From Windsor to Corner Brook

Belle River, Ontario to Corner Brook, Newfoundland (Map)

Spring 2015


About a month before that baseball trip, I purchased a vehicle that was located in Ontario. Flying from Houston to Detroit after my trip with Clarkman, I would then pick up my vehicle and head back to Newfoundland.

My Mom also thought this would be a good time to tag along and see where I live.

^I think my GPS adds 5 hours for the ferry crossing.

I'd arrive in Detroit in the late afternoon, spending the rest of the day clearing customs and packing anything that I thought I'd like to drive east.

While I was a bit worried about being away from work so long, the freedom & flexibility of my job is the #1 reason I live where I do, so it was time to enjoy one of life's greatest pleasures: the lengthy road trip.

Unfortunately with worrying about missing more work, I didn't go as slowly or meander as much as I would have wanted. The first day was entirely a straight shot on the 401 through Ontario - save for stopping for lunch at a nice pub in Port Hope - trying to get past Montreal to avoid the next day's morning traffic.

As we passed Montreal into the night, I was concerned with my thoughts of the lack of amenities and accommodations coming in the Eastern Townships. (Although I was wrong here: sizable Saint Hyacinthe & Drummondville were up the road within the hour.)

The first hotel/motel I came across in Beloeil/Mont-St-Hilaire was the "l'Hôtel Rive Gauche - Refuge Urbain", which was one of those places that has woodwork and glass and makes you pay $150/night for the pleasure of sleeping amongst shiny things for the night. Instead, I took the time to drive into town and find the much more interesting and cheaper Mont St. Hilaire Motel.

The one thing I was bummed out by was the 'for sale' sign on the motel, but it still seems to be open.

Throughout the trip Ma was insistent that she was simply along for the ride & that I had enough of a drive to do without stopping anywhere for her. It's with that, that we went past the exit for Quebec City even though she'd never been there before.

From my experience, Quebec City is a city worth seeing. After going about 15km past the QC turnoff, I veered off at the next exit and returned to the highway going west, then spent the time to return, go over the bridge and drive around the old city. She was still going on about it being unnecessary, but in the end she seemed impressed and fascinated with the "narrow streets like you picture in Europe."

Returning to our regularly scheduled drive, the last Quebec highlight would come in Montmagny, where we happened to stop for coffee and I happened to mistakenly turn into downtown. This brought us down narrow, one-way streets, with funky Quebec homes mixed with old brick buildings and a beautiful church. This all made me very excited for that one day I finally do my Gaspé Peninsula trip.

We held out for late lunch in Edmundston, New Brunswick (above) because I remembered how much I liked the town from seeing it back in 2007. I still wanted to walk around and take pictures, but I have to admit a mill town in a valley doesn't hold the same intrigue anymore.

^Sadly we were too early for Mother's Day

There was a bit of a hurry today because my friend Rosie randomly happened to be in Moncton for a conference on the one night I would be passing through. So we met up for Mexicali Rosa's and then had some hotel drinks while we watched the Albertan election results. It was all a beautiful, pleasant little surprise.

The next morning before leaving Moncton, I remembered how much I enjoyed their skatepark and therefore pulled up the vehicle to the park and unloaded everything to put my bike together. Unfortunately, even though it was early friggin' May, we had already reached the cold part of Canada where the intense winds feasted on any desire I had to ride here. At least my Mom went for a walk over to the tidal Petitcodiac River that empties into the Bay of Fundy, where I then learned how intrigued she was by tidal rivers. I guess I should have allotted some time for Hopewell Rocks?

For lunch we would go off the highway and into Truro, since there hadn't been a Taco Bell since Ontario. While there may be some in Quebec, there weren't any to be had in New Brunswick at the time (this has since changed with one opening in Dieppe).

The reason I stopped in Truro is because I didn't think I'd have enough time to drive into Sydney; but now that we were on Cape Breton Island, I realized we had more than enough time. As in, 7 more hours than we needed.

Since I'm not of fan of sitting at the Newfoundland ferry terminal, I was happy to finally get out of the car and maybe see about this lighthouse below the impressive Seal Island Bridge.

