Nomadic Life – Week 13
Nearly 3 months on the road and we still haven’t found the ebb and flow of full-time travel. I think we are getting better but we still travel long distances to spend very little time enjoying a place. I hope soon that we will find the rhythm of life that is both busy but restful when it needs to be. This Nomadic Life – Week 13 wasn’t that week, but we finally made it to our northernmost destination and not a moment too soon as it is starting to turn cold and the leaves are starting to change.
On Saturday we woke up early and headed into Quebec City. We had one day on the schedule and we wanted to take in as much as we could. The first stop was the Montmorency Falls. It was a cold morning but the rain had cleared and the sky was blue. I thought we had arrived late and that we would be the only tourists in town, but I was wrong. We arrived at an empty parking lot but left without a spot to be had and tour buses lining the lot. Even the entrance was backed up around the corner with cars trying to get in. Crazy.
The falls themselves are an amazing mix of natural wonder, mankind’s attempt to tame it with a power dam and then exploit it via tourism. It is complete with rock climbing opportunities, aerial trams, and zip-lining. I’m not saying any of these things are necessarily bad. I do, however, find it frustrating that someone can zip-line in front of the falls which isn’t a quiet apparatus, but I can’t fly my drone because it is loud and could obstruct someone’s view of the falls… That cable for the zip-line isn’t moving. Oh well, the falls are very nice, higher than Niagara, but the crowds definitely detract from the experience.
Mediterranean Food in Quebec
Next, we grabbed some lunch at Restaurant Bachir in downtown Quebec at a Mediterranean Eatery. We had some trouble with ordering middle eastern food in French as the choices were hard to translate, but it was worth the effort. The food was amazing!
We then walked down to the cities’ La Citadelle. This is an active military base with a lot of history as well as a 2nd home for the Governor General of Canada. It houses the 22nd Regiment—the only french speaking regiment of the Canadian Military. They were founded during the first World War. The Citadelle actually dates back to the time when the French laid claim to this land although it was a small fort then. The British took it from the French and turned it into a wooden Citadelle. After an attack by the American’s during the early days of the Revolutionary War the Brits beefed up the wooden fort, but it wasn’t until after the War of 1812 that they decided to create the impressive stone Citadelle seen today.
Our tour of the Citadelle was intriguing. Our tour guide was a French-Canadian who spoke English but had a thick French accent and a quirky personality. I found it intriguing that he was proud that the American’s couldn’t take the Quebec fort from the British during the Revolutionary War. He seemed to wear this as a point of pride as a Canadian. I thought it was funny because we (Americans) took our entire country from the British and Canada didn’t exist as a sovereign nation. At any rate, he was very nice and did a great job of showing off the impressive fortification.
History of La Citadelle
Other intriguing revelations included the fact that the 22nd regiment has a goat for a mascot which dates back to the Battle of Bunker Hill. Roosevelt and Churchill apparently came to this spot during the dark days of World War II. According to our guide, it was here that they planned out the D-day invasion. We also learned that the motto of the base and Quebec is “Je me souviens” (I remember). In keeping with this motto, there is a list of all those who have given their lives in the service of Canada housed in one of the small buildings near the church. Each day a page from that book is read in remembrance of those soldiers. In keeping with this theme, there is also the Vimy cross on a small hill within the fort that all active military members in uniform must salute when passing. This cross is a way of remembering the young men who died to take a hill from the Germans during the first World War. This was an important military victory for the Canadians who took the hill after the British had failed to do so.
The Plains of Abraham
We then walked some of the park adjacent to the Citadelle known as The Plains of Abraham. This is where the British fought the French and took over Quebec in 1759. Today it is a large green space in what is a modern city.
Our Northernmost Destination
It was getting late in the day so we pushed on out of the city and into farmland following the St. Lawerence River north. Tonight we stopped at a Walmart in the town of Rivière-du-Loup. We were shocked upon our arrival that not only was the store closed for the night but that it had closed at 5:00 PM… on a Saturday! This was a nice spot to rest and the farthest north we will push on this trip.
A New Time Zone
Sunday was a travel day. Maybe the biggest since our push from Colorado to Tennessee in August. After resupplying at the Walmart, we set our direction south-east paralleling the border of Maine to the town of Grand Falls. Along the way, we crossed into New Brunswick and the Atlantic Time Zone (1 hour ahead of Eastern). I knew that this time zone existed, but I kind of forgot that we could actually drive here. How American of me.
Grand Falls is an interesting border town. As one might expect it has a grand waterfall flowing into a gorgeous gorge, but here again Canada decided to build a dam at the top of the falls so it isn’t the prettiest view. It is also seasonal so the water wasn’t flowing well. I can imagine that this place in May is very picturesque. Here too they have a zip-lining opportunity should you want to partake on a particularly chilly day
The Northern Appalachian Mountains
From here we headed east across the Appalachian Mountains towards the coast. This was a long and bumpy road. The worst of which was where the road abruptly turned to gravel. There was a sign that I had never seen before cautioning the danger directly ahead but my mind couldn’t interpret its meaning in time. Luckily YOLOM was up to the challenge.
The highlight of this remote road was coming across a gorgeous red fox. He was walking the road and we passed him by. I decided to pull over and see if I could get some good photos with my 300mm lens. To my surprise, he not only continued to skirt the road he basically walked right up to me and sat down in the road. After a minute I had to scare him back into the woods to keep another vehicle from running him over.
A Black Bear
Once we reached the coast we headed south-east and not long after had an adolescent black bear dart across the road in a full sprint. He stretched out at the curb and went horizontally across the ditch. It was something to see but over almost as soon as it began. Sorry, no pictures on that one. I was driving.
