Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Monday Aug 29 - Ontario
Our first stop is to see Rainbow Falls, so called because the waters of Lake Superior fall down (N) over pink granite. It is raining off and on today and the pink rocks are a lovely midtone pinky eggplant (lt. aubergine) shade.  There are 181 steps to climb back up the falls = 105'=10.5 stories. (Those who know me well know me to be a counter!)
At Wawa (great name!), we make a bad decision to go east thru wilderness rather than south along the shore. The first two campgrounds are closed so at 6pm we turn south, hoping the only one on that 200 mile road will be open. We drive endlessly thru logging country. A thin row of trees separates us from checkerboard squares of trees clear cut, then replanted with pines. To our surprise, the lake at the end -Wakami Lake - is a real beauty and quite filled. Our campsite is right on the lake and looks out to two small islets. We fall asleep to the sound of loons calling and small waves lapping the shore. 

Tuesday August 30
We are seeing our very first signs of changing leaf color today. Today marks the end of our third week on the trip. We need to make more miles today as we have been realizing the vastness of Canada.  We drive over 300 hundred miles - south to the TransCanada Hwy, then east across the north shore of Lake Huron to Sudbury. We stop at a Tim Horton's Coffee Shop/fast food emporium where we get free wi-Fi and both catch up on our banking and emails. We spy two sand hill cranes along the road. 

Still heading east we continue past North Bay to the Samuel de Champlain Prov Park where we choose a lovely large campsite right on the river. Dinner, fire, yoga for me and bedtime when the rains begin and last til early morning. 

Wednesday Aug 31
Our goal today is to get half way between Ottawa and Montreal. We travel SE into and along the Ottawa River Valley - a beautiful flat agricultural area filled with old 2-story farmhouses with wrap-around porches, classic barns and fields of alfalfa, soybeans and corn. Tall silos are at every farm, dotting the sky.

We stay on the freeway thru Canada's capital of Ottawa which is seems an attractive town much the same size of Sacramento. Along the Ottawa river, the homes become more upscale. Just before the border out of Ontario and into the province of Quebec, we find a sweet campsite on the Ottawa River.

We take an evening drive to a local village known for its vintage homes. Called Vankleek Hill, it bills itself as The Gingerbread Capital of Ontario - referring in real estate-ese to their brick mostly two story homes with sometimes ornate trim. It's definitely a cute village. 
We ask a local where to go for dinner and head to Stephanie's Bar & Grill. It's huge and full to capacity! Obviously everyone from the surrounding areas is dining here tonight. So close to the Quebec border, all are speaking French. Delicious Ocean Platter and Pinot Grigio for me.  

Thursday Sept 1
As soon as we hit the border from Ontario into Quebec Province, all road signs change to French. Montreal is huge and sprawling as we drive thru it. Outside, we deviate from the freeway to take the Kings Route - Chemin du Roi (Roy) - which takes us along the St Lawrence from one cute village to another. Manor houses start appearing and we're obviously viewing some pricey real estate right next to the original old farmhouses. This area is known as the Eastern Townships - an area given to Loyalists of the King of England who had been living in the US until the Brits lost our war of independence. We realize too late that if we were to go more easterly, to the area just above Vermont, we would find several villages/inn that were the inspiration for Louise Penny's village of Three Pines from the Inspector Gamache series- one of our favorite reads. We encounter signs that read "Coule Pas Chez Nous". A quick consult on Google tells of a quickly proposed and forthcoming pipeline from central Canada up the St Lawrence that is being protested by a grassroots movement (just as Keystone pipeline is) who's motto means "Don't Dump On Us". 
We arrive in Vieux Quebec - the old City of Quebec within its fortified walls ( a Unesco World Heritage site) where we walk the streets, dip into the lobby of the Chateau Frontenac and end the day with a lite early dinner at a cafe. 
Friday  Sept 2
Back thru Quebec City to get on the last bridge north over the St Lawrence. The further north we head, the more lovely it gets. Soon we are traveling through an obvious seaside vacationers area. Houses are perched on the shore looking out into the bay. We stop at midday to view the Phare de Pointe-au-Père to see the view from the top of the lighthouse. Unfortunately it is closed for upgrades for an upcoming celebration of its 100th birthday. 
The engineers cottage in the foreground has the typical roofline of the area - described as curved waves to direct the rainfall (& snow) off the roof but not down the walls. 
Miles further north and the Gaspé Peninsula begins. We head inland to a Park where we immediately feel like we're in a different world - our beloved mountain world! Destination is Parc de Gaspédie. Our campground is on the banks of a lovely lake and we watch people embarking in their canoes for a sunset paddle. The temperature descends during the night and we use our heat all night.

Saturday Sept 3
  We begin the day driving south thru the mountains alongside the Cascapédie River. These mountains are the topmost points of the Applachain chain. The rounded hills are covered in thick woods that have never been decimated by fire, wind, insects or logging. They are so dense, the paths down to the river for the fly fishermen are each marked with a name and a number. 
Once again we are in moose territory but so far have only spotted the one mother and two calves. As we drive along the north side of the next bay south of the St Lawrence - the Bay of Chaleur- we find the town of Carleton-St Omer to be a real holiday resort. Chi-chi inns and restaurants and full of people this Labor Day weekend.  
We make a special trip to the Acadian Historical Village - a well done apx 2 mile walk thru time at the sight of what was a real village. We go back in time to the 1840-1890s as we enter each house and hear the costumed guides tell their stories.
Acadia was a territory that once encompasses all the Maritime provinces (Quebec, New Brunswick & Nova Scotia) and part of Maine. Isolated and ignored, they grew into a distinctive people-contented, hospitable, practical , independent and indifferent to authority- and French speaking. When they refused to swear an oath of allegiance to Britain, some 14,000 of them were cruelly rounded up and deported to British colonies in the south. The Cajuns are one example. The few who returned are fiercely proud if their heritage. The Acadian flag flys outside their homes and many have a star in the side of their house.  A wedding is going on today and we follow the bride and her groom posing for photos.
We are heading for a park with a truly fabulous name - Kouchibooguac - koo-chee- boo-guac (like guacamole). All day we playfully recite its name but once there ... It's FULL!  We're told there is a private large campground just 2 km down the road. It's packed tightly but there's a space for us! I have purchased a lobster for my dinner. Collin refers to me as his 'Shellfish Bitch' with emphasis on the first word thankfully. I love all things in shells from escargot to mussels, clams, crabs and most of all lobster! I'm thrilled to be back in the 'Land O' Lobster' for the first time in 38 years. Collin basically hates shellfish and most everything from the sea! He's not hungry and takes a bike ride. I tell him to be sure he's gone for at least twenty minutes as I need to cram my 1 1/4 lb lobster down into our small pot of boiling water. He abhors the act of killing food for dinner so I don't want him to witness my indulgence/act of murder. Sure enough, ten mins later - RIGHT as I'm pushing the lobsters head down into the boiling water with my tongs, he opens the camper door!  He slams the door with disgust and I now have a full half hour to boil it to perfection, micro my butter, and sit down with paper towels, pliers and scissors, making small cooing noises as the lobster butter drips down my chin.  I'm admonished for my act of lobstercide for the next four days, all the while anticipating my next taste of it! 
Tomorrow we're headed for Nova Scotia - the destination we have said will be our endpoint. At this point we've driven some 6000 miles! We will return via the US, starting in Maine and visiting Boston where I have never returned since my departure after the disastrous Blizzard of '78.

No comments:

Post a Comment