Is your coffee cup full and you’re in your comfy chair? This week has been an incredible roadtrip. Sit back and come along with me!
My girlfriend Kim and I started this roadtrip attending a Custom Van Event in Quebec by Cold School Van Club. What a great start to an excellent adventure!
Sunday morning we headed north for what I thought would be a 2 or 3 day roadtrip through northern Quebec and Labrador to the ferrie to Newfoundland. I was just a tad off on timing! Lol! 6 days later we landed at the ferrie in Blanc- Sablon. What an incredible journey! Let’s start at the beginning.
Heading east on 138 from Larent’s house, which btw was the coolest house I have ever seen. Built in the 70’s by his father the house is round and the walls made with thick cement with logs built into the like flagstone. Heating with a wood burning furnace the heat coils are embedded in the cement support in the middle of the house. With the wall acting as a radiator to keep the inside cozy and warm during the long winter that is Quebec. Beautiful woodwork throughout with log vaulted ceilings. What a magnificent house filled with wonderful people.
As we headed northeast into the heart of Quebec the forest thickened. Through winding and twisting roads the rawness and beauty of Quebec unfolded. Turning north on Hwy 175 to avoid a small ferrie ride with a very long wait, we were told coming back down to the St. Lawrence on Hwy 172 was a beautiful ride. We were not disappointed!
Check out the video on my you tube channel. It was a beautiful drive. https://youtu.be/JZjtXOOSx3E
Along the way we seen a plaque for a covered bridge. Of course you know we had to follow it and take a peak. So glad we did. A beautiful little bridge, perfectly preserved over a small rippling river. It was built in 1934 to cross the Saint-Margarite River in Sacre-Coeur Quebec. My Roadtrek would not fit through but as you can see it is still used today! I loved the way the inside was designed. The woodwork had a nice look and beautiful feel.
Back onto Hwy 138 running beside the St Lawrence we came across a little town with a small peninsula. A large sign in front of the peninsula said something in French but I could not understand it but was pretty sure it said No Camping. I took a picture and sent it to my French friends just to be sure because it would have been a great boondocking spot.
What a pretty little spot sitting on the side of the St. Lawrence River. Rolling rocks led out to the water. There were information signs but unfortunately they were all in French so I had no idea what they were saying. All I know is the sweet smell of the fresh air and the beautiful scenery made for an excellent coffee stop. Kim dipped her toe in the water and it was mighty cold!!! Lol!
I was amazed how the salt from the St. Lawrence had cristaized into almost stone. Nature is both intriguing and beautiful.
With darkness starting to fall we would find our first camping spot. Looking for a campground as we both needed a well deserved shower, there was none so we opted for a nice a little hotel. I have a rule not to drive at night, especially on small 2 lane roads, that I do not know in the woods. Safety before anything! Newfoundland will still be there when we get there.
In Forestville we turned up Hwy 389 which would take us all the way into Labrador. The first thing we saw was a sign that said no gas for 284 Km. Turned around and stopped and filled the tank. We were going into wilderness. Little did we know how vast that wilderness would be. For the next 2 days we would be in and out of cell phone range sometimes for 6-8 hours on roads that were not meant for man or beast!
The drive up Hwy 389 was beautiful. We made some stops along the way to go Ahhhh!
Another night and no campgrounds. We found this little motel and restaurant. There were no rooms available but we could stay in the RV and use their bathrooms and wifi. Without it we had no cell service what so ever. In the morning we went into the little restaurant and had coffee with the wolves. It was cool!
While we were looking at the map of where we had to go we noticed a perfect circle of water. So perfect we thought man must have made it but why?
After some googling I discovered it was where an asteroid had hit the earth over 214 million years ago. Called the Manacouagan Crater it covers an area of 1,942 sq km according to Wikipedia. The asteroid itself was 5 miles wide when it hit in the late Triassic period. An interesting find in the wilds of Quebec.
Back on the road still heading north. Everyone we talked to said look out for moose, bear and wolves. We saw none of those but no one told us about the giant mosquitoes!!! Holy Hannah!! Getting out to take a picture was taking your own blood in your hands! Lol!
In Canada we have 2 seasons. Winter and construction. This road was no exception. Most had lights and what seemed like forever to change. Some had a timer like this one, some did not. It slowed any progress we made on the paved roads to a crawl.
