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Old 09-03-2012, 01:38 PM   #1
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Joined: Feb 2008
Location: Quispamsis, NB, CANADA
Oddometer: 85
Laugh 2 KLR's, the Trans Lab and the Main Fuse of Destiny

I know that there are a lot of TLH write ups out there but I thought I'd throw mine out there...if nothing else, for my own keeping of the memory bits.

So here goes:

I'm not sure how the seed got planted, but somehow it got in there.
It weaseled its' way in, took root and wouldn't go away....the Trans Lab.

I did what I do:

--I read ride reports...lots of ride reports.
--I read web sites.
--I make check lists.
--I go on Google maps and plan routes.

It all sounded fantastic!

At the time 1,100 km of gravel roads through a place that I didn't know the slightest thing about....Labrador.

Best of all, it was essentially in my back yard.

After a false start last year, I was bound and determined to go this year..especially after hearing that the roads are quickly being paved taking away part of the challenge...

What started with 4 dwindled down to 3 and then 2...
I was worried I would be making this trip by myself.
Would I do it?
I guess I'll never didn't matter, I had a 2nd.

The date was set and bits and pieces were rolling in for the bikes.
We spent money on some things but others would suffer budget cuts: skid plates and good tires were a necessity but "frivolous" things like fancy luggage were replaced with duffel bags and garbage bags.

Ratchet straps, ropes and borrowed gear would be the theme.

Who cares, vacations were set...we were going!

[DAY 1]
Saint John, NB to Baie Comeau, PQ = 626 km

Just like MIB, I was about to put on the last suit I'd ever wear (at least for 9 days).

We had a fairly long day planned to catch the ferry at Matane, PQ for 5 PM but it was all hard could it be.

We were chomping at the bit a ready to hit the road...though the weather was looking a little sketchy, we shoved off from Jeff's place at 7:30 AM sporting our sweat-lodge replicating rain suits (sorry no photo).

The bikes were shiny and clean.

My orange 2011 with 13,000 km and Jeff's blue 2010 with 10,000 km.

A short while into the trip we had a luggage malfunction.
Jeff felt the bike lurch and we pulled over to find that his ratchet strap had cut through and busted his signal light....oops.
*Watch for the yellow Dollarstore rope that held things together admirably the rest of the trip.

After getting that out of our systems, we actually made good time going up through Chipman, Doaktown, Miramichi and Bathurst (all places we have been to too many times to count).

More fun came when we came to the end of New Brunswick and I realized that for all my planning I forgot to actually find out what exits one should take when trying to get to a ferry somewhat off the beaten path...2nd oops.

Minor hiccup and we had it to the land of half price beer...

Blasting through Quebec on our way to the ferry...this would be indicative of things to come.
Straight as an arrow roads that go on for ever.

The road surface would get a lot better though...

Doing some stretches on the way to the ferry....600 kms on a KLR seat will do that to a fella'

And we made it!
The first milestone reached...the ferry, our ticket across the St Lawrence and into Labrador...the best words "Reserve pour Motos"
We're on top of the world! one can defeat us...

Is that a ferry? Good thing they don't mind the fog...

We were given the signal, you're at the front of the pack motorcycles...lead us in.
Lead us to Labrador...

I put on my helmet and thumb the starter...expecting the 651 cc thumper to explode into life...NOTHING.

I check again...cycle the key.
Surely there is some mistake...I thumb the starter button several times even though there is no beautiful green light staring back at me.

It must be in gear...
It must be the sidestand...
It must be....DEAD


The attendant is starting to give me the old googly eyes...
I tell him no problem and try to jump start the bike going down the ramp into the ferry.


Shamefully I push my bike over to the bike area and strap it down.
I've been defeated...for now.
Painfully I walk away from my bike.

This can't be happening...

Jeff and I head top side where I run over the circuit in my head trying to figure out what it could be...

Surely it must be the main fuse?

Luckily I have 1.75 hours to sit there and worry about it...

