The crew of Apollo 8, on this very evening (Christmas Eve) exactly 50 years ago, were the first humans to orbit the moon and take the iconic photograph above as they looked back at Earth. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life, as we watched on television, mesmerized by a feat which is still hard to comprehend today. For years I would have a 2 x 3-foot poster of this image above my desk at my place of work, and for the past 4 or 5 years, it has often been the banner of these WordPress posts.
William Anders, James Lovell, Frank Borman,
As usual, thanks for viewing. Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays to all. M 🙂
“Lets drive north as far as we can go” Begin Part One –> here.
At 3:35 PM, August 31, 1966, Tom and I, in my Austin Healey Sprite, gazed at the long wooden road-barrier before us, and then made a “U”turn to head home. We had traveled 918 miles (1,477 km,) and on a global scale, changed latitude by 9.1 degrees, or about 1/5 distance to the north pole. Longitude changed by a mere 0.2 degrees, almost straight north.
Re-tracing our route back 21 miles (34 km,) through Chibougamau again, we turned west onto Rt. 58, (Rt. 113,) on what was the only alternate route back the United States. Information about that road ahead, was sketchy as provided by locals filling our gas tank with fuel.
Forty minutes after starting on Rt. 58, we passed through Chapais, the last town of any significance and last pavement we would see for hours. This sparsely populated region was home to the local Cree Indian communities, (see here) known as the Waswanipi.
Pausing at this bridge just before sunset in the town of Waswanipi, the road would deteriorate considerably after this crossing.
A grueling four or five dusty hours would follow as we moved on into the night. Traveling virtually alone under the northern stars, seeing only a rare passing vehicle, amenities like fuel and light food were available only every 40 or 50 miles (64 or 80 km), although typically for us, a simple request like “ice cream” would prove a bit challenging when asking the well-meaning French-speaking Waswanipi.
Every few hours, Tom and I switched drivers, but the primitive road made sleep fleeting at best for the passenger. Having to occasionally pitch in and help free the Sprite from being bogged down in soft ruts proved a little distracting to any kind of worthwhile rest. These conditions were particularly challenging during the last 125 miles (201 km) with our progress restricted to often under 25 mph (40 km.) The welcome return to pavement would finally come near the town of Senneterre, as we continued south just after midnight.
In the following late-night hours, we would drive an additional 100 miles (161 km) along the paved road within La Verendrye Provincial Park, and sunrise would occur shortly later as we reached populated areas about 50 miles (80 km) from Ottawa, Canada.
Above: 9:30 AM, approaching the St. Lawrence River at Cornwall, Ontario, and the bridge back into the United States.
Below: From the bridge, a good view of the locks and Eisenhower Power Plant on the river below, 1,500 miles (2,414 km) into the trip.
As the air warmed, the top came off the car once more as it would be an additional 11 hours of daytime driving through New York State, including a slight detour to Oneonta, a college town where Tom would shortly be beginning his next year of studies.
At about 8:00 PM that evening, we would be back in Bergenfield after 1,957 total miles (3,150 km) in slightly less than three days.
Our final northern-most point was only about 6 miles (9.5 km) west of directly north, the basic objective of going north as far as we could go by car.
Below: Lat 40.9 deg., Long -74.0 Above: Lat 50.01 deg., Long -74.19
As usual, comments are always welcome. Most images can be enlarged with tapping of finger stretching. Thanks to Google Maps and Wikipedia for certain images and information used for this series. M 🙂
Today, Wednesday, we would continue the adventure from Roberval, arriving at what would be our ultimate destination, indicated below as “Route du Nord”
In Part Two, I covered our initial 725 miles (1,167 km) non-stop drive over just under 22 hours from New Jersey to Roberval, Quebec Province, Canada. “Day Two” began at 9:45 AM August 31, 1966, in that lakeside town, driving North-West among more alpine lakes enjoying a smooth, well maintained paved road.
Within about 35 miles (56 km), however, we came across this worrisome signpost just inside another provincial park, (“Chibougamau Reserve”) indicating the end of the pavement. 😦
65 mph (104 km/hr.) was no longer practical on the gravel surface that stretched endlessly ahead. Stones occasionally pelted the sides of the car; and as this was lumber country, massive logging trucks would fly by enveloping us in choking clouds of dirt and dust.
