Monday, July 21, 2008

July 18-20: Some New Brunswick

July 18: Val-Brillant Quebec to Campbelltown, NB - Six down! Four to go!!
121 km
17.4 km/hr avg
6:58 on the bike

What a perfect morning! The sunrise streamed across the lake, arrowing in on the front door of our tent, lighting up the whole valley. Val-Brillant indeed! (although the town was named after a priest). This campground was one of the best we have been in -- quiet, good aspect, good facilities, and nice people running the place.

We had another great day on the road. Travelling on highway 132, and La Route Verte we travelled by some lovely little towns -- Amqui, with two covered bridges, Causapcal, on the banks of the Matapedia, and Matapedia itself, just at the border with New Brunswick.

The Matapedia river was our companion for most of the day. It is an Atlantic salmon river, and huge fish are caught by fishers quite regularly. We met a guide-outfitter (he used to be the head coach of the Rimouski Oceanic -- when they won the Memorial Cup in 2000). The water in the river was clear, with shady banks and a good gravel bottom. Seems perfect for salmon.

And finally later in the day we passed through Matapedia itself and over the bridge into New Brunswick. I really didn't want to say au revoir to Quebec. The Chemin du Roy, the South Shore, and the Gaspe were a wonderful introduction to Quebec history and culture -- I certainly want to come back soon.

In New Brunswick we were on the 134 highway into Campbelltown. What a rollercoaster-- but, as I often say, "pay your dues, get the views", and we got some great views of the Chauleur Bay from the top of Morrisey Rock lookout.

After some too-ing and fro-ing at the Campbelltown tourist info we ended up backtracking to Sugarloaf Provincial Park for some camping. The site ended up being very nice, and we met another touring cyclist - Steve from Olds Alberta. He was going from Moncton to Ottawa. After dinner, a bit of conversation, and a good shower (very important as far as I am concerned), we went hit the tents for a good night's sleep.
ttfn Mary .....

July 19: 99km to Petit-Rocher

Our first full day in a maritime province. How exciting to see non-Catholic churches and hear French and English intermingled.

After cycling back down into Campbellton we visited the tourist info to do some internet and contact Ken in Fredericton - and indeed he came up to camp with us tonight. Then we took the coastal road, route 134, along the coast of Chaleur Bay all day. The road has some very nice stretches and is mostly pretty interesting and very low traffic, and we passed through some pretty industrial areas with a few big mills and plants - Campbellton is fairly industrial and has a big mill, Dalhousie has two big mills, and we passed a huge lumber mill and a big coal power plant at Belledune. Our second breakfast in Dalhousie was in the one breakfast joint in town, and we had some interesting discussions with locals about our trip. Finally towards Bathurst the road gets into more cottage-like areas and there appears lots of camping. We are in Camping Marie-Helene (how could Mary-Ellen resist that?) and we finally caught up with Ken Kent - after doing some flooring in the morning he got on his motorcycle and road up and met us here after dinner.

And what a dinner! Our gracious host Pierre told us all about himself and the camping, set us up in a choice location right on the beach, got us a table, umbrella and chairs, and then came out with a big mackerel pie and a bottle of wine for us to enjoy! What a fantastic fellow. He even has a trampoline that we've been jumping on. Pierre has just taken Mary and Ken into town in his van to do some shopping (read: liquor store) and goodness knows what else he'll provide for us - we're hoping for a big breakfast or something tomorrow :)

Today we also learned that the motto of New Brunswick is "hope restored", in German. And nobody knows it because it isn't on the license plates.

And tonight I swam in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time! Isn't that exciting!


July 20: Petit-Rocher to Lower Newcastle, Miramichi
92 km
6:30 on the bike

Another morning in paradise -- I could get VERY used to this. We woke up as the sun slid through the morning mist, across the Baie des Chaleurs, and into our tent. Pierre, the owner of the Marie Helene (Mary Ellen en francais) campground thoughtfully brought fresh coffee to our tent-side at 7:30 am. Even though I don't normally drink coffee I had some -- it hit the spot. Mike, Ken, and I had been up very late the night before. Mark, surely the more reasonable of the group, went to bed at a reasonable hour. But, I do plead the lure of L'Acadie. We spent the evening at a big beach bonfire with about 20 Acadian folks who either live close to Petit-Rocher, or stay regularly at the campground. The drink was flowing pretty freely, but the amazing thing was the singing. Two guitars and many voices did all sorts of songs -- most in French. But, the best songs of all were the local Acadian folk songs, especially the song about Petit-Rocheur itself. Mike and I finally decided to call it a night around midnight, but Ken stayed on.

It was wonderful to have Ken drive up from Fredericton on his motorcycle and camp with us. We caught up on all the Kent family doings. It was too bad that Elizabeth and Hailey were not able to join us. Ken joined up for 2nd breakfast in Bathurst later that day.

Our ride for the day took us down Highway 134 through Beresford to Bathurst. Then, staying on the 134 we turned inland, cutting off the Acadian Peninsula. In retrospect I don't know if that was the best route as there were NO VIEWS! After a few weeks in Quebec and the last few days in New Brunswick, I am spoiled. I want to see ocean, beaches, rivers, cliffs, panoramas, that sort of thing. However, the route, with the exception of the small part we did on Highway 8, was very quiet and the road was a good one.

We ended the day's riding well with a pretty back-road route through Russellville and then on to Lower Newcastle and our camping for the evening. We were nicely in camp, with dinner just finished when a huge thunderstorm came rolling in. All three of us were caught out, and even though it was only a hundred metres to shelter, we all got soaked. So did our camp. Luckily, Mike and Mark decided to put up the tarp, so at least we had a relatively dry space to huddle under as the rain came down. The heavy rain lasted at least 30 minutes, after which it was just regular rain. Mark's tent has a leak, but he mopped up with his trusty towel, while Mike was out digging drainage ditches to stop the water from pooling beside our tent as it sheeted off the tarp. Although it was exciting, everything calmed down by about 9:30 and we all got into our sleeping bags and settled down for the night.


Anonymous said...

OK...that last rain storm sounds like you have experienced camping Heather and Duncan style. I've been on holiday and I'm really enjoying catching up with your adventure!


Anonymous said...

I was thinking about you as we did a rainy-day ride -- I don't know if I would rather ride in the rain or paddle in it!