It is amazing what is so far north a lot of people do not see. As we rounded a corner there was a huge Hydro dam. We both could not believe the size of it. That is a lot of power!
Little did we know just up ahead was the start of a rough ride. What was beautiful paved road turned to dirt road.
Dirt roads with beautiful scenery but dirt roads all the same.
A little bird, one of the only handful we seen, walked out onto the road. We had to come to a full stop. Maybe warning us what was ahead. We should have listened. Lol!
It took about 6 hours of driving 25 -30 km/hr (15-20 mph) on washboard dirt roads before we hit pavement again.
Check it out and hang on tight. It is bumpy slow ride! https://youtu.be/E7bGCfy32k8
Along the way we came across SOS boxes. Phone booths dotted the highway as you were without phone service for hours. If you broke down it could be a long walk to one though. They averaged 30- 50 km apart.
Just coming out of Quebec were the Iron mines. Huge operations where mountain tops were reduced to stone piles and deforestation was every where. It was so sad to see.
After leaving the mining area we came to an area of the forest that felt dead but looked alive. Even though some of the forest we drove through was ravaged by fire or man you could still feel it breathing, living, healing. This forest although looked fine did not feel that way. As we were driving the vibe became more intense. Like the forest was sad or had given up. It life’s blood sucked out by man. Both Kim and I felt lethargic and I had a bit of a headache. It seemed a long stretch before that feeling diminished.
Can you feel it? Or not feel it in the video? https://youtu.be/uRR8l8quZxU
As we rounded a corner it appeared!!!
What we had been hoping for!
Fermont Quebec is the last city before the Labrador border. A nice little city where we stopped to top up our fuel, check in with people while we had cell service so they would not worry and go for a small tour.
After 3 days and 1,156 km (718 miles) of driving we finally crossed into Labrador! Oh what a feeling!
We headed for Labrador City. Seat dancing all the way. Labrador although was not on my bucket list was an exciting place to go. Not many people go to Labrador and we found the north more populated than the south. Labrador City had everything you needed but campgrounds. In fact there were no campgrounds until you got south near the ferry and the coast. Kim figured it was because if you live in the woods why would you go camping in the woods!! Lol! Maybe she was right.
One of the most commented thing about Newfoundland and Labrador is the warmth of the people and that started right at the border. Of course because of covid and the restrictions that come with it there are border crossing officers there to check your vaccine papers. Smh! I truly cannot believe we have gotten this point. As pointed out in my last blog I had to get a vaccine to travel here or spend 14 days in Quarentine. I was required to fill out a travel form as well as provide proof of vaccination. A single dose will let you in. The gentlemen that greeted us at the border were truly that. A smile and Welcome to Labrador with that sweet Newfoundland/Labrador accent what I was most looking for started right there. I will tell you that our travels through Quebec was wonderful. As we tried to communicate they were patient and more often then not spoke English. Those that did not let us point! Lol! We did not have an issue anywhere. But that Labrador, Newfoundland charm is just what I was expecting and I am loving it. Warm wonderful people that greet you with a smile and a “Ow’s it goin” that eastern charm works its magic.
Staying the night in Labrador after a very hard drive we were fresh to begin an amazing tour across Labrador. I had been told that some of the roads in Labrador were pretty rough. After what we just drove through I was really hoping not. That was hard on me and my van. The lady at the hotel told us most of the road had now been paved and she thought there was only 100 km of dirt road left to pave. Well thats better than more than half of it being dirt that I had heard before. The next city we would come to would be Happy Valley-Goose Bay. 555 km (350 miles). We filled the tank at $1.64/ litre…ugggg and off we went.
Roadtrippin through Labrador! Oh what a feeling! https://youtu.be/BjtZtV07ouc
Traveling in the Boreal Forest for me is exciting. Covering much of Canada above the 50th parallel it stretches 1.2 Billion acres from Newfoundland – Labrador to Alaska. Some interesting facts I learned from PEW website
Contains some of the deepest, cleanest freshwater on the planet.
Stores twice as much carbon per acre than a tropical rain forest. Storing a minimum of 229 Billion tons of carbon
Represents 25 percent of the world’s remaining forests. Even more than the Amazon.