The Seal Island Bridge is an impressive bridge not just for rural Atlantic Canada, but simply on its own. As you pass over it to approach Sydney or continue along the TCH off of Cape Breton Island, you're high enough above the channel that you nervously picture plunging into the chilly waters and quickly go back to paying attention to the road.

For comparison, the Seal Island Bridge is 716m (2350ft) long, while the Ambassador Bridge is 2300m (7500ft) long. Regardless, as I scrambled down the hill and then along this path, I felt small beneath the looming structure.

After some light bushwhacking, this moving creek would've provided the most trouble, but thankfully someone placed this handy ladder across.

The ladder flexed and as I crouched down to try and balance and twerk with the wiggle, there were thoughts of possibly falling into the drink in a much more inconvenient position. Happily, I turn and scampered up the far side as I eventually reached the end of the ladder.

Even though journeys always feel longer when you have someone waiting, I couldn't have been more than a half hour getting down to the McNeil Beach Lighthouse. This is one of the lighthouses I tried to get in January of 2012, but failed after I couldn't find the path beneath the snow.

In the above picture you can also see how I would have viewed this lighthouse for years during use of the Seal Island Bridge, but it mocked me until I finally reached McNeil's Beach today.

The McNeil Beach Lighthouse was built in 1884, automated in the 50s or 60s and stood abandoned in 1990, according to the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society. I found signs of renovation on my visit, but sadly it looked like a failed renovation with everything now blown wide open, windows smashed and clean interiors graffitied.

Looking online, I see pictures of a freshly painted lighthouse on the Boularderie Island Historical Society webpage - so I guess it was renovated sometime between May 2015 and December 2016!? That's not how I expected this story to go, three cheers for them.

Stepping inside the lighthouse, I was alone on the main floor with poor options for getting up to that clearly great view of the Seal Island Bridge. I could see a ladder up another level, so all I had to do was conquer one floor, but after a couple of attempted pull-ups, it just wasn't happening.

While I imagine many of you already put this together because you're quicker than me; yes, I realized that creek ladder was from the lighthouse, just as I reached it on my return journey. Hoping to save it from being washed out to sea in the spring melt or upon the awakening of bored vandals, I stashed it in the woods a little bit, where hopefully someone from the society found it.

Returning to the vehicle, there was still plenty of time to ride the North Sydney Skatepark. It's there that I fired out a handrail trick I was really excited about and then also smashed my peg into the fleshy expanse between my ankle bone and achilles tendon. Thinking I broke something in my ankle because of how it instantly went numb and tingled around the numbness, we headed over to the North Sydney hospital where a departing nurse said that it was likely I only hit the nerves. I was free to go inside, but it probably wasn't worth missing the ferry over.


And with that, I was soon enough living large on the ferry, sleeping in a cabin because my Mom wasn't about sleeping in the lounge to save money.


Some of y'all might also be interested in what we got up to during the handful of days my Mom stayed around Newfoundland.

Since she wanted to see – "if possible" – a moose and also an iceberg, I decided to head up the Northern Peninsula towards St. Anthony. This is after I effortlessly drove all but 5 minutes of the trip from Belle River to Corner Brook. (I sometimes wonder if a road trip would ever be long enough to make me tired of driving.)

Even though I drove the Roddickton highway where you always see moose, the best I could do were some caribou near the St. Anthony Airport. This means I need to have my Newfoundland tour guide certification revoked, if I can't even deliver 1 of the 120,000 moose here.

I also don't know what I was thinking with going to St. Anthony to see icebergs. This was that awful winter – so because the sea was still all locked with ice, I thought the best bet would be going up to St. Anthony to see the icebergs before they made their way down towards Twillingate?

The best I could do were these pushed up sheets or small floes off the coast of White Cape in St. Lunaire-Griquet...

...and some small floes in the harbour at St. Anthony.

One funny thing with chasing the icebergs was how my Mom freaked out about the 300m, gravel, lined-with-houses street in St. Lunaire-Griquet. I can't imagine what she'd think about some of the woods roads, lighthouse access roads and coastal roads I drive on in this province! I should have brought her on the 337km gravel road to Cartwright it seems, haha.

At least I was able to deliver the Fox Point Lighthouse? Which also worked really well because of how cold it was, following my Mom questioning needing a winter jacket in Newfoundland in May?

And then it also snowed a bit in the late evening for effect.


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