Jan

2

In August 2009, I decided to take a two week driving trip from my home near Rhinebeck, NY, to Labrador and Newfoundland. The main reason was the classic one – “because it’s there”. I wanted to drive as far north-east in North America as I could. I also figured that I would bring along my amateur radio and see if I could make some contacts on HF from this relatively unpopulated area.

My route, which you can see here, was
Rhinebeck – Baie-Comeau – Labrador City – Goose Bay – Blanc-Sablon – St. Barbe – St. Johns – Port Aux Basques – North Sydney – Rhinebeck. From North Sydney, in Nova Scotia, I had intended making my home though Maine, but instead returned to Quebec and then home via I87.

Before I departed I read a number of articles on the internet describing other people’s trips. As it happened, the trip was less challenging than I expected, but of course I had to do it to learn that. Some good articles were here, here and here (no longer on the author’s site but available on the internet archive).

My vehicle was a new 2009 Dodge Ram 2500, with an Icom 7000 radio in the cab and a Hi-Q 6/160 submarine antenna mounted on the back. I planned to stay in hotels and inns, but brought some emergency food and a sleeping bag, in case I got stranded on the road.

Day 1 (August 12th, 2009) : Rhinebeck To Baie-Comeau. Mileage at start 3040. Started at 7am; arrived at 7.45pm.

The drive north was uneventful. No delay crossing the border. At Quebec, I needed to be sure to take northern road. (The GPS in the truck wanted me to take the highway, which went on the south side of the gulf of St. Lawrence, and which would require a long ferry ride). The drive from Quebec along the river was very scenic, with the houses generally being very well maintained and colorfully painted, even the roofs. The residents were quite house-proud obviously. Villages like those before St. Irenee were very pretty.

From Quebec City, the 100 miles to Baie-Comeau was fairly straight – although there were some road works here and there. Not a bad surface. I drove at 80-90mph most of the last 50 miles through the forests, although the early part of it had quite a bit of slow traffic – camper vans and such. The route included a 10 minute Ferry ride, from Baie Ste. Catherine to Tadoussac; the Garmin GPS was very impressive – “Board the Ferry” when I came to it, and “Leave the Ferry” when the ferry docked at the far side. The weather was beautiful in the afternoon and evening, with the temperature being in the 60’s. There was very little traffic the last 50 miles.

Baie-Comeau is a surprisingly large town, French speaking. Hence, at a restaurant across the street from the hotel I dined on Sole a la Meunière, in honour of France. The phone in the hotel rooms were out of order, and the payphone in the lobby had problems registering credit cards. The hotel had WiFi, though, so I downloaded Skype on my Macbook, setup an account, and called home that way. It worked fine !

Gas was very expensive once I crossed the border into Canada, and it was even more so out towards Baie-Comeau ! I had intended filling up just before the border but hit it before I expected to, so I had to fill up in Canada. 1.024 a liter meant CDN$119 to fill up (took 116.5 liters). In the appropriately named Forestville, near B-C, it was 1.074 a liter, so 105 liters was $113. That is $3.52 per gallon.

The hotel I stayed in was the Comfort Inn, which I had had Jenn book for me. Indeed, I had her make reservations a number of days in advance throughout my trip, which is recommended in Newfoundland and especially in Labrador. The hotel in B-C wasn’t bad, although there was no elevator (it’s a two storey hotel). “Breakfast” was coffee, a few pastries and cereal in the foyer with trays to bring to your room.

Day 2 : To Labrador City.
Before heading out, a quick note : Google Maps tells me 14 hours ! Not sure if I will have time for the mine tour… And I just realised the Churchill Falls tour may not be doable, unless I get there early. (I doubt if they’ll have tours on Saturday morning). I needed to buy a razor, coffee, phone calling card, and a USB flash card reader (somehow, I doubt if I’ll find that here !)

