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Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

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Nova Scotia Visitor Sign

I am spending the last nite in Canada at a road’s end on a deserted beach by the Gulf of St. Lawerence. The water goes back and forth on the inlet’s shore, leaving bits of debris and taking bits of sand back into the slate blue liquid. Dried-out washed-ashore sea grass form long stretches of low berms just beyond the water’s reach. Sand, rocks, pebbles and sticks, which crackle when I step on them, litter the forgotten background.

The water’s mesmerizing tone seeps into and subsequently calms my brain, washes away thoughts and relaxes the body. That repetitive sound helps me become one with the water and its smell and its moisture and its vastness. On this tiny stretch of wild beach, a shawl of sadness begins to wrap me as I think about leaving Canada and her welcoming people and gorgeous landscapes. The US, filled with a populace with polar opposite beliefs and anger and fear, isn’t appealing yet it is my home. My mind returns to here, this tiny spec of land and the peace it holds.

There is no-one else at this little spot, it is Friday nite. Most likely teens will be coming out once the sun sets. They’ll see Mabel, rev their ATVs, mutter a few words better left unsaid and go back into town. For now, I can sit on the camp chair, tea in hand, watch Alice run back and forth, gaze at the sparkling lights down the coast and reflect over the last 4 1/2 months.

Travels through Nova Scotia will be some of my most cherished memories of this road trip. A ferry ride took us from Newfoundland to No. Sydney, Nova Scotia and we promptly headed up the Cape Breton Coast. Some refer to it as the Highlands of Nova Scotia which I understand now after I saw signs McDonald’s Lane or Thomas McInnes and signs in Scottish Gaelic: Ceap Breatainn or Eilean Cheap Bhreatainn – Cape Breton. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Breton_Island

Mabel, true to form, kept Alice and I on the Cabot Trail, which traversed the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Cliffs, drop offs, sandy beaches, little towns and shops, rental cottages and renovated homes lined the the road. Roads led to trails that gave even the most casual of hikers a glimpse of the sea. Seals draped the smooth rocks and bald eagles flew above them. It was magical.

http://www.cabottrail.travel/cabot-trail-communities/cape-breton-highlands-park/things-to-do/

 

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Camping spot in Nova Scotia

I passed restored houses, which reinforced my perception of the next generation’s migration. This movement has been apparent throughout my travels of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Entrepreneurs, young families, close-to-retirement age people and the more prosperous populous moving and looking for a more intimate community.

This casual little cottage in New Brunswick elicited a “Good God!” from me! But there are others not quite as grand in both Provinces.



And the above homes, replaced so many houses that looked like this:

Blueberries are a particularly important crop for Nova Scotia, but both provinces claim to be BLUEBERRY CAPITOLS since I passed two signs claiming that fame! One camping spot in Nova Scotia yielded blueberries for my morning’s oatmeal!

The interminable search for back roads was always there so we went into Nova Scotia’s interior, their agricultural farm land. Dairy cattle grazed on thick grass and were brought into sheds twice a day for milking. 

John Deere tractors tilled the fields which produced barley, alfalfa, vegetables and fruit.

New found friends invited me to stay with them and Mabel fit nicely in their drive. It was wonderful to have some home cooked meals and learn more about the Atlantic Provinces. Such kind folks!

Chris & Steve

From their house I continued up the northern coast of Nova Scotia to the restored historical towns of Annapolis and Shelburne, which share the history of the British. Loyalists.http://www.npr.org/2015/07/03/419824333/what-happened-to-british-loyalists-after-the-revolutionary-war

I lasted one day in the city of Halifax to take Alice to the vet for an ear infection and continued on to New Brunswick. There were too many people and cars.

There’s an old cowboy saying, “Well, it has been a good ride, time to head home.” I felt it today as drove along the New Brunswick coast. That edge sensation–being on the cusp of every minute because something new is around the corner–that feeling had left me. New Brunswick is beautiful, wonderful old houses, very French towns with sidewalk cafes, highway signs with words like fruit de mere, vent de muebles cemented the fact the French language, people, lifestyle and culture in the Acadian area have been there for two centuries.  I stayed one night along the way and last night, I said to Alice, “Time to head home.” She agreed!

Kejimkujik National Park

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/kejimkujik-national-park-and-national-historic-site/

A bit of flora and fauna.

Can’t you just see little trolls living here?

