Day 8: Ship It!

I woke up first and had coffee with the campground bunny!

We also had a visit from Canada Parks mascot Parka the bear.

Then we packed up and headed down to Ingonish Beach.

There was a bit of fog on the way.

The water was 14 C and a recent storm had left the beach littered with rocks.

But we still had fun.

Then we headed to lunch at s local café where we also picked up some oatcakes. They were delicious.

And then on to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site.

It has an entire mini historic city inside the fortress walls, and we were there in time to see the canon fired.

Finally, we headed off to Sydney to grab some groceries, more books, and catch the ferry to Newfoundland.

We took the overnight sailing and splurged on cabins.

They were small but cozy, and after hot showers we were off to sleep.

Some stats:

  • Rabbits: 1
  • Eagle: 1
  • Total distance: 2500 km

Day 7: O, Is Àlainn an t-Àite

We woke up to a beautiful day in P.E.I. And set out for our next stop: Cape Breton.

We crossed Confederation Bridge and headed to the Nova Scotia border, where they hire a bagpiper at the visitor’s centre. It was pretty impressive!

We had ice cream in Amherst. It was good, but Cows was better.

We stopped at Pictou for the best fish and chips ever, and to pick up some local jam and shortbread cookies.

We got three types of cookies: chocolate, maple, and traditional. Yum!

Then we headed up the Gaelic Coast to the Cabot Trail. It was beautiful, but maybe a bit harrowing. If you are going to drive on curvy mountain cliff-side roads, that overlook the sea, I like a shoulder on my road. And a railing. I mean both, optimally.

We stopped before Baddeck to get oatmeal bannock for dinner. Dinner was local bread and jam!

We stayed in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, near Ingonish Beach.

Fun fact: Parts of Cape Breton were settled by the Scots and all the signs are in Gaelic.

The campground is a really isolated spot, but well serviced and we had a great view of the stars. But…. black flies!

I have never loved by Canadian Tire bug-proof shelter more!

There was a bunny though, which more than made up for any bug sightings.

Some stats:

  • Eagle: 1
  • Rabbit: 1
  • Squirrels: lots
  • Chipmunks: 2
  • Total distance: 2500 km

Day 5 and 6: Sleeping Beside Jellyfishes

Kouchibouguac National Park was amazing in daylight. Green and quiet. We wish we could have stayed longer, but we had another stop planned.

So we set off for Moncton and a quick stop for groceries and books. Lots of driving means lots of car-friendly activities for the kids, and reading is the one that keeps them happiest for the longest.

And then we headed off to Confederation Bridge.

On the P.E.I. Side we stopped for ice cream at Cows Ice Cream. I had the Royal Cownadian Mint, which was excellent. They also make cheeses, so I got another aged cheddar.

Then we headed to The Prince Edward Island National Park. Our spot was on the beach near Cavendish. The view was spectacular.

We were the closest spot to the sea and it was very windy. Many tent pegs were used. But also, there were very few bugs. Yay.

The earth was red. The beach was sandy and covered in blue and purple rocks. But the wind was fierce and the lifeguards huddled in wool tuques and full fishing suits. Two of us went in anyway. It was 15 C.

We spent the next two days playing on the beach, lying in the sun, and cooking things in the fire on sticks.

Our campsite was at the top of low sand cliffs, which were also the nesting ground for bank swallows.

The beach was full of red jellyfish.

Of all the places we’ve been, this was the most relaxing.

Cheese Review:

Cows Creamery, Extra Old Cheddar ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Exceptionally creamy texture, flavourful, but not exceptionally so.

Some Stats:

  • Squirrels: so many
  • Jellyfish: 4
  • Eagle: 1
  • Bank swallows: so many
  • Potatoes eaten: 0
  • Total distance: 1600 km

Kid: Can we go to the fox museum?

Me: Umm, it’s not a “we love foxes” museum, it’s a “look at all the things we can make with foxes” museum.

Kids: (long silence and then a quiet, horrified voice) oh

(We didn’t go to the fox museum)

Day 4: “Well, cecitte, ça vient de blower ma mind”

There isn’t much I don’t like about camping, but setting up a wet tent in the rain, in the dark, is one of them.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves now…

Today’s travels take us through Acadie, the traditional Acadian area of Canada where people speak Acadian French, Canadian French, English, and Chiac (which is French, with a lot of English words, but transformed into French structures). On a hangé around une ‘tite boute.