Goodbye Matane...
I hope I don't have to see you again.

Somehow I make it through the ferry ride and finally get back to my baby.

If you thought pushing a fully loaded KLR into a ferry is fun, try pushing it out...

I think that I could have picked up the bike and chucked it up the ferry ramp.

Once on level ground started checking the obvious things: main fuse looked good...I pulled it out of the rubber holder and checked it myself...TWICE.

Pulled the tank off and panels thinking something was shorted out...but it didn't make sense.

We then tried jump starting the bike FOUR times in the parking lot....
Mother F*%ker let me tell you that the only thing heavier that a running beside a KLR pushing it and then trying to jump start it.

The last time Jeff and I dropped it in the parking lot...can you say crash bars?

Needless to say, the people in the parking lot waiting for the ferry were getting quite a show (and with no cover charge).

I was just about to start ripping parts of Jeff's bike to troubleshoot pig-a-saurus when Jeff asked me what the red capped thing was above the "main fuse" that said FUSE on it....

Hmmm...I thought.

Well obviously Jeff, that's the main fuse for the 2nd gen KLR's....

I think you know where I'm going with this....

An important lesson was learned that night...I'm not sure exactly what it was...but it was important.

Finally made it to the Hotel Le Comte in Baie Comeau.

What a first day!

2011 KLR 650
TLH Adventure Aug 2012
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Old 09-03-2012, 01:50 PM   #2
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[DAY 2]
Baie Comeau, QC to Labrador City, NL = 595 km

A nice fog greets the bikes at Hotel Le Comte....reminds me of back in Saint John

It should be an easy day....we only have ---THIS FAR--- to go

We're raring to go...I'm pretty sure we can make it but you never know with the road conditions.

We're at the kitchen door waiting for our delicious (and free) breakfast to be served...sorry no pictures.

There was a large group of bikers heading up to Natashquan some 600 km along the Saint Lawrence...hmmm...maybe another time.

We jump on the sweet 389 heading north with Manic 5 on our minds.
It's twisty, hilly and tough to pass the 18 wheelers we run into...c'mon these are KLRs afterall.

We come across Manic 2 first....a very cool looking dam with a nice river.....ahhh.......

We're blasting along enjoying the scenery and come upon this massive switch yard.

Didn't see anyone but there was a pretty nifty security entrance system and another one of these crazy little phone booths....

Jeff didn't have the guts to pick up....

Then we hit our first "juicy" part of the trip...MANIC 5 What a crazy beast it is....

Jeff and I were using a pair of Scala headsets and I made him slam on the binders as I came around the corner and let out some expletives when I saw the massive structure....

I mean the KLR is a big pig of a bike....but c'mon.

We didn't do the tour but went inside to look at the construction photos...truly amazing.

But on to the driving....yet another crazy road that goes on forever..

And finally the good stuff....gravel...wait dirt roads.
These weren't quite what I expected.
They were hard packed dirt and with a little water on top....
The bikes reminded me a bit of bambi on ice.

After about 100 kms or so we hit the gas station and 3 star "restaurant" of Relais Gabriel...

When we pull in, I notice a guy filming us with a "better than normal" video camera and I see these three bikes sitting off to the side.

My curiosity piqued, I ask them what they're up to: turns out it's the host and producer of RDS (Quebec version of TSN) and Patrick Trahan doing a documentary on the Trans Labrador Highway!
They're testing out the new Honda NC700x's.


We proceed to have lunch together and discuss the route.

They then interview us on camera and take some shots of us going over the bikes and my silly map I have on my trunk....COOL MAN!
How could this trip get any better? 2.

I mean I could see day 5 or 6......but DAY 2.

Back to the eating....I say it was a 3 star because there were 3 things on the menu.
After some deliberation and poor translation from French to English, we all settled on the steak hache and poulet étoiles.

Now I'm no linguist but Chicken Stars definitely had my attention...

Time to part ways and hit the road.....

