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Old 07-08-2010, 05:07 AM   #16
Squidmark OP
a.k.a. "The Colonel"
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Joined: Feb 2009
Location: The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
Oddometer: 285
Day 4

Thursday, June 10th.

The sign across from the entrance to Mount Carleton Provincial Park. I hung the
North American Tag-O-Rama Egg on the back of this sign last August.

We got to Campbellton and hit the Canadian Tire and the Walmart across the
street so Dennis could buy a decent sleeping bag, a stove that worked (the
liquid-fuel stove he brought from Massachusetts was missing a key part, causing
burning Coleman fuel to spread all over), some over-the-counter medication he
had forgotten to bring, and a few other things. I got some new reading glasses. Had
a quite serviceable lunch nearby:

(no food photo, sorry)

and headed across the bridge onto the Gaspe Peninsula. But, we turned left on
132 instead of right so we could follow the Restigouche River upstream a bit to:

which tells the very interesting story of France's last gasp effort to retain
it's North American colonies in the face of the British invasion toward the end
of the Seven Year's War. In a nutshell: The British had already taken Fortress
Louisbourg out on Cape Breton Island in 1758 and won the battle of Quebec (City)
in 1759, but were stalled in their attempts to push upriver to Montreal. The
French King dispatched a flotilla of war and supply ships to New France in
1760. They lost a few ships to the English navy and in turn captured a couple of
English ships, from which they learned of the fall of Quebec. That meant that
they couldn't get up the Saint Lawrence, so they headed for Chaleurs Bay, with
the English navy in hot pursuit. The French knew the channels of the Restigouche
at the head of the bay better than the English, so sailed upstream and blocked
the river. The English blockaded the entrance to the river and slowly worked out
how to get further upstream. Several battles were fought, but ultimately, as the
English were about to prevail and stores running out, the French told everyone
in the area to bail out cross-country to Montreal, burned their ships and joined
the exodus.

A delightful docent named Julie gave the tour and the other guy in this picture
was the guy I had met there in 2001, but I've forgotten his name:

Visit this site. It's worth a couple hours of your time if you have any interest
in the history of the region.

We followed 132 back east along the southern coast of the Gaspe. Every small
bay has its town, with it's Catholic church and silver steeple:

And look! There's a wind farm up in the hills!

It turns out there are lots of wind farms on the Gaspe, which shouldn't be too
surprising because there's lots of wind on the Gaspe!

Another necessary stop was Mont St. Joseph, at the end of Rue de la Montagne in
the town of Carleton. At the top is a combination chapel, museum, and gift shop,
not yet open this time of year:

However, the view is spectacular. This is looking out at Carleton in front of
Chaleurs Bay, with the north coast of New Brunswick across the water. The
plaques in front (and all along a series of walkways around the chapel) detail
the story of the Acadian people who lived in the area but were driven out by the
British in The Great Expulsion during the Seven Years War, but I guess they are
all taken off in the winter.

Oh, and gee, look what was right next door:

We spent a fair amount of time sitting in the parking lot. A mysterious "check
engine" light had come on on Dennis's bike that morning and he tried to contact
the shop in New Hampshire he had bought the bike from with the remaining battery
power in his cell phone. End results: 1) Couldn't tell what was specifically
wrong without going to a dealer, 2) No BMW dealers anywhere near you or where
you're going to be, so 3) Just ride it. The light went off the next day as
mysteriously as it had come on.

Because of that and dicking around in Campbellton for so long in the morning, we
didn't get as far around the Gaspe as I had hoped. As dusk was falling, we shot
off the main road at Pabos Mills and found the Parc du Bourg de Pabos (whatever
that was) campground tucked behind the village, which initially looked very much
like a trailer park. There was a gate across the entrance and no one at la
A couple of guys came out and we jabbered back and forth in
pseudo-French and many quizzical looks and gestures and finally understood that
we could sneak around the gate and stay there and pay in the morning. Which we
did. It turned out that they had a bunch of nice sites just for tents at the end
of a gravel lane in the back:

We were the only ones there.

240 miles for the day.

