Day 3 (continued)
Salmon stream at Baie Johann-Beetz
The last few miles to Natashquan are narrow, rough, twisty and would have been enjoyable had it not been for the roadworks in progress along this stretch of the highway. In remote areas, Quebec uses automated traffic lights with a digital display counting down the seconds you have to wait until the light changes. The first one I encountered was counting down at 139, so I had plenty of time to get off the bike, adjust my gear and stretch my legs before it got to zero and green.
Countdown at roadworks: 103 and counting
(by the way, for those of you with sharp eyes, the 750S doesn't idle at 2500 rpm - the tach is a little lazy)
Natashquan is two distinct and separate communities. The smaller French-Canadian village of Natashquan (pop 246) is a neat little community straddling the mouth of the Petit Natashquan River. The First Nations Innu village of Natashquan (pop 810) lies at the mouth of the much larger Natashquan River. Only 1.9% of its inhabitants list French as their first language (Innu is their first)!
Petit Natashquan River and the village
The paved portion of Highway 138 ends just east of the Innu village of Natashquan. Frankly, it’s a bit anticlimactic. You turn the corner past the reserve, and there is the sign indicating the end of the road. A gravel road actually continues for another 18 kilometres along the river, but I had been bullied in to swearing I wouldn’t abuse the 750S with extensive gravel riding.
The end of the paved road. The road resumes at the Labrador Coast, about 300 kms to the east
After his first ride on the 750S, my son Sam claimed it as part of his inheritance (mind you, I don’t know what he imagines the rest might be!) and, knowing me well, made me promise I wouldn’t beat it to death along rough gravel roads. He's seen what I do to my other bikes (see link below). Grudgingly I accepted his request, and to honour that, I ended my trip at the end of the pavement.
It was still early in the day, so I took a few photographs, turned the bike around then headed for home. Google maps list the distance / time from Natashquan to Forestville as 697 km, 10 hours 11 mins. I don’t think it took me quite that long, even with numerous stops for photographs and video clips http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUqiLdschwA
I will admit to being a bit tired by the end of the day though, so before heading to the same motel I’d stayed in on the way up, I filled up with gas, bought a bag of tortilla chips, a jar of cheese dip, a bottle of “La Fin du Monde (the End of the World)!” 9% alcohol beer and a can of Sapporo for supper.
I spent a happy evening watching the Olympics on TV, ingesting my disgusting suppertime fare then hit the sack.
At about 1.30AM my body decided to rebel................