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Newfoundland-St. John’s, Avalon and Burin Peninsula

 

The next leg of our trip found us in Avalon, the easternmost section of Newfoundland and home to St. John’s. St . Johns is the oldest city in North America and the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador province.

 

 

 

Not being “city” travelers we were cautiously optimistic about our time in St John’s. We strategically placed ourselves at Pippy Park, a campground within walking distance of the old section of the city. We spent Chris’s birthday day exploring the whole town on foot. Downtown is known for its colorful row houses which we had no problem finding…

 

St. John’s is situated on a harbor settled by the British in the 1600’s. Sitting above the city is Signal Hill, the site of the first transatlantic wireless communication and Cabot Tower commemorating John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland. We explored this further another day…

 

 

 

We ended our day at Yellowbelly, another few and far between brewery on Newfoundland. We had to sample their wares of course and raise a pint to celebrate Chris’s birthday. We were hoping to spend some time on George Street, known for its pubs and music, but after a walk through we were not impressed and decided to celebrate at home with a fire instead! That’s what old people do right…

 

 

We spent the next day touring on the motorcycles and visiting both Cape Spear and Signal Hill. Cape Spear is the easternmost point on North America and Canada with the exception of Greenland. We were posers and took the obligatory easternmost vista posterity shot… Can you see the whales playing in the background… Take our word for it they were there.

 

 

This is also home to the Cape Spear lighthouse, the oldest surviving lighthouse on Newfoundland dating back to 1836. We wandered around the grounds and learned about the rich history of the Cantwell family who lived in and managed the Cape Spear lighthouse for 150 years .

 

 

 

From here we headed back toward St. John’s. We took some back roads touring a few little towns along the way. We made our way to the Signal Hill Historic site where we caught the tail end of the renowned Signal Hill Tattoo Reenactment.

 

We wandered around the trails leading up to Signal Hill and learned about the significant military history (due to its location there have been military fortifications here since the mid 1700’s). This was also the site of the first successful transatlantic wireless transmission made in 1901.

 

After spending a few days immersed in city and history stuff we decided to just go for a ride and explore the northern peninsula of Avalon. It was a pretty ride through Torbay, Pouch Cove, and Cape St. Francis. We happened upon an old abandoned fishing village at Biscayne Cove where we stopped to watch some whales playing along the coast. The views in some areas are really amazing…

 

The next day we packed up and moved on traveling the southeastern part of the Avalon peninsula along the “Irish Loop”.

We stopped at Ferryland, known for where Lord Baltimore founded the colony of Avalon in 1621. There is a working archaeological dig where they have uncovered the foundations of houses and a cobblestone street built in the 17th century. It was quite interesting but hard to capture in a picture so we decided to take a picture of us next to it…

This was also where the famous Ferryland lighthouse is. After a bit of a walk you are rewarded with some pretty views and frolicking whales and seabirds. For those inclined to spend a few bucks they serve a “lighthouse picnic” which includes the basket, blankets, food and beverages. All homemade and it looked good… Keeping with our frugal nature we made our own picnic lunch when we got back to the camper!

 

After Ferryland we settled into Chance Cove Provincial Park for the night. A free campsite with a weird vibe… A long ride down a dirt road and lots of locals were set up permanent… Decent enough for one night but we were happy to move on the next day.

 

The weather caught up to us and it was a very foggy drizzly day… Our touring of the rest of the peninsula resembled the north rim of the Grand Canyon… Personal reference to our stay at the north rim which was fogged in for the whole time we were there.

 

 

 

We decided to pass on the rest of the Avalon peninsula due to the weather. We wanted to check out the Burin Peninsula just to the west. At the southern tip of the Burin Peninsula you can take a ferry to France… St Pierre is the last French holding in North America. We wanted to go over for the day and get our passports stamped but the round-trip ferry was about $100 per person not including any vehicle… We did take a picture from a distance.

 

We found the Burin peninsula to be extremely pretty. We found the ride down to be one of the more scenic drives in Newfoundland. It passed through craggy hills, mountains, ponds, and wetlands with glacial erratic rocks thrown in for good measure. It was unfortunate for us that there were no real areas to pullover and explore or take a picture.

 

The lower section of the peninsula is where the majority of people reside and where their tourism is. We got situated and headed right out for a short ride to see what was around.

 

The next day we set out to do the lower loop called the “Heritage Run”. We drove through the historic towns of Grand Bank (known for its Queen Anne style architecture that reflected the prosperity of the deep sea fishing in its heyday), Fortune (known for its lighthouse which is on a globally recognized and protected fossil site, also where the ferry to St. Pierre departs), Lords Cove, Lamoline, Saint Lawrence (where we found some great views) and a few other notable little towns.

 

Our favorite find was the town of Burin. Here we hiked up Cooks Lookout for spectacular views of the town of Burin.

 

 

 

Even riding through the town offered some spectacular sights! Turtle Islands and a very cool driftwood horse sculpture captured our attention…

After a full day we headed home…

 

Off again tomorrow to Terra Nova National Park. The left turn onto the Trans Canada Highway will mark the official start of our return trip, working our way back west across the island.