More to come.
Back Roads. Period.
6/10 Labrador Trip Report:

Squidmark screwed with this post 07-10-2010 at 04:11 PM
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Old 07-08-2010, 08:10 AM   #17
Squidmark OP
a.k.a. "The Colonel"
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Joined: Feb 2009
Location: The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
Oddometer: 285
Friday, June 11th

Another gorgeous day.

Dennis struggled a bit for the next few days as he tried to figure out how to
pack up his new sleeping bag and keep it and all the other stuff optimally on
the bike:

We wandered down the bay road to see what Parc Archeologique du Bourg de Pabos
was and it turned out to be an old fishing village being dug up. No one spoke
English, it cost several bucks to get in and it wasn't on our radar to begin
with, so we bagged it and continued east on 132 along the south coast.

Yawn. More beautiful bays:

and a long view of Bonaventure Island as we came up to Perce:

(Bonaventure Island is home to huge numbers of sea birds for you birding types.)

(Here's a personal history story: When my wife was little, her family went to
Perce and took a boat ride over to Bonaventure Island. On the way back, they
were at the top of the dock stairs when the boat took off without them. And it
was the last boat of the day. They spent the night freezing in an unheated
cottage without food and caught a different boat back the next morning, where
they found a ticket on their car for parking overnight, and the motel they were
supposed to stay at unwilling to refund their money. As you might expect, her
father was royally pissed off, but he did persuade them to drop the ticket and
he did get his money back for the motel. He didn't find the guy who ditched them
before they left, though. Lucky for him.)

The obligatory photo of Perce Rock when you get to Perce:

and up close, in town:

and back at the town:

Then you continue on around to Pointe-St.-Pierre and get a look at it from the

before rolling into the town of Gaspe:

where we had lunch on the delightful Rue de la Reine:

at this deli, which was advertising a special recommended by the young couple in the picture:

So lunch was:

a toasted sesame bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon and a pasta salad
with crunchy veggies, capers, and a wine vinaigrette. $8.50. Outstanding.

Then it was onward to:

where we got ourselves a nice tenting campsite (C-90) in the practically empty
Petit-Gaspe campground in the south sector of the park, with an "upstairs" part
for Dennis:

and a "downstairs" part for the picnic table and me:

This campground also had very nice bathroom / shower facilities.

We got there in time (barely) to take the hike out to the very end of Cape
Gaspe, which was about 4 kilometers from the parking lot, which in turn was a 10
km ride from the campground. The views to the south were great (except for old
men in the way):

and you could see Bonaventure Island and Perce Rock in the distance past

We also came across lots and lots of this:

which we guessed was bear scat, but weren't sure about.

The trail climbed steeply up to the top of the ridge. Dennis stopped on the
steep part, so I went on without him, because I was determined to get to the end
of the cape before the light faded. The trail was a tunnel in the woods along
the ridge and you popped back into the open at the tip, where the first thing
you come upon was this:

It turns out that this is the beginning of the International Appalachian
Trail running all the way back across the Gaspe and down into Maine, and they
had whimsically put the Mile 0 tag on the outhouse:

The lighthouse, and cannons, and foghorns and so forth are no longer in use:

That was all explained to me by the guy in the powder house:

Dennis eventually made to the cape and together we took the access road back
rather than the trail, enjoying the projection of the sun's rays through the
clouds like something out of a Baroque religious painting:

Later on, we ran into this guy, who we now knew owned the peninsula and crapped
wherever he felt like:

He was more scared of us than we were of him, though, running off into the woods
as we advanced up the path, yelling and trying to appear large and gathering
rocks to throw at him, which we carried for another kilometer or so, "just in
case," before we felt silly doing so and dropped them.

Dinner was mystery meat, literally, from Cassivi's market and Donkey, Inc. (I

pan-fried with some sauteed fresh mushrooms (an excellent suggestion by Dennis)
and canned peas. The meat was pretty tasty, whatever it was.

Only 120 miles for the day.

