Shrinking The Planet – One Ride At A Time

Transiting The Trans Labrador Highway & Canadian Atlantic Provinces (Part 5)

The ferry Sir Robert Bond effortlessly cruised up the bay so as to deliver us on time and early in the morning in Cartwright.  The short overnight cruise had been uneventful and we slept heavily until the morning arrival announcement awakened us.  Offloading was a cinch and we found ourselves deposited in Cartwright hungry and in need of fuel.  First things first,  we immediately made…  breakfast the priority.

Not being a very large town, not too far from the ferry dock we found a small diner where the locals were busy getting ready for the day.  We joined them, munched down some good local fare and inquired about obtaining fuel.  They told us the only gas station in town would open around 8:30 and it was now 7:30.  Kim and I looked at each other and decided that with the extra fuel I was carrying we would head on towards Port Hope Simpson where fuel was available and where we planned to stay for the night.

By the way, if you don’t know, click on any one of the pictures in the gallery below and it will open that picture into a full size picture and then you can click your way through the remainder of the pictures in either direction in full size.

We meandered along the TLH enjoying ourselves and the scenery, just soaking everything in.  It was decent weather, we were in no particular rush and in fuel saving mode.  We’d been traveling a couple of hours.  Cruising along, I looked into my rearview mirror and saw a dust cloud and two headlights coming our way at a high rate of speed.  They weren’t spaced evenly so it wasn’t a car or truck.  As I stopped to see what was coming, my guess was confirmed.  It was our friends Roy and Jeff from the ferry.  They had waited for the gas station to open and were high tailing it to try to make the ferry at Blanc Sablon.  They had covered in one hour what we had in two.  They were moving!

We chatted briefly and they decided to get going so they didn’t miss the ferry at Blanc Sablon.  We wished them well and their bikes and their dust cloud soon vanished in the distance.  Their bikes having disappeared over the horizon, it was time for us to make our own headway towards Port Hope Simpson to get the fuel we needed and obtain respite from the black flies which had recently made themselves known in full force.  In fact, for one photo stop, Kim refused to open her faceshield lest she immediately be swarmed by the nasty little critters.  She was right, it was better to keep moving.

After some beautiful riding and some very abbreviated photo stops, we arrived in Port Hope Simpson and found the General Store that also sold fuel.  To our surprise, we found some familiar faces.  Yes indeed, it was our friends Roy and Jeff from the ferry once again.  It seemed that the power was out in town and therefore, the fuel pumps were not working.  We chatted and walked into the General Store to find out if they knew when the power might come back on.

The clerk there told us not to worry, that the power should come back on in an hour or so.  She told us that this always happened when the guys down at the saw mill turned up the power without calling first and it trips off the breaker.  That puts that part of the town out of power until the circuit could be reset.  So we waited around for about an hour and sure as the sun rises the power came back on and we were able to fill all our bikes.

Unfortunately for Roy and Jeff, they were now truly under a time deadline and they REALLY had to make a beeline for Blanc Sablon if they wanted to make the ferry before it left the dock.  (We found out later that they did make it but only by a matter of minutes.)

Fully fueled, we headed to the only accommodations in town and settled in.  We were sitting in our room relaxing when the phone rang.  Kim and I simultaneously looked at each other with bewildered looks.  Who would be calling us in a little tiny hotel in Port Hope Simpson in northern Labrador?  I walked over to the phone and picked it up wondering who might be on the other end.

A unfamilar voice said “Mike”?  Yes, I replied warily.  The voice on the other end said, “Hi, it’s Dave Noel.  We’ve been corresponding on the Ride The Rock forum and I thought I’d come over and say hi.”  I was shocked but really pleased.  Dave and I had been chatting on the excellent Ride The Rock forum (you can find the link on our links page) when I was planning the TLH ride and Dave had been following my postings on ADVRider.com (you can also find their link on our links page)  He took it upon himself to ride over 25 miles on gravel from his home town Mary’s Harbor, just to say hello to someone he had never met.  In what other community would that kind of hospitality be shown?  I was amazed and pleased to no end.  I met Dave in the “lobby” and we went back to our room for a chat and we decided that the three of us would ride together tomorrow for a while.  We would meet at Dave’s house and ride from there.