Newfoundland Central and Northeastern

After leaving Gros Morne we started our trek east. Our quest… To find icebergs and whales!

In our chats with fellow travelers and even some Newfoundlanders the town of Twillingate was recommended. We decided to try one of the Provincial Park campgrounds as it was in the right location and camping choices were limited. Ok… We struggled with it though due to the name, Dildo Run, which was a bit hard to say/stay at with a straight face… Glad we did as it was a decent park and we met several nice people.

 

The first day we headed into Twillingate on the motorcycles. As we were heading to check out the lighthouse we caught sight of  Ichabod the iceberg (we had to give him a name… we saw him so many times) out of the corner of our eye. Wow! Our fist encounter was pretty spectacular. We took a zillion shots of him that day.

 

 

 

 

The lighthouse was pretty cool too and there were great trails up and around the coast there. We had fun exploring a bit. Come to find out, where we parked the bikes was a free camping area… With an iceberg to boot! We had paid for two more nights at Dildo Run but vowed we would be back with the camper!

 

 

We rode around a few of the outlying peninsulas and towns enjoying the views.

 

 

 

We even stopped at a winery. The Auk Winery is one of two on Newfoundland. Is it really a winery if they make don’t make wine out of grapes??? Not bad but not my thing.  We enjoyed our tasting and the hospitality of our server but there was no wine purchased that day!

 

 

 

The next day we decided to head to Fogo Island by ferry. We heard it was pretty spectacular and thought it would be a little adventure. There are several ferries that operate allowing more remote island communities to continue to survive. We thought Fogo would be more quaint but it was quite developed. We hopped on the motorcycles and off we went.

We caught the 10:45 ferry getting us to Fogo by about noon. We had limited time as we needed to catch the 4:30 ferry in order to get back to the girls. We were able to ride most of the island and stopped in several of the towns to enjoy the view and take a picture or two. We even stopped and had a nice lunch at Nicole’s Cafe. Really the only game in town but very good!

 

In sharp contrast to the shacks, shanty’s and quaint seaside cottages there was one hotel that stood out… The Fogo Island Inn is considered a great feat of contemporary architecture. It is all stilts, angles, and vertical lines staged atop the rough slabs of ancient granite that surround it… From what we heard it is over well over $1000 a night with a 3 night minimum in the summer, ouch…

 

 

There were several trails that we would have liked to hike but time was not on our side. Our last stop was in the actual town of Fogo. This is home to the Marconi Interpretation Center. Marconi has a rich history with Newfoundland and spent many of his years working in Newfoundland installing and perfecting his wireless communication system…. It is also home to Brimstone Head, the hill in the distance in the photo. This is considered to be one of the 4 corners of the world according to the Flat Earth society, who knew…

We were a bit nervous about making the ferry back to Newfoundland proper. Thank goodness we had the motorcycles. By the time we got there (1/2 hour before departure) the line was crazy long… If we had a car we would not have made it and would have had to wait 3 hours for the next ferry. Thankfully motorcycles get to go to the front of the line because they can squeeze them in on the sides of the carports.

Well, we had to see what Ichabod was up to… We decided to head for the free camping and awesome view. We were lucky enough that Ichabod was still there. Generally icebergs move from hour to hour, day to day but he had gotten grounded on some rocks. We got to enjoy him for a few hours as he dislodged the day we got there and was out of view by dinner…

 

We decided to go look for him after dinner. We trekked up the trails by the campsite to find him way out in the distance… We thought that was the last of him…

 

 

 

 

 

We had fun chatting with some locals who stopped by in the evening to say hello and hear our story. We felt a bit silly being so excited about Ichabod… They shared stories of hundreds of icebergs in the “tickle”. A tickle we learned,as a Newfoundland term, could be described as any point between two rocks that you can get a boat thru or a short narrow strait…”

 

 

Our final day in Twillingate we just enjoyed our awesome spot and took a little ride round a few outlying peninsulas. We found another iceberg hidden in a little town called Bridgeport. It was nice of those colorful boats to line up for a photo.

 

 

 

OK… and one more leg stretch for another great view…

 

 

 

 

We were sad to leave our great campsite but there was still lots to see and do. We decided to go past the other National Park, Terra Nova, and save that for our return trip across the rock. Our next stop was a relatively short distance down the road to Bonavista another must see people had shared. We stayed at anther provincial park, Lockston Path, centrally located for the sites we wanted to see.

 

We toured the town of Bonavista, exploring the history at “Ryan Premises” a historic site documenting the rich fishing history of Newfoundland and specifically the town of Bonavista.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there we stopped at the lighthouse where we watched some very active Puffins and other sea birds playing on the cliffs across the way.  Of course we didn’t have our camera with the better zoom so our pictures don’t do justice to the birds…

 

 

We built up an appetite along the way so we stopped for a little snack at a shack just down the road. While enjoying a very yummy batch of fish and chips we were entertained by some whales playing along the coast…

 

 

 

 

One more stop that day… Dungeon Provincial Park where there is a large collapsed sea cave with a natural archway. The view on the way wasn’t bad either…

 

We bumped into a guy in the parking lot who suggested another spot that he felt was one of the best views in Newfoundland. since he was a tourism videographer who was there making a commercial we thought we would take the suggestion. Glad we did… nice secluded (local) trail to a 400 foot sea stack. We could have made one more stop in Elliston on the way home where you can get much closer to the Puffins… but we ran out of steam and wanted to get home for a fire.

