Thursday, August 20, 2009


Wednesday Aug.19--- Home Sweet Home

South area Campground
Forillon National Park
Gaspé PQ
Raining and foggy

We packed a wet tent and doubled up on rain gear, then headed for the town of Gaspé for our morning coffee.
The road constructions were treacherous messes with all the rain and we had more narrow escapes than I care to remember.
The town itself is quite pretty, set on a nice harbour and looking very touristy (à la St. Andrews NB) but nevertheless attractive and interesting (would have been more so but for the rain).
On the south coastline of Gaspé the land mass is much flatter with many strands and beaches along the way. The towns of Percé, Bonaventure, and Carleton stand out above the rest for us.
Unfortunately, by the time we were to Percé we were both soaked, dripping wet right through the double rain gear, leathers and all! Needless to say we were not much in a mood to tour around the towns.
We started to see clearing somewhere around Nouvelle and by the time we got to Campbellton we were actually starting to dry out.
A quick stop for a coffee and then a “bee-line” for home!
We pulled into the yard around ten thirty, tired but glad to be home and headed for a real bed!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Tuesday 18 Aug.

Sainte Luce sur Mer PQ
Fog with sun struggling through

It rained off and on all night but was clear when we woke.
We had a leisurely breakfast while waiting for the tent to dry.
Sue managed to find a wireless connection (wandering around, laptop in hand) and got some bad news from George Burgyan, the young rider from Cleveland who was trying to get to Goose Bay with his moto. We parted ways at Red Bay, Labrador…. Good thing we decided to turn around…
George totalled his bike and destroyed his new digital SLR. He salvaged what he could off of it and had to buy a $2000 plane ticket home.
Our hearts go out to you George. We know how you feel after experiencing the same sort of thing last summer on our way back from the Panama Canal.
We were anticipating rain for the day so we suited up for it and covered the gear on the bike and headed for Gaspé and Forillon National Park. No sooner on the road and we were into cold temps with very heavy fog as wet as rain and by noon we were alternating between fog and rain or showers. I had on double rain gear and Sue had on five layers of warm and dry….
We had a short respite from the elements an hour into the ride and stopped into a “Fromagerie” to load up on real cheese curds and great cheddar! You know you’ve got the “real” curds if they squeak while you chew them! As far as I’m concerned, anything else is just “cheese”…..
The northern coastline of the Gaspé is quite scenic and rises to impressive heights! It has it “all over” the Cabot Trail! Many picturesque little villages that you first see from a distance, looking down as you crest a headland. They typically are clustered along the curve of bights and coves like mussels on a rocky shore.
Cresting one high climb we came across a “castle in the mist”…well, in the fog, yeah, and okay, not a real castle but whimsical and amusing none the less!
Another interesting stop was a shore side art gallery and restaurant that is a testament to the old adage that art is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration. A lot of elbow grease was involved in the construction of the buildings and displays!
Unfortunately the weather was horrible by the time we got to Forillon National Park. We were not in the least inclined to explore it to the extent we should have. Add to the mix the fact that the roads were almost all under construction and we did many, many kilometres in mud and loose gravel in the pouring rain with again more fog than enough!
We set up the tent in pouring rain and went to sleep without supper.


Monday 17 Aug.

La Rivière des Roches, PQ

We had heavy rain all night and hurriedly packed up very wet gear and headed for Sept Isles to find a hot coffee, gas up and head out for the ferry to Rimouski from Forestville. We drove through the rain all the way to Forestville and arrived twenty minutes before the last scheduled departure that day; and fortunately the rain let up so we didn’t get wet waiting….bonus! And we were the first on the boat!
The crossing was fairly calm but fast as the ferry was a catamaran that fairly flew across (55mins.).
Once on the Gaspé shore we went east from Pointe au Père to Sainte Flavie to camp for the night. We had no sooner gotten into the tent and the rain started. Lucky us!


Sunday 16 Aug.

