Category: Quebec

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!

Driving to Gaspè

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30℉ at 6:00 with a high of 72

We packed up and headed out to Gaspè by 9:30. Martha had read about a few things she wanted to see along the way. We have no cell service here, and I can’t connect to Sepaq’s (the parks) WIFI, so we aren’t sure where we will camp, or how long it takes to get there. We would just have to figure it out on the way. 

This is a beautiful highway to drive, right along the St. Lawrence, which is now the Bay of St. Lawrence. You can no longer see the other side. Pretty little villages are in every cove, each with its picnic area and walkways. It was a beautiful day with clear blue sky and ocean. We were amazed with some of the tiny houses sitting on a cliff overlooking the ocean, usually with two Adirondack chairs and a fireplace strategically positioned. Fishing, tourism and logging are the main jobs.

The last hour and a half of the four-hour drive was up and down steep mountains, then back down, always with big curves and a village at the bottom. It’s a bit stressful wondering how the truck will hold up, watching all the gauges and praying for the brakes to continue working. By the time we stopped for gas near the end of the trip, I talked to a nice dump truck driver while we both filled our tanks. He commented that Virginia is a long way away. I said it must be tough driving these difficult hill and curves, and he smiled, saying it is tough, but from here south and all around the other side, it is flat. Yippee!

We camped at Camping des Appalaches, checking in with the nice couple who own it, but they close tomorrow for the season. Fred told us things would start closing now. They told us of a good restaurant, Cafe L’Anse Griffon and two places to buy seafood. They also told us where to go in the park and the must-do hikes. 

After lunch and a quickly reading emails, we learned my sister had a fall and Laura spent a long day at the hospital with her while they ran all the tests. Apparently she is fine, but it is probably part of the disease process. So sad!

We drove to Forillon National Park, which is a Canadian National Park, not a Quebec National Park. I don’t know how they do it, but another very nice lady told us all about the park. We were happy there were available campsites, so we will move tomorrow. We drove through the campground and it is absolutely beautiful. There were two areas, one with electric and one without services. Almost everyone was in the serviced area, but the unserviced area is really pretty, with big, grassy areas. We passed a spot where a tent was set up and a roaring fire going with two chairs in front of it. They had the whole campground to themselves with a great view of the bay. Driving down toward the tip of the Gaspè Penninsula in the park, there is an incredible viewing area where the International Appalachian Trail comes to an end, the mountains meeting the sea in dramatic fashion. We were both excited about exploring the park. On the way back to camp we stopped at the Cafe L’Anse Griffon for a great dinner of grilled cod. It was a good day, but felt a bit guilty with the day Laura and Gayle had.

Hike Le mont Ernest-Laforce

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29℉ at 6:00 and 60℉ at 3:00

It was a bit chilly when we started out hiking le mont Ernest Laforce, but soon after starting the climb, I started peeling off layers. It is all a graveled path, so it’s not so bad. At the top is a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains, two of which have snow on them. We talked with a young man, Guilliam, who has been hiking for a week, doing day hikes to see if he would like to take a long-distance hike. The longer hikes have huts with beds and mattresses and a wood stove. He was lucky to see eight Caribou on Mont Jaques Cartier, as there are only 80 on the south side of the St. Lawrence. He is a long distance truck driver and talked of the beauty west of Colorado. Today was an easy day for him – just an easy hike with no backpack. It was fun to exchange adventures with Guilliam.

After making our way back down, we visited the Gite du Mont Albert, a beautiful hotel with cute little cabins behind. Then we had a picnic lunch beside the beautiful Sainte-Anne’s River. We drove up Rt 14 through the Faunique, but it was a rough road, and some of it was washed out. It is also hunting season. 

We spent a nice evening by the fire listening to some James Taylor and grilling a steak. A gentleman stopped by and talked about camping here in the 70’s when there was no park. He hiked Mont Jaques Cartier with a man who would eventually turn this into a park. Once he fished for salmon for five days, finally catching two fish. 

It was still early when we climbed into bed with books. I thought of being young and hiking the Grand Traverse, a trail that goes across the park, carrying a big backpack. That would be quite a hike!

Drive to Parc National de la Gaspésie

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39℉ at 6:00 am, high 56

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

There was a beautiful sunrise over the bay at Bic National Park. After a few chores, we set out east on #132 to Parc National DE LA Gaspésie. This road is a good one, much better than I anticipated, and it often travels right on the coast of the St. Lawrence. Dotted with cute, little cottages overlooking the Fleuve. Some parts are flat while others are cliffs or rocky coast. It was a beautiful day and the water was clear and blue. There are many beautiful coastal drives in the world, but this one is one of the prettiest I have ever seen. Were we not pulling a trailer and trying to get somewhere, I might have stopped many times for pictures. 

We found a pretty park to stop for lunch in La Halte Cap-Chat. It was about 50℉ with the ever-present cool wind off the St. Lawrence, so we ate inside. On the other side of the highway, the Chic-Choc Mountains loomed in the distance. Stopping at Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts, we filled the truck with gas and picked up some groceries at the Metro. Good thing we did because it’s a pretty good drive into the park, which covers a huge area with two Fauniques on either end. This is a park for hiking the mountains. It is the end of the Appalachian Range and the International Appalachian Trail goes through the park, ending on the coast. I never knew it went this far. The Rivière Sainte-Anne runs through the park, where Atlantic salmon run, and it is a gorgeous river.

We checked in at the Discovery Center with a very nice lady, who once again, patiently advised us where to go and what to see while we are here. Mont Jaques-Cartier is the second highest in Quebec at 1270 m, from which there must be a great view. After getting settled, we opted for an easy hike to Lac Aux Americaines, which was very pretty, looking more like a lake in the Rockies. Returning to camp, we made a fire and grilled a salmon fillet and potatoes, onions and mushrooms in foil. 

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! 

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.

Longue-Rive and a Lot of Wind

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As I drank my morning coffee, I heard what sounded like a huge ship on the river periodically turning it’s giant engines. It was very regular, but I couldn’t see anything out the window, so I went out for a look. Nothing. Maybe a storm, but I couldn’t see any lightning. About a half hour later you could finally see a huge thunderstorm rolling toward us. The winds picked up to 40mph, so we battened down the hatches and hung out for the morning.

By 11:00 I was stir-crazy, so we drove to Les Escoumins for lunch, then drove north to Longue-Rive, the next town north. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center, but the nice lady did not speak any English. The wind was blowing so hard it had broken the bathroom door outside. There were pretty falls of the river flowing into the St. Lawrence and a suspension bridge across. 

We keep seeing these rose hips in full fruit now. Squirrels are working hard to eat as many as possible and burying the rest. Reading up on it this morning, they are high in vitamin C and can be made into herbal tea, jams, soups and they are good for arthritis pain. 

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