It was two years ago, the Pasadena couple completed their 12-year journey to every community accessible by road. They bumped their way along the province’s highways and back roads over the years, in a few different versions of 12-foot travel trailers, to reach towns most people have no idea exist.
This year, they splashed over waves to be able to mark off the remaining seven communities on the island portion of the province they had yet to visit.
On the first stop, the couple drove to Burgeo, boarded a ferry, and visited Grey River, Francois, McCallum, and Hermitage. After a return to Pasadena, they refueled physically and made the long trek down the Bay d’Espoir Highway to reach Rencontre East and Gaultois via ferry.
With just one place on the entire island left to visit, they returned to Pasadena once again. On their fifth trip to the south coast over the years, the Bashas’ wills were really tested.
One time before, they drove to Rose Blanche only to miss the ferry and come home without going to La Poile. This time, they managed to catch the ferry, but were unable to get accommodations in the small coastal community.
“I was going to La Poile whether I had to sleep on the wharf or in the church,” Basha said, adding his wife Chris didn’t share the same sentiments. “I wasn’t turning around then, I had spent too much money and gone too far, and I wouldn’t be able to say the trip is completed.”
Debating whether to go across on the ferry with no place to stay, Basha said a woman overheard their dilemma and offered them the keys to her summer home.
“It just goes to show the kindness that is shown by some individuals,” he said.
Problem solved and trip completed. Basha said it was community number 760 on the island the couple had been to. His count includes official municipalities, local service districts, and former towns that are now just cabin settlements. There are some towns which have been resettled over the years, with no transportation available to reach, that he hasn’t visited.
Basha has quite the collection of stories from over the years — stories about the places he has visited, sights he has seen and people he has met that he cherishes most. He considers the feat quite the accomplishment and something he is proud of.
“Newfoundland, I think, is something for everyone to see, especially for Newfoundlanders,” he said. “Why go elsewhere and spend your tourist dollars.”
There was a time he wasn’t so sure he would be able to complete his goal. Basha is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, and he was left wondering whether he would have the strength or live long enough to visit those seven communities on the south coast.
“I told my wife when there was only three communities left, if I don’t make it, cremate me and we can overcome the problem of me not going to all the communities by taking so many ashes and throw a handful in each community,” he said.
The Bashas have also been to 21 of the 31 communities in Labrador, an accomplishment that has already taken five trips to the northern part of the province. The couple plan to return to northern Labrador next summer to visit the remaining 10 communities, and be able to say they visited every community in the province.
He said they have also visited 33 states in the United States, and he would like to be able to say he visited every state. That is a long term goal he has set.