Month: September 2016

Biking Le Portage and La Grève

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34℉ at 6:00 with a high of 60

Monday, September 26th

We rode the bike trails across the valley of Parc National du Bic. It’s not a big park, so the ride was about 12.5 miles through beautiful forrest and along fields lined with rail fences. The park is along a series of bays defined by old mountains of the Appalachian Range. At the south end of the park we came out on a beach where two ladies discussed the day’s news. It was a chilly 50℉ with the ever-present wind off the St. Lawrence, but that didn’t stop one of the ladies from taking off her shoes and walking in the water. The temperature was perfect for biking or hiking, but a heavy cotton shirt does you no good when stoping and that wind cools you down. 

We walked down to La Coulèe for lunch, using a big rock as a wind break. We were on Baie du Ha! Ha!, which is beautiful. As we sat, we watched hundreds of little crayfish, or something like it, swimming around in the shallow pools of low tide. So this is what the seagulls come to feed on at low tide! 

Parc National du Bic

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We drove north to Parc National du Bic on the St. Lawrence River. The mountains are very old, worn down to steep hills, but still very pretty. The bays are home to seals, called phoques in French. The pronunciation of this word makes interesting conversation in English. Driving around the park to get the big picture, we saw the seals resting on rocks in the bays. The tide was out, exposing rocks and sand in the bays. We toured a second campground that was very busy. Our campground is next to the only highway going north, but the traffic isn’t a bother in the Airstream, and the view of the bay is nice. Actually, it is interesting watching the cars and trucks traveling the only road going around the Gaspè Peninsula. Population of the Peninsula is 133,000, so I would ’t think there would be so many on the road, but it is busy with tractor trailers, cars and campers. A railroad track parallels the road here. I love the sound of the train whistle, and the cars rumbling past. But if you like your campground more quiet, Camping Rioux is for you.

Laura and Willie


A very special thank you to these two amazing ladies. Friends of Gayle Wooten’s, they have taken such wonderful care of her in her time of need. Gayle’s incredible group of friends continue to support her in so many ways. A card, a note or a phone call mean so much. We spent a great day together while these ladies moved her to Symphony Manor, where they had selected the apartment to be warm and sunny. They painted it and measured it for Gayle’s furniture, and helped move her in. Meanwhile I had the easy job of taking her to the Baltimore Museum. to lunch and to Rawlings Botanic Gardens. Driving Laura’s Prius, I only got lost once. I Googled Baltimore Gardens and drove there to the south side of Baltimore, through some rough neighborhoods, to the Gayle’s continuous comments of, “Where are we going?” Well, Baltimore Gardens is a neighborhood……without any gardens. 

I am also amazed with Gayle’s positive spirit. While we can’t always understand what she is talking about, she can tell what we are talking about, and her quick, reflex responses are quite good and often humorous. She can still communicate with a look, and her infinite variety of facial expressions. She handled her move with some tears and fears, but then put on her positive face and gracefully toured the new facility, greeting all the new people. With a good sense of humor, a positive spirit and incredible friends, it’s a good life.

Thank you to these wonderful ladies and to all of Gayle’s friends who are so supportive.

Dropping Back Toward Quebec City

59℉ at 5:00, 68 high

Tuesday, September 20,2016

I fly to Baltimore Thursday, so Martha was anxious to move today to get laundry done, get a propane tank filled and get some groceries. She has decided to stay in a campground along the St. Lawrence. It will be her first time alone in the trailer, and that is a totally different feeling. If she doesn’t feel comfortable in the campground, it will give us time to move. She is thinking about biking along the coast or visiting small towns along the river, so we drove to St.Jean-Port-Jolie, about an hour from the bridge to Quebec. We checked into Bonnet Red Campground right in town. A very nice couple is beside us. They come here every year, and it is their favorite place, so they will be here for three days. That is very comforting.

We did a bunch of laundry and cruised around town to get the big picture. It is a big wood carving area with a large museum. There are cute shops and restaurants, and there is a very nice bike trail all along the St. Lawrence. 

Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata

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60℉ at 6:00 and a high of 75

Sunday, September 18, 2016

After a good night’s sleep, I felt a bit better. We went up to the very cool Visitor’s Center where we met Brigette, who had waited for us until 8:00 last night! Geez, I am so sorry! Like many Quebec people, she said she didn’t speak very good English, but she did great. She explained the park to us, where to go and what to do. We sat down to catch up on emails and book a flight to Baltimore and a place for Martha to stay in Quebec. They have a great WIFI:}

After lunch we opted for a canoe rental on Lac Touladi, putting in at the top, called Petit Lac Touladi. It takes 6 hours to paddle to the end of the lake, so we decided on going just to the top of the big lake and then going back, which turned out to be about a two-hour trip. It was a very pretty afternoon. I’m usually not too big on canoeing big lakes, but we really enjoyed this one. There is a lot of marsh around the lake, perfect for ducks, and we saw a lot with many different kinds. As the winds quieted in the afternoon, we couldn’t help staring at cloud reflections in the water. On the return trip, we went along the eastern shore of the lake, seeing big piles of mussel shells on the banks. There is a big story here about an indian, who once hunted beavers here, but then dedicated his life to protecting them. There are a lot of beaver houses, but there are also muskrats and raccoons. It was obvious there are a lot of mussels in the lake and a lot of whatever eats them. 