From here it was a huge chunk of brand spankin' new asphalt...
We were both bummed over this.

Passed through Gagnon....weird but a bit of a let down.
I mean standards had been raised with the Chicken Stars...

Stopped for a break and decided to test my self-timer of the only pictures of the two of us...

After a little while, came to the switch backs and rail road crossings around Fire Lake...
We both enjoyed this section as it was back on sweet, sweet gravel.

We could also see the massive iron ore mine at Fermont.

Shhh....the beasts sleep...(we would meet their cousins later on)

We made it! The Big we go baby.

I don't remember what time we landed at the Two Seasons Inn but it was a decent time...5 PM or so.

We went by Walmart to grab some supplies and junk food to snack on.

There was a BMW GSA rider at the motel as well...he and his wife we're doing the TLH.
A banner 2nd day!
Even though we didn't see a lot of gravel, it was going to be hard to top!

2011 KLR 650
TLH Adventure Aug 2012
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Old 09-03-2012, 02:08 PM   #3
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[DAY 3]
Labrador City, NL to Churchill Falls, NL = 273 km

When I originally planned this day we were supposed to be taking the power plant tour at 7PM....but for some reason it was cancelled.

Instead of changing all our plans we figured we just have an easy day....
After two 600 km days we deserved it!

One thing I started to notice was that with the bikes all loaded up, we draw a lot of attention....people were coming out of the wood work to ask questions and find out what we were up to.

After dragging our butts and getting ready we barely made the cut off for some delicious breakfast at McDonald's...

After that, we hit the road....

It was disappointing how much pavement there was on the way....turned out to be 177 km worth of it before we hit gravel.

To make up for it we took a little excursion up a dirt access road to some sort of tower...pretending we had "real" dirt bikes.

The view was certainly worth the trip up...

At the top, we noticed some "evidence" and got a little worried that we might run into the owner...

Back to the roads....any other time they would have been awesome!
But we were here for the rocks...

Finally we got our wish but soon realized that it came with a price.

Dump trucks, float trucks and 18 wheelers oh my!
Throw in a grader, some nice dust clouds and you have some legitimate tense times.

We had our first run in with the grader driving on our side of the road.....and head on.
Good times.
After battling the dust, we were ready for a short jaunt up the Esker Road.

This road wasn't quite what I expected but it gave us a nice place to take a break and have a snack.
We also wanted to test the bugs...they were no worse than back home.

Certainly no shortage of nice lakes and rivers.

Someone has some cool toys...

Just a friendly reminder of where we are....NICE.

As we approached Churchill Falls, we came to the Churchill River....or what is left of it.
It must have been quite the sight back in the "day"

I can't remember if I saw a sign or if someone told me about it...but before the bridge heading into town, there is a path leading to Hamilton Falls.

I highly recommend taking the 20 minutes or so to get there....

As an added bonus, we didn't get eaten by bears and I didn't fall over the cliff trying to get a better picture.

We arrived in Churchill Falls in really good time and had planned to camp...
But pitching our tents on the church lawn seemed like a weird prospect.

Figured we check with the Midway Travel Inn to see if they had a room...BINGO.
We were in luck. The room was much better than sleeping on the ground.

The building that the hotel was in was very strange and had the....
-grocery store
-post office

We ate supper at the restaurant, which was quite good (or were we just starving).

While I was drinking my Pepsi, this sign kept me in check....

Another theme for this trip was eating like kings....feast your eyes on these...we often spared no expense.

I also scored some sweet 20A longer would I live in fear.

2011 KLR 650
TLH Adventure Aug 2012
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Old 09-04-2012, 12:36 PM   #4
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Sweet! Did you figure out what blew your fuse? You'll def want to check that line coming from your battery to your main fuse/relay for rub spots if not!
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Old 09-04-2012, 03:14 PM   #5
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Thanks, I'll have a look...

