Category Archives: Camping

Travelling Iceland By Camper Van – Part 1

It is the year anniversary of me going to Iceland as I write this and it is still one of my favourite countries for natural beauty. It truly is wild, rugged and stunning. My friend and I hired a camper van out of Reykjavik and because I had a luggage limit I bought about 20kg of noodles and tins of food with me from the Lidl Supermarket in London as I knew food was going to be expensive. We got our van, and equipped with a map and about 22 hours of daylight every single day we started driving north. Iceland still proves to be one of my favourite countries in the world for its’ sheer natural beauty. If ever you get a chance to go, you definitely should! Here is what my friend and I got up to in that week.

Day 1 – Reykjavik to Oxnadalur

After picking up the car in Reykjavik and getting equipped with some fuel for the stove, we drove north and despite getting semi lost on the way up, we eventually found our way out of the city, over the wrong bridge and on our way. We stopped in to see the Glymur waterfall and dropped in at Deildartunguhver, the worlds most powerful hotspring. We then drove via Reykholt and stopped in on a historical center before checking out the Barnafoss waterfall. These falls were impressive and we walked around for an hour or so taking pictures and checking them out.

Barnafoss

Our last major stop for the day was at the Grabrok lava fields and craters, which were again, super cool. After there wasn’t too much in the way of things to see for the next couple of hours so we continued to drive towards Akureyri until we got tired.

Grabrok Crater and Lava Fields

As we came up over this hill, there were some amazing views of the mountains so we parked the van in a carpark, ate some dinner and crashed out for the night to the stunning views of Oxnadalur, which don’t of course disappear when the sun doesn’t go down.

The van camped at Oxnadalur

Day 2 – Oxnadalur to Jokulsa a Dal

We made our way to the larger town of Akureyri in the north and stopped in for a while and had a drink in a coffee shop. We wandered the streets checking out the quaint fishing village before we drove on through to the Godafoss waterfalls, and on to Namafjell and Jardbodin where they had some awesome geothermal mud pits and springs.

Namafjell

We decided that since it was bath time we should stop in the springs and swim about for a bit. They were so nice and warm and had incredible views. It was such an amazing experience. And after the bath we continued to drive on.  We arrived at this place called the Viti Crater which means hell in Icelandic. It was cold, but absolutely stunning, and oddly frozen over.

Viti Crater

We tried to head north to see Detifoss waterfall however we got stuck in a fog and decided that this wasn’t the safest path to take so we turned around and continued our way east along the ring road. We parked the car somewhere around Jokulsa a Dal and had another sleep in the bright lights of constant sun.

Day 3 – Jokulsa a Dal to Hofn

We drove on through towards Seydisfjordur, down the stunning winding roads before the coast and spent some time hanging out in the port town. On the way back up, there was a really cool waterfall, Gufufoss and we stuffed around for a while taking pictures of ourselves in our Cinderella and Dora the Explorer masks that came along for the ride with us.

Gufufoss

As we continued along the winding road we stopped in a town called Djupivogur where they had massive whale bones on display and some really cool things in one of the garden shops there. We explored these some more before making our way to Hofn where we camped on the side of the road for the night.

Whale bones at Djupivogur

While we drove most of the north super quickly, I did really enjoy the time I spent up here. It was a really cool start to the journey…. but all of the things that we were both super excited about were in the south and we were yet to get there…

To see what we did in the south, check out Part 2 next time!

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Canada By Bus: Leg 9 – Vancouver Island And The End Of The Road

So to make it all the way to the western-most point of Canada just so I could say that I have been all the way overland from east to west, my across Canada trip wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Vancouver Island.

I took the local bus to the ferry and caught the ferry over to Victoria, the major city on Vancouver Island. It was a beautiful day so I went for a walk around the legislative building and sat upon the lawn listening to a free concert that they had playing for a festival. I also went to visit the Antarctic Exhibition at the museum. One of the biggest things that struck me about Victoria was the sheer number of homeless people that the government had literally shipped over to Vancouver Island during the Vancouver Winter Olympics. It was so sad to see how many of these people were scattered about the streets with nowhere to go and it was in a way very heartbreaking.

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The stunning harbour in Victoria

I got my rideshare up to Nanaimo with Marika who was really lovely. Nanaimo was a dead town so it was on the bus to Tofino. It was beautiful in Tofino but quite cloudy. I went for a wander around the town and checked into the hostel. I didn’t book before arriving and this was again going to bite me in the butt when they tell me they have only two of the three nights I wanted and as such for the middle night I was going to have to find somewhere else to stay… an interesting feat given that the town appeared to be booked out with accommodation.

