Tag Archives: strider fuel consumption

Thursday 10th October 2019 – I DON’T UNDERSTAND …

… why, but I am just totally stressed out right now to an extent that I didn’t know was possible.

There has been an “incident” (which I’m not going to relate) that not only is nothing to do with me, but doesn’t even relate to me at all and doesn’t even affect me in the slightest, but for some reason it has got deep under my skin.

One thing that the doctors told me is that in order to prolong my life as much as possible I have to avoid all kinds of stresses and strains and any kind of emotional impact.

With having such a low blood count as I do, my heart is having to beat twice as fast and i have to breathe twice as fast to provide enough oxygen to my vital organs. It’s only because I have a coeur de champion that I have kept going for so long, but if I keep on going like today my days are definitely numbered.

I need to get a grip.

And that doesn’t apply just to this particular incident either. Despite an early night, and despite sleeping right through the alarms this morning, it was still 07:20 before I surfaced.

All of the rubbish needed taking down to the street for the dustmen so I took it down before breakfast.

Another leisurely morning and then I went up to the tire depot. Things weren’t quite so busy today and rather like my namesake the mathematician, I did three fifths of five eights of … errr … absolutely nothing. I ended up sleeping for most of the day and that is worrying me intently.

Well, I didn;t actually do absolutely nothing. I taught Zoe to use the new tyre comparison program that I uploaded, and even found a few new features on it too.

Another thing that I did, which ought to have made my blood boil but didn’t, much to my surprise, was to give someone a piece of my mind down the telephone.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I ordered a chip for Strider to deal with his excessive fuel consumption. It was sent back to the supplier because “insufficient address”. A week or so ago I telephoned the supplier, amended the address slightly and so they posted it again.

Only to have it returned a second time.

I telephoned the maildrop place in Mars Hill, just across the border in the USA to ask why they keep on returning it.
“But you don’t have an account with us”
“What do you mean ‘an account’? We’ve been having stuff sent to you for as long as I can remember (which is at least 18 years) and we’ve never needed an account”.
“Well, you do now since we’ve taken it over”
“So if that’s the case, why didn’t you ring up and tell all of your customers that the procedures have changed? And why did you refuse my parcel when my phone number is on the address label and you could have invited me to come over and open an account?”

No answer.

But the suppliers are very understanding and they are sending it now by post direct to Canada (which is what I should have done in the fist place), and it’ll arrive after I’ve returned home of course.

Trying to save pennies here and there is ending up costing me a fortune. It’s false economy.

And people complain about a recession and how things are tight. That guy in Mars Hill has just lost $7:00 because he’s too lazy to pick up the phone and make a phone call.

Later on I gave Darren a hand with the one-tonne Dually which he drove home while I took the post to the Post Office, and then I drove him back to the garage to pick up the three-tonner.

And if you are wondering whether that means that we finally have all of the cars and trucks (except the two twenty-tonners and the artic tractor of course) back at home (first time since I don’t know when) then Rachel’s Golf has had to go to have an exchange driveshaft exchanged once more. Nothing seems to last like it did, but even so, 18 months for a driveshaft is rather extreme).

Rachel cooked a lovely meal for tea and then I helped with the washing and drying. Now I’m sitting in my bedroom not doing all that much right now.

Except to listen to the music. It has a very calming influence on me, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and Tinsley Ellis’ “Mystery To Me” is about as good as gets. I’ve been teaching myself to play the lead guitar break (the one from 03:10) on the bass as a way of organising myself.

Here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow. The only thing wrong with today though was my attitude and I need to do something about that.

Friday 4th October 2019 – TODAY WAS A …

… little more optimistic and hopeful than yesterday. Helped quite considerably by the fact that someone who had annoyed us intensely yesterday and who was the cause of everything going wrong kept well away from the premises and we could all concentrate on what we do best.

For my own part, I had a much better sleep last night. Awake once or twice during the night to dictate stuff onto the dictaphone, not that I remember too much about anything. But what I do recall is that judging by recent conversations that I’ve been having with myself during the night, it seems that I’ve managed to lay a couple of demons that have been haunting me for a while.

And having read that final phrase back to myself, I realise that I could have expressed that much better too and in a different way, otherwise my readers in Kugluktuk, Celbridge and Cahors will have completely the wrong idea of what I’m trying to say and that might lead to complications.

This morning the two kids managed to have a lift to school with the neighbour’s boy (he remembered to turn up today) and Rachel was in a hurry, so I had a leisurely start to the day.

A hot breakfast followed by a little relax and then I edited and uploaded another blog entry from my voyage on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. This concerned my visit to Hvalsey, one of the three important places in Greenland that I had really wanted to visit.

Up at the tyre depot I found everyone submerged in work. It’s the middle of the potato harvest but the torrential rain overnight had made digging impossible. Consequently every farmer and farm labourer in the whole of New Brunswick had sorted out all of the jobs that they had put off doing and dashed down to have them done right now.

Added to that, one of the printers, the one that we use most often, ran out of ink. And as the Accountancy program and the inventory are old Dos-shell based programs, the print manager wouldn’t change over the default printer in these programs to the reserve printer. I had to go through and change every single page by hand, and when the new ink arrives next week, I shall have to go back and change them all back again.

Mind you, it could be worse. They could have been GEM (Graphics Environment manager)-based programs and I haven’t worked in GEM since 1998.

And that reminds me – I have a computer that runs on GEM somewhere around.

After we finished work I went to the Irvings to fuel up Strider. Just on a quarter of a tank left and he’s done 479 kms. That’s a dramatic improvement on what has gone before, and I hope that when his new chip arrives, it’ll improve even more.

With everyone being out this evening I finished off the pasta from the other night and then watched the football. Cefn Druids v Bala Town in the Welsh Premier League. Bala were the better team in the first half and the Druids were somewhat aimless, but the score of 0-3 to Bala, and having two other goals disallowed for offside, was rather flattering. But a couple of substitutions for the Druids at half-time brought a much more stable team out for the second half and they actually played with a shape and with a purpose. But no more goals were scored, even though the match was quite entertaining.

That left me with a short time of not much going on, so I added another page to my voyage. I’m now at Brattahlid, home of Eric the Red and a second one of the three places that I desperately wanted to visit.

But unfortunately we didn’t make the third. Gardar, home of the Norse Catholic cathedral, was not accessible to us on this trip. I shall have to go back, but not tonight because I’m off to bed.

Monday 16th September 2019 – STRIDER HAS BEEN …

… a busy boy today.

Back at the house after the school run, Zoe gathered up all of the glass, aluminium and plastic that she could find and we loaded it up into the back of Strider.

Then down at the bottom of the field by the lean-to we dragged the trailer out of the undergrowth. That was already loaded with a huge mound of stuff so we coupled it up to Strider’s tow hitch. Not for nothing did we fit a decent tow bar on him last year.

And that wasn’t the work of five minutes either. A trailer that hasn’t moved for a year or so and there’s quite a weight in it too. And, of course, the electric connections needed to be cleaned off so that I would have lights.

On the way down the road we hit a bump and the back door of the trailer opened up. As I have said before, I seem to be leaving a trail of possessions all around the world these days. But this time we were quick off the mark and we had it all back on the trailer and the door closed before anyone noticed.