For this leg of the trip there was yet one more stop…The next day we made our way to check out Trinity and Port Rexton. We actually made sure to visit the Bonavista peninsula because it is home of the Port Rexton Brewery (one of the few on the island). One of the things Newfoundland lacks is good beer. Chris has been struggling to find drinkable beer… he even resorted to buying a $15 six pack of Labatts at one point. Alcohol in general is very expensive and heavily taxed.

 

Trinity was quite quaint and was best captured from the lookout on the Skerwink Trail in Port Rexton. We had high hopes for the trail but unfortunately it was a bit disappointing. We have seen so much great stuff sometimes it is challenging to get that wow factor… We did however bump into some real nice people who we later chatted up at the brewery. We completed our hike and made a beeline to the brewery. Apparently so did everyone else… every group we passed on the trail seemed to make their way there…and we thought we were so cool…  We stayed for a few hours and talked with several people. Thanks to Craig and Symone for sharing some ideas about our pending stop in Saint Johns.

We enjoyed the dichotomy between the grand mountains meeting the sea in the west with the quaint coastal vibe and seaside views of this area. Looking forward to what the Avalon area will have for us to explore!

 

 



Newfoundland-The Viking Trail

The ferry ride was uneventful. We chowed down on some pate’, brie, baguette and cherries, saw a few schools of porpoise, and played a few games of Phase 10. The 6 hours went by relatively quick. As we got close the fog rolled in making us a bit nervous but thankfully it lifted when we docked and stayed away long enough for us to find our way to our campsite. Just getting off the ferry in Port aux Basques was wow… The short ride to Searston, about 40 minutes up the main road was breathtaking too. We were so excited about what we were going to see here.

 

 

 

We started our adventure in a free site right on the ocean. Didn’t see much that first night as the fog rolled in again, but the morning sun shed some light on our location! Not bad for free!

 

 

The first day was sunny with bright blue skies. Newfoundland is divided into regions; Western, Central, Eastern,  and Avalon. We decided to start our journey in the western region on the Viking Trail. Gros Morne National Park has gotten a lot of press with people we have spoken to and things we have read… so first stop Gros Morne!

 

Again we were met with lots of construction, however getting stuck here was not horrible. Everywhere you look the views were spectacular. Pictures taken from the truck…

 

 

 

 

We made our home base in Rocky Point at an RV park right in town. It was a great central location as Gros Morne is pretty big. It was here where we first tried out our new bicycles. Yes… For some reason we got a bug up our butts to get bikes again. Of course the first trip was all down hill to town and all up hill home… I realized then why we sold our last ones…

 

 

Our first day in Gros Morne we decided to break down camp and head for Tablelands with the girls. They had been cooped up long enough and needed to get out for a while too! Tablelands is an area in Gros Morne where the earths mantle is exposed, a rare geologic sight. It was such a dichotomy, one side of the road was the barren reddish brown Tableland mountains and the other… lush green mountains with pine trees. We were going to do the short hike on Tablelands but didn’t think we would see more than what we saw from the road. We switched gears and headed for the Green Gardens Trail. A bit more challenging with woods and coastal highlights.

 

Beautiful… The coastal views and lighting were spectacular. We even got chased down by a very verbal lone sheep… Later we found the rest of his family…

 

 

We were running a bit late so we decided to check out another little coastal town on the way home looking for some cheap fishy grub. Look what we found… He was right in the center of town (Norris Point). We parked within 30 feet or so and Chris jumped on top of the camper to take some pictures. I chatted up some of the locals from the ground who were equally impressed by this big guy. One guy was a big game hunter guide and said he was about 7 and smart as a whip. Every hunting season he swims across the bay to avoid the hunters!

 

We even found a cute little place to have a snack that was dog friendly. Not a bad view.

 

 

 

 

 

We had a bit of weather so we used that time to catch up on a few things. The next day we were back at it. Off to Western Brook Pond, a fijord in the northern part of Gros Morne with spectacular views and a boat ride to the end. We opted out of the boat ride (cuz we are cheap) and decided to take the Snug Harbor trail along the side of the pond.

 

 

 

 

They said you would have to ford the pond which wasn’t bad, actually fun and refreshing…

 

 

 

 

 

 

They also said there was a bit of mud to negotiate… Well the mud and the bugs got the best of us. We turned around with our tail between our legs…

 

 

 

The weather guessers said the next day or two were iffy around here so we decided to head north and check out Saint Anthony and L’anse Aux Meadows. This area is what gives this region its nickname “The Viking Trail”. L’anse Aux Meadows is a UNESCO heritage site where the Vikings first landed in Newfoundland. It the first known European settlement in North America dating to 1000AD.

 

 

We stayed in a crappy little campground near Saint Anthony (one of the only games in town). It was a cloudy, cold,and rainy day but once we got settled we headed into town. Not much to the town but the lighthouse area had some nice trails and coastal views. We had fun strolling in the drizzle with the girls.