…or under this one?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

making little paths under these ferns?…

 

 

 

 

..and eventually coming into open space..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and looking up at this sign and saying “And this means what?”

 

 

 

 

The heart and soul of the Atlantic Provinces

The desert heat sent me on my way on May 15, 2017 and the forests of Northern California and Oregon foretold of what awaited. The unexpected sight of seals along the Oregon coast gave me a glimpse of what this trip had in store.

In Washington, I started down a street which led directly into the ferry’s mouth and I thought I had made a wrong turn someplace, but the ramp lifted and five minutes later I was on my way to Anacortes, Washington. Crossing into Canada, tears came to me because I had realized a life long dream of driving across the northern part of North America. Canada fed into Alaska, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, across the Canadian Provinces and  to Labrador, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and now New Brunswick. Ferries and God-awful roads, highways and 2 lane roads, pavement and dirt, Mabel, Alice and I rumbled along and over them. I learned so much about the land, the people, the customs and such different ways of life.

New maps replaced old ones on the dashboard when I crossed the Province lines.  The Trans Labrador Highway knocked the the Garmin GPS system out of its built-in dashboard case. A knife worked well as a shiv between the GPS system and the plastic dashboard holder although the system has not worked since. The iPhone and Google Maps became the compass always with paper maps as a backup and hoping I wouldn’t have to spend ten minutes looking for my reading glasses! I have traveled 22,000 miles and every mile has filled me with wonderment. Some places in this vast Canadian land I hope I will be able to visit again, others well, I’ll probably pass on!

Sometimes I think how do people live there or wonder what they are like in different countries. Each trip I take confirms we are all the same. We cry and laugh, work and play, cook and clean, raise kids and hope they succeed in life, lives are lost and new ones are born—only our environs are different. Those environs shape our outlook towards the world and sometimes it is with awe we look out and other times, it is with disdain or hatred or disgust or unrealized ignorance. The sentient being is still the same though – tears, pain, happiness and laughter all dwell within us. The First Nation people laughed at my trying to filet a piece of buffalo and then became concerned for fear I would slice my hand. The garage man changed my tire and told me what to order at which restaurant. My hand became invisible under his when he shook it and I thought, “What would my impression be of this 6’3″, 250  pounds of muscle and belly in denim overalls if I saw him walking down the street?” I judge so quickly. A park ranger spent 2 hours going theough the van with me fixing all the things that had been knocked loose, fallen off, squeaked and rattled. There is a kindness in most everyone if we want look for it.

It has been a journey.

Take good care,

Lisa, Alice and Mabel

 

SOUTHERN NEWFOUNDLAND – A PHOTO JOURNEY

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SOUTHERN NEWFOUNDLAND 

 

THE CHANGING SMALL TOWN HARBORS – VACATION BOATERS

Have lost a whole section of photos..sometimes I feel like DESTROYING the i Phone, but I think when those urges strike: breathe deeply and let that go, Lisa. Right. AFTER I throw it through the window, it hits the pavement, and a massively huge truck tire runs over it.  So take THAT Apple.  Ah—feel much better!

Mabel, Alice and I traveled 95% of all the roads in Newfoundland and I loved it. People are wonderful. I think they were all born with a “nice gene” in addition to Scottish, Brit, Welsh and Basque. We visited tiny towns, trendy towns, fishing villages, off the beaten track – like – “Oh Christ, how did we end up here” towns and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Not sure if Mabel did only because some of the roads weren’t that great, but she did get to rest quite a bit since Alice and I walked on trails and through towns.

Driving route through Newfoundland

Lack of roads and rain that would just not stop dissuaded me from driving south of St. John’s. We managed to still see a good amount of Newfoundland and again, left with a greater knowledge and understanding of a Province I never really knew much about. A side note: It took everything I had, every ounce of will power not to return with a Newfie puppy. All I can say is: OMG! But common sense won and a cute little brown 10 pound puppy turns into this:

160 pounds of a swimming hauling working-dog machine! Fun fact: Newfies have webbing between their toes and they do a breaststroke when swimming!

I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed the people and the Province. One consistent theme that I noticed was people moving either as part-timers, retirement or to make a new life in a small town. The new boats, the restored houses, the trendy shops with architecturally-driven angular silver rings to the little craft shop with traditional woven socks. Wherever I was, the atmosphere was the same: welcoming smiles, “what can I help you with, my love?”, “come to our house for trout tonite”, “long way from home aren’t you dear?” House prices are starting to go up and monetary divisions are visible in some towns.  I did not pick up on any animosity towards the newcomers, which was nice. The countryside is a never ending palate or mountains, lakes, rivers–all with the pulsating knowledge the sea is close.