More to come.
Back Roads. Period.
6/10 Labrador Trip Report:
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:24 AM   #18
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Location: Boyne City, NW Michigan
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I rode around the Gaspe coast on my way to Cape Breton 5 years ago and your ride report brings back great memories. Very interesting report and great pictures! Patiently waiting for more...
'09 V-Strom DL650 - '02 V-Strom DL1000 (both gone)
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Old 07-08-2010, 01:50 PM   #19
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Road bikes.... this looks interesting

Tiger 1050, Bonneville, Brutale

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Old 07-08-2010, 03:00 PM   #20
Squidmark OP
a.k.a. "The Colonel"
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Joined: Feb 2009
Location: The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
Oddometer: 285
Day 6

Saturday, June 12th

We left Forillon to ride the north shore of the Gaspe over to Matane to catch
the ferry across the Saint Lawrence. There is a North Sector to Forillon, where
the cape is all cliffs:

but the sea has not been kind to the coast road:

nor to ships in the area:

Cormorants sunning themselves on rocks in the bay there:

The north shore of the Gaspe isn't as populated as the south until you get over
to the vicinity of Ste.-Anne-des-Monts, perhaps because of more cold and wind
and perhaps because there is less useable land between the bay and the
mountains. Here's a typical shot at low tide:

The waterfall you see in the distance in the previous shot:

The breakwater at the end of the pier at Cloridorme (I think). Note what it is
made of:

The riding here is good. The road goes up and down between the tops of the hills
and the valleys where the little towns sit in the coves where rivers empty into
the bay. There is practically no traffic:

A cute little house somewhere east of Grande Vallee:

Again, every little town has its large Catholic church. Most have steeples
painted silver (or maybe their tin sheet). Here's a simple yet elegant example
that I particularly liked:

At Cap Chat, you pass their large windmill farm, with it unique nifty-looking
but non-functioning vertical axis windmill:

Eventually, we got to Matane, located the ferry terminal (not hard to find, just
wanted to be sure!) and went off to the nearby Motel Le Portage's restaurant
for a great lunch:

with plenty of time to catch the 2:00 p.m. ferry to Baie Comeau.

Our bikes stashed against the side of the ferry hold:

Leaving Matane,

heading toward Baie Comeau:

Dennis spent an hour or so snoozing on the cool but mostly sunny top deck:

We left the ferry at 4:30 and headed into Baie-Comeau. I was thinking, "Great!
We'll get to our intended campsite (Manic 2 campground, just 15 miles up the
road) and have an early, relaxing evening for a change!"

except that there was a detour and I went around in a circle in a nearby
neighborhood as a result. Before I could retrace the way out, however, Dennis
took command, plugging "grocery store" into his GPS and setting it for "fastest
way," and took off without asking me what "Plan B" was. 10 miles later, we were
on the other side of the detour, about half a mile from where I was headed in
the first place had we continued correctly around the detour.

Then, Dennis spent an hour at the supermarket picking out maybe five items for
dinner and breakfast. I went back in twice with "WTF?" but he was in his own
little time zone, I guess. Upon finally leaving the store, he discovered that
he'd left his lights on the whole time, leaving him with a dead battery. And of
course, those magnificent examples of German engineering, with their modern fuel
injection systems, can't be bump-started unless you have a loooong downhill in
front of you, which of course, he didn't, being in the large, very flat parking
lot of an IGA in Baie-Comeau, Quebec. A very nice guy, who remembered enough
English from an army stint in England ten years ago to communicate with us, and
had a motorcycle himself, offered to help if we were still there after he
finished shopping. We were. So he drove home and brought back a portable
battery with cables to jump Dennis, which he did, and Dennis packed up all his
stuff while I held the throttle at something above idle to keep the battery

So, three hours after we landed, we headed up to Manic 2.

Right at the start of route 389 in Baie-Comeau was this sign:

Fortunately, although there have been a number of forest fires in the Quebec
back country recently, they were all reported under control and the light wasn't
on. (I suspect they light up the sign for bad snow conditions or mud, too, but
those weren't worries for us. Yet.

