It’s been a good few years since there has been this long of a radio silence on Wandering Footsteps. I’ve been meaning to write, but life has been especially hectic since my last post almost three weeks ago – Bruno and I have been with our families in New Brunswick!
Bruno’s brother, sister-in-law, and niece made the overseas trip from France to visit my parents in our neck of the woods this summer. In fact, the visit from Bruno’s family was the entire reason behind the crazy summer road trip Bruno and I have undertaken since May, from Baja California, Mexico, all the way to the east coast of Canada. In all, we drove almost 10,000km to reach Bruno’s family in time! If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!
Once we reached home, though, our time on the road wasn’t quite finished. Along with my parents (in their new RV) and Bruno’s family (in their rented RV), we embarked on a 9-day road trip through Nova Scotia.
Now, perhaps, you understand the radio silence! Will you forgive me, loyal reader?
Three Weeks in Quebec
Most of July was spent in Quebec, a gigantic province with so much to offer that we had purposely driven most of the Canadian portion of our road trip the previous month. We wanted to slow down and begin to enjoy summer in Canada – and what better place to do that than in Quebec!
Bruno and I spent four nights in Parc National de la Mauricie. We weren’t the only ones there – summer had officially arrived and people were all out camping in nature. Though neither of us is used to being somewhere during high season, it didn’t stop us from enjoying the park. In fact, I sort of dug the festive, convivial atmosphere at the lakes, waterfalls, and campgrounds.
Then we headed toward Lac St.-Jean, the Fjords of Saguenay, and the Tadoussac area to try to spot the thirteen species of whales in the St. Lawrence River. We succeeded, and had a great time with the whales! The zodiac whale-watching adventure was my birthday gift from my parents (thank you so much!) and, since I managed to get a discount from the company, Bruno and I continued our birthday celebration that night at a cute little café called Kiboiquoi (French-speaking people, can you figure out the play on words?) which offered live music that night.
Next we put our Big Blue Bus on its first-ever ferry ride to the Gaspé Peninsula (la Gaspésie) and spent just over a week exploring this stunning and unique region of Quebec. I haven’t had a chance to write a blog post about our time here, and what with all the lovely photos we collected, I simply can’t skim over it here. You’ll just have to wait to hear (and see) about one of my new favourite regions of Canada!
A Week in New Brunswick
I was pretty pumped to visit the northern region of my home province of New Brunswick, as it has largest concentration of Acadian people in the world. Since I’m surrounded by the Acadian language and culture every summer, I really wanted to learn more about their history. Bruno and I made it a priority to visit Caraquet’s Acadian Historic Village and, despite high expectations, both of us were blown away by how fantastic this living museum was. I think a blog post about Acadians – a people you may never even have heard of! – is in order on the blog soon.
Bruno and I took the coastal route home, stopping in lovely Ile Miscou, at the northeast tip of the province, before meandering our way south. We made stops at many of the province’s lovely beaches. Before we knew it, we were welcomed home by five members of our families.
Ten Days in Nova Scotia
As part of their tour of the region, Bruno’s family had rented an RV in Halifax for nine nights. All of us decided to tag along, so we went on an epic three-RV road trip! We spent the majority of our time on the stunning island of Cape Breton, and finished with a few days near Halifax and Lunenburg.
I love getting to share a bit of the road with loved-ones, and this trip was definitely one of the highlights of our year. It was well-worth the months of driving to arrive in time to join them! I cannot wait to post what will undoubtedly be a very photo-heavy blog of our Nova Scotian road trip.
KMs driven: 4,304km in 40 days.
Provinces: 3; Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia
Ferries: 1; from Baie-Comeau to Matane. There are three ferries that cross the St. Lawrence, allowing travelers to hop from one “rive” (river bank) to another. For a vehicle our size (and two adults), it’s pretty expensive ($130CAD) but it was even more expensive to cross at Les Escoumins! The company that does the Baie-Comeau crossing is Traversiers.
National Parks Visited: 3; Mauricie and Forillon National Parks, both in Quebec; and Cape Breton Highlands National Park, in Nova Scotia.
