Moncton, NB to Perce, Quebec 7/31-8/7/2022


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North America » Canada » Quebec » Percé
August 7th 2022
Published: August 7th 2022
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THE BASICS



After an overnight at the Walmart in Moncton, we headed to Prince Edward Island for four nights. Two days, John drove and drove around the island, savoring the tidy landscape. On the day between, we strolled around Charlottetown, the capital and largest city.



We had a long day of driving along the coast, 270 miles, to reach Campbelltown, at the “top” of New Brunswick. We stayed one night at a provincial park, and then a night right next to the bridge to Quebec. Next stop, Perce, “only” 150 miles on the Gaspe Peninsula. We are here for four nights.



THE FLUFF



Between the Bay of Fundy and Moncton, we passed through many small villages. We stopped in one, Hillsborough, where the New Brunswick Railway Museum is located. It really interests us to think back to the late 1800’s when railways were built to connect all the small towns. It took a long time to get from start to finish of a trip, but at least you could get there.



We got all confused when we reached Moncton and explored many interesting-looking areas before we reached the Walmart parking lot. It was in maybe the hugest mall I have ever seen. John went online and found a well-rated Italian restaurant within walking distance, so he made a reservation. Then he went into the Walmart to look around and discovered that you could cut through the Walmart to reach the restaurant faster. So later we both went into the Walmart, but were surprised to hear an announcement (in French only) that all the doors in the store would be closing except the ones by the cash registers. So we had to walk all around outside the huge store to get to our food. It was reminiscent of an experience John had years ago in Quebec, when he didn’t understand the announcement in French that the store would be closing at 5:00. He then had a rather alarmed experience searching for an exit.



We now headed for Prince Edward Island, a top spot for John. It is weird, but when you get onto the island, a sort of peace and calm comes over you. We had reservations at a KOA where we had stayed on our last visit. It is quite large; we had to wait for our spot because 129 RV’s were checking out and 29 were checking in, and it was quite hectic. The spaces were close to each other, but that wasn’t much of a problem. The first night, there was a birthday party for someone at the next RV; I was tempted to crash the party because my birthday was the next day.



There were lots of little kids playing outside, mainly riding bikes. I love being around little kids. In front of the office is a very large playground, where John was particularly charmed by a huge bouncy object which usually had a bunch of kids jumping on it. We were content that first night to walk around part of the campground, down to the river.



A real problem had recently developed, particularly for tourists. Ferries can transport people and vehicles to PEI from Pictou in northern Nova Scotia. That used to be the only way to get to the island. But some years ago, an eight-mile bridge, the Confederation Bridge, was built from New Brunswick to PEI. That’s really good, because a few days ago, one of the two ferries had caught fire as it approached PEI. No one was injured, as passengers were evacuated down a slide from the top of the boat. But the ferry will be out of commission for years, it’s so far estimated.



We have had plenty of electronic problems, getting wifi and managing our cell phone. At most we get two TV stations, and now, in Quebec, they are in French. My high school French is not adequate. I am sad that John gets upset about these things, and wastes vacation time trying to solve the problems (his specialty).



We spent our first full day driving to and around the northeast area of the island. There are rolling hills dotted with farmland. They grow potatoes, lots and lots of potatoes, plus cabbage and mustard and numerous other vegetables. Along the roadsides grow wild the most Queen Anne’s lace I have ever seen. (I was relieved to discover that giant hogweed, which looks similar the Queen Anne’s lace, had not invaded this area.) Many of the churches are perched alone atop hills, and it is impressive to drive up past them, spired and mostly white.



We stopped in Souris, where a giant ferry transports a lot of people and cars daily to the Iles de la Madeleine. We watched it unload and then load. We did not attend any ceilighs or lobster dinners while on PEI, but we have done that before.



