Today was my last day in Quebec. I got up early to grab the shower before everyone else on my floor and packed up my bags. Hauling most of it down the stairs and loading took a bit of time, but I was soon ready to have my breakfast before getting on my way. Dutifully ate my eggs and toast and ham, knowing I would need the fuel. I intended to backtrack along the coast for a bit and take inland Hwy 299 to Cambellton and it didn’t look like there was a whole lot of anything along that road.
After riding along for a bit, I realized I hadn’t put my earplugs in, so I pulled over at the next viewpoint. Distracted by the cool rock formation on the other side of the road, I walked over to the edge of the road to take a photo. Then I took a couple of photos of the birds sitting out on a rock in the water. As I was doing so, a couple of vehicles pulled in, and a family travelling together around Gaspe got out. This group was made up of Bob and Minna, Penny and Karl, and Gino and Sandra and Nicole. They were a lively crew, and very encouraging and enthusiastic about my trip. I had such a fun meeting them, I forgot to put my earplugs in again and had to stop at the next little village to do it. Meeting this friendly bunch was well worth the minor inconvenience! 😊
As I travelled along the coast, I saw the sea birds that I had noticed the day before at the hotel. I had asked the proprietor what they were and he said they were fou de bassans in French, but he didn’t know what they were called in English. I checked it out and they are Northern Gannet. They are easy to pick out from the seagulls with their unique markings and amazing to watch as they rocket into the water to catch fish. I’ve poached a picture from allaboutbirds.org on the internet as I couldn’t get one that was good with my phone camera.
I didn’t take many photos today, actually. The morning was cool and beautiful and Fury and I sailed along, just enjoying the ride. When we reached the junction for Hwy 299, we fuelled up and turned into it. This road was a little rough, but beautiful and almost completely devoid of traffic. Occasionally, a logging truck or car would go by, but generally, it was undisturbed. We were riding through the Parc national de Gaspesie. It was beautiful and reminded me a lot of British Columbia with the tall, lushly forested mountains cut through by rocky creeks and curvy roads. We had been riding for some time when I realized I really didn’t know how far we had to go. I knew for sure I had enough fuel to reach my destination, but had not paid attention to the time at all. Around here, 100 kms doesn’t mean an hour – it means more like an hour and a half or two hours.
Looking for a break, we eventually arrived at a little town. I had not caught the sign on riding in, so had no idea what it was. I pulled into a little business called Sexton and Sexton that was advertising coffee and fishing supplies. There was indeed coffee and when I went in a gentleman at the table pointed me in the direction of the coffee and the cream in the fridge. I poured a coffee and found packages of cheese curds for sale in the fridge as well, so added those to my break. As I was preparing to sit down, a couple more arrived and I became the celebrity of the day! They were very impressed with what I was doing and again, we had a good time talking over the trip and some of my experiences. One of them said: “Never thought you’d end up in Cascapedia-Saint-Jules, did you?!” Another said “Wait until I tell (insert name here) that we met a woman travelling the country by motorcycle right here in Cascapedia-Saint-Jules!” And so I learned the name of the village I had arrived in. The towns of Cascapedia and Saint-Jules amalgamated in order to make the most of what each had to offer. Tourism with salmon-fishing is what brings the money to town and the season is busy from May until October-ish. They said the guy that owns the supply store ties thousands of flies over the winter in preparation and never has enough. I wandered about the store a bit and they are well stocked with all kinds of gear from clothing to tackle. If you are in the market for a fishing adventure, look up Sexton and Sexton on Facebook and I’m sure they will point you in the right direction and be able to supply everything you need!
It was also from these fine gentlemen that I learned I was only about an hour from my destination of Cambellton. The sky had darkened and some thunder was sounding, so I guessed I had better get back on the road. Not too far out of town, there were some colourful teepees just off the highway. I pulled in to take a look at what was a Mi’kmaq pow-wow site. The teepees were gorgeous and deserved a picture, but there was no other information at the site. I had passed a couple of Mi’kmaq sites in Quebec, but had not had the right timing to stop at them to explore. According to Canadian Encyclopedia, the Mi’kmaq are among the first people to live in the Atlantic region and covered the territory of the Gaspe peninsula and the maritime provinces, even as far south as Boston.
The rain did not get serious, though the temperature cooled a fair bit and we finished our ride to Cambellton without incident. Having booked a room in the morning, I arrived at the McKenzie House around 5:00 p.m. I got Fury unloaded and parked just as a fit of rain began to fall. A very civilized rainfall, it pattered down steadily for maybe an hour before letting up.
The McKenzie House is a huge turn-of-the-century house with several rooms and a shared bathroom. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my room actually has a private bathroom! So I promptly ran a bath and had a soak before putting on street clothes and going for a bit of a walk.
Campbellton is right up to the border of Quebec and near the mouth of the Restigouche River. There is a 50/50 chance when greeting someone that the conversation will be in English as the population is pretty much 50/50 French-speaking and English-speaking. As the name suggests, the town was settled mostly by Scots and this is evident in the street names – McKenzie, Adam, Andrew, Aberdeen, Arran, etc. On my return, I thought the big steel bridge I crossed to enter town would probably be lovely in the sunset, but didn’t have the energy to go back out.
I suppose it was backwards to bathe and then go for a walk, as it was still warm and humid out. But, back in my room, I’m feeling restored and ready for my bed (and remembering that I’ve lost another hour). Ready for tomorrow’s adventure!