It would be 115 miles (186 km) before reaching pavement again, at the junction of Rt. 58 West (now known as Rt. 113.) After hours of gravel, the Sprite’s ride felt smoother than ever! Eight miles (13 km) later we would be in the last town while heading north in this part of the world, Chibougamau, serving a growing copper mining region, logging, and the Royal Canadian Air Force radar services.
Continuing, …the pavement ended again just past the town, as we once again were on the gravel road. Thirty minutes later we arrived at the barrier shown below. Its deterrent-rousing presence seemed to emphasize increasing aches and pains, emotional drain and weariness to us, not to mention the effects of dust inhalation and a worsening cold, on my part. We decided this would be our turn-around point as the road would end about 100 miles (161 km) further with limited or no amenities, and likely little change in scenery.
3:25 PM, 8/31/66, 918 car miles (1477 km) – 632 miles (1017 km) as the crow flies.
The non-stop return trip would first take us over 200 miles (322 km) on an unprecedented, unexpected overnightchallenge of gravel and poorly maintained, primitive dirt road before reaching dawn and the increase of population, north of Ottawa!
See the conclusion of “A Northbound Adventure,” (Part Four) here.
Thanks for viewing, and comments are always welcome. Zoom-in or finger-stretch for a closer view of the maps and images. M 🙂
Bergenfield, N.J. to Roberval, Quebec Provence, Canada
Leaving Bergenfield in a car loaded with what we thought we needed, like snacks and juice, blankets and a spare five-gallon container of fuel between the seats, we began our odyssey about 10 pm, August 29th and drove through the night, reaching Canada by sunrise, 325 miles (520 km) later. Our general plan was to go straight north, as far as we could by car. However, back in 1966, there were few, if any, roads that penetrated the vast lake regions of Quebec Province. We would need to bend a bit North-East along the St Lawrence River, which would have us pass through Montreal, Trois-Rivieres, and Quebec City.
After entering Canada, it would be another 6 1/2 hours to Quebec City.
By 1:30 PM, we would be leaving Quebec via Route 54 North (today known as 175,) eventually passing through “Laurentide,” one of several provincial parks, as we continued north. The well maintained road wound through incredible scenery with deep green-blue lakes and vast northern forested terrain under clear, bright skies. The virtual non-existence of traffic was a welcome contrast to the cities to the south.
After four hours, we surrendered our temporary permit for the park and continued on Rt. 54a (169) eventually passing Lac-Saint-Jean (above.) In Chambord, we tested our versatility with the French language, (clearly none as a request for ice cream brought cherry pie!) and managed to get additional food while a jukebox played French records – except for one “Beatles” and one “Dave Clark Five” song! A little later, after driving 725 miles (1167 km,), we stopped at 8:00 PM for the night, in a fairly good-sized town, Roberval, (as seen on the Google map above.) After walking around in the chilly air and watching part of a Kings Court softball game in a nearby park, we rented a room above a noisy bar for $5.00, giving us a chance to rest and warm up, although by now I was suffering from a nasty cold, and the loud “Thump, Thump, Thump” of the band one floor below was not particularly medicinal.
See Part Three here as we arrived at the northern most point of our journey.
As usual, thanks for viewing. Zoom-in by clicking on, or finger stretching the images. And, comments are always welcomed. M 🙂
It was late August. Summer jobs were finishing and my friend and I wanted to do something different before returning to school. “Let’s drive north, as far as we can go!”
(Three-second pause …) “Ok!”
Although my 1962 Austin Healy Sprite was slightly damaged by a rear-ending just a week before, its fun handling characteristics and open-air ambiance was an easy choice of vehicle, not to mention great mileage for college kid’s stingy budgets.
There was little debate, and in the warm, humid air of a New Jersey evening, we decided, …the trip was on.
Back in 1966, there was no internet or Google Maps. Preparation was more fly-by-wire as our available time and financial resources didn’t allow many options besides just …going! The Sinclair, Mobil, or Exxon paper maps were our planning media, and if it wasn’t on the map, we’d have to resort to local advice along the way.
Below is the 1098 cc Sprite as it appeared ten months prior our trip, when it was …clean! (“FANG,” the dog, agreed to be the model!)
The top photo could have been taken last week. But when I stood on the Capitol lawn with the EXA camera, man was yet to step foot on the moon and our president was embroiled in a Southeast Asian war. The camera was a manual SLR, with something called photographic film, from Kodak. (Admittedly some digital enhancing gave the image just a little more snap than the original snap! 🙂 )
As usual, click on the image for a closer look, and thanks for viewing. Comments are always welcome. M 🙂