Day 10: Big Brook, NL to Trans Lab Hwy
The wind howled through the night but I was relatively comfortable. I woke once or twice as passing showers sounded on the tent roof but slept well. When I awoke, it was a grey morning where the sun was obscured by clouds and the sea breeze blew strong off the water coating everything in a film of saltwater. I packed all my personal gear into the bike and began making a cup of coffee followed by some oatmeal. I glanced down toward the town and was surprised to see a cow and calf munching their way through town.
They heard me and sauntered off into the bush. Shortly thereafter I witnessed a rainbow as the sun peeked through the clouds. What a great way to start my 26th birthday.
I cleaned my cooking utensils and donned my riding gear. I took in my surroundings and then set back on the gravel road toward the paved highway. I didn't get very far until I had my first mishap. The locking mechanism on my right side case had worked loose and I hit one pothole too many. Off she goes!
This was only the first of many "Where the fuck did my Jesse bag go" moments :norton
I made it to the main road and then worked back toward the Viking Trail. I had fuel in the tank but just enough to get my across the Taiga to the first small town of Eddie's Cove. Cool. I struggle the 40 - 50 miles toward Eddie's cove fighting a headwind across the open expanse of taiga. The rain picks up as well turning a cold and grumpy situation worse. The only vegetation are small pine trees dotting the low moss and ground heaves. The fuel light comes on. I keep on riding.
I pull into Eddie's Cove and quickly realize I have already exited Eddie's Cove and there were no gas stations to be found. Shit. Onward to the next town. I'm over 210 miles now on one tank and have no idea how much farther I can go until empty. The following two towns either have no gas or a closed gas station.
It is Sunday in Canada and you know what that means? Nothing is open.
I have to resort to filling up with my extra 2L of fuel. I'm hoping this gets me to a gas station or I'll be knocking on a local's door. I bet they'd have gas and give me a hearty smile anyway so I'm not too stressed.
I make it to St. Barbe on empty again but fill up at an open gas station. I immediately ride across the street to get my ferry ticket to Newfoundland for $11. You can really tell the difference between subsidized and nonsubsidized ferry services! I walk next door to the Motel and decide to treat myself to a birthday meal. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day so I might as well have a hearty one.
Two big pancakes and coffee hit the spot. The waitress never managed to bring my bill so I left her a $10 note and rode down to wait for the ferry. It was sprinkling and then turned into a constant rain while I sat on the bike watching cars, trucks, vans, RV's and tractor trailers board.
Finally I was one of the last vehicles onboard.
I stowed my gear and grabbed my chargeables then walked up a few decks. The ship had led a storied pass in the northern Atlantic and Scandinavia. The decor was heavy on wood paneling, outdated smoking/party rooms and velour chair cushions. There was a small cafe, store selling local trinkets and a mini arcade for the screaming teenagers. I found a free map and decided to plot a course for the day.
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My first adventure would be to ride as far south along the coast as the road would allow. Unfortunately I would not come near the funny bay.
The three hour ferry ride was uneventful and I chatted with some fellow passnegers about Labrador and things to see/do.
Here I am getting my first glimpse of the fog-shrouded coast of Labrador.
The ferry docks and my first stop after disembarking is the terminal to check on the return schedule later in the week. After learning when the boats sail, I set off to discover Labrador. My heart is full, the sky is a dull grey and I couldn't be happier as I ride into Quebec...wait a second...Quebec?
La Brador is the northernmost city along the coast in Quebec and is just south of the ferry terminal. I spotted this neat Inookshok there.
I rode along the lonely two lane road south to the beautiful Brador Falls.
This is the view of my bike and the twisty road that ascended into the clouds. This hill was so steep I was shocked to see the 18% grade sign on my return trip later that day. :huh
The scenery here was absolutely stunning.
It reminded me of the western coast of Ireland with the climate and low lying vegetation. It is an interesting feeling knowing that there are no towns and no roads at all in any direction west for hundreds of miles. It really is quite desolate out that way.
I work my way through many small fishing communities along the coast. Most have a large general store, some sort of take out diner and a gas pump or two if they are lucky. I finally meet the end of the road in Vieux-Fort (Old Fort)
I then take a small break for a granola bar and to be barked at by a curious dog.
This man processes fish at the plant beside the dock.
I turned around and retraced my steps along the twisty coastal road at a brisker pace than my first pass. :evil I spotted two small fishing shacks down a boulder-strewn road jutting out into a peninsula. Sure why not. Have GS - WILL TRAVEL :norton
This sorta dead-ended so I turned around and worked back to the road fighting the rocks, sand and staying upright. Lovin' it.
This is the view looking down on Brador Bay on the road with 18% grade. I pulled in the clutch and gained speed on my descent.
One observation about Candian construction signs, they are VERY exact. Case in point:
I stopped to fuel up and was surprised that fuel was cheaper here than in Newfoundland. The french speaking gas station attendant in braces took my cash but kept her distance. It must be the scary beard, pink suit and glasses. I don't blame her.
The road snaked north along the coast passing in and out of small towns and rising to high cliffs and plateaus overlooking the rocky coastline.
The Pinware River is truly a beautiful and wild sight.
This direction flows to the sea
The road crews had built a new highway directly over the mountain toward Red Bay. The road was nearing completion but still closed, forcing me onto the old twisty road along the cliffside following the river upstream. It is so much better, although rough, but I hope they keep it open once the new section opens.
Not long after, the road sinks toward Red Bay.
The sea fog here was otherworldly and shrouded the bottom 20ft above the water in a thick white blanket.
I rode into town and grabbed gas, air, some chocolate snacks and the weather report.
This is the beginning of the Trans Lab Hwy (or the end if coming from the west)
Off I go! :super
Road conditions were great. The dust wasn't terrible and the ruts were mostly filled.
The first stop after 30 miles or more is Lodge Bay. There is a small informational kiosk and a bench. I ate some kippered herring and watched while the Buick Lucerne I passed at 70mph 20 minutes ago overtook me.
Onward up to Mary's Harbor.
I inquired about the boat ride to Battle Harbor but learned it had already sailed at 6:00. It was 6:30. Onward!
I decided it was getting to be about that time where moose come out of nowhere and Mike gets sleepy. There are miles of fir trees and not much else. I spotted a woodpile along the roadside and drove down into the sandy work area.
Yup I think this will work for a campsite tonight :thumb
The smell of freshly cut pine was intoxicating.
After setting up my tent and covering the bike, I walked down to the lake behind the logging clear cut for my evening bath. It was the kind of peaceful solitude where you hear nothing but an occasional bird and the silence begins to roar in your ears.
I bathed in the fresh rust-colored water (likely from the tanins in the soil/decaying matter) and expected the flock of woodland birds pecking at my clothes to steal my watch or underwear. They did not. It was incredibly peaceful.
After the relaxing bath, I slowly walked back to camp down a cleared path of moss and lichen that sank 5 or 6 inches with each step. It was like walking on a giant sponge. The flies and mosquitoes began to come out when I sat still so I activated my new mosquito repellent device my father gave me as a birthday present. The little propane heater set to vaporizing the repellent and quickly the bugs were no longer an issue. This gave me enough time to prepare a can of beans and drink some Crown Royal. I smoked my pipe and looked at the Milky Way stretching across the northern sky. This is a birthday I am sure to remember.
I fell asleep slowly. The sound of silence was so loud it kept reverberating in my ears like a hollow echo on both the high and low registers. If you've ever heard it, you know what I"m talking about. I expected a visit in the night from a curious moose or a black bear but neither bothered me. Hotel Wood Pile was a success.