Tuesday, November 7, 2017

going for a hike in happy valley-goose bay

Happy Valley-Goose Bay airport
I wasn't sure what to expect in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. On one hand, it had a population roughly the size of Iqaluit, which is pretty large for northern communities. On the other hand, it was a northern community, and there’s quite a variation in northern towns across Canada. And so, armed with my Nunavut-specific knowledge of northern travel and a suitcase carrying kale chips, veggie juice, protein shakes and baby carrots (wait, I really am that Southerner....), I arrived in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

"Do you have a taxi company that you'd recommend?" I asked the hotel clerk.

"There's only one taxi company in town," she responded.

"Well, that must be the best one then," I mused out loud, because I was tired from not having slept the night before for for what felt like my epic journey to Nain.

so many bears at my hotel

My hotel was attached to a restaurant that was surprisingly jungle-themed called Jungle Jim's. It really was decorated like a jungle, which felt really unexpected for, well, a town in Labrador. But here I was, in the Labrador part of Newfoundland and Labrador, with easy access to frozen margaritas and Jungle Jim’s Bongo Burger Madness deals.

Jungle Jim's
Happy Valley-Goose Bay started off as a military base. It’s one of the more central and populous communities in Labrador – a lot of folks who need specialized medical care in the northern Nunatsiavut regions get flown to Goose Bay for treatment, if not to St. John’s if services aren’t available in Goose Bay either. It’s also home to the one of the larger populations of Inuit in Canada.

We were recommended dinner at Maxwell's, which turned out to be a night club attached to a restaurant called Bentley's. We attacked a pile of chicken wings that were quite satisfying.

The town’s layout is pretty spread out – it’s much easier to get around by car or taxi. It had no shortage of businesses, restaurants and bars, But my favourite spot was the Birch Island Conservation Trail.

Our cab driver, a friendly chatty fellow from Newfoundland with a strong Newfoundland accent that I strained to understand at times, had recommended Birch Island for us. It was lovely. It was far enough from the main roads to feel immersed in nature. The town was in the process of laying down a board walk along the marshy trail, and I took my time, wandering down the path, enjoying the gorgeous view of the water and muddy banks.

All along the way, folks had discreetly left painted rocks by the trail, and hung popsicle art from the trees. It seemed like a popular spot amongst families and joggers, but never felt crowded at any time.

And then, the trail suddenly ended, the last part of the boardwalk still to be completed. I hope I get to come back here to do the full trail once the boardwalk is finished.

The same cab driver also suggested we have dinner at the Trappers Cabin. I had heard about this place from other people as well. The feature idea at this place was that you got to grill your own steaks. I wondered if it would be like Korean table top barbecue and, curious, made reservations and an order for steak.

Trappers Cabin also also a night club as well as a grill-your-own steak restaurant, and also featured video lottery machines and what looked like a karaoke machine. Clearly this was a happening place. The interior was decorated like the inside of a log cabin, with large chandeliers made from antlers. The friendly server rolled up to our table with our raw steaks and showed us to the communal grill – which was when I realized/remembered that I’d never cooked my own stove in my life.  Luckily I was able to call my spouse for stoveside assistance, and he was able to give me seasoning and grilling instructions over the phone.

It was a fun adventure, but soon enough it was time to head home. My first flight was relatively smooth and I got to grab a yummy seafood chowder in Halifax while I waited at the airport. On my last flight home to Ottawa, I found out that I was actually flying in business class, which was a nice surprise. I'm not sure now that happened. Obviously I looked like an important business person, clad in yoga pants and a yoga hoodie. Despite the fact that I fly almost exclusively for business, I'd never been in business class before. I felt like this must have been a mistake and I kept waiting for someone to tell me to move to my real seat. It was a pleasant end to an adventurous trip to Labrador.

business class: too much legroom for my short legs, free bottles of water, and a veggie wrap

going home: plane with silhouette of plane in clouds with rainbow ring