Friday, August 24, 2018

Monday August 24, 1998 - Labrador

The ferry to Labrador
Red Bay - cloudy and windy with fog and rain.

I went back to l'Anse aux Meadows to buy a postcard. While there I overheard a man asking about Anne Proulx's house; it turns out that she owns two houses on a bay below the Valhalla B&B, which is where she stayed while she was writing The Shipping News. I saw the houses as I left l'Anse aux Meadows, also the replica Viking ship at Noddy Bay. Oh yes, yesterday I bought a little carving from Stagehead Carvers near there.

I went into St Anthony again for ice and gas, then decided that I would try to catch the Labrador ferry after all. I drove the brand new highway to Main Brook and then across the peninsula and back up to St Barbe.

Roadside vegetable gardens
The new highway was so new it was not yet on the map, nevertheless there were garden patches along side it. This is a feature I've noticed all over the west coast, little garden patches along the highway. They belong to local residents, I suppose being located along a highway makes them easy to access if you don't have a back yard suitable for gardening. It was funny to see gardens along a road that wasn't even mapped yet.

On the road to St Barbe I saw a moose but I did not want to stop to take a photo for fear of missing the ferry. I barely made it to the ferry line-up in time, but the ferry was late so I waited half an hour to board. It was a very rough crossing. I started to write my journal but after a couple of paragraphs felt too seasick to continue. It was cold and rainy outside so I lay down for the rest of the trip.

To get off the ferry you had to turn your car around and drive off the same end that you drove on. The ferry to Labrador actually goes to Blanc Sablon in Quebec, right next to the border to Labrador. Blanc Sablon was completely fogged in, as was the rest of that coast. I drove toward Red Bay in Labrador, the end of the road in that direction. I occasionally caught glimpses of the scenery but was mostly driving in fog. I thought I was on Newfoundland & Labrador time, but it turns out that this part of the coast is on Quebec time, an hour and a half behind. I had thought I had to be back at the ferry to return to St Barbe at 1.15pm, but by Newfoundland time that was actually 2.45pm, giving me a little extra time provided I didn't change my clock.

I drove all the way to Red Bay in hopes that the Basque Whaling Station exhibit would still be open, but it closed 15 minutes before I got there. There was a van of eight women from Maine who were at Red Bay too, they had come on the same ferry and were planning to leave first thing in the morning, too early to see the exhibits. They were following an itinerary that one of the women had put together based on brochures from various tour companies she had written to. They booked lodgings and ate at restaurants cited by those companies, visiting the same sites of interest.

Since it was wet and miserable I bought fish and chips at the one restaurant in town, next to the Red Bay Visitors' Centre. Rather than drive 30 km back to the Pinware River campground, I asked the woman running the restaurant if there was any place nearby to camp overnight. She suggested that I just park anywhere in town. Red Bay is a pretty small town that seemed kind of haphazardly laid out, although by now it was dark so maybe it actually was less haphazard than it seemed. I drove around looking for an out of the way place to park and finally settled on a spot close to the main road. The roads there were hilly and sandy and I was concerned that if I got too far off the main road a sandy side road might wash out in the rain that night and I would be stuck.

I stayed up long enough to feed Yohan and write a couple of pages in my journal. There were lots of mosquitoes and it continued to pour rain. Two locals drove by several times and finally stopped to talk to me. I was afraid I was parked in their driveway and they were coming to tell me to move along. But while they did live down that road they did not mind me parking there at all, they were just concerned because it was a poor night to be out camping. I told them I was okay, I just wanted to get in out of the rain and go to bed. I assured them I'd be okay and so they drove home.

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