X-Type: Email; Outmail
Subject: Travelogue from Labrador
We1l this is our second time in Labrador on this trip but this time our destination is Western Labrador. Little me back up a bit. Our last night in GASPIE we met Terry and Pam who are full timers originally from KS. We had a lot in common and found out some excellent tips on how to tour Washington, DC, New York City and Boston using RV parks that the caravans use and then how to get tours from there or using the subways. These camps also bend over backwards helping those staying there with the subway schedule, where to get on and of at. We took of the next morning with a challenging situation as we had to back out, get turned around and head out the way we came but all this practice is getting us pretty experience in backing. This side of Gaspie is still just a FRENCH! It is just like the Black Hills except the mountains are about half the size. The sea coast is very nice and it is a hard pull going up a steep hill and then right back down and it is this way for miles. Probably the biggest work out the F-350 has gotten since we bought it. I shifted to low a lot of times with the automatic and that worked well. I pulled over when ever cars stacked up so they could get by. We got to Matane and found the one ferry full but we could get to Godbout on Sunday morning and would just have to drive 36 miles south to get to where the other ferry would of gone to Baie Comeau. The cost is the same. We were going to a RV park and plug the camper in for the deep freeze but found we could park the 5th in the ferry lot which is well lighted and supposedly patrolled. We decided it was going to cost about $180.00 to leave the 5th so we decided we could empty out the freezer and refridgerator and what spoiled we would just throw away and that would be much cheaper than paying for a camp ground. We found a city park and got some water for the trip. We tried to get a cooler and ice but could not find a cooler any place. Things were closing down since it was Saturday evening. We went to an IGA grocery store and got some food for the trip.
We spent the afternoon at the 5th getting the radio gear and camping gear ready and into the F-350. We really had it full! It was nice and quite in the lot, really know one around. The tourist place had helped with the reservation for the ferry in the morning so we were set. We had a good night with the battery bank and got and sent E-mail. In the morning we packed all the frozen stuff out of the deep freeze into a dry bag with a tarp wrapped around it and then a blanket. We pretty much took everything out of the refridgerator and shut of the propane and disconnected the 5th battery.
We got on the ferry and had about a 2.5 hour ride across the St. Lawrence with is very wide yet at this point. It saves us driving clear down to Quebec City and back and is costing us $37.55 US money so definitely is a bargin being much cheaper than driving and much faster. We headed down the coast and at Baie Comeau we headed north on Hwy 389. This is just like the Black Hills other than the mountains are about 2/3 the size. As we go north it gets more rock, ie like above the timber line in spots but most are just like the Black Hills. The other difference is after about 50 miles it turns to gravel and very few people live here. There are fishing and hunting camps but no towns. Services are about 175 miles apart and the black flies are getting worse! Since we are not pulling the fuel economy is excellent and we have about a 500 mile range so fuel is not a concern for us. We spend the night in a gavel pit in the tent and it is dry and nice and smooth. Thy problem was it was compact and the tent stakes would not go in but the weather was clear and looked like it would be a peaceful night and it was. The only problem was the black flies are really bad. We are wearing head nets after getting bitten pretty badly. We should of put them on earlier. Sent and got E-mail from the tent, had to use the inverter to charge the laptop battery after awhile. We are getting this down good other than I need to get a way to get the inverter inside the tent rather than hooking to the battery under the hood. It is a problem having it outside with dew and possibilty of rain. Other than the black flies getting into the tent when you get in and out the tent keeps them out in good fashion. We have to kill those in the tent before we go to bed which is about a 10 minute project. They also get into the pickup and that seems to take long to get them all killed. They seem to keep coming out of the vents, etc.