Camping in the Canadian Provincial Parks is always a treat. I compared it to Starbucks (!!) to one person..always consistent. They are clean and spacious and usually with access to a few trails. There were a few of us campers who kept reconnecting at other campsites or in the various towns and we would compare notes or give suggestions to other places they had seen.

Driving to one town, Fleur de Lis, I saw two huge mining pits. Mining used to be iron/ore, as in Labrador, but in the 1980’s copper, zinc, gold and silver took over. In 1955, John-Manville Co. opened an asbestos mine. During the 70s, asbestos related illness began to be reported, and the first Canadian strike happened based solely on health and occupational hazard. The Company eventually agreed to the workers demands and stayed in operation until 1980 when more scrutiny was given to asbestos. Manville sold it to another company and operations never became viable again because of the markets and health issues. What is left is this:

What we do to our planet.

If the armchair traveler is percolating in your soul, please take a seat and enjoy the show.

SECOND HOMES AND RENOVATED HOUSES SPROUT UP

 

DAILY CATCH UNLOADING DOCKS IN THE DISTANCE

 

DAYS GONE BY

TOWN HASN’T CHANGED MUCH

LET’S ENJOY THE SUN BEFORE WINTER SETS IN. THINK WE HAVE ENOUGH WOOD AT LEAST UNTIL JANUARY!

LET ME TELL YOU SOME STORIES ABOUT THE SEA

PATCH REEFS UNIQUE TO NEWFOUNDLAND


SNIPPETS OF WANING FLOWERS, TOURIST SEASON ENDING BRINGS EMPTY TRAILS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I TOOK THIS PHOTO THROUGH THE VAN’S WINDOW. HOW AWESOME IS THIS!


 

“Alice, you better stay on the trail…that little lady is tiny but…..!”

MUSSEL FARMING – BLUE AND WHITE BARRELS IN AN INLET FROM THE SEA

TRINITY, NEWFOUNDLAND: BLENDING HISTORIC RENOVATION WITHIN THE COMMUNITY TASTEFULLY.

“UH-OH, NEW PEOPLE HAVE DEFINITELY MOVED INTO THE AREA!”

I say “Good-bye” to Newfoundland.  What an enrichment to my life. Simple living.

Take good care,

Lisa, Alice and Mabel

 

COASTLINES, COVES AND COD

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“Lisa, I am not real sure where Labrador and Newfoundland are.” Since I have read that more than once–here are some maps!

I entered Labrador via Quebec Province, Hwy. 138, went through two cities, Labrador City, pop. 7,000 and Happy Valley/Goose Bay, pop. 8,000 (USAF base is there), and one hydro-electric company town, Churchill Falls, pop. 650. This leaves a remaining population of approximately 15,000 people, who are only accessible by snowmobile, dog sleds, planes in winter and float planes and coastal ferries in the summer. The coastal ferries do run in the winter, but if the ice is too thick, it may be weeks before they “load and go.”  The Trans-Labrador Highway is the only road in Labrador, although there are four short roads (10 to 26 km) branching off to less then ten communities. The Inuit, the Innu, the Mi’kmaq and the Southern Inuit of NunatuKavut (formerly the Labrador Inuit-Metis) make up the Aboriginal Tribes or First Nation tribes in Labrador. Prior to 1950, there were very few non-aboriginal people living in this province, but with the advent of mining for iron/ore and construction of hydro-electric dams, settlers moved in to make up the workforce.

Go on an adventure and see an undiscovered land while it is still one the very few unspoiled spots in the world. It will be gone soon once the Trans-Labrador Highway is fully paved. I know I am repeating myself a bit from the previous post, but thought the map info would be more enhanced by refreshing the memory!

Info on a  five day dog sled trip, how fun would that be!!!! Bring back a true Labrador puppy :)!

http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/en/plan-and-book/tours/30200044

Good-bye Labrador and hello Newfoundland!