At the garage we loaded more stuff up and then went on a tour of a few places to collect more. Off then to the recycling centre at Bath to weigh in the whole lot of it.

On the way back (for by now it was almost lunchtime after all of that) we went to Tim Horton’s where Zoe bought me a coffee and where I left my bag behind and had to run back and pick it up. It had taken ages to unload it all and separate it, and I question the wisdom of putting heavy glass into cardboard boxes and leaving it on a trailer for a year in the rain.

And inside the back of Strider now smells like a Babylonian boozer’s bedroom.0

The trailer door came open again on the way back (luckily there was nothing in it) and I stopped to pick up a sandwich. By now I was thoroughly exhausted.

And that’s no surprise either. I’d had another miserable night where I didn’t go to sleep until about 03:00 and then a fitful night of tossing and turning.

I don’t remember much of where I went but I remember three different segments. Segment 1, and then Segment 2 which was completely different and bore no resemblance to the previous, and Segment 3 where I stepped right back into where I was at the end of Segment 1. And if you think that that is confusing, imagine how I’m feeling.

And I do recall at some point the welcome return of a young girl who accompanied me on several voyages three or four years ago, and I wonder what has suddenly brought her back into the picture.

We had the school run of course and then the recycling, and then this afternoon I was hauling animal feed for a while, and then we replaced the rear brake caliper on the big Chevy truck that somehow manages to feature quite regularly on these pages just now.

As well as all of that, I’ve ordered my fuel economy chip and also made enquiries about my jacket at the hotel in Calgary.

Back at home I put back the trailer – and I do have to say that despite being out of practice I was totally impressed with my reversing skills – putting the trailer exactly where I wanted it (and in some tight corners too) every time, right on the button.

Not many of us here tonight so I made my usual vegan standby – stuffed peppers – for the two of us. And then I downloaded some more music. Two albums, both of which are vastly underrated.

Nektar’s album Down To Earth is a very interesting curiosity – am album by a British rock band that was totally ignored in the UK but became something of a phenomenon in Germany and eventually the musicians relocated there.

It’s one of these “take it or leave it” albums that I like to play every now and again but I can really live without it.

On the other hand, House On The Hill is a magnificent album. I’ve heard quite a few albums by Audience and was never particularly inspired but House On The Hill is another one of those that comes out of nowhere and stops you dead in your tracks.

It was one of the “Jackie Marshall cassette recordings” from the mid-70s and I bought a vinyl version in the mid-80s, probably the last vinyl album that I ever bought. And somehow I overlooked to purchase a CD version when I was modernising my collection.

As an aside, I’m only hunting down album tracks for albums that I already own and not for anything that isn’t already in my collection.

Now it’s bed-time and I’m hoping for better luck tonight when it comes to sleeping. I really can’t carry on like this and I’m back on the road on Wednesday.

Sunday 15th September 2019 – I MISSED …

… an exciting day today up in Grand Falls. Apparently they were having a drag racing afternoon.

Nothing more exciting than watching a bunch of men dash round a town while dressed in women’s clothes, but I had other fish to fry unfortunately and I was quite disappointed to have let the opportunity pass me by.

In fact I was out near Meductic moving furniture. Zoe has, as I mentioned earlier, bought herself a little house and she doesn’t have much furniture, but someone was disposing of a clean two-seater bed settee that transforms into a double bed and that will be just the thing.

And so having emptied out Strider, we set off for Zoe’s where she and a friend clambered aboard and then we all shot off southwards towards Fredericton.

Putting the bed in the back of Strider was the work of a moment and it was soon strapped in place. Back at Zoe’s, we unloaded the sofa and then I came home. Totally whacked. I just can’t do things like this any more.

Mind you, I don’t know why, because it’s not as if I had much of a difficult night. In bed comparatively early and apart from a brief foray down the corridor to ride the porcelain horse, disturbing our overnighters on the way, and a few interruptions to record things on the dictaphone (and I wonder what they are?) I had the kind of lie-in about which I have only been able to dream just recently.

09:00 when I finally surfaced, and just loitered around until it was time to go and deal with Zoe.

This afternoon, I’ve had a shower and, would you believe, a haircut, and I look almost human. As well as that, Rachel was having a marathon clothes-washing session and I’m now up to date with all clean clothes ready to leave here Wednesday morning for Montreal to clean out my storage locker and hopefully to go for a meal with Josee.

But having seen the fuel in Strider evaporate before my very eyes, I’ve been searching on the internet with Darren and we have finally found a performance chip which claims inter alia to offer an 8mpg fuel improvement.

And I tell you what – that if I could get an extra 8mpg out of Strider I will really be impressed. So tomorrow I shall be on the case.

For tea tonight we had baked potato – the carnivores with salmon and we vegans with a bean medley. Quite delicious and prepared with my own fair hands. And if I can find the time tomorrow, I’m going to make a curry.

But I’ve been a busy boy this evening. I’ve tracked down the complete digital tracks to two more albums that I own. The first one is Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy by Brian Eno. That was his second solo album after Roxy Music and was such a surprising album that it left me speechless when I first heard it, and that’s not something that happens every day, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

But it’s one of those albums that grow on you quite quickly and it’s always been in my top 100 albums out of the couple of thousand that I own.

The second one though is an album that means a great deal to me and for many reasons too.Warrior On The Edge Of Time features work that probably represents Michael Moorcock’s apogee as a science fiction writer, and several of the lyrics, adapted from works by Shelley and Wordsworth and set to Hawkwind’s space-rock music will penetrate deep into your bones.
“The golden void will speak to me
“Denying my reality
“lose my body, lose my mind
“blow like wind, I flow like wine
“Down a corridor of flame
“Will I fly so high again?”
Yes, what wouldn’t I give to be able to write meaningful lyrics like that after some of the things that I have done?

The album was thoroughly panned by the critics in the same was that A Passion Play was, and for the same reason too – that the critics didn’t understand what the musicians were trying to achieve.

The Melody maker wrote that Moorcroft’s poetry was delivered “with all the emotion of Davros being exterminated by renegade Daleks”, totally overlooking the fact that this was precisely the effect that Moorcroft and Brock wanted.

And when Lemmy wrote that ” ‘Opa-Loka’ was a lot of f***ing rubbish”, what he really meant to say that he didn’t play the bass line on it. It transpired much later that with Lemmy off on one of his little jaunts playing Hell’s Angels, Dave Brock refused to hang around and wait but played the bass line himself.

It’s quite true that Hawkwind has never ever recorded an album on which I have liked every track from start to finish, but “Warrior On The Edge Of Time” will be up there with the best of them.

But it has much more of a personal significance to me too. When the album was released I was dating Jackie Marshall. She worked at the Nantwich Library on Saturdays and used to scan the new rock albums that arrived, secrete them in a drawer, smuggle them out for me to record and then take them back next week. This particular album, she bought me for my birthday and inscribed a beautiful little message on the album cover which meant quite a lot to me – and still does.

But her parents hated me with a passion (like I said, I was a different person in those days) and so our fate was destined to unwind.