We motored the 15 miles, took pictures of the Manic 2 hydro plant as the sun
went down:

and arrived at Camping Manic 2. We were told we could camp anywhere except in
the trailer park in the middle. Well, everything outside the "middle" was a big
sand pit and after floundering around in sand around the periphery and going
back to Reception to ask, "Are you sure?" we plopped down in a level,
not-too-soft part of the desert and set up camp. Dennis shows what we were
camped on:

The picnic tables were tiny and ratty, too. And the bathroom wasn't the
cleanest thing in the world and the shower (at least the one I used) wouldn't
come on any harder than a meager trickle. In short, Camping Manic 2 isn't
great. On a future trip, I will check out the campgrounds at Pointe-Lebel and
Pointe-aux-Outardes on the peninsula between the Manicougan and Outarde Rivers
south of Baie-Comeau.

But not all was bad. Our next-door neighbors, Riel and Elaine, and several
other campers (all Quebecois) came over to "chat" and smile and gesture and were
very welcoming. They looked like they were there for the duration, with a motor
home, canopy, and at least a whole cord of firewood stacked up. When we
wondered about the availability of l'eau portable, they brought over a
case of bottled water and told us to take what we needed. And they gave us this
giant, stick-in-the-ground candle thing, I guess assuming we didn't have our own
source of light (and/or maybe bug spray). And dinner was pretty good too: Pork
chops, baked beans, cheesy pasta, and our ever-present appetizer: bread and

(Aside: That yellow plate is part of a melamine set that my parents bought when
they got married, in 1948. It became our family camping dishes when I was a
kid, and now this one last piece does service as my indestructable camping
plate. When archeologists from a distant planet and time dig around in a
destroyed or decayed Earth, they may not find much that survived the destruction
or decay, but I'll bet my left nut they will still find porcelain toilets
... and melamine cookwear.)

224 (road) miles today (plus the ferry across the St. Lawrence)

More to come.
Back Roads. Period.
6/10 Labrador Trip Report:

Squidmark screwed with this post 07-10-2010 at 05:18 PM
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Old 07-09-2010, 06:45 AM   #21
Squidmark OP
a.k.a. "The Colonel"
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Joined: Feb 2009
Location: The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
Oddometer: 285
Day 7

Sunday, June 13th

Started the day with a nice rousing blast up 389 to Manic 5. Here's the one and
only action shot we took during the entire trip:

And of course, Manic 5 is the hydro plant that every one goes to see, but where
there's a "5," there must logically be a "1," "2," "3," and "4," no? We camped
just past Manic 2. Manic 1 is on 138 just southwest of Baie-Comeau. I don't
know where Manic 4 is, if there indeed is one, but on the way to Manic 5, I
decided to wander down the access road to Manic 3 to see what that was like.
Here it is:

All that electricity has to be distributed and fused and surge-protected and so
forth. Frankenstein would have been jealous.

Of course we had to stop for the obligatory 50th parallel shot:

There obviously had been forest (by now almost entirely pinette noir
(black spruce)) fires up by Manic 5 (I don't think much of the forest at this
latitude and north is commercially viable for logging):

We got to the Motel L'Energie, which is just before the dam and is the only
source of gas, in time to have a surprisingly good and reasonably priced lunch
at their cafeteria/restaurant:

BTW, if you want to call the States from the gas station on their pay phone, it
will cost you $3.55 for one minute. And credit cards don't work, so have a
pocketful of change handy. My wife was pleased to hear from me, even if only
for the one minute!

They weren't running tours of the hydro complex until June 24th, so missing that
was a disappointment, but it's still awe-inspiring just to be there and take in
the sheer size of the Daniel Johnson Dam, the largest poured-concrete arch dam
in the world:

The road north of Manic 5 stays paved (wavy, but paved) for a little while:

then turns to dirt, crossing the 51st parallel 69 miles after the last one
(imagine that!):

and occasionally getting close to the reservoir:

After a brief stop at Relais Gabriel for gas ("Get it whenever you can" is the
mantra for a Labrador trip!) and a bathroom break, we continued up 389 with the
Monts Groulx on our right:

Now, I had originally planned to camp somewhere along here and spend a day
hiking one or more of these mountains, but I must have missed the turnoff.
While you can theoretically camp anywhere along any of the roads up there, in
practice long stretches, particularly of the Trans-Lab, are almost like
limited-access highways in that they're all built up several feet above the land
(or swamp or tiaga) with big deep mud- and/or water- and/or rock-filled
(i.e. extremely motorcycle-unfriendly) ditches running alongside. Turnoffs are
in fact few and far between, and turnoffs that actually lead to nice spots with
a water supply rather than an ugly gravel pit where they mined the rock and
gravel to build the road are even rarer. I found one little turnoff that looked
like it might be the start of a hiking trail, but it seemed much too far south
of any of the Mont Groulx to be a real access point to them, so I went on and
found nothing until I was way past the mountains. At that point, I gave up and
continued on to Gagnon. The only good thing about this was that it gave us an
extra day to meet the freighter in Blanc-Sablon, the one absolute requirement
for this trip.