 

 

 

 

The next day was L’anse Aux Meadows. The day started very dreary and drizzly. Hard to get excited about things when the weather is crappy. We started in the visitor center then headed out to see the site. The original Viking structures were really non existent. There were depressions with ridges in the ground delineating where there buildings and infrastructure were. They did have a very cool recreation of what their sod hut homes and village would have looked like.

 

 

 

While we were there there was even actors portraying the Vikings living there during that time. They were cooking over an open fire, weaving, making trinkets, etc…

 

 

 

 

 

 

After going through the Settlement area the sun decided to come out a bit. We decided to take a coastal trail back to the parking lot. Very pretty views and another moose sighting. All is not lost!

 

 

It was interesting but not necessarily worth the long drive to see it… We made the most of the drive…

 

 

 

 

We headed back down the Viking Trail to revisit Gros Morne. We still had to summit Gros Morne, the second highest mountain on the “Rock” (term for Newfoundland). The highest peak is not quite so accessible and not touted as having the views. This hike is 16k and 806 meters (about 10.5 miles, about 2900 feet elevation). The biggest challenge is that about 500 meters of it is straight up a rock moraine… Whew

 

Well, it was well worth waiting for the weather to break and returning to do this. Wow… Exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. Amazing views from all sides. Thankfully the sun stuck around for us to capture most of it. Awesome expansive views…

It was cold and WINDY on top so we didn’t hang out for long. A quick picture of two then on our way. The back side of the mountain led us past a hanging lake, waterfall, and several little ponds. We even spotted a moose on our way down.

This was just the first week here on The Rock… Looking forward to the next section!



Nova Scotia

After leaving New Brunswick we were ready for something a bit different. We enjoyed the friendliness of the people in New Brunswick and the expansive coastline but we were excited to see some hills.

 

We started our Nova Scotia visit in Pitcou. A really cute little town along the Northumberland Strait in the Gulf off the Saint Lawrence.

 

 

 

 

 

We were only here for a few days but took advantage of the beautiful weather and set out to explore on the motorcycles.  We stayed along the coast finding both dirt and pavement. We even happened upon Cape St. George lighthouse with a pretty nice view… Really… the caution tape indicates that they are doing maintenance. That would be the second lighthouse being worked on when we visited. Probably coincides with all the roadwork… Short season for outdoor maintenance…

 

 

 

On our way home we had too make a quick stop at Uncle Leos…

 

 

 

 

 

Chris reads a lot of motorcycle ride reports and had read good things about the Cabot trail. Excited to see what the Cabot trail was all about, we made a beeline for Cape Breton and The Cape Breton Highlands National Park which is in the middle of the Cabot trail.

Our first stop on Cape Breton was in a town called Baddeck. Why did we pick here to start you ask… Well, there is a brewery of course! After disconnecting the trailer at our campsite we set off 3 kilometers down the road, camper and all, to Big Spruce Brewing. We lucked out with the last spot in their little parking lot big enough to fit our behemoth. We enjoyed the view, the brew, and were serenaded while chatting with other patrons. They were even dog friendly so the girls got to enjoy the festivities as well.

Our first full day was a wash out so we hung home and did some projects. The following day was our first glimpse of the Cabot Trail. We took the bikes on the lower section and played around on some side roads as well. We found some cool dirt roads along the coast and some great mountain and lake views.

As we always do a little research about the areas we are in, we found Egypt Falls highlighted on google maps… Since we were driving by we decided to check it out. It was quite the climb down and we were skeptical about what we would find but hopeful due to the number of cars parked on the side of the dirt road we took to get there. When I say quite the climb.. The last tenth of a mile there was rope tied to the trees to assist with the slippery, steep, slope..Wow.. What a nice surprise… It was a beautiful falls, quite large and completely unobstructed by down trees or debris. Amazing find on someone’s private property…

 

Many people just drive the Cabot Trail as it a scenic loop road that starts at the bottom of Cape Breton by Baddeck and loops the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in the north. We had a week before the ferry so we found a second campground up at the top of the Cape in the National Park. We were happy to have the truck camper instead of the big rig for sure. The Cabot Trail didn’t disappoint with amazing coastal views, steep grades and twisty turns…

 

 

 

 

We settled in at a little campground on Aspy Bay smack dab in the middle of Cape Breton Highlands Park (Dingwall). Wow.. We had a nice spot in the woods but a short walk brought us to the common area overlooking the bay. We enjoyed happy hour and sunsets here! This was a great central location for checking out the park.

 

 

Although we found much of Cape Breton to be quite beautiful we weren’t always impressed with the views on the hikes. We started out on Franey which was one of the handful of best hikes we read about. Nice view from the top but not the bang for our buck we were looking for… The girls were happy to join though!

 

 

 

We checked out the coastal trail and decided we would need to come back and do the whole trail!

 

 

 

 

 

The weather was a bit gray and drizzly…having to mix things up a bit we decided to book a whale watching trip for the late afternoon (it was supposed to be nicer later). When the weather broke we took the motorcycles out for a little ride to Meat Cove. A pretty ride to a small community in a cove with a campground overlooking a beach and cliffs. The sun came out for a minute so we snapped a quick picture! We stopped for a little snack, fish and chips, not bad! It was a bit chilly so we decided to head home and grab more clothing for the boat.

 

 

The boat trip was a bust… No whales for us today… That’s ok, the sun came out and it was a beautiful trip along the coast of Meat Cove and Cape North. We saw some wildlife and got a lot of fresh air!

 

 

 

 

After the little taste of the Coastal Trail from the other day we decided to do the whole trail starting from the less traveled side…thankfully we found this really pretty waterfall to play in because shortly after that we were attacked by some crazy bugs that turned us back…

 

 

 

 

 

We went back to the trailhead we started from before and headed in from there. It was fun seeing and hearing the surf along the rocky shore, watching the lobster boats, fishing boats, and seabirds diving for their lunch… we actually made it almost to the point we turned around from the other side! On the way home we stopped at a local fish store and grabbed some local treats. Mussels, Scallops and Haddock! Yum.

 

 

Our last hike was the Skyline Trail, the piece de resistance according to all the lists. We took the bikes on the Cabot Trail to get there and it was a nice ride. There was quite a bit of road work so there were delays and lots of changes in road conditions. Glad we have dual sports! We stopped at a pull out for the “Lone Shieling” trail. We didn’t take the trail, just wanted to get out of the construction traffic. The lone Shieling is a small cabin/hut from the Island of Skye in old time Scotland. Cape Breton has a strong Scottish heritage and history. One prominent family from the area donated 100 acres with the caveat that the park build and maintain a small area with a replica of this Scottish hut… It was interesting.

 

The skyline trail was a bit disappointing for us. We did the whole loop starting with the more wooded trail and somewhat less traveled. We wanted to save the “money shot for the end. We did see a moose ear… A female laying way off in the trees… So much “moop” (the term we coined for moose poop on the trail) so little moose… When we made our way to the boardwalk lookout area there were tons of people. The view itself was one that is seen from so many other places… Just didn’t get the wow factor but as mentioned before we may be a bit jaded/spoiled. You can see a bit of the Cabot Trail down below…

Our last day was spent stocking up and grabbing a few necessities, like new bicycles… Yup, gonna give it a try again…

Let the adventure begin… Here we are waiting in line to board the ferry to Newfoundland and entering the bowels of the ship…



Short Stay in New Brunswick…

From Gaspe’ we traveled into New Brunswick looking forward to whatever was next. We drove along the Chaleur Bay that runs between Gaspe’ and New Brunswick and is said to be one of the most beautiful bays… Ok… Unfortunately what we found were very bumpy roads, flat terrain, and not so quaint villages along the coast…maybe a little harsh… With that said we only traveled a small section of New Brunswick and according to the map we found, there are five scenic drives.  I’m sure each one has its own charm. Our route included the Acadian Coastal Drive from Quebec to Nova Scotia, and later we will be traveling the Fundy Coastal Drive when we hit Fundy National Park on our way home. What we did notice immediately was how much more friendly everyone was! We also found several really nice campgrounds for really cheap!

 

We drove the coast for much of the way and when in Rome… you look for lighthouses right??? We headed out to Miscou Island, the furthest point on the Acadian Isles and home to… wait for it… a lighthouse! We drove about 60 miles or more out of our way to get there only to find them working on the lighthouse. A bit disappointing… hence the peak-a-boo shot of it. There was a beautiful view of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence and Chaleur Bay.

 

 

 

 

Our big stop on this section of the trip was Parc national Kouchibouguac (say that 10 times fast). This park is situated on the Kouchibouguac Bay in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. We lucked out and got the last campsite in the park for the night. Our site was huge and right next to the bike/hike trails. Once we set up we headed out to do some exploring. Some of the trails were closed to hiking due to damage from an ice storm in March. We found enough to entertain ourselves but this park is much more suited for beach goers and bicyclist (we are actually considering getting a few bikes). We learned about bogs on our stroll… and also a bit about salt marshes on our walk to Kellys Beach area.

 

 

 

 

 

That night was July 4th so we had to have a campfire to celebrate. We enjoyed our humongous site and unconventional July 4th meal (baguette, brie, pate’, tomato, avocado and chicken).

 

 

 

 

 

Soooo, the red chairs… Apparently in the Canadian National Parks they strategically place these chairs in scenic spots. This was our first time taking a picture with them as we tend to like to find our own scenic spots.

Our time in New Brunswick was short lived… off to Nova Scotia



Quebec III- Gaspe’, Parc national Forillon and Perce’, Parc national de L^ile-Bonaventure and Et-du-Rocher-Perce’

We left Cap Chat and headed further east on the Gaspe peninsula. The further we went the better it seemed! Next stop was the town of Gaspe where we made camp for 5 nights. We found a nice little campground right on the bay within a reasonable distance to the things we wanted to see. Finally a place where dogs are welcome! We took the camper off the truck since the girls were able to join us in the park!

 

 

We spent a few days exploring Parc national de Forillon. The first day we spent hiking along the coast on the Les Graves trail.There were many older buildings, some of which housed historic relics and stories of the families and fishermen who lived and worked here. This area was home to a large dried cod fish business. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the views…

 

 

 

We also fit in a quick hike to La Chute, a nice 17 meter waterfall in the park. After a full day we stopped at Caps des Rosiers lighthouse just outside the north entrance to the park where we found some well deserved ice cream!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In our travels through Quebec we have passed tons of Poissonniere shops, which translates to fish stores in English. We finally stopped and got some local lobster which is currently in season here. Hard shell yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day we headed back into the park to do more of the Les Graves trail which extends to Cap Gaspe’ where there is a lighthouse overlooking the cape. We learned about the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) which begins where the AT ends at Mt. Katahdin in Maine and ends here at this point. Several of the hikes we have taken on Gaspe’ have been a part of this trail system.

 

 

 

 

 

We went a little bit further to get to Lands End, where the land meets the sea and marks the easternmost point on the Gaspe’ Peninsula.

 

 

 

 

We were warned about porcupines since we had the girls… As luck would have it we spotted one in a tree along our trail… It was in a tree right on the trail. It was huge and very verbal about us intruding… After a quick picture we ran by unscathed. Funny side-note… We have been using a translation app on our phones to communicate with all of the French speakers in Quebec. As we passed the porcupine a young couple was on the other side looking very concerned about what we just saw. We tried to explain it was a porcupine…but of course they didn’t speak English. Using my handy dandy translator I came up with porcupine which is what it is in French too.. They said in broken English “that would be great if we were French but we speak German”. Quite amusing…we all laughed. I quickly used the translator to say porcupine in German…which is “stachelschwein”. We felt like we were in an episode of Grimm…

 

Before leaving Forillon we had to check out Cap-Bon-Ami…

 

 

 

 

 

Our last stop on the Gaspe’ was a trip to the town of Perce’. Here we spent the day exploring Parc national de L^ile-Bonaventure. This park is accessible only by boat and is home to the third largest and most accessible colony of the Northern Gannet.

 

The boat takes you past the Rocher-Perce’ on its way to the island. Quite an impressive “rock” between the mainland and Bonaventure island. It reminded us of lands end in Los Cabos Mexico.

 

 

 

 

We had a great day hiking the circumference of the island while stopping to admire the Gannet colony and all 115,000 of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We even spotted a few playful seals sunning themselves on the rocks.

 

 

 

 

 

On the way home we stopped in to Pit Caribou, a little brewery in Perce’. Not our favorite so no pictures of this one…

Off to New Brunswick… It will be nice to be back where English is more prevalent.



Quebec II-Trios-Pistoles (Parc national du Bic, and Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata) and Cap Chat (Parc national de la Gaspésie)

After leaving Levis and Old Quebec, we headed east and onto the Gaspé Peninsula. The Gaspésie (official name), or Gaspé Peninsula, the Gaspé or Gaspesia, is a Peninsula along the south east shore of the Saint Lawrence River. It is about 750 miles to loop the perimeter of the peninsula.

We weren’t sure what to expect but that’s what makes an adventure. Route 132 flanks the coast the whole way, so that was the starting point for planning. The national and provincial parks helps to provide some focus… We started out in a town called Trois-Pistoles which seemed a good central location to check out Parc national du Bic , and Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata. Amazing how different two parks can be that are relatively so close to one another.

 

Our goal is to avoid taking the camper off the truck unless we are staying somewhere for a more lengthy time so the motorcycles were it! First ride we explored the coast a bit then hit Bic. This park was a coastal park located in the St. Lawrence Estuary. The views we experienced on our short walk included capes, bays, coves, islands, and mountains, very pretty… But oh the bugs…even after spraying before hiking we were almost hijacked… We have bites on our bites…

 

 

The next day we headed in a completely different direction, inland to Lac-Témiscouata, again on the bikes. The weather has been a bit tricky as rain is often in the forecast but doesn’t ever seem to be a washout. The AM looked clear so we made tracks and actually got out by 9. Yes, we are aware that that is lame! It was a nice ride and when we got to the park the riding was even better. We would have loved to stop for a walk or even drove through more of the park but there were some threatening clouds in the distance. Of course in the direction we had to go… We took one quick picture where a few of the trails converged then high tailed it. We almost made it home, but almost wasn’t enough… By the time we got home we had to ring out all of our clothes, including underware, and poured the water out of our boots… Oh well… Good day regardless. After drying off and warming up, the sun came back out…really. At least we got everything hung out to dry.

The next day was supposed to be a wash out so we enjoyed a home day. Chris worked on projects, I baked, gave myself a pedicure, did laundry and whipped up a pot of chilli. So, a wash out it was not…but of course it starts to pour when we had to carry the laundry back…

 

Next stop was Cap Chat (Cape Cat). A small town on the coast and not far from Parc national de la Gaspésie. Our camp ground was right on the water… See it down there…

 

 

 

 

Quite windy all the time… Had to bundle up for happy hour!

 

 

 

 

 

We didn’t know it but Parc national de la Gaspésie is considered a mecca for hiking in Québec. It is the second oldest park, created in April 1937 in order to permanently protect the Gaspésie Caribou and the beauty of Mont Albert. Here we found glacial formed mountains, cascades, and lakes in breathtaking landscapes.