Later : Amazingly, I managed to get everything I needed in the Walmart right across the street from the hotel – including the card reader – and a gas container which I filled up ‘just in case’. I had no worries about running out of gas, as there are sufficient gas stations in Labrador, but I figured caution was not to be discounted. I thought it wasn’t inconceivable that I could meet other folks who ran out of gas on the road.

The road from Baie-Comeau was fairly good. I had headed out at 9am, and reached Manic Cinq, the giant hydro-electric station, at 11:30am, and had lunch there. I checked at the power station to find out when the tours were, but the next tour was not to be until 1.30pm. Since I had about a four hour drive after that, I decided not to wait. I looked at the exhibits in the guest center of the power plant, and then headed off. Before leaving, I followed the first rule of driving in Labrador – always fill up with gas when you can. Gas at the Manic 5 restaurant was $1.30 a liter.

After Manic 5, the blacktop road abruptly ceased, and the gravel road started. It was quite easy to drive on, although one element of danger was the fact that some of the heavy trucks were terribly poorly lit. They threw up so much dust that it would have been very easy to run into the back of one. The first I one I saw I nearly rear-ended, because I came up on him quite fast – it wasn’t clear that there was a truck there; it could have been a dust cloud from a truck further up the road. Incidentally, the route description of the TLH that I came across on the internet had the distance markers off by about 2km.

After the ghost town of Gagnon (of which I saw no sign except the paved road in the middle of the wilderness), where I was doing up to 100mph, I hit the second stretch of gravel and the railroad crossings (see my note below regarding Churchill Falls). This stretch was *far* worse; I needed four wheel drive here and slipped around a bit as it was (although I was traveling at a decent speed. Going slower I would have been okay in two wheel drive). Incidentally, I noticed when I was driving on blacktop that the ferocious bumps I was getting were very mild below 60mph; not sure if this was intentional ! At 70+mph they were beating the crap out of the truck.

Shortly after crossing from Quebec Province into Labrador, I came to Fremont, where Mount Wright was massive, as was the mine there. The hotel I stayed at in Labrador City, the Carol Inn, is old but fine; it reminded me of the Gramercy Park hotel in New York (before the renovation) – my room had a fridge, a microwave and a cooker. I enjoyed an adequate dinner at the restaurant next door, which is the part of the same complex. As I travelled through Labrador I discovered that it is not one of the culinary hotspots of the world.

There was wireless internet in my room, as I discovered was the case in pretty much every establishment I stayed at. That meant that with my laptop and Skype there was no problem keeping in touch. Incidentally, Labrador is on Atlantic Time, one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Day 3 : To Churchill Falls
As I was leaving, once again I filled up the gas tank, to see that gas in Labrador City was 1.07/L. I stopped by Wabush, just a few miles beyond Labrador City, and the Wabush Hotel, to discover it was nice and modern, and big. I would definitely choose to stay there next time, in preference to the older Carol Inn !

At the Wabush Hotel I picked up an emergency satellite phone, as the Carol Inn doesn’t seem to carry these any more. These phones are provided by the Labrador government, for safety on the TLH. In the event of an emergency or breakdown, you can contact the police on them. (There is no cellphone service in Labrador). To be honest, though, I can’t imagine a true need for these, at least in summer, since there is constant, though infrequent, traffic on the highway – perhaps a truck an hour or so. In the off-season, however, I can see where they would be useful. The typical arrangement is that the phone is to be returned in Happy Valley/Goose Bay. If the borrower fails to return the phone they would have to pay for it via a charge on their credit card.

Figuring it would be interesting to see what was going on in Wabush, I went to the Iron Ore of Canada mine and, eventually, discovered that they only organised tours there for family members. I was directed to Gateway to Labrador, the tourist center, where they told me IOC was not doing tours for the public but that Wabush mine was. I signed up to accompany the two others already signed up. It was by now 11am and the two hour tour was due to start at 12:45. I decided to hang out for a while at the tourist center – just as well, for about 20 minutes later the receptionist came out to me to inform me that she had just received a fax stating that the mine could only host a tour for two people, and so I was out of luck…

Since there was no point in hanging out in Wabush, I headed off at 11:30 en route to Churchill Falls. There was quite a bit of roadworks and traffic for the first 75 miles or so; most of the traffic was construction traffic. Along the way, I stopped by a reservoir to make a lunch of some hot soup and coffee on my trusty stove; a little while later a pickup stopped by – it turned out it was a fish and game inspector checking to see if I was fishing !

