Day: October 6, 2016

Caraquet and The Acadian Isles

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40℉ at 7:00 with a high of 72℉

We are camped at a lovely campground facing Chaleur Bay at Camping Caraquet in the cute town of Caraquet. We drove to the tip of Acadia Isles that define the southern tip of Chaleur Bay. As we crossed a bridge, lots of cars were pulled over and people were out looking at something, so we followed suit. A group of dolphins have been stranded in the bay for several days. There is a plan to lead them out today with sonar. People were feeding them from the bridge.

Stopping at a park, we learned all about peat bogs with their beautiful fall colors. Signs told us about all the berries in this type of growth – Huckleberries  raisin berries, and others I can’t remember. Suddenly, looking at the bushes took on another meaning and we saw all the berries. Like blueberry fields, you could walk through there picking a whole bunch of berries if you knew what you were doing. Hard to come by, they would be made into jams and chutneys for special occasions. I have always heard of huckleberry pies, but have never seen one. 

We drove to the end to see the lighthouse and a bunch of inukshuks on the beach. We saw incredibly beautiful marshes, but not many ducks. It was hot! By the time we stopped for lunch, we were in shirtsleeves. At a diner overlooking the fishing boats in Caraquet, Martha had trout, veggies and fries while I had Cod, veggies and a salad. She won! The Cod was good, but the trout was great.

There is a great bike trail that goes for 43K that goes through town all the way out to the lighthouse. Not wanting to take the bikes off for a short trip, we walked it for an hour before heading back to camp. It was a great evening to sit out, but mosquitoes soon drove us inside. We were lucky to have reserved a campsite in Kouchibouguac National Park for three nights as it was the last one available on the last weekend they are open.

Driving the South Coast of Chaleur Bay

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We got off late as I was talking to the campground owner, a very nice guy. Like many others, they work the campground all season and then go to Daytona. He likes car racing. He has a ’77 Argosy Airstream he uses for hunting, but he said he wouldn’t hesitate to drive it across Canada. He just bought the camper next to us for $4,500, saying the quality isn’t so good, but he rents it out and will have paid for it by the end of next season. 

We stopped in a few scenic places before crossing into New Brunswick. At a Visitor’s Center, we picked up more brochures and talked for a while with the agent. She said, yes, things will be closing down by the end of the weekend, but you can park in K-Marts and church parking lots. On her suggestion we had lunch in Sugarbush Provincial Park. It was warm and beautiful with the leaves in full color, and children feeding the ducks.

Then we got on Rt. 11 and drove hard until 5:30, arriving at a big campground in Caraquet. It was Fermé. Martha called another and a nice lady said to just pick a site and she would see us at 9:00 in the morning. It turned out to be a beautiful campground right on the water. We chose our site and showered. With a beer and glass of wine, we watched the sun set before Martha made a great soup of the mussels and left over trout. We had bought a small fish lasagne from the Poissonerie, which was wonderful.

Martha checked out Kouchibouguac National Park, about four hours away. They close next week. We are at the southern tip of Chaleur Bay now, and want to explore the Acadian Isles while we are here. It’s too bad things are beginning to close. We have been so lucky with the weather, and the forecast for this week is fantastic.

Chaleur Bay is ranked in the top 10 most beautiful bays in the world. Driving the north side of it, I wasn’t so impressed, but today driving the south side of it, I agree. With more farms and little houses sitting on a cliff overlooking the bay with blue waters sparkling in the sun, it was a pleasure to drive. 

Percé and on to New Richmond

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42℉ at 5:00 with high of 55

Monday, October 3, 2016

We packed up and headed south. I had a relapse with my cold, so I wasn’t feeling too spunky, but it was a pretty drive on a very windy day.  When we got to Percé the winds were blowing up a gale, but the sky was clear and the Northern Gannets were unconcerned as they flew all over the bay feed ing on whatever the rough seas brought in. We could have easily bypassed this spot, but that would have been a mistake. It is a beautiful place, even in the howling winds. In fact the winds made it even prettier with the waves splashing up on the shore and all the birds flying. There is a little campground right on the cove that was still open. It would be a great place to stay, but we needed to move on.

New Richmond is a pretty, little town on Chaleur Bay, which is listed as one of the prettiest bays in the world. We found a campground that was open, set up camp, built a fire and cooked potatoes and a trout we  bought at a Poissonerie. This is a campground where people leave their campers all year, and it sits beside the Cascapèdia River, rated in the top 10 salmon rivers in the world. I didn’t care. I was tired and not feeling so well. There are no fire pits beside the campsites, but all on the river.  While it was cooking at one of those fire pits with my truck parked beside it, an older man drove very slowly past, giving me a serious look. He parked right in front of the truck and got out. I was in no mood, so if he wanted to get nasty, I was ready. He was very overweight, with a big bubble sticking out of his belly button, exposed by his shirt that could not cover the protuberance. Unshaven and with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, he approached. Martha and I said the usual. “Bonjour” and he of course grumbled some French that we couldn’t understand. We asked for English, and he said “OK”. Then I asked if we had taken his favorite fishing spot. Then he said “Oh no. Any place is good as another”. I asked what kind of fish were caught here, and he said trout. “What kind of trout?” He couldn’t find the word in English, but I gathered Speckled Trout, maybe Brook Trout. “There are not so many any more” he said. Our fish was cooked now, and I moved to a cooler spot off the fire. He saw that, turned away and bid us a good night. 