We headed ahead and seen Manic 5 which is a huge hydro Quebec dam. As you are ready to leave Quebec there is a huge open pit iron ore operation. It really has things tore up! We pull of to get a picture and at this point the oil starts for the last few miles out of Quebec and into Labrador City. We just got rolling and had a flat tire. We used the second one, we carry two spares, in the box of the pickup and find the flat one has a rock through it. Just like in Alaska if you catch the right rock just wrong and it is sharp it wedges and works its way through the steel belt. It does not happen often on the Load E tires but it has happened to us twice. We got to Labrador City and turned at the Tourist Sign but could not find another. We flagged down a city truck and he said just follow me and he led us to it about a mile away. People are nice here and the speak ENGLISH!!! Quite a change after several days of 100% FRENCH! They are super nice at the tourist center and we find out places to camp, road conditions, where to get the tire fixed and they line up the Hydro tour at Church Hill Falls which comes highly recommended and is free. The one Iron Ore plant is on summer holiday so no tours and the other just has them on Tuesday and Saturday so that is not going to work for us. We find the tire is ruined and we can get a new one but they will have to run and get it but when they did the place showed they had one but they could not find it so we left with just one spare. It started to pour while we were waiting for the tire. We headed north for a camp ground that had showers and flush toilets as we were dirty, sweating and very, very buggy from the trip. We got ahead of the rain and looked like it would stay west of us. We pulled in and it started to sprinkle. We rushed as fast as we could but just as we were setting up the tent it started to pour. At that point we were going to get soaked but plunged ahead to try and KEEP THE TENT DRY INSIDE! We got the rain fly on and found we had some water puddles inside but looked like we could get it whipped up fairly well. The soft ground was easy to put stakes in but we did track some of the soft sand into the tent. The tarp and floor protector was not to wet and we also have a floor liner inside so at least our tracking in could be taken out on the floor liner. Besides getting soaked the black flies were terrible and I really got bit up. I now realize how bad I got bit up. I have big bumps all over my neck, arms and sides of my forehead. They itch like crazy. I am learning to hate these black flies. We spend a decent night in the tent and keep dry but it rains of and on most of the night. I sure don't look forward to folding up a wet tent and fighting the bugs. We get up and there is some sunshine so at least it won't rain but the rain fly is wet and some water on the outside of the tent. We roll it up wet. The bottom protector and tarps are wet and have sand all over them. We are very dirty by the time we are packed up. We drive up to the bathhouse and take our $2.00 shower with lots of hot water and a grated mat to change on! It is a hunting camp some of the year so pretty rustic but there are flush toilets and the shower was great. I washed my hair twice and rubbed as much soap as I could in my bites. Boy now they really itch!!!!
We head down the road for Church Hill Falls and our tour at 1:30 pm. After awhile the soap bath seems to help and I do not itch so bad except now my arms are driving me nuts. Edith is not swelling up like I am but she certainly is getting the "WILLIES" from all the bugs.
Black flies are little minature flies and don't bite so much but they swarm like knates and go up your noise, into your eyes and ears and they like to bite along the cap line and in the hair on the back of you neck. When they do bite it smarts and I am starting to swell up from the toxin! They itch like jiggers!
As we drive toward Church Hill Falls I am thinking we are retired and we can do what ever we want. We could just pack up and get out of these darn flies BUT! I am stubborn, we have not got to the end of the road and I will never forgive myself if we don't make it to Goose Bay and it is very pretty here. The scenery is great, the road is not good but compared to ALASKA AND NWT NOT to bad! We decide rather than try and find a gravel pit along the road we would find a Bed & Breakfast in Church Hill Falls. It was a great decision. It was $69 Canadian but when converted to USA money not bad. Actually it is a hunting lodge, rooms are nice, bathrooms and showers are shared with two or three room but nice, we can use the kitchen and wash machine is only $1.00 Canadian a load and the drier is free. A huge lounging area with satellite TV and a huge fire place. We had a great supper, washed, dried the tent out in the parking lot and are having a good time visiting with Canadians who are here.
The tour of the hydo generation was even better than publicized. It was 2.5 hours and free and they took us everywhere. Church Hill Falls is totally a company town and they treat there employees well. The Church Hill Falls Inn is a building that has everything in town in it, ie cafe, school, library, swimming, curling, band, etc. We had dinner there, got some quarters at the bank for thw washing machine and in general looked it over. The employees as they get more years of experience get more holidays but most get 4 or 5 weeks off and every 5 years they get 9 weeks off paid and free airline tickets to a major metro center. They get lots of other benefits as well and most stay with the company and retire but have to move out of town as all the building in town are owned by the company. The company is mostly owned by Newfoundland, Labrador government but Hydro Quebec owns some and are the biggest customer.