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Mushroom Island… my home for the evening

So I set off with my one man camouflage tent in search of somewhere to pitch a tent for the evening. I took the bus to Mackenzie Beach, decided that $40 a night to pitch a tent was ridiculous and then trotted over to the aptly named Mushroom Island to find somewhere to illegally pitch my tent and hope that the cops didn’t find me. I found a pretty good place, or so I thought, shaded by fallen trees and other bushes. I set up my camp, went back to the campground to use their facilities and stock up on water supplies and headed back to my campground to find that it had been discovered by some hippies from the commune Pools Lane down the road. They had started to build a fire no more than ten meters from where I had pitched my tent and were sitting around playing their ukulele and smoking. So I hung out with them for the rest of the night around the fire with the soothing sounds of others playing music next to their bonfires along the beach. Eventually they said goodbye and went back to Pools Lane and I went to bed.

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My not so well hidden tent

I awoke to a dog sniffing around my tent. I poked my head out to discover that I had been yet again found out by a dog and a couple of kids wandering through the paths of the island. I decided it was time to get up, pack up my stuff and make tracks back to Tofino. I spent the afternoon sitting on the pier reading and it again turned foggy and the weather unbearable for outside activities. I bunkered inside for the evening, my last on the island.

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The hazy mountain view from Tofino

In the morning I took the bus back to Nanaimo and caught the ferry back to Vancouver. It was over. A massive trip from east to west completed and now it was time to settle down and get to some work for a while. My Canadian adventures had ceased for a while…. but only for a short while! 🙂

Canada By Car: Leg 6 – The Rest of Newfie and Beyond

After hours upon hours of driving we finally arrived at the L’anse Aux Meadows. When people say that Colombus was the first European to arrive, they are dead wrong. The vikings have history here from 1000AD and this is where you find it! I was super excited to kick of my learning session here with an evening storytelling session where people dress as viking characters and tell all of the tales about how the vikings lived and traveled here. All the while I sat sipping on appleberry cider which is just superb.

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The site of Nordic storytelling at L’anse Aux Meadows

 

After the storytelling we left the traditional viking hut and walked outside to the sunset to be confronted with my first ever male moose with his giant horns poking up into the sky. Wandering around behind him was mumma moose and baby moose. I saw five moose that day so I was pretty excited!

The following day we returned to the L’anse Aux Meadows site for a more historical look at the area. It left me with a very fine respect for the Norse people in actually managing to cross the Atlantic Ocean with such basic boats. It also made me want to go to Iceland… but anyway, after this we went to the Norstead site as well and got to see Snorri the famous viking boat.

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Being a viking! Rape, steal, pillage…..

And so we were off again in shocking weather this time bound for the Gros Morne National Park. Upon arrival, we set out on the Green Gardens Trail for an overnight campsite. I must say that it at the time was one of the hardest hikes I had ever done, falling over three times into prickle bushes on unsteady ground. Upon arriving at the campsite, it was so windy that it was a challenge to get the tent to stay where it was let alone erect it in ridiculously high winds. Eventually we succeeded… barely, and ended up having to put heavy rocks inside the tent in each corner to try and stop it from blowing away while we were in it and even this didn’t work the best.

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The tent blowing away at Green Gardens.

The following morning we packed out and made it across a couple of river crossings, minus a sock that I lost in the river and on to the Gros Morne Mountain trial to hike the big one. We started that and set up camp in the evening at the campsite ready to summit the mountain in the morning.

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Gros Morne summit, 806m!

And so morning came, bringing with it more horrific rain. We got up, hurriedly summitted the 806m mountain and then proceeded to rapidly pack up camp and hike our way back to the carpark. People looked upon us strangely as we proceeded to take every single item of clothing off and get into the car in bra and undies with the heating jacked up to try and feel our bodies again.

That night after sitting at a laundromat for a couple of hours trying to dry everything, we caught the Newfoundland Ferry back to Cape Breton Island. Spent the day at the Louisbourg Fortification National Historical Site which was pretty interesting before getting our way to Halifax.