Strangely enough, I was driving a coach around North Shropshire a few years later and needed some cash, so on my lunch break I called in at Barclay’s Bank in Whitchurch. Who should be working there behind the counter as cashier but the aforementioned?

I had the briefest of moments to exchange pleasantries like you do, but not enough time to chat, so I determined that at the next opportunity I would go back.

And so I did – and on a couple of occasions too – but I never saw her again. We’ve often talked about TOTGA – The One That Got Away – but that particular girl was from a very different time and a very different era. Jackie was TOTGA from quite another epoch in my life and is probably the original one from which all standards are made.

Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to her.

Having had a play around on the bass, I’m ready for bed. The house is as quiet as the grave with everyone having retired and I suppose that I should really badger off to. But I’ve found the digital track to another album and I’ve made a start to re-record it.

But I’ll tell you all about that in the morning.

Thursday 27th September 2018 – I’VE BEEN FEELING …

… much better today.

That is of course a very long way from saying that I’m feeling good, or even well, but it’s certainly an improvement over the last three days or so.

And one thing that I have noticed is that these spells of ill-health are becoming more frequent, deeper and lasting longer than they did before;

of course, I knew all about this because I have been told. But it’s still rather disappointing to see myself sliding slowly into the abyss. Getting ready to see my forebears, I imagine. And we’ll all be stoking the fires together. But at least I’m more fortunate than Goldilocks. She only had three.

I did know that I would be feeling better though – my sleep could have told me that. Deep and intense, turning over slightly whenever I heard a noise, and then going back into my deep sleep until the alarms went off.

There had been an interesting voyage too. Being short of money I’d gone to see what work was available at the local pub and they had offered me three nights a week as a pianist. I took it of course, even though I couldn’t play, and it wasn’t until I was due to start that I reckoned that I really ought to withdraw. The pub itself was set in a large, kind-of abandoned quarry, well-worn down and surrounded “up on top” by cheap local authority housing.
A little later, I wanted to take a shower, but the bath was full of dirty clothes. I mentioned it to Rachel but she told me to go ahead and just walk on them. That’s how I take a shower when I’m on the road anyway, washing my clothes in the shower around me.

It took me a while to organise myself, which is no real surprise, and then having done all of the preparation, I was off. Strider and I haven’t been on a voyage so far this year, so we hit the road and headed to Fredericton.

Not for any good reason, but because it was there, it was a place to go and I couldn’t think of anywhere else.

Once Strider warmed up, he ran really well. But our persistent misfire has come back and the fuel consumption has deteriorated again. I suppose that he’s getting old like I am. 10 years old now, he is.

First stop in Fredericton was at the Value Village. I’ve talked about these places before. In Canada there aren’t Charity Shops like there are in the UK.There’s just one big one and everything is centralised.

My treat today was a pile of books, some of which I’ll bring back to France and the rest I’ll leave in Strider for if I ever return. I dunno.

After that, it was Home Depot but since I no longer live at the farm there’s nothing there that excite me these days. Princess Autos came up with a circuit tester for the new tow hitch. Need to make sure that Strider’s electrics are up to the job if I’ll be towing trailers.

Scotia Bank next, where my account took a substantial hit. And for a couple of good reasons too, but I’ll talk more about those in due course.

I called at a Subway for a rather late lunch and a rest, and followed that up with a coffee at Tim Horton’s, as I was feeling a little under the weather by this time.

There was still time to go to the Bulk Barn. I’d noticed in Montreal that Gram Flour was really cheap there and I can’t usually find it in France. So I bought myself a kilo and I’l smuggle it in at the border if I can.

On the way back, I came by the scenic route, across the Saint John River and along the north shore, where the roadworks that slowed up Rachel and me last year are still going on.

Roadworks everywhere in fact and it took an age to get to the cheap petrol station at Keswick to fuel up.

On the way back I stopped off at Mactaquac to photograph the dam there but instead was greeted by a car fire, with various fire engines, police and ambulances around trying to look busy. Rather sad, that was.

From there, the return was quick enough but I still hadn’t finished because I had to run up to Centreville for some whipping cream.

Hannah was the chief architect of tea tonight. They had all kinds of fishy things and I had a pasta with veg and tomato sauce. But Hannah excelled herself with the falafel. A mix out of a packet but delicious nevertheless.

We watched TV for a while until everyone decided to watch this anatomy programme. And once they started talking about surgery and operations I beat a hasty retreat to my room. I can’t be doing with any of that.

Now as tomorrow, I wonder if the improvement will continue or will I have a relapse? I’m on the road to Montreal tomorrow night so I’m hoping that it will be good.

We shall see.

Saturday 23rd September – I DUNNO …

motel 6 mount jackson virginia USA canada september septembre 2017… what I must have put in my tea last night because I ended up going to bed quite early and I didn’t feel a thing whatever until the alarm went off at 05:00. I can’t even say if I had been on a nocturnal ramble or not.

A few things that needed doing on my laptop took up some of my attention, and that was followed by a shower and breakfast. The microwave oven here in the room means that the big bag of porridge is certainly doing the business.

Having tidied up, packed Strider, checked out, helped myself to the free coffee on offer and all of that, I was on the road by 09:15. And that was a good decision too.

For the first 90 minutes the road was comparatively easy – which makes a great change from yesterday. But it dramatically changed once we arrived at the first major town, of which the name I forget.

Eventually, the matter explained itself.

traffic queue interstate 81 virginia september septembre 2017I’d noticed that many of these vehicles on the road were flying violet flags of some description

And there by the side of the highway in this town was some kind of sports stadium with hordes of people hanging around, all dressed in this violet colour.

It looked as if there was going to be a gridiron match of some description and I’d hit the supporters’ rush hour.

traffic queues interstate 81 virginia september septembre 2017Once that was dealt with, I carried on at a fair pace until we hit Roanoke. And the whole Highway between the edge of Roanoke and Salem was nose-to-tail for miles.

And in the heat, it was unbearable. But I waited until Strider’s fuel gauge dropped right down and then stopped in Salem for fuel.

And hats off to Strider yet again because despite the speed on the Highway when we could, and despite the traffic jams when we couldn’t, he’s done a new record of 567 kms on a tank, and the orange light hadn’t even come one.

We had quite a performance at the petrol station. Credit card issues (“insert your card, and tap in your ZIP code” – which of course I don’t have) so the girl (who was born in Leicester as it happens) had to do everything manually.

That was Strider organised, and for me, a coffee and, seeing as how hot it was, a big mug of that iced Slush stuff. That will cool me down while I’m driving.

interstate 77 virginia north carolina USA september septembre 2017By now we were on Interstate 77 and this seemed to be a lot quieter than Interstate 81.

And so on we went, sometimes bowling along, sometimes crawling. At least if gave me an opportunity to admire the scenery, which is even more stunning around here than it was back on Interstate 81.

I wish that I had had the time to stop and photograph more of it.

rest area  september septembre 2017I kept on driving until I crossed into North Carolina and here was a rest area with “suitable conveniences”.

This was as good a place as any to stop. And the bread that I bought a few days ago – I seemed to have let it go on for far too long because it was only just edible. And the bagels that I bought – they are beyond saving too.