Newfoundland is gorgeous. We boarded the ferry in San Blanc and arrived in St. Barte, Newfoundland, 1 1/2 hours later, not without drama though. Hanging from the driver’s side was the sani-dump hose which connects to the black water holding tank. I had long since stopped using the RV toilet and opted for a porta-potty. A dock worker commented to me,”A hose is hanging out and dragging.” I said, “I know and as soon as I stop behind that truck, I’ll fix it w/duct tape” As I was getting out of the van, another worker pointed out the hose hanging down and I said, “I know, I am getting some duct tape now. Better yet, do you have any wire cutters and that’ll take care of it for months until I get the whole thing re-worked.”  His eyes widened and he said, “Let me help you, ma’am.” His ingenuity eventually trickled down to….duct tape and wire cutters also.
We followed the Viking Trail, Route 430 to St. Anthony’s for some sightseeing, get information from the Visitor Center for orientation and find a campground.

I stopped for lunch at the rest stop adjacent to this stream. An older gentleman on his ATV with a small wooden wagon attached to it stopped and we chatted about fishing and the small coastal towns. He was on his way to pick up wood from the beach but we ended up talking for an hour or so. Streams have been closed for salmon fishing, fewer days are allocated for cod fishing,  sand dunes are being protected to bring shore birds and stabilize the dune grass and the younger generation are leaving and moving to town. That was the gist of our conversation.

He told me about the resettlement programs, which I knew nothing about. He pointed out homes where “resettled people” lived and their adaptation to a new life that happened so many years ago. Later on, when I was hiking in Gross Morne, I met a woman whose mother was re-located and they still occasionally visit their ancestral island. It reminded me so much of the agricultural or steel or coal areas in the US where people move because the way of life has changed and the grandkids take a visit to see where “Mama and Papa” once lived.

The resettlement program started in 1953, a few years after people began to move to more populated communities. To ensure that all people in Newfoundland and Labrador would have access to adequate amenities such as healthcare, travel, schools, and post offices as well as push people into urban centers where industrialization created higher demands for workers, in 1953 the Dept of Welfare began giving financial assistance to families who wanted to be resettled. Prior to this, some communities were abandoned without any help by the government. This resettlement program underwent many changes in financial support for people leaving the small comunities until the mid-70s when the entire program was abandoned.

Many people were satisfied with the overall choice to move. Some floated their house from small islands, which are scattered throughout Newfoundland, to an inland town or left the structures and began totally new life. However, as expected, all those who moved missed their home communities and many still made frequent trips to the empty communities. Walking in Gros Morne Park, I met a woman who also spoke to me about this program. Her mother and father floated their house to a coastal community and their children and grandchildren visit the island where remnants of the community still exist.  (See article cited below.)

http://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/politics/resettlement-program.php

http://www.tcii.gov.nl.ca/parks/p_pb/index.html After speaking with the park ranger at Pistolet Provincial Park who said, “Why take a whale tour? Go to this hill, watch the boat pull out and follow it until it stops. Pull out your binos and see the whales! Alright! I did just that and saw the whales blow late that afternoon!

Along the sides of trails and roads to St. Anthony were fenced off gardens, some with wooden fencing and others with fencing and a long wire encircling the perimeters with plastic bottles hanging down to deter the moose!  These little areas, 15′ X 15′  +/-, were family gardens. Prior to ’67, gardens were a rarity on the coast due to limestone, rocks and barren soil, but when the Trans-Canada Highway was extended, several feet of soil was churned up producing areas deep enough to cultivate. These gardens are now passed down generation to generation. http://soiledandseeded.com/magazine/issue05/the_roadside_garden_project.php


Wood for the winter! I have never in my life seen so much cut wood. Then I understood when locals told me the snow is at times 8′ to 12′ high. Now I also understand and why there are doors leading outside on second floors of houses!

Local crafts shops also gave me an inkling to what life is like in Newfoundland during the winter. 100% wool sweaters, socks, mittens, leggings, hand/wrist warmers, hats & mukluks(slippers with leather soles and woolen tops.) Cotton quilts made from left-over fabric, much like how I imagine quilts from the US’s mid-west, are strewn over the backs of chairs, over tables, piled on the shops floors. I bought one because there was such a peaceful feeling about it. I imagined a woman, seated in her living room by a window as she looked at a frozen land. The wood stove’s heat and smell filled the room while her hands automatically moved the small needles stitching one fabric square next to another. Were the fabrics from children’s clothes no longer needed, a husband’s old dress shirt, a torn sheet? Were there memories attached? I’ll never know. 

From St. Anthony’s, we drove south on the Viking Highway, past the ferry landing, and on to Gros Morne Heritage area, which is a primary tourist destination of Newfoundland. And well it should be.

