Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Canadian National Parks’ 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.

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.

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.