Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Parks’ category

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. 

Leaving Parc du National Mauricie

58℉ this morning with a high of 86.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I prefer staying in a provincial or national park, but Rouillard Campground has grown on me. They gave us a nice, quiet spot, and they work very hard to make you comfortable and provide everything you need. Maybe a little early, but they are decorating for Halloween. Some people live here and go to every day jobs. Some are retired, while some come and stay all summer. Others, like us, are passing through. It is interesting to see the variety.

It rained very hard last night. I got up in the night to see if it was coming in the windows I had left open and closed one. Getting back in bed, I thought of those poor people camping along the lakes in Moricie. Having done it plenty of times in the old pup tents, there is nothing more miserable. Everything gets wet. If not in the tent, around the tent, and what if you have to go out to go to the bathroom? Sleeping in the Airstream in pouring down rain is such a luxury and even a pleasure, much like being in a house with a tin roof. When we got up, the sky was clear and it was a beautiful day. 

Mauricie is a beautiful park, but for me, La Faunique de la Mauricie is very special. I would love to come back!

 I have never worked so hard to find a campsite. For hours Martha and I sat at the WIFI cafe searching for something near Quebec City, but everything is full. It is the end of August and the kids will be back in school soon…..and it is hot! I asked if it was a holiday, but the answer was no. A nice lady at one of the campgrounds said many Canadians were traveling. They come to just vacation. They come to see Quebec City, and like us, they come to see Parc National du Jaques Cartier. You can get a site in the park in September! We had just about given up when we found a spot right next to the bathroom at Stoneham Campground, which is between Jaques Cartier and Quebec City. We booked it for three days, which was all we could get. We are hoping to get into Jaques Cartier after that. Maybe someone will cancel.

We drove south on Rt. 55 to Rt. 40 heading east to Quebec City, which is supposed to be 2 hours. The drive along Rt. 40 is beautiful with beautiful farmland, trees and glimpses of the St. Lawrence. Stopping once for gas and running to a big traffic jam in Quebec City, we made it three and a half. Of course there is road construction, and then people drive like crazy in the cities, so there was an accident. It is nerve-wracking enough driving a car in that stuff, but driving a truck pulling an Airstream will really try your nerves. We were fortunate to make all the right turns heading north of the city on Rt. 73, and then, poof, you are in the country and trees and forrest. Stoneham Campground is right off the road, and it is better than Disneyland for kids. They are happily floating tubes down one of the two streams surrounding the campground. There are playgrounds and a great swimming pool. Kids are riding bikes all over. Almost clipping the Airstream coming into the site, we backed into a shaded , tight area, but it was pretty. We took a walking tour around the campground before dinner – a big salad with chicken. 

They are the first idiots I have run into! I think they arrived late right across from us, where our heads were pointed. At 1:30 in the night, I was awakened by loud talking with no regard for their neighbors. They must have thought they were in their own homes. Surely they were not accustomed to a campground. After a while I got up, got dressed and looked out the window to spot the culprits. I knew Martha wouldn’t want me to go out there, and I didn’t know how to cuss them out in French, so I stuffed some Kleenex in my ears and turned on the Fantastic Fan on low, which did the trick. If I could make the truck backfire in the morning in front of their tent, I would!

Leaving Reserve Faunique du Saint-Maurice

I stopped at the accuiel to thank Genevieve for all her wonderful help and tremendous patience! She nicely agreed to a picture, quickly fixing her hair. Then I took a picture of that board that I finally understood and now appreciated. I must say I love this park! I don’t love banging the Airstream up it, but if it were paved, it would be a whole different ball game! I love the big beach and I love the way people bring the whole family. Little kids having fun camping in a wonderful spot. Two nights ago as I showered there was a man next to me showering with his young son. Mildly chattering the whole time, it was so cute. Of course I couldn’t understand a word, except the occasional, “Papa”. It sounded much like Diego and his son, Mateo, years ago. The two hikes I will remember as two of the best all time. I would love to come back, pay my dues and fish these incredible lakes in total silence. 

