Quebec City, Very Pretty

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Quebec City (view from the Levis ferry terminal).

Our original plans were to go from Riviere-du-Loup to the Thousand Islands, but that is a long drive in one day.  We decided to break up the trip by stopping at Quebec City.  It is about 130 miles between Riviere-du-Loup and Quebec city and there were three rest stops along the way.  We did not see any rest stops in the other Provinces we visited, but have seen four so far in Quebec.  We were so excited, we stopped at two of them.

With a motor home and tow vehicle, we appreciate rest stops.  Without them, we have difficulty finding places to stop along the way.  The motor home and tow vehicle combination are too large to stop just anywhere.  In fact, getting fuel has been very difficult in Canada.  We usually go to the truck pumps in the U.S. because we have two fuel tanks and there is plenty of room at the pump.  We cannot use the truck pumps in Canada because you need some kind of a card key.  That means we have to figure out how to get to the pump that has diesel.  At some stations, it is not possible.  A few times, we have had to disconnect the two vehicle to do it.  Often, we have to wait for awhile to get access to the only pump we can reach.  Between the gas station difficulties and few rest stops in the other Provinces, traveling in Canada with a motor home can be difficult.

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We your GPS looks like this, you know you are in a big city again.

We are glad we stopped at Quebec City.  There is an aquarium here and I went to it the first afternoon we arrived.  Wow!  I saw so many amazing animals and many of the fish were very big.  I have seen some of these variety of fish in other aquariums but not as big as they were at the Quebec aquarium.  It was very crowded though.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed one of the exhibits so much, I went through the building twice.

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Sand sculpture at the Quebec Aquarium. That had several of these at the Aquarium.
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Sea horses at the Quebec Aquarium. There are several of them wrapped around the plant (at least 3) but they blend right in.

Quebec city is on the other side of the river from us, so the next day we parked the car at the ferry terminal, boarded the ferry on foot, and traveled to Quebec city by boat.  Dart was allowed.  The city is beautiful.  I have not seen anything quite like it.  We roamed the streets for a bit and then decided to get lunch.  I looked up pet friendly restaurants and only found one but I couldn’t locate it on the map.  We gave up and decided to pick something and ask if we could sit at an outside table with the dog.  We eventually made a choice and they were very accommodating.  The name of the restaurant sounded familiar so I looked it up and it was the pet friendly restaurant listed on my search.  Quebec is not a small city, so I think it is amazing that we randomly arrived at the pet friendly restaurant.  We do not know if other restaurants would have also been accommodating.  Just because they weren’t listed, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t allow dogs.

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Side of building in Quebec City. The whole side is painted to look like buildings, a street, and scenery. It is awesome.

After we ate, we wandered the streets some more.  I enjoyed all the original art work.  There were numerous wonderful art galleries.  I could spend the day going through them and it would be especially fun if my sister was with me.  We came upon a street musician playing the saxophone and sat and listened for awhile.  We later came upon a street musician playing the violin and enjoyed listening to him for awhile.

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Square in Quebec City. The city has flowers everywhere. There are also lots of people in period costumes.

Since Dart wasn’t having as much fun as us, we returned.  If it was just Regis and I, not only would we have stayed the whole day but we might have extended our stay in Quebec City because there is so much to see and do and so many places to eat!

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This could have something to do with why Dart wasn’t having any fun. He doesn’t appear to happy that Regis thought this was a good idea.

 

The Old Man

We drove north along the shore of the St. Lawrence River to visit the Kiskotuk Park.  We passed many farms.  There was a crop growing with yellow flowers and it was stunning to see.  We stopped at several observation platforms that looked out over the marsh and the water.  We saw lots and lots of birds.  Even with binoculars, they were too far away to identify.

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Fields of some type of root crop. if you know comment below!