But if you want to know what in my opinion is so bad about the USA then we saw it here. The janitor in the washrooms, cleaning and tidying up, looked to be well into his 80s and barely able to walk. And yet here he was, having to carry on working for a living.

This wouldn’t be allowed to happen in a civilised country, that’s for sure.

We also had a brief 30-second rainstorm, and that freshened everywhere up.

We were making good time along Interstate 77 too – at least, until we were within spitting distance of Charlotte.

Here, the road signs proudly announced “Roadworks next 28 miles” – and they weren’t wrong either. The congestion was appalling around here and some driver in a VW convertible received a full blast of Strider’s horn.

From Charlotte onwards I77 was quite busy and progress was rather restrained – although we kept moving.

A funny thing happened on the edge of Columbia. The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav pulled me off the Interstate, sent me through a housing estate and then back onto the Interstate at the junction BEHIND where I had just come off.

And as I approached Rhys’s house, she sent me through someone’s back garden, much to the bewilderment of the occupier.

It was nice to see Rhys again, after 12 years. He’s living on the edge of town in a house in the woods in a very rural setting. We had a coffee and a long chat, and then went off into Columbia for a meal.

He’d found a really good vegan restaurant that did a lovely vegan burger with fried sweet potato, and that went down really well.

Rhys is in the process of converting a redundant school bus into a mobile home. Work is quite advanced and this is where my bed is going to be for the night.

And I have to say that I’ve earned it too. Srider is on 500 kms on the trip meter so that means that we have driven somewhere between 700 and 750 kilometres – and according to the The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav, we had a driving time of 7 hours and 54 minutes.

One thing is for sure – I shan’t be moving for a week.

Friday 15th September 2017 – I’M BACK …

… on the road again today. My stay around the Coasts of Labrador has come to an end.

But I still remember a huge, mixed-up kind of ramble during the night where I was going around all of these little settlements and cabins out on the coast.

And that’s surprising because I had yet another bad night’s sleep. Like I say, they come in cycles … "ON cycles, you mean" – ed … and we’re in one right now.

So after breakfast and sorting myself out, I took my leave of my landlord and went to find the offices of “Them Days”. That’s a magazine that publishes traditional stories about the Labrador coast.

As you know, I’m still looking for the grave of the most famous man in Labrador. It’s here in the Happy Valley Cemetery, but that’s huge and I couldn’t find it the other day.

Much to my surprise they didn’t know where it was either. But a few ‘phone calls later and I was told “he’s in the United Church Cemetery” part”, which of course is the biggest part of the cemetery.

So after an hour, and with the help of a very vocal local yokel, we came up unsuccessful. But there was a phone number there so I called it. And much to my surprise, the woman there didn’t know where he was either.

But it did lead to an interesting conversation. She asked my name – which I duly gave.
“Eric Hall? Let me see – you were in church on Sunday weren’t you?”
Our Hero – “did you see a thunderbolt then?”.
Anyway she promised to phone me back (and Josée’s phone is a godsend on this trip).

grave of gilbert blake happy valley cemetery labrador canada september septembre 2017While she was making “further enquiries” I continued to search, and all of a sudden I came across it.

I missed it because I was probably expecting something much grander, seeing how his name was on everyone’s lips as the most famous man in Labrador 100 years ago.

Here then lies Gilbert Blake, the man who rescued the remains of the disastrous Leonidas Hubbard party and who accompanied Mina Hubbard on her trip into the interior to complete her husband’s work.

Ha also led countless subsequent exploring parties into the interior of Labrador and was never given credit for much of what was “discovered”.

The lady from the Church phoned me back to say where it was, and to my dismay, I had to turn down the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I spoke to Gilbert Blake’s daughter. If you would like to see her to chat, she’s available”.

But it’s 550 kms to Labrador City and it has to be done before dark. I was obliged to turn down the opportunityand I doubt that I will ever have the possibility again.

aeroplane in garden goose bay happy valley labrador canada september septembre 2017Usually, this rubbish is littered with photos of old cars in people’s gardens. But we’ve never had a photo of a garden with an old aeroplane in it.

I’ve no idea what it is, but it’s small, an early jet-fighter type of plane, and it won’t ever fly again this side of a miracle.

Labrador is certainly a different place from that respect. Nothing ordinary here.

muskrat falls labrador canada september septembre 2017Having fuelled up, I hit the road. About an hour later than I was intending.

About 20 miles outside the town there’s a cleft in the hills where you can see down to the works that are taking place at Muskrat Falls.

As I’ve said before, I’m not going into the rights and wrongs of the project – enough has already been said – but anyone who saw the photos of my first trip to Labrador will seethings differently now.

trans labrador highway canada september septembre 2017So off we go down the Trans-Labrador Highway into the interior.

And you’ll notice that it’s not quite autumn yet. The leaves on the deciduous trees haven’t “turned”

And you’ll notice a few changes to the highway too since we first came here. You’ll remember what a struggle it was over some of the worst roads in the world.

Today, it’s an asphalted, paved highway all the way to Labrador City.

churchill river labrador canada september septembre 2017With all of the work going on for the Muskrat falls project, a lot of trees have been removed and rock blasted away.

This opens up a whole new vista – views like this one of the Churchill River would never have been possible 10 years ago had they not blasted away some rock to put in a pylon to carry the cables.

You can see where the evergreen trees have been pulled out, and the first growth of deciduous arctic willow that is growing back in its place.

innu meeting place trans labrador highway canada september septembre 2017It’s that time of year, isn’t it?

In a week or so’s time it will be the annual tribal meeting of the Innu people, and they are preparing the site ready for the gathering.

I would ordinarily tell you what it’s called, but the problem with Innu names that it’s quite something to read them, never mind remember them.

I talked about the road just now. The one that we are actually on is the third attempt.

It dates from about 2011 – 2012 and it follows pretty closely in most places the line of the second road that we took in 2010.

tote road trans labrador highway canada september septembre 2017The earlier road is what they called the “Tote Road” and dates from the period after the occupation of the Goose Bay air base by the Canadian Air Force.

If you thought that we had a struggle in places back in 2010, you can barely imagine what it must have been like in the 1970s.

The road was 10 times worse, single track, and following the contours rather than being graded across the valleys and though cuttings.

trans labrador highway canada september septembre 2017But regardless of your opinions, you’ll have to admit that they have done an excellent job of the new highway.

You can see it (and the power transmission cables) disappearing away over the hill in the distance, and it goes on for ever in just this kind of condition.

On the old dirt road, with the 70kph speed limit, in some places it was more like 70 kilometres per week. Here today, it’s a mere 80 kph but with no obstructions to slow you down.

But you slow down every now and again to take a few photos.

fore damaged forest trans labrador highway canada september septembre 2017You’ve seen the scenery before but I bet that you’ve seen nothing like this.

There are miles and miles of forest where it seems that we have had a major forest fire fairly recently. You cans ee that some of the trees are scorched and blackened, and others have been completely destroyed

The whole of the place is littered with miles and miles of scenery just like this.

emeril station trans labrador highway canada september septembre 2017About 80 or so kms (I can’t remember now) from Labrador City I pull into Emeril Station to see what’s happening.

