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jorgesanchez Goose Bay - A travel report by jorge
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Goose Bay,  Canada - flag Canada -  Newfoundland
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jorgesanchez's travel reports

Hitch-hiking along the Trans-Labrador Highway

  12 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4
The beginning of this unique journey across unexplored territories is Baie Comeau, in Quebec. Further north is the emptiness; no bus service, no asphalted road, wild bears and mooses around. The only way a traveller can get there is hitch hiking.


Bienvenue à Terre-Neuve et Labrador
Bienvenue à Terre-Neuve et Labrador
There is very little traffic in that road, which includes some trucks carrying containers with freezing fruits and vegetables, plus some bold tourists in their motor homes.
The distance from Baie Comeau to Goose Bay, in Labrador, is 1100 kilometres. Signs on the road regularly advise you to be careful with the fuel in your car because there are few petrol stations.
As I checked in a map that the Tourist Office in Baie Comeau gave me (they tried to persuade me not to venture to hitch hike, but to take a plane, saying: “C’est la brousse!”), between that village and Goose Bay, there are the following and only stops along that journey into the wilderness:


QUEBEC
------------
- Kilometre 22: fuel station plus a cafeteria and motel
- Kilometre 344, Manic 5: fuel station, motel plus supermarket
- Kilometre 383, Relais Gabriel: fuel station and motel
- Kilometre 561, Fermont village: fuel, food, everything

LABRADOR
----------------
- Kilometre 567, Labrador City/Wabush: fuel, food, everything
- Kilometre 812, Churchill Falls: fuel, food and one motel
- Kilometre 1100, Goose Bay: fuel, food, everything


I had arrived to Baie Comeau by bus from the city of Quebec. People in my bus advised me to take a plane to Goose Bay, in Labrador, or the twice weekly train from Sept Îles (in Quebec) to Esker, in north Labrador, and then a plane to Goose Bay.
But I was fascinated by the adventure to cross that unknown land. During that same journey to North America I had already crossed the Trans-Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek to Whitehorse, in Yukon, and the Trans-Mackenzie Highway from Peace River to Yellowknife, in North Western Territories. Now, in order to complete the series, I had to enterprise the Trans-Labrador Highway.
There I go!

Favourite spots:
Exuberant Nature along the Trans Labrador Highway
Exuberant Nature along the Trans Labrador Highway
First Day. I reached the kilometre 344

I walked until the exit of Baie Comeau, and started hitchhiking on the road 389.
About five cars and trucks passed by during the three hours that I kept waiting on the road. The drivers looked at me surprised to see a hitchhiker, but did not stop. I was beginning to think that I had made a serious mistake by trying to hitch hike along that unusual highway.
Suddenly a car stopped. The driver, a man of about 60 years old, told me that he was heading to an encampment in the middle of the forest, at 80 kilometres distance, where he worked, but I would not be allowed to stay there for the night. So he suggested dropping me off in the first petrol station, at 22 kilometres distance, where, in case of rain (it rained every day and every night), I could find a shelter. I agreed.
Once I arrived there I noticed that the cafeteria was closed, as well as the motel because the next day, 24th June, was Saint Jean, holiday in Quebec.

What's really great:
Lovely Louis Babel Ecological Reserve
Lovely Louis Babel Ecological Reserve
First Day, continuation



Soon several trucks parked besides the cafeteria and I asked the drivers to take me with them. They replied that their company did not allow them owing to insurance problems.



One hour later, already dark, a car stopped. The driver was a lady, Suzanne, about 50 years old, and her companion was Daniel, a young friend of about 25 years old. They offered me marihuana to smoke (many people associate hitch hikers with anarchy, narcotics, Rock and Roll music, free sex, etc.), but I gently declined. They were heading to an Ecological Reserve called Louis Babel. They said that in that park there is a lake with an island in the middle; the whole site was formed by a meteorite that impacted the Earth 210 millions years ago. The place is overwhelming beautiful and sheltered exotic flora and fauna. But since they had only a tent for two people, they could not invite me to go there with them, but they would drop me in Manic 5 instead.

Sights:
Stop along the road to admire the Nature
Stop along the road to admire the Nature
First Day, continuation



Once we reached Manic 5, Suzanne learnt through the supermarket employee that one of the barracks of the motel, the number 26 B, had been booked by a group of Quebecois tourists for the next day, but that night was empty, so I would be able to spend the night in the wooden corridor, for free, sleeping on the floor, because outside was raining, and there were plagues of mosquitoes. When Suzanne and Daniel went away, they gave me drinks, sandwiches, chocolate and a bag full with fruits. Merci beaucoup!



I slept happy and even had a shower, taking good care the next morning to leave the place clean, thus the coming tourists would not notice that a stranger slept there the previous night.

Accommodations:
Gigantic dam along the Trans Labrador Highway
Gigantic dam along the Trans Labrador Highway
Second Day. I reached the kilometre 567



People are afraid of the unknown. If you hitch hike on the road they will have fear of you and few will pick you up. But if you ask the drivers directly, in a petrol station or in a cafeteria, for instance, you have more chances to get a ride. And that is what I did. At 6 AM I went to the cafeteria of the motel while the customers were having breakfast and requested, one by one, to be taken until Fermont, or further. The truck drivers unanimously refused with the excuse of the insurance, and some customers too at the beginning, declaring that they had no room in their cars. But when I insisted to their wives, who usually went later for breakfast, they were more willing to take me, and one of them finally said that they would reorganize their bags in their car so as to make room for me.



