West Coast Trip Part II: Central/Interior Detours

I guess I should clarify that despite the title of this post, it’s actually about the self-imposed detours we took in Central Newfoundland, on our way to the West Coast.

On August 4th, we had an entire day to get from Gander to Catamaran Park, a distance of only 135km. Our first detour was through the town of Appleton, just west of Gander. It’s a well-kept-up, pretty little town, and its Peace Park on the shores of the Gander River holds a piece of steel from the World Trade Center. The twisted piece of metal was donated to the town in recognition of the volunteer efforts put forth to help stranded passengers after flights were diverted during the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

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The World Trade Center Memorial in Appleton

Being so far removed from the events of that day, it’s almost like a movie to me; like a vivid nightmare. To see that piece of metal so twisted and distorted brought the events of almost 13 years ago back into hard reality. I touched the metal and said a silent prayer for the thousands of lives cut short, and then we saddled up and headed for Route 370 to take us into the interior.

“Buchans and the interior”. I’ve heard that term used during weather forecasts for as long as I can remember. All I really knew about the area was that it was a mining town far inland, frequented by hunters and outdoorsmen.

We didn’t really have a reason to detour the 75km from Badger to Buchans, but as I mentioned before, we had plenty of time to get to where we were going. The road to Buchans is in really good condition, but I was ultra-paranoid of moose as the brush is not cut back along the sides of the road.

Driving through Buchans felt…odd. Most towns in Newfoundland were originally fishing villages, settled in the 18th and 19th centuries with houses hugging the shoreline and roads going off helter-skelter. Buchans was built by the mining company in a strategic and planned manner, which makes the town feel strangely modern. It reminded me of the small towns I drove through in Western Canada, on my way to Edmonton.

It’s the only town in Newfoundland where I have seen two-story row houses, similar to my own neighbourhood in the old part of St. John’s. What I found truly bizarre though, was that running perpendicular to the streets with the attached houses were “streets” consisting of rows of sheds!

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Never thought I’d see row-houses in the interior.

 

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And here’s the sheds, all in a row as well.

We went all through the town and up to the site of the old mine. It looks to be abandoned, and has that appealing post-apocolyptic feel to it.

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Remains of the old mine

 

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Rock crusher of sorts?

 

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We believed this to be an old railway spike. Another rusty souvenir!

To ride the gravel road from Buchans around Red Indian Lake to Millertown (or to continue westward and meet up with the Burgeo highway) is a very ADVenturous thing to undertake, and remains on my bucket list. I really didn’t want to start wandering the gravel roads that criss-cross the interior without a GPS, or any kind of survival equipment apart from Mark’s axe…which is lashed to his Versys and goes everywhere with him (I dare not ask!).  So we stuck to the pavement and rode through Millertown, stopping on the shore of Red Indian Lake before heading back to the TCH. Mark, of course, took the opportunity to go for a dip. It’s like traveling with a Labrador retriever. He sees a body of water and he takes off!

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Doggie paddle?

This is not the Newfoundland that most people picture. There are no ocean views, lighthouses, icebergs, puffins or whales. But it’s still fantastic, and deserving of your time if you choose to travel to these parts.

I’m looking forward to heading back to the interior when I have more off-road experience. And camping experience. And perhaps a gun. It’s bear country, after all. Taking the gravel road around Red Indian Lake can cut a lot of distance out of the trip to Burgeo, an isolated community known for their sandy beach. I think it could be a great holiday, even if it did mean roughing it a little!

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Posted on August 21, 2014, in Roads of Newfoundland and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Coincidence that my next door neighbour’s daughter just got a teaching position in Buchans. Quite a different locale!

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