This is on the line from Sept Iles to Schefferville and serves the iron mines and the Innu community out there.

We have a line of wagons waiting for a locomotive, and also this dismantled dumper lorry – one of the huge 50-tonne ones- waiting to make their way north.

But I don’t see any locomotives, although I can hear a whistle away in the distance on the line to Wabush and Labrador City.

autumn colours trans labrador highway canada september septembre 201750 kilometres or so outside Labrador City, we can see that autumn has finally arrived here.

We’re deep in the interior now, and on the north-facign slopes exposed to the arctic conditions, they will be the first to catch the cold air.

Not quite the brilliant colours we are used to, but we are a couple of weeks earlier than usual this year.

Before I had left Happy Valley, my landlord had given me an address for B&B in Labrador City. I phoned her (thanks again, Josée) and she did indeed have a room free.

It took some finding with the roadworks but it was worth the effort. Not only was it the best place where I’ve stayed, it was also, believe it or not, the cheapest. I’ll be coming back here again, that’s for sure.

And hats off to Strider. He struggles on fuel as you know, but since he’s had his overdrive fixed, he seems to be a little better.

So much so that instead of the maximum 420-km distance that he seemed in the past to be able to travel, we’ve just come a mammoth 542.7 kilometres and although he’s below a quarter of a tank, the orange light hasn’t come on.

It is a good road these days – 80kph with the cruise control on all the way – and it’s still not what I would like, but it’s a vast improvement all the same and Strider can be proud of himself.

Wednesday 30th August 2017 – AFTER MY NIGHT …

… in the time-warp of the 1950s last night I was ready for anything this morning.

Especially the coffee. I had calculated that it had been something like 65 hours since I had had a coffee and the presence of a coffee machine in my room meant that I was going to take full advantage.

I needed it too, because I’d had a bad night. I’m not sure why, but I found sleep very difficult. It wasn’t the musty odour and it wasn’t the traffic noise outside (it might have been an idea to close the window, I suppose) – I dunno.

But it hadn’t prevented me from going off on my travels again. I was joined last night by, of all people, Cécile. I was still living in Granville but in an apartment that resembled more my old flat in Hankelow in the mid-70s. Some work had been done on it but nt very much but Cecile was complaining that two people had promised to do work for her at her house had never been. We ended up going fora walk through the old town and stopped in a cafe where we had to share a table with three men who were having a meal. “We’re cousins” they said as they were tearing into the meat.
Meanwhile back at my place I was thinking about a few re-arrangements. Cecile was saying that I wasn’t making enough use of the high spaces in the rooms but I reckoned that the “little” room in the middle would make a nice music room. But just then Vincent from the football club appeared. He had a pile of cash to give me which was a refund of the insurance. I counted it after he had gone – there was about €45 there which seemed crazy to me because I seem to remember only paying €15:00.

I organised a shower for myself and then started to pack Strider, and I would have been away about an hour earlier had I not … errr … misplaced the keys. I seem to make something of a habit of that, don’t I?

dolan's motel pictou nova scotia canada aout august 2017Chucking-out time was 11:00 and the keys turned up at about 10:45 so I just about made it out in time.

Stopping, of course, for the obligatory photo of the lodgings,and having quite a laugh at the sign.

“Newly-refurbished rooms” – yes, quite an old sign, that.

I’d arranged lunch with Hannah so I set off for Antigonish, but on the way there I made a very sad discovery. Being outside in Strider through the winter, something has happened to the CDs.

They are all mangled and stuck together. Not one of them that I tried plays properly and that’s devastating news because the little *.mp3 player is not very reliable.

So, being early for Hannah and taking advantage of the facilities that modern technology has brought me, I took the SD card out of the old Canada phone that is now worthless and put it in the ‘phone that Josée has lent me (must remember to take it back out again) afterwards.

And when Hannah turned up, I was busy trying to concoct a “playlist” of all of the albums on that card so that I could play them through the auxiliary input on Strider’s radio.

Hannah and I had lunch at the little place that we know in Antigonish, and spent several hours putting the world to rights.

My opinion is, for what it’s worth, that when she graduates, she should go off to Toronto and do two years in one of these high-powered, forward-looking modern business organisations.

She can pick up all kinds of modern techniques and hints, as well as the confidence to put her ideas into practice, and then got to look for a small business somewhere in order to demonstrate her talents.

if she stays in Toronto she’ll gradually absorb their cultures and lose her own. After all, there’s no place at the executive table for someone who finished 15th (out of 62) in the North American national tractor-pulling championships.

Taking my leave, I shot off to the tourist information office at Canso – stopping at Auld’s Cove for fuel. And on his just over three-quarters of a tank of fuel Strider did 484 kilometres.

And if he can do that every time, I shall feel much more happy. That’s about 60 kms more than his previous best. You need to remember that he’s a 4×4 with an ancient-technology 4.0litre V6 engine.

Now I remember why I usually wait around until the beginning of September before going on my travels. Working my way through the travel guide that I picked up, everywhere that I called was booked up.

The only place free was an extortionate log cabin on a camp site near Baddeck, and so gnashing my teeth quite considerably, I set off.

cape breton highlands nova scotia canada aout august 2017The road is quite pretty around here.

It’s what they call the “Cape Breton Highlands” and we’ve visited them before on several occasions, usually going round the coast road.

But in something of a rush, I came right up the middle of the island and we’ve been this way too on a previous occasion.

It’s not as spectacular as the coast road but there are still some nice views.

But what spoils it all is this incessant “Highland Heritage” nonsense. The “history” of the different tartans and all of this nonsense dates from Queen Victoria’s time and that’s 100 years AFTER the Highland Scots came to settle here.

It’s certainly true to say that the different clans had different colours, but that’s because each clan lived in a different glen where a different dyeing plant would be more predominant.

But that’s all that it ever was until someone decided to amuse Queen Victoria. There was none of this weaving of intricate patterns and all the like.

It’s just like all of the bagpipes around here playing “New Britain” (the tune to which the hymn “Amazing Grace” is sung). That wasn’t written until 1829, 50 years after the Scots arrived, and had never been played on bagpipes until something like 1972.

rainbow trout fish farm bras d'or lake baddeck nova scotia canada aout august 2017Leaving aside another good rant for a moment (I’m far too cynical to be a good tourist guide) I come to a shuddering halt at the side of the road.

Here in the Bras d’Or lake are some weird objects and I was interested to know what they might be.

Consequently I buttonholed a passing Mi’kmaw who told me that it was a fish farm where they reared rainbow trout for the market, and it was something of a profitable venture.

He went into great detail about the nature of what they do, much of which is quite unfit for publication on pages such as this.

bras d'or lake baddeck nova scotia canada aout august 2017For some reason or other I missed my turning to the Bras d’Or Lake campsite and ended up in Baddeck.

We’ve been here before too, when we visited the Alexander Graham Bell museum.

But it’s still a nice place to stop and take some photographs, because the views of the lake are quite attractive, and would be wonderful in nice weather.

alexander graham bell home bras d'or lake baddeck nova scotia canada aout august 2017Somewhere over there on that promontory is the former home of Alexander Graham Bell.

