Skipping New Brunswick
With the decision made to skip St. Andrews and removing several hundred kilometers from our trip, we headed north on highway 11 to ultimately cross the bridge into Quebec at the town of Cambellton, New Brunswick. On our way north through New Brunswick, we had made a detour through what is called the Acadian Peninsula onto Miscou Island for some sightseeing and had lunch there. this extra detour took away some of the extra day that we had gained by skipping St. Andrews.
We had talked a lot about how New Brunswick was really getting very little attention on our Eastern Canada Adventure. With the exception of spending time last Saturday looking for a tire shop that was open and seeing a few sights like Cape Enrage and Hopewell Rocks, we were really blasting through the whole province. I want to point out that there was nothing that we disliked about New Brunswick but we really just didn’t find too many must-see things in our travel research. Well, certainly not of the caliber of the PEI Potato Museum, anyway.
Once we had crossed into Quebec on Sunday which was day 10 of our trip, we started to head east on highway 132. We were heading towards Percé (pronounced pear-say) as our first major destination in La Belle Provence. We knew that we would likely not make the approximately 200 kilometers from the bridge into Quebec to Percé on Sunday as it was already about 4:00 when we got into Quebec so we decided to look for a suitable place to spend the night along the way. We ended up finding a really nice gîte (which is a bed and breakfast house) in the small town of Maria called Gîte Le Martin Pêcheur (which roughly translated into the B&B of Martin the Fisherman). We were shown incredibly hospitality by our hosts RÃ©gis Audet and Francoise Lemieux and stayed the night at their gîte and had a wonderful breakfast the next morning consisting of peppers stuffed with omelets (they had cooked the omelets inside of the pepper’s shells).
Perhaps the Most Beautiful Place in Quebec (or How our Car Got Stolen in Percé)
With only a relatively small distance to go from Maria to Percé, we arrived in Percé around 12:30 and after finding a suitable place to stay for the night we found a nice place to have some lunch. Before I say anything else I have to say that the Percé rock is simply one of the most stunning things that I have ever seen. Between Peter, Barb and I we have probably taken easily 75 pictures of the rock today alone. You simply have to see this in person before you die.
Ok, let me get back to the part about our car getting stolen.
We parked the car in front of the restaurant and as Barb had suggested that we take a boat tour of Bonaventure Island so we had arranged to do so after lunch. Peter and I had made a detour to take some pictures while Barb and Liz were going to check out some of the places to buy tickets for the boat tour. While the three of them were buying tickets, I said that i was going to take 5 minutes to drive back to the hotel to pickup an extra sweater for the boating.
The only problem is that the car was no longer in front of the restaurant when I got back to get it.
My first thought was that the car was towed but after trying to translate this question to the waitress at the restaurant at which we ate, she basically said that nobody ever got towed from their parking lot. This left only one other possible situation that made sense at the time – the car was stolen.
Several things were running through my mind while I was speaking to the police on the phone at the restaurant:
1. How badly was our Eastern Canada Adventure screwed and how long would it take to get another rental car?
2. Was there anything of value in the car (we had luckily removed all of the luggage from the car when we checked into our motel)?
3. Hopefully Barb, Liz and Peter had not already bought tickets to the boat tour.
4. Will our insurance cover a stolen rental car? That’s going to cost a lot if it doesn’t.
Meanwhile, while all of this is happening, Barb, Liz and Peter are standing on a boat wondering where I am as the boat is going to leave in 2 minutes without me.
So I’m walking back to the pier and see Peter in the distance waving his arms at me and I was thinking “I hope he’s waving his arms at me because he knows where the car is” but in reality it was more of a Where the hell have you been? The boat’s about to leave without you. kind of wave. When I told Peter that I was late because I was talking to the police and that our car had been stolen, he had what I would call a typical reaction when one is presented with this kind of news. So we headed back to the boat as at that particular time, I wasn’t thinking much about enjoying a leisurely boat ride and wanted to get everyone together and figure out our next steps.
I’m going to quickly skip through the next few steps because these key events took place all in about 30 seconds:
1. Barb explains to me that she moved the car and forgot to tell me that she did this when I went back to the restaurant to get the car (where we originally parked it).
2. We have a quick discussion about how much trouble this has caused.
I didn’t end up going on the boat ride but Peter, Liz and Barb did. I felt that I needed some time to cool down and took that opportunity to climb up a hill near the rock and take some good pictures. The good news is that the guy from the Quebec police thought that the whole story was pretty funny when I called later to cancel the stolen car alert.
With all of the excitement that took place about the stolen / moved car, I forgot all about the great lunch that I had at the place called the Restaurant Cabastran (127 route 132 Ouest, Percé). I had ordered a truly Quebec dish called poutine which just a few years ago was relatively unheard of outside of Quebec. Of course when several fast food chains such as A&W in Canada several years ago, it became much more commonly known by the general public.
The most common version of poutine is made with french fries, gravy and cheese curds. To me, the cheese is the most important component of poutine. The poutine that I had at Cabastran was perfect in every way but most importantly the cheese curds were just right and were not stringy or gooey. Along with the gravy and fries, it was a completely satisfying part of my lunch.
Driving the Gaspésie
It’s day 12 today and we left Percé to continue our trip along the edge of the Gaspé peninsula (or the Gaspésie as it is known locally in Quebec) heading towards our next destination of Montmagny where we intent to arrive tomorrow. Tonight we will be making it to the town of Rimouski where we are staying tonight as I write this chapter.
The drive along the northern edge of the Gaspésie was truly spectacular as we have really gotten our first taste of the changing colours of the trees in this area. In comparison we saw only a small percentage of the trees in Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick with the hallmark yellow, orange and red colour of the leaves. When seen in large numbers in a forest and in the sunshine, the colours of the leaves at this time of year is a sight to behold. So far we have been seeing intermittent sun and clouds (but so far only one day of rain). We’re hoping that by the time that we get to the Eastern Townships in about 5 days from now that the we will see plenty of sun as this area of Quebec is expected to be one of the best in terms of visible colour on the trees.
Tomorrow we will arrive in the small town of Montmagny where Barb and I stayed last year for a few days when we attended the Winter Carnival (see: Barb and Baden’s Excellent Quebec Adventure – Part 6). I’ll post my next chapter of our adventures in Montmagny and Quebec City in a few days.