I am on vacation in your lovely province from Welland, Ontario (near Niagara Falls). A number of your constituents have asked me to write to you. The last time I visited was 1979, with my brother (his only visit).
I arrived on the ferry on the morning of June 18. Twillingate was my first destination (Gros Morne was covered in clouds and snow).
Folks on the ferry said there was a chance to see icebergs and that it was supposed to be very pretty up here. I checked my Lonely Planet guidebook which said, “the area...gets the most attention and deservedly so. It’s stunningly beautiful, with every turn in the road revealing new ocean vistas, colourful fishing wharves or tidy groups of pastel houses perched on cliffs and outcrops.”
And that it is best to come before July 1 to see the icebergs. When I emailed my brother of my change in plans he told me I was brave, to watch for the potholes, and keep my tires well inflated. Please note what he remembered from his trip to Newfoundland in 1979.
What the guidebook should have said was “with every turn in the road revealing new potholes of indeterminate length and depth!”
One cannot possibly avoid all the potholes, drive the speed limit and stay in your lane with on coming traffic, in every case. I hit one and got a flat. But, there were so many pot holes thereafter that I didn’t even realize I had the flat because my car was making the same thumping sound. Only after a number of vehicles passed me did one of them, filled with three lovely, thoughtful 20-year-olds from Lewisporte (Ashley Wells, Kathyn Hollett, Brandon Clark) holler out to me “You have a flat!” I pulled over immediately. The tire was shredded. They refused to leave me without assistance.
CAA towed me to the Ultramar in Twillingate (less than five kilometres from my pull off) because the tire could not be removed. Nothing could be done that night because no mechanics were on site. The owner of Kelsie’s Inn (Ginette) called around but there were no vacancies. She generously offered me the room she normally slept in, spending the night herself on an easy chair.
The next morning, Dave at Ultramar called around to see if he could find replacement tires for my vehicle. As it turns out very few dealers stock tires with 40-45 profile because they do not survive all the potholes that litter Newfoundland roads. I either had to drive to St. John’s on the spare (one of those little tires) or wait it out here. Staying here was the safest, since there was no spare tire left and no guarantee that it would not be damaged by another pot hole here or enroute. The tire would arrive either Monday or Tuesday.
Accommodations were fully booked on the weekend, so I headed to Dildo Run Provincial Park to lie low and stay close, and not put anyone else out on my behalf. Enroute to Dildo Run, someone was tailgating me, traffic was rushing into Twillingate for the weekend, and I hit another pothole, now denting the spare’s rim.
I just made it to park and told them my story when I was asked, “What brings you here?” All staff at the park, and other guests went out of their way to help me (Tony, Randy, students, etc) in any way possible (air compressors, using the phone, thoughtful gestures and even joking to try and lift my spirits).
The park was gorgeous, the bike ride out to Moreton’s and Tizzard’s Harbour very picturesque, but the evenings were very cold and worries of my vehicle, timing of tire replacement and ongoing vacaton through Newfoundland resulted in very little sleep. In fact, Sunday was a lie low day: aspirin to address the pounding headache, napping during the heat of the day to warm up; inability to ride my bike to Fogo Island ferry and back with the remainder of time left in the day. There are worse places to be stuck.
Upon consideration, and a stop at the nearby Dearing’s gas station, it was decided to give it a go to get back to Twillingate on the ‘somewhat deflated due to bent rim’ spare. Dave, at Ultramar, worked his magic and hammered out the spare rim to get me back on the road until the courier arrived. Bad news (courier delayed). I could not spend another night out in the cold. After calling around, found a room at Peyton Woods. As a single person, a room in the B&B’s at over $100/night for five nights would have been prohibitively expensive, in addition to replacing my tire, and revising trip plans accordingly. The cost of the tire has yet to be determined...tomorrow afternoon.
Will I continue on my trip and see the rest of Newfoundland as planned? or turn around and head home?
Where are my ‘vacation’ dollars being spent?
I cannot say enough about the rugged beauty of this lovely province.
I cannot say enough about the kindness of the Newfoundlanders.
I cannot say enough about the poor state of your roads.
Please fix them now. And maintain them always. Lives and livelihoods depend on it.