When you paddle in the middle of the lake, you don’t feel like you are going anywhere, but when you are on the edge, you can see how fast you are going. It was my impression we could paddle the lake faster than we could walk it. In the old days, it was the only way to travel. Lakes and rivers were the highways of the times. 

They have great showers and bathrooms here, so we cleaned up, fixed dinner and enjoyed another Will Smith movie – “Focus”, which was very good. What a luxury, especially when you have a cold, to lie in bed and watch a movie! 

Drive to Parc National Du Lac-Temiscouata

We needed to catch the 9:30 ferry across the St. Lawrence, so we started getting ready at 7:00 and left at 8:00. We checked to see if anyone was up at the house, but all was quiet. It was Saturday and we wanted to let them sleep. I had a terrible cold and didn’t feel good. It is only 38km to the ferry and we got there in plenty of time. What could go wrong? It was a full moon and a very low tide, so they couldn’t take us! They took everyone but us. I started writing the blog, but was just too tired with the cold, so I got back in bed and slept for an hour. There is a campground next to the parking lot, so Martha went and asked if she could use their WIFI and they nicely said yes. Later she went to a nearby restaurant and got vegetable soup.

By 2:00 we boarded the ferry for a 1 1/2 hour trip across the St. Lawrence. We went upstairs to a lounge and watched for whales, seeing a couple of Belugas. I promptly fell asleep for another nap. 

There were two national parks that were close, and we chose Parc National Du Lac-Témiscouata. My navigator gets very stressed on a new route and seems to be having some difficulty with right and left, but we only made one bad turn. After stopping to grocery shop, we finally got set up in our new campsite in the rain by 7:00. Two signs told us to go to the campsite and check in the following day if we cam in late, and that’s what we did. Some people had complained online about the park because a gravel road leads in, but they have paved most of it now. I was asleep at 7:30. 

Bike Isle-Aux-Coudres

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Fred also told us about going to Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive and taking the free ferry over to an island in the St. Lawrence, where you can bike all the way around. We decided to take the truck across, which was a good decision, as the road off the ferry is quite steep and long. We parked in a municipal building’s lot and headed into the wind north. Fred had told us the winds can be tough, especially if you hit them on the return side of the island. It was difficult to keep the pace as there were so many photographic opportunities – views of the St. Lawrence, cute little houses, old barns and farmer’s fields. We stopped by one bay where the wind was particularly strong and a man was wind surfing with a kite. Fred had told us he used to wind surf, so I sent him a picture of this guy, who really knew what he was doing. Fred replied that the 3rd best woman kitesurfer in the world is from that island – Catherine Dufour. Also Dominique Maltais is from here, and is 3-time world snowboard champion in the X-Games. She is his daughter, Laura’s, idol. It is a beautiful ride around the island, and we would never have known about it if Fred had not told us. 

We cleaned up and went to Chez Truchon for dinner just a couple of blocks up the street. It’s a beautiful restaurant with excellent service and food. Martha had a yellow beat salad, cream of leek soup and cod. I had a nice halibut and vegetables, and we shared a sinful desert. I had been clearing my throat all day, thinking it was allergies, but now a pretty good cold was catching up with me. After two glasses of wine and dinner, I was ready to go to bed.

Secret Beach

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We took Fred up on his incredible offer and moved to his house, where he has a big driveway next to his office. We had a great visit with him for a couple of hours when he brought us chocolate and pear brioches and a bagette. Those brioches were so good, we ate them right up. What a guy this Fred is! I know we got him in trouble with Marie-Eve, but it was such a nice morning to sit and talk with him. 

He told us about a one-hour hike to a pretty, secret beach, so that was our adventure of the day. We drove down a narrow road  that ended at a little dock facing a small bay with an island in the middle and mountains surrounding it. Two little cabins were perched on the rocks to the right. Small boats tied up at the dock were likely used to get to the cabins. We had lunch at a picnic table, watching people come and go and two kayakers with all the gear get ready for an excursion around the island. Martha watched especially closely as the young guy was quite handsome. 

After lunch we started across a little bridge and up the mountain. Someone had done a lot of work building steps and railings. Martha was a bit grumpy about climbing more steps and mountains, but she went on. Surprisingly, at the end it is a gradual walk down to the beach, and it is well-worth the trip. On a small cove, the beach is beautiful and quiet. We sat on a bench, resting and enjoying the view. Again, we felt like we could have been in the Bahamas. Three whales came through as we sat. Ducks and seagulls were swimming around rocks on the left that led to a great little house. A young couple had been walking on the beach and came up to clean their feet and put their shoes back on. They had come from Montreal, and she had found out about the trail on the internet. We told them we were planning to cross over to Gaspè, and they said it is quite beautiful. They hadn’t traveled all the way to the end, but said the road follows the St. Lawrence through cute little towns right on the water.