The following morning we easily found Dave’s house and met his family, his wife and two sons.  Soon we were on the TLH headed towards Red Bay.  The trip had been cool, and along the way we found how cool it had been.  It was mid June and we found large patches of… SNOW!  More than enough to make snowballs and enough for Dave to try to sneak in a couple of sneaky snowball attacks!  However, I am pleased to report that he was unable to connect any either of these New Hampshire natives.

As we approached Red Bay we stopped for a couple of pictures.  We were on an elevated portion of the TLH with a partial view of Red Bay.  In the distance we could see the bay and I could see white specs in the water.  I was somewhat speechless.  I told Kim to look closely behind her and look in the bay.  Did she see what I saw?  Were there really icebergs in the bay?  Now we were really excited because neither of us had ever seen icebergs in person.  Dave humored us and we descended into Red Bay.

As we approached, it became clear that the specs were indeed icebergs and they were majestic.  Sparkling white and huge, they floated silently in the bay.  We did not sense any motion, but they floated there like barren white islands of various shapes and sizes, daring you to describe them.  Some were gigantic, towering monoliths of ice, jutting out of the water.  It amazed us to think that fully two thirds of the berg lay under water.  Others were smaller and flatter, still white almost silver in color, again defying description.

We stopped at a small restaurant in town and had lunch with Dave.  He needed to get home so we wished him the best and thanked him for taking the time to come and meet us and share this journey with us.  We remain friends to this day.

After we said our goodbyes, we rode closer to the bay to gain the best view of the icebergs and yet another magical thing happened.  As I was sitting on my KTM staring, I noticed a spray of water in front of the iceberg.  Then another, and still another.  My mouth dropped agape.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There from the side of the road, right in front of me, were several icebergs and in front and around the icebergs were several pods of Humpback whales feeding!  They were breeching and if I listened carefully, I could even hear them blowing.  It was a spectacular sight.  One that I will probably never experience again.  There must have been more than 100 whales feeding.

As I sat beside the road, a local came out of his house and said, “Pretty good show huh?”  They were here all day yesterday and today.”  I was dumbfounded.  All I could mumble was, “Yes, it’s a great show, I am so happy to be here to enjoy it.”  So everyone, I was lucky enough to have my little point and shoot camera with me which had a video mode.  Because it’s a little point and shoot the video isn’t excellent, but I think it’s worthwhile.  Therefore, I am indeed pleased to share with you the best whale watch I’ve ever been on, (including those on boats hehe) that was taken from the side of the road on my KTM motorcycle.  You can find it here:

We sat there for an hour watching and listening to the whales.  It was an amazing experience.  Words just can’t describe it, it’s one of things that you just have to experience for yourself.  We could have watched for hours, but we too had an appointment with the ferry at Blanc Sablon and it was time for us to make our way there.  So with significant regret, we mounted up again and made our way towards our next stop at Blanc Sablon and the ferry to Newfoundland where we’ll take you in Part 6

4 responses

  1. It's me ,Willy

    How nice to meet up with old friends, be it through emils or blogs, people you have never met in person even. And then to meet them somwhere in an out of the way spot. Those whales gave you quite a show. From my daughter’s sailboat I’ve seen them near Costa Rica , but only one at a time, which is impressive enough.

    Like

    May 22, 2012 at 11:32 am

    • Willy, we agree. That’s what’s so wonderful about adventure riding. Meeting and making new friends and sharing each others perspectives.

      As for the whales, it was one of those lifetime moments.

      Mike and Kim

      Like

      May 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

  2. tengoal

    What a neat story about your new best friend, Dave. A bazillion miles from home, and out of the clear blue, comes a guy you’ve only met on the web, and he wants to talk with you and Kim. That is waaaaaaaay to cool!! That even trumps your outstanding pictures.

    Like

    May 26, 2012 at 8:50 am

    • Thanks Matt. Dave is an awesome guy. We can’t believe the number of wonderful people we’ve met through our adventure riding, many of which we’re still friends with today. Sound familiar? 🙂

      Like

      May 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

Tell Us What You Think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s