Friday, August 19

Sacré Bleu

Had a little surprise yesterday after I left Fermont heading south on Quebec 389, which runs from Fermont to Baie-Comeau, a total of 348 miles without a single town. Somehow I had gotten it in my mind that I was through with gravel and would be dealing with just some rough pavement - wrong!!! I encountered two gravel sections (about 110 miles total) that made the Trans-Labrador Highway seem downright glassy smooth in comparison, waaaaaaay worse than anything I'd driven with the van (including last year's trip) til now, and the fact that it was raining didn't help matters. Rocks, mud, sand, hills, a lot of washboard, curves (some with a suggested speed of 9mph), and detours - this thing had everything! And, just is case you're wondering, this wasn't some little dead end dirt track I headed down on one of my explorations - HWY389 is the only road that links Quebec to Labrador. Enough said, it was an experience.

One of the better stretches
Had around 6 of these little detours
The falling rock sign is for stuff falling off the ore trains

 

So what did I do/see on my drive when I wasn't giving the van the ultimate shake test? In Fermont I toured North America's largest open pit mining operation, and everything here is big - the trucks, the pits and the amount of iron ore they process and then ship out. Alas, it was raining. We could hear the activity in the pit we viewed, but couldn't see a thing because of the rain/fog.

My photo of a photo - best I could do with the weather
This truck carries 400 TONS at a time, those tires are about 15 feet tall

 

The next day (today) I stopped at the Manic 5 dam it's a multiple-arch buttress dam, the largest dam of this type in the world. The dam is part of Hydro Quebec's massive hydroelectric project on the Manicouagan River. The tour took us into the power plant, and inside and onto the dam for some impressive views. A big plus, the sun was out so I got a few pictures.

The dam impounded the Manicougan River, which filled the Earth's fifth largest confirmed impact crater, the Manicouagan crater, creating Manicouagan Reservoir.

 

389 did have some nice sections

Ended the day by getting the van's oil changed, as the odometer has just hit the 11,000 mile mark on this trip.