So, we went up into the vicinity of Gagnon, and didn't initially find it. The
directions I had said it was "a few kilometers after a left turn," which I took
to mean a turn off the main road. So, just for grins we looked down a
road going off to the right at first, which turned out to lead to the
actual vast areas mined when the town existed:

and a short distance further on 389, a paved road to the left that turned to
dirt and lead to a northern arm of the Manicougan Reservoir, but nothing that
looked like the "boulevards" of Gagnon. It turned out that the left turn
referred to was simply a sharp left turn in 389 itself (granted, sharp turns are
rare, so I guess are notable) and Gagnon was simply where the road turned back
to pavement for a few kilometers and widened out into a "boulevard" with curbs
and a few driveway and side street cuts in the curbs. Nothing else - at least
that part was as advertised. Not very interesting for the amount of work we put
in to find it. I did get to see this guy hanging out in his tree,

As the sun began to set and the air got cold, we crossed yet another parallel:

and went looking for a campsite for the night. We found a delightful spot off a
little dirt road about a hundred meters from the Blough River about 15 miles
north of Gagnon (about kilometer 417 on 389, if you go looking it):

While I was making dinner and Dennis was finishing up setting up camp (and we
had all our stuff scattered around), we got a visitor:

I whispered loudly to Dennis, "Don't move! Turn around slowly!" because I
didn't want to scare her off, but not only was she not scared of us, she
really really really wanted some of our foodstuffs, and she was not at
all shy about trying to get some. What followed was a comedy, with us trying to
pick up our spread out appetizers, dinner, coolers, saddlebags and so forth and
trying to shoo her off with yells, charges and thrown rocks while she circled
the camp and dove in to try and steal stuff. (She thought the rocks might be
food and so instead of being intimidated by being the target, she chased them
down to see - and stuck around for more.) Eventually, I took a package of
sliced deli turkey that I knew wouldn't last another day and tossed her a piece.
She thought it was really great stuff, so I took the whole package down the road
a couple of hundred yards and tossed its contents into the woods while she
watched. Sure enough, she went in after it and I retreated to the camp and
finished storing stuff securely. As Dennis and I ate dinner, she trotted back
past with all the turkey in her mouth, went down the road in the other direction
and disappeared into the woods somewhere further down. We speculated that,
because she seemed skinny to us and was so determined, she might have had a
litter of kits out there to feed.

I could have reached out and petted her in that last picture. Might have lost a
finger or two, though!

All in all, a fascinating wildlife encounter.

Dinner wasn't bad either: a pepper/onion/beef stir-fry with red pepper cous-cous:

Solving the problem of how to keep the fox out of our food and/or garbage if she
came back was complicated by the fact that at this latitude, all the trees are
scrubby black spruces, with no branches that extend outwards very far. The
solution was to toss a long rope across the tops of two adjacent trees, with a
loop in the middle to hang the food and garbage from, and pulled taut so that it
spanned the tree tops. We slept soundly with no foxy interference!

284 miles today.

More to come
Back Roads. Period.
6/10 Labrador Trip Report:

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Old 07-09-2010, 07:10 AM   #22
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Great report - keep it coming! Sounds like a great trip. What's that fuzzy critter in the tree?
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:25 AM   #23
Squidmark OP
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Location: The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
Oddometer: 285
Originally Posted by pescatore
Great report - keep it coming! Sounds like a great trip. What's that fuzzy critter in the tree?
A porcupine. I'd whizzed by one by the side of 389 just a few minutes earlier, but he waddled off before I could turn around and get the camera out.

This one was on the side road to the old mining area.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:33 AM   #24
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This is a great ride report. I can't wait to read more.

