27 July – Spent a day in the surrounds of Campbellton – first up a trip back across the river to Quebec Province and the Restigouche Battle Museum. Another really well presented museum – this one detailing the last sea battle the French had with the British on the St Lawrence which eventually led to the defeat of French interests in Canada. They had on display the remains of the Manault from 1760 which was one of the ships scuttled in order to prevent the English from claiming the prize. There had been a lot of treasures salvaged from the ship, as well as portions of the ship itself. What wasn’t available was recreated so that you could see what life was like on board these ships.
Back over the river and after a nice lunch of crepes a la Wanda we went in search of potable water to fill up our tanks, which was done at the local provincial park. Next, into town and Wallies carpark to connect to the internet and get the next blog uploaded, by which time it was getting on and we still had to try and find a laundromat. Our first lead turned out a dud so it was back to the Tourist Information Office and pointed in another direction – a local Motel 8 let the public use their single washing machine and dryer, so hour and a half later all was done and dusted and we headed back to the waterfront for another night.
28 July – On we went today along the coastal road – a few small towns along the way and still almost continuous housing. The coast changed after Bathurst to small cliffs with little harbours every 20 or 30 kms. Saw one that looked quite neat from the road so drove down and found a perfect place to stop for the night. There are about 15 small fishing boats tied up in the harbour and a couple were fishing off the wharf. The boats are gearing up for the lobster season but also fish for mackerel in the off season. A big storm system was visible on the horizon and also behind us which finally converged on us with a bit of thunder and lightning followed by miserable rain – nice to be cosy and snug watching it all.
29 July – Another quiet night was had by all. Only had a short distance to cover before we came to our target for the day – an historic Acadian village museum. It was a neat place and started off with buildings from the early 1700’s – inside each of the buildings was a volunteer dressed in the costume of the period and explaining all the details of their respective building and recreating the crafts from those times. There were small houses, barns, workshops belonging to tinsmiths, woodworkers etc., general stores. The various crafts that were being undertaken were barrel building, shingle making, weaving and spinning and baking. Nearly all of the houses had women baking traditional foods either over an open fire or as the era of the buildings got more modern, then the cooking apparatus changed to cast iron wood burning stoves which got more fancy as the years wore on. One home had a demonstration of the entire process of taking flax and turning it into linen. The flax used was not like the flax that we are used to – just a very slender plant grown as a crop which was first dried and then dragged through nails embedded on a piece of wood to draw out the fibres and remove the pith. The fibres were spun like wool but had to have water added when spinning as there was no natural lanolin like in wool to help keep the fibres together. After spinning, the fibres were then woven on a large loom – it was much finer warp than for wool and the finished product very hard in texture and only softens after several washes. It took us all morning to get through the early period buildings, so by lunch time we had arrived at a suitable cafe within the grounds – again in an old building and serving meals of the period. We opted for a hearty vegetable soup made with produce all grown in the gardens around the complex, followed by a scrummie piece of blueberry cake topped with warm brown sugar sauce. Being an Acadian experience, the visitors to this museum were predominately French speaking Quebec/NB people so the initial explanations were in that language, but people here are bi-lingual and an English translation was quickly forthcoming if necessary.
After lunch we were treated to a mock Acadian wedding and dancing before we crossed over into the buildings from the early 1900’s, which included a house which had come from a Sears catalogue and a very elegant hotel which had burnt down in the 1930’s but someone had come across all the original plans so it was built exactly to these plans inside and out. You could even stay the night here for about the price of a normal hotel room. The weather started to close in just as we were finishing our look around and we made it back to Wanda before the rain set in.
Continued with our trek around the Acadian Peninsula, passing through some small villages and the larger town of Caraquet before taking off on a more minor road up to the Acadian Isles – a series of small islands on the tip of this peninsula. Spotted another likely looking wharf to park up for the night just before a bridge crossing over to the the last little isle.
30 July – Apart from one hoon about midnight doing wheelies in the gravel it was a good place to stop. Made out way to the end of the road and the Miscou lighthouse, stopping on the return trip for a walk around a peat bog with explanations of all flora and fauna. Back onto the main highway and the continuation of the Acadiaen Coastal Drive – we notice that once we were off the islands it became a little less parochial in as far as there were not Acadian flags flying on every house and it was back to the signage being more bi-lingual. Stopped off at Miramichi to get emails sorted and then out along a narrow dead end road to camp overlooking the Miramichi Bay (after asking permission from locals who were now speaking English as their first language).