We arrived in Happy Valley -Goose Bay and low and behold a Tim Hortons! Yea!! I asked the gentlemen if there was a campground around but to our dismay no but I could park there for the night if need be. Oh so nice. We went to a nice place to eat and looked for a hotel but really they wanted an arm and a leg so we decided to find a boondocking spot somewhere in town. We stopped into the liquor store, we had to get some Newfie Screech, which had a large parking lot and the lady said we could stay there if we liked. It was a quiet night in this sleepy little town. Gift shopping and a little tour through town and we were off to hit the Labrador Coast Highway. Ok so you have to drive a long way before you hit the coast but the view in between were spectacular.
Come on a video tour of Happy Valley Goose Bay with us! https://youtu.be/eyGrf6WKfEk
As promised there was a section of highway not paved but it was not washboard dirt either. Loose gravel but not bumpy.
A couple of times we were driving in a dust storm. Of course everyone else was going faster than us, they always are, so we spent a lot of time looking for the road. Lol.
Coming back on pavement was exciting. In fact once we thought for sure there was pavement ahead but it was just a mirage. I did not know that you could get mirages of pavement, I thought that was only for an oasis. Maybe the pavement was our oasis! Lol!
It’s pavement!!! Woohoo!! https://youtu.be/sIcQuHEBx1I
Getting closer to the coast you could smell the air change. The salt of the sea seemed to start as we decended out of the mountains toward the coast.
We pulled into a little town called Port Hope-Simpson. A small fishing village with houses spotting the landscape. With the end of the day coming way to fast we still had 3 hours to the ferry. Time to find somewhere to pull off for the night. We found this small information pull off with a beautiful view of the ocean and we knew this was it.
Morning started with an Ahhh look at that view, Coffee and sunshine and a few laughs! When Kim and I are together there are plenty of those. 3 hours to the ferry but there were a few stops along the way we wanted to see. So Coffee in hand and wind in our hair off we went.
Down the coast we came across a town called Red Bay. Population 145 we were told. What an interesting and friendly town. There was a museum that we went through along with a gift shop and a small Cafe. I had my first fish and chips since coming east and not being a fish person I must say it is the best I have ever tasted!!
The history that has been found in this town dates back to the 16th century when whaling was at its prime. A major Basque whaling site, artifacts such as pottery and tools have been found including a whaling ship that sank off the island. Red Bay is a designated UNESCO site and is renowned as one of the most precious underwater archeological sites in the world. What a beautiful little town with such an interesting history.
Whalers arrived in the 16th century. Most of the artifacts were found on and along the shores of Saddle Island. In fact they usually have a tourist boat that go over so you can walk the island. Unfortunately last winter had done some damage over there to the walkways so it was closed. Really unfortunate as there was a 16th century burial site on the other side. Now that I would have got in a boat for.
The museum was interesting with a display and the story of the life of a whaler. Pieces of clothing that was recovered as well as ship parts including navigation tools. Below are some pictures of the interesting things throughout the museum.
The above photo is an actual ship that sank off of Saddle Island. It was recovered as is and you can see the craftsmanship that went into making these vessels. This building is actually closed to the public but they opened it just for us. See, how nice is that. The gentlemen even got on his bike and rode up this huge hill almost faster than I could drive up it!!!
If you ever have a chance to experience Red Bay Labrador do it! It was an amazing experience all round!!
Come along on a little tour of this beautiful little village. https://youtu.be/OiVNQcsXEtQ
An hour from the ferry if we moved our butts we would make the last one. It was a nice calm day and I was confident we would have a nice float!
Opening to recieve us! Sooo excited!! We are almost there!!
A beautiful ferrie ride over to St. Barbe. The view of the Straight of Belle Isle was beautiful. Stunning water with fishing boats around us we puttered along on a smooth surface to my Bucket List Destination!
As we pulled into St. Barbe the sky greeted us with a magnificent welcome. A sure sign that the next leg of our Chipmunk Adventure was going to be magical!
Make sure you subscribe to my website so you do not miss any adventure. This week I will have a feature blog on the cutest Inn we found. The Genevieve Bay Inn. It was so interesting and the people who are here so warm and friendly we had to stay for 2 days.
Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure.