Lonnie and Sue - Traveling North America

Touring Gaspe Peninsula in 2004

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08-18-04WedDay 61Out at:  11:45 AMTrip meter:  140 

Took the 40 to the 73 south.  After we crossed the St Lawrence River turned east on the 132 all the way to Riviere-du-Loup.   

Stopped at Camping du Quai, Riviere-du-Loup, QC.  Got setup at 5:15 PM - Have water, electric, and sewer.  Stayed 3 nights.  Sites are close together, fairly level, with no shade.  There is a partial view of the lake.  The fire rings are the inner tubs out of washing machines.  Have satellite.  We have DirecTv with an 18" dish. 

We walked across the road and purchased tickets to a whale-watching cruise for 1 PM tomorrow.  It is a 4-hour cruise with a guarantee to see whales or we get another trip.

08-19-04ThurDay 62 - It was real foggy when we got up.  Departed the campground at 11:30 AM.  Plan on driving around town about an hour then go to the dock to board the cruise boat.  As we got in the car it started to rain.  

After driving around for 30 minutes we decided to go to the dock and park because it is still raining rather hard.  At the dock we looked out on the marina and the boats are all setting in the mud.  It appears they rise and settle with the tide.  I estimate it will take at least 3 feet of water to raise the river to the bottom of the boats then no telling how much to float them.  Sue took a picture.  One of the boats had a blue top and the top was at least 5 feet below the top of the basin wall.   

It rained all during our drive and didn’t stop until after we boarded the boat, the “Cavalier des Mers”.  The ramp to the boat was extremely steep and was difficult to walk down.  I estimate it was at a 45-degree slope.  The fog was heavy and visibility was less than ¼ mile.

Nine people boarded here and there were about 15 already on board.  We departed at 1 PM and sailed across the river to St Simeon - the 15 got off.  It seems the boat runs in a circle from Riviere-du-Loup to St Simeon then loops northeast in the river and returns. 

Boats setting in the mud at Riviere-du-Loup Harbor.  The tide is out.  Notice the fog at high noon.
We had just about completed the tour without seeing any whales and were just 15 minutes from docking when some were spotted.  We got to see a few white whales.  It was on the outer fringe of the main whale watching area so we didn’t get to see many but it did fulfill the guarantee of the tour line.  The fog was so bad we only got to see the shoreline one time.  We were hoping not to see any whales so we could get another trip tomorrow when the weather might be better.   

When we returned to the dock the tide was in and all of the boats in the marina were floating.  The top of the blue boat was at least 6 feet above the basin.  The ramp was at about a 10-degree slope.  One of the crew told me the tide raised the river between 13 and 15 feet.  See photos.

08-20-04FriDay 63 - It is a beautiful sunny day and the visibility is great.  We went to find a library to check email.  Found it but it didn’t open until 1 PM.  Drove over to the big falls.  This town is known for it’s 8 falls.   

At 1:15 PM went to the library.  At 2:15PM went to the marina.  The tide was just starting to come in.  We sit in our chairs and watched it until all of the boats were floating.  It raised about 6 feet in less than one hour.  We drove along the river shore and at one point got out and walked next to the water – watched the tide continue to come in.  Drove the jeep 66 miles this stop .

08-21-04SatDay 64Out at:  10:15 AMTrip meter:  180 

Headed out on the 132 east for the Gaspe Peninsula.  Do not have a particular destination in mind – will drive until we stop.  This portion of the trip is just driving around the coastline.  We have seen more RV’s on the road during the first 50 miles today than we have seen combined since entering Canada. 

Stopped in the town of Rimouski and went to the Pointe-au-Pere Lighthouse.  It is a historical site that was built in 1909 and used until 1962.  Rimouski is the point where the river starts to narrow and it required river pilots to guide the ships through.  The pilots were picked up here from the mid 1800’s until 1962 – then the boarding point was moved to another town further down the river.  

The view on the highway is magnificent.  We traveled through flat land, rolling hills, mountains, farming land, pastures, forest and wooded areas, and right alongside the water.  Most of the towns, and there were many, had population of less than 1,000 and many with less than 600.  The small towns usually have only 2 or 3 streets with the highway being the main street – quite frequently the only street.  This allowed us to drive along the waterfront in the towns.   

All of the towns were located on the coastline.  For the most part the land is relatively flat for about ½ mile width along the coastline, then it rises to a couple hundred feet.  When the highway leaves the coastline and goes out into the interior, it always swings back into the coastline for the towns.  The view of these towns, when the highway drops back down into them, are “picture postcard” views – simply breathtaking.   

So far this drive alone has made our trip to Canada worthwhile.

