Day Six: Churchill Falls

Today was a lovely relaxed day. We picked up our satellite phone (available free to residents and visitors driving the Trans-Labrador Highway – there is no cell service and the communities are 300 km apart or more with nothing in between).  Then we hiked up to see Crystal Falls near Labrador City.

 

The start of the hike was hard to find – just a clearing in the woods and a steep path of boulders. We climbed and climbed until we realized we had somehow missed the (also unmarked) turn to the falls. After backtracking, we did find the path into the woods and it was worth the trek.

 

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The highway to Churchill Falls is well paved and we did see some vehicles from time but mostly it was just our car for as far as the eye could see in any direction.

We climbed hills, crossed bridges over immense lakes, passed bogs of tamarack, black spruce and low shrubs, and watched for caribou.

 

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We saw two otters playing in a lake and stopped for a photo. The wind was so strong, I couldn’t hold the camera still and I was nearly blown off my feet.

Just before arriving in Churchill Falls, we pulled over to take a photo of a large split rock.

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Then we noticed a road leading down further. We followed it and discovered a hiking trail that took us through the woods, clambering over fallen trees to a series of lookout points over the Churchill Falls.

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The community itself reminds me of Fermont, Quebec. It’s also a company town and includes a large building that houses the hotel, library, post office, swimming pool, school, and sportsplex. The houses are clustered not far from this central building. And for a good reason – it gets really cold here in the winter.  The school is only closed when the temperature reaches -50 C (-58 F). So if it’s -49C, kids still have to go to school!

When we checked in at the hotel, we were asked if we wanted to do “the tour” (the tour of the Churchill Falls generating station). As soon as I heard it involves going 90+ stories below ground, I was out.

Instead, the desk clerk told us of a steep gravel side road we could take down to a section of the Churchill River where the diverted water rejoins the river. The company has created a lovely recreational area with benches, a boat ramp and dock. That is where we watched the sun set tonight.

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And on the drive back up to town, an Arctic hare bounded across the road in front of us!

 

 

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Day Four: Relais Gabriel

Today has been…interesting.

As we headed north from Baie Comeau to the Daniel-Johnson hydroelectric dam, the road was well paved with wide shoulders. We saw a number of logging trucks heading south (and they do move fast) but none came up behind us. In fact, there were very few vehicles on the road for most of our 4.5 hour drive.

We did watch for moose (none seen) and gas station signs, but what no one mentioned was the importance of stopping at the two or three port-a-potties randomly located at the side of the road. We didn’t stop…

The scenery was spectacular in spite of the heavy rain.

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When we arrived at the dam, we hoped for a tour but the season ends August 31. It’s the highest multiple arch and buttress dam in the world. It’s hard to convey the size in this photo which was taken from the road near the top of the dam. It is overwhelming.

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After that, the road deteriorated. No more pavement. Just sand, gravel and mud.

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For over 20 km the mud was about 4 inches thick, grabbing the wheels as we continually turned up and down steep hills. But our trusty Mini (and my trusty driver) handled it all like a pro.

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It was an isolated drive. There are signs for SOS phones periodically (and Bell telephone booths with a satellite phone when you get to the spot). There is no cell coverage at all.

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We did pass a rental van and trailer (carrying a car) in the ditch along the way. We stopped but no one was around so they must have been picked up. It was a sobering moment.

And now we’re at Relais Gabriel, a truck stop with rooms for the night, a small restaurant and a gas bar. And we’re watching American football in French, on the only tv channel.

We have another 4 hours to go to Labrador City tomorrow. Curious to see what that drive will be like 😁

Oh and did I mention we crossed the 51st parallel today?

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Joy is…

One my my many joys is driving my Mini. I smile every time I see it. It makes me feel happy inside. Plus it’s so much fun to drive (especially on roundabouts)!

Another joy is having matching black and white accessories 😉

Mirror covers and car by Mini Canada; capris and clutch by escherly design. Such joy!

me and my Mini

Mini me!

Joyful Journey

On the weekend, we participated in the Mini rally organized by MINI Grand River. Such fun!

There were over a hundred Minis of all ages in the event. On the road, there were Minis as far as the eye could see on the straight stretches and curves in front of us and behind us. Between rain storms, convertible tops were down, drivers basking in the sunlight.

Minis are as unique as their owners. Definitely unconventional. From hot pink to turquoise to black and white, with intriguing designs on roof tops, mirror covers, hoods and door panels, each Mini has its own personality, and in some cases, its own name!

I saw a small sticker on the window of one Mini that captured my thoughts for the day…”Life is too short to drive a boring car.”

Indeed!

sitting at wheel of Mini

MINI me!