We left the Mountain Waters RV Resort at 8:15AM for the 90-mile trek up to St. Barbe and the ferry to Labrador. The weather continues to be very nice, cool and sunny.
The highway was two-lane but smooth and the scenery once again was spectacular. There was so little traffic that having only two lanes was not a problem as we drove the 90 miles in only 1 hour and 45 minutes. We reached St. Barbe by 10:00AM but could not board the ferry until 3:00PM so we did a little housekeeping and got our overnight bag packed. There is not much to St. Barbe. All I really saw was a motel, a small gas station/convenience store, the RV Park, ferry dock, and a few houses and other assorted buildings. The “RV Park” is a paved parking lot enclosed with cyclone fencing for security. After a light lunch and having seen all there was to see in St. Barbe I took a nap.
A tour bus showed up about 2:15PM to drive us the quarter of a mile to the ferry dock. It seemed like a big waste until I discovered that the bus would be going with us to take us to the hotel and on the tour tomorrow.
The bus driver, George, introduced himself to us once we were all aboard. He explained that we would stay on the bus until it was aboard the ferry. He also informed us that he would be our tour guide tomorrow and that no matter what we did today or tomorrow, “there is no way that you can piss me off!” Well, this was going to be an interesting guy for sure. He further explained that we would not be able to piss him off because his 30th wedding anniversary was this week but mainly because three days ago he became a grandfather. He then pulled up a photo of his new grandson on his cell phone and walked up the aisle showing it to each person on the bus. George is a very proud and happy guy.
We were aboard the ferry by 3:15PM and it began pulling away from the dock about 3:30PM. The trip was around an hour and a half. It was too warm and stuffy in the enclosed portion of the ferry so we decided to go out on the deck. The door had a sign on it saying “Keep Door Closed At All Times” so I was afraid to open it. I found one without a sign and went outside. Seriously, how can you use a door if it must be kept closed at all times? It was sunny on deck and there was a very cool breeze, much better than inside. I was rewarded by seeing a pod of whales perhaps 300 yards of so from the ship. They were not jumping out of the water so I really didn’t see much of them.
The ferry ride was 18 miles across the Strait of Belle Isle to Blanc-Sablon, Quebec. It was only a few miles before we left Quebec and entered Labrador. We stopped at the Welcome to Labrador sign to take some photos before continuing a couple of miles further to L’Anse-au-Clair, Labrador. The road follows the coast and we spotted a small iceberg, called a “growler,” not far from the shore. Swimming anyone?
It turns out that all but about 250 of the 736 miles of Labrador’s only highway, the Trans-Labrador, is paved. There is no cell phone service anywhere along this highway but you may borrow an emergency satellite phone from the government for safety purposes. They are free to use but are programmed to dial the police only. One of the rules of the road is that “Big trucks always have the right-of-way.” There are only five or six service stations along the entire route.
The population of Labrador is under 30,000. Labrador is called “The Big Land” because of its vast size. It is proclaimed to be one of last untamed, unspoiled places left on earth. Unfortunately, the whole place is swarming with flying bugs, especially mosquitoes and biting black flies. Carol Ann and I brought 100% DEET spray along with head nets to wear if necessary.
We are spending tonight (7/10/13) at the Northern Lights Motel, which has been recently remodeled. We have a nice room, firm mattress, CABLE TV, and free Wi-Fi. We meet for breakfast at 7:30AM before the bus picks us up at 8:00AM for a tour until 3:00PM when we catch the ferry back to Newfoundland. We will spend tonight back at the RV Park and continue the trip north tomorrow morning.