There is a wind generator farm with 76 windmills at Cap-Chat.  Tours are available.  We want to do the tour and also drive through “Parc national de la Gaspesie” the national park that is located about 20 miles south of here.  So we stopped Camping Au Bord de la Mer, Cap-Chat, QC – Have water, electric, and sewer.  Staying 3 nights.  Very level with no trees but a wonderful view of the river.   Can fish in the salt water without a fishing license.  Got setup at 4 PM and we have satellite. 

Pointe-au-Pere Lighthouse in Rimouski .

Overall for this trip, so far, this is probably the best site we have had.  It’s not the prettiest but for ease of getting in and out, for levelness, for size, and for view it is really fantastic.  
We took a walk along the river.  It is 40 miles to the other side and getting wider.  There are no islands in the river at this point so it looks more like the ocean here.  The water is extremely clear and very cold.   

The sunset was beautiful – the sky was full of bright pink light. 

08-22-04SunDay 65 - At 8:00 AM the wind is blowing, there are white caps on the river, and it is 52 degrees.

At 8:30 AM we departed camp for the drive through Parc national de la Gaspesie.  The park is located in the northern end of the Appalachians.  Drove 8 miles east on the 132 to Sainte-Anne-des-Monts.  Drove south on the 299 to the park entrance.  From this point on, until we returned to the 299, the roads were gravel.    See photos.

Took the 16 east to Lac-aux-Americians, (Lake of the Americans).  We had to hike to the lake.  It was 2.6 km round trip with about 1 km of the beginning of the trail being an extremely steep grade.  It was a small peaceful lake setting in a beautiful environment.  On return to the jeep we took the 16 round the eastern part of the park until it intersected with the 14.  The 16 was an extremely well maintained road even though it is gravel.  It was in better condition and smother than a lot of the asphalt highways we have been on.  However, the 14 was a different story.  It is called a secondary road and apparently receives very little maintenance.  We traveled on a total of 61 miles of gravel road.  Nine miles of that was on the 14.  On many sections of the 14 I drove less than 5 mph because of the washouts and rocks in the road.  Sections of it looked like a rough river bottom with exposed rock rising out of the roadway in excess of 6 inches.  On several sections of the 14 I had to use 4-wheel drive.  We took several side trips on small roads that required 4-wheel drive.  It was an adventure and a very exciting drive.  Returned via the 299 north.  The trip today covered 128 miles. 

One note about the trip.  We should have taken a box lunch.  There were other opportunities for side trips we could have taken but since we had breakfast early this morning we were getting hungry by 2 PM.   

When the sun started setting I went outside to watch – Sue stayed in.  Since it was getting chilly I built a fire and watch as the sun slowly slid down into the river.  There was just a little color tonight – nothing like last night’s light show.  As the fire burned down I was getting ready to go inside when our next-door neighbor started his fire and started playing his accordion.  I put a few more pieces of wood on the fire.  Sue heard the music and came out.  I put more wood on the fire and we sat and listened.  He was pretty good.  

08-23-04MonDay 66At 11 AM the wind is blowing and it is overcast.  It looks real cold but the temperature is 64 degrees.  However, outside it is still cold because of the wind coming off the river.  It started raining at noon.  

Departed camp at 1:15 PM to go tour the wind generator farm.  Got a guide that was a comedian.  He was very informative and quite funny – appeared to be about 65 years old.  In this farm there is one vertical-axis wind turbine and 76 horizontal-axis wind turbines.  The horizontal-axis is the same kind we see in Texas and Minnesota.  We have never seen a vertical-axis type before.  The one here is the original prototype that was set up for testing.  The company that designed and built it does not sell these units - they just sell the plans and permission to manufacture.  There are a number of these turbines in the US and scattered around the world but this is the largest one.  It stands about 350 feet tall and the blade is about 230 feet in diameter.  The rain stopped while we were on the tour.

This particular generator has been out of commission for over two years because of a bearing failure.  The owners are in court trying to get their insurance to pay for the repairs.  We saved a brochure for Geoff.

I had planned to do some maintenance on the coach but skipped it because of the weather.  Drove the jeep 166 miles this stop. 

08-24-04TueDay 67Out at:  9:20 AMTrip meter:  144 

At 10:45 PM last night the wind was blowing so hard we cranked down the satellite and antenna and pulled in the front slide.  It’s still blowing pretty hard this morning.  Good size white caps on the river.  Should be an interesting drive today.  

It’s 52 degrees.  As I was breaking camp I hit the corner of the bedroom slide and knocked a small hole in my head.  Hit the same corner Sue hit earlier this year.  

Continued on the 132 east.  Will decide where to stay when we decide where to stop .  

