Archive for August 4th, 2008

Flat Tire

Monday, August 4th, 2008

5 km ride (most of that was to the restaurant for lunch and back to the road), 40 minutes
85 km by truck

We awoke to another beautiful morning without any wisp of a breeze. It was so calm that the Red Bay Basin was reflecting the hills around it. The view from the B&B was spectacular – we missed it last night because it was dark soon after we arrived.

After breakfast Scott went out on a reconnaissance mission to see how the road was, while Becky caught up on her sleep. Scott stopped to talk to some berry pickers (the Bakeapple berry season has started), and discovered his mistake soon enough. He did not put any DEET on in the morning and the berry pickers brought a collection of flies out of the bog with them. Although Scott had his headnet on, mostly saving his head from bites, he had exposed legs, which you can now play connect the dots on!

The gravel has been about what we were promised – a new layer has just been put down, and not packed by much traffic yet, so it’s slippery under the tires, and would definitely slow us down.

Becky didn’t have a lot of energy today, recovering from too many fly bites and a not too great night’s sleep. We decided to try and hitch a ride rather than ride to Mary’s Harbour. This decision was compounded by the fact that the ride was 90 km of dirt road with a climb up to 300 meters – higher than we have been on any part of the trip so far. We stood not far of the intersection for the road to Red Bay, but got bored after about 10 minutes, so we decided to ride a bit. After about 5 minutes riding, Becky noticed that her pant leg was catching on the chain, so we stopped to find something to tie the pant leg down – just then, a pickup came from behind. We stuck our thumbs out and they stopped. When they asked if they could help, we asked for a ride – however far they were going would certainly help us get to Mary’s Bay before dark.

Kathy and Fred from Chicago picked us up and loaded our bikes into the back of their pickup. They had left their fifth wheel (RV trailer) in St. Barbe and came over to Labrador with just their pickup. We enjoyed a visit with them while making our way towards Mary’s Harbour. After about half an hour, Kathy opened her window and noted that it sounded very much like a tire was flat. Fred commented that it wasn’t driving like it had a flat, but after 5 minutes, we stopped to check, and it was very clearly flat, with a 6 inch slice in the sidewall of the tire. It looked like the sidewall had just failed, rather than anything actually slicing the tire. Kathy and I kept out of the way while Scott helped Fred change the tire. Every vehicle that passed by stopped to ensure we were OK, which was nice to see.

Although the flat was unfortunate, we were glad it wasn’t on our bikes! We continue to be very happy with our bicycle tires, which have held up to the roads very nicely.

After about 45 minutes, we were back on the road. Shortly after we passed Lodge Bay (a small community 10 minutes outside of Mary’s Harbour) we spotted a couple of golden foxes on the road. The foxes entertained us for about 5 minutes, laying about and frolicking with one another. We were struck by how white the tips of their tails were.

At around 5 pm, we arrived in Mary’s Harbour, where Kathy and Fred dropped us off. Thank-you very much Kathy and Fred for the ride. We very much enjoyed the time visiting with you.

We arrived in Mary’s Harbour with enough time to catch the last ferry over to Battle Harbour Island. Originally, we were hoping to camp over on the Island; however, they recommended against it, so we booked a couple of beds in the bunkhouse.

The boat ride was a little bouncy. Fortunately, we both survived without any significant queasiness. We had a great opportunity to visit with Robin and John from Goose Bay. Robin is a writer and John is a judge. They both have spent a lot of time with the Innu and Inuit communities in Labrador, so they could answer a lot of our questions and share their perspectives about the culture and social environment among the Innu, Inuit, Métis, and settled communities in Labrador.

Seeing Battle Harbour from the water gave us a flavor of the outports of Labrador. Some of the fishermen’s stages are still along the water, and many of the commercial buildings at the wharf have been restored. As we came closer, it was difficult to tell whether all the people on the wharf were real – some we thought to be real turned out to be life-sized photos, and others gathered around a drum looked like statues until they moved.

We had a delicious dinner in the dining hall above the General Store, and it provided a chance to meet some other interesting people. The bunkhouse where we slept has been restored to a fairly authentic state, with wood stoves for heat and cooking, and a kerosene lamp. There is also electricity and plumbing, so we have a coffee maker (Becky is very happy!) and a shower. Tonight we have the bunkhouse to ourselves, and tomorrow night there is likely to be one other person here. It is actually cheaper than staying at the Inn in Mary’s Harbour!

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