After visiting and enormous dam and Louis Babel Ecological Reserve they dropped me in Relais Gabriel, where asked the customers of the cafeteria for a ride.

Nightlife:
The truck of Alain
The truck of Alain
Second Day, continuation



A man, of about 55 years old, from Montreal, asked me why I was hitchhiking. I replied that it was the only way to get to Labrador overland and, furthermore, I was short of money after two months travelling around North America. He alleged that his company does not allow picking up strangers. Then I went out and started to hitch hike. After half an hour the truck driver changed his mind and invited me to accompany him.



Hurrah!



The truck was huge, carrying refrigerated cargo to Labrador City.



He was a very nice man; his name was Alain. He explained me many anecdotes occurred during his frequent journeys from Montreal, and had seen many bears and mooses. Until that moment I had not seen any big animal in the Trans Labrador Highway, apart from some porcupines.





We traversed Fermont, but did not stop. Then we crossed to Labrador City, inhabited by about 9000 persons. I found a bower in a park and when the night came I slept watching the stars.

Hangouts:
Quiet and pleasant Churchill Falls town
Quiet and pleasant Churchill Falls town
Third Day. I reached the kilometre 812



The next morning I was at the start of the Freedom Road, the Route 500.

One hour elapsed, two hours, three hours, and nobody stopped. I was desperate. Finally, around midday, a young man took me 40 kilometres further. He was working asphalting the road. When we arrived at his destination I saw that there were works on the road so all the cars had to stop, and then I asked the drivers to carry me. Soon an old gentleman agreed.

He was the postman. He did everyday the same trip to bring the mail.

During that journey I saw my first gooses in Labrador.

Churchill Falls is a very original little town of about 900 inhabitants with the houses distributed in such a way that they form a great quadrilateral square, and in the middle there is a complex sheltering the only hotel with the only restaurant in town, the only supermarket, the only bank, school, swimming pool, public library (with free internet), gymnasium…, in short, everything was there.

Restaurants:
Churchill Falls Generating Station
Churchill Falls Generating Station
Third Day, continuation



Churchill Falls owns its existence to the Hydroelectric Power Station, which gives work for the entire population. It is the second largest underground power station in the world, after another one in Quebec.



In the Public Library I was informed that I could have a free excursion to the Hydroelectric Power Station. I immediately agreed and during two hours, me and two tourists from Toronto, Gerald and Doris, were driven to the Power Station where we could see the whole complex.



My new two friends accepted my request to take me the next day to Goose Bay.



Hurrah!



It was cold outside, and I slept in the complex, over a bench. Previously I asked permission to security (two ladies) telling them that I was short of money and could not afford to pay the hotel, and I was granted it. In the middle of the night I woke up and noticed besides me: fruits, drinks, chocolate, yogurts, cheese, ham, sandwiches…!!! I had food for at least two days. Thanks ladies!

Other recommendations:
Goose Bay, the heart of Labrador
Goose Bay, the heart of Labrador
Forth day. I reached the kilometre 1100



After my breakfast (the fruits and sandwiches left by the security ladies), I went to the room of Gerald and Doris, helped them to carry their suitcases to their car and, at about 8 AM, we left to Goose Bay.

After one hour or so, a car coming from the opposite direction stopped, opened the glass window and informed Gerald to be careful and not to go out of the car because he had seen a black bear 200 metre ahead.

We drove those 200 metres, and…. Oh! How wonderful! A great male bear was crossing the road. He looked at us but did not pay us much attention and continued his way, indifferently, until he disappeared into the forest.

Before reaching Goose Bay we stopped for a break and Doris invited me to drinks and sandwiches. Then we saw the welcome sign in a huge wooden monument informing us that we were arriving to Goose Bay, a village of about 8000 inhabitants.

They dropped me off in the downtown and they drove to their hotel.

I made it!

Published on Monday July 14th, 2008


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Thu, Jul 17 2008 - 03:03 AM rating by terje

Jorge, I loved your adventure! Thanks for sharing!!
Your reports reflects one of the weaknesses I think in Globo report template, as it is not made to describe "on the road" experiences with several destinations.

Wed, Jul 16 2008 - 09:20 AM rating by louis

Wow, what a great adventure. I would really like to try do similar trip one day. As Christian wrote: respect for you :)

Mon, Jul 14 2008 - 11:28 AM rating by christianj.

Respect!! or said in an old-fashioned german style: Chapeau! what means: I take my hat off to you.

Regards, Christian

Mon, Jul 14 2008 - 08:42 AM rating by eirekay

Jorge, what an amazing adventure! Like Amanda, I would nver attempt it, but i do envy you being so able!

Mon, Jul 14 2008 - 07:08 AM rating by mistybleu

Jorge, you are a true explorer. What a fabulous adventure, I am so envious as a woman I would never consider this mode of travel. But wow, meeting such nice people along the way brings back faith in humankind.

Mon, Jul 14 2008 - 06:13 AM rating by krisek

Jorge, what an adventure! Although completely incomparable, it reminds me of my hitch-hiking in Europe some time ago. All truck drivers have all the same excuse! And I also found it easier to ask people at petrol stations and rest/parking spots. And what a great encounter with a bear! An unusual report. Many thanks indeed. It is most inspiring.

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