The fish was great! After cleaning up, I saw he was sitting in his car with the heat on and dimmer lights illuminating his rod. I tried to approach without scaring him, asking if he was catching anything and what he was fishing with. Worms, always worms!  He grew up here, hunting and fishing, then worked for a company that sent him all over Canada. Retired now for 15 years, he said he likes this place better than any other in all of Canada. Asking why the fishing was not so good any more, he said bass have moved in, and what I gathered were Striped Bass. since then, the trout population has dwindled. He talked about how famous this river is for salmon fishing, but now is not as good. It was difficult to determine all he was saying in broken English interspersed with French words, but it sure is better than my French! He said there are now Steelhead coming in. A Steelhead is a Rainbow Trout that goes to sea and back into the rivers. Rainbow Trout love to eat Salmon eggs. He said he has seen videos where the Rainbow will butt into the Salmon females to punch the eggs out. He talked about how the Striped Bass is a nice enough fish to catch, but not so much to eat, and the Steelhead is similar. “They are not like trout”, he said.

I asked if the weather is warmer now than when he grew up, as Stripped Bass shouldn’t be able to survive cold trout streams. He said, “OH yes!” It is moose hunting season now, and when he grew up, there was snow on the ground. Cleaning a moose is a big job. Now the temperatures can reach 72℉. People have to take huge coolers with ice to dress the moose. Even yesterday at 55℉, if you are out of the wind, the sun is quite warm. You could wear shorts and a short sleeve shirt in the sun, but you would have to put more clothes on in the shade. I wished him good luck with his fishing.

Hike Mont-Saint-Alban Loop

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40℉ at 5:00 with a high of 66

Sunday, October 2, 2016

We decided to hike the Mont-Saint-Alban Loop, a 7,8K, 3.5-hour hike to the lookout tower, over the other side and back. It’s a pretty steep hike from Cap-B0n-Ami, but the views are spectacular. You get several viewing areas along the way where we marveled at the clear water. It would be great to snorkel or dive here. It was Sunday, and another perfect day so there were lots o people on the trail, but not so many on the loop. On the tower, we had a nice conversation with a couple from Fernie, BC, who had been traveling for 7.5 weeks.

 For a while we hiked along the IAT. At one point I looked up and was sure there was a small bear walking the trail toward us, maybe only a hundred yards away. We whistled and yelled and it soon turned off the trail. Walking on, we quickly saw it was a very big porcupine. I don’t know how big these things get, but I can’t imagine they get much bigger.

Arriving back at the parking lot, we were pretty proud of ourselves. That was two days of hiking and parts of my body were talking to me. We felt fortunate to avoid injuries, but tomorrow is a travel day, so we can rest our legs.

After lunch we drove to Gaspè and poked around town. We will be coming through tomorrow, but it’s a lot easier to stop without the trailer. By the time we got back to camp and showered, we were pretty tired. Martha cooked the rest of the mussels. We had a salad and the smoked Cod along with some wine. It was a good day!

Hike to Cap Gaspè

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41℉ at 5:00 am and high of 69℉

Saturday, October 1, 2016

We moved from Camping des Appalache to Parc National Forillon. We stopped for groceries, and then went to a pêcherie (fish store) close to the docks. So hard to choose what to buy, we settled on a bag of mussels, a Halibut steak, a bit of smoked Cod and Cod fillets. Lobster are out of season, but they had some in the tanks at $15/lb. 

Setting up our new camp, I laid a fire while Martha fixed a picnic lunch. Then we drove over the mountain to the south side of the point. There are picnic tables at the parking lot, so we had lunch there, marveling at the incredible view. Information signs told us fishermen came from the Channel Islands to live and fish here. They were comfortable here as it is on the same parallel with their former home. They fished for Cod, salting and smoking them to ship back to England. 

Walking a gravel road to the tip of Forillon is about 4K out and 4K back. We saw several people running it! It was hard enough for us to walk it. You could walk down the steep slopes to walk the edge of the water, but we decided the walk back up was too steep. There was one spot down there where a young couple sat on a bench watching two seals playing – a spectacular spot.

It was a perfect day, not a cloud in the sky and just a gentle breeze. Thinking that cold wind would be blowing, we put on layers, but quickly came out of them. This is surely one of the prettiest places I have ever seen, so pure, so clean. White sea birds flying against the deep blue sea with crystal clear waters. Ducks swam near the coast. Seals played all along our walk, and we finally saw three whales on our return walk. Pictures can hardly capture the immense beauty of this big bay or this land. It is surely one of the best national parks I have seen.

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