Plancentia, not Placenta
It turns out that our prime sleeping spot last night was actually someone’s driveway, luckily no one was home or came home to find strangers sleeping on their doorstep! In reality, if the owners did come home they probably wouldn’t have minded us staying there from what we are told by the locals.
I think a very profitable business here on the island would be to own an ATV dealership. Everyone here has quads! The driveway we slept in was a large gravel pullout on the side of the road, with a 200m quad trail up to the house, aka their driveway and the only means of getting to the house was walking or by quad. All this quadding business makes for a lot of trails which leads to amazing trail running. There are narrow four-wheeler paths and well-maintained gravel roadways specifically for ATV and snowmobile travel. Another great training tool in Newfoundland is the wind, either you are running uphill with the wind or downhill against the wind, it seems, so you are always putting in the work.
After my brisk run, Alex and I checked out some cliffs and finally splashed around in the Atlantic Ocean. Together we have been in the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. We didn’t stay long enough to swim in the November-cold Deep Blue but instead set out to find a good hot coffee! I had read about a specialty café in Placentia (that is pronounced with a soft ‘tia’ like ‘ta’) that has its home in a well-kept 100-year-old building. It was a bit of a detour but it would be worth it…until we arrived and found that it was closed – much like everything else out here that is supported by warm-weather tourism. There is always a Tim Hortons open though (individual opinions will vary whether that is helpful or not). Anyway, one really cool thing about the detour, we travelled a gravel road for about 70km on which we happened upon a deep crevasse with an old bridge (built in 1926) spanning the gap. We stopped to descend and ascend the many stairs in the small park surrounding the bridge and have our lunch picnic out the back of the van. Then, a scary thing happened…birds attacked!!!! It may have been the avocado pit I tossed onto the road or the smell of Atlantic salmon on our wasa crisps, at any rate the birds wanted to peck out my eyeballs! In actual fact the birds were disconcertingly friendly and would fly directly at you in attempts to snatch your food from your hand.
We continued on from there in the direction of Cape Bonavista, a well preserved coastal town, which would mark the end of our travel day. Around 4:00 every day, Alex lets me out to run around before the darkness hides the world outside. Here is another situation where all the Newfoundland ATV trails come in handy! There is a maintained trail paralleling the T.C.H. and serving traveling runners at their convenience.
From there, in Newfoundland darkness, we were able to find a McDonalds for a McCafe coffee, but another frightful thing happened there…their espresso machine was broken!! No Americanos!! (Btw, this is the second McDonald’s we have been to with their espresso machine broken and we are beginning to think that because espresso is such an uncommon thing here, the employees don’t actually know how to use it and just say it’s broken…that’s my theory anyway). A coffee tragedy but we can get over it.
Alex is a trooper driver: navigating random windy streets in small towns and finding quiet places to campout for the night. We visited the Bonavista lighthouse in the dark before taking a turn onto a side gravel road that led us along the coast and onto a flat grassy bed with…(CAUTION: another terrifying moment)…waves crashing and cliffs on every side!!! Alex wanted to park right at the edge but I was convinced that I would die. Fall off when I had to pee, and die. Finally, Alex did rearrange our campsite and we both lived.
From Placentia we headed more or less directly to Bonavista, our destination goal for the day. Again we did much of our travelling in the dark so the world outside was featureless and bland. Eventually we arrived in Bonavista and were tasked with finding a quiet place to set down for the night. Once through the town of Bonavista we made our way out onto Cape Bonavista where at the end is a large lighthouse, and judging by the satellite image, plenty of unused land, perfect for car camping. We found a few decent places to set up near the lighthouse, but Alex wasn’t quite satisfied and we decided to check in the provincial park portion of the cape. As we’ve mentioned previously, most places are closed for the season so it was on our minds that the park may be closed, to our surprise it was not, and lucky us, it was prime for the picking when it came to spending the night. We drove around in the darkness till a gravel road split off and we decided to follow that. After a few meters and over a small rise on the new road we found ourselves surrounded on three sides by cliff and crashing waves, we had unknowingly driven out onto a small outcropping of land which quickly dropped off into the ocean. This of course was destined to be our camping spot. Alex threatened numerous times to park the van at the very edge of the outcropping, but with my loud and well-asserted protests I won out and got him to back the van away from the edge a suitable distance to feel ‘safe.’ I managed to have at best a fitful sleep while waking up thinking we would roll off the edge into the sea. Good first memories of Bonavista.