7.15.10 Labrador!

Red Bay Travel Blog

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Apollo ferry from Newfoundland to Labrador

7.15.10 Labrador!

 

We're in Labrador!  Hooray!  And we saw a moose!  And we saw an iceberg up close!  And we saw our first Lazy Daze on our trip!  And we saw dolphins!  And ate seafood for dinner that we bought at the dock!  And we made some new friends!  It was a terrific day.

 

Can I tell you how amazingly gorgeous Labrador is?!  Oh my gosh!  I thought it would be somewhat rocky and barren, but it is the opposite!  It has dramatic and enormous green mountains, amazingly clear and brisk rivers, colorful  houses in picturesque groupings, and brilliant sunshine in blue skies.  It is breathtakingly beautiful!  It's like a small Alaska.

An iceberg! Our only one all summer!
  I am absolutely enthralled with this place of clean air and intense beauty!

 

Let me tell you about our exciting day:

 

Since it was so foggy this morning, we cancelled our boat tour.  We stopped by the Ocean View Motel, where there is a ticket office for the Gros Morne Boat Tours and had them add a pencil line through our name, which joined dozen other pencil lines.  A canyon tour is not dramatic with only 12 feet of vertical sightlines.  We'll try to do the boat tour upon our return.

 

Then we caught the ferry to Labrador!  We arrived an hour early to inquire, they gave us a pink number eight and we waited until they loaded us on.  The captain helped load us, because we saw him again in uniform (rather than raincoat) on board.

 

The ferry cost only $51 for the motorhome with one adult (me) and three kids.

  They could not make a round-trip reservation there at the ticket office in St. Barbe, NFL. 

 

On board, we spent all our time in the lovely sun that came out as we sailed away from Newfoundland.

 

We met a lovely group of people from Ottawa, who were visiting a couple from northern Newfoundland.  They were lots of fun and we heard an RV rental saga worthy of the movie RV II, complete with bashing the steps while changing campsites, hitting the hanging metal hook of a tow-truck, and then discovered propane had been leaking into the rig the whole time

 

One skipper repeatedly came out of the captain's area to show us pods of dolphins off the boat and tell us which side of the boat to see the lovely, blue-white iceberg.  He even announced the iceberg over the loudspeakers for all passengers.

Lovely Labrador
  It was really nice!

 

When we landed, we bought scallops, salmon, and shrimp at great prices from the freezer of the fish plant that our friends pointed out from the ship (which is the ferry office as well).  Oh, and Farmer's ice cream, which we never miss. 

 

The ferry ticket office was also there, so I though I'd better find a way to get off of Labrador.  Waiting in line, I joined the drama unfolding.  Apparently, if you're not in the reservations line by one hour in advance, your reservation gets canceled and others waiting are sold your ticket! 

 

Well they are really busy headed to Newfoundland because of a road that recently opened from northern Labrador and there were people who had driven all the way down from Goosebay, who now realized they had their reservation cancelled.

Pointe A'more Lighthouse
  Words were exchanged with the reservationists and unhappy people in line and I stepped out of line to use the pay phone to make may reservation for a later date!

 

After waiting on hold for 20 minutes, another man (from Indiana) in line got out of line too because apparently internet or phone is the only way to make reservations for a different day.  I offered to let him join in my call if he waited. 

 

Eventually, the phone reservationist answered and while everyone in line, waiting to hear the ferry guys call to report how many more cars were allowed on their ferry, listened to my entire call.  It was hilarious.

 

We got book as did my Indiana friend (who needed help with his hearing aides) and we're all headed out for 6pm tomorrow. 

 

A nice man in line, who found a pen for my confirmation number writing, also talked at the end of my call to the reservationist and confirmed with her that they only reserve 75% of the space.

Ciao and Montana rig at end of road north in Labrador
  So, if you come about 2 hours before a sailing, then you get a pink card with a number and first space after the reservations, so that's another option.  It's nice to know all the tricks. 

 

We later saw the lady who had been behind me in line.  She'd not gotten on the ferry and was overnighting at the Northern Lights Hotel.  I felt so sorry for her since she'd driven down from Goose Bay and had her reservation cancelled for getting there late!  But she did say that the names were taken for the people in line, so they have priority for the morning ferry. 

 

When the ferry lines say, "Show up an hour before," they mean, "You'd better be CHECKED IN by then or your reservation will be cancelled!  An important distinction!  They are pretty clear about it the 90 minutes required on the NS to NFL ferry.  At 90 minutes, your reservations are cancelled.  Good to remember!