I continued on, after lunch, the road being much better than the previous day although still just a gravel surface. I was doing 70mph all the way – too fast, it turns out, because as a big truck coming the other way passed me I got two chips on the windshield from flying gravel, one quite a big chip.

Radio conditions on HF were very poor all week, so I didn’t make any contacts.

In Churchill Falls I checked into the only hotel in town, which was in the same building as the grocery store and other company offices. It was weird to be in a company town, especially one that caters to tourists. There were lots of signs in the hotel warning guests that they’d be charged for any damage they cause, and to be sure to wash the blood off their boots if they were hunters, and cautioning them not to bring firearms into the hotel ! The restaurant wasn’t bad – good food but limited menu – burgers and chicken parm type stuff. They had no liquor license unfortunately. Meanwhile, the room was big, with two queen beds.

I had had Jennifer book me a spot on the tour of the plant the next morning. The arrangement was that I would be picked up at 8:45 am by a guide for the tour of the facility. After that I would continue on my way to Happy Valley.

Day 4: To Goose Bay
I enjoyed a good night’s sleep. I breakfasted in the restaurant and then was picked up about 9 along with a couple – who, being economically minded travelers, were sleeping in their truck – and a group of 6 college age kids who were about to start a canoe trip to Goose Bay, guided by an Innu woman.

The hydro-electric plant at Churchill Falls, which is the second-largest underground hydroelectric plant in the world, was very interesting. I learnt that there are plans to capture more of the water flow by diverting Muskrat Falls further downstream. Incidentally, it seems that the Labrador folk don’t benefit all that much from the profits of the plant. It’s operated by Hydro-Quebec, who get most of the proceeds.

It seems that the construction of the plant required the transport of massive equipment into what had been, until the 1950’s, an inaccessible province. Much of the material for the plant was transported on the Quebec North Short and Labrador Railway that was constructed by Iron Ore of Canada from Sept-Îles to Wabush. (A fictional account of building of the railroad is provided in The Land God Gave to Cain, by Hammond Innes). Massive earthmoving equipment carved out a crude track from Wabush to Churchill Falls during the summer months. While the track wasn’t suitable for transport, once the winter freeze came the 660,000 tonnes of equipment could be moved on the ice road to the site.

After the tour, I drove back about 20 minutes (at 75mph) in the direction of Wabush in order to see the Churchill Falls – formerly known as Hamilton Falls – which I had missed the day before. When I came to the bridge over the Churchill river there was a carpark of sorts where one could park, and walk the Bowdoin Trail to the Churchill Falls. These are now a pale imitation of what they used to be, since the water is diverted for the hydroelectric plant, but from the gorge that’s visible you get an idea of the immensity of what they used to be. (In the plant, there are before and after shots).

Heading back through Churchill Falls, I drove up to the local garbage dump as I was advised there might be bear there, and sure enough I saw two, probably a mother and cub.

The road was fine, did about 70-80 most of the way, although a stretch with some dreadful potholes. One was a real clunker. When I reached town I noticed that a lot of stuff in the back had rearranged and a jar of coffee spilt everywhere…

There was very little traffic. Spotted a bear cub in the middle of the road although it pulled off as I approached, and occasionally large birds nests on the electricity pylons.

I stopped for Muskrat Falls, about 25 miles from Goose Bay. Alas the weather was overcast, but walked in the 15 minutes to the falls. Nowhere near as spectacular as Churchill Falls, still worth the trip as they will probably be effectively gone in a few years. Interestingly the soil was all sand – like being in a desert with trees.

