We woke up to a beautiful day in P.E.I. And set out for our next stop: Cape Breton.
We crossed Confederation Bridge and headed to the Nova Scotia border, where they hire a bagpiper at the visitor’s centre. It was pretty impressive!
We had ice cream in Amherst. It was good, but Cows was better.
We stopped at Pictou for the best fish and chips ever, and to pick up some local jam and shortbread cookies.
We got three types of cookies: chocolate, maple, and traditional. Yum!
Then we headed up the Gaelic Coast to the Cabot Trail. It was beautiful, but maybe a bit harrowing. If you are going to drive on curvy mountain cliff-side roads, that overlook the sea, I like a shoulder on my road. And a railing. I mean both, optimally.
We stopped before Baddeck to get oatmeal bannock for dinner. Dinner was local bread and jam!
We stayed in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, near Ingonish Beach.
Fun fact: Parts of Cape Breton were settled by the Scots and all the signs are in Gaelic.
The campground is a really isolated spot, but well serviced and we had a great view of the stars. But…. black flies!
I have never loved by Canadian Tire bug-proof shelter more!
There was a bunny though, which more than made up for any bug sightings.
Kouchibouguac National Park was amazing in daylight. Green and quiet. We wish we could have stayed longer, but we had another stop planned.
So we set off for Moncton and a quick stop for groceries and books. Lots of driving means lots of car-friendly activities for the kids, and reading is the one that keeps them happiest for the longest.
And then we headed off to Confederation Bridge.
On the P.E.I. Side we stopped for ice cream at Cows Ice Cream. I had the Royal Cownadian Mint, which was excellent. They also make cheeses, so I got another aged cheddar.
Then we headed to The Prince Edward Island National Park. Our spot was on the beach near Cavendish. The view was spectacular.
We were the closest spot to the sea and it was very windy. Many tent pegs were used. But also, there were very few bugs. Yay.
The earth was red. The beach was sandy and covered in blue and purple rocks. But the wind was fierce and the lifeguards huddled in wool tuques and full fishing suits. Two of us went in anyway. It was 15 C.
We spent the next two days playing on the beach, lying in the sun, and cooking things in the fire on sticks.
Our campsite was at the top of low sand cliffs, which were also the nesting ground for bank swallows.
The beach was full of red jellyfish.
Of all the places we’ve been, this was the most relaxing.
Cows Creamery, Extra Old Cheddar ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Exceptionally creamy texture, flavourful, but not exceptionally so.
Squirrels: so many
Bank swallows: so many
Potatoes eaten: 0
Total distance: 1600 km
Kid: Can we go to the fox museum?
Me: Umm, it’s not a “we love foxes” museum, it’s a “look at all the things we can make with foxes” museum.
Kids: (long silence and then a quiet, horrified voice) oh
There isn’t much I don’t like about camping, but setting up a wet tent in the rain, in the dark, is one of them.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves now…
Today’s travels take us through Acadie, the traditional Acadian area of Canada where people speak Acadian French, Canadian French, English, and Chiac (which is French, with a lot of English words, but transformed into French structures). On a hangé around une ‘tite boute.
We started near Forillon National Park, in Quebec, and headed to Percé to see the Rocher Percé.
We stocked up on chocolates and pastries in Percé, and then moved on for a pick nick and ice cream at Cap d’Espoir while we watched the fishermen loading up their lobster traps.
Next, we stopped in Bonaventure, to see the Bioparc de la Gaspésie. It’s a small zoo/refuge for animals, most of which are native to the area. We finally got to see some beavers.
We arrived just in time to watch the bears have a snack: oranges!
Then we headed to New Brunswick, around la Baie-des-Chaleurs. There was a ferocious storm, and the roads were terrible so we lost quite a bit of time. It’s never a good sign when the long haul drivers pull off the road.
We came centimetres from hitting a deer that had been spooked by the wind a lightning.
We ended up with a McDonalds dinner, and the kids watched a movie in the car DVD player (first of the trip, though).
Finally, we arrived at Kouchibouguac National Park at 11 pm and had to set the tent up in the rain. Good thing we are getting quick at that part.
Still, this was the most beautiful campground we’ve seen this trip and we went to sleep warm, exhausted, and happy to be out of the rain.
There are only a few things I hate about camping and one of them is packing up a tent in a rainstorm.
It was raining so hard when we got up that we skipped our camping breakfast and ate in the car.
Then we headed east in heavy fog.
Our next stop was the Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse National Historic site. It’s the site of the sinking of the RMS Empress of Ireland in 1914, the worst peacetime marine disaster in Canadian history.
Since there was too much fog to have much of a view, so we skipped climbing the 128 steps and two ladders to get to the top.
Instead we went to see the HMCS Onondaga (S73), the only submarine open to the public in Canada
HMCS Onondaga (S73)
A 16-cylinder submarine engine
Then we went to investigate the tide pool.
The rocks were pretty slippery.
We found some tiny fish.
Our next stop was the Fromagerie du Littoral in Baie-des-Sables to get some picnic supplies. We chose Le Rayon d’Or cheese, some mead (not a typo) pâté, and an apple maple butter.
We stopped in Cap-Chat for lunch, and to see the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence. It isn’t quite the Ocean, but it was salty and cold.
Cheese review: the Rayon d’Or was a probiotic semi-soft Saint-Paulin-style cheese. It was excellent. The Mont-Saint-Mathieu was a meltingly soft triple cream cheese, a bit like a Brie, but much better. I preferred the Rayon d’Or over the Mont-Saint-Mathieu, but will probably buy both again. They were excellent.
Mont-Saint-Mathieu, Fromagerie des Basques ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Rayon d’Or, Fromagerie du Littoral ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
We had the cheese curds for breakfast and they were the squeakiest we had ever had, very good. I liked the saltiness, but others preferred Saint-Guillaume, which is both less squeaky and less salty.
Grains de fromage, Fromagerie des Basques ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The surprise winner though was the maple apple butter, a last minute impulse buy.
Our day ended with a quick visit to the lighthouse at Sainte-Madeleine-de-la-Rivière-Sainte-Madeleine, then to stay with family near Parc Forillon.
Last summer, we drove from Montreal to the Pacific Ocean and back. So we had no choice this year but to complete the cross-Canadian voyage.
A Mari Usque Ad Mare (“from sea to sea” in English) is theCanadian national motto, but it’s also a great way to see all the stars in sky.
We set out from Montreal late in the afternoon, making it to Quebec City (well, Charny) in time for dinner.
We got our first sunset heading out of town.
Our next stop was Trois-Pistoles, where there is a 24-hour artisanal cheese maker, Fromagerie des Basques. We picked out four for the rest of our trip: Trois-Pistoles, Mont-Saint-Mathieu, an extra-strong cheddar, and some fromage en grains.
And finally, we got to Le Bic National Park, where we set up our tent and went to sleep, but not before spotting a shooting star.