Next day was for strolling around Charlottetown. We visited the cluster of small shops at the waterfront and then meandered along the main street. As it was nearing lunchtime, we decided to return to a special favorite, The Old Dublin Pub. There’s no live music during the daytime, which made it less than ideal. But John ordered mussels in wine, and patiently consumed them for about an hour. We also had Alexander Keith beer. Years ago, on our first trip to the Maritimes, we had discovered that brand of beer when we were in Nova Scotia, its birthplace. Even we, who do not pretend to be connoisseurs of anything, could tell it was no longer as interesting as the many craft beers we have had in the intervening years.



Our next day, we drove up the middle of the island. Again, neat farms and rolling hills. But this time the navigator had problems reading the maps we had with us. I think we counted seven, or maybe eight, times that we had to make u-turns because we were going in the opposite direction than what we intended. The driver threatened not to make another u-turn, no matter where we ended up. John had hoped we might manage to go swimming on an ocean beach, but we just weren’t able to. We did avoid the area where tourists encounter vast publicity because it is the setting for Anne of Green Gables. And we stopped for lunch at a small riverside cafe; we do enjoy places that feel local and more genuine.



While I later waited in the campground laundromat, John came over and informed me that our next day would necessitate 270 miles of driving. That’s many more than we normally tackle, so we got an early start the next day. We drove back through PEI, and I can now admit that I really like how lovely it is. Then we went all the way north along the coast of New Brunswick to Campbellton, which is the last city in New Brunswick before the road crosses a bridge into Quebec. We arrived well before dark, since this far north, dark is noticeably later than it is back in Durham.



We stayed at Sugarloaf provincial campground. Sugarloaf is a lone mountain prominently viewed from miles around. Provincial campgrounds tend to have large tree-bordered camping slots. We enjoyed our one night there, but had to move because of camper demands.



So we stayed the next night at a campground within close view of the bridge to Quebec. We were near the downtown area of Campbelltown, so we earned some steps walking through there. By the bay, we encountered an interesting area. At first I thought it was a nice pool with a lively fountain in its middle and a waterfall feeding into it. But John detected that it was an attractive water treatment plant. Later that night, we heard some unusual music from across the bay. En route through an Indian reservation the next day, in pursuit of lower-priced gas, we discovered that the music had come from an Indian powwow.



That day, we embarked on a drive along the southern portion and much of the east coast of the Gaspe Peninsula. We were near the water, and went through village after village. Maritimers are almost all lawn nuts! Even the high price of gasoline does not deter them from mowing, probably more than once a week. Their lawns look very much like golf greens, but cutting the grass so short does not seem to punish it here. Each village we went through had a “place municipale” along the shore. The nicest ones had large parking lots, several picnic tables, restrooms, pretty flower tubs, and generous playgrounds. Somewhat randomly, along Route 132, benches were placed at the side of the road. Nice, We stopped for coffee at a very busy place and enjoyed drinking it on the patio. By now, we heard almost exclusively French being spoken. And we have not seen many vehicles with U.S. license plates.



Finally, we arrived at our Nature Ocean campground, just south of downtown Perce. (Perce is a two-syllable word; the second syllable is pronounced like “say.”) This is some campground! It is arrayed over a hillside. The campsites are level, but the hillside itself is far from evenly contoured. When we walk around, we are sure to take the campground map because we could get kinda lost. There are plenty of tenters and also quite a few cabins. We are here for four nights. (At my request, John kindly booked stays for several days instead of dashing from one campground to another every one or two days, with allowances for days with very long drives.)



Today, we went into Perce. We climbed a hill for a view of the primary tourist attraction here, the Perce rock. It is huge. very wide, not far from shore. I saw postcards with photos of it in the winter covered with snow and in the early summer with grass, although not so much grass now. We walked through town past somewhat upscale shops, hotels and motels, ice cream shops and restaurants. John was baffled that I didn’t duck into all the shops. Just as we left town, it began to rain. We had lunch, then cozy naps. We plan to focus on hiking for the next couple of days; some days on this trip, we have achieved quite fine numbers of steps.

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