31 July – Back into Miramichi to have a look at what was listed as a historical ship building site. The interpretive centre was well laid out and then it was a 5 minute boat trip across the river to Beaubears Island – a tiny island in the river only 1mile long and 1/4 mile wide where the shipbuilding had occurred. Nothing to see there anymore – when the era of steam ships came in, the industry here just shut down. Had a walk through the bush along the length of the island and apart from the voracious mozzies it was a nice jaunt. Back on the road along the coast stopping for the day at Escuminac – a small settlement on a dead end road.
Parked on the quay and had a walk on the jetties, where we got chatting with an Ontario couple who were wandering around by boat. They had come up the Rideau Canal from Lake Ontario to Ottawa and down the Ottawa River to the St. Lawrence, going through the 100 or so locks on the canal system. After dinner we got asked to move on by the Port Authority, so just went back up the road to an abandoned church and parked there for the night.
01 August – Short drive firstly to Kouchibouguac National Park to do a couple of the small hikes available. The first was mainly through forest with occasional glimpses of a river inlet on one side and the estuary on the other. The other was a boardwalk out over the lagoon to the coastal beach. At 15 degrees water temp I wasn’t tempted to go swimming. Finished the day continuing on the Acadian Coastal Drive at St. Edouard de Kent and parking in a small carpark at the entrance to the beach.
02 Aug – Nice start to the day with a walk along the deserted beach – the views of PEI (Prince Edward Island) were not visible this morning as the clouds were obscuring it. Continued on the Arcadian Coastal Drive stopping off at an ecological reserve on a 12km sandspit near Bouctouche. Did the boardwalk which went out about 1km along the spit – it did originally extend quite a bit further but successive weather events over the last 10 years, bad storms and ice surges, wiped it out. It is hard to imagine that the serene sea that we have been seeing all around this coast could be so harsh. There was a small farmers market at Bouctouche – picked up some nice freshly baked bread and lovely pastries for later. Had our lunch at a picnic area attached to the Tourist Info centre which also had a dump, fresh water and wifi so made use of all of them.. The road continued on around the coast bumping along (the roads just seem to get worse as we progress around) and a detour in search of a place to stay was fruitless so decided to head straight over to PEI – by way of the Confederation Bridge. This is no ordinary bridge – it was 14km long built ten years ago and in parts rose up quite high over the water – its free to go over and only $50 to come back! The other alternative returning off the island is a toll ferry which costs around $90. We headed for the town of Summerside for a spot on the quay beside a fresh fish shop. Picked up some nice haddock and cooked chez Wanda (gently sauteed in breadcrumbs and garlic butter – mmmm!). The abundance of fresh fish is really great and it is quite reasonably priced – 2 generous fillets for just over $5. Finished the evening with a walk down to the hub of the harbour – some neat brightly painted shops linked with a boardwalk overlooking the water and marina.
03 August – Quiet and lazy start to the day – being a Sunday there was not much happening in the area. Started off on our next odyssey, this time following the North Cape Coastal Scenic drive. From time to time we hit the coast and got glimpses of little villages and views of the sea, the rest of the time we were travelling through farmland. PEI is famous for its potatoes and they are just coming into season – so it will be nice new potatoes for the next couple of weeks. PEI has red earth similar to that of Pukekohe and seems to be very fertile. Stopped off at a small wharf to have a gander at them gearing up for the lobster season and finally made a stop at Howards Cove on the West Coast, another small fishing boat harbour. Spent an interesting hour or so talking with a couple who were just getting their brand new $300k boat ready for Friday when lobster fishing begins it’s short 2 month season. A really nice looking boat – 45ft long with a huge Volvo Penta 700hp engine. Each fishing boat is allowed to set 250 lobster pots and they fish Mon-Sat during the season. There is no limit to how many lobsters they can catch, but they are governed by size, whilst certain sized females and those with eggs must be returned. The lobster pots can get cleared several times a day so that the lobsters are at their freshest for the market. Currently the retail price is $8 per lb for a live lobster so the fishers would only get half of that. With only two months for the season, it must be hard to make a decent living after paying off the boat, crew wages and fuel. They might pull in between 30,000 – 40,000 lbs in the two months. Parked Wanda for the night on a lookout above the wharf with lovely views up the red cliffed coast and out to sea.
