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

Day 1: The first stars

Well we got everything for 6 people the car and you can still see out the back window. I’d say that’s a win.

Somewhere between Montreal and Ottawa

We crossed the Quebec-Ontario border before dinner. But we had left a bit late and only got to the campground at around 10.

Sunset in Ontario

We saw our first stars from the car, just as the tree line started changing from Southern Ontario to Central Ontario.

Somewhere past Petawawa

My older kids have been camping with their scout group but this was a first for my 5-year-old.

We stayed at Driftwood Bay Provincial Park. There were lots of empty sites so it was pretty quiet. Also, they have laundry which is a bit posh for camping. And chipmunks.

We had the whole site set up in about 20 minutes, in the dark. (I will blog about how much I love my tent soon. )

Then bed. It was a clear night and you could see the stars through the roof of the tent.

Driftwood Bay on the Ottawa River

There were some pretty big mosquitoes. Not everyone was ok with that.

Kid #3: Where are we going next?

Me: North Bay.

Kid # 3: Do they have hotels there?

Total distance so far: 570 km

Four pairs of boots