Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DAY 38 Churchill Falls to Manic 5!!!!!!!

This is what happens to a river when hydroelectric
power comes to town.
June 26, 2013  Travelling Labrador in our Motorhome

Awoke to 42 degrees in motorhome; 36 degrees outside.  I was toasty with all my blankets.
To day was going to be a driving day so I braced myself.  I don’t like sitting all day long!


This old cableway was there before the ridge
The elevator at Churchill Falls power plant was not working today with no guarantee of tomorrow so we began our drive to Labrador City.  It was mostly all paved and a treat to drive on a paved road!


When you don't have enough dirt to holdup telephone
 poles you build boxes and fill them with rocks.

We were almost there when we discovered that police had blocked the road with their car.  We were told that there was a wildfire smoldering along our route (just a few miles from Lab City) and within a half hour

View of burned out area during our escort to Lab City.
we would be escorted along our route to the other side.  There were just a three cars/trucks in our group.

When we reached Labrador City with our escort, there were news teams on the other side and there was a line of vehicles waiting for their turn to go through.  We were also told that yesterday the line on our side had been stopped for about 12 HOURS!!!!  They had to helicopter in food for those waiting because this is Labrador and the closest town was a good
More burned out trees
Three hours away (no services whatsoever where they were waiting).  Got gas and decided with all the hubbub in town to be on our way.  As we were making our way up the mountain we could plainly see that the fire had restarted and was blazing by the color of smoke we saw billowing up.  So it appears we made it just in time to not have to wait a LONG time for them to put it out or manage it.

Travelling the roads of Quebec south of Labrador City and down to Baie Comeau, Quebec.

This leg of the gravel road (and a minor part of it is paved) is actually in Quebec.  Apparently, Quebec has a VERY long range plan to pave it but it is a long way off and needs work before it could even be paved.

Our escort and still-smoldering areas

I didn’t read my notes about this next leg of our journey until we were on the road today.  As soon as we got on this section of the gravel road we fully realized that the Labrador section of gravel had been well taken care of and maintained.  I was to soon read that this would be the worse section of the gravel road (Quebec).  It was narrow in spots, it was sometimes banked wrong, it was serpentine, it was up and down low hills, it was washboard surface.  David couldn’t get up to speed because of their serpentine nature so we were forced to tolerate some violent noises coming from the motorhome (clanging to the max).  I ran in back and tried to wedge cardboard into things to stop them from clanging.  I took off the stove grill and the nuker insides were put on our bed.  It was about 67 kilometers of nasty road combined with oncoming trucks of all shapes and sizes.  For about a minute we both contemplated going back around via Red Bay and Newfoundland…a very long drive of many days.  Then we realized we were just going to have to buck up and do it.  The side two feet of the gravel could be soft so we had to keep out of there.

Wildfire burning near Wabush

I especially liked the tractor trailer drivers that drove that road like they were driving a sports car (with dust) but were driving wide load mobile offices to their destination.  I swear it looked like it was going to fall off.  Most trucks that passed us were coming from the opposite way so that was the good part. They were mainly on the bad section of gravel and driving in our direction for about an hour before we stopped for the night.  The last ½ hour was on a wide but ziggy, zaggy somewhat up and down road/gravel, of course.  Then the granddaddy of them all hills came at the dam…downhill 18% grade on gravel…while David tried to drive and ooh and ahh over the damn construction!  I had to tell him, "HEY, eyes on the road, not the damn, dam!"

The line of vehicles waiting to head towards Churchill;
we knew they didn't leave right away....if at all that day.

The good part about today was that I had old info so there were more PAVED spots than I thought there would be so we got PAVED surprises and 60 km of paved is a gift I will gladly accept

Mine tailings...raping the earth for profit

Suffice it to say that we were on the road for twelve hours and it wasn’t fun but we got to our destination safely.  From all the rattling going on, one of the muffler brackets broke but David just tied it up with an extension cord we had and can fix it at home.  Thankfully no flat tires; fixing one on that road would have been really dangerous!

A bridge we had to go over.  We came across a few that were
questionable but at least with this one I knew BIG wide load
 tractor trailer trucks were regularly using it.

Since we are in Quebec province, all the signs are in French.  I don’t know a nick of French and there is no attempt at putting anything in English.  We guess or just ignore the signs unless they are in a bright color or look alarming like the 18% grade thing.  I never got around to getting a phrase book…

Wood (really???) and you could see the water below...

We are overnighting  with a whole bunch of trucks in the Manic 5 Dam area (gas station, restaurant, truck stop).  Good night!  The good news?  No more gravel road for this trip!!!  Labrador I really liked.  Quebec the road was not to my standards.  They seem to be working on it though to some degree...but not paving.

Scenic river views

Comments on highway 389 in Quebec…It is a major route for trucks bringing goods into Labrador City and for logging; they are in a hurry and have lots of experience in navigating this nasty road.  It was in no way a fun drive.  Luckily we were mostly going against the traffic as we headed south and our time of day must have been right as well.  The blessing was that more of it was paved than we expected.
Yup, here's the wide load crossing that bridge and
ready to breathe down our backs.  And he was going to be driving faster
than us even with that load! 

It is a pioneer route…lol!  If  you go this way, mentally prepare yourself for a dusty and long ride, have good tires, bring bug juice should you need to get out and fix something (they will eat you alive).

Coming at trailer truck on Quebec route 389

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