We started near Forillon National Park, in Quebec, and headed to Percé to see the Rocher Percé.

We stocked up on chocolates and pastries in Percé, and then moved on for a pick nick and ice cream at Cap d’Espoir while we watched the fishermen loading up their lobster traps.

Next, we stopped in Bonaventure, to see the Bioparc de la Gaspésie. It’s a small zoo/refuge for animals, most of which are native to the area. We finally got to see some beavers.

We arrived just in time to watch the bears have a snack: oranges!

Then we headed to New Brunswick, around la Baie-des-Chaleurs. There was a ferocious storm, and the roads were terrible so we lost quite a bit of time. It’s never a good sign when the long haul drivers pull off the road.

We came centimetres from hitting a deer that had been spooked by the wind a lightning.

We ended up with a McDonalds dinner, and the kids watched a movie in the car DVD player (first of the trip, though).

Finally, we arrived at Kouchibouguac National Park at 11 pm and had to set the tent up in the rain. Good thing we are getting quick at that part.

Still, this was the most beautiful campground we’ve seen this trip and we went to sleep warm, exhausted, and happy to be out of the rain.

Some stats:

  • Fox: 1
  • Deer: 1
  • Bird nest: 1
  • Sea birds: many
  • Total distance: 1600 km

Day 3: Park It!

You could probably spend a whole summer in Forillon National Park, but we only had a day.

We started with a hike along the cliffs towards Land’s End, stopping to see some of the historic buildings along the way.

Then we had a picnic right on the beach.

Afterwards we drove down to Penouille beach. The beach has lots of sand flats and the tide was just coming in so the water was swimmable and everyone went it.

No point in going to the ocean if you aren’t going to get in it.

It was pretty fun but pretty cold.

So we headed over to the outdoor public pool and spent the rest of the afternoon in the water.

And on the way back, we did one more short hike to see the local beaver dams. We didn’t see any beavers but we did find a family of ducks.

Then back to our home away from home (thank you, generous family members!) for a barbecue dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Cheese review:

We had the Trois-Pistoles cheese for dinner. It’s a buttery, semi-soft cheese. I loved this one, and it was my favourite on this trip, so far.

The aged cheddar was very good and flavourful, but not exceptional.

Trois-Pistoles, Fromagerie des Basques ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Aged Cheddar, Fromagerie des Basques ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Some stats:

  • 1 chipmunk
  • 1 fox
  • 1000 roses
  • 2 beaver dams, 0 beavers
  • 1 mother duck and a gaggle of duckling
  • 1 gaggle of geese
  • 1 crane
  • Many seabirds
  • Many sea snails
  • 3 types of seaweed
  • “I think it was a whales but it might have been a duck”
  • Total distance: 1050 km

Day 2: Land’s Ends

There are only a few things I hate about camping and one of them is packing up a tent in a rainstorm.

It was raining so hard when we got up that we skipped our camping breakfast and ate in the car.

Then we headed east in heavy fog.

The Saint Lawrence in the fog
The Saint Lawrence in the fog

Our next stop was the Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse National Historic site. It’s the site of the sinking of the RMS Empress of Ireland in 1914, the worst peacetime marine disaster in Canadian history.

Point-au-Père lighthouse

Since there was too much fog to have much of a view, so we skipped climbing the 128 steps and two ladders to get to the top.

Instead we went to see the HMCS Onondaga (S73), the only submarine open to the public in Canada

HMCS Onondaga (S73)

HMCS Onondaga (S73)

A 16-cylinder submarine engine

Looking down the torpedo tube

Then we went to investigate the tide pool.

The rocks were pretty slippery.

We found some tiny fish.

Our next stop was the Fromagerie du Littoral in Baie-des-Sables to get some picnic supplies. We chose Le Rayon d’Or cheese, some mead (not a typo) pâté, and an apple maple butter.

We stopped in Cap-Chat for lunch, and to see the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence. It isn’t quite the Ocean, but it was salty and cold.

