Monday, Sept. 18 – Day 20
Another early morning departure, 7 am and a long day’s drive from Quebec City to Miramichi, New Brunswick our next boondocking spot on the banks of the Miramichi River.
We were instructed by our boondocking hosts in New Brunswick to take an alternate route, highway 180, because the GPS would take us along a road in poor condition.
Highway 180 was in poor condition also, potholes and jagged pavement edges, I can’t imagine the condition of the other road.
Our time in Quebec was challenging, like visiting a foreign country, a different language, different customs, and all signs are in French even though it is a Canadian Province.
Most of Canada speaks English or is bilingual. Quebec is surrounded by English speaking people, one would think some English signage would be mandatory to help foreigners navigate the province especially on the Trans-Canada highway.
Even construction zones had French only signage, a bit unnerving when you have no idea what the sign meaning is, a potential disaster.
On the positive side, we found the Quebecers polite, friendly and helpful, and many spoke some English.
Henry is of a French descent, his knowledge of the French language and traditions made our visit less stressful.
Our drive to Miramichi, NB took us through rural areas of Quebec and New Brunswick.
I’m noticing the contrasts between the eastern and Atlantic provinces compared to the west, the houses are older and a simpler design, every town has a church with a high steeple, the secondary roads are narrower and rough.
Western settlements are younger, the buildings are more modern, including churches and the roads were built for cars, not horse and carriages.
The group was looking forward to leaving Quebec, although old town Quebec City has been a highlight of our trip.
We arrived at our new boondocker hosts around 5:30 Atlantic time, losing another hour. The last half of the drive was slower through misty showers and steeper terrain called mountains here, they would be hills in BC.
Finding our new ‘Boondockers Welcome’ spot was a bit frustrating. Sharon our new boondocking host provided GPS coordinates but when I entered them into google maps they seemed wrong according to the description of the location.
Google maps indicated the property was in a different town and on the opposite side of the highway from the river. Finally, I phoned Sharon to get directions; her solution was to follow the directions on the Boondockers Welcome site.
The directions indicated her three-and-a-half-acre property on the banks of the Miramichi river was just east of the town of Miramichi and to watch for two white posts marking the driveway. No indication of exactly how far out of town.
I was leading the group, driving slowly through the mist and drizzle so I wouldn’t miss the driveway. It was necessary to pull over several times to let traffic pass.
Lynda finally spotted the white posts marking the driveway, several kilometers from town.
My frustration melted away when we pulled off the highway into our new digs, a huge grassy area with a large firepit and a stack of firewood complete with a relaxing view of the Miramichi River. Not many RV resorts can compare, and the price was free, although no hookups.
Shortly after we arrived our hosts showed up to welcome us. After brief introductions Sharon and her husband, I didn’t get his name, left us to get settled.
The rain subsided as we position our rigs for the best view of the slow-moving Miramichi River, the river seemed more like a bay than a river several kilometers across.
We finished setting our rigs and lit a large campfire. Our new ‘Boondockers Welcome’ site is a perfect spot to enjoy an evening around a roaring campfire with a scenic river view.
Distant shore properties shot beams of colorful lights across the water as the sun set on another successful travel day.
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Tuesday, Sept 19, Day 21
We woke to cool temperatures, fog, and wet grass from the heavy morning dew. The sun soon poked through burning off the fog and warming the air.
We have been on the road for three weeks driving every second day and walking the sights the day between except for a one-day break at Tomahawk RV Resort near Sioux Narrows, Ontario. Today is our second one-day rest.
We decided our day off would involve exploring and a drive along the Miramichi River east on the Acadia Peninsula towards the ocean, our destination the Sand Dunes Provincial Park on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
The drive to the dunes was longer than expected through small towns and fishing villages. Clouds crept over the peninsula and the temperature cooled as we approached the ocean.
The landscape along the peninsula is flat with farmland and forests interrupted with small towns. The last town before the sand dunes, is the small treeless fishing village of Pigeon Hill, overlooking the ocean.
The town resembles most maritime villages, plain box-shaped houses perched on a barren grassy hill.
