Coastal Driving Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL, CA to Port Hope Simpson, NL, CA

Lodging: The Alexis Hotel, Port Hope Simpson, NL, CA

Food: Restaurant within hotel

Joke of the Day:

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Yodel-ayee.

Yodel-ayee-who?

If I’d known you were you were going to yodel, I would have brought my earplugs.

These are the jokes, folks.

Back to The Mariner for breakfast. Mom was accidentally brought poached eggs, which were the most intriguing eggs I’ve ever seen, and I don't like eggs. We finally planned the remaining days of our trip, enjoyed our corrected breakfast, and headed back to the room.

After my conference call (yes, I was working on this trip), we headed out to the car ready to depart.

As soon as we reached the car, a man said, “Have a nice trip.” We said, “Thank you.”

Another man, passing, said, “That’s a car that came across the Trans-Labrador Highway?”

We said, “Why, yes it did.”

He said, “Yes, it has the telltale dust accumulated on the back bumper.”

We all laughed.

The first gentleman returned, and spoke of new roads to virgin lakes suggesting we go fishing. To which we replied, “We would, but we don’t know what we’re doing next.”

He said, “That’s the best way to travel. My wife and I do that all the time.”

I said, “I agree. What I meant was, we don’t know how to fish.”

He said, “Oh. That is a problem.”

We said our goodbyes, and headed to the petrol station to fill up before getting on Rte. 510.

Dirt, but decent

A cruel joke was played on us, as the first 50 - 75 km of the gravel road were quite fine. We zipped right along having become accustomed to the constant cacophony of rocks and pebbles hitting the car.

As I said, this was a cruel joke, because no sooner had we settled in for the ride than the road turned to hell. Worse even than the Labrador City / Churchill Falls portion. Honest.

just a little summer construction

The thing is Rte 510 is fairly new. It had basically been a snowmobile route as far as I can tell before Canada decided to provide a roadway in lieu of subsidizing the ferries.

The road is dirt in some places. In other places it is rock that threatens to bottom-out your car. In many places construction trucks block your path, though most will move to let you pass.

heave - ho

At one such place, the road before us was blocked by a manned construction vehicle. The roadway, and I use the term loosely, to the left of him was deeply rutted and full of standing water. Unsure of how deep the ruts were, we were reluctant to attempt passing that way.

After several attempts to convey to the construction vehicle’s driver our concern, he finally pulled over to the more difficult side of the path to let us pass. At this point we were about halfway through the most treacherous part of the day’s drive.

crawling past construction

A little way further down the road, a kindly gentleman opened his construction vehicle’s door to let us know that if we could persevere for ten more minutes that we’d be in the clear. Well, perhaps ten more minutes in his vehicle, but certainly not in ours.

Eventually, the road returned to maintained gravel. The steep embankments return, and the hope of pulling over for a picnic or to relieve yourself behind a tree retreated. On this stretch of road, there are no shrubs and there are no services (petrol, restrooms, etc.). Plan accordingly.

Dusty trails for days

We read of someone making this journey in a UHaul, but have no idea how they survived. A low-seated vehicle has little chance of surviving unscathed.

Finally, we arrived in Port Hope Simpson where we had a reservation at <a href="http://www.labradorcoastaldrive.com/home/97">The Alexis Hotel</a>, which was purported to be a reasonably nice place to stay. HA!

A little background, many years ago in Iceland my mother injured herself such that while she can walk, stairs pose a considerable challenge. As such, when making hotel reservation, she always asks, “Is your property more than one story?” If the answer is yes, she inquires further, “Do you have an elevator?” If the answer is no, she requests a room on the first floor citing her disability.

The Alexis Hotel said they would provide a room on the first floor without indicating that this would provide a vastly different experience than if we were to stay on the second floor. They also did not make note on the reservation of our request.

When we arrived, they had our reservation, but no room on the first floor. The woman at the front desk was gruff, and so we quietly went to our room, which did not have a number on it. The key was tricky, and, after jiggling it for awhile, we asked to confirm we were trying to open the correct room.

We were.

Once inside we saw a room that rivaled the rooms of guesthouses in Laos and Thailand, which I visited the previous February. An industrialized society would not have considered this room as that of a 2 1/2 star accommodation.

The room did not have a single lamp, a clock, a remote for the television, a phone, nor a working sink! Honest.

We discovered the sink didn’t work a few hours after checking in, and when we were able to track down the front desk attendant she indicated that she couldn’t help us and that our room assignment was due to our request to be on the first floor. So were we being punished?

A quick glance in other first floor accommodations would suggest we were. While the other first floor rooms didn’t meet the higher standards clearly present on the second floor, they did have a phone, a lamp, an alarm clock, and (we expect) a working sink. In fact, I asked to use the sink across the hall the next morning to brush my teeth and wash my face. Lo and behold ... it worked!

The Internet connection on the first floor is bad to non-existent. Not only was it poor in our room (#104, btw), but in other first floor rooms, which I learned when I asked a gentleman who was sitting in the lobby.

Dinner that evening was in the hotel’s dining room. After finishing our supper, we learned that the same woman was waitress, barkeep, and cook. Yowzers! No wonder everything took ages.

Created By
Meredith Rendall
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