Natashquan, PQ

Disembarked the Nordik Express around ten after stops at the out-ports of La Romaine and Kegaska, the latter being the larger of the two with beautiful views from the high point near the port.
From Natashquan, a small but unremarkable town/village we headed west towards Sept Isles. There were some very nice views along the north shore of the Gulf of St L awrence notably around the Mingan Archipelago but for the most part the road is well inland , of no great interest except that as we progressed westward the vegetation became more mixed forest than bog or black spruce forest.
The rain started just as we finished putting up the tent at La Rivière des Roches Campground.
So, cold supper and early in to the tent to read and sleep.


Sat. 15 Aug

Aboard Nordik Express
Gulf of St Lawrence

The barking and howling of pets in the on deck kennels had us awake around six in the cabin.
Today we have docked at La Tabatière and Tête à Baleine , and Harrington Harbour so far and are continuing up the coast of the gulf.
We had a chance to go ashore on Tête à Baleine and wandered on the rock and tundra for an hour or so and tasting the partridge berries and bake-apple berries. There was a desolate sort of beauty to the place.
At Harrington Harbour we walked around the village on roads made of timber and rock, no cars here, just boats and ATVs to get around on the land or water. Like most places up here the houses are built right on the bedrock.
Back on the boat there isn’t much to do besides read and sleep which makes a nice break from always being on the go.


Friday 14 August

Gravel pit
Anse au Clair

BLACK FLIES, BLACK FLIES, BLACK FLIES!!!!! Gawd, what a time trying to pack everything up and get it on the bike this morning! Had to fight with a black fly trying to drag my granola bar away! Swarms of the little demons….every time I took a breath I inhaled three generations of “the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl the face of this earth” (apologies to Mr. Swift).
Off to the local restaurant to splurge all the money we saved on accommodations for a delicious breakfast then off to Red Bay and hopefully Battle Harbour. The road up the coast was good, to bad. to worst. to better. To ?????!
Forteau Bay, Anse L’Amour, L’Anse au Loup, West St Modeste, Pinware, and finally Red Bay.
Battle Harbour was definitely a no-go! Hard packed red dirt covered in loose stones the size of marbles……
Red Bay used to be a big whaling stop back in the day. Lovely little town….
We left there just as the rain was starting and by the time we were to West St Modest we had to be in full rain gear!
Suzie scuttled the trip down to Old Fort because “I don’t want to ride 79 kilometer down there through the wood in the pouring rain just to turn around and come back again!” Made good sense when I think of it,,,,,
Back to the terminal in Blanc Sablon. to verify our reservations for the boat to Natashquan and a long wait on a rainy day for the midnight sailing!
Okay, tickets are in hand and we’re good to go!

Monday, August 17, 2009


Thursday Aug 13

Triple Falls Campground
Near St Anthony Nfld
Sunny and clear!