2011 KLR 650
TLH Adventure Aug 2012

HellCat650 screwed with this post 09-04-2012 at 03:20 PM
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Old 09-04-2012, 03:20 PM   #6
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[DAY 4]
Churchill Falls, NL to Happy Valley-Goosebay, NL + Northwest River = 415 km

Another beautiful morning in Labrador but cold to start at 6.5 deg C.
I hadn't expected to see single digits for a while....

Thankfully, it would warm up once the sun came out.

While at breakfast, we were talking with some of the local people who were always asking about the roads...
It seems that people don't travel a lot outside their local communities.

Today would be a good day as we had 200 km of gravel ahead of us!

As we left the town, saw these massive transmission effect with the fog...did I mention it was cold?

This was the extent of the generating station tour...
It wouldn't show up but they were putting out 3,800 MW at the time.

We stopped by the local dump to see if we could spot some black bears.

It was not to of the locals told us garbage day is on Thursday.
Apparently these bears are "s-marter than the avvverage bear" and mostly show up then...

The roads were fantastic and exactly what we were looking for...

After a couple of these, you get used to the process....
But it still seems weird how they just take over half the road.

Typical scenery along this stretch.

Another big item on our "To Do List" was Muskrat Falls.

They are running power lines and doing some construction for the impending project.

We followed the sign off the main road and almost go tricked into missing it...

The first view.

We then took a dirt road off to the side and found a walking trail to the actual falls.
It was quite an impressive torrent of water considering it has been a very dry year.

Along the way we were always looking for interesting side trips and after seeing a sign that said "Gull Island Road", figured it was worth checking out.

After a 15 minute ride, it opened up to what looked like a huge beach....with a helicopter in the middle of it?

The guy was lifting equipment out into the woods for construction.

We were going to go further in the sand but the guy told us that it was a former construction site and there was a ton of nails and metal debris in the sand...nuff said.

Another iconic sign post of the trip...

After entering Happy Valley, saw this US T-33 Thunderbird on display in front of the town hall.

Somehow we managed to rough it for the night at the Royal Inn & Suites
Best hotel of the trip...

It also had a laundromat allowing us to do some much needed laundry.

After unloading our junk, we decided to go check out the base in Goosebay...
Hoping to see some fighter planes.

We snooped around and probably almost caused an international incident but didn't see any current planes...

This crest was on a bunch of the hangers.

They did have these three planes on display.

After the base, we still had some daylight left so we took off for Northwest River.
It was a nice drive up north and there was an Inuit community nearby...which was really cool to see.

For supper, thought we'd try Maxwells....which I had heard good things about.
They turned out to be true but there was no one there...??
Our waitress blamed it on the nice weather...

On our way back, had to swing by the liquor store for some supplies.
Thought about it...but figured that no good would come of that

Finished off the night with some much deserved "man-sized" beers...

2011 KLR 650
TLH Adventure Aug 2012
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Old 09-04-2012, 03:30 PM   #7
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[DAY 5]
Happy Valley-Goosebay, NL to Port Hope Simpson, NL = 405 km

Today would be my most anticipated day!
400+ km of pure gravel....

We were pretty sure that we had the range to make it but to be safe I bought a 5L gas can at the Ultramar.
Somehow I managed to squeeze it down into my duffle bag.

We ran into a guy on a BMW GS 800 who was heading the same direction with his dad.
He didn't speak much English (and I didn't speak much French) so we couldn't really talk much about the route....we wished him well and he was on his way.

The roads were in good shape and there was very little traffic.

We each bought some fancy $8 beef jerky so we decided to stop about half way for some lunch..

It had a nice little pond nearby...

We stayed here for 20 minutes and didn't see one single vehicle and it was silent as a tomb...

I found it strange that there were no birds at all...

Close up shot of the was pretty good but the bike was always "dancing" a bit back and forth in the front end.

This was the river near the Cartwright junction...

I wish we could have taken a detour up there...probably would have been some nice time

Next stop, Port Hope Simpson.