Times our Vehicle got Stuck: 2. Yes, two! We started off the month by getting stuck in the mud as we tried to leave a free campground. It had rained heavily over the previous 24 hours and the campsite was full of mud. As we tried to manoeuver out of the tight space, our back wheels got stuck. Together, in the rain, we shoved rocks and wood under the wheels and Bruno managed to get us out. It took about an hour and we were super muddy after, but we were happy to have made it out.
We weren’t so lucky on our second try. Following a GPS point to a coastal boondock, the gravel road suddenly turned into sand. We did a three-point turn to get the heck out of there, but it was too late. We tried the same method as with the mud, but this time we couldn’t get ourselves out, and on each try we buried ourselves further into the sand. It is here that we realized we are simply too heavy – in Totoyaya we wouldn’t have even gotten stuck in the first place!
After about an hour of trying, I got on the phone with our insurance company. I must have spent at least 90 minutes with them (mostly on hold) as they tried to organize a tow truck. Finally, Bruno lost his patience. He found a local who knew a farmer who had a tractor, and that farmer agreed to come help us out. It took all of 20 seconds. All we needed was a little extra pull. We should have tried that right at the get-go!
Mechanical Problems with Vehicle: 1. I mentioned the two times our engine shut off driving north of Phoenix in May. The problem happened a few more times early in the month, and then we experienced a slight variation on the engine shut-down with greater frequency throughout the month. It took us a while, but we managed to find a reputable Freightliner mechanic who had the right computer adaptor to read our engine. The codes pointed to an injection sensor that is apparently notoriously faulty on the 2001 model. We replaced it, and we’ve been golden ever since! Glad it wasn’t anything more serious!
Noteworthy Boondocks: Quebec is very RV-friendly. There are “haltes municipales” (little rest areas) along national roads on the outskirts of town that you can often overnight in, and many towns offer a free overnight parking spot for RVs. Almost every place we stopped was nice – many even offering lovely waterfront views – but here were our particular favourites of the bunch:
- The Sand Dunes outside Tadoussac (N48.15607, W69.66614)
- Quai de Les Escoumins (N48.35111, W69.39823)
Free Campground: Le Grand Géant Motorisé, St-Ambroise, Quebec. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this place, as it was chock-full and not at all scenic, but it was a practical stopover and offers great resources (store, repair shop) for RVs and overland vehicles.
Highlight of the Month
July has been a really great month, and it’s difficult to pick a single highlight. The weather has been great, we’ve finally felt like we’re on holidays, and Quebec proved to be a lovely province to visit. I might have to do a top three list:
Number 3: The Acadian Historic Village. I can’t wait to write about this wonderful open-air, living museum in a future post.
Number 2: Whale-watching in the St. Lawrence River. Being on the zodiac was the culmination of that adventure, but the entire lead-up to it was pretty wonderful, too.
Number 1: Going on a ten-day, three-RV road trip through Nova Scotia with both Bruno’s family and mine. In one word: epic.
On the Cards The Next Few Months
Bruno and I are pretty exhausted after clocking in an average of almost 3,000km per month for the past three months. It’s a pace neither of us is used to, and one from which we now feel like taking a break.
Big Blue, our newish bus conversion, isn’t finished, either. And so, after a second half of August that will prove to be just as busy and family-oriented as the first half (my brother and his girlfriend arrive tonight), Bruno and I are going to spend September working on Big Blue. In October, we will be in France for yet more family visits.
It appears that, after eleven months of overland travel, we’ve arrived at my family home and looped one giant North American loop!
Over the coming months, I’m going to be taking a break from my weekly blog posts in order to focus on family, relaxation, and our bus. I still have many stories and photos to share from the remainder of our cross-Canadian road trip, but I plan to do so at a more leisurely pace over the coming months. There won’t be radio-silence on Wandering Footsteps, but I think it’s best to cut back to twice-monthly posts until we’re back on the road with more adventures to share.
In the meantime, have a great end to your summer and a happy fall! I’ll be in touch again soon!