We wanted to get into Labrador and found there was a good ferry service. We also heard there was a coastal service to Nain which appealed but the realisation that a lot of its time would be in open water - not a good idea for poor sailors - and logistic arrangements ruled this out pretty quickly. We wanted to see as much of the island as we could and reckoned a month would be about right. We thought we ought to have a quick look at Nova Scotia and decided to spend a week there on Cape Breton Island (where Louisbourg was a major draw) and the Eastern Shore. We reckoned September would be after the rush and yet not too off-season and we would leave Nova Scotia to last on account of advancing autumn and the risk of delays causing problems in Newfoundland.
We would rent a car and aim for cabins and B&B hoping to do as much self-catering as possible. We were aware that Newfoundland is big on distances and short on settlement. We knew that many places we went would have very limited facilities in terms of shops and opening hours.
Getting there and back
Rather than fly to and from St John's once in Canada (which would have meant a dead-mileage day one way) we decided to get a local flight from Halifax to Deer Lake in the west of Newfoundland and a one-way car hire to St John's for the return to Halifax.
We used Enterprise for car hire. Having used them in the Prairies we knew they allowed you to drive on gravel roads, of which we would encounter several in Newfoundland. Our original plans had been to go to Battle Harbour while in Labrador but Enterprise would not let us use the gravel road beyond Red Bay which "is very rough". We heard mixed reports of this road but the restriction was not too onerous. They would also do a one-way hire from Deer Lake at that time of year (one-way bookings can be difficult in Newfoundland).
At Deer Lake we were given a Dodge Avenger which Michael (the driver) hated. It was big, cumbersome, noisy and gutless. Even after 6000km he still wasn't happy with it. However it was roomy, comfortable and had a good gearbox. From Halifax we had a Chevrolet Impala which was an immediately likeable, lively motor car and a dream to drive, only let down by a very slightly snatchy gearchange.
Newfoundland roads were very, very empty in general, although parts of the Trans Canada Highway were quite busy at times. The major hazard to take very seriously indeed was the risk of hitting a moose. Moose are very large, heavy animals which can do serious damage to the passenger cabin of a car in an accident. We did encounter a lot of extremely heavy rain which some roads did not shed well and this actually presented traction problems on some hills at times even with a very light right foot.
As on other trips we had taken some supermarket trolley bags and these were left in the car with things like waterproofs and sweaters which enabled us to stack our small checked suitcase (with stuff in it) inside the now empty large suitcase.
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