Turns out it is a really nice little town...I wasn't expecting the water.

We made it all the way with no extra gas!

Jeff filled up at the gas station on the hill and took 18L....theoretically 5L left.

I wanted to dump in the gas can contents first, so I waited to fill up at the Alexis Motel.

Good thing too, because I got to experience the "gas shed".
Man....Bubbles and Ricky would be proud...

We checked into our dorm room and unloaded all our stuff...
Just as we had finished, the skies opened up and it poured rain with lightening.
Good timing.

We then went to get something to eat and thought we'd try out some Iceberg beer.
It was delicious!

After eating, we went to the grocery store / liquor store to get some more Iceberg...
Took a few down by the water to enjoy the sights.

Great way to finish off the day!

Here are the bikes nestled in for the night under our window...

For our bravery and daring, we even got our "Adventurer's Certificate"

2011 KLR 650
TLH Adventure Aug 2012
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Old 09-04-2012, 04:27 PM   #8
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Great ! I'm looking forward to more !
Unless we change direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.
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Old 09-04-2012, 04:29 PM   #9
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KLR's & the Trans Lab

Great RR & Pic's. Looks like the weather so far has been great and hope it stays good for you the rest of the trip.
2008 Varadero
"When things don't go right; Go left."
TCAT Ride Report .
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Old 09-04-2012, 06:32 PM   #10
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Great Pictures

Enjoying the report. Great pictures! Coors though? Really!!

Beyond the Coffee Shop: Riding 1970's Moto Guzzis in Northern Canada (Kindle Book) Buy it - it's cheap and good! All my adventures and disasters in one place.
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Old 09-05-2012, 05:04 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by nick949eldo View Post
Enjoying the report. Great pictures! Coors though? Really!!

I agree.
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Old 09-05-2012, 12:57 PM   #12
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I know...I know...not my normal brand...

I'm a sucker for 750 ml cans...never had that size before.
2011 KLR 650
TLH Adventure Aug 2012
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:09 PM   #13
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[DAY 6]
Port Hope Simpson, NL to L'Anse aux Meadows, NL = 381 km

We skipped breakfast this morning in favor of an early start...junk food again.
We needed to catch the 1PM ferry in Blanc Sablon, QC.

Between the different time zones and horror stories about reservations being given away...I was a little wigged out.

The early start brought some interesting effects on the trees.

We had heard that the road was full of pot holes to Red Bay...and they were right!
Especially the section just outside Port Hope Simpson.

Stopped here to adjust the luggage rope...

While we're stopped we see two riders approaching...who pull over.
It's a father and son pair from Quebec.

The dad is riding an 80's Honda Interstate while the son (who had his license 1 month), is riding another 80's Honda street bike!

These guys are either true adventurers or mad dog crazy!

They rode all the way across Labrador and down Newfoundland, only to discover that the ferry at Port aux Basques is backed up for a week.

They then turn around and ride back the way they came...

The dad's rear tire was all but toast and they had a 10L gas can strapped to the back of the bike.

Did we ever feel like pansies after meeting these two...with our new bikes, knobby tires and skid plates....

Hope they made it home safe.

After 10 minutes of chatting we part ways and get back to business..

As if to say goodbye, we encounter one last grader right before the end of the gravel...

The end of the line!
It's been an amazing ride...

After saying goodbye to the gravel, we stopped in Red Bay for the obligatory stickers and to look around.

There was a wrecked ship (the Bernier) off in the distance near Saddle Island...

The road to Blanc Sablon was in good condition and offered some nice views...

We made it to the ferry with time to spare.

The check in process was painless and we coughed up the remaining $1.50 that we owed for our ferry ticket.

After that, we settled in for a nice lunch....fairly typical for a journey of these epic proportions.

Our ferry arrived on time to whisk us away to the next chapter...

Buckle in....ferry ride # 2.

Goodbye Labrador, you will be missed!

An uneventful ferry ride over....I'm on the brink of bursting into flames thanks to my motorcycle pants.
Better to dress in layers I learn...

