Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Canada’ category

Hiking Maple Grove and Hopewell Rocks

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36℉ at 6:00 and a high of 57℉

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It was chilly when we started the Maple Grove hike at 9:30, but it went up a mountain, so I was soon shedding layers. We stayed quiet as were sure we would see a bear or moose. Nothing! Well, the cute little squirrels were talking to us. A small cabin greets you at the top with an inside and outside fireplace. It is only open in the winter for those who will snowshoe to the top. After we came down there was a short hike to Dickinson Falls. This was a beautiful area, looking like a Japanese garden with walkways all along the small stream that runs through the golf course above. The golf course reminds me of the old course at the Homestead in Virginia. It is only nine holes, but it is beautiful. No one was on it!

We came back to camp for sandwiches and then drove back east 35km to Hopewell Rocks. On our way out of town, we stopped at the bakery and picked up some bread, sticky buns and cookies stuffed with dates, sampling the cookies as we drove. We arrived at Hopewell rocks along with a bunch of others including a couple of bus tours. Of course there are the huge swings in tides here. Though hundreds of years the waters have eroded rocks into islands with peculiar shapes. Ripley visited the spot in the 30’s and wrote an article the paper and his name stuck – Ripley’s Flower Pot. A man was guiding a bus tour through the rocks, and we tagged along. He was great, telling stories about the rocks, seaweeds and things that lived in the muddy waters of the Petitcodiac River. One of the seaweeds has a gelatinous material that is used to make ice cream and toothpaste. 

Leaving Hopewell Rocks, we took the scenic Lighthouse Route back. The road was rough, small and wound through some rough country, but parts of it were extraordinary. So many marshes followed the route, I was drooling. We followed a road to Point Enrage. I questioned our wisdom as we drove this little, windy, rough road, but when we ended up at the top of a cliff, the views were incredible looking back up the river toward Moncton. A lighthouse sits on the cliff protecting a very dangerous point. We could see and hear the tide rushing past those rocks. We talked with two young brothers visiting with their cousin. They live in Moncton and told the story of their parents who were walking along cliffs looking for fossils. They were so engrossed in what they were doing, they didn’t notice the quick tides coming in and their return route was cut off. They told of people getting hurt or killed in these situations all the time, but their parents somehow were able to climb the cliffs to escape the dangerous waters. They talked about how beautiful this place was, yet so difficult to describe or photograph.

Returning to the Lighthouse Route, we passed more beautiful marshes and huge, long beaches. This is a rough environment a long way from anything. There are houses, but not many, and most are very modest. I remember passing one dilapidated house and barn with the most spectacular views. The windy road led us back to Alma on the edge of Fundy National Park. We stopped at the takeout place for some clam fritters, but they were closed. 

Lighthouse Route and Fundy National Park

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45℉ at 6:00 with high of 58℉

Sunday, October 9, 2016

We packed up and drove south on Rt 11 for an hour before turning onto the coastal road, called the Lighthouse Trail. It was a good move as it was beautiful. The road is right on the coast with little houses and farms along the way. There were funny-looking things in the water that I think were for oyster farming. We passed a couple of men up to their butts digging for clams, or maybe oysters. The route goes out on a peninsula where there is a bridge to Prince Edward Island, but we cut across to Moncton. Driving through downtown, Moncton looks like a nice city. There is a beautiful walkway along the Petiticodiac River. We stopped and went over to see if we could catch the tidal bore as the muddy river bed was totally empty. People were out walking and jogging on this Thanksgiving Sunday, a pleasant morning. Soon we could see the water rushing in, although there wasn’t a big wave. This is the area where tides change up to 34 feet.

Crossing the river and turning along the south shore of New Brunswick, we passed a lot of campers returning home. At the eastern edge of Fundy National Park is a cute little coastal village of Alma. Martha drooled at the shops, seafood restaurants and two seafood markets. By the time we got to the Visitor’s Center, it was sprinkling rain. The nice young lady told us all about the park and where to go look for moose. Fishing was closed for the season. The campground was full and not as private as Kouchibouguac, but it is OK. We were lucky to get settled before the rains came harder. 