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Old 07-09-2010, 09:45 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Squidmark
The road north of Manic 5 stays paved (wavy, but paved) for a little while...
Hey Squidmark, are you sure you didn't get your photos slightly out of order? When I was there last year, the road turned to gravel at Manic 5 and stayed that way for about 100 miles until Gagnon. Possible that you accidentally slipped in a photo from Rt 389 south of Manic 5?

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Old 07-09-2010, 11:12 AM   #26
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Those are tetrapods. Worked with them in the Azores.

The breakwater at the end of the pier at Cloridorme (I think). Note what it is
made of:

1. "The more one gets to know of men, the more one values dogs" Anonymous
2. Life is not a dress rehearsal.
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:34 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by markbvt
Hey Squidmark, are you sure you didn't get your photos slightly out of order? When I was there last year, the road turned to gravel at Manic 5 and stayed that way for about 100 miles until Gagnon. Possible that you accidentally slipped in a photo from Rt 389 south of Manic 5?

When I was there in 2007 the road north of Manic 5 was gravel for a few miles and then pavement for another few miles and then back to gravel until the Gagnon section
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Old 07-09-2010, 01:12 PM   #28
Squidmark OP
a.k.a. "The Colonel"
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Joined: Feb 2009
Location: The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
Oddometer: 285
Originally Posted by markbvt
Hey Squidmark, are you sure you didn't get your photos slightly out of order? When I was there last year, the road turned to gravel at Manic 5 and stayed that way for about 100 miles until Gagnon. Possible that you accidentally slipped in a photo from Rt 389 south of Manic 5?

Yes, and no.

It was like onarock says a couple of posts after yours. But the paved part you don't remember is forgettable

BTW, your Trans-Lab ride report was useful when I planned this trip. Thanks.
Back Roads. Period.
6/10 Labrador Trip Report:
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Old 07-09-2010, 01:13 PM   #29
Squidmark OP
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Location: The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
Oddometer: 285
Originally Posted by MGB
Those are tetrapods. Worked with them in the Azores.
Ah! Thanks! We just called them BF jacks.
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Old 07-09-2010, 02:53 PM   #30
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Location: The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
Oddometer: 285
Day 8

Monday, June 14th

Although it was clear, it was cold and we got rather a late start. We continued
to head north on 389, which stayed paved for a bit longer (note how short the
trees have become):

It was really windy. Whenever I passed an open area on the west side of the
road (a lake or swamp or river valley), the wind would whack me hard, throwing
me sideways until I recovered from the blow and rode out the rest of the opening
canted over at an angle, even though I was going straight. Dennis, riding
behind, observed these occurrences and used them to plan when he would have to
lean into the wind himself to compensate. It reminded me of riding down the
northwest coast of Cape Breton Island; one minute you were upright, the next you
were over 45 degrees, but you weren't in a turn!

It was so windy I lost my camera to it. I had been carrying it in a velcro-ed
shut case over my shoulder like a purse so I could get my hands on it quickly if
something showed up worth photographing. Riding along in the wind there was a
reassuring thump-thump-thump as it bounced on my hip. But suddenly it went
flap-flap-flap instead and I realized that it had become a whole lot lighter in
a hurry. And that could only mean one thing.

I came to a stop and discovered a case with no camera in it, as expected. Deep
gloom ensued. Then I found the camera wedged between the spare gas can and the
side cover, still on the bike; it hadn't been splattered all along on the road!
The spare memory cards and batteries had gone flying off into the weeds, but the
camera was OK! Oh, major relief!

When we stopped for the night, we discovered that Dennis's pretty pink cooler
had taken a walk too, probably from the same wind. Fortunately, there wasn't
anything expensive or irreplacable in it.

So, we made it up to Fire Lake.