Weather turned glorious as I drove into Goose Bay. Reasonably nice town; the Royal Inn and Suites were very impressive – clean, separate living room; TV in both living room and bedroom. Clean bathroom. Ethernet internet.

Only downside to the town was when I asked the check-in clerk for the best restaurant in town, I was given a list that included Burger King. Some were closed (at 6 on a Sat night) so ended up in one called Midway – I think it’s the same outfit that run the hotel and restaurant in Churchill Falls. Typical food so had some barely passable lasagne (at least it was hot !) and some house special pizza that was no so special. Ugh.

The North America QSO party was on HF today, so had a few contacts on the road and then spent an hour after dinner and again around 11pm making contacts, most on 20M but one on 160M. I decided to call it a night and went to bed when I blew the fuse for the amplifier. While I was operating, I had a chat with a local cop when parked at the ferry dock; he had seen me earlier in town and wondered what I was up to. (The antenna had previously generated questions from tourists I met. Not surprising, I guess – the submarine antenna looked like a missile launcher !). He was interested to learn about amateur radio, who I was able to talk to and why I was parked by the salt water.

Sunday – Ferry to Cartwright

I checked out early-ish (11AM). After a very nice breakfast a little north of town, I drove to Northwest River and visited the Labrador Heritage Museum there. It was a fascinating place, well worth a visit.
I learned about the four groups of people in Labrador – the Innu (descended from inland indians), the Innuit (descended from Eskimos), the Metis (descended from settlers who had inter-married with the innuit) and the Settlers. Incidentally, Northwest river is where Leonidas Hubbard started his ill-fated journey.

In the afternoon, I drove back to Goose Bay to be the required two hours early for the 5PM ferry ride to Cartwright, which ended up departing an hour late. I was very lucky, having a four berth cabin to myself. I took a ‘Stugeron’ tablet when I arrived at the dock, so between that and dozing in my bunk I had no seasickness. Indeed, I ate a pork chop dinner on board – incidentally, the food wasn’t bad at all. And, wonder of wonders, there was a WiFi service free on board, so I was able to use Facebook and Skype to call Jenn.

As it happened, the passage was very smooth – the bulk of the trip was in Lake Melville, but I never noticed us leaving it. I dozed from about 8PM, but got up at midnight to see if there was any sign of the Northern Lights. Alas, there wasn’t. When I got up again around 4:30 there was no sign of any icebergs, either.
I skipped the breakfast, figuring that it would kill some time on land.

Monday – Cartwright to Blanc Sablon – Newfoundland
We docked uneventfully, around 6am or so, and I headed south. The – Route 510 – road was gravel again, not much better if any than Route 500. Still, I averaged about 75-80 on it. Not much to see heading south, or indeed restaurants. I passed by the roadworks where the extension to the TLH will meet Route 510. It was a fairly unpopulated area, although not as bad as the TLH; there were more villages, and the terrain was greener. I kept going until Mary’s Harbour, where I had planned to stay that night, but I got there at 9AM ! It was unprepossessing, so I just grabbed breakfast in the place I was due to stay and kept going south and pretty soon I reached Blanc-Sablon – which actually is in Quebec ! Incidentally, the Garmin map was wrong for route 510; it thought the road was miles away from where it actually was.

I actually arrived there about 12 noon, so I was able to get a ticket on that afternoon’s ferry, instead of my original plan of staying the night at l’Anse-Au_Clair after the night at Mary’s Harbour. So this way I gained two nights. (There wasn’t much to see or do in Southern Labrador, apart from walks and some whaling
museums of which I figured there’d be plenty in NF).

The ferry ride was 1.5 hours only. Note that the departure office runs on Newfoundland time, not Atlantic time. Newfoundland time is 30 minutes ahead. Go figure.

When I got to NF there was barely signal for my cellphone, but not enough to call. When I finally got to a payphone I learned that the BnB I had planned to stay at, in Port-au-choix on Wed, had just had their last room booked for tonight, Monday. So I stayed at the motel in the village where I was, in Plum Cove. Anyway, I desperately wanted a shower, having not showered on the boat.