Spectacular coast lines with rugged cliffs, narrow beaches and sand dunes repopulated with rare shore birds met my eyes. An occasional brilliantly red lighthouse dotted the coast breaking up the blue ocean and summer green turf colored hills. Every turn brought a new vision, some pastoral, some with low growing brush and one felt like I had landed on Mars. The Tablelands.

 

Peridotite is the rock in that makes up this portion of Gros Morne Heritage area. I took the guided walk(!!) and learned it is thought to originate in the Earth’s mantle and was forced up from the depths during a plate collision several hundred million years ago. Peridotite lacks the usual nutrients required to sustain most plant life, hence its barren appearance. Underneath this weathered zone, the rock is really a dark green color. I would not have been surprised if a little green martian or a Star Wars character, R2D2. poked its head up..eerie.

Side note: I love these boardwalks the Canadian Park system has .. this one was over a mass of rocks interspersed with low growing shrubs.

Lots of time was spent in Gros Morne walking along the coast, short hikes, and taking in a world I had never seen. 

Cliffs in Gros Morne Heritage Area

Graveyard, old fishermen’s houses and not sure how I got on this road!

Lighthouse and family house

Daily living for owner of “Cottages to Rent”

Walk along a trail and look down

Or I saw this and camped on the hill above

I said good bye to the Gros Morne National Heritage Area and its 697 square miles of diversity. The beauty I encountered gave me a new definition of the word “awesome.” Below is a link if you want to delve further:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gros_Morne_National_Park

We headed south to Terra Nova National Park and here we stay for a few days.

Take good care,

Mabel, Alice and Lisa

 

LOAD AND GO…….NEWFOUNDLAND

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Two weeks, one continuous road on the ONLY HIGHWAY in Labrador, and 7 days along the southern coast – I came to know a little bit about this vast Province. People kept telling me, “come back in the winter, that is when you are able to see Labrador’s interior.” Dog sledding, snow mobiles, eight-foot ice walls leading to store fronts, which have mud rooms inside the entrance – oh yes, I will rush into that experience! Dog sledding I would love to do though, and meet Missy.

https://www.dogbreedinfo.com/labradorhusky.htm

THIS PHOTO IS FROM A BREEDER’S PAGE. THERE ARE ONLY 60, THAT IS RIGHT, 60 OF THESE PUREBREDS IN EXISTENCE NOW.

The Labrador Husky is native to coastal Labrador. It belongs to the northern group of dogs, which include the Siberian Husky, Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute and Canadian Eskimo Dog. The breed was most likely brought to Labrador by the Thule Inuit around 1300 AD.

I left Labrador City and continued on the 1 (one) road, Trans Labrador Highway, 774 miles of which 50% was undergoing some type of construction through Labrador. There were three side roads none longer than 20 miles going to three towns:  Cartwright, Fort Lewis and North West River. 200,000 sq. miles with a 30,000 population which translates to a lot of square miles per person. I can’t quite visualize this, but, with only 3 major towns comprising most of the population that leaves a huge unpopulated land mass. Throughout Labrador, most First Nation villages are only accessible by plane or boat during the summer and only by plane during the winter. I mean to tell you, these people are self-sufficient!

See link to art: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/in-pictures-highlights-from-newfoundland-and-labrador-s-first-indigenous-arts-symposium-1.333366

I drove from Lab. City to Churchill Falls, which is an hydro-electric town and has the second largest hydro-electric generating station in Canada. It reminded me of the man-made towns in China: towns built for a specific purpose and people moved in to occupy the buildings and work for the company.

There were houses, a store and a gas station. No rent is charged, cannot buy a house, and if an employee quits or is terminated, the house is no longer available. No retirement nor pension is available. I drove through, got gas and kept moving onto Goose Bay.

On 9/11, Goose Bay US military base took in a number of flights that could not fly into the US because of “no fly zone”. Fresh vegetables and fruit for reasonable prices reflected the American presence there. In the Yukon & NWT, I paid $7.00 for a head of romaine lettuce — be grateful for what you have. Leaving from Goose Bay, there is a ferry that goes up the cosst, stops at several villages, takes supplies and mail, but they would not let me board with Alice. These First Nation villages have put together a traveling art expo.. see link:  http://www.cbc.ca/arts/in-pictures-highlights-from-newfoundland-and-labrador-s-first-indigenous-arts-symposium-1.3333660

Just a side note: Phillipinos have immigrated to Labrador because of the high wages for service jobs. They send money to their families back home.