On our route, we saw a house that had lots of little houses, a little church, and a little lighthouse sitting in the front yard.  I stopped to photograph them and an old man came out of the house to talk to me.  He did not speak any English and I realized during our conversation just how poor my French is.  The old man wanted to talk.  He kept talking and I didn’t understand anything he was saying.  He asked me into his house and showed me a painting on the wall.  He had a lot to say to me about the painting and I understood none of it.  It was very sad.  He had so much to say and I would love to have understood it.  There were probably at least 20 more little houses in his backyard.   (Regis edit: These houses were hand make, probably by the old man. Pretty darn sure I saw that church in town!) Darn I wish my French was better.

The car, RV, and bikes got covered with grime.  They acquired a continent’s worth of dirt in our travels.  I have been on the lookout for a car wash to clean the car but have not seen any.  Campgrounds do not allow you to wash your vehicle on site.  Today, I decided to do something about it.  I got out a bottle of Invisible Glass and a huge roll of paper towels.  I cleaned both bikes and the car.  It would have been a lot easier with a hose and a bucket of water, but it did a pretty good job and I feel so much better.  Even though it is not surprising to see Jeeps dirty, it bothered me.

In the evening, we went down to the water to watch the sunset.  A lot of people do that.  They all started to gather to enjoy the show.  As soon as the sun dipped below the horizon, most people left.  But, the best colors for a sunset show up after the sun sets.  You should hang around for about a half hour after sunset to enjoy them.

0723 Prior to Sunset (1 of 1)
Sun down down

 

0723 Sunset (1 of 1)
Sun gone, but not forgotten with colors like this

Post script:  As were leaving our campsite this morning, we saw a car wash.  It was less than ½ mile from our site.  I could have coasted from our campsite into the car wash without starting the engine.  Regis says I might have lost some momentum going into the bay, but could succeed if I set out to do it with reckless abandon.  We drove by this place multiple times and the sign says Lave-Auto and it looks like multiple service bays.  I forgot that Lave means wash.  There are some service bays but a few of them are for washing your car.  Encroyable!

Francais

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View of Quebec from St Lawrence River

We left St. John to head toward Quebec.  Oh my.  My six years of French is not adequate for this.  Once we got to Quebec, all the signs were in French.  In the other provinces, the signs are in both languages so I was practicing by reading French first and then reading the English if I couldn’t understand it.  Now, I have no English translation to fall back on.

I feel a little isolated.  Everyone around us is speaking fluent French.  (One exception I will describe later.)  I think most folks know we speak English and avoid us.  The professional tourist people are very kind, but everyone else ignores us.  It’s a weird feeling.  Dart is wearing his USA bandana, but I suspect people know we are from the US without us understanding why.

This turns out to be a decent campsite that is a short walk away from the coast.  It is an amazing view.  We can watch Beluga whales from the beach.

I immediately took a whale watch tour leaving at 9:30 am the day after we arrived.  While I was doing that Regis set about fixing our newly broken table.  This is another one of those situations where there was a lack of quality in manufacturing.  Our dining table collapsed and was no longer usable.  While fixing it, Regis determined it was not adequately glued in the first place.  Apparently, someone noticed that in manufacturing and caulked it which was a temporary solution.  This is our second season in the motor home and it was time for the caulking to fail.

While he was working, I was enjoying a 3 ½ hour boat tour on the St. Lawrence River.  The guide spoke fluent French and then gave us an English translation.  His French accent was strong enough, along with the wind, sound of the motor, and other people talking, that I had a hard time understanding what he was saying even when he spoke English.  Nevertheless, I understood some of it.

0722 Before (1 of 1)
View of port from Rivier. yes all those boats are sitting in mud
0722 After (1 of 1)
View of port in Riviere-de-loop after whale watch tour.

Not long after leaving the dock, we saw Beluga whales.  Click here for a short video.  (It’s not great but look for the white whales.  Belugas are white.  We continued to see them.  We arrived at the whale hot spot, which I think is where the water from the Gulf of St. Lawrence meets the freshwater of the St. Lawrence River.  We saw LOTS of seabirds.  So far, on this trip, we haven’t seen that many seabirds.  I think that’s because they are all here.  My goodness.  I saw thousands of cormorants.  It was amazing.  We saw several Minke whales where the water mixes.