You might think that the museum ought to be over there instead of over here, but the property is still owned by his descendants who use it as a summer home and jealously guard its privacy.

And so that rules it out as a place to visit, unfortunately.

Eventually I manage to track down the camp site, and here I am. And if this is a “luxury cabin” I’d hate to see the basic ones. I’ve been quite unlucky with my accommodation so far, haven’t I?

To make matters worse, there’s no bed linen and no towels provided, so I’m rummaging around in the plastic boxes in Strider at some silly time of the night.

Luckily, hanging up the solar lantern in the back window has enabled it to keep its charge so at least there’s something to see by. But the mess that I’ve made means that i’ll be having to sort all of this out yet again in the morning.

Right now, I’m off to bed.

But not before I’ve had a shower and washed my clothes – now that I’ve found my towel.

Wednesday 21st September 2016 – I’M BACK ON THE ROAD AGAIN

After something of a disturbed night last night, I was up and about fairly early on. And after a light breakfast, I started cleaning the motel room and tidying up the place, as well as chatting to a couple of people on the internet. And by chucking-out time, 10:00, I was ready to go.

I dumped the rubbish and took back the keys, and then headed off into town and the Sobeys supermarket for some shopping for lunch. And as most North American motels these days have microwaves, I also bought a bag of spuds and some more beans. It’s as well to be prepared.

cap caissie arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016I headed off northwards along the Arcadia Trail, and the first place that I visited was Cap Caissie. This is a small fishing port at the mouth of Shediac Bay.

It looked as if the tide was going out here so we’d be having a beach here in a couple of hours. And if you look at the weather that we were having this morning it would have been nice to have hung around for a while and done some sunbathing. But I had other things to do.

harbour cap caissie arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016There’s a harbour here at Cap Caissie were no boats in there this morning, but there was a refrigerated lorry standing by.

Talking to the driver, it turns out that it’s lobster that is the catch here, and all 14 boats registered at the port are out at the catch. The driver was telling me that the catch hasn’t been so good this summer but over the last week or so things have been pretty good.

lighthouse cap caissie arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016From the port at Cap Caissie there’s a good view of a lighthouse half a mile or so away. And so when you see a street name – Chemin du Lighthouse or Lighthouse Lane, you have to go for a look (or, at least, one of us does).

And if you think that Lighthouse Lane is going to lead you to the lighthouse you are mistaken because nothing could be farther from the truth, as you can see in this photo.

cap cocagne arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016Further on round the trail is the mouth of the Cocagne river, and guarding the entrance at Cap Cocagne is another port.

This is another small commercial port and there is plenty of lobster fishing, judging by all of the lobster pots out there in the estuary, but there’s a considerable presence of pleasure boats here too.

cap cocagne arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016As an aside, the word Cocagne in France has several meanings, two of which are completely contradictory.

You have the Pays de Cocagne, which is the Land of Milk and Honey where there are abundant harvests, a warm climate and all that kind of thing, and then we have the Mât de Cocagne which is the greasy pole that you try to climb up but you always keep on sliding down to the bottom

One of the games that we play while we are out on our travels in North America is “100 uses for a redundant school bus”.

redundant school bus arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016School buses are only allowed by law to carry school kids for a certain number of years and then they have to be retired from school operation. There’s not much of a market for old school buses and so you find them littering the North American countryside not doing very much.

Here’s one from the 1950s or 1960s that’s been painted white and is being used as a summer house by the side of the sea. That’s certainly a novel way of making use of one.

After lunch by the river at Bouctouche I went for a drive around the Bay of Bouctouche. We’ve been here before a few years ago and so instead of the famous sand spit, I’ll show you something else.

woodchuck carving anchors bouctouche arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016This is actually a shop that’s been extended by the addition of a bow and a stern from some kind of wooden seafaring vessel and a couple of masts have been plated in it.

I was hoping to find out more information about it so I went to make enquiries, but despite all of the doors being open and the stock being lined up outside for inspection, there wasn’t a soul about. That made me think that maybe this was what became of the Mary Celeste.

old cars 1928 Dodge prevost motor coach bouctouche arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016That wasn’t all that there was to see around here either. Just across the road were a coupe of old motor vehicles. We’ve not had too many of them to date.

The coach is an old Prevost that looks as if it might have been built in the late 1940s or something like that, and the car is a Dodge that dates from 1928. It’s been painted in the colours of Arcadia, which was the name of the area around the New Brunswick – Nova Scotia border during the time of the French occupation.

wind farm turbines price edward island arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016Further on along the coast you can catch a glimpse of Prince Edward island away across the Northumberland Strait.

With a telephoto lens you can come up with some kind of shot of the coastline over there, and the Prince Edward Island wind farm. And note the wind turbines too because one thing that you will notice about New Brunswick is that there aren’t any, despite the magnificent weather.

New Brunswick is still tangled up in the mess of the Lepreau Nuclear Power Station and trying desperately to go to any lengths to justify the massive expenditure that has been poured into yet another one of the Province’s white elephants.

falling down derelict wooden bridge rexton arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016We saw this bridge near Rexton back in 2013 and so I won’t post it again, but I do remember making a remark about the state of the carpentry.

And so I can show you a photo of one part of the bridge as it is today, and you cans ee how much it has deteriorated. and I thought that it was bad three years ago. I wouldn’t like to be driving on this bridge in another three years time

ship skeleton rexton richibucto river arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016I stopped off on the edge of Rexton to fuel up – Strider still has his unhealthy fuel consumption – and this ship in the Richibucto River caught my attention. I went across to photograph it.

It’s not a real ship of course. it was constructed in 2003 as a symbol of Rexton’s ship-building industry. They reckon that in a period from 1819 to the turn of the 20th Century some 105 ships were built here, of which 94 were built in just one shipyard – that owned by the Jardine family.

arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016My road north took me to the town of St Louis de Kent, a town that has a claim to fame in that the world’s largest Acadian flag is flown in the town.

St Louis de Kent is quite a hotbed of Acadian nationalism, a movement that took hold at the end of the 19th Century, mainly due to the efforts of Marcel-François Richard, to resurrect the heritage of the Acadian settlers – the French settlers of the mid-18th Century who were abandoned by the French empire during the Seven Years War.

Whilst no-one will deny the events that occurred subsequent to the fall of Acadia, no-one should lose sight of the fact that we are discussing a period of history 250 years ago and it’s a mistake to judge historical events by today’s standards.

Many colonists of French origin were indeed expelled from Acadia, but only those (at first, anyway) who refused to take an oath of allegiance to the King of England. But there was nothing unusual in asking citizens of captured colonists to take such an oath and even more so when a war between the two colonial powers was still taking place.

Displacement of recalcitrant colonists was nothing but normal behaviour back in those days and if you remember being with me in the Czech Republic last May, we discussed the displacement of recalcitrant Germans of many generations of settlement from the Sudetenland as late as 1948 – 200 years after the displacement of the Acadians – and no-one thought that what took place in Eastern Europe after World War II and which affected 30 million people was a major issue.