We decided not to explore that mine site any further,

I watched Dennis execute, for the Nth time, one of his patented 17-point U-turns,

and headed up the reportedly bad part of 389 between Fire Lake and Mont Wright:

This is the part that is "narrow," parallels the railroad tracks, and crosses
them 17(?) times. The crossings weren't a problem. It was slow because it was
generally pretty marble-y, but not as bad as reported:

On the gravel part of 389 and all across the Trans-Lab and down the Coastal
highway, big trucks coming the other way passed us. They kicked up a lot of
dust and it was momentarily blinding. You'd hold your breath, but couldn't just
shut your eyes, especially if you were navigating a narrow path between strips
of marbles or golf balls. After a few encounters, I just headed for the first
clear stopping spot I could find on the edge of the road when I saw the dust
cloud of an approaching truck and waited it out.

And that was a mild example - this particular guy slowed way down before passing
us. Most didn't.

And then - wait a minute! What's that great big freakin' gray cloud coming our
way? Can't be dust from a truck - it's too big! Quick! Scramble into your rain
gear before it gets here!

But no! It's not rain! It's snow!

It was dry and didn't stick and it went away as fast as it had come:

"Pretty good deal!" we thought.

You see evidence of the iron mine works at Mont Wright long before you get

and when you do, one of the things you see is a vast tailings pile with what you
think is the leftover snowstorm blanketing part of it:

The next thing you notice is the main works in the distance with a bright red
lake in front:

Probably not too many fish in there, ya think?

You go by the works (hey, they look like all giant ore processing works look
like, so I'll you spare the pictures) and some more tailings (shown here just to
give you an idea of how extensive this area is mined):

On the back side of the works, we saw the remnants of the snow storm. Only the
cloud is red. It wasn't snow; it was dust from the tailings piles:

Eventually, we got to Fermont:

where this greets you as you enter the town:

This is a 100 per cent mining-company-owned town. The unique thing about it is
the enormously long five-story building that's shaped like a shallow arrow
pointing north into the prevailing (and very strong) wind:

If you live here, you don't ever have to leave the building - everything you
need is inside - supermarket, school, post office, clubs, everything.

It does a righteous job for the neighborhood of stand-alone buildings behind it.
There was a howling wind by the monster truck, but when we rode around the
periphery of the town, the air was completely calm behind it.

Looking back down 389, you see this light board warning you of sectional
closures. From the photo you can see that it has started to snow again:

And so it did as we rode into Labrador and Labrador City:

It got worse, then turned to rain. It was barely above freezing and the wind
continued to blow strongly. After a quick jaunt around Lab City (doesn't take
long!) to orient ourselves, we picked a spot to eat a late lunch:

That's what they referred to as a "calzone," made with something like a soft
thick tortilla, but it was pretty tasty and by then (~3:00 p.m. Labrador time -
we had lost an hour crossing into Labrador from Quebec), we were cold and wet
and ready to eat almost anything.

The rain got harder and steadier and it was still freezing and very windy, so we
decided to chicken out and get a motel room. Wouldn't you know, the next day
was the start of plant shutdown (of the local giant ore-processing plant for
annual maintenance and upgrades) and all the hotel rooms in town were filled
with outside contractors there to work on it. All but one. On the fourth and
last phone call, I snagged the very last room in town, at the Two Seasons Inn,
for the very reasonable price (NOT!) of $122, and we checked into blessed warmth
and dryness:

Sitting around and getting bored with ourselves, we decided to take a walk in
the rain up to the local "mall" for munchies and wine and beer. The IGA and the
state liquor store close at 5:30 in the afternoon (!) but a convenience store
was open, so at least we snagged some very expensive mediocre Canadian beer.

We met a group of three cold, sodden Quebecois motorcyclists back at the
entrance of the inn, who had had a rough day coming from the east. They rolled
their eyes when we told them we were heading that way tomorrow. "Construction!
Rocks! Sand! Wind!" they exclaimed, rather wild-eyed and a little
ominous-sounding. But, ya know, when you're in Labrador City, Labrador, you
don't have many options to get back to the "civilized" world, so you just simply
shrug and resign yourself to whatever may be coming.

Dennis treated me to dinner at the inn as a thank you for planning the trip and bringing
him along. Thanks again, Dennis. It was excellent: a grilled strip steak with a
wonderful wine-mushroom sauce, Duchess potatoes, salad and some crisp-tender vegetables.
No photo - too busy eating!

Only 120 miles for the day, though.

More to come.
Back Roads. Period.
6/10 Labrador Trip Report:
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