And.. on to the southern coast of Labrador. Since there were few campgrounds in Labrador, I parked behind a Visitor Center, at a rest stop, at a road construction site and on a side road that led to ????Ronnie, in Port Hope Simpson, southern Labrador, fixed my flat tire. which had been punctured by a piece of steel from the rock crusher machine building the Trans-Labrador Highway. Without a doubt, the absolute worst road I have ever travelled.

It gave new meaning to the word “washboard.” The solar panels on Mabel became dislodged and do not work, the built- in navigation system was knocked out of the dashboard, and my 265 Michelin truck tire received a piece of steel not willingly but firmly implanted. Ronnie, a true Labradorian, repaired the with a plug, checked for more leaks with soap and water, and sealed it. It reminded me of living on the ranch – you don’t replace, you fix! He also checked the other tires of which one lost 20 psi on that road and sent me on my way for $25 Canadian dollars and a smile with a recommendation to get a moose steak at the restaurant!

Ahh — Southern Labrador Coast… houses clustered on the coast; hand woven fishing baskets set by boats and cottages, cottages built to store winter wood; old Inuit sleds scattered on hillsides to haul wood to villages. I loved the Coast!

After spending seven days there, I learned a bit about small coastal living. During one of my visits to the library with free internet access, there was a mom/child play group there. No “time out” or “count 1-2-3” or asking a child to “think about your actions, honey”. I heard, “learn to get along with others and don’t come running to me”, or “did you hear me”, or “go into the other room and cry, but not here”. One of the women told me, “We all look after all our kids and we know what they are doing!”

Each little town separated by anywhere from 2 to 7 miles had a particular service to offer: get your tire fixed here, get your groceries here, get furnishing here, etc. While I was waiting for the oil to be changed and sipping some coffee at the adjacent grocery store, I heard, “See that woman? 94 years old she is and every day she walks by – 3 miles she does.” There is a camaraderie of survival and independence.

By day seven, although I was at a Provincial Park, I was ready to leave. I woke up with ice on the windshield and headed to the ferry dock.

Lucky and grateful is how I describe my time in this vast land. With this Trans Labrador Highway being built and the ensuing accessibility of towns, a part of Labrador’s culture will be forever gone.  The naiveté and  the welcoming smiles might be replaced with suspicion and “Oh Christ, here’s another tourist.”  I hope not.

So, Mabel, Alice and I loaded on the Apollo Ferry from San Blanc and as the dock worker said, ” Are you ready to load and go, ma’am?” You bet! We continue to explore and learn.

Take good care, Lisa, Mabel and Alice

 

JOIN ME FOR A WALK THROUGH THE FLORA AND FAUNA OF LABRADOR

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The going from Base Comeau, Quebec had been slow to Labrador City, Labrador and did not change on the way to Goose Bay, Labrador. (1,115 km or 692 miles)  Potholes, washboard, and muddy roads combined with workers and stop signs and red/green lights constantly caused us to stop or slow down. Patience was becoming a thing of the past, which resulted in pulling over around 2:00pm at a rest stop which had nature walk to Hamilton Falls.

Red/green signal lights

Mosquito/black fly netting covering face

My back and neck complained vigorously but I was able to alleviate some with Cat/Cow stretches and rolling the shoulders plus ADVIL! Alice was driving me nuts with her wanting to get out so the Nature Trail looked beyond inviting!

Hike along with us and see what Labrador looks like beyond the black top and dirt roads

The wooden bridge, which are frequently found at trail heads, is our entrance to this 1.5 km walk. Labrador is laden with lakes, streams, and rivers. Because of this, this Trans Labrador Highway has huge culverts to funnel the water so roads can built over the running waters and bridges are the only way to get access to the internal beauty of the land.

 

Culvert

Dense and dark is the only way I can describe it. Vines and roots crawl over the ground in search of free spot to drop a tentacle. Lichen, moss, tiny, thick, tough succulents carpet the ground and make homes on exposed tree and vine roots. Mountain adler, spruce, pine and birch compete in clumps on the hills and mountain side only distinguishable by their color. Sounds of trickling water surrounded us and erased the tires-meeting-the-road dull monotonous tone.

