– Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador to Blanc-Sablon, Quebec –
Well, we’ve officially been on the road a week. It’s Friday again. It’s hard to believe we are already 1/3 of the way through. Tomorrow we will be in Newfoundland in the afternoon.
There’s been a little bit of weirdness with the time up here, since our hotel tonight is in Quebec (just past the border), but we’ve just left Labrador, and the there’s an hour and a half difference between the two. More on that later, when I get to the destination portion of the blog post.
We started out with a run at 5am today in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. It’s strange, but they actually have a reasonably nice walking trail. I think it must be for people to get around town more easily in winter. The portion we ran on pulls away from the road and runs right by the school. I think this was the first morning Ripley hasn’t had rabbits, squirrels, or chipmunks to chase when they suddenly dart across the path. I suspect they are around, but the path seems to have been made wide enough to run a snow plow over it, so the trees are farther away from the path.
The hotel this morning had delicious breakfast, with fresh bakery goods and real dinnerware and silverware. It’s funny how nice it is to eat with real dishes when you’ve been using plastic on the road for a few days. The baked goods were awesome, too, so everyone snatched an extra for a snack for later in the day. They definitely came in handy.
Our drive today had no stops between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Port Hope Simpson, which is just over 5.5 hours away. The number of women at the little road pull-offs hustling back into the trees with rolls of toilet paper was hilarious. Don’t get me wrong, I was one of them, but Mom held out. I guess she’s either tougher or crazier than me. I was just glad to be comfortable again. Silly men who can just go by the tire.
There wasn’t much to see between the two towns, either, save for mountains and trees. We did see a little snow in the shadows along the road and on some distant mountains, but Happy Valley-Goose Bay had an excessive heat warning today, and for most of the day the temperature hovered around 75-80 degrees. I think it was supposed to get up to 85 or so in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which is quite warm for the area. Monday says it will be over 90 there.
We did see our first major wildlife along the road today. Don’t get me wrong, we saw a little black fox yesterday, but today we spotted a moose and a black bear along the road. The moose was standing at a pond in the distance, but the black bear was in the ditch right next to the road. We managed some photos of the moose, but the black bear eluded us.
We had another car lunch today. We are running low on some of our regular foods, so tomorrow we will have to eat lunch at a restaurant until we can get to the grocery store, hopefully tomorrow night. We could manage a lunch from the cooler, but it definitely wouldn’t be ideal.
It was quite a relief to make it to Port Hope Simpson. We stopped at a gas station for a break, of course. The town isn’t very big, but it has a few homes and I think even a restaurant. The gas station had the first police officer we’ve seen in days sitting inside at the little cafe there. It also had souvenirs, and Mark and I bought ourselves T-shirts that say, “I survived the Trans Labrador Highway.”
It’s funny, but that almost feels like more of an accomplishment than the Alaska Highway. At least the Alaska highway had regular picnic areas and pit toilets and gas stations. The Labrador Highway was totally empty in most places. We are done with it tonight, though, so the riskiest portion of the journey is over. We never had to use our spare tire or the new engine-mounted air compressor Mark bought. He’s going to put it in our Tacoma when we get home.
After Port Hope Simpson we drove on down the road a ways to Mary’s Harbour, which has tours that leave to Battle Harbour. We didn’t have time to take a tour, since it was already approaching late afternoon. The time pushed forward another half hour along the road to Port Hope Simpson. A half-hour time change is kind of hilarious. Anyway, Battle Harbour is a fishing village out on an island that’s been preserved and restored to the state it would’ve been in when it was in operation.
We also drove down to the harbor to take some photos. We wanted to walk out on a pier, but it turned out to be for employees of the port only, so we had to settle for a little dock with public parking. Ripley acted like she wanted to get in the water. She has no idea how cold that water probably is.
From Mary’s Harbour we drove to Red Bay, which is the home of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Red Bay was once home to Basque fisherman, who came to Canada from their home in a remote region of Spain all the way to Canada for whale oil. The Basques and their language are really interesting, so if you’ve never read about them, I recommend you take a look.
Unfortunately, the heritage site was closed, since it was just after 5pm Labrador time. We only just missed it. The visitor center in town was closing too, so we couldn’t use their restroom and at least look around that. A bus was pouring out of it just as we arrived, having been kicked out when the building closed. We did stop at a gas station after. It’s nice seeing those again.
It’s also worth mentioning that the temperature dropped dramatically when we made it over to that area. I guess the ocean is really bringing the cold. We watched it drop almost 20 degrees from 78 to 58 in about 20 minutes. Mark had to dig our sweaters back out.
Since we missed the Red Bay stop for today, we had one more planned stop to try. Another few minutes down the road we stopped at the Point Amour Lighthouse, which is the tallest in Atlantic Canada and rests on a prominent cliff over the water. The inside wasn’t open any longer, but we were able to visit the outside, which is all we’d really wanted anyway.
We took some cool pictures of Ripley and the lighthouse, and pictures looking off into the water. You can just see Newfoundland in the distance from here. It looks like it shouldn’t take two hours to get across, but that’s how long our ferry is tomorrow. I guess distances are deceiving on the water.
Unfortunately a tour bus arrived not long after our arrival, and we had to fight to get photos without random strangers in them. Mark made it to the lighthouse before the rest of us (we were trying to get the dogs to take a potty break), so he managed a few photos before they arrived. We chit-chatted with the friendly tour-guide, as well.
On the way out to the lighthouse, we’d spotted a very large dead creature on the shore, so on the way back out we stopped to see what kind of creature it was. We were torn between some kind of squid and a whale. It turned out to be a partially decomposed whale carcass, which is both disgusting and fascinating. Mark got really close to take some pictures, but the rest of us kept our distance. It really was gross.
It was only 20 minutes after that to our hotel, which is a very small motor inn. It works well for our purposes, though no free breakfast. The lighthouse is in Labrador, but the hotel is in Quebec, and the time difference is 1.5 hours between the two. The ferry tomorrow is on Labrador time, and we have to be there an hour before it leaves at 10:30 Labrador time, which is 9:00 Quebec time, so we need to be there before 8am to check in for our reserved ferry spot. If we aren’t there in time, apparently they will give it away. I’m glad the lady working at the hotel’s front desk gave us the scoop on the ferry.
There was only one restaurant in town, so we at there. It looked for a minute like Mark and I were going to have to have pizza again, and I was preparing to skip dinner entirely, when we discovered bruschetta and Greek salad on the menu. The “bruschetta” they brought us turned out to be pizza without sauce, basically, not piles of tomatoes and basil on toast as it should, so I was pretty disappointed.
They also completely forgot to bring our salad. Then they forgot we’d asked for it without onions. Then they realized that we’d ordered a large salad and not a small one. Our waitress never brought us silverware, and Mark had to steal some from a nearby table that had already been set. It was a mess. I’d say I’m not ever going back there, but that was probably a given anyway, so it wouldn’t mean much.
Tomorrow is our ferry, and we will be in Newfoundland by early afternoon. We’re going to get up at 5am Quebec time, then hustle over to get gas and ice and get in line for the ferry. We wouldn’t want to miss our reservation.
– Trip Total : 3,530 miles –