Funny how things turn out sometimes; if we knew what was coming at us around the corner, we wouldn’t get out of bed some mornings!
Today’s plan was a morning in St Anthony and the afternoon in Anse aux Meadows.
We got to St Anthony around ten and toured the town, then went on out to the end of town to Fish Point, a 550 foot promontory overlooking the town and harbour as well as Great Brehat, Little Brehat and St Anthony’s Bight. It was quite a climb but well worth the effort, the 3600 view was amazing if you could stand upright in the wind! We had a hard time getting pics because the wind was gusty and pushy, a lot of shots were out of focus even if taken propped on the ground or on a post or rock…..!
Imagine our surprise when we got back to the bottom and the wind was still blowing us around. The drive towards Anse aux Meadows was interesting. We just nicely got turned of the 430 and headed to Anse aux Meadows(this was to be a highlight of our trip) and we ran into road construction! Large truckloads of new chip-seal gravel being levelled for the next 17 kms! I wasn’t giving up that easy. I know touring tires won’t handle that kind of thing, at least not without a fight and a tumble or two, but I’d come a long way to see that place and I was determined to go until I got there or bogged down trying. That point took about 10 kilometres to get to! We wobbled and struggled and weaved and came really close to toppling at least twenty or thirty times, mostly when trying to avoid the large trucks going back and forth with the crushed rock but we finally came to a spot where the crush was loose and about four/five inches deep and the tires sank and dug in! We still had another ten or so kilometres to go but couldn’t move ahead a foot. It was with a lot of pushing and pulling and shoving that Suzie and I finally managed to turn the beast around and with a heavy heart headed back towards Ste Barbe. I wanted to park the bike and hitchhike there and back but Suzie wouldn’t hear of it. Well, looks like another trip’s in our future……..
The ride back was no gift either. We were being hammered with headwinds and crosswinds and the bike at times was heeled over like we were in a hard turn but we were going straight, or at least a close facsimile of straight!
On the way up we had passed an intriguing sign ( Nameless Cove – now there’s a newfie oxymoron for ya!) and as we returned I was determined to take a photo of it and maybe get a little background story.
Oh the wonders of the Newfoundland “chip van”!!
Real good fish and fries and stories to keep you entertained as well. We pulled into the local “chip van” in Flowers Cove adjacent to that other one which remains nameless(sic) and ordered up cod nuggets and chips(yum). While we were waiting for the food we headed off to the nearby shore to view the supposedly only occurrence of Thrombolites this side of the atlantic north of the equator…..? Interesting microbialites!

Back we went to the van for the food and a long chat with the cook. I asked her how Nameless cove got its name. Turns out she was from Nameless cove which used to be called Flowers Cove while the presently named “Flower’s Cove” used to be French Harbour. The government of Newfoundland in their special way of eliminating out-ports and small communities had decided to amalgamate the two communities into one thereby doubling the tax base because only French Harbour had government services and utilities. At the amalgamation meeting with the people of the two communities, the people of 9old) flowers cove inquired what government programs or services would be extended them for the new taxes they were going to pay and were informed that, sorry, nothing new to be added. So they showed the government officials their backsides and bid them good day! Unfortunately the incorporated name of “flower’s Cove” was now already officially attached to French Harbour, so they decided, now being nameless; they might as well make it official! This is a true story!
Turns out the chip cook (part time) was also the full time Bear Cove lighthouse keeper who worked for 17 years in the coast guard rescue and needed a quieter stint to finish out her pension. She spent her childhood on French Harbour Island as the youngest child by five years of three children of the lighthouse keeper of the island. She claims that is the reason for her choice of occupation and the reason why she does so well in her own company!
All the way back to Ste. Barbe we fought with the wind to stay on the road. First stop was the ferry terminal to confirm our reservations. Imagine our surprise when they told us we weren’t on the list. Out comes our confirmation number …..”see, we have a reservation confirmation but we haven’t been able to get any further info on our tickets and time of boarding” ….
Check on the number reveals that we were booked for our crossing on the seventh instead of the fourteenth and missed our crossing, so sorry, and it’s non-refundable regardless of the fact that it was their mistake not ours!
But, as luck would have it there was a vacancy on the current sailing, we could have tickets but the severe wind had the boat held up in port waiting for a drop in the wind. So we bought a second set of tickets and waited, finally got the call at eight thirty that night and we were off on a very rough crossing to Blanc Sablon, Labrador!
While waiting to board we saw a rider on a BMW that we had crossed on occasion in Newfoundland and went over to meet him. George is up here from Cleveland on a three week hurricane tour of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia. Newfoundland and Labrador.
Guillaume, who we first met in Rochy Harbour, was there to board the boat too. The winds that blew us all over the raod had actually been an advantage to him. The wind had pushed him and his bicycle all the way here! He will travel with us all the way to Natashquan.
I spent the entire crossing trying hard to ignore the barf bag I had hidden in the back pocket of my jeans. Suzie, with her iron stomach, did not have any troubles!
We arrive in Labrador about ten thirty in the pitch black, headed to the nearest village, Anse au Clair looking for a campground. No luck, so…. Set up the tent in a large gravel lot which is soon to be an RV park.( they let us stay for free!)

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