We then went down to where the water goes back into the Church Hill Falls river. What has been done is that rather than build a dam they have taken advantage of nature and build some dikes and diverted the water from going over the huge falls that once existed and the water enters the turbine tubes at 1457 feet above sea level and exits about 400 feet above sea level so the gravitational force of the water spins the turbines at 200 rpm.
At the outlet we meet some people from Maine and find out you can canoe the river to Goose Bay about 200 miles. There is a tough 1/2 mile portage around a rapids about 100 miles east and some white water but the rest is a great trip other than the black flies!!!!
The neat thing is we found out about Moose Lodge Lake area in Maine which they said is the real Maine but not many tourist go there and things are very reasonable. We got some good directions! Again the best source of information seems to be other travelers or locals.
We had a nice time at the Black Spruce Inn visiting with the other guestg in the big central lounging area all evening and again in the morning at the continental breakfast. We headed for Goose Bay and with all the rain the road was full of pot holes. The locals say it is normally a lot better. It was still a lot better than several roads we have been on. Goose Bay Happy Valley is a very pretty area and is a lot like the Black Hills but no pine. There were spruce and all kinds of leaved trees. It has to be beautiful in the fall!!!. It is a progressive town and vehicles all over the place. We toured the base and watched the jets. Security was not tight at all! Visited the Canex, a sporting store called Northern Lights, a First Nations Craft store, the ferry to Lewisport, Newfoundland Edith bought a clock shaped like Labador. We had a warm day and great weather setting up the tent and the bugs were not to bad. We are just automatically putting on our mesh bug top! We see a few license plates from the east coast. So far we have only seen one SD plate at Cape Spear and don't know if that was just licensed in SD or if it really was from SD. We seen a several on the Alaska trip so definitely far less stateside up here. Most of what we see are New England or the east coast.
The trip back from Goose Bay to Labrador City is about 325 miles of gravel. We met 47 vehicles in that stretch and the only services are at Church Hill Falls. We had our second flat tire about 10 miles north of Labrador City. At least 4 cars stopped which was nice. We got it changed, now no spare but made it to town OK. This one had a small enough hole to easily be patched so got it fixed for $9.20 including tax and have it back on and the spare back under the F-350. We stayed at a campground for $8.00. It really is pretty nice other than no showers or flush toilets but the outhouses are real decent. Tomrrow we head south through Quebec and set up the radio stuff just north of the 52nd parallel to operate from what is called ZONE 2 which is pretty rare.
We got set up in ZONE 2 and have a fantastic setup. Have the one antenna at about 30 feet and have been working all over the world. Have the six meter beam at about 25 feet and have worked about 140 stations from here. Most of them can not believe we are really here as they never have talked to anyone up this far north. We also have a 40 meter vertical up with 25 radials and running 300 watts. We are running 500 watts on the other frequencies. I disconnected two of the batteries so now have 14 of the six volt batteries and ended up at 12.43 volts so lots left. The one six volt battery I hooked in series with the 12 vdc bank to give me about 19 volts which I used to run the laptop so I sat on the drives side, logged and sent CW with the computer and used my foot switch and headset for voice. Only problem is that is gets a little hot in the F-350 so need to get some cloth mess and duct tape so can put over the windows so they can be rolled down...can't possible roll them down now as the bugs would come in be the millions! We got by pretty good today as it is cool but raining a lot but the tent is perfectly dry. We will head for the ferry and get back to the 5th wheel in Matane on the first ferry we can get on either late Sunday or Monday.
Hopefully no more tire trouble. Next we head for Quebec City and then Maine.
[MID: 1509_W0SD Sent Via: KN6KB Date: 2002/08/17 19:13:22]