Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

When last our heroine updated her blog, she was parked at the Canadian Tire in Val D’Or. She has done more than 900km since then… and not all of them have been above ground.

Not much happened on Saturday. I wound up boondocking outside the visitor’s centre at the eastern edge of the city where I was told overnighting was ‘tolerated’, but I’d have to move to pay site or the Walmart for the next night. The only pay site in town was 15$ and that didn’t include hookups or, at least, a view, so guess where I spent my second night in Val D’Or? 🙂

At any rate, the sole purpose of my visit to Val D’Or was to see the gold mine at a complex they call the Cité de l’or. Other than outdoor sports, there isn’t much to see or do in Val D’or. I therefore wouldn’t recommend making a detour there just to see the mine, but if you just happen to be going by, then, please, don’t miss it and pay the 40 bucks for the full tour!

A vein of gold does not look like what you’d expect as it is black and white. The white is quartz and the black is tourmaline. This is extracted and then processed to get the gold flakes inside. It takes about 5,000 tonnes of ore from this mine to get a single oz of gold.

There was nothing but wilderness around the mine site, so a village had to be built to house all the workers and their families. Imagine a whole neighbourhood of log cabins.

The old mining village is just adorable and is a historic site, so current owners face strict regulations as to how much they can change the houses.

These houses offered excellent accommodation for the miners with running water, heating, telephones, and electricity. Miners were considered rich. They made about 35$ a week while a living wage was about 5$ per week! This is how they could afford such luxuries and pay the rent of 50$ per year for these houses.

Before my tour of the mine, I walked through the village and was accosted by a withered wraith of a man who used to work at the mine! He spent about twenty minutes sharing his life story. I thought it would be a tale of woe, but not at all. He loved his time at the mine, saying that the work was hard, but that conditions were good and safe, and that unlike coal mining it wasn’t that bad for the health as there was no dust. His job was to take core samples that would be analysed to determine which way the mine should be further excavated. When he retired from mining, he used his knowledge to found his own diamond drilling company with more than 150 employees. Meeting him proved to me that there are no accidents in life. I was sure my mine tour was at 1PM, but it was at 1:30. I therefore had time to kill, time enough to make an encounter that completely change how I felt down there, 300ft below the surface….

I really don’t like enclosed spaces, so the hour and a bit we were underground was just enough for me. When we got back into the shuttle for the drive back up, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I can’t imagine spending a whole day in such a place, including a lunch break spent in a room that was literally carved out of the rock face.

elevator cage

elevator cage

indicates at which level is the elevator

indicates at which level is the elevator

elevator cage speed regulator

elevator cage speed regulator

dispensary

dispensary

door into the room where the cage is

door into the room where the cage is

drilling cage; miner's liked these because they were safe and cut down on their labour

drilling cage; miner’s liked these because they were safe and cut down on their labour

electrical panel controlling the elevator cage

electrical panel controlling the elevator cage

horrible joke

horrible joke

ladder to the drilling platform

ladder to the drilling platform

lunchroom!

lunchroom!

me as a miner!

me as a miner!

mining drill that can be driven forward, backward, or sideways

mining drill that can be driven forward, backward, or sideways

outside of the mine

outside of the mine

outside of the mine

outside of the mine

outside of the mine

outside of the mine

99 Perrault (the house where the interior pictures were taken)

99 Perrault (the house where the interior pictures were taken)

miner's cabin

miner’s cabin

luxurious bathroom in the miner's house

luxurious bathroom in the miner’s house

dresser in the miner's house

dresser in the miner’s house

calendar for 1943

calendar for 1943

chamberpot in the miner's house

chamberpot in the miner’s house

cheques

cheques

newspaper about the FLQ crisis

newspaper about the FLQ crisis

food stamps

food stamps

hats belonging to the wife of a miner

hats belonging to the wife of a miner

ice box in the miner's house

ice box in the miner’s house

this gift shop area was the kids' bedroom in the miner's house

this gift shop area was the kids’ bedroom in the miner’s house

kitchen in the miner's house

kitchen in the miner’s house

kitchen in the miner's house

kitchen in the miner’s house

miner's outfit

miner’s outfit

phone in a miner's house

phone in a miner’s house

radios, adding machine, magazine

radios, adding machine, magazine

wartime ration coupons

wartime ration coupons

rock chute

rock chute

the shuttle we took down into the mine

the shuttle we took down into the mine

ceiling sprayed with concrete for the visitors' safety

ceiling sprayed with concrete for the visitors’ safety

gold vein, the black is tourmaline and the white is quartz

gold vein, the black is tourmaline and the white is quartz

After the tour, I went to pick up Miranda at the Sears where I’d received permission to park her for the day, then we moved to Walmart. The store was closed, so I just set up for the night and treated myself to dinner since I couldn’t get anything working at home. 🙂

Miranda at the Walmart in Val D'Or

Miranda at the Walmart in Val D’Or

Sunday, I pushed off ludicrously early (around 7) and felt my mood change as quickly as did the kilometres beneath me.

I passed this very cool sign mid-morning:

entering the Arctic watershed

entering the Arctic watershed

The weather was (and is) gross, not motivating me to try to find a boondocking spot on Crown land as I’d thought I might, so I decided to make a push for the Walmart in Kapuskasing:

Seeking a Walmart in the wilderness

Seeking a Walmart in the wilderness

(I was just amused that I was driving through the wilderness looking for a Walmart).

I passed some very interesting towns, such as Swastika and Moonbeam, where I had to take a picture:

yes, we're still on Earth (and staying there)

yes, we’re still on Earth (and staying there)

When I got to Kapuskasing (and was done with the whole dumping thing), I went to the Walmart figuring that it would be closed for the evening. Nope, it’s open 7 to 8 seven days a week!!! So, I went in to ask for permission to stay overnight. The manager replied “Of course!” in a very friendly manner. I knew I would have a good night there: I had permission to stay and the OPP had a station literally across the street. Can’t get any safer than that! I wound up sleeping the sleep of the proverbial dead and woke up this morning at 5:30 feeling very odd because I haven’t slept that many hours straight through since I was a teenager!

Today was another big push as there is just about nothing between Kapuskasing and Thunder Bay. I was very glad to find this park. It’s nothing special and not a place where you can set up your hibachi or awning, but it’s perfectly adequate for a one night stopover. Tomorrow, I’m going no further than the Walmart in Thunder Bay! I have this site until noon and I plan to take advantage of that to get caught up on my housekeeping.

If there is one thing I will remember the most about my first days on the road it is that the world is not nearly as hostile a place as some people would try to make me believe. There has been at least one person per day who helped me in a way that might have seemed small to them, but which made me feel like I am not alone on this vast and open road.

Tomorrow is Thunder Bay. Wednesday will be my last night on the Shield. Thursday I’ll hit the Prairies. And then I’ll slow down properly as I’ll be hitting new things.

There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. Good lives, I’m discovering, have no shortage of bad days, but they are measured by the sum of the whole.

I’m impossibly happy, in good spirits, comfortable in my rig, grateful that my cats have taken to this life as well as their mom, and have discovered that it’s easy to be a morning person if your day is going to be filled with adventure.

One thought on “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

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