I didn’t have a reservation on the 7:45 a.m. ferry from Les Escoumins to Trois Pistoles and so it was recommended that I be there an hour and a half before the sailing. This would still not guarantee me a spot, so I determined to be there at 6:00 a.m. just to be sure. I figured being on a motorcycle would guarantee me a spot. So, it was up at 5:00 to be ready to go and give me 15 minutes to get lost. Fortunately, the route to the ferry was well marked and I actually got there before 6:00.
There were some folks with some RVs there that I think had stayed overnight near the terminal. We did our best to have a conversation with our two languages and did pretty well! The lady I was speaking with gave me the names of her daughters, but I realized afterwards that I did not have hers. They were meeting more family for camping this weekend and were expecting a crowd. She is from a large family – 9 siblings! I was offered a coffee and gratefully accepted, knowing I would be tired and the ride today was a long one.
When I first arrived at the terminal, there was fog on the river that burned off a bit in the early morning sun. But then, just before the ferry arrived, a fog bank rolled in and we could hear the ferry’s horn announcing its arrival, but could not see it. Suddenly, there it was – coming out of the fog. It was a pretty surreal moment. They tucked me up under the steps with Fury and I did my best to secure her with the ropes provided. This took me some time, so I missed some of the whale action that was going on up top. But I did see some of it. The rest of the trip was too foggy to see anything much. I saw Julie and Piedro from last evening, looking a bit tired too, but ready for their adventure. Towards the end of the sailing, I heard someone speaking English and started a conversation with two very nice young men - Waleed (I’m sure I’ve spelled that wrong) and Simon. They were from Ottawa and travelling the Gaspe Peninsula and the Cabot Trail. We talked about all the different landscapes I have seen on my trip and they are very interested in travelling BC and the Yukon. It got quite cold and misty in the last half hour of the trip so everyone went inside and I anticipated a chilly ride on the other side if I didn’t change my gear.
We sailed out of the fog into Trois Pistoles, which is a pretty little town, like Les Escoumins. I thought I would stop and have a tea at the Tim’s but the lineup was long and the service was happening at a snail’s pace, so I consulted my map briefly and just headed out. There was a ton of traffic all the way up Hwy 132, so it was clear early on that it would be a “sit back and relax” ride. It’s actually not terribly enjoyable, though, because you can’t really take your eyes off the line of traffic in front of you, even though some beautiful views are unfolding around you. So, I made frequent stops – partly because I was tired and partly to soak in my surroundings. Initially, the temperature was fairly warm, but once we got right along the coast of the river, it got pretty chilly, so I switched my gear at one of the stops.
There are two things I have noticed over and over while travelling through Quebec. One is that there are a ton of small towns within spitting distance of each other. That’s one of the reasons the roads are so slow - you just get up to speed and slow down to 70 again for the next town. In contrast to the prairies, where most of the little towns are now just a few houses with no services, these ones all seem to be going concerns. In pondering the difference, I wondered if it is because they have not routed the highways around all of the towns. They’ve put in passing lanes and slowed the traffic down, but not built by-passes. The second thing I’ve noticed is that pretty much every one of these small towns has a stop with washrooms, a picnic table and more often than not, a stand selling hot dogs, ice cream, fries, lemonade and other goodies. So, if you think you’re going to drop a few pounds travelling through Quebec, think again!
Having a fit of drowsiness, I pulled into one of these road-side stops that had a bit of a park. Found a nice grassy knoll, propped my head on my jacket and closed my eyes. Must have needed it, because when I woke up, almost an hour had gone by! Feeling much better, I had a drink and got back on the road. Fury ran along like the wind in the cool temperatures. Along the last hour and a half of our route, the mountains got taller and the road ran right along the river. While I didn’t dwell on it, it did occur to me that if one of those fractured mountains of sedimentary rock came tumbling down, there wouldn’t be anywhere to go but into the river – if the rocks didn’t bury you first. But…..what are the odds?! And it makes for some stunning scenery.
One more pit stop along the way for a tea at Tim’s. Busy place, but service was moving marginally quicker than the last one, so I stuck it out. The parking lot was full and moving around in it was pretty tight. While I was getting ready to leave, an RV pulls in and parks across three parking spaces. I want to be so important some day that I won’t feel bad taking up 3 spots because I can’t be bothered to park properly. Or maybe park at the empty parking lot next door and walk another 20 steps. Actually, no, I don’t ever want to be that important if it means being that big of a jerk.
Arriving in Riviere-la-Madeleine for the night, I have booked into the Auberge Restaurant chez Mamie. I am still 75 kms from Gaspe, but the rates are more reasonable, so I’m going to stay here for 2 nights. It is an inn-style place with a shared bathroom, but is neat and clean. I plan to do a bit of exploring tomorrow, without all my extra gear on the bike.
Noticing the light outside my window turn pink, I scooted outside. Sure enough, the sun was setting over the water, bathing the world in a soft, purply-pink glow. The beach is covered in perfect skipping stones, so I had to do some of that as well. 😊 Apparently, the family that was on the beach is also staying here, as I can hear the kids having their evening meltdowns in preparation for bed. It seems I will need to go and tell them it is not OK to let your child sit there and scream for mom repeatedly at the top of their voice in a hotel....and then find my earplugs.
Assuming I get some sleep tonight, perhaps there will be more pictures tomorrow!