Cheese review: the Rayon d’Or was a probiotic semi-soft Saint-Paulin-style cheese. It was excellent. The Mont-Saint-Mathieu was a meltingly soft triple cream cheese, a bit like a Brie, but much better. I preferred the Rayon d’Or over the Mont-Saint-Mathieu, but will probably buy both again. They were excellent.

Mont-Saint-Mathieu, Fromagerie des Basques ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Rayon d’Or, Fromagerie du Littoral ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

We had the cheese curds for breakfast and they were the squeakiest we had ever had, very good. I liked the saltiness, but others preferred Saint-Guillaume, which is both less squeaky and less salty.

Grains de fromage, Fromagerie des Basques ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The surprise winner though was the maple apple butter, a last minute impulse buy.

Our day ended with a quick visit to the lighthouse at Sainte-Madeleine-de-la-Rivière-Sainte-Madeleine, then to stay with family near Parc Forillon.

Some stats:

  • Tiny fishes: some
  • Cheeses: 3
  • Total distance: 950 km

A Mari Usque ad Mare

Atlantic Ocean, here we come!

Last summer, we drove from Montreal to the Pacific Ocean and back. So we had no choice this year but to complete the cross-Canadian voyage.

A Mari Usque Ad Mare (“from sea to sea” in English) is the Canadian national motto, but it’s also a great way to see all the stars in sky.

We set out from Montreal late in the afternoon, making it to Quebec City (well, Charny) in time for dinner.

We got our first sunset heading out of town.

Our next stop was Trois-Pistoles, where there is a 24-hour artisanal cheese maker, Fromagerie des Basques. We picked out four for the rest of our trip: Trois-Pistoles, Mont-Saint-Mathieu, an extra-strong cheddar, and some fromage en grains.

And finally, we got to Le Bic National Park, where we set up our tent and went to sleep, but not before spotting a shooting star.

Some stats:

  • Rabbit: 1
  • Total distance: 500 km

Rewind day 8: The art of the brick

Our campsite was right on the Ottawa River.

We left the Rockies days ago, but there is still ash on every surface of the car.

On the way home we stopped at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa. The special exhibit was The Art of the Brick. It featured art made from LEGO bricks.

The regular exhibit included a whole section on Canadian travel and the TransCanada Highway. It’s like they knew we were coming!

They also have a wheel you can spin to see what Canadian adventure you should try next.

I spun it twice.

Oh my!

We had gelato and bagels for dinner and headed home.

Some stats:

  • Woodchuck: 1
  • Deer: 3
  • Total distance: 11,598.9 km

Rewind day 7: My new favourite restaurant is in Sudbury

Wait, what? I know, I know, but let’s stick to a linear narrative for now.

We woke up at my favourite campground.

It was so pretty I looked up real estate prices and leaned that you can buy a cabin around here for $ 70,000. Just saying.

The light is so pretty.

Then we drove on, stopping for dinner in Sudbury. On this trip we ate in Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Calgary. But my favourite meal of the whole trip was at Ripe Restaurant in Sudbury.

The kids menu had homemade gnocchi. I ate wild mushroom and fontina gnocchi. It was so good I forgot to photograph it. All you get is vanilla crème brûlée. Sorry!

We got to the next campground, on the Ottawa River, after dark, got the kids to bed and lit a fire.

I may have stolen my kids’ last juice box to mix a drink.

You could see the last shooting stars from the Perseids and every single star in the sky.

Some stats:

  • Brown herons: 2
  • Eagle: 1
  • Hawk: 1
  • Chipmunk: 1
  • Total distance: 11,105 km

Rewind day 6: Driving around Lake Superior always takes longer than you think it will

We woke up at a campground in Northeastern Ontario and had breakfast.

Then we headed on to Thunder Bay.

We made a quick stop at the Terry Fox Memorial just outside of town.

Then we drove around Lake Superior. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world, by surface area – which is all that matters when you have to drive around it.

We made good time getting to Wawa.

But we had left too late. So we had to drive through Lake Superior Provincial Park in the dark, with mist and big clumps of fog rolling in.

Luckily, we had all that Rocky Mountain forest fire driving experience, so there was that.

We arrived at the next park much later than we had hoped, set up our tent, and fell asleep in our clothes.

Some stats:

  • Eagles: 3
  • Moose: 1
  • Total distance: 10 500