 

 

 

 

 

Of course you have to work a bit to see some of this… Le Mont-Xalibu provided a great opportunity to enjoy the expansive views and interesting topography.

 

 

 

 

 

Another hike, shorter and less steep Le Mont-Ernest-Ladorce, is supposed to be where the Moose hang out… A very pretty trail with 360 degree views we were unable to capture due to the lighting the time of day we went. We did get a moose though! A female hanging in some brush. Her head had to be the size of a Volkswagen!

 

 

 

Since our campground was right on the beach, some beach strolling filled some time too…

 

 

 

 

 

That fickle weather… There were many days that the sky was threatening. One day we opted to stay a bit closer to home and do some riding. Apparently this area is very snowmobile and ATV friendly. There were many back roads to support that and we had fun exploring.

 

 

 

 

 

Of course there is the obligatory microbrewery stop… Not the best beer at La Malbord in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts but nice atmosphere!

Moving on… Next stop Gaspe’ and Parc national Forillon!



The Quebec Province, Part I: Parc national de la Mauricie and Old Quebec City

Our plan to travel through the Quebec Province, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland for the summer has finally become a reality. We left the states on Monday June 12th and crossed into Quebec without incident. Our preliminary itinerary includes 9 National Parks with several provincial parks along the way.

Unbeknownst to us, it is Canada’s 150th anniversary and all of the National Parks are free all summer! Lucky happenstance!

Our first stop was in Shawinigan, an area we visited years ago for a snowmobiling trip. Must look real different without the snow cuz we remember none of it… This time our focus was Parc national de la Mauricie (La Mauricie National Park), the first on our current list.

We found a nice private campground convenient to everything. We took the first day to get our bearings. We started with a little shopping and exchanging funds. Currently the exchange rate is 1.3… Not bad.

We quickly learned that the province of Quebec is not super dog friendly… No dogs allowed at all in the provincial parks and basically not out of your vehicle in the national parks. We headed out for a dog friendly hike just outside of the national park suggested by the owners of our campground. Wow… Lasted only 1/4 mile in before the bugs won. Unbelievable I think some of them were the size of Mothra (King Kong/Godzilla reference…). Change of plans. We drove through the National Park instead. We stopped a few places to take pictures but again found ourselves fleeing swarms of bugs… La Mauricie is known for its conifer and hardwood forests and the more than 150 lakes within its boundaries.

 

 

 

After the ride we went on a hunt for bug netting for our heads… This proved to be a little bit of a challenge as Quebec is a French speaking province. Armed with our translation apps and a smile it was actually fun trying to communicate with people and find things we needed. We were successful and this will be a new staple in our hiking gear!

 

 

 

 

We took a motorcycle ride through the park and a short hike to Les Cascades one day.

 

 

 

 

Our next adventure was a 13k (8 miles) loop trail passing several lakes. Boy are we out of shape… We fatigued early but pushed on. We found a few shortcuts and did 7.25 miles completing the loop using a combination of several different trails.

 

 

 

This area is home to a variety of winter sports and there were big shelter buildings with fireplaces along the trail. The ranger who suggested this hike suggested we eat lunch here to avoid the bugs…Thank goodness… It was nice to be protected from the bugs while eating.

We enjoyed our stop here but were not overly impressed with the park. It was very pretty but was missing that wow factor for us…

Off to Quebec City to explore old Quebec for a few days…

 

 

We lucked out and found a campground, Passport America even, that provided a free shuttle service to the Levis (the town we were staying in) Quebec ferry. The ferry drops off right in the port of Old Quebec City…

 

 

 

 

Taking advantage of this opportunity we spent a full day exploring the city. Amazing old historic town. From what we could gather from the French interpretive signs… It was founded sometime around 1608 by Champlain. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with some structures dating back to the 17th century. It is the only North American city to have its original ramparts intact.

We walked and walked… Making sure to stop at the many historical sites… There was plenty to see. It really felt as if we were walking and hanging in a town in Europe…

 

 

 

Terrase Dufferin with Chateau Frontenac in the background. Quite the impressive hotel…

The Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec… Unfortunately it was being restored so the really impressive sections were closed off, no pictures made the cut.

 

 

 

The Citadelle of Quebec, also known as La Citadelle, is an active military installation and official residence of both the Canadian monarch and the Governor General of Canada…

 

 

 

 

 

Place Royal…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We even stopped for lunch at one of the many cafés. Of course we had to sample some traditional food from the French province… soupe à l’oignon gratinee’, pate’, and poutine! Not on the diet but what the heck.

 

 

 

Oh… By the way I did this with my back out. Not fun walking all over looking like you are 90 years old… hunched over like a question mark… Eventually we needed to sit. What better way to end a great day than a cold pint with a view!

Staying another day crossed our mind but I don’t think my back could handle that much walking 2 days in a row… Tomorrow we push on to the Gaspe’ Penninsula.



Home… Family and Friends

We arrived home… Interesting term for us these days since we no longer actually own a home or have a permanent residence in the Rochester area. We will continue to call it home until we find another place where we want to hang our hats… Right now our friends and family make it home for us.

