Amour in Labrador!

Have you ever had one of those times when things just seem surreal? When you ask yourself “Is this reality, or maybe I have died, and this heaven?” Like a series of things that “never happen,” happen all at once?

I’ve had an ongoing love affair with lighthouses since I was a small child, allowed to climb the tower of the Port Isabel lighthouse on our family vacations to South Padre Island. So consider the irony that I end up spending the night with a lighthouse called “Amour,” defined as “a secret or illicit love affair or lover.”

The three mile dirt pot-holed road to Point Amour.

The three mile dirt pot-holed road to Point Amour.

I have a hard time deciding which angle I like best of the lighthouse, so I'll just post them all. ;-)

I have a hard time deciding which angle I like best of the lighthouse, so I’ll just post them all. ;-)

I like this side view, because it shows off the cool red and green doors.

I like this side view, because it shows off the cool red and green doors.

Twenty miles from the ferry landing is Point Amour, Atlantic Canadian’s tallest lighthouse, second tallest in all of Canada.  Constructed in 1857, it stands at 109 ft tall, with 128 steps to the top.  My midday ferry, chatty stop at the Visitor Center, and Labrador’s impossible roads have caused me a late arrival to Point Amour.  It’s 4:00pm, which gives me only an hour to explore.

The Point Amour Lighthouse only has half a Fresnel lens.

The Point Amour Lighthouse only has half a Fresnel lens as a focal plane, but it’s a second order, which is next to the largest.

The light was automated in 1996. Its signature is 16 seconds on, four off.

The light was automated in 1996. It has a signature of 16 seconds on, followed by a 4 second eclipse.

These patchwork-looking reefs at the waters edge are called "Patch Reefs," composed of calcite skeletons of an extinct group of sponge-like animals formed 530 million years ago.

These patchwork-looking reefs at the waters edge are called “Patch Reefs,” composed of calcite skeletons of an extinct group of sponge-like animals formed 530 million years ago. (The concrete slabs are what’s left of the old foghorn station.)

That's the Winnie down below, parked up for the night.

That’s the Winnie down below, parked up for the night.

The light was brought over from France.

The light was brought over from France.

I am the only visitor on the grounds.  Inside the base of the lighthouse, I walk in and the young woman asks if I’d like to tour the tower.  She takes me up the 128 spiral steps, explaining the history of the lighthouse, the six ft thick walls, the original wooden stairs.  And finally, we reach the lantern room.  I am fascinated by the Fresnel lens, because it’s only a half a lens.  I don’t recall ever seeing this before.   As I am studying it in great detail, she asks, “Do you see the whales?”  Huh??  I whirl around to see blow spouts right out from the lens room window!   We chat for a while, and she starts down the stairs and says “Feel free to stay and watch for a little while.”

My young interpretive guide tells me the wooden stairs are the originals, but they sure are in good shape for 160 years!

My young interpretive guide tells me the wooden stairs are the originals, but they sure are in good shape for 160 years!

One thing I notice over and over in National Historic Sites in Canada is that artifacts, fossils, antiques, etc. are left out in the open, with no need for anti-theft or protection. Impressive.

One thing I notice over and over in National Historic Sites in Canada is that artifacts, fossils, antiques, etc. are left out in the open, with no need for anti-theft or protection from vandalism. Impressive.

This is Labrador Tea that they serve in the Lightkeeper's residence. This herbal tea, supposedly high in Vitamin C, was a favorite of the Inuits.

This is Labrador Tea that they serve in the Lightkeeper’s residence. This herbal tea, supposedly high in Vitamin C, was a favorite of the Inuits.

Once back down stairs, I notice they are straightening up, and I realize it’s getting to be time to close, when I haven’t even had a chance to look at the exhibits yet!   She says, “You’re welcome to come back tomorrow at no charge.”  I mention I’m traveling in the RV, and ask if it would be okay if I park overnight.  She says “Sure, make yourself at home.”

 

This concrete foundation is all that's left of the Marconi Station, The Marconi Wireless Company established the wireless telegraph station at Point Amour in 1904 to communicate with ships passing through the Strait of Belle Isle. But it was also used by the townspeople for years afterward, since there were no phones.

This concrete foundation is all that’s left of the Marconi Station, The Marconi Wireless Company established the wireless telegraph station at Point Amour in 1904 to communicate with shipos passing through the Strait of Belle Isle. But it was also used by the townspeople for years afterward, since there were no phones.

I also have a hard time deciding which view I want out my bedroom window...whales, or the lighthouse? Such a dilemma!

I also have a hard time deciding which view I want out my bedroom window…whales, or the lighthouse? Such a dilemma!

I finally decide on whales out the side window, lighthouse out the back bedroom.

I finally decide on whales out the side window, lighthouse out the back bedroom.

She suggests a walk along the beach on the “Raleigh Trail,” to see the remains of the ship wreck of H.M.S. Raleigh, flagship of the Royal Navy fleet that ran aground while trying to dodge an iceberg in August of 1922.  According to the lightkeeper, Jeff Wyatt, “That was the only iceberg in the Strait of Bell Isle.”  The wreck became the subject for many photographers which pissed the Royal Navy Admiralty off to see their grounded ship become a tourist attraction, so they returned in 1926 to blow up the ship.

There is a hike down the beach named the "Raleigh Trail," named for the wreck of the H.M.S. Raleigh, sunk Aug 8, 1922.

There is a hike down the beach named the “Raleigh Trail,” named for the wreck of the H.M.S. Raleigh, sunk Aug 8, 1922.