That’s not to take issue, of course, with the cultural traditions of the descendants of the Acadian settlers – I’m all in favour of celebrating culture and tradition – but St Louis de Kent is another place where all of the information on the tourist information boards is written in nothing but French – and that’s in an officially bilingual province too.

marguerite bourgeoys arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016There’s a statue here to Marguerite Bourgeoys and we all know who she is. We visited the house of her birth in Troyes in 2014 and we’ve mentioned her many times on our journeys round Montreal.

She organised the women and girls of Montreal with their religious and educational needs during the crises of the early days of the colony there, and it was the organisation that she founded, the Convent of the Sisters of the Congregation of Our Lady, that was asked to open a convent here in the late 19th Century.

fundy line motel miramichi arcadia trail new brunswick canada september septembre 2016You’ve all seen this place before. It’s the Fundy Line Motel in Miramichi where I stayed in winter 2003 and this is where I ended up last night.

It’s quite basic and a little tired but then so are its prices, and it’s scrupulously clean. It scores very highly on my value-for-money index and I’m happy to stay here for the night.

It has a microwave, which is good news, for I have a bag of potatoes and a can of beans, as well as a vegan burgerleft over from when I was in Shediac.

That’s me organised for tonight anyway.

Tuesday 29th September 2015 – THAT WAS A NICE …

… night too. despite the rainstorm that we had, and despite having to leave my stinking pit twice due to reasons that any man of my age will know, and despite me having a neighbour arrive at some point, I was really comfortable in my little bed. So much so that I was awake and out of the bed long before the alarm went off.

And it was warm (well, comparatively warm), to such an extent that I stood outside Strider, lowered down the tailgate and made myself a coffee in the open air. And it was here that I engaged my neighbour in conversation.

He and his wife were from Newfoundland and had a 1999 Chevy pick-up with a camper back. They’d come round from Baie Comeau and were telling me about the road. We discussed fuel consumption too, and he dismayed me by saying that he could do from Goose Bay to Blanc Sablon on just one tank of fuel. Mind you, it cheered me up to a certain degree when he said that he had a 135-litre tank. That compares to Strider’s 70 litres or something. And how I wish I had that size of fuel tank. But of course I will settle for an improved fuel consumption.

strider cable car remains churchill falls rest area trans labrador highway canadaHe knows the area here quite well and he drew my attention to the structure under which Strider was parked.

According to him, these are the remains of a cable car. Before the highway – and the bridge – were built, they still needed to pass stuff over the river to whatever settlement was over on the other side and to start the construction of the plant and cabins that formed the basis of the town of Churchill Falls.

if what he says is true, then it can’t be true about the cable car at North West River being the only one in Labrador. But we shall see what they mean by all of this.

churchill falls river gorge trans labrador highway canadaAnother thing that he knew was the footpath that led to the best view possible of the falls, although it’s not possible to see the falls in all their glory – the best views are just inaccessible.

It’s quite a hike, although not a difficult one, but it’s well-worth the effort. I was pleased to reach the end pf the path because there’s a splendid view of the gorge itself from there. I’ve never seen a view quite like this – the Grand Canyon excepted, of course Apparently, I’m 240 feet up just here, according to the Neighbour from Newfoundland.

waterfall churchill falls trans labrador highway canadaHe was right about the view of the falls not being spectacular. The falls themselves are spectacular, of course, but you just can’t reach the immediate vicinity of them, or found a spec directly opposite to take a good photo.

In any case, the falls themselves aren’t anything like as spectacular as they used to be. They really were impressive back years ago but the river was diverted to provided the drop for the hydro-electric power plant and so only a small fraction of the water falls over the waterfalls today.

crashed pick up trans labrador highway canadaMy neighbour also told me of a crashed vehicle that was lying on its roof further on down the road.

And so I kept my eyes peeled, and I found this one here. It’s not on its roof of course but it hasn’t half been knocked about. This gives you yet another clue about the state of the road around here. As for the yellow tape that’s around it, that’s Police marking tape. It shows that the Police have inspected the vehicle, and that it’s sealed off to warn people not to enter.

crazy quebec lorries overtaking me trans labrador highway canadaBut it’s not by any means the state of the road that’s responsible for may of the accidents – it’s the state of the drivers.

The speed limit along the Trans-Labrador Highway is 80 kph and I have the speed limiter on Strider set at just 80 kph. But everything on the Highway is going past me like I’m standing still, including these two lorries. And these aren’t just simple artics either, these are two of those road-trains pulling two trailers and these road trains are notoriously unstable at the best of times on the best of roads.

double load twin tractor units trans labrador highway canadaAnd talking of unusual loads on the road (although road trains aren’t by any means unusual) how about this one? We started off with a police car in front flagging down the traffic and telling us to move right off the edge of the road. And then this came along.

This is some kind of huge electrical unit, and it has two lorries in charge of it. There’s one pulling it, and the one behind it is pushing it along. The purpose of the pick-up in front is to clear the road because with the configuration that this unit has, it can’t even take a bend like this and keep on its own side of the road. It took up most of the road.

cottages near labrador city trans labrador highway canadaI’ve been noticing, as I’m sure that I have already told you, that there’s some kind of urbanisation taking place along the Trans-Labrador Highway. This is the lake that we’ve all seen before, about 40 kms out of Labrador City, when we came by here on previous occasions.

There was a cottage there previously, but now we seem to have a couple of other cottage down by the lakeshore. And this is the kind of place where I would like to live, with this really gorgeous backdrop and a really beaautiful view of the lake in front.

iron ore mine wabush trans labrador highway canadaLast year when we were in Wabush, we heard all kinds of sories about the iron ore mine closing down and how people were going to desert the town in droves.

I made a diversion into the town to see what was going on in here, and as you can see, the buildings of the iron ore mine are still there standing. And furthermore, I didn’t see anything that suggested to me that people were deserting in droves. There were no more houses up for sale or to let than you would expect to see anywhere else.

But of course, that’s not to say that things won’t be different in another year’s time.

I stopped off at Tim Horton’s for the internet and a coffee, and then I went on to Fermont, in Quebec, for fuel as it’s the last station before the Northern Quebec wilderness.

I also went to look in the “boomerang”. We saw a photo of it last year – it’s the big, high, long building that has a huge shopping gallery on the ground floor and a pile of apartments up above. I’ve never been in there before (except to sound out the hotel in 2010) and so I was curious to see what it was like.

It’s certainly a labyrinth on the ground floor, but what surprised me was that a good proportion – probably 30% or 40% – of the shops were closed down and empty. At least the Co-op food store was open, which is more than can be said for the one in Labrador City which seems to have closed down since last year.

mont wright trans labrador highway 138 quebec canadaThe road out of Fermont into the Wilderness goes past Mont Wright and the Arcelor Mittal iron mine, what is said to be the largest iron ore mine in the world, and it’s the reason for the town of Fermont being built – to house the workers. Mont Wright was once a mountain, but so much iron ore has been extracted that it’s fast becoming a hole in the ground.

The mine tailings stretch for miles, and from here up on a ridge at the back you can see some of the workings. And I do mean “some” because they also stretch for miles. It’s really impressive from that point of view, but we saw last year what has happened at Gagnon, another huge iron ore mine. When that was exhausted, it was simply abandoned and is now an environmental disaster.

trans labrador highway 138 quebec canadaAnd now, from the beautiful morning that we had today, we have now descended into a dreadful and miserably wet evening up here.

