Getting to the eastern tip of the Gaspé Peninsula was a roller coaster of hills and sharp turns and one or two switchbacks. It was definitely a workout for both driver and van and may have ultimately lead to the failure of our water pump (more on that in a Newfoundland post). Despite the workout the drive was spectacular. Along the way we continued to snap photos of signage such as Dixie Lee (a Gaspé chain?). We encountered a creative castle-style house, pure Péquiste kitsch which we actually turned around and went back to photograph. Forillon is Canada’s first National Park in Quebec. Coincidentally we were there to celebrate Canada Day. We started the day by exploring Grand Grave, the Dolbel House, Hyman’s Store and the southern shore and tip of the park. Canada Day festivities were held at the Recreation centre complete with speeches, $2 hot dogs and free cake. We saw it unfold while doing our laundry. We also made the drive into the town of Gaspé and enjoyed a delicious lunch at Marché des Saveurs. There we bought locally made cheeses, house made bread, sheep yogourt and a few other tasty staples. These lasted us into New Brunswick and we were able to entertain our new campground friends Michele and Helen (also Westfalia owners) with some of these delicacies. The animal that figured most prominently during our Forillon stay was the porcupine. We saw several over the few days we were there. The best porcupine story involved a mother and baby that decided to settle in the campsite across from ours occupied by Helen and Michele. They alerted us to the pork-épic which we heard as ‘porky pig’. Obviously we thought this very funny since we were not acquainted with the French word for porcupine. The mother porky pig was not happy that the humans were there and potentially a threat to her little fuzzy porky pig baby. She made a sad groaning sound and kept puffing out her quills and advancing toward us. It was a little threatening. We did survive in the end as did they. While in Quebec the sunrise was typically at about 4:15 am so at least one of us was awoken by the morning light at this early hour. One of these mornings Julie actually walked down to the beach and photographed the sunrise while Christian continued to sleep. We saw more Westfalias in the Gaspé than anywhere else so far. We tried to photograph every one we saw. In our campsite at Forillon alone there were four. We enjoyed our time at Forillon for a few reasons. The first was making friends and having neighbours. As we travel we find that our most enjoyable camping experiences are when we make friends and develop community. The second was the discovery of local fresh food. Community and good, fresh, local food are the cornerstones to a good travel experience for us.
Wow! it was a hot one last night! Since we have been travelling in Québec we have been nudged awake just after 4 o’clock. This morning it was combination of the heat and the light that had me wandering down to the water to witness the actual sunrise. No sooner did I reach a point on the path that I wanted to start snapping photos did I get a message on the camera saying the battery was dead. So, back up to the van to exchange batteries and back down the path I went… this is what I saw…. The bonus was that there were lobster fishers checking their traps at that hour. After that I did go back to sleep for a while. It is still pretty hot. Think we will spend some time on the beach.
Where do we find the food culture in the towns and villages of North America? It is easy in places like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New York, Chicago, etc. But what about La Malbaie or the Gaspésie? We have been driving along both sides of the St. Lawrence River and all we can find are miniature frozen shrimps, the odd cooked lobster and farmed fish from the near coast, the far coast and beyond including tilapia in big stores like Metro and Provigo. The restaurants seem to specialize in quantity rather than quality. We visited a Visitor Centre in Grande Vallée yesterday and the woman working there gave us a copy of the Gaspésie Gourmande Guide. We were so excited to finally have the ability to find local specialties and products. So we stopped in each town or village listed in the guide on our way to Forillon without much success. We did however eat the best lobster and crab rolls this side of Maine at a little place called Cantine de Pêcheur in Cloridorme which was not listed in the guide. The Boutique du Havre directly across from this place was listed and barely had a food product in sight. We still have hope for the other side of the Gaspé but we think we have our work cut out for us.
The Folksblogen Volkswagen is at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in Québec this Canada Day. We are skipping some necessary posts (coming very soon!) to wish you a happy Canada Day! We are happy to be here in the beautiful province of Québec. Canada Day is ‘celebrated’ differently here or perhaps not at all as the campers are leaving the campground in full force. It is getting more quiet by the hour. We think they must be heading home to celebrate Canada Day. As for us, we will stay here at Forillon for two more nights, us and the mosquitoes, loving Québec and loving Canada. Our Québec includes Canada.