After lunch we went to the Visitor’s Center for WIFI. Finally I could connect to the WIFI and catch up on posting. I spent some time categorizing the posts, a tedious job, but I got a lot done before getting bored. Rt 114 runs right through the park. We drove north, stopping at a beautiful overlook. Nova Scotia loomed in the fog. We drove on to Caribou Trail to look for moose. A beautiful place for moose, we took a couple of pictures, but it was windy and raining, the worst kind of cold, so we drove and explored for a while, finding a great lake to kayak when the weather gets better. No moose were spotted. Maybe on a warmer evening, we could dress better and wait. 

During cocktail hour, we read the park brochure, and it’s a good one. It does the normal descriptions of trails and things to do in the park, but also has a map of Alma, listing all the stores and places of interest. Then there is a page in the back describing places to see along the southern coast of the Lighthouse Route.

We ate the last of the lobster Newburg over toast and a sweet potato with lobster sauce. Yum!

Kayaking Black River and Hiking Claire Fontaine Trail

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42℉ at 5:00 and 75 at 3:00

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Kayaking the Black River was the goal of the day. Since we just have one kayak, I went first to test the waters while Martha hiked the Claire Fontaine Trail. They haven’t had much rain, so the river was low. The tide was out, adding to the problem, but I enjoyed exploring for a little over an hour. I found a lot of ducks and some shore birds. Then the wind kicked up and I returned to the put-in spot. Shortly Martha returned from her hike, saying how much she enjoyed it. She opted to sit and read her book while I took the hike. Although the river is pretty, the leaves took center stage. We had our lunch at a picnic table in the sun, enjoying the view.

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Driving back, we stopped at Callanders Beach, which is on the sound. By now, the tide was in pretty good. It’s a couple of hundred yards to the beach, so I tried walking  across. Martha said she would wait. Once up to my knees at about 75 yards, I chickened out. Surely it would be fun in the summer. This is a gorgeous place, rich in fish, clams, lobsters, deer and moose. Like the Shenandoah National Park, they made a lot of people mad when they took their homes and farms, but it saved a beautiful place for generations.

Martha made Lobster Newburg with the extra lobsters. It was wonderful!

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Lobster and a Bike Ride

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44℉ at 5:00 with a high of 77℉

Friday, October 7, 2016

It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, so everyone is out, and the campground is quickly filling up. The weather forecast is great, except Sunday it is supposed to rain. We needed a few things from the grocery, so we drove to Saint-Louis (not THAT St. Louis!). As we crossed the river into town, a huge Acadian flag greeted us, waving in the light breeze. It is a French flag with a star on it. Martha had read about an outdoor store, so we stopped in. Obviously a busy place, they were well-stocked for fall, winter and hunting season with coats, gloves, boots, ski pants and shirts. Martha found a mid-weight coat she liked. 

There is a south end of the park here, so we asked how to get there. Following the road in front of the store, we arrived at a dock with fishing boats, a little sandwich shop and sheds where boats could store their gear. Martha read a park sign and thats all there was. There were no trails, just the docks. Martha said, “Let’s see if we can buy some lobsters”, so I followed her. Several crusty locals were talking on the dock, and she walked right up to them, her purse slung over her shoulder. They were quite happy to tell us how it all worked, and yes, you just wait for a boat to come in and go ask. A huge tractor trailer was pulling a boat of the water for the season. One gentleman was particularly friendly, talking about how warm it had been, and how it had been a good season for lobsters. Martha asked how you cook them, and they gave their directions. A younger man, looking more worldly came out of a building. His English was excellent. He had been an underwater welder, working in the middle east for a while and living in Vancouver for a long time. He had a girlfriend in the Bahamas, but had move back here to look after his sick father, and was working here as a boat mechanic. 

