The Actual Trip

Charles Dowdell---Aug 8, 2003


NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure it has been claimed by a few people at work that the trip was nothing more than a staged hoax. In an attempt to prove it, they mysteriously uncovered this photo from a British journalist showing the true staged nature of the deception. After careful unbiased research, the validity of the photograph cannot be confirmed or denied.


The deception uncovered?

Day 1

Travel- I left Berkshire NY at 3:30 PM on Saturday the 24th of August 2003. I had performed maintenance on the truck as you should before you set out on a trip of this type. However, after 102000 miles, can you believe it, the "service engine light soon" came on!. It was the first time ever. I decided to deny that the light had indeed gone on and push on a hope for the best. I had Dinner with Douglas (my stepson) and crashed in his new apartment in Canadaigua NY.




Day 2

Sunday I got up at the usual early hour and headed to Jeff's compound on Gregory Street in downtown Rochester. We unhooked the trailer I borrow frequently and we fastened the camo tarp to the truck and lashed the canoe on top.


We got underway about 8:30 AM and headed north up towards Watertown NY on Interstate 81. We made it across the border and I had a long chit chat on 2-meters with VE2MBS. He drove between Toronto and Montreal frequently. After a couple of minutes I could tell he was becoming tired speaking in English. He gave us some navigation advice on a new highway outside of Ottawa.


We drove through Downtown Ottawa which had the look of how people have described it to me which is clean and pleasant.


The truck kept pushing north and enjoyed the drive through the large Provincial park and the towns of Dorval Lodge and Le Domaine. We made it to our objective, Val D'or before nightfall, which we had noted is later than what nightfall would have been at home.



Diesel Prices in Southern Quebec (78.4 cents/liter canadian, duh?)

We stayed in a cheap motel and ate at Mike's Diner. I had my first meal of many of Poutine on the trip.


Poutine (POO' tee- yen)


Val D'or did not impress Squid, "Just a mining town". I thought it was interesting. We are in a Las Vegas kind'a community that is probably the outpost for arctic and tundra. And I think mining is kinda interesting too with all the mega-machines and what not.


It was pretty cold in Val D'or. People were out but they had coats on. I was figuring that a coat was a pretty good idea any time of year.


The disco seemed like a busy spot.



Val D'or


Day 3

We headed out early. We couldn't find route 11 so we just headed for Matagami. Matagami is the start of the trip. We had traveled all day yesterday and part of this day to get to the start of the James Bay Highway. We were still very curious about the highway. We knew it was paved in the last few years but we had other questions. Were there stripes? How wide is it? What is the condition? We would find out soon enough.


Matagami was a treat. We saw out first groups of people of Native American ancestry. It had the feeling of an arctic outpost. Fuel for the truck was a must at Matagami. There is only one fuel stop along the James Bay highway. We were not going to take a careless chances with something as stupid as fuel. And wouldn't you know it, fuel started getting more expensive. I can't remember how much but I crammed a lot of fuel in the truck here. The simple fuel stop was also a general store. I looked around and noted that they had the luxury items such as matches and bug spray.


Val D'or





Amos Quebec

The left front tire needed air here too.


Matagami Quebec

The Beginning of the James Bay Highway

This was a real treat to be here. You just know that this road is so far out of the way there is something special about all who have traveled.


The trees have begun to get noticeable shorter here.


The Trees Get Shorter

We have with us a detailed km-marker listing noting items of interest along the 622 km James Bay Highway. We know that this road is approximately the same distance between Rochester NY and New York City. We also know there is only one rest stop along the way at km 375.


Only in French of Course

We start seeing signage in Cree and in French


Bilingual, we are all set!

At km 6 or so, as expected, we stop at the checkin/checkout office for the James Bay highway. We agreed that their English was better than our French. We were advised that the Trans-Taiga roadway (Gravel) was impassable. Additionally, we found out that we use CB channel 10 in this region. We were advised on recommended stops and how we must check in on our way down south. The office is open 24 hours a day. There is no gate to open. However, the office overlooks the road and there could be a gate there if needed. There were various brochures for outfitters and a detailed aviation map was on the wall.



The Checkin/checkout Office


The James Bay Region of Quebec is a Municipality. A very large municipality, indeed. There are approximately 15 sq. km for each person in the municipality. The distances between places are just on a different scale than we are accustomed to back home.


Lets Go! The Trees are getting more distinctive yet.


Typical Road Side Fare



Continue to Part 2- The Actual Trip