Stopped at La Martre and viewed a lighthouse.  We wanted to tour it but the next tour was in French so we didn’t stay for the English tour.  It was constructed of wood and was bright red.  Real overcast – don’t look like any sunshine today.   

One thing we have noticed about Quebec that we didn’t see in Ontario - roadside parks.  There are a lot of them here but there is not always sufficient notice where they are.  Sometimes there is a 1 km or 3 km sign but sometimes there is just a sign where the turn is.   

Stopped in Madeline-Centre and saw a lighthouse.  It is constructed of concrete – painted white – a red walkway just below the light – top painted red.  We walked to the top – 43 circular steps in the body of the tower and a metal ladder with 10 steps to the light – self guided tour.  The big light was not on but there was a smaller one outside the tower that was.  Believe the big light just works at night.  No one there spoke English so we couldn’t get any information about it.

When we left Madeline Centre the 132 left the coastline and headed across the mountain.  I should note here that for the last 50 miles we have been running right next to the river on a highway built out from the base of the mountain and supported by a concrete retain wall.    See photos.

Now a note about the coach.  When we left Madeline Center we started up a 13% grade.  Partway up we had to stop for highway construction.  The grade was about ¾ mile long.  When we started again we passed a truck going up and was doing 40 mpg by the time we reached the top.  I am real pleased with the way the coach pulls in the mountains. 

The views here are magnificant.  We stopped at an overlook above Grande-Vallee.

All of the towns are on the coast but since Madeline Centre we have just hop scotched across the mountain from town to town until we reached Riviere-au-Renard at the end of the peninsula.  At 2 PM the sun came out.  There was about 50 miles of the mountain highway with grades running from 7% to 15% running from ¼ to ¾ miles long.  The 15% grade was short but downhill and sure was lots of fun.  

At Riviere-au-Renard we left the 132 and took the 197 to Gaspe.  The reason was because the 132 goes out to the furthest point of the peninsula through “Parc national de la Forillon” – the Forillon National Park.  We plan on making that drive tomorrow so we took the more direct route to Gaspe.  

Stopped at Motel & Camping Fort Ramsay, Gaspe, QC– Have water, electric, and sewer.  Stayed 2 nights.  Pulled in the site with a view of the bay – site did not require any leveling.  Got setup at 3:40 PM.  Could not get the satellite. 

Drove around town, it's not very big.  None of the towns/villages are very big on the peninsula.  Then we had a good seafood dinner, fresh from the ocean.

La Martre Lighthouse.  Tour was conducted in French so we did't take it.
View of Grande-Valle from an overlook.  We are traveling clockwise around the peninsula.
08-25-04WedDay 68 - Departed camp at 8:30 AM – going sightseeing.  Took the 132 west out to the point.  Fee to enter the park.  Took side roads when they were available but there were only a couple.  The views we had were simply magnificent.  We were at the furthermost northern point of the Appalachian Mountains.  Toured the campgrounds.  Stopped at a waterfall in the park.  It was a ½ km hike to the bottom of the falls, all down hill.  At least 75% of the trail was wooden steps.  It was a magnificent view.  
We saw our first twisted bark cedar. The tree is straight but the bark grows in a spiral design, looks a lot like a twisted rope, and goes in a counter clockwise direction. We hiked around the bottom some before heading out. Sue could not find an elevator so we had to climb out. (Note about the twisted bark cedar. On the 8/29 we saw some that had the bark stripped off – they were being used for rail fence. The trees were perfectly straight but were twisted just like the bark. It looked like something had held them at each end and twisted counter clockwise.)  

Stopped at a lighthouse in Cap-des-Rosiers for a tour but it required a guide and one was not available.  There are 43 lighthouses in Quebec and this is the tallest one at 37 meters.  It was built in 1858.  There were no roads when it was constructed so all of the material was brought in by boat - the total cost to construct it was $115,000.  It is constructed of a beautifully quarried stone.  There have been more shipwrecks here than anywhere else in Quebec.  As we were leaving we saw some seals in the bay.  Stopped and watched.  Two were sunning themselves on rocks and two swam around putting on a jumping act for us.    See photos.

Stopped in Riviere-au-Renard to eat.  The waitress spoke very little English.  We both wanted a hamburger - Sue ordered hers with mustard and I ordered mine with mayonnaise.  When we got them we each got a bun, a piece of meat, and the dressing we each ordered.  Did not try to get the other items – considered ourselves fortunate that we got as much as we did. 

A note here.  We have been in several restaurants where they only spoke French but they always had a menu in English.  This is a tourist area and it just doesn't make since this place didn't. 