We’re having wind, fog and squalls of rain and although you can’t see it, we are back on the dirt road. And a miserable wet and muddy dirt road it is too, with very little sign (if anything) of any improvement to match the major work that has taken place on the Labrador side of the border.

beautiful sunset red sky sub arctic tundra trans labrador highway 138 quebec canadaI’ve found a place to park for tonight. It’s in a lay-by and I’ve dug myself in in behind one of the emergency telephones, with a lorry to keep me company through the night – although he didn’t stay for long.

And the weather seems at last to be improving. There’s a beautiful red sky right now, and so that might promise well for the morning (at least I hope so) but it’s cold, so I’m going to snuggle myself down in my sleeping bag and keep warm like that.

Sunday 27th September 2015 – I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS.

Tonight, I’ll be sleeping in a real bed, in a real room, with full central heating too.

And what’s more, I’ve just stood for half an hour under a nice hot shower and I’ve changed my clothes and had a shave too. I even look human now, and you know how difficult that can be.

So how did all of this arise? The answer is that it’s a very long story.

overnight camping place eagle plateau labrador coastal drive canadaThis morning, I awoke to a torrential downpour of rain and the black sacks with the insulation in were sopping wet (although the insulation itself was dry).

And we had a small amount of condensation inside the truck cap, but considering how wet it was outside and the fact that I’d been cooking inside last night, I’m not surprised by this. The small amount of condensation was quite acceptable.

snowstorm eagle plateau labrador coastal drive canadaI hadn’t gone 5 kilometres when the metalled road ended. And while I was on the dirt road, the heavens opened and we were drenched in snow. It had been warmer in my little bolt-hole, but it wasn’t like that just here. This looked quite ominous for the rest of the journey. I wasn’t very optimistic.

Anyway, the dirt road only lasted for 15 kms or so and then we were back on the metalled road again. And I do have to say that in the dirt bit, there were men and machines, including an asphalt layer, all lined up. It looked as if today’s task (had the weather been better) would be to finish the gap.

And hats off to Strider too. I’ve been moaning about his excessive fuel consumption too (and to be fair, it is excessive) and I’d loaded up with 40 litres of extra fuel just in case I needed it. But we pulled in to the Ultramar petrol station in Happy Valley with the gauge just going into the final quarter. Not even the orange warning light, never mind having to refuel.

But I do have to say that the benefits of the new road are readily apparent. Whereas in 2010 when I was here, the difference between a litre of fuel here and a litre of fuel in a more-populated area was $0:34. Today, the difference is just $0:06. That says a lot.

old car happy valley goose bay labrador canadaAfter a coffee and an internet session at Tim Horton’s, I went for a good wander around.

First stop was to see what was happening with my old car – the one that I saw last year. It’s still here, looking definitely the worse for wear and it doesn’t look as if it is going to last for too long if no-one gives it any attention.

It really is sad

happy valley goose bay labrador canadaI went as far eastward as it was possible to go by road, and then went off for a wander into the bush to see what I could see in there.

This is the bay of Goose Bay, at the head of the Hamilton Inlet, and there’s a lovely sand bar just here in the bay. The beaches really are nice in Labrador. And in the background are the mountains over which I’ve driven this last couple of days.

first nation encampment happy valley goose bay labrador canadaThis wasn’t all that there was to see either. There’s also a tent here in the woods.

There’s a really big Innu community around here and there are casual encampments all over the place. Although the First Nation people have adopted more modern building materials (I saw a hut made of OSB draped with a tarpaulin) the traditional itinerant lifestyle is quite important – and quite right too.

There was nothing doing at the quayside at Goose Bay and so I went on to North West River for a good look around. North West River is the farthest north town in Labrador that is possible to reach by road.

I was here late one evening last year and so this time I intended to have a better look around, even though the weather was dreadful.

And this is where our story begins.

I found a museum – the Labrador Interpretation Centre – and much to my surprise, it was open. That doesn’t happen very often.

I spent hours there chatting to the very friendly woman in charge, and we talked quite a lot about the interaction between the First Nation people and the Europeans.

“It’s a shame that the other museum in the town has closed for the season” she said. That has everything that you would like to see, including all of the papers from Mina and Leonidas Hubbard” … "he set out from here to explore the interior of Labrador 100 years ago and died of starvation – his wife set out 2 years later and completed his work" – ed
“I’d love to see that” I said. “What a tragedy that it’s closed”.
And so after another long chat, I wandered off to look at the museum, and she came hurrying after me “I’ve spoken to the curator on the phone. If you can be there at 09:00 he’ll let you in for a private showing”.
Well, badger me!
“I don’t suppose that you know anywhere where I can stay for the night?” I said rather optimistically. My last night around here had cost me a King’s ransom, and that was 5 years ago.
She wandered off and came back again 5 minutes later.
“The B&B is full unfortunately, you won’t want to pay $115 at the motel here, but there’s a room free, with communal facilities including washing machine, in the old Grenfell Building. That’s $45 a night”.
Do bears have picnics in the wood?

north west river hamilton inlet sunday hill north west river labrador canadaShe said that the best views around here were from the top of Sunday Hill, and so Strider and I went off-roading up the mountain.

It was worth the effort because the view from here was stunning as you can see. And it would have been even better had the weather been kinder to me. It was a really excellent place to eat my butties.

And hats off once more to Strider because he made short work of our little excursion up the mountain, even in just 2-wheel drive. If only I could seriously improve his fuel consumption!

So here I am. In Wood Cottage, or Woods Cottage as I’ve seen it sometimes described. Built in the 1920s, it was first the boarding house for schoolkids at the High School who had come from the outlying settlements, and was later an Old People’s Home. I’m warm and comfortable, I’ve had a hot shower, a nice mug of coffee and all of my washing is now in the tumble drier. I’m going to make some food in a minute and then I’ll be off to a nice comfortable bed.

You just watch the house burn down!

Thursday 20th August 2015 – I’VE SPENT ALL DAY …

… waiting around.

Well, that’s not quite true. First job was that Amber had a flat tyre on her golf cart so while Rachel went off to work, Amber and I jacked up the golf cart and took off the wheel. We then shot off to the Tyre place, stopping en route to drop off the rubbish with the dustbin man who had passed by before we had had time to put the stuff out.

It seemed that Amber had hit a rock with the golf cart and it had knocked the tyre off the beading, so that was only a matter of minutes to fix.

All day, the parts never came for Strider, and neither did the number plates, and so it was a pretty fruitless day from that point of view, but I did have a lengthy chat with Bob about solar panels and a few lengthy chats with a few other people too. It’s nice to be friendly every now and again.

Later that evening, I took Strider to Woodstock to pick up some stuff, including a collapsible chair on special offer at Canadian Tire and then we came back on the motorway. And not only is this chronic misfire quite chronic, he’s drinking fuel at an unbelievable rate and there seems to be a speed limiter set at 3300 revs. Not that 3300 rpm is ever going to bother me, but the fuel consumption is. I need to do something about that or else his tank won’t be big enough to go around Labrador