It was a busy three weeks.

We set up our home base at Brenda and Dennis’s while spending some nights with mom and dad in the basement (a story unto itself…).

 

 

We spent my birthday with friends at Brennis Farm…

Celebrated Mother’s Day at Anne and Stephens with the Strobridges and mom and dad… Nice to see everyone especially Sami and Adam!

We had a casino date with mom and dad at the new Del Lago Casino…

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hit Stoneyard Brewing with some old friends…

We helped celebrate Mikes 50th (Chris’s brother). He came in with Carri and Chase to celebrate at home with old friends and family. It was nice seeing some of his old friends and some of our extended family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had several picnics at the farm. Yummy Lucky! (beef reference) Good food, cold drinks, good friends, and a bonfire for good measure.

 

 

 

 

Of course there was Belgian Night at the Boudreaus….

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was girls day with Vicky and Brenda… A visit with Judy (Brenda’s mom), some retail therapy, a few wineries, and Del Lago for dinner and some gambling.

I am sure there was more… Oh yeah I went to the dentist😜

After leaving “home” we made a few stops to visit other friends.

 

 

 

 

We spent two nights with Mark and Sally in Boonville. Fun day out jeeping… Then a fun night out watching a singing duo… Ok and a lot of participating…

 

 

 

From there it was a visit with Nat and Ted. Again a two night stay. Donna and Jeff joined us for dinner Friday night! The next day they gave us a tour of their new property and we hit a few breweries on the way home. Before we left we checked out Cohoes Falls and stopped in at the studio for a last time…

We mad a quick stop in Hinsdale NH and did nothing for 2 days at this point… We were pooped and peopled out!

 

 

 

Feeling rejuvenated we were off to the Mazzallas for a visit and to celebrate AJ’s graduation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always love our visits at Club Mazzella. Too much food, lots of noise, and laughs!

We left New Hampshire on Monday June 12th. Canada here we come!



Washington DC 2017

After we left Pete we decided to head to Washington DC. There was no rush to get home as the weather was horrid… Rain, flooding and general gray yuck… Washington was showing some reasonable weather and we have wanted to do the National Mall and the historic sights for a few years. Although we aren’t big city tourists sometimes it makes sense!

We lucked into a campground in Virginia about an hour from downtown DC for $40 a night. Steep for us but great price for the area.

 

 

 

It was a 1/2 hour truck ride to the Metro and another 45 minutes on the train. Actually very easy and convenient… The metro dropped us right in the heart of the city an easy walk to everything we wanted to see. Another bonus and nice surprise…just about all the sights are free! All the monuments, government buildings, and museums are free!

 

 

 

 

The first day was beautiful and we walked 9 miles and took in many of the buildings and memorials. We saw the Capital Building (active protest and all!), the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Korean Memorial, World War II Memorial, Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, walked through the US Botanical Gardens, and toured the National Archives. We were pooped when we got home!

A few days of rain allowed us to take care of some business…5 loads of laundry and some grocery shopping! No rest for the weary!

Another day we decided to do a car tour… We accidentally found Mount Vernon, Washington’s estate and farm along the Potomac River. It was crazy busy as there was a Revolutionary War reenactment going on. The big truck is always a bear to park so we didn’t think we could stay… Thankfully we lucked into a parking spot at the Washington Gristmill and Distillery. Here we hopped a shuttle to the estate, awesome! We walked the grounds of the estate and took lots of pictures. We didn’t stay long enough to get our inside house tour, because of the crowds it would have been another 3 hours before we could get in…Next time.

 

We found the Gristmill and Distillery very interesting and actually got to see the gristmill in action! First time either one of us has actually seen a working gristmill with waterwheel. They still make the grain that is used in the production of the whiskey. No tastes of the whiskey though…

 

 

 

Our next full day in DC was a bit more focused. Our fist stop was tour of the Library of Congress, wow! Our favorite building!

 

 

 

 

 

Second stop was the Capitol Building. This time we actually went in and took a tour. Again, pretty impressive. Would have liked to see the actual meeting rooms of the House and Senate but long lines are not our thing…

 

 

 

Our final stop was the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Lots of reproductions, some originals… Interesting. Another busy day!

 

 

 

 

 

They had the first plane flown by the Wright brothers in 1903…

 

 

 

 

Ok… One more day… On our last DC day we fit in a tour of the Ford Theatre and the house where Lincoln died. It is really humbling to be in some of these places…

 

 

 

 

Our second stop was the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. A little disappointed… Think I like the one in New York better! From there we made the Holocaust Museum our last stop… Wow, really well done. Hard to put words to this visit, so much sadness. Amazing how many people and kids were there yet you could hear a pin drop the whole time we were there…no pictures… Just didn’t feel right.

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, it was time to head out… Or not… The last day of sunshine would have been a drive day so we opted to stay one more day and enjoy the campground. Great choice! There were lots of trails in the Prince William Forest Park where we were camping. We took the girls on a 7 mile hike, much of it along a creek. We all had a fun day and enjoyed the sunshine.

Off to Rochester to visit some family and friends for a few weeks!

 




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