Eleven men lost their lives in the collision, but the remaining 600 came to shore and had to take up residence in the surrounding buildings for a month.

Eleven men lost their lives in the collision, but the remaining 600 came to shore and had to take up residence in the surrounding buildings until another ship could come for them.

As I am returning from the wreck of the Raleigh, I catch a glimpse of something huge projecting out of the water like a missile, shooting straight up.  Then it lands with a “BOOM!” that sounds like the shot of a cannon.  A whale has just breached right off shore.  I almost rip the pocket off my windbreaker trying to get my camera out.   It happens again, and I manage to get off a shot…not very good, but at least good enough to prove at this point, I’m not hallucinating.

When I get back to the Winnie, I send an email to a friend saying I’m living in some kind of altered state here, boondocked with a lighthouse out my back window, and whales jumping out of the water.  I suggest perhaps I have died, and this is heaven…

As I am walking along the beach back to the Winnie, I see something that looks like a missile shooting out of the water!

As I am walking along the beach back to the Winnie, I see something that looks like a missile shooting out of the water!

There it goes again! It sounds like a loud boom when it hits the water.

There it goes again! It sounds like a loud boom when it hits the water.

All evening, I can see the whales feeding just offshore.

All evening, I can see the whales feeding just offshore.

Another fin...so close to the shore!

Another fin…they are so close!

The sun doesn’t set here until around 9:30pm, so I open up the door and sit on my “stoop” watching the water churn with sea birds and blow spouts.  Next, a fleet of four beautiful trawlers sail by.   And dramatic clouds roll in for effect.  And oh, there’s a rainbow!   And finally some fuchsia clouds as a grand finale to the show.

I fall sleep to the steady flash of light, feeling the love at Point Amour.

A line of fishing boats cruise by.

A line of fishing boats cruise by.

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Fishing boat offshore must have a great view of the lighthouse.

Fishing boat offshore must have a great view of the lighthouse.

Dark skies threaten, but it never rains.

Dark skies threaten, but it never rains.

Now I have a rainbow out my window.

Now I have a rainbow out my window.

Finally, fuchsia spotlights bring an end to the show.

The grand finale as fuchsia spotlights bring an end to the show.

Next, it’s off for Red Bay, thirty miles up the road, “where the pavement ends.”

The next morning, I head 30 miles down the road toward Red Bay.

The next morning, I head 30 miles down the road toward Red Bay.

I stop at the little village of Capstan Island to get a better look at the icebergs just offshore.

I stop at the little village of Capstan Island to get a better look at the icebergs just offshore.

Some icebergs are more blue than others due to light wave absorption.

Some icebergs are more blue than others due to light wave absorption.

I hike along the waters edge for a better view of the icebergs, and come across a gull's trash pile of sea urchin shells.

I hike along the waters edge for a better view of the icebergs, and come across a gull’s trash pile of sea urchin shells.

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Still a few spots of snow in the hills, though the temperature is mild.

Still a few spots of snow in the hills, though the temperature is mild.

Drive to Red Bay is very scenic, and the roads only seem to be bad in spots.

Drive to Red Bay is very scenic, and the roads only seem to be bad in spots.

I didn't expect Labrador to be this hilly.

I didn’t expect Labrador to be this hilly.

20 thoughts on “Amour in Labrador!

  1. What an amazing post!! You have me needing to head to Labrador. Your photos of the lighthouse are so beautiful. You most definitely scored staying at the lighthouse for the night. Guess it was good you were delayed! Look what you would have missed if you moved on. The highlight for me would be the whales. Lucky, lucky you:)

  2. The photos and your commentary are fantastic. What a treat to see the humpbacks. (I think). Thank you for sharing. And a one in a million boondock!
    Wow!

  3. Time for you to chip away at the remaining iceberg in your freezer and pour a bourbon. Sip slowly while enjoying the solitude of such a peaceful and scenic location. Not many have seen a whale or iceberg while driving next to the ocean. Thanks for keeping us updated on your adventures in Canada.

  4. Suzanne, It is amazing to see Newfoundland and Labrador through your eyes…we saw and felt so many amazing things the 2 times we were there, but you are finding so many layers that we had forgotten or missed. Thank you so much for sharing so much, as always.
    Linda and Chester

  5. You amaze us Suzanne…you can cover ground like a speeding bullet, have more range of awesome photos than Google Earth and have found a way (and time) to share it so we are part of your expedition. Hard to imagine that breaching humpbacks can propel their huge bodies out of the water.

  6. Wow! How much more could one fit in a perfect day! I love lighthouses, too. Probably can’t climb them at this point, but they are so beautiful to look at. Your pictures are outstanding, and to see the whales up so close has always been a dream of mine. I think you lived a lot of people’s dreams in one day. Just lovely. Thank you for taking us along for the ride!

  7. Ditto ALL of the above comments! A wonderful post filled with happy tidbits. What I most fully appreciate from this one is the note that you were A Traveler Alone in the lighthouse. It is refreshing to find there are still beautiful places in North America where one can enjoy solitude without crunching elbow to elbow with the next guy. Whales to the side of you, lighthouse to the back–stuck in the middle with a View. 😉

  8. Beautiful photos and tale of a serendipitous adventure! I love it when magic happens — as it so often seems to do in this lifestyle. What wonderful memories to add to your lighthouse stash!

  9. Never once has the thought of visiting Labrador crossed my mind. Until now. Now I have to get there. It’s only 4,036 miles away!

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