I have much greater respect and appreciation of this great park as we began our drive back 42km to the bridge. My strategy was to drive very slowly to minimize bouncing, pulling over several times to let people pass. There was a wave from a van, who was a man with his son, who had translated for me several times. The people in the campground had all been very nice, almost like a club. I stopped several times to take pictures, getting a nice picture of a loon drying its wings. It is hard to get close enough for a picture of them. An hour and a half later we arrived at the bridge. Turning onto the highway, Martha said it was like driving in a Cadillac, but soon enough ran over a huge dip in the road, making me curse.

We drove on to Shawinigan to a campground called Rouillard, where we need to do a lot of laundry, get groceries and charge the batteries. When we opened the trailer door, we found all the dishes smashed on the floor. The closet door latch was broken off. The closet in the bedroom had lost a hinge, and there were more rivets on the floor. Of course the trailer is filthy dirty with dust and sand. I looked for golf tees.

Hike La Tourbière

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Friday, August 12, 2016

60℉ at 5am and 77℉ during the day

It was still raining when we got up, so we enjoyed a leisurely morning. Martha is into a good book on her iPad while I caught up on a few things. By 10:30 it stopped although we weren’t sure it was really done. There is a hike that starts just one campsite over, and it goes to a small stream you can fish for free, so we decided to take it. We were dressed for cool and rainy and a stroll, but we were soon hot and since we had taken the wrong direction, it was going to be a hike, but man was it beautiful – such a gorgeous forrest floor as I have ever seen. It looks like elves should live there. Blueberries lined the entire hike. I’m sure I ate a pint. I don’t know what the red berries are, or the lichens or the plants. If we knew anything about mushrooms, we could have had a feast as they were growing everywhere – on the ground, on the sides of trees, on dead trees. An hour later we found the small stream, which was very pretty, but it would be difficult to fish and it like every other stream here, it runs into a little lake, then becomes a stream, then a lake. We wound our way back to the campground, now hot and ready to change into shorts and short sleeve shirts.

After lunch we went to the office to get some firewood and ask again about fishing. I had perused the fishing regulation book, which is written in French, but hard enough to comprehend even if written in English. The very nice, young girl in the “accueil” (welcome center) tried desperately to help us understand how fishing works. Of course it is very difficult for her to speak in English, but she does very well. What we have seen is that it is so difficult for them that they are mentally tired after 20 minutes. Although I can read French somewhat, I cannot carry on a conversation. Then of course there are others coming into the office to ask questions or to buy things. After a while we had studied a large board on the wall that lists all the “lacs”. I must go back and get a picture. Columns show the size of the “lac”, how far away it is, how many are fishing it today, how many fish have been caught and how many kg’s of fish were caught. “So can I fish this little lake right here?” I asked. “No, you can only fish the ones in dark green.” OK, so I studied some more to find something small enough that I could reasonably cover it fishing from our kayak. “OK, so can I put our kayak on this lake this afternoon?” “No, the only lake you can put your kayak on is Lake Norman. There are two boats on each of the smaller lacs, and you can use those.” I can’t remember exactly what she said, since I am still trying to digest the last statement, but I think she said $40 to rent the boat for half a day and $80 for the whole day. So let me see if I have this right. Martha would like some nice trout for dinner, but to have a nice, quiet day of fishing on a “small” lake 42km up a gravel road, I will have to pay $20 for the “permit de pesche” and $80 for the boat rental. I can’t believe anyone fishes, but they do! To add to the confusion, I have no idea what the fish are, as I am totally unfamiliar with the names or the appearance, much less what I should use to catch them.  Buying a couple of salmon steaks at the grocery seems a better idea. I will take pictures of the forrest. 

Kelly and I took a four-month fishing trip across Canada in 2013, so I have some experience with fishing in Canada. It will no doubt drive you crazy, but to argue the other side, they are protecting their resources as well as funding the parks and managing the parks and paying the salaries of people like this nice young lady. Canadians love to hunt and fish. This country was founded on it, so it could easily be “fished and hunted out”. 

We went back to camp and Martha happily read her book while I worked on the back-up camera for the trailer. Laying it all out, I found I still don’t have the right connections. I tried to maintain my composure while cursing under my breath. I will put that project away until I get home.

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