scotia with a last swig of coffee as he maneuvered Boss up from bilge parking. There was talk of an accessible boondocking area on Cape St. George jutting into the Atlantic three hours away. The island part of Newfoundland is about the size of Virginia except that the Rock has just one main road that traverses from the ferry landing in the west to the capital of Newfoundland, St. John, in the east. The distance is 600 miles or rather 900 km since we are in Canada. It makes it hard to get lost.

Sun’s up. Time to go.

All of Newfoundland, which comes with a huge chunk of mainland called Labrador is nearly the size of Texas but a lot of that land is way up there on the map where Mercator projections make it look distorted sort of how Greenland on a map looks to be the size of Africa (for the record, Africa is 14 times bigger than Greenland).

The payoff, boondocking at Cape St. George, Newfoundland.

Full of spicy little tidbits of knowledge like that, Eric and Sheri chatted up the locals while provisioning for their stay at Cape St. George. To a person, the locals were genuinely perplexed as to why anyone would come to their Rock. Dreaming of a day when they could leave, they were fascinated as to what life was like in America, especially Florida. They were genuinely happy for us having survived the mass shootings and gun violence that they understood to be prevalent in the States, especially Florida! We told them everyone in Florida was in a gang called HOA. It’s a rough life we assured them but being American, we were both expert marksman and our neighborhood had gates, so that helped.

Happy Hour

The Hest sleep system, stuffed into the Trango tent tucked into a protected den of stunted evergreen at Boutte du Cap Park on the coast at Cape St. George, was way more comfortable than a dirty hard ferry floor. Newfoundland scenery uses every shade of blue, grey and green from the Crayola crayon box depending on how much sun pierces the marine layer of clouds and mist. Out on the point at the Cape, we went from shivering to sun burnt and back again in 30 minutes throughout the days.

Whale watching in the Cabot Strait.

Boutte du Cap park has a spigot with potable water where travelers gather. A pair of 20-something Frenchmen from Quebec who make maps of the ocean floor for a living were enjoying their 2 months of vacation time and universal health care to bike the Rock. Mercedes, a self-proclaimed 60-something world traveler and environmentalist currently working the register at the grocery store in nearby Stephenville, invited us to dinner at her house which she estimated to be within an hour or two walk from the park.

No restrooms, No electricity, No showers, No problem.

An advocate for alternative energy, she touted the benefits of wind turbines and electric vehicles, except her electric vehicle, which was kaput. Mercedes had a Miller Lite tucked into the pocket of a green wooly sweater coat so clearly she was hike ready. We, on the other hand were going on 36 hours without sleep, and as tempting as a long hike to an undisclosed location sounded, we politely declined.

An afternoon gathering of odd folks.

Boondocking on the Rock is good therapy for the soul. Sheri went off on a spooky hike in search of the elusive Northern Gannet which remained elusive but she did find the breading grounds of the less elusive Kittiwake cliff dwelling gulls. More importantly, she made it back to camp. Eric reconfigured camp for a much needed spa day which included a en plein air shower that was almost warm while Sheri collaged en plain air by the cliffs.

How long should you wait for someone to come back from a solo hike before panicking?

Rain and sun took equal turns bathing the point, making literally any forecast of the weather correct. Like Mercedes, we are earning our hands-on college credit for keeping the fridge cold, devices charged, and bodies clean using renewable energy (bolted to the roof of Boss). For the time being, 40 miles from the nearest town, boondocked out on an exposed cape jutting into the North Atlantic, life is good on The Rock. …except the truck won’t start.

This is becoming an annoying habit. Can AAA even find us?

Noof’ n Lnd