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Louisbourg Naional Historical Site

Halifax was an interesting time for me. While my significant other at the time was working, I had nothing much to do out in the sticks with the campground but I managed to make an agreement with the lady who ran the caravan park to do some gardening around the campground for our stay as her normal gardener had just had a hip replacement. One of the days after gardening I walked an hour each way to the Walmart and bought a set of knitting needles and a couple of balls of wool, thus beginning what would become my knitting obsession. Scarves, hats, I even attempted to make a blanket which eventually started falling apart because I am a horrendous sewer. I worked a promotions job for a couple of days also to make a little bit more money and on some of the days I got to go and visit different attractions around Halifax. And I also bought and cooked my first lobster over the campfire despite their protests!

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Protesting lobsters…. oh well, good times for me!

One of the biggest drawcards for me was the Titanic history. I went to visit the Titanic Museum and learned about Halifax’s role in the rescue and recovery. I also went to the graveyard where they buried many of the victims bodies that they recovered. It was incredibly sad, but great to visit too. As a part of this they also had information on the Halifax Explosion which I didn’t know much about at the time, but found very interesting.

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The site of buried Titanic passengers

Time in Halifax came to a close and we drove on to Peggy’s Cove and watched the waves there crashing upon the rocks. We stopped in the quaint town of Lunenburg to camp. The last leg of the Eastern Canada trip was about to begin.

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The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove

For the last leg of the eastern Canada trip, stay tuned…

Canada By Car: Leg 5 Newfoundland East Coast

Our first pit stop out of Eastport was through to Cape St. Mary’s where we went to the bird sanctuary and marveled at the myriads of gannets hanging about on the cliff face. Then it was on to the major town of St. John’s. Went to go and visit Mistaken point along the way but didn’t realize that we were too late for the fossil tours though I did find a fossil on the ground that I cheekily took home with me.

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Gannets on the cliff face at Cape St. Mary’s

We spent the night down on the main street of St. John’s, George St. We danced through the Newfoundland pubs to traditional Newfie and Irish music before having a feast of street meat on the way home. During this evening we became aware of this thing that locals enforce upon tourists called getting ‘screeched in’. It involves singing some random Newfie song that nobody understands, kissing a cod and doing a shot of screech. We beared witness to quite a few people getting screeched in, however I was not up for the screech that day so I passed.

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George St, St. John’s

The next day was spent wandering around Signal Hill and playing pool in the Duke of Duckworth’s pub, recommended to us by a local for some special reason that we didn’t manage to figure out. And post this it was time to hit the road again.

Up to Conception Bay and then around to Trinity Bay, we stopped along at the most famous town of Newfoundland, the aptly named Dildo. I couldn’t stop giggling as I took photos of all things Dildo. I even wen and had my photo with the famous Captain Dildo with my hand inappropriately near his bits for shits and giggles. Went and drove through Cape Spear and then on to Charleton for the evening to camp.

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Hanging with Captain Dildo

Woke up the following morning surrounded by a moat as it had rained so heavily overnight that we were swimming in the tent. So after quickly packing up, we drove up to Cape Bonavista where John Cabot famously (and apparently) landed in  1497. There were stunning Inukshuk built across the entire landscape, a native Inuit symbol to point the way, and they were just beautiful. But given the weather being so horrid, we drove our way back to the farm for the evening.

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Inukshuk all over the hill at Cape Bonavista

I spent the next couple of days in the kitchen cutting zucchinis, cooking breakfasts and all meals for people. There were now 8 people staying on the farm and manning the kitchen had become somewhat of a full time job, but one that I really enjoyed. In the midst of this we took a well deserved day off to go and see the Terra Nova National Park and hiked along the Coastal Trail and the Blue Hill before it again started to rain.

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Views through the Terra Nova National Park

One of the days decreed a no work day we headed up out onto the point and between us collected about 6 pounds of chanterelle mushrooms that were worth quite a bit in the shops if you are to buy them but are in massive abundance in this area and nobody seems to pay too much attention. The mushrooms were spread out on the table as we brushed all of the dirt off them and cleaned them and then after we cooked them all in a pan with butter and ate the lot of them between us! Utterly delicious!

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Our 6 pound chanterelle mushroom haul

This was my last night I spent at the farm before heading off. We played ‘fetch the stone in the ocean’ with the confused dogs and collected some blueberries for the road before heading off onto the road and beyond in again, a giant thundercloud of heavy rain.

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Zeus trying to come with us

Check out the last of the Newfoundland adventures in the next installment! 

Canada By Car: Leg 4 – Living in Eastport

As we drove up the laneway to Eastport Organics there were people lounging about on the lawn after a hard days work. We met Jason, who owns and runs the farm and Meghan and Cuchulain who were staying on the farm and helping out. We went blueberry picking in the late afternoon in the abundant bushes down the road and cooked up an epic feast of local cod, fresh vegetables from the garden and cheesecake. Dinner was also served with good conversation which was awesome. I knew in the first couple of hours that I was going to enjoy staying here very much.