Galerie d’Art Au P’tit Bonheur

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

We met Fred at Stoneham Campground. He loves Airstreams, and his son, Antoinne, suggested he talk with us. We had noticed his immaculate campsite two sites down from us. We were walking parallel to each other and exchanged a smile and a nod of the head. We met at the other side of the shower where he had come to wash dishes. We talked about Airstreams for a few minutes, and I could see the enthusiasm in his eyes. I could quickly see he was well-read on Airstreams. Then we talked about where we were going and where we had been. He had some great suggestions on where to go and where to stay. Martha quickly wrote them down. I don’t know what it is in a handshake, a short conversation and a smile, but we felt like old friends in a short time. He sat down at a picnic table and showed us on my computer how to get places and what routes to take. He talked about the destination art gallery that he and his wife have in La Malbaie, inviting us to come and visit. We learned he was a computer engineer who had worked for Expedia, but was now doing the website for the Gallery, and it’s a good one!

Our intention was to go to Grands-Jardins, then come back down to 138 and LaMalbie, but we went north to Lac St-Jean and stayed a while. We stayed in communication with Fred all along our route, but felt we had messed up their plans, but Fred, always courteously, replied telling us more about where to go – truly a patient man. Finally, we were in La Malbaie and were excited to visit him and see the art gallery.

As we drove into town on a rainy morning, we made the turn, but didn’t see the house or gallery, but Martha saw a man standing on the sidewalk with an umbrella. It was Fred directing us where to park. We exchanged greetings, then he took us through the house, meeting Jeanette, and then going to the gallery to meet Marie-Eve. This is a lady passionate about art. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Many people came through the gallery while she told us about the artists and about how their gallery works. It is not by consignment. They purchase the works from artists in Quebec and now across Canada. Marie-Eve’s grandfather started with a framing shop. Then her father started the gallery, renovating an old house that had been on the market for years. Marie-Eve worked in the gallery summers and vacations as she was going to school. With degrees in Art and Business, she began to take the lead role in the gallery, but her parents still enjoy working there.

It is a great gallery with beautiful grounds, and a huge parking lot that can easily handle big RV’s and trailers. Their website at, shows more than what is shown in the gallery. Amazingly, Marie-Eve makes herself available for phone calls and final sales. They have a Canada project where they are working with an artist named St-Gilles, to paint the most spectacular places in Canada. I want to go to all of those places! The staff is outstanding. It is a wonderful gallery run by wonderful, highly organized people! We stayed with them for two great days. I can only hope our paths will cross again.

Moving Sud to La Malbaie

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Driving back to Tadoussac, the very efficient crew guided us onto the ferry and in 10 minutes we were on the other side. After stopping for a very slow road construction site, I noticed two dump trucks, a pickup and a car behind me, but there was nowhere for me to pull over to let them pass. After you haven’t driven for a few days, it takes a while to get back into the feel of pulling a trailer, so I was surely being a bit too cautious. One dump truck finally passed me and gave me a sign by waving his arm up and down. I read the sign to be, “You must keep up”, so I tried the best I could. Then the pickup passed me when the road turned to a double lane going up a steep hill. A long blast of the horn was clear enough. Then the last dump truck and car passed without communication, but I didn’t look over to see if he was making any other signs. Maybe he was the nice guy of the crew. Another construction site in the middle of a busy town, and you realize how tough this road is, especially for so many who work. Delivery trucks, construction trucks and tractor trailers often hauling huge pieces of equipment.  Delivery trucks have to make schedules and I know slow, cautious RV drivers drive them crazy. I will do better getting out of their way. 

We arrived in La Malbaie with the goal of visiting Fred and seeing Haute Gorge National Park. We found a little municipal campground at Base Plein Air, where the young man spoke no English. Martha is getting better with her French, and checked us in. Across from us someone had a very big party the night before. Bottles and cans were strewn all over the place. Fortunately, it was totally quiet. The bathrooms were very clean, and it turned out to be a nice, little campground. 

After getting situated and fixing lunch, we went to Haute Gorge National Park. We decided on a bike ride that follows the river north until it turns west through the mountains. You could also do this with on a boat cruise and the ranger will tell you the history of the park and the river. Riding for an hour, we came upon a campground for tents, so if you are a hiker or kayaker, you can stay here for the night. There are bathrooms and there is water. There are also places to hang your food so the bears don’t steal your breakfast during the night. The Malbaie River is a beautiful river that travels north through Grand Jardins National Park, where I had fished it. Then it turns east through the mountains into Haute Gorge National Park, then down to the town of La Malbaie and into the St. Lawrence. It would be fun to hike and fish this great river above the campground. Later, in the town of La Malbaie, we would see people fishing for salmon.

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