My skin felt so good with the moisture and that woody smell finally cleansed the interior van odor that happens after weeks and weeks of traveling. Low growing succulents cannot compete with the tiny white flowers and white-lichen type moss. Then I looked to the right and I saw the beginnings of the water fall. Two huge hydro-electric dams are in process of completion and that is causing the appearance of more the rivers’ rock beds.

Notice the small fern by the red berries – these grow into large plants, which I had to touch to make sure they were real and not just transplanted from some office!

Alice and I kept walking along, scuffing the carpet of leave on the trails to have the musty smell in the air. Alice could have cared less about smells and she ran like bears were after her releasing the miles and miles of pent-up energy. She could have cared less if she trampled on tiny red berries or baby ferns or the low growing pine ground covers. I looked over to the left and a break in the trees with a meadow.  It was a treasure trove of sights and sounds encompassing me.


THE END.

LABRADOR!

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LABRADOR

 

I could go back to Alaska and spend May to September exploring, hiking, visiting all the places I missed. Make time for an air tour or learn to kayak so I can access some of the rivers I saw in the distance. So much I missed but what I did see was so beautiful.I forgot so much about BC — the forests with infestations of the bark beetle, the fires, the clear cuts of massive swaths of forestland made some views look like a checkerboard. Old growth forests filled with 9 ft, 12 ft. + diameter trunks gone and now, in our living rooms or cupboards or furniture. In Bella Coola, Western BC, I walked through a protected Cedar old growth grove. It was magical to be among these 300 year old giants the logging industry cannot touch. Helicopters are the new log drivers or heli-logging (getting log to another place) and hover with cables over the forest’s interior. Greed AND human need outpaces the earth’s regeneration.

To you readers: If your interest lies in some history of the logging business in BC or a history of the Queen Charlotte Islands off the BC coast, take a look at: https://books.google.ca/books/about/The_Golden_Spruce.html?id=5T8BCgAAQBAJ&source=kp_cover&redir_esc=y


Notes from Quebec on Why. 138 to Baie Comeau and Hwy 368 Nord up to Labrador.

Hwy 138 northeast of Quebec follows the north side of the St. Lawrence River. Small colorful houses and grassy or stony slopes stopes stop at the river. Catholic churches with steeples and stained glass windows prominently display their crosses on hilltops. Restaurants, boulangeries, and charcuteries were thrown into the mix. I returned to France for 250 miles of road.

Smell and sound of fresh river water softly lapping on the stones was what I heard when I woke up at the public park parking lot. I looked at the window and saw:

Friggin’ Jurrasic Park! Apparently some dinosaur bones had been found there!

Am struck by the similarity of the terrain between here and the Yukon. The tall conifers with the globe tops, the fir and pine but I don’t get the sense of the “old growth” here as I did in BC, probably because it is at the 52 Parallel. Lakes are more prevalent here –  they are empty spaces of a jigsaw puzzle with green islands and one road connecting. Varying sizes of pine covered islands snake through the water and for a reason, stop. Or, one lone tree is on a tiny fern covered circle seemingly floating on the water. This unraveling yarn of a two-lane highway makes a path through the trees and moss covered boulders. Bright red SOS signs are visible every 10 kilometers noting the next pullout where a satellite phone is available in case of emergency.

Trucks pass hauling petrol, materials for road maintenance, construction projects and domestic items pass by me in both directions. At the two gas stations on the road, I stopped to top off, an ingrained habit now carried over from Yukon and NWT. The peoples’ confidence that every person will pay is obvious since the routine is: fill the gas tank first, then go in the store, which in almost all cases is a small restaurant, and pay. Cruise control is set at 57, which is really 60 with Mabel’s oversized tires, and we roll over and around and straight ahead following the black top. No RVs and passenger cars on this road!

This quickly turned to this:

which eventually, after sleeping at a truck turnout, led to the following:

Iron ore mining is the industry in Labrador and I was told emphatically that no chemicals are used. There are also two huge hydro-electricity plants in the Province of 30,000 people.


Iron ore mine below:

So far, this country has been a study in contrasts: kilometers of wild uninhabited land with blotches of mines and their pre-fab communities on the canvas. A paved road turns into a community of tractors, dump trucks, rollers changing dirt to pavement. A community of housing trailers that come with the Canadian company that won the road construction bid that summer will be in short distances from the muddy roads. Instantaneously, the landscape reverts to thick impenetrable bushes, trees and foliage.

Thanks to the guys who fixed her multiple cracked- star studded-pebble-rock-broken windshield!

