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Newfoundland vacation-any comments on this itinerary? (Ambitious, I know)

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Hi all! So, I am aware that this is an ambitious itinerary, but next week we are doing the following:
August 12-drive from Portland maine to Sydney, NS
Sydney to Argentia ferry arriving on August 13th, 7am
August 13-August 16: St John's, Foggy Rock Hostel
August 16-Dildo Run Provincial Park, camping
August 17-20-Gros Morne Park, Berry Hill campground
August 20-1400 ferry to Sydney from Port aux basques
August 20-camping outside of Sydney
August 21-return to Portland Maine

So....I am very comfortable with the driving bit as I have driven in NS repeatedly and in downeast Maine (moose at night!!). We are taking a truck and will be car camping at the campsites-both of us are experienced campers. We are staying in the hostel as our "splurge" accomodations in St John's. The ferry to Newfoundland is the overnight and we do have a 2 person berth cabin for the 14 hour trip. We are driving, leaving at midnight to arrive in Sydney for the 1700 ferry on the 12th and I know that's cutting things a little close-we will have about 2 hours or less before the ferry leaves. So, I am aware of all those issues already and am going ahead with this plan.

My questions to you are more about things to see in St John's and the hikes at Gros Morne, as well we Twillingate. St John's I was thinking of one of the boat tours to see whales and the puffins, Signal hill and a trip to Cape Spear. We are interested in live music and the pubs, and I wondered if there were any places we shouldn't miss?

We are hiking Gros Morne mountain, which will be an all day affair at the end of the trip, if the weather permits. Also planned to try and see tablelands, and wondered if a boat tour there was worth it? Again, I know we have limited time, and hiking is the priority in Gros Morne. We are both in our thirties and in excellent shape to hike.

Last, we are staying in Dildo Run as a stopover on the way to Gros Morne. Any thoughts on that? I know we might not get to see a lot......that's ok.

Last, I am training for a marathon in October and wondered if there are any runners out there who could share a good ten mile run route in St John's?

Any other thoughts?

And thank you in advance! Fodorites are so helpful in trip planning!!

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    Given that you know all the flags the could be raised, I'll just mostly focus on the Gros Morne part of your trip. Given your limited time, you may want to consider driving straight through from St. John's to Gros Morne with the stop in the middle. HOWEVER if you are interested in seeing ice bergs you may be able to see them in Twillingate. There are still a large # of icebergs out there. I know they are up north but not sure about Twillingate. check About Gros Morne area - there are two boat trips both expensive. The Western Brook Pond tour is $50+. It is a nice ride on a clear calm day. The view is beautiful. The boat can be crowded. Including driving up to there, I would plan on 4 hours. I heard you need reservations. There is also a boat tour of Bonne Bay on the EmCat (check Bon Tours). It is out of Norris Point but I also believe you can take it from Woody Point (southside of the Bay). It has musical entertainment and humor. If there is something interesting in the Bay like whales, He extends the tour to follow them. I heard it costs around $40 or so. There is also a water taxi between Norris Point & Woody Point. It goes the straight line and costs about $10. I am not sure if the return is extra. The Gros Morne hike can be crowded. The parking lot has been full with cars parking out on the shoulder of the road. Other good hikes are on the south side - Green Gardens trail is a good one. There is a nice hike to a lookout from the Discovery Center in Woody Point. It takes about 40-60 minutes each way - awesome views of the bay and the Tablelands. As a runner, you may be interested in running from Woody Point to Trout River through the gulch. Absolutely beautiful.... It is about 20 km one way... The northside of the bay is more touristy. Rocky Harbor is fairly busy. Norris Point is quieter. The southside of the bay is quiet. We get tourists too but not as many as there are not many places to stay. If you like anight life, you should probably stick to the northside. Don't underestimate the moose in Gros Morne. You really need to slow down at night and be diligent. There haave been 18 accidents so far this season. Hope this helps.

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    St-John's has a neat campground at Pippy park.

    I've visited many of the places on your list. Cape Spear, Signal Hill, Whale and Puffin tour at Bay Bulls... I recommend them all. Drive through Petty Harbour on your way (or back) to Bay Bulls. If you need more hiking, the East Coast Trail is accessible in many places, like Bay Bulls and Cape Spear, Petty Harbour and probably more.

    I camped at Dildo Run. A few of the tent sites are among the best I've ever seen. The other sites are still nice. Between Dildo Run and Gambo, I rode on highway 320 instead of the Trans-Canada. Most was just ok but Musgrave Harbour was beautiful... and I got invited to spend the night by a local. We had a beer or five, then steaks and more beers.

    In Gros Morne, I didn't hike the Tablelands. My reasoning was that it would be somewhat the same as driving through it, only closer. I'd suggest the Green Gardens instead, which is only accessible by foot or boat, and absolutely gorgeous. If you're in marathonian shape, you could hike the short Tableland trail in the morning and the Green Gardens in afternoon/evening. The latter looks best with the setting sun hitting the coast.

    I've camped at Lomond, Trout River, Shallow Bay and the Koa in Gros morne. They were all nice. Lomond was more open and but had the best view. There are a couple of somewhat hidden walk-in sites on platform up some stairs with a fantastic view on Bonne Bay. I would suggest spending at least one night on the southern side of Bonne Bay.

    I took the taxi boat which turned into a short version of the Bonne Bay tour, complete with interpretation, humor, live music and a whale. I think they made a special because the shuttle was packed. It was 6$ one-way and 10$ both ways at the time (2008).

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    Thanks for the replies! Erick- I have site 25 at Dildo Run reserved....excited for that!

    I'll look into the Green Gardens Trail. I will need some almost strenuous hikes to make up for the lack of training next week for the marathon.

    katrinas! Thanks for the recommendations as well! We leave in about twelve hours, so it's getting crazy here! I will certainly write a trip report upon returning!

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