After the shower I headed down to the interpretative center in Bird Cove where there was a wealth of information about the Basques, who had hunted whales in the 16th century here, and Captain Cook who had done the first professional survey of the coast of NF (And St. Pierre et Miquelon). And of course geology.

Tuesday Plum Cove – Springdale
After breakfast, I headed south, to Gros Marne where I visited the Interpretative Center. There was lots of information on geology and fossils. Orla would like it. On the way out, was greeted by a woman who saw the Rhinebeck plates. She and her husband were from Poughkeepsie. He, a ham, saw the antenna and peeked around the truck. We had a talk about the radio installation. They were in a camper van, heading north.

Most of the driving was on Canada 1, which was quite uninteresting, so despite the rain that came most of the day I didn’t miss much. I stayed at the Riverside Inn, in Springdale, which I reached in the middle of the afternoon. It was a nice room, but there was nothing to do there. Dinner was provided and was quite okay – stuffed chicken and carrot cake that was a bit ropey. The wine was Wolf Blass. Ugh.

Wednesday – Springdale – St. Johns – Bay Bulls
I drove on to St. Johns, and Bay Bulls, where I stayed in the Bread and Cheese Inn. I was to stay here for two nights. The bed and breakfast was nice, with a decent restaurant. On the way there, I stopped at Gander, at the North Atlantic Aviation museum; it was a little disappointing, though – mostly the exhibits were about Gander in WWII, i.e. the local service and the Ferry Service flying bombers etc. over to Europe. There wasn’t much about the flying boats or service to Ireland and Europe.

The drive was pretty long – Route 1 is a two lane road for most of the way, with a few passing lanes. You can get stuck behind slow traffic. Rained most of the way until we got to near St. Johns. Bay Bulls turn about 10 miles or so before St. Johns.

Thursday – Irish Loop
Headed south on the Irish Loop, after a noon conference call. I visited Cape Kirwan, named after a nun. The road was quite scenic, especially at Ferryland, where I stopped to check out the lighthouse, and it was interesting to hear the accents in the restaurants – they could easily be mistaken for Irish people, since the locals had preserved the accents for almost two centuries. I went out to the Marconi museum at Cape Race – closed. Terrible road – gravel, potholed. Mist so strong you couldn’t see 10 yards. I had intended going on the radio there but didn’t want to be driving back in the fog *and* the dark. On my way back, passing an aircraft radar installation, I was met by a guy on a motorbike who informed me that there was a car in a ditch by one of the bridges. On the road further on I met the occupants, a young guy and his girlfriend, and drove them to the main road where they called the RAC to come get the car.

Friday – St. Johns
After checking out of the Bread and Cheese, I drove south again, heading straight to Cape Race this time and ignoring the scenery. I wanted to check out the museum in the daylight. Met a guy at the site of the car accident who had helped the tow driver the night before; he was looking for a chain that they had lost.
I continued out to the museum and lighthouse (which I hadn’t spotted the night before, in the fog). I visited the museum, where there was an interesting exhibit related to the Titanic, since many of the messages related to the tragedy were picked up there.

After leaving the museum, I stopped for lunch along the stunning coastline near Mistaken point, where the oldest fossils in the world were discovered. It was a glorious sunny  afternoon, and after lunch I spent a fun couple of hours on the radio, making quite a few contacts in Europe.

In the mid afternoon, I continued on the Irish loop, stopping for gas at a station up the coast from Portugal Cove. There, I spotted a tow truck and started talking to the gas jockey; it turns out he was the one called to the accident the night before. He had to bring the damaged car back to St. Johns, and got home at 5am.

The rest of the drive was not that interesting, and I made it uneventfully to St. John. The hotel was small, and trendy. But it was where I was to stay, so no complaints from me. There was no dedicated hotel parking, but I managed to get a spot on the street right outside. When I checked in and went up to my room it turned out someone else was in there – checkin screwup. The desk gave me a new room. I had an excellent dinner in the restaurant there – the best meal since I came to Canada – and when I went to pay was comped due to the room mixup.