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The Glorious Eastport Organics 🙂

The next day was the first one getting to work. I planted two and a half rows of lettuce plants, picked some raspberries, and watered and weeded sections of the garden. Gardening is something that I have always enjoyed and I started to learn a few tricks of the trade here. Namely on the first day about compost tea that used compost and seaweed from the beach harvested and kept in a big drum of water that is used to water the garden so that it is full of nutrients. We ate kaplan fish sticks and scallops for dinner which was delicious. My back and hands hurt from the hard work but for the first time in a while my tiredness felt hard earned. I slept very well that night and was super relaxed.

On the farm lives quite a few animals that I quickly came to adore. There was Marley, the cheeky golden retriever, Kota, the black labrador, Zeus, the black and white cat and a couple of horses. We spent the morning hanging out with the animals and taking pictures with them. They are too cute. We had another new arrival on the farm in the form of a German girl, Wiebke. We weeded and watered for the afternoon, picked some blueberries and raspberries and then we cooked up and ate an epic feast of scallop and cod mornay with cheesecake for dessert.

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Chillin on the couch playing guitar with Marley

In the afternoon I watered, harvested zucchini and served customers. There were so many zucchini going about the place that I made stuffed zucchini for dinner. We sat and watched the fireworks over the property outside that they had down the road and then headed off to our first ever Newfoundland kitchen party.

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Stuffed zucchini for dinner, too many zucchinis….

Now I had not really heard too much about these before arriving in Newfoundland but apparently they are an institution and one that should not be missed. So down the road we went to Chad and Thea’s house where we all sat around in the kitchen eating fish and brews (a local dish traditional at Newfie kitchen parties) and playing musical instruments and singing. It was a heap of fun. I don’t know why more people don’t have kitchen parties to be honest.

The following day led us even further to living off the land. We spent the morning planting lettuce and picking raspberries before going mussel diving. The unfortunate thing about this was that there were too many jellyfish and not enough large mussels to make it worthwhile for dinner so we decided to come home with sea urchins instead. After harvesting the roe, also known as uni and a Japanese delicacy, from the middle we decided to make a pasta sauce with the uni for dinner. Adventurous… it kind of has a taste like lobster but with a really buttery type of texture. While it was good, we didn’t have enough uni.

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The sea urchins with the orange uni inside

After working the morning the following day, we got a visit from Chad and Thea at the farm. Chad was building a makeshift pizza oven on the beach from the clay and sand in the area and was curing it for the evening so we could go and have a pizza party. They were to bring the dough, we were to bring the vegetables. And so we went down and sat on the beach with beers and a guitar eating vegetable, uni and blueberry pizzas (not all together of course) and singing some tunes as we went. It was the most glorious day and I was starting to feel really at home in Eastport.

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The makeshift pizza oven on the beach

In the coming days the zucchini continued to get out of control and I spent my days harvesting and chopping zucchini into small pieces and putting them into bags to be frozen. I took Marley to the beach in the afternoon to play fetch and the defiant puppy decided that when I was done he wasn’t and ran away on me. I spent most of the afternoon chasing after him and trying to get him to come home. What a pain in the butt! But I still adored him anyway.

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More zucchinis….

My last day round one in Eastport was spent getting stung by a bee whilst hanging out washing and spending the rest of the day chopping zucchini. In the evening we drove down behind the new land that is being cleared to expand the farm and started up a giant bonfire with all of the scrap wood that was cleared. We sat around and cooked sausages on sticks and played guitar and sang songs. It was a lovely way to spend the evening and I was feeling more relaxed than ever. But it was again time to hit the road for a couple of days and see what the rest of Newfoundland had to offer in the south.

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Friends chilling on the beach playing music

To see what I got up to on my southern Newfoundland road trip, check back in next week!

Canada By Car: Leg 3 – Newfie Newfoundland Part 1

On little to no sleep after a shocking boat ride, we arrived in Newfoundland. My eyes widened as the beautifully stunning, rocky cliff faces and mountains appeared around us as we drove getting off the boat. We got as far as Corner Brook and spent the afternoon relaxing in the sun on the lawn with the locals and taking a nap.

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The stunning views driving off the boat at Port-aux-Basque, Newfoundland.

