After the first night in Quebec, camping at a ferry dock which was not in use anymore, we drove further along the south coast of the Gaspe peninsula. This mountainous peninsula is the last stretch of the 4000+ km long Appalachian mountain range which starts in Northern Georgia. Years ago we walked part of the Appalachian trail carrying the kids on our back while camping in a rented popup caravan. We were living in New Orleans Louisiana at that time.
The drive along the coast is rewarded with frequent beautiful views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the North East side and the St. Lawrence river on the North West side. Lighthouses are dotted all along the coast. The last one is in Lands End at Cape de Gaspe. This is a National Park. We camped nearby for 2 nights on a municipal sport park and spent a whole day walking along the south coast towards the lighthouse at the cape. Along the way, while driving, we spotted our first black bear next to the road. At the cape we also observed several Minke (small) whales breaking the surface to catch their breath. Our campsite was next to a small stream. Rudy saw a beaver swimming fast away downstream on our arrival. Later we found their nest in a dammed off part of the stream. In the evening and early morning one of the beavers came close to our camper, eating dandelions which is growing in abundance here.
The north coast is at first very steep while still driving along the Appalachians. Further down the coast it widens and the towns are larger. All along the St. Lawrence bay, you can spot whales and seals . The area must be very touristic in the summer season (starting end next week, 17/6). There are many campsites which are already occupied by large trailers and also the number of Hotels and Motels is increasing the closer you get to Quebec city. The towns also are bigger and older. The highway follows the mountains but we chose to drive along the old coastal road though all these towns. Each town has at least one large church. The streets are narrower than in the east and lined with large old trees. Very pleasant to drive through.
In the large town of Rimouski we found a designated night stop at the municipal park. A very large parking lot along the river with walking and bicycle paths. The next day we drove a bit back along the St. Laurence coast to drop in to the Maritime Museum. They had a retired submarine on display. With an audio tour in your hand you crawled though the many hatches inside the sub. How you could live in such a enclosed area with some 70 people must have required strong discipline. Next door is a building dedicated to the “Empress of Ireland”. This was a passenger ship making its 128 round trip from Liverpool to Quebec. On its way back (1914) it collided in the severe fog with a cargo ship on the St. Lawrence river and sank in 14 minutes, much faster than the Titanic a few years earlier. Over 1000 of the 1400 passengers drowned that day. The museum showed many artefacts recovered from the wreck since its rediscovery in 1964 and a film showing the story of the sinking. The cause of the accident was clear but who steered into who was unresolved. It was a well worth visit.
It was time for a shower. The evening was therefore spent at a very quiet campsite some 244 km further towards Quebec city directly on the St. Lawrence river. The weather has been not kind to us the last few days. Seems that we are in the rainy season. Again today we had lots of rain.