Labrador City was sunny and cool. We saw a few mines nearby, one of them being one of the largest iron ore mines in the world. There were lots and lots of mind dumps. There was a Mickey Dee’s so we parked there for a bit getting internet before spending the night near at a lake with a float plane dock.
The next day was the drive to Happy Valley-Goose Bay. There is a 500km completely gravel road which is not in too bad of shape, a few rough patches but for the most part pretty good. We stopped in Goose Bay hoping to get laundry done but the only laundry is now closed so we went to North West River to check out their museum. It was a locally run place that had lots of fur trapping artifacts and Hudson’s Bay Company items all donated by locals. It was very interesting and only $2 entrance fee (with free pens and flashlights to boot!). After hitting the new Timmy’s in Happy Valley we proceeded on down the road as we’d heard this next stretch was pretty rough so we wanted to get a jump on it. We parked at a rest area beside a river for the night after about 90 km.
Friday was a looong day. We hit the road early hoping to reach Red Bay midafternoon to begin exploring. The first part of the road was not bad then we hit some rough patches. If you’ve seen on rig, you know we keep the spare tire on the front. As we are driving along, the front tire suddenly FALLS off! Apparently, the tire place in Quebec had not put the lugs on tight enough! The tire lodged itself under the truck so Doug used the highlift jack to raise up the truck enough to pull the tire out. Fran walked back down the road and amazingly found one lug and nut. The tire had some damage but it does not “appear” to affect the viability of the tire. We are certainly going to let Unipneu know about this.
So we carried on and decided to be good Samaritans a little further on the road and ask some people on the roadside if they needed help. As Doug got out of the rig, he heard a “hissing” sound – we now had a flat tire on the back! So now we had to trust that the damaged spare would hold. It did – whew! We came upon the town of Port Hope Simpson further down the road and there was a garage open. They took a look at the tire, and said the belts were damaged so the tire was toast and, of course, they did not carry our size of tire. So now we are driving on a wing and a prayer, hoping to make it to the paved road safely on a damaged tire.
After losing over two hours of time dealing with tires and the bad road, we got to the pavement in Red Bay after five so we parked in the lot outside the Red Bay Historical Site, took a little walk and called it a day.
It began to rain after dinner and it pretty much continued all night into the next day. We visited the Historical Site for the morning which included a Visitor’s Centre, an Interpretive Centre and a boat ride out to Saddle Island. This area is significant as in the 16th century Basque whalers came and fished the waters here killing over 25,000 whales in about 30 years’ time. There are remains of their shelters, triworks and barrel making sites, and a ship, the San Juan, that sank in the harbour. There was an excellent film and the remains of a chalupa (the boats they used to actually do the whaling). The whole thing is very well done. The boat ride and walk on Saddle Island were soggy experiences but as we were the only ones doing it at that time, the boat operator could see us has we were finishing the hike and came back and got us right away rather than waiting the full hour we were supposed to have.
As it was now Saturday and it seems no garages are generally open on weekends at all, we were not optimistic about getting a new spare. We did come across one garage at 12:10 which had closed at noon; dang!
We had hoped to do a few hikes in this southeastern section of Labrador but the weather was not being very cooperative. We did do part of the Jersey Trail to see the “bubbling sands” – a sort of quick sand; as well as walking a bit near the beach. There are lots and lots of sandy beaches here in Labrador but we can’t imagine many people actually swim in the ocean here. There is one wanted we go and see as we had read it was a “short boat ride from Cartwright” but when we called, the minimum tour was 3 hours and over $200 a person. This was called the “Wunderstrands” by the Vikings who visited here – a 60km stretch of sand so it would have been awesome to see, IF the price had been right.
We visited the Port Amour lighthouse, the 2nd tallest in Canada and toured the home attached to it as well as climbing the 132 steps to the top. Not a great view to be seen in this weather though. The site has been well managed and the information and artifacts were well presented. On the road to the lighthouse there was a burial ground that is 7500 years old – the oldest burial site in North America. There was a 12 year old aboriginal girl buried there with many items which leads archeologists to believe that those peoples had a belief in the afterlife and conducted actual ceremonies for their deceased.
We ended up driving through a half a dozen little towns with populations of less than 600 each and not a great deal of services in southeastern Labrador. All have waterfront and probably wonderful views when it’s not foggy L .
We thought gas would be pricy here but it’s still cheaper than Vancouver! Tigger is filthy after the Trans Labrador Road but there is NO place to get it washed here on the mainland.
We had planned to catch the ferry Sunday night to the island of Newfoundland, but since we’d seen everything on the “itinerary” and the weather was not cooperating for hiking, we decided to see if we could catch the 8 am sailing instead. We parked just outside the ferry ticket office that night.
We made the 8am ferry and made our way to the island of Newfoundland.