Take good care, Lisa, Mabel and Alice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…BEFORE I LEAVE CANADA, A FEW REFLECTIONS

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The middle of Canada!

Made it to Quebec through trial and error, I think. Trial and error with Google Maps, Apple Maps, Garmin System, MapQuest and old fashioned maps! Errors happened when there was no internet connection and I ended up here:

Then here:

God-only-knows where

Went through a National Preserve which ended with a sign “FERME” (closed) sign next to a bridge — not happening for me since I noticed tire tracks across the wooden bridge after 1.5 hours on SERIOUS dirt roads. I told Alice to get out and “SIT” – I drove across, yelled her name as she tore across the bridge and off we went. Thought if I crash, she at least she will have a dog tag on!  Ended up knocking on a door next to the above barn and albeit the couple didn’t speak English and my French is fair, we managed to communicate. They were in hysterics that this “Americain” was at their door “perdue” lost! One hour later I was back on the highway to Montreal which of course I got lost again, but with better success with Google maps. First of all, the voice on all devices doesn’t speak French so the names were all spoken phonetically, not that it really made a difference.. – I could have changed it to French. Then, turns out, I was driving too fast for the Garmin guide or satellite or cyborg in the sky to catch up with me when I made the wrong turn…and…I would end up going in a circle. This was decided by a group of people in Quebec’s Starbucks!

The difference between Canada and the geographical area to the north and west is palpable. There’s a wildness that is not felt here and perhaps that is why I am do drawn to the northern area. Not to say Canada isn’t one beautiful country, but there is a permeation of neatness here that I didn’t get in the northwest area. Guardrails for one thing, Canola fields, tilled fields and hills with bales of hay rolled up neat and tidy, oil rigs in neat rows all bring a civilized feeling into the air.

Blue domes holding leaf cutting bees to boost alfalfa yield

Contrasting this with some images of the NWT and Yukon, the difference is felt in me. Although, it isn’t fair of me to compare because I only traveled, when I wasn’t lost (!), on the main highways of Canada so 95% of the country I didn’t see.

 

These images remain in my mind…the mining town of Keno, pop. 15, which had an extensive collection of mining equipment that would rival the Mining Museum in Leadville, CO; the stone Sheep and Wood buffalo along the highways who had become used to the vehicular travel and the welcome site of a gas pump. Freedom’s privileges.

I would like to visit this eastern part of Canada, which reminded me so much of France, as it should. I missed so much but another time and with a different mindset. We are leaving now for Labrador and Newfoundland.

 

What causes one person to just keep going and going and another person to be content going to the same store, walking the same street, seeing the same people?

Since my mom died in 1995, I have done extensive traveling: Everything from being a cook on a boat leaving Costa Rica cruising to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to horseback riding thru a section of Mongolia, traveling thru Asia to studying Yoga in Greece with stops in-between. What is the driving force to do this? We make our own fences, our own restrictions on our lives. Responsibilities of children, marriage, jobs come into play and eventually children grow up, retirement happens and we choose another life or continue with the same life with a few subtractions or additions. Money is a grounding factor for many, but, I have met people on this journey who have sold everything and gone on a never-ending trip. Others have downsized and left for six months or two months or two weeks. Others never leave home. Fear plays a factor; family plays a factor, life’s circumstances play a factor, contentment wins most of all. Contentment with life as it is strums a jealous note in me.

Stability has never been my strong point: traveling draws me.

Looking back at the genealogy, I had a grandfather who left a Quaker school at 15, moved to New York City to work at a tea store and at 17, struck out west with a survey crew: a grandmother who was adopted after her mother died and upon marriage, traveled between Mexico and California; a mother whom I don’t remember not getting on a plane a couple of times a year; and a father who left Pasadena, CA. for the University of Arizona, and at age 21 headed to Sonora, Mexico to be a cowboy. DNA?

People ask me these questions:  Aren’t you tired? Doesn’t all that driving just exhaust you? Aren’t you lonely? What do you do when you aren’t driving? Don’t you miss home?

I love to drive. Loneliness is rarely a feeling I experience and being alone is assuaged by a conversation with one of my sons or a friend or another traveller. I hike or read or sleep or journal or see the sites, which surround me. These same things are done when I am at my house. It has taken a long time, but now the word “home” has become a feeling of contentment with whom I am and wherever I am.

Northwest Territories

Alice: See you next time!

This on takes the cake!

Mabel: My best to you all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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