04 August – Northward this morning to North Cape and a look around the wind farm experimental area. The interpretive centre explained the progress of windmills and wind farms. PEI has two major wind farms, one with around 50 windmills at the village of Norway and a smaller one at the North Cape. We couldn’t get over the size of the new 3MW machines – each blade 47m long and the tower 100m tall. Not too much else going on – but had a nice chat with an Ontario couple who turned out to be part of the same boondocking club as us. Interesting to learn that we had been to some of the same places and we got a nice surprise later in the afternoon to find that they had decided to stay at Tignish as well. Our boondocker host was away until 2015 but happy for folks to stay behind his house. Had an interesting happy hour with Rainer and Grace. Got a bit of rain later in the evening which cooled the air a little. Tignish is just a small rural community with a supermarket, large church, garage, inn and a bakery but not much else. Our boondocker’s home backs onto the village cemetery and come nightfall it looked quite magical – many of the gravesites had solar lights, so there were different coloured sparkling lights all over.
05 August – Nice relaxing start to the day. Continued following the scenic road – mostly through farmland – fields of potatoes, corn and wheat today. At Alberton stopped to view the town murals and enjoy their bakery before continuing on the route finally arriving back in Summerside. Made use of Maccas wifi before parking back in the spot by the fish shop that we used the other day. Explored some more of their waterfront boardwalk in the evening. What a nice asset for the town, a wide wooden boardwalk with historical information panels along the way. Summerside is a nice protected harbour with a yacht club and small marina plus a couple of large commercial wharves. Large volumes of potatoes are treated and shipped out of here.
06 August – Out today on the north part of the Central Coastal Drive through Kensington, yet another Hamilton and through to Cavendish. This is Anne of Green Gables territory and the whole of this area is devoted to all things Anne with an ‘e’. It was here that L M Montgomery got her inspiration for all the Anne novels, Canada National Park owns the historic site with the actual Green Gables house which inspired LM, and has restored it with period furnishings etc. The walks such as Lover’s Lane and the Haunted Woods are within the park. It was of course packed with touro’s and was nice to see but good to get away again.
Stopped for lunch at another National Park with a lovely long sandy beach (the sand here has pink tinges from all the red soil). A short hop southwards through Cornwall to Rocky Point and our destination for the night – a local boondocker Bob. He is one of the many Canadians who spend their winter down south – they can go out of Canada for six months each year without losing their medical benefits and getting caught up in US tax demands, so they get the best of both worlds. Canada’s short summer is lovely and when the weather turns they can continue with summer down south in the USA. The lovely fine day that we had started to cloud over, and growling could be heard of thunderstorms approaching.
07 August – Just around the corner from Bob’s place was a national historic fort which had first been French and later British. It had held a prominent spot overlooking the harbour, although only grassy mounds were all that was left of it. Started on the Points East Coastal Drive after passing through Charlottetown, it headed north for a while until it hit the coast. Stopped at the Greenwich National Park and took their amazing floating boardwalk which went out over a lake before coming to the dunes and the sea.
We then bumped our way along the coast road and stopped off at yet another harbour with a nice spot to park for the night. The harbour watchman didn’t have any problem with us wanting to stay. We treated ourselves to dinner at the little Shipwreck Point cafe, which was really busy up to about 7.00pm, then everyone seemed to disappear.
08 August – Meandered up to the East Point of the Island, stopping off at the local railway museum which had some interesting memorabilia. The trains stopped running in 1969 and all the tracks have been pulled up to make way for the Confederation Trail combined biking and snow mobile route. At the top of the Island was a nice old lighthouse; quite severe currents occur at this point and the first waves we have seen (only a couple of feet high though) have resulted in major erosion. Treat of the day was to go to New Zealand. By chance I happened to see it on the map so we deviated a few km’s off the coast and lo and behold came to NZ. Population about 5. Apart from the sign and the few houses that was it. The railway did once pass through here but the station is now long gone.
Followed the drive which alternated between coastal and rural views Still lots of spuds being grown, also wheat and soy beans. Today’s news is that the local McCain’s french fry factory is to close with the loss of 120 jobs. The dairy farms are quite small but still keep their cows inside for the most part, and if they do go outside it is just outside the barn in a muddy area. Launching Harbour was our stop for the night, another small harbour leading into a lake. There is a lovely clean beach on the coastal side with the pink sand and pink rocks. Neat, fine, bright green seaweed growing on the tideline rocks looked like wigs. Chatted with one of the local lobster fishermen – on this side of the island they only have the spring season – May and June – to fish and an average haul for that period is about 20,000lbs. The boats here are noticeably in poorer condition than those in the western harbours. He was very scathing about their marketing in PEI, as they only get around $4 per pound whereas he said in New Zealand they get around $30 per pound (I am not quite sure they get that much, or if it is for selected parts or the complete body as here) but he was very complimentary about how NZ manages to get into the Japanese and Chinese markets.