After dinner, I headed up the street to George Street for a music session; I was treated to 30 minutes of a good balladeer and then a Black 47 type group came on; not my scene and so I went home after a while. Had too much to drink, though; woke up with a hangover !

Saturday – St Johns – Botwood
I was glad, considering the state I was in, that I was only driving a few hundred miles; I drove about 3.5 hours to Botwood, where Jenn had booked me in. It transpired that there was a Flying Boat museum there, much more interesting than the Gander museum. The exhibits provided quite a bit of information, including an 18 minute movie, on the inauguration of the flying boat service to Foynes.

The inn was a bit strange – it was closed in the afternoon, so that guests had to knock on the door of the restaurant. It turns out that the “inn” is in a house across from the restaurant, like a cottage complete with kitchen and dining room and several bedrooms.

After getting settled, I went to dock – which formed part of the remnants of the old flying service dock – and played on the radio. The salt water must have helped, because I got excellent reports from Europe and the US. I went back for dinner in the restaurant – not bad – and then back on the radio. Ended up talking for about 90 minutes to a guy from Boston, originally from Derry who had dated my cousin Gen…

Sunday – Botwood -Port Aux Basques

Sunday saw me driving, in the rain, non-stop to Port Aux Basques, where I was to catch the ferry to Nova Scotia. I didn’t do too much sightseeing on the way, and was glad to get checked in after the rain. There was a huge crowd of people in the hotel, as it turned out the hurricane had led to the cancellation of the ferry service. It took a while to get seated in the dining room, but once served the food was pretty decent.

Monday – Port Aux Basques – Rose Blanche – Cape Ray

Due to the cancellation of the previous day’s ferry, I got bumped from my reservation and had to spend an extra night in Port Aux Basques. I took the opportunity to do some sightseeing, heading up first to Isle aux Morts, Burnt Islands and to see Rose Blanche. The lighthouse was rebuilt, and was quite impressive, but not as much as the coastline where the fury of the sea was all too apparent with the tail end of the hurricane still evident.

After taking photographs there and touring the lighthouse, I headed west again, to Cape Ray. This was quite pretty, where I played on the radio in a salt-marsh type of area, before heading out again. I took a different road out, and was starting to have second thoughts as the track got narrower and narrower, until towards the end the hedges on both sides of the track were brushing the mirrors of the truck. When I reached a main road, I saw a sign indicating that vehicles were barred from the track – it must have been for snowmobiles.

Dinner that night was much quieter, and decent as before.

Tuesday – Port aux Basques – North Sydney – Fredericton

I managed to get on an earlier ferry than the one I was rescheduled for. Entering the port was quite interesting; the agricultural inspectors checked out the truck, and thoroughly washed the wheel arches with  water jet – trying to ensure to inadvertent transport of flora and fauna, no doubt. The ferry trip was quite pleasant. The ship seemed brand new, and I managed to get a cabin, which was very impressive, sparkling clean and very comfortable. I slept for the entire trip.

The drive from North Sydney was very scenic; I will have to return to Nova Scotia. By this stage, however, I was in a hurry to get home and drove until the dark hours, when I reached Fredericton about 9.30pm. After checking in to a Ramada inn I discovered the dining room was closed, so a I found a restaurant with some trouble. After dinner and a few beers it was back to the hotel for bed.

Wednesday – Fredericton – Quebec – Rhinebeck

The drive back was uneventful. I travelled quite fast, but managed to avoid any speed traps. I noticed that in the last 20 or so miles to the US border the Canadian troopers were pulling over quite a number of cars. I was lucky. At the border, my antenna attracted some curiosity but no major attention. I reached home about 3pm, after 4700 miles in 15 days. I was ready for a rest !


