Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Archive for ‘September 5th, 2016’

Sauntier La Pinèda at Petite Saguenay

49℉ at 4:00am and high 77, 49 at 8:30pm

Saturday, September 4, 2016

We drove to the mouth of the Quai (dock) Petite Sanguenay where the Petit Sanguenay meets the Sanguenay. It is a beautiful spot with a concrete pier, picnic tables and a place to launch a boat. When we got there at 9:00 the parking area was full. It is Labor Day weekend, so everyone is out, and the forecast is for a perfect day. A couple form Montreal asked us to take a picture of them, and we talked for a while. They said they took the whale tour yesterday and it was spectacular. 

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As we walked back to the car, we saw a man with a fly rod and a fishing basket walking with purpose along the beach. I couldn’t be sure, but I don’t think he had waders on. He walked around the cove to the other side then began wading out into the bay. Once he was waist deep, he began casting with a long fly rod. He didn’t let the fly sit but a second or two, then walked and cast again. Keeping this up for 25 casts, he caught a fish and put it in his basket. We watched a few more casts and went on.

Driving back through the cute town of Petit Saguenay, we drove 20 minutes to the Plage (beach) on the Sanguenay River to hike the Pinèda (pine forrest). This is in a little piece of Parc National du Fjord du Sanguenay. It’s a 3-hour intermediate hike. It was cool when we started, so I wore long pants and a long sleeve fishing shirt – big mistake, as it would get hot when we began the climb. The first part of the hike was a bit boring, and we couldn’t really be sure we were on the right hike, our maps being very basic, but it turned out to be the right one. It wanders along the coast through a beautiful forrest before climbing to the top for a spectacular view. On our way back down, we passed two ladies camped right across from us, and lots of others followed. The parking lot was full when we got back down. I changed my shirt and tied it to the kayak to dry on our drive back to town.

We had been eyeing Cafe Bistro Boutique Les’Arts since we got here, but no one was ever in the parking lot. We decided to give it a go. At 2:30 there was again no one there. A lady met us at the bar while a man was behind an overhang of glasses, pots and pans. We studied the menu, which was of course in French. She asked if we needed translation, and we were happy she spoke good English. I chose Salmon and an expresso, while Martha ordered creamed vegetable soup and a salad of hearts of Palm and Artichokes, and a beer. It is a local artist place, probably where they meet and talk and also show their work. There was a picture of the restaurant with snow covering half of the building. We sat outside on this perfect day and watched a few more people trickle in. Lots of motorcycles passed by, as it is a great route to ride and explore. Local ladies were walking their babies through town, which is about 5 blocks. Others were walking for exercise. There is a beautiful Promenade along the Petite Sanguenay with hanging flower pots. The Coop de consommation is across the street. I wish I owned it! It’s a gas station/grocery store where all the locals go as well as everyone who comes through town. Probably 30 motorcycle riders were taking a break there. Martha’s soup was so good she wanted to lick the bowl. My salmon arrived and it was sushi, which I don’t do. There was a salad, an orange wedge, a splotch of soft cheese and two pieces of some kind of toast. Gingerly tasting a bit while testing Martha’s salad, it grew on me. Actually, it was excellent, and Martha loved her healthy salad. 

We thought about doing something else, but decided to go back to camp, get some laundry and clean up a bit. Martha went to the Coop and bought a salmon steak, a sausage, corn on the cob, squash and a baguette. I got the fire going while we showered and did laundry. I did the tepee method of starting the fire and it did great until it all collapsed. Trying to add more wood, I smothered it. I could hear Kelly giving me grief now. I had the perfect smoke-producing fire ever. I was sure everyone in the campground was looking at all this smoke wondering what these gringos from Virginia in an Airstream were doing. I started on the wine as I added a couple of fire starters and paper underneath. More smoke! The area around the fire pit was loaded with termites, and they were all coming out! I’ve never seen anything like it. I had noticed a lot of what I thought were ant hills, but they turned out to be termite hills. I looked at the Airstream. We’ll probably have termites eating the floor. A pileated woodpecker loves our campground, totally unafraid of people. Now I know why. 

By the third glass of wine, the fire got started and quickly built up embers for cooking. Happily, the termites went to back to their homes. 

Zodiac Cruise in Parc National Fjord-du-Saguenay

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It was a cool, overcast day for a trip on the Saguenay in a rubber boat, so we dressed warmly. It was also sprinkling rain. Arriving at the visitor’s center at 1:30 we filled out our paperwork, relieving anyone of any responsibility. A young man introduced himself as our guide, asking where we were from as we walked down to the boat. He lives just the other side of Mont Valin. So here we are in Quebec with a very nice guy who lives nearby, and what’s his name? Rafael! I meant to get the rest of the story, but never did. He did an outstanding job of explaining all the intricacies of the Saguenay and the St. Lawrence that makes this place so special. It is difficult to comprehend all of the water in Quebec – all those lakes and big rivers, but add to that the Great Lakes. All of this water drains into the St. Lawrence River! It is 25% of all the fresh water on Earth. As the glaciers formed this area, they cut what would become the river as deep a the mountains are high, and it is pretty much a vertical drop off. As all of this formed, there was a huge pile up of rock, like a huge bull dozer might make an underwater dam in the Saguenay. The Atlantic and Arctic Oceans are flowing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and into the river, bringing huge amounts of plankton, krill and other foods that whales and other mammals like to eat, but this food source can’t move past that pile-up in the Saguenay. Therefore, the whales and dolphins don’t come either. Most of this water is also fresh water, with some sea water staying on the bottom layer. But past that pile-up where all that fresh water meets that huge flow of seawater filled with food is a very special place. We can’t wait to take that whale cruise!

There is a story about a man driving a wagon on the Saguenay in the winter where the river freezes 12 deep. He broke through the ice. Praying to the Virgin Mary to save him, he managed to escape. So indebted, he had a huge statue of the Mother Mary carved from pine. It was shipped in pieces up the river, then cut further into 14 pieces so it could be hauled by hand to it’s resting place on the Saguenay where it has survived through sometimes brutal conditions for over 100 years!

As Rafael took the very quiet and smooth -running Yamaha around the bay, he stopped to look at a big vertical rock where climbers were working their way to the top. Apparently it takes about three days for them to make the climb, sleeping on the cliff. I thought walking that ledge was crazy enough! Then along to what looked like a very deep cut in the mountain, Rafael pointed to the other side of the river where there was an identical one. This is a fault where two tectonic plates meet. I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite quotes by Will Durant in the book Krakatoa, “Civilizations exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice”.


Camping Petit Saguenay

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50℉ at 5:30 am, high of 62 and cloudy

Saturday, September 3, 2016

This is a great campground, spread out nicely with grass, two services, WIFI, very clean bathrooms and a nice office. There is an area across the street with the cutest cabins, right on the river. For $100/night you can sleep four. It has the feel of a very nice fishing camp, which it really is. The big draw is salmon fishing, which of course is all over now. July is the big month when 90cm salmon are caught. That’s a three-foot salmon! You can only hook two for the day and you have to turn them loose. Every pool is named, and I’m sure someone is fishing every one. I’m not sure what kind they are, but they happily don’t die, but go back to sea. It looks like it will cost a non-resident about $100/day for the privilege. Just down the road toward town is a spring where you can fill your water bottles.