 

More ferry advice:  Book ahead!  Go online or call and make a round-trip reservation.

End of the road! See the red pole? Paved road ends there in Red Bay, but the dirt road now open to Happy Valley-Goose Bay
  It was a bit scary being in Labrador not having a clue when we could get off!  Heehee!  The adventure of it all!

 

After stopping by the Visitor's Info Center, we got info at the famous Northern Lights Hotel, since they have a full hookup RV park (lot) across the street.  While we could overnight at any pulloff or empty school or business, we are in need of full hookup luxury!

 

We drove up to Red Bay, to the road's end.  Thereafter, no pavement!  Just dirt or gravel like the Dempster Highway.  And there, at our most northern point of our trip, way way up in the middle of Labrador, furthest from civilization as we know it -  what did we see???

 

Ciao's twin!  Hooray!  First Lazy Daze of our trip, a Mid-Bath, grey, sitting there with Montana plates!  We parked beside them, although the owners were gone, and took fun pictures.

Lush Labrador

 

Then we ran off to the National Historic Site of a Red Bay Whaler's Museum with fascinating 400-year old boat and artifacts from the nearby Saddle Island.  Fascinating!  Our ferry friends were up there too and we enjoyed seeing them again.

 

We drove back down the road.  That's right, there is just one road.  It's called the "Main Highway," which Jazy found amusing.  It's the only road except within the small towns that dot the 48 mile road to Red Bay.

 

We stopped at the Point Amour Lighthouse, tallest in Atlantic Canada and 2nd tallest in Canada, even though it was closed, as it was now getting late.  Gorgeous, gorgeous!  It would be a wonderful place to overnight.  I was surprised that the gates were open, although the complex of old buildings, lighthouse and craft house were closed, until I saw there were flowers all around them.

Charles' 14th birthday celebration in Labrador
  Those gates had not kept anyone out in many years!  It feels so perfect here.

 

More excitement when, at the Point Amour Lighthouse, Ciao Baby turned 150,000 miles!!!  Yeah Ciao Baby!!

 

A few more things:

 

  1. The ferry goes from St. Barbe, Newfoundland into Blanc Sablon, Quebec.  Quebec is half an hour (or an hour and a half, depending on who you ask) behind Newfoundland time.  But the ferries in both directions run on Newfoundland and Labrador time.

 

  1. It is about 3 miles from Quebec ferry port into Labrador.
    Scallops!

 

  1. The ferry itself only holds 2 rows of vehicles on each side, so reservations are important.

 

  1. Blackflies are so vicious that the lady pumping gas wore a bug net.  We pulled ours out too!

 

  1. Gas was $1.18 a liter.  $1.06 in Newfoundland.  It is $1.07 in Nova Scotia and about $.99 in New Brunswick and PEI, if I remember right.  (times 3.8 for the gallon price!

 

Tomorrow we plan to have a day to rest, celebrate Charles' 14th birthday a day early, and do laundry.

Ferry office in Newfoundland (St. Barbe)
  We also need to reschedule our ferry from Newfoundland back to Nova Scotia.  There is no way we will be done with Newfoundland by Tuesday!

 

We cooked our scallops and salmon in butter for dinner.  It was a great day!!

 

Oh wait!  I almost forgot about our moose!  We were leaving Gros Morne headed north when we rounded a corner and a full-size moose stood looking at us on the side of the road, other lane.  I was staring eyeball to eyeball with this moose.  Did he hear our deer-whistle?  I slowed down and tapped more horn to keep him out of the road and he stood there for a second and then started RUNNING along the RV.  Charles and Lia in the back thought this was hilarious!  And then he safely ran into the bushes.

 

From the 4 moose brought over in 1901 or so from New Brunswick, the population has exploded on Newfoundland to between 110,000 and 130,000 moose to date.

Inuchucks in Red Bay, Labrador
  It is perhaps a little out of control.  Regardless, our wildlife sightings are rare and we were delighted with this brilliant moose showing.

 

We were looking tonight at the map and realized that other than three (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nunavut), we've been to all the provinces and territories of Canada!  We love Canada!

 

NJTProadcruiser says:
Thanks for sharing... Nfld and Labrador is one place I really want to explore... : )
Posted on: Oct 25, 2010
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Red Bay
photo by: TessaHill