Sunday, May 28, 2000

Home-Fredericton-Gaspe-Baie Comeau

We expected our drive around Labrador  would  be exciting and unpredictable, after a pleasant uneventful one week approach..  We left home on June 10, but a piece of chicken lodged in Marge's esophagus, so we diverted to the Brunswick hospital emergency room.  Three hours later she was OK.
Lupines in rural New Brunswick, near Maine
June 11, 12: We set out again, tended family graves in Princeton, Maine, drove many miles of  beautiful lupine-lined back roads, and  checked into the excellent Amsterdam motel in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

We had an appointment to set up a Visa based on our Canadian bank account, but snags in that process took 3 visits, so it was too late to go on, and we booked another night at the Amsterdam.  We enjoyed a short scenic drive down the St. John River to visit friends in the village of Gagetown, which we had visited many times by car over 30 years and twice by auxiliary sloop from Maine.

June 13: We drove the 70 mph Trans-Canada north beside the St. John River, close by the big windmill farm atop Maine's Mars Hill.   Traffic density seemed less than a tenth of that on the average USA Interstate.    At St. Leonard we turned northeast to bilingual Campbelltown NB and on to Quebec's Gaspe Peninsula.   The Gaspe road was an endless series of little towns with quirky architecture, seaside scenery, and never an opportunity to pass the slowest car.   Of the 3 B&B's we had thought we might use there, two were not open for the summer season and one had steep stairs not OK for Marge.  So we continued, arriving at dusk at Perce, famed for its famous "pierced" offshore rock.   We were so anxious to settle down after 380 miles that we paid twice our budget for an elegant hotel and restaurant frequented by Europeans, whose euro makes those prices seem moderate.

June 14:  We got off to our usual late start, and took a last look at Perce and its Rock.

Perce Rock

Village on north side of the Gaspe Peninsula

After we rounded the tip of the Peninsula and headed west along the St. Lawrence shore, the scenery became as beautiful as we remembered from many years ago, steep twisty roads and views that are world famous.
Wind turbines

Gradually old fishing villages were supplanted by modern technology (dozens of wind turbines) and a flat road posted for 90 kph (56 mph) along the base of cliffs.

Looking back at Matane, from ferry bound for north shore
of the St. Lawrence River

We reached the ferry at Matane 15 minutes before loading, without a reservation, for the 2 1/2 hour crossing of the St. Lawrence River to Baie Comeau.   This photo is looking back at Matane.

We had a scare after we left the ferry.   To celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary and save time, we applied for a room at the best hotel in town.   But the city on the edge of northern wilderness is booming.  Trucks on the ferry were laden with new sewer pipe, there was so much road construction in the city that maps and GPS were useless, and the hotels were apparently fully booked with industrial workers and crews fighting forest fires that are polluting Maine air.  Besides the useless maps and GPS, I'd forgotten most of my French, and here was Quebec French, so we spent 2 hours until dark driving in circles, getting directions that would be unintelligible even in English, and facing a night of sleeping in the car.  Finally we got a bed at a Comfort Inn, and an expensive supper at a bar.

Two old quotes apply to the above:
"An adventure is an inconvenience, rightly considered".
"An adventure is the result of poor planning".

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