We sample the fine cuisine aboard the ferry...having some sort of chicken wrap and fries....a lot of potatoes died in the making of this trip.

We unload and head north...

Wild how close these storage houses were to the water.

Stopping to get some info on L'Anse aux Meadows....we encounter the first moose sighting of the trip...we both stayed calm and continued on our way.

I really like the rugged coast near L'Anse aux Meadows...I can picture the icebergs floating by..

We even spot some cod laying out to dry in the sun.....

We figure that we've lugged our camping gear all this way so we might as well put it to we get a couple sites at the Viking RV Campground.

My 3 man tent is so small that I have to lay diagonal in order to fit

We have a FANTASTIC supper at the Northern Delight restaurant near by...the best food I've eaten by far on the trip.

Roast beef dinner with mashed potatoes and carrots....

Stop by the local store to pick up some "supplies" to finish the night.
Welcome to Newfoundland!

2011 KLR 650
TLH Adventure Aug 2012
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:18 PM   #14
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[DAY 7]
L'Anse aux Meadows, NL to Rocky Harbour, NL = 407 km

The first night of camping was a success...actually got some sleep.
Though Jeff said he heard coyotes yipping near by....
I think they could have been trying on my bike gear and I wouldn't have noticed...

No room service or wake up calls this morning...

Here's the entirety of the was small but did the trick...$15 per site.

After another fantastic meal (breakfast) at the Northern Delight, we were off to the L'Anse aux Meadows park.

A recreation of the was meant as a working camp to assess the area for possible settlement and supplies.

It amazing how far they traveled back then and how inventive they were.

We sat through the documentary and went on the free tour.
I would highly recommend doing both.

As we walked down the board walk we saw our first "real" moose of the trip....hard to believe given how many are supposed to be in the area.

Our tour guide told us that they get quite a few in the park, especially as hunting season gets closer....go figure.

Our guide explaining what was under the mounds and the history of the settlement.
Without him, it would have been just some uneven mounds of sod...

Nice views of the coast from the park...

This mound was the large house of Leif Ericson.

Aside from the history lesson, the recreated house was the best part.
I didn't realize how advanced Norsemen were and that they were primarily farmers first.
Their sod houses had an equivalent R value of 100 by today's standards!

There were also some resident "vikings" playing the part...this guy was the blacksmith who actually built a lot of the items on site.

Inside the main part of the house...

Typical Viking shield...the coverings were thought to hide the direction of the wood planks.

Turns out that at 6'3", I'm way too tall to be a Viking.
They averaged 5'8" which a foot taller than other people at the time..

They even had a loom to make cloth...

Blacksmith hut

After a couple hours at the park we were on our way...heading South toward Rocky Harbour.

Gros Morne was really cool to see...
We didn't have time to do any hiking but I definitely will be back.

Stopped along to way to check out the beach and this wrecked ship off in the distance.

I had my second get off on the bike this trip....a slow speed tip over in the sand.
Hurt my pride more than anything else...

The boat was out of St John's....not sure what happened...

The trees in this area certainly don't have any easy life....these one's looked like hell.

Coming into Rocky Harbour.

Tried to get a hotel room but the place was jumping for a Wednesday night.
Ended up staying at the Gros Morne RV campground.
It was a REALLY NICE campground.....$24 for our site.

After settling in, we went for supper at Jackie's...a smaller place nearby that served excellent food.

Stopped by one of the gift shops to get a few trinkets and then found another box of Iceberg's...

We polished them off around a campfire and settled in for the night.

Mother nature then treated us to a wicked thunder and lightening show.
Turns out that my $30 tent isn't as water proof as I had hoped...

2011 KLR 650
TLH Adventure Aug 2012
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Old 09-05-2012, 04:29 PM   #15
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Great report Matt. We stayed at the Gros Morne RV Park on our trip also. We didn't see one moose in over 3400 kms!
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