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PECKFORD – Summers are for road trips

Contributor Larry Peckford has held a varied career in Newfoundland and Labrador as a public servant and community volunteer. He keeps a seasonal residence in the Codroy Valley. Larry can be reached via email at:

For me this year was no exception but for the fact that my Newfoundland road trip was a little extended. Accompanied by a friend, a first time visitor, I gained a new perspective on the province’s unique features. Although born and bred here (now living in Ottawa) my travelling companion looked at the mountains and big sky as a pleasant surprise. How is it that I might have lost a wonder of the place? Seeing the province through another’s eyes was an unexpected pleasure. Our itinerary from the Southwest coast took us north to St. Anthony with stops in Gros Morne. Traveling back down the peninsula, we headed across the province to stay for several days in St. John’s. Being in the company of CFA’s (Come From Aways) gave me an appreciation of the capital and all it has to offer. My company embraced the city with its many attractions. I went along for the ride. All in all, it was a great experience. A side trip to historic and quaint Brigus was really special, as was a visit to Botwood’s murals in Central. Likewise, while in Terra Nova National Park, a visit to Salvage on the Eastport peninsula was a must see. I am being selective here, but these are some of the highlights among the many stops we made. The value of the province’s tourism industry is upwards to one billion dollars. That is no small amount of money that drives the local economies in many regions in the summer months. Locals don’t take that for granted, as the industry is now quite mature in most places. So what were my takeaways with all of that traveling? The Ferry: The Marine Atlantic ferry system is thankfully reliable and offers decent service. The meals on the ferry are not spectacular, but generally I found they offer value for money across a standard menu. No dazzle but quite acceptable. Highways: The highways I travelled, with some exceptions, were up to par, but why some well travelled sections are without line painting by mid-summer beats me. And why is the first 35 kilometres of highway out of Port aux Basques still the worst section of the TCH across its entire 1,000 kilometres? Broken pavement and cratered shoulders are unacceptable features of what should be our best highway — no exceptions. It’s worth mentioning, too, is that where a section of road is so deficient with broken pavement and potholes, for god’s sake make that section of road all gravel. Highway 432 between Roddickton and Plum Point is awful. Signage: Provincial road signs are generally good, but some are in need of repair. Again, this is basic stuff and those that need replacement should be dealt with promptly. In the category of signage, I put story boards that inform particular attractions. Too often even in high travelled locations these informative boards are faded or in need of upgrade. It just spoils a visit if the story board is poor and faded out of colour and print. I will avoid dwelling on the sorry state of the Wreckhouse location/attraction outside of Port aux Basques. I have complained about the inadequacy of it more than once. It’s a lost opportunity that in other provinces would be a big draw. Overall, my road trip was positive and enjoyable. I learned from some locals that the success of the tourism season may not have been evenly distributed, but from my vantage point things looked good. The Fall is a shoulder season in the tourism business, so there may be something to be gained for operators during this time too. Good luck and thanks

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