They pointed out a boat that had somehow slipped by us while we were talking, so we thanked them and went over to talk to the captain. One fellow pulled out his plastic bag to put lobsters in. I ran up to the truck to find something while Martha asked all about lobsters, how to cook them, whether you want girl or boy lobsters and what size is best. Only a little grey-haired lady could get away with asking all these things, but they were very friendly and answered all the questions and talked about other issues as well. A young man working the boat grew up right here next to the docks. Another gentleman lived nearby. When the government started the park, they gave the young man’s grandmother $1000 for her house. The older man said he had 35 acres on the other side of the river and they gave him $400 for it. There was no negotiating. Then the older guy got onto US politics. Everyone here is fascinated with the election. They watch the debates, and they all think Trump is crazy. I don’t talk politics, so I tried to redirect to Canada’s new president. They seem to like him, saying the previous administration did nothing. We bought four “market” lobsters at $6.75/lb. The others bought “canners”, smaller lobsters they said tasted better. We bought females, as they suggested eating the eggs.

As we drove back to the grocery store for some other things we needed, we debated about when and how to cook the lobsters. We settled on cooking them for lunch, so we started a fire, got out the kettle and other things. While Martha tended the fire, I went to the beach to get sea water, one of the suggestions. We decided to cook two and eat them while the other two cooked. Then we would pick the second ones and later make a lobster Newburg. It was a great feast! It was also a big mess, but we were glad to have newspapers and a picnic table to eat on, with trash cans nearby.

After resting our tummies for a while, we rode the bikes upriver for an hour. There are extensive bike paths, which are fine gravel roads – very smooth with no ruts. Signs marked directions for marathon runners, who will race here Sunday. I couldn’t understand the signs, but since Martha has run a few half marathons, she translated for me. Some signs were for half marathoners, some for 10K, and they directed them into different turns and told them how far they had run. It is a beautiful place for a marathon, especially with the leaves in full color. We passed some kids picking apples off a tree with sticks. We commented about how the bears would come by here tonight. I counted 12 bear poops in the trail along our journey. 

Tomorrow we will try kayaking one or two of the rivers. One more kayak would be nice. It was interesting to sit out in camp and watch the campers rolling in – big campers! Kids were having a big time riding their bikes around, while others chased on foot. One trailer across from us had some kind of light show after dark while little kids ran around chasing lights, screaming with joy. Some had set out carved pumpkins and balloons. Thankfully, things quieted down at bedtime. I’m sure they slept well.

Biking Kouchibouguac to Kelly’s Beach

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Driving Rt 11 south for an hour, we switched to 117 that goes along the coast of New Brunswick. It’s a rough, bouncy road that only gives you views of the water every now and then. Finally the road enters Kouchibouguac National Park and becomes nicely paved. Moose warning signs were all along the route. By the time we arrived at the Visitors Center, we were tired and hungry. It was a perfect day, sunny and warm, so we made sandwiches and had lunch at a picnic table. The leaves are in full color now. Ladies at a table near us were wearing tank tops and shorts. 

We found our campsite, got settled and took the bikes out for a ride along the coast. The park is on the east coast of New Brunswick and is known for its beach and great bike trails. We passed two bear poops on the bike path.  Arriving at a bridge and boardwalk across a bay to the beach, we parked the bikes and walked across. Several Blue Herons were dining while seagulls sat content. This looks like a pristine, undeveloped Outer Banks of North Carolina with a barrier islands protecting a bay, but there are also two major rivers entering the bay adding fresh water to the mix. There are lots of marshes, some having boardwalks to explore. It doesn’t look like a big park on the map, but it would take a long time to really explore it. We walked on the beach and in the water. It was cold, but you got used to it. Were it a little warmer I might have gone in. We passed a couple and the lady had been swimming. She works as a lifeguard, so it was required training. She said it is warmer than the water in June. Unlike the Outer Banks of North Carolina, this water is very clear.

Back at camp, we built a fire and cooked breaded Cod chunks, potatoes and peas over the fire. With a good forecast we are excited about exploring the park tomorrow, maybe some kayaking along with more bike exploring.

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.