Labrador - July 2015
Jul 9, 2015
|We took a mini vacation to Labrador. For us, that means leaving our 'home on wheels' behind, and take a ferry from Newfoundland to Labrador. There is an RV Park across the street from the Marine office at St. Barbe. It is a large parking lot with electrical hookups. Water is available with a hose and there is an inconvenient dump. However, the park is very convenient and they expect you will be leaving your RV for a couple of days.
The ferry from St. Barbe, Newfoundland to Blanc Sablon, Quebec is inexpensive at C$18.60 for car & driver, and C$6.60 for passenger. This is a heavily used ferry because as the improved roads in Labrador, more and more goods moved, and traffic. If we were to do this again, I would make reservations for the ferry in both directions, and don't wait until the last minute. Standby is crazy and there is no guarantee you will get on the ferry. There is generally only 1 or 2 times in a 24 hours period that the ferry can be taken. We took and early morning ferry, which left us with lots of time to sightsee before needing to get to our B & B.
There are many motels and B &B's to choose from with different pricing and service in Labrador. I chose Barney's B & B in L'Anse-au-Loup, Labrador for 2 reasons. It was inexpensive and the owner/operator is a charming women in her 80's. Mary Barney has been running the B & B for 40 years. This is a no frills B & B. Everyone shares the bathroom. Our bed left a lot to be desired, but 2 nights was not going to kill us. Mary would fix almost anything you wanted for breakfast. She takes orders the night before. She offers kitchen privileges and you can bring in takeout. She knows everyone in the surrounding towns and everything you may want to know about Labrador. I would do it again, but ask for the 2 single beds.
As we entered the Blanc Salon, Quebec harbour, we were greeted by our first glacier sighting. It was not huge, but still dwarfed the small boat taking a closer look. It is amazing to think that what we see of the iceberg out of the water is only 10% of the total size of the iceberg. "Iceberg Alley" runs south along the west coast of Newfoundland in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Iceberg's like the one in the harbor have taken 2 -3 years to get here from Greenland having travelled some 1,600 nautical miles. Icebergs are pure freshwater. As an iceberg ice melts it makes a fizzing sound where the term "bergy seltzer" comes from. The sound comes from the popping of compressed air bubbles that are in the ice. The bubbles form when air is trapped in the snow layers that are compressed to form glacial ice. The released air is as old as the ice, thousands of years.
After leaving the ferry, we stopped at a visitor's center which was a Quebec visitor's center. The fellow there was such an enthusiastic person about his country and making sure to tell us all the very special places/things to see. We had not intended to visit Quebec this trip, but we did take his suggestion and drove about 5 kilomters south to see Bird Island. There was reported to be some 30,000 puffins and a several other species. What an amazing sight!!!! And, while we were gawking at all the birds, we spotted several humpback whales playing right next to Bird Island. All of this exciting activity could be seen with the naked eye, but was really something when we used our binoculars. Fabulous start to a couple of great days.
We hated to leave Bird Island, but had to move on to other sights, get dinner and check in to the B&B. The plan was to stop at anything and everything in each little village and 'pull out' until we got to the B&B some 20 miles from the ferry. This worked out great and got us to the B&B about 6pm. After being shown our room, we headed out for dinner. There are not a lot of choices in the part of the world. We drove 10 miles back to L'Anse Au Clair and enjoyed a very nice meal. They were out of a number of things because the deliveries had been delayed due to over growded ferries and bad weather.
Since our time was short, we had decided that we would only go as far as Red Bay which is about 70 miles from Blanc Sablon. There was plenty to see and explore.
Red Bay held our interest with several great museum's and artifacts. The small cruise ship in port had brought visitors from around the world. We had the opportunity to talk and share experiences with many of them. The main museum, overseen by the park service, is very well done describing the fishing industry. It was a hard life.
So our first day took us from Blance Salon to L'Ans au Loop. The second day took us as far north at Red Bay.
My favorite thing we visited was the Lighthouse at L'Anse-Amour. This lighthouse tour is probably the best we have seen or close to it. The walls are 6 feet thick to withstand with 125 mph+ winds. This lighthouse you can go all the way to the top. As we looked down below at the shoreline, it appeared to have a large patch of squares. The squares are an ancient sponge-like animal that were around about 530 million years ago. The discovery of the ancient sponges was a bonus.
My second favorite thing was our short hike over the tundra to the shoreline at the pullout at the town of West St. Modeste. Here the tundra was so very colorful. The shoreline unique with smoothed over multi-hued rocks. And, there were three icebergs offshore. One of quite large. There were a few pieces of the icebergs on the shore.
This was a fabulous 2 days. There was so much more to see than I expected. All you need is a little adventure in your spirit and not mind fog, drizzle and a chill in the air. I would do it again in a heartbeat.