A Few Excerpts From The Book "LABRADOR  A Great Canadian Road Trip"

It involved back-tracking a distance of about 10 kilometres which meant we had already passed everything he was about to describe. His English was excellent but  he did struggle with the odd word. “Go about 8 kilometres until you pass the church (I think I saw a church on the way in) then go past the place where they send criminals.”
      “A prison?”
      “Yes, a prison.”
      WTF!! You’d think I would have noticed a prison! “Then turn left at the lights and that will take you to Drummondville enroute to Quebec City.”

The drive was gorgeous; so peaceful and relaxing. We drove for over an hour and never saw another car – the loneliest road in the world. I loved every second of solitude. I had no concerns about what would happen if we broke down or got a flat. As serious a situation as either would be, it just didn’t seem to matter.

We really wanted to hike to Simeon Falls but no one knew where the trail was. The best was the two guys in the town garage. Karen first asked a fellow sitting in the auto bay playing with a dog. He commented, “Dunno. I just works here. I lives in Goose Bay.” Ahh. So you pass it every day. I see. “Go asks Buddy in the office.” Buddy taught him everything he knew so was of no help either.

Once we hit the gravel it was hell on wheels; about 150 kilometres of potholes. If you listen to my Dictaphone you’ll hear, “This road’s a piece of shit. It’s not a road, it’s just a 300 kilometre pothole – you can’t drive three feet without driving through a pothole.” Shake, rattle and roll. The rust was breaking away and bits of metal were falling off. Go van go.

It wasn’t a fun pub. Pretty laid back with a bunch of zombies sitting at six video slot machines and a guy at the end of the bar that I swear came with the building. Take out was a definite. Karen ordered a chicken burger and was shocked when they asked if she’d like lettuce and tomato on it. Where are they going to get lettuce and tomato up here? Well, not surprisingly, the waitress returned in short order and apologized there was no lettuce or tomato. How did ketchup and mustard sound?

At 6:30AM I was up and looked out the window of our hotel room. The Port Hope Simpson sunrise was near stunning so I grabbed a camera, ran outside in my shorts and t-shirt, stumbled through weeds and over rocks to get to the water’s edge. I tell everyone the photo was from our window which essentially it was, I just needed to get rid of the reflections from the glass.

A forest trail with a boardwalk extending through the marshy area, it then crossed the runway of the airport (yes you read that correctly). We had to actually walk across the tarmac at the end of the runway so look left, look right, no plane in sight. That’s where that “risk” warning may have been applicable.

Red Bay is rich in whaling history so it really was too bad the museums were closed. When all else fails a hike is in order and when the distance seems short and sweet something else always rears its ugly head. Looking forebodingly like the Great Wall of China the Tracey Hill Walking Trail is only about three and a half kilometres up and back but, well there’s approximately 700 steps to deal with.

I love reading the comments that people leave in guest books. At Bottom Brook Cottages they were so sincere and were obviously from all walks of life. “Finally learned how to relax; it took 72 years.” And you can’t help but wonder who wrote this, “It’s cool how the washroom lights turn on with the fan. Shower was amazing.” It wasn’t but I’m glad it made someone’s day.

Where the pavement ended the remaining gravel road was pretty much impassable. There was a small spot to park so I guessed that’s what you were supposed to do. Our buddy in the pickup was there sitting in his truck. I asked him where the lighthouse was. With a flourish of his weathered hand he indicated up the impassable road adding we’d have to walk most of it. Most of it! I wouldn’t even take our turd wagon van on that path.

My love for the road trip experience is often matched by my disappointment that it has come to an end but I am rewarded by being left with great photos, videos and memories and most important of all the knowledge that this will not be the last one. As long as I can get in and out of a vehicle I’ll continue to be “that road trip guy”. This one took us 7725 kilometres through a beautiful part of Canada – and the check engine light is still on.

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