We continued on driving from here to Pasadena where we were looking for our campground. We got a little lost but in turning around in an old guys lane way we were greeted local style with a guy yelling at us to get out of his drive way or he would kill us and he was going inside to get his gun. Just a touch scary….

We drove the next day through to a place called Leading Tickes and camped on the most spectacular beach . There was black rock sand and mountains jolting out of the water. We sat and took it all in as we ate raspberry and apple pie for dessert and watched the sunset. Life doesn’t get much better. Except for with a crossword puzzle by the fire.

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The stunning black rock beach at Leading Tickles

The following day was off to Twillingate after a short hike up the mountain in the morning at Leading Tickles. We stopped in to see the giant whale skeleton and I was greeted by a man who had a lagerphone, a giant broom pole with bottle caps nailed to the side of it and a gumboot on the bottom. It is a makeshift musical instrument that they play by stomping the boot on the ground and hitting the broom stick with another smaller stick. We have them in Australia as well so the guy in the shop was super excited to pull one out and play it for me.

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The Newfie Lagerphone

We bought a cod for dinner from a local store and set up at the campground for dinner. Then we went off to go and watch the local entertainment for the evening, The Split Peas. The band consisted of 7 Newfie women and they were incredible as they went through a whole bunch of traditional folk songs from the area and some they had written themselves. They fed us with traditional toutons and partridge berry jam. I was singing songs for the next week afterwards I loved it that much.

I spent the morning talking to our Aussie camping neighbours. They managed to entice me over the fence with the jar of Vegemite they were sporting and we chatted about home things. It was nice to have that familiarity for a while. From here it was on to check out the Long Point Lighthouse before driving down to Eastport where we had arranged a work for stay for a week or so. Of course stopping off to have a crack at eating my first moose burger.

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Mmmm…. Moose burger!

I was excited as it was the first time I was going to be doing a work for stay and who knew what it would hold. Little did I know as I was driving up the laneway that it was going to be one of the most amazing adventures that I would have.

Check out my stay at Eastport Organics in the next installment!

Canada By Car: Leg 2 – Through New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

After three weeks in Quebec we moved on into New Brunswick. After passing through the point in Caraquet we went to the Arcadian Historical Village for a visit. They had a set from the 1600’s with actors playing characters from the era. It was really cool to see how the place operated when it was in its original day.

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Traditional bread making at the Arcadian Historical Village, Caraquet

On the way south from here we arrived in Miramichi to torrential downpours and decided that there was no point trying to pitch a tent in this kind of weather so we went to see a movie in the cinema, parked the car in McDonalds and slept in the car close to wifi access.

After another day of driving in huge torrential downpours through Moncton, we decided to continue on to Picton, Nova Scotia. We were kindly graced with a free campsite by a kind man who took pity on us pitching a tent in the ridiculous weather with all of the puddles about, so we crashed out for the night and continued driving until we got to Cape Breton Island.

Dunvegan was where we landed when the storm finally cleared. We set up camp in a stunning spot right on the beach that reminded me of home. I picked some wild raspberries from the bushes and we set up and ate dinner by the beach.

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Beautiful sunset over the beach at Dunvegan

We continued driving north and made it to the the Cape Breton Highlands National Park where we did the Skyline hike out to the point. I ate wild raspberries and blueberries along the boardwalk all the way out to the point. From here there was more blueberries and raspberries eaten along the Neils Bay coastline hike along the beach. I got pretty bad sunstroke and spent most of the afternoon sleeping in the car on the way to Sydney, Nova Scotia.

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View along the trail at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park

North Sydney sucked as a town. There wasn’t much to do there. But in the glorious graces it turned out to be lobster season so we drove down to the lobster shop and ordered a lobster for them to cook for us. I sat on the pier and cracked the lobster claws with a multitool…. my first ever lobster. I have eaten Tasmanian rock lobster or as we call it ‘crayfish’ at home but they look nothing like these lobsters and as such I was excited.

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Playing with my food! My first ever lobster!!

After the lobster dinner by the water, we snuck in to watch Ted and The Watch at the movies with plenty of time to kill before catching the ferry to Newfoundland. After the movies we drove back to the ferry dock and found a stray dog running all over the road. He appeared to be lost and we were worried he was going to get hit by a car so we sat and stayed with him and called the RSPCA to come and get him to find out where he lived. After a couple of hours sitting with the pup, we said goodbye, and we went to catch the ferry to Newfoundland, the province I was most excited about seeing….

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Lost puppy 🙂

For the next installment of Canada by Car stay tuned…..