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4 Comments so far

  1. Ken King on June 12, 2010 4:24 am

    Hi,

    I stumbled onto your blog while searching for info on the TLH, incidentally, while dreaming up a road trip of my own up into Labrador this summer. I have to say, being from Newfoundland, I have never heard the place sound as boring and uneventful as in your trip blog. Is that just the way it reads?

    As a local, I would have recommended three main highlights on the island: (1) Gros Morne, including one or more of the local hiking trails and the picturesque local communities, (2) L’anse aux Meadows, to see the Viking archaeological site and interpretative centre there, and (3) St. John’s, the city, in that order, but not to the exclusion of many other worthy items.

    Very unfortunate that you drove past L’anse aux Meadows after getting off the ferry from Blanc Sablon and sped through Gros Morne without really seeing it (at least a couple days to do it some justice). Did you get Screeched in in St. John’s?

    I hope you do have good memories of your visit, I guarantee you haven’t seen the best of it. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog as well, as I wondered about the road conditions and trip times for a loop up through Labrador and Quebec.

    Cheers!

  2. Brian on June 15, 2010 6:22 am

    Hi ken,

    Thanks for your comment. Sorry if I gave the impression that I found Newfoundland boring. Actually, I enjoyed it, although some of the weather was a bit dreary (of course, I’m used to that, being from Ireland). My trip really was a whistle-stop one, with a lot to cover in a short period of time. My primary interest was Labrador, and I found that fascinating, for several reasons – historical, political, sociological etc.
    Labrador was, as you say, very interesting, particularly from an archaeological viewpoint. In fact I stopped at several heritage centers and was exceedingly impressed. Time, alas, prevented my stopping for more than a few hours.
    On this trip my primary aims were to see the aviation museums, to get a sense of the Irish heritage on the island, and to make radio contacts. In each of those I succeeded. I found the beauty of the coast around Cape Race particularly striking, and was surprised to learn about the ancient fossils found there. I also found Nova Scotia to be beautiful.
    In short, this was unavoidably a very quick trip – 4,600 miles in 14 days – but served its purpose in providing me with a taste of what the three provinces have to offer. I intend to return ! And finally, these notes were really just that – more a series of diary notes rather than a description of my thoughts…

  3. Ken... on August 3, 2014 12:31 pm

    I stumbled onto this blog as well looking to do a similar trip. Then I stumbled onto Ken King’s comment.

    I’d just like to say one thing to Mr. King:

    Shut up

  4. Douglas on October 28, 2014 6:08 pm

    Wife and I drove the TLH in June of 2014. Much preparation for paving in the eastern part near the coast. Up on the plateau we encountered eight or ten maintainers (road graders) smoothing the surface which really was not in very poor shape to begin with. We drove a Toyota Tundra crew cab towing a 25-foot Airstream and had no problems all the way from Blanc Sablon to North West River to Labrador City. Carried 15 gallons of fuel on the roof rack which came in handy before we reached Goose Bay – Happy Valley. The road from Fermont to Baie Comeau is terrible in spite of the fact that it serves five big hydroelectric plants and the Mesabi Range of Canada. Narrow two lanes of rutted and potholed dust/mud or busted-up pavement punctuated by random miniscule intervals of smooth pavement with semi loads of stuff and worker pickups roaring along at high speed in both directions. For all the treasure that Quebec must reap from the sales of power and iron ore one would think that they could provide a decent road along such an important artery. Have a problem along this road? Most of the industrial traffic is willing to stop and help or radio for assistance even though they probably do not speak English. We had a flat tire and received such aid and were very glad we were headed to Baie Comeau where there are all sorts of services available including Garage Pierre Lavoie, an excellent tire shop that had our tire ready in less than a day. While we recovered from the drive we stayed several days at the Manic 2 RV park north of town where the hosts were super nice and the environment quiet and relaxing. Going the other direction we would not have had comparable facilities.

    Great trip! And we probably never would have done it if we hadn’t chanced upon “Northern Nurse” by Elliot Merrick and decided that North West River would be a cool place to visit. It has a wonderful museum that is well worth a visit.

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