Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Argentia’ category

Argentia Ferry to North Sydney, Nova Scotia

Thursday, September 5, 2019

We were taking a 16-hour ferry ride over to Nova Scotia. The winds were blowing about 20 mph, and we were both a bit nervous about getting sick. It leaves at 5:00 pm and arrives at 9:00 am, so we bought a 2-bunk berth, but since there weren’t any, they gave us a 4-berth. The idea was to get some dinner and sleep through most of the trip.

We wanted to get out and do something, so Martha found a hike nearby. Argentia is a WWII US Navy base that was turned back over to Newfoundland, so there are gravel roads going everywhere. A sign pointing to a trail head took us up a narrow gravel road. One point made me grip the steering wheel and hold my breath. It was very narrow with a dropoff on the left where a creek ran under the road. I was just looking down at the creek when the right wheel went into a deep pothole. I about had a heart attack, thinking we were going over. 

We parked and walked up to find a big pond, probably used for fresh water for the base. There were several nice campsites and fire rings where people probably came to fish. A boardwalk led up the small mountain, so we followed it to a smaller gravel road winding through the woods. Blueberries lined the road, so we stopped to pick some, using my hat for a bucket. 

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Further up the road, a mountain biker passed us, saying there were lots of blueberries at the top. There were two forks in the gravel road, so we made mental notes of where to turn. After more blueberry picking, we saw a tall lookout spot at the top of the hill. 

Climbing up, we were rewarded with a wonderful view of the east side of the Burin Peninsula. Mountain islands emerged from the huge Placentia Bay in beautiful blue green waters. The sun peeked through the fog to show all the colors. 

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In the other direction we saw our huge ferry getting ready for the trip. Straight across was a huge oil project being built with hundreds of cars parked in a big lot. Obviously, our campground was busy because of these workers. I would discover this is the West White Rose project, a well head platform and piping infrastructure for offshore oil and gas industry. It is being built by Husky Energy and employs 700-800 workers.

Back at camp, we got cleaned up, hooked up and went down the hill to get in line for the ferry. They asked us if we had fruits and vegetables, which surprised us. We sat in our lane and waited for an hour before loading started. I’m always a bit nervous loading, even though I have done it many times. Keep your eye on the loader in front of you, get in your lane and never take your eyes off the loader until he tells you to stop. Then try and remember where you are. It will all look different when you come back down the stairs. What deck are you on? We were on G3. Which side, front or back?. Then you can’t see around huge tractor-trailers and campers. It would be nice if they had numbers up high from front to back, but this one didn’t. When all else fails, push the door lock on your key fob and see if you can recognize your car horn.

The strategy others followed going upstairs was to first find a prime seat in the lounge. Of course it helps if you have been on the boat before. We went to our cabin on the 8th floor first. We were surprised at how nice it was, with nice bunk beds, bathroom and shower. 

There were plenty of seats in a circular lounge with a bar, a game room and a small setup for a two-person music performance, which was quite entertaining. There were three options for dining, making it feel like a cruise ship. There was a little rocking as the ship got going, but not bad. People hit the bar pretty hard with beer the primary drink. We had dinner at the buffet, which was good, except I always eat too much at a buffet.

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We went up to the room and read books before falling asleep. In the middle of the night the waters got rough. I could hear and feel the  ship rising and crashing over big waves. We were probably in the main channel of the St. Lawrence. I dared not move, lying on my back, listening to Martha snore. By 6:00 am it became pretty calm again, so we got up, showered and went down for coffee and a muffin. We could see Nova Scotia in the distance. People-watching was entertaining. The Newfies were the ones in shorts and t-shirts.