View From The Glen

Friday, August 1, 2014

Newfoundland: The Trans Labrador Highway

That was a treat.....2000 km of bad roads and beautiful scenery. The girls and I tangoed our way through pit stops to make adjustments to the westy.

No cell, no internet service. No traffic. We carried a satellite cell for emergencies. Stopped in Labrador City and Goose Bay-Happy Valley. Limped into Port Hope Simpson. 

Excerpts from journal:

July 8
Through the  Boreal forest, up up and around winding roads cutting through great swaths of tall thin trees and scruff. Past the 50th parallel. Epic, magnificent, lonely,wild, isolated country with 18% grades! gravelled roads! and hydro dams holding back capacious lake waters and accounting for the mess of snarled wire towers that represent the hub of Quebec Hydro.

Bumpy too. Twisted roads. Bone rattling.

It's not so much what you find about yourself on a journey such as this.....more what you don't lose. what stays is what is important. Elemental. Like the landscape.

Everything else is nothing. Gives perspective.


It's all corkscrew turns and dust clouds out here, crisscross in the iron rails that must be for trains running in or out from the mines. We are perilously close to the edge by times, the gravel road threatening to fall away from under us into the scraggly forest below. A strange place, not exactly hostile, but not friendly either now that we gave left the coast and ventured inland towards Labrador. The dust fills our noses with a thick chalky smell, and invades the car, coating everything. God I hope we arrive soon.


We stopped at the only gas station we saw, and picnicked on croissants and turkey and avacado and watermelon. Vestiges of civilization in a desolate, dusty place.....a gravel slab, a few cottages, and a store. Gas $1.77. 


We are finally reaching the first real trace of humanity in hours and it is ugly and brutish. The world ripped apart and land gorged with the mines that go on forever. We must be close to the border. This has to be the worst highway in Canada. What an adventure. Feels quest like. Except the quest is to find a hot shower😄

July 8

Sign on hwy east of Labrador city: "Caribou remains must not be disposed of within 50 metres of the highway" You can't make this sh*t up.

BBQ at Churchill river. Pizza and tea while Andrew tries to figure out why westy so sluggish...... Girls playing frisbee 

Flora and fauna quite pretty. There was a hiking trail to the canyon, but we forgo to follow it: black flies and what the kids are calling moose flies (huge back beasts which seem not to bite unlike ontario horse or deer flies), as well as being behind schedule due to whatever us wrong with the westy encourage us to press on.

Westy ok now it's rested. Andrew can't find anything wrong. No mechanics in Churchill; they all work fir industry. We debated staying to see Germany game at the sole inn, but it, like the rest of this town, was industrial- looking and un inviting. Even the homes are institutional. Rather depressing, actually.

Later: Westy stopped. No apparent reason. And so we wait, at the side of a deserted highway, surrounded by forest, with the blackflies. 15 minutes. Once cooled off, it started again. It's these dirt highways. Much better when we got back to paved roads again. And now we are almost in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

July 9

Stayed at the rather frightening Labrador inn last night....not as bad inside as it looked when we pulled in with a leaking gas tank. Leak minor, which us good because no way to fix it, not here.

Picked up a satellite cell which travellers can borrow for this last leg of the trans Lab hwy....?Seemed intelligent given the current status of the westy.

It's 400 km to port hope Simpson, on red dust roads. Assuming van holds any power, we should make it by dinner. Double whatever time estimate you'd have in south eastern ontario and that is about right.

Along way, travellers have left messages....inukshuks on roadside, or names etched cliff side. Tempting,  but decided the best thing we could leave thus place to remember us by is leave it in the pristine way we find it today. We were blaring Neil diamond songs, so we leave the sounds of the 80s echoing through the black spruce of this ancient place.

Highlight of day: vw stalling and all of us out pushing to get it started on a hill. I know I said I wanted exercise, but really... Also, it was raining. And there were black flies.

Played soccer with girls at a makeshift rest stop. Andrew consulting owners manual with some perplexity.

Running out of fuel on this remote highway, with miles to go and limited power, and darkness coming. Oh goody. 

C'mon westy, you can do it. Running a bit better now it's flattened out a bit. Here's hoping. 

Made it. To a deserted RV park where Stella and Reg offered us beds in their house. We stayed in camper where the strobe of a lighthouse lit our way on the dark, and we woke to dawn on the bay...and ferocious Mosquitos. 

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