Unfortunately, I was not able to stop for pictures finding a bathroom for the women was much more important at the time.
After the emergency stop at a mall, we found a place for lunch at the Roadside Family Restaurant. We wandered into a din of French. Faces turned and the place went quiet as we made our way to the counter.
Henry was the first to the counter and greeted the large French-speaking lady with ‘bonjour’, immediately the French din returned, as if the patrons were satisfied we were not from another planet.
Henry continued in English as did the French lady albeit broken English, but much better than my French.
Everyone took their turn ordering fish and chips from the French-speaking lady.
Our theory,…… coastal towns are usually famous for good fish and chips. I guess this town has not heard of our theory. The fish was okay, but the fries were your generic frozen variety, disappointing.
After lunch, we made our way back to camp, the skies cleared allowing the sun to dominate the sky creating a beautiful afternoon and sunset.
Another pleasant evening around the campfire and early to bed, everyone was tired after the previous day’s marathon drive.
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Wednesday, Sept. 20 – Day 22
The morning brought more fog although denser than the previous morning and a humid 17 degrees Celsius. The fog and warmth together seemed strange. In the west fog never accompanies warm temperatures. Fog only appears during the cold of winter.
The warm air and the cold North Atlantic Ocean combine to create this phenomenon. I hope this will not be a regular occurrence now that we have arrived on the humid east coast.
We left the beautiful Miramichi River, New Brunswick by 8 am, our destination today is Morrel, Prince Edward Island our last ‘Boondockers Welcome’ stop in Canada.
We drove south through rolling hills and forests, across wide slow meandering rivers and more rough road. So far New Brunswick has won the infamous award for the worst roads in Canada.
Our drive takes us across Northumberland Strait on the bouncy 13-kilometer Confederation Bridge, the link between PEI and Nova Scotia. It’s free to cross into PEI but $62.50 for each rig to leave the island.
We arrived at Prince Edward Island in time for lunch. Allyson suggested a detour through Victoria by the Sea, a postcard-perfect fishing village.
The small oceanside restaurant treated us to expensive but delicious lobster rolls and seafood chowder. Our first taste of fresh Atlantic lobster and the best seafood chowder I have ever tasted, no doubt made with real cream.
After lunch and a couple hour drive, we arrived at our latest boondocking hosts John and Jean outside Morrel, PEI. They lived on a farm on a roughly paved country road.
We stopped on the side of the deserted road. As we approached the large old farmhouse I noticed a large man laying under the front of a pickup in front of the garage, I presumed it was John and walked over.
John slowly dragged his huge frame from under the pickup, onto his knees and then pulled himself onto a stool. He extended a huge hand while wiping sweat from his face. Welcome, I’m John he said, vigorously pumping my arm.
It was apparent he suffered from a crippling affliction. After a brief conversation, John pointed to our camping spot, the lawn beside the large old farmhouse.
We pulled our rigs off the road onto the lawn and set our rigs for our two-night stay. John managed to get himself up the stairs and onto the porch. It was painful watching him move, hunched over at the waist supported by two canes dragging his legs.
John is a good-natured man who loves to share stories of his favorite past time, traveling in his truck camper. He offered us water and power if we needed and a wealth of information about the island and its lighthouses.
Once our rigs were set for the night we piled into my truck and drove to a nearby national park to see a lighthouse. We hiked to St. Peters Harbour, a bay with hundreds of rows of floats, apparently mussel farms was the explanation John offered on our return to camp.
A sock-like bag containing baby mussel seeds is hung on a rope from the float, they grow for a year before harvesting, the explanation was quick and confusing, John was quickly onto another subject.
We invited John and Jean to join us for happy hour, Jean declined. John and Jean are foster parents and are currently taking care of a newborn, which keeps Jean occupied.
John accepted and filled us in on many attractions and history of PEI.
Ralph brought out his propane fire pit and Lynda fetched bug repellent fire sticks which helped repel the hordes. Soon darkness surrounded the farm and the night air cooled signaling an end to another perfect day on our North American tour.