Camping on the Northumberland Strait
As it was getting dark we found a campground on the edge of the Northumberland Strait. The wind was howling off the water which made sleeping a challenge. The camper rocked all night long and I wasn’t sure if the canvas would hold up. We woke up the next morning to amazing sunrise views of the bay and the marshy green grass lining the salty water.
Cape Jourimain Conservation Park
We continued south towards the Confederate Bridge. This is the link to Prince Edward Island (PEI). Before crossing the long 2 lane bridge that only as of 1997 linked the island to the mainland, we stopped at the Cape Jourimain conservation park at the base of the bridge. This area is set aside for local bird populations. There is a lighthouse here as well. The area has several hiking trails that looked like they would have been really nice. We hiked a few miles but didn’t get to see all they had to offer. Jennifer and I visited the lighthouse, caught a glimpse of an Osprey, and saw a flock of Cormorants hanging out near a pillar of the bridge.
The Confederate Bridge
Crossing the Confederate Bridge to Prince Edward Island (PEI), we stopped on the other side to take in the touristy lighthouse located there. Several tour buses unloaded shortly after we arrived so we didn’t stay long. The bridge is long and the crossing has stunning vistas of the Northumberland Strait. Crossing here was a bit odd as it is supposed to be a toll bridge but there was no place to pay. I found out later that the toll is paid upon leaving the island by the bridge. We left via the ferry, but the bridge fee was listed at $47 CAD for a two-axle vehicle and up.
After our stop at the lighthouse, we continued a short distance inland to Jellystone Campground and set up there for the workday. As we are now in the Atlantic Time Zone working hours are from Noon – 8:00 PM. This gives us lots of time to explore each morning, but not much time for dinner at night.
Prince Edward Island (PEI) National Park
On Tuesday we headed across Prince Edward Island to the PEI National Park located on the central north shore. This park also encompasses the Anne Green Gables historic site. PEI is where the author Lucy Maud Montgomery lived and the surrounding landscape heavily influenced her books. We found the red sea cliffs of the park to be the draw for us and spent the morning exploring the western part of the park. The park is split into three sections that aren’t connected. The nice thing is we are here in the off-season so there is no park entrance fee, but the campgrounds are still available at a very reasonable $22 CAD. They do however close down for the season this weekend (end of September). Seems a bit early given the number of visitors still on the island.
Wednesday was a very rainy day. We had planned on visiting the Green Gables area but chose instead to drive to the central section of the PEI National Park. The rain was lighter when we arrived so we hiked a loop trail located on the western point known as Robinson Island. This spec of land was once an island separated from the mainland. A causeway was built and the area now resembles a peninsula as the dunes and land have shifted to accommodate the causeway in an unexpected way.
Everything is Closed
Our next stop was the Stanhope Campground located in the center of the park, but we arrived to a “closed for the season” sign. The air is a bit chilly up here, but I am shocked by how much of this area is already shut down for the winter. Even the local grocery store is closed. We made our way quickly down the road to a parking area on the beach. This was a nice spot to set up for work. They had bathroom facilities with hot water showers and a water purification fill station. This was essentially a campground without the fee. Obviously, you aren’t meant to stay here during the busy season but given the fact that everything else was shuttered, we decided to stay for the night. With the area’s white sand beaches, this would be a great place to hang out on a hot summer’s day.
Early the next morning we visited the Covehead Harbor lighthouse to the west of the Stanhope area before making the hour drive east to PEI National Park’s third section known as Greenwich. This is apparently the newest piece of real-estate to be added to the park. It was my favorite even with the long drive. This area was once farmland but the sand dunes here now are healthy and the forests have recovered very well. The trail system takes you along the coastal bay where oysters are raised. We walked through fields of cranberry bushes, wildflowers, and various species of trees starting into their fall foliage. The highlight was walking across a floating bridge on a salty lake to a trail over the sand dunes. On the other side of the dunes is the Atlantic Ocean with lots of churning waves creating sea spray. It was a very unique experience. Jennifer and I both loved it.
In the afternoon we drove to the south side of the island where we did work and laundry at a campground. We met a very nice couple from Minnesota who had been on the road for three weeks… we had them beat. 🙂
The Ferry Across the Northumberland Strait
On Friday morning we arrived almost an hour early to catch the ferry across the Northumberland Strait. Our friends from the campground followed us over in a torrential downpour. We got our place cued in line and our friends cued three lanes over. When the time came to load the ferry every line loaded except ours. People who had arrived much later than we did were put on the boat while we were left at the docks. The kicker was that no one from the ferry operation even let us know what was happening. We watched the boat pull away and realized we were stuck for another hour and a half. We waited it out as the way around via the bridge would have been nearly a 200-mile drive.
Once on, the ferry ride over to Nova Scotia was very nice as the rain had let up during our wait. We had good views of the Woods Island Lighthouse as we left the harbor. Almost the second we docked in Nova Scotia it started raining again. The drive over to Antigonish was in varying degrees of rain. We set up in the Walmart parking lot for the night.
It had been six days since our last resupply and we were in desperate need as we were out of everything. This Walmart, however, was not the right spot. They had little to no options in their grocery department. There was no bakery, the only fruit available was apples and they had no deli. I bought a bag of apples, found hot dogs and got lunch done. Luckily after lunch, I realized there was an Atlantic Superstore next door which had everything we needed including better store hours. The Walmart Corporation should look at this store as it has few options with stiff competition in the same shopping complex.