Twisted bark cedar.
Went to the Plourde Sawmill in Riviere-au-Renard.  It was built in 1907 and operated until 1986.  In 2002 it had deteriorated to the point that it had become a safety hazard.  The city wanted it torn down but some of the citizens got together and rebuilt it.  It opened to the public this year.  None of it is functioning at this time but they are planning to have the shingle making portion operable next year.  We took a tour that took about 1 hour and the guide, Karen, explained how it had operated.  All of the original equipment is still in place.  It was powered by a steam engine – Karen did not think they would ever get it operating again even though they have been trying.   

Three generations operated the mill.  During the 79 years it operated there were only 2 major accidents – one on Nov 5, 1969 and the other on Nov 5, 1974.  The mill closed on Nov 5 each year thereafter until the mill shut down.  It was a very informative tour.  We helped Karen with some of her English words for some of the equipment.  She was a very pleasant young lady and we had an enjoyable time.

Returned to camp at 3:45 PM.  Drove the jeep 140 miles this stop . 

08-26-04ThurDay 69Out at:  12:45 PMTrip meter:  52 

We are leaving today but went to the Musee de la Gaspesie first – that is the Jacques Cartier Museum.  He was the explorer that was responsible for establishing Quebec in 1534.  Returned to camp and started to hook up the jeep when we noticed a problem with the hitch.  Investigated and found that the frame, on the left side where the receiver is bolted on, is torn and bent – it will need to be straightened and welded.    

Located a machine shop that did welding, Gaspe Machine Works Inc.  Frankly I was not very pleased with the job they did but it was the best I could get done there.  Hooked up the jeep and headed to Carleton to get our mail.  Took the 132 east.  Drove rather slowly for about 15 miles and stopped and checked the weld.  It appeared to be holding but I continued to drive cautiously.  

Saw a travel trailer that was set up in a campground and both ends has extensions like the end on pop up trailers.  We have seen quite a number of that type trailer in Canada.   

Just came on a 17% grade, downhill, going into Perce.  It may have been a 17% grade I just climbed because it was really steep.  It was ½ mile long on both sides. 

Heard a noise from the rear of the coach so pulled off and checked it.  The weld had broken loose and the other side had also torn out.  Note we didn’t get very far. 

We unhooked the jeep and went back about ½ mile to Camping Havre De La Nuit, Perce, QC.  Have water, electricity, and sewer – wonderful view of the bay – beautiful park – paid for 2 nights but only stayed one night.  See explanation below.  Got set up at 3:40 PM and had satellite. 

I asked about a welding shop but the attendant did now speak English.  She got the owner and his name was Mahan from Ireland.  He said that he would get in contact with the local garage and see if they could repair it for me.  Said he would have them stop at our site tonight if possible but if not for me to check with him tomorrow morning.  

There is a huge rock here called Rocher-Perce.  It is quite famous in this part of the country.  It sets about ¼ mile from the coastline but when the tide is out you can walk to it.  Sue and I did – then we walked around it for a ways.  Sue stopped before the end and I did the last ¼ mile by myself.  I slipped and got a little wet getting back – that was on the trip around the rock not out to it.  It was quite an experience and well worth the effort.  See photos.  Drove the jeep 10 miles this stop.

08-27-04FriDay 70Out at:  11:30 AMTrip meter:  162 

No one from the garage came by last night so I checked with the campground owner this morning.  He gave me the name of the garage and said he had talked to them last night and he thought they could help me. 

I went to the garage about 9 AM and talked to the owner.  He said that he had one small job to do then would come by the campground and look at the coach to determine IF the repairs were something he could handle. 

We waited until 11:30 AM and he never arrived.  We have to get to Carleton today because if we don’t there is a good chance they may return our mail.  It is 120 miles to Carleton and we had decided that if the coach could be repaired here then we would take the jeep and go get the mail.  However, since no one has come by we decided to hit the road and forfeit the nights parking we had paid for.

Rocher-Perce Rock at Perce.  The tide is in when this photo was taken but you can walk out to the rock when the tide is out.
I removed the tow bar from the receiver.  It was hanging down so low it was scraping the ground – in fact some of the bar had been drug off on the highway and one arm of the bar was bent.   

Departed the campground at 11:30 AM with Sue following me in the jeep.  Our destination is about 400 miles away – Moncton, NB.  It is a city of 61,000 so believe we can find some one with expertise to repair the coach.  Will go to Campbellton, NB today.   

Stopped in Carleton and got our mail.   

Note that somewhere during our drive today the east 132 became the west 132.  We’re heading back down the coat going west. 

Crossed over into New Brunswick at Pointe-a-la-Grande – there was no highway number – just an arrow pointing the way.

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