Summer travel * from the West Coast to Newfoundland

Summertime is perfect for daydreams, and made for traveling.  This summer we had the chance to make a travel daydream a reality!  You may know, I am married to a man with just a bit of wanderlust.  Not too much so he is gone a lot- but just enough to be willing to go that extra mile for a dream.  For as long as I can remember I have wanted to see the Canadian Province of Nova Scotia.  Hubby’s dream went just a few miles further, to Newfoundland.  This summer we decided to work our way across the country and two Canadian provinces to see what there was to see in Canada’s eastern-most country.

Traveling as we do, in a Semi tractor – working our way along isn’t the quickest way to travel.  And there are some challenges and limitations to what you can see and do along the way.  It took us 13 days and four loads to go from home in Oregon to deliver in California, pick up in California to deliver in Texas, pick up in Texas to deliver in Illinois, and finally pick up in Michigan to deliver in Newfoundland.  Altogether we drove roughly 6000 miles to get there, and put the semi truck on a ferry to cross the North Atlantic.

Now this post isn’t really about the lifestyle of being an over the road driver (though I hope to write about that subject soon).  It’s to share some of the amazing vistas that we did get to see, and a bit of the experience of traveling across such a rugged landscape.

It took us one whole day to drive across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  The landscape changed fast, and the countryside is wild with old towns and farms scattered along the horizon.  We saw plenty of “Beware of Moose” signs, and we later learned just how serious a warning these actually were.

Nova Scotia

This photo was taken as we crossed a river in Nova Scotia.  The hills are covered with woods and forestland.  The rivers are plentiful and the sky was just a gorgeous summer blue.


The ferry ride to Newfoundland was a comfortable 6 hour ride.  The ferry is 8 decks high, with 3 decks for cars, RV’s and semi-trucks.  The crossing over our truck rode on the top deck.

Foggy Cliff from window

We arrived on the island just after 6 p.m.  The weather was misty and cool, and the strange mountains were obscured by the low hanging clouds and fog.

Square house

Our first delivery was all the way across the island, in Trepassy.  It took us a full day and a half to drive cross country. The hot summer sun gave way to chilly fog in the southernmost peninsula of Newfoundland. (NL)  We spent the night in the parking lot of the customer, and took a walk in the small town.  Most of the houses were square like this one, and didn’t look occupied at all.

Pup on the rocks

We had a chance to walk on the beach too.  Rayne and I spent some time in the morning walking on the rocks and just enjoying the fresh but chilly air.

Fishing cove

After we made our delivery we drove north and finally out of the fog.  I try to take photos as we drive along – some aren’t very good but once in a while I do capture an interesting scene.  There are many bays and coves along the shore.  The local economies of many of the small towns we drove through runs on the seafood from the North Atlantic.  We saw countless scenes like this one as we traveled across the land.

pennisula view

The island seems to be made of rock and giant cliffs.  We would round the corner of the highway to see amazing vistas – cliffs cloaked in fog, shimmering in the summer sunshine and heat.

fishing boat

Our last delivery was in Witless Bay, where I had the chance to walk around.  This rocky beach was littered with herring rotting in the summer sun.  The odor was strong, and very tempting to the pup. I had to keep an eye on him, as he kept trying to eat the pungent fish!

rocky cove

We were very pleased with the sunny, warm weather.  And surprised to find out that they were experiencing record-high temps this year.


The wild landscape was dotted with wildflowers, and Fireweed was very common.  This field had Fireweed, Lupine gone to seed and something that may have been St. Johns Wort.


You know I can’t resist getting up close and personal with the flora.  This wildflower had raspberry shaped leaves and clusters of attractive popcorn looking blooms.  The moths were all over them!

cape spear

So I told Hubby that I really wanted to see a lighthouse and some Puffins when we took the time for some sight-seeing.  The puffins would have required a boat ride, which I wasn’t really up to.  So we opted for a trip out to see a light house.

eastern most point

Cape Spear also happens to be the easterly most point on the North American continent.

wale watching

While we were walking on the cliffs there were humpback wales spouting and breaking in the water offshore.

Pt Spear

This is Cape Spear lighthouse, 1836, the oldest surviving lighthouse in NL.  In 1912 modern equipment was installed, and is now in use in the Modern Lighthouse right next door.

Pt Spear w chairs

This is the Modern lighthouse (below), built and put to use in 1955, it’s still used today.

Pt Spear modern

Pt Spear modern w chairs

Pt Spear modern w fence


We also drove out to Signal Point to see the view over the bay in St. Johns. (The capitol city)

Signal Hill


North Atlantic

A freighter leaving the busy harbor and heading out to the North Atlantic.  At the top of this photo is Cape Spear.

harbor light

Another lighthouse at the mouth of the harbor.

harbor houses

The buildings were built on the sides of the cliffs, with roads running so close to the edge.

North Atlantic view

The locals even talked about the icebergs that travel to the island in late spring, clogging the harbor.


After a day delivering and looking around St. Johns it was time to take the long road across the island to the ferry.  In the 2 days we had been on the island we had seen the Beware of Moose signs, Moose fencing and even areas that were well lit with sensors to tell you that moose were on the road.  It’s really a big deal, for good reason.  We had seen moose along the side of the road during the day, but they really come out at night.  You are not advised to drive then.  But we were around an hour short of daylight, and found ourselves chasing the sun to get to the western end of the island to Port Au Basques.  We ran through a storm, and I captured this rainbow.

Just as we were leaving our last rest stop, around dusk, we came upon a long line of stopped cars.  There had been a collision involving a moose and a compact car.  The moose wasn’t very large, but it was dead by the side of the road and the car was totaled with a smashed front end and windshield.  And we still had about 2 hours left to drive.

I am happy to report we did arrive in one piece to the ferry.  But the drive was long and nerve-wracking.  We seemed to count the minutes of daylight we had left, and once we were traveling in the dark we wished for a set of the Moose Lights we had seen on the local drivers’ semi-trucks.  And a moose guard for the front of the truck.  Our little deer guard, which looks pretty solid, was just about half the size of the moose guards they were running.  At one point we saw a black shadow on the right side of the road that turned into a black bear heading to cross the highway.  He turned around just before the right wheel of the truck would have hit him.  Of course it only took a few seconds for that to occur, but that few seconds was burned into our minds the rest of the trip.  Aside from a whole bunch of frogs sitting on the roadway and a lone fox, we never saw another critter.

night ferry

We spent the night in the ferry parking lot, and boarded the next morning.  As we left I took some snapshots of the exotic looking harbor that had greeted us four days earlier.

Port lighthouse

Port houses


This last photo was taken as we stopped for the night in Nova Scotia.  It took us another day to drive back to the U.S. border in Maine.

Nova Scotia sunset

What an adventure we had!  We saw moose, fox, black bear and wildflowers.  We talked to some of the friendliest people you can ever know, and drove to the furthest point East in North America. On the ferry ride home we saw birds and porpoise along the ship as we ate our lunch.  We watched humpback whales off shore, and enjoyed some amazing summer weather.

I wonder where our next trip will take us?


2 comments on “Summer travel * from the West Coast to Newfoundland

  1. Candace says:

    I was just going to say what your other commenter said about “The Shipping News.” It seemed like a beautiful yet hard place. What an exotic trip. I’m glad you both got to fulfill your dreams. Really lovely, such blue skies.


  2. Ann Morlan says:

    I really enjoyed your pictures, have been interested in Newfoundland ever since I read ‘The Shipping News’ years ago, a real pleasure to see your vistas. I hope you do write about your travels. ~Ann Morlan~


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