The ongoing story of a girl and her van on an epic journey across Canada.
Day 111 (Saturday, Aug 28th)
I put way too much faith in maps. Not so much in their ability to tell me where things are in relation to other things (I have faith in their ability to do that for sure, but I wouldn’t call it “too much” faith. I think it’s the right amount of faith). No, I seem to assume that the merits of a destination are somehow reflected on the map. For example, sometimes it’s hard to tell what location the name of a town is referring to, and I’ll think that must mean the town is either hard to get to or not worth visiting. Or if the name is in a bigger font than other names it either is a larger town (which means it will obviously contain whatever amenity I’m currently looking for) or it has something superior about it that I need to check out.
This is how I found myself disappointed in Grand Falls-Windsor. It has such a royal name — two names, actually, and “Grand” is right in there, telling you the place is, well, grand. Plus the font was significantly larger than surrounding towns.
No, Grand Falls-Windsor was a big strip mall with bad roads. But wait! Gander is only an hour a way. And if you squint and look at the map sideways it really does look like the font is bigger still. My TomTom told me there was a movie theatre in town (the amenity I was currently interested in). Plus, I’ve heard of Gander. And it has punny potential. Let’s take a gander at Gander! Weee!
Turned out that Gander was smaller and less impressive than Grand Falls-Windsor, with a theatre that shut down in the 90s. Thanks, Tom! Though the roads weren’t as bad. I spent a surprising amount of time driving around trying to find a place to eat that wasn’t a) fast food and b) closed permanently. I finally found a pub in a hotel and when I asked what local beers they had the answer was Canadian. After a pasty bowl of clam chowder I retreated to my van and spent the night in the Walmart parking lot.
Day 112 (Sunday, Aug 29th)
Considering how well the previous day of choosing locations off a map had gone for me, I decided to do it again. See, there was this area close by that had two reasons to visit. One, it had a fun name — Twillingate. And two, that section of the map had been blown up into more detail. Why would a map do that, unless the place was fun and exciting and worth checking out?
So off to Twillingate I tootled, and was happy to discover that this time my map had not lead me astray. Twillingate is a few islands all connected by causeways. From the look of it, it gets just enough tourism money to keep it looking nice and tidy, but not enough to become an obnoxious tourist trap. It’s a quiet place full of windy roads, cute coastal communities, and lots of walking trails. I walked around the cliffs by the lighthouse, did the Top of Twillingate hike (with panoramic views of the islands) and ate a moose sandwich for lunch (tasted sadly like something from Subway).
In the afternoon I found a lovely campground on the water with the wonderful name of Dildo Run. Seriously, Newfoundland, you’ve named a few things Dildo. What do you think it means?
All photos by Sarah Gignac
Twillingate Lighthouse View
Dildo Run Campground
This article was first published on Raggedy Threads in September 2010.