Labrador City is an outpost, more function than fashion for sure. There are 4-wheel drive pickups and mudflaps with curvy chrome girls on them, big dogs and potholes. There is a mall in town, that includes a Walmart and a Canadian Tire and no windows in the building. I can’t imagine how cold it gets here in winter that builders minimize the amount of windows on buildings.
The Trans-Labrador Highway begins here and heads east to Churchill Falls, on to Goose Bay and on to Port Hope-Simpson, etc. The highway has officially been closed for two weeks due to fires and it is still closed today. Anyone wanting to go east is told to line up in the morning and there may be a convoy escorted once per day through the fire are and onto the highway, but nothing is guaranteed. We line up the next morning and are hopeful that the overnight showers and rain we are sitting in now may be helping to keep the fires down and allow us to catch a break and be on a convoy today.
There is smoke everywhere and burned forest on both sides of the road during the escorted convoy which runs more than 30 miles. I see many cabins that are surrounded on all sides by burned trees, but are ok. There is a burned motor home and a single burned building that I see but the amount of saved buildings is surprising. We pass a fire crew, a helicopter and see slurry bombers overhead.
A quick stop for a roadside lunch and bathroom break at a road department depot, but I’m instantly surrounded by hornets and I’m afraid to take even a single glove off. There are a few dozen swarming around but after a couple of minutes of having the bike off, they start to go away. They remind me of all the locals, really interested in you when you first come into town, they come have a look-see and then they go back to life as normal. So I chance it and take my gear off for a much needed break, and while a few of them still buzz around they don’t bother me at all.
I cross the Churchill River a few miles west of Churchill Falls and stop for a look. The falls aren’t here anymore, the water having been rerouted through a hydro-electric project to generate power for the country.
We pull into town and immediately gas up, but are told the road east to Goose Bay has been closed due to a fire between here and there. It seems this part of the world is all ablaze right now. The landscape has been beautiful, and the people warm and friendly. It occurs to me that I like Labrador and am sure from what I’ve heard that I will like Newfoundland – and that both of the names in this province are the same as two big dog breeds. I’m a dog lover so my liking this part of the world, is in some weird way natural. I wish for the environment and for the people and wildlife that some rain would come through and put the fires all out. Hopefully the road will be open in the morning. Off for a couple of Molsons and a bite….