|Subject: Our trek to Labrador City|
Hi Ziners, here is the Tale of our latest adventure, Our
Trek to Labrador City this May!
On May 24th this year, we set off on our latest adventure. This time we travelled by Intercity bus for 7 hours downriver to Rimouski, Quebec. Here, we would have to speak French as the majority of residents spoke little or no English.
On our arrival, we walked to the hotel, savouring the fresh salt air. The city, on the Lower St Lawrence, has tides rising and falling up to 4 metres (13 feet) twice a day.
The next morning dawned clear and bright. After a great breakfast at a nearby restaurant, we checked out and walked to the ferry terminal. Our ship, the Relais Nordik, is a working ferry, carrying up to 80 containers, with 72 berths, and 268 seats for foot passengers. Since we were only travelling to Sept-Iles, the first stop, we had a seat each.
Leaving the harbour at noon, we proceeded downriver into a strong easterly wind. Along the north shore at sunset, we observed a pod of whales breaching nearby. We enjoyed two excellent meals aboard, sitting with friends made after we arrived.
There's nothing so desolate as a deserted dock at midnight, our arrival time in Sept-Iles. Luckily there was a phone booth nearby so we called a taxi, wisely deciding that it was too late to walk to our hotel.
The next day was cloudy and grey with rain threatening. Undeterred, we set off on foot to pick-up our train tickets to Labrador City, locate the train and bus stations, and explore the town. We quickly discovered that both were a healthy 45 minute walk from the hotel.
Thursday morning we awoke to rain and wind lashing the windows. After checking out, we took a taxi to the train station. There we discovered the baggage rules to be strictly enforced. Each passenger was allowed only one carry-on bag with everything else being placed in the baggage car. Luckily we were travelling light with just one backpack for the two of us and my wife's large handbag.
Leaving at 9am, our journey north took us through two tunnels, over many bridges, and beside rivers roaring with the spring runoff. From time-to-time, we waited on a siding as 200 car freight trains carrying iron ore pellets or concentrate passed us heading south. Each rail car held 90 tons of ore.
The further north we travelled, the colder it got. We saw lakes still frozen with patches of snow on the ground and in the hills, making us wonder if we should have brought our winter boots. At Ross Junction, we transferred onto a school type bus for an hours' journey on the Trans-labrador highway to Labrador City. The route, well-travelled by large trailer trucks carrying goods on their 12 hour journey between Baie Comeau, Quebec and Goose Bay, Labrador, was gravel with washboard bumps on the hills.
When we arrived in Labrador City at 5.30pm, the sky was clear and the streets dry, no boots required. We called our B & B host from a nearby restaurant, asking for a pick-up at 6.30 after dinner. Well the time came and went without him appearing so a passer-by offered us a lift. As we arrived at the B & B, so did he, looking embarrassed, saying that he had been detained.
The following morning, after a quick 'look-around' in the town, we picked up lunch to eat at the station, returning there to wait for our 12.30pm bus.
The hilight of our journey back to Sept-Iles was my invitation to sit with the engineer in the locomotive. Being a train-buff, I jumped at the chance, going through the train and along the outside catwalk to the cab while the train was in motion, a rather scary walk! I stayed there about 4 hours I think, seeing 6 black bears along the track.
It was dark when we arrived in Sept-Iles at 9.30pm so I called a taxi. Well, the indians walked out to the street to grab 'our' taxi. After this happened twice, we shared a taxi with another passenger, saving some money.
Saturday morning dawned wet and windy. Checking out after another excellent meal, we took a taxi to to the bus station for our 8am departure.
Over hill and dale, with the mighty St Lawrence river always on our left-hand side, we travelled homeward, stopping briefly for breakfast, a ferry ride across the Saguenay river at Tadoussac, and lunch. We arrived in Quebec City at 6.50pm with 40 minutes between buses, enough time for supper.
Aboard a bus once again, we arrived in Montreal at 10.45pm to be met by our son. After almost 15 hours 'on-the-road', we were tired but pleased to be home, another great adventure completed.
Peter, Montreal, Canada