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Lighthouse on St Lawrence River.

On the way back, we encountered a gazillion seals.  Okay, I don’t know how many seals there were but I have never seen that many seals swimming in the water at the same time.  The amount of sea mammals and birds is astonishing.

On the way back, I felt my fingers getting numb.  I was cold.  As I was trying to get circulation back in my fingers, I saw a young boy and girl come up on the top deck with me.  The young boy was wearing a short-sleeved Toronto Blue Jays shirt.  The young girl was wearing a sun dress.  They showed no indication that the cold breeze on the top deck was anything more than lovely.  I was wearing five layers – a shirt, a polartech top, a wool sweater, a sweatshirt, and a gore-tex rain jacket.  And, I was cold.  Jeez.

There were lots of people on our whale tour that probably spoke neither French or English.  When they gave the safety instructions, they gave them in French, English, and another language.  After that, it was all French and English with an accent.  I am exhausted trying to figure out what the guide was saying!!!

I have to tell you what happened after we arrived at our campsite.  After setting up, the skies opened up and it poured.  After it stopped, Regis decided to do a bike ride through town to check things out.  Dart and I stayed behind keeping each other company.  About 45 minutes after Regis left, it started pouring again.  Dart and I looked at each other.  Should we try to rescue Regis?  We don’t know where he is.  Dart and I decided to give it a try.  We took off trying to figure out where Regis might have gone.  Miracle of miracles!!!!  We found him.  He was wet and bedraggled, but we picked him up and brought him home.  Dart was happy to get everyone back together again.

0722 The walk (1 of 1)
Dart and I took a walk after dinner along the St. Lawrence River.
0722 Sunset 2 (1 of 1)
Sunset over the St. Lawrence River.

Dart – The Attractor

IMAG0267
St. John, New Brunswick

We are camped in St. John, so we spent the day mostly in the city.  I wanted to get my hair cut.  I tried to get it cut in Nova Scotia, but the only local hair salon said they didn’t take walk-ins and couldn’t fit me in.  I looked up local hair salons in St. John and we went to the city so I could give it a try as soon as they opened.  The first salon said they don’t take walk-ins and couldn’t fit me in.  If I hadn’t already had similar problems in the US, I would have take it personally.

IMAG0266
Volley ball on the beach in St. John, New Brunswick.

We started off to the second choice but had no idea  where Union street was. Regis noticed a WIFI antenna on a street pole. Out came the cell phone, open the WIFI hot spot finder app, and boom found an open WIFI. Good job city of Saint John! Free WIFI in the down town area. Next was a talk with google maps and we were off to the next hair salon place. A block this way, two that way another block to the right and ta-da! BUT looks like the hair salon has been over run by the BREW PUB next door! Not a bad use of the space, but no hair cutting getting done there.

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Fish and chips and local brews at a restaurant in St. John, New Brunswick.

We started walking around the city and came upon another hair salon.  They said they could accommodate me in an hour and a half.  I was happy with that.  But, we walked around the block and I was able to find someone willing to take me right away.  I went to get my haircut and Regis let the other salon know I wasn’t coming back.  Then, he went across the street to sit out of the sun waiting for me.  He noticed someone on an electric wheelchair at the back end of a parking lot. After giving Dart some water, he noticed she had crossed the parking lot, maybe to get a closer look at Dart. Regis crossed back to the parking lot and started chatting with Donna.

After several minutes of chit chat, a second wheel chair person arrived, Brian. Soon there were three “scooter”  people, Donna, Brian, and Barb approached and Regis began a lively conversation, while I was getting my hair cut.  When I came out, I found Regis and Dart camped out with a lady in an electric wheel chair in a deep political conversation.  Others joined before I left.  They were an entertaining and delightful group who gave us some good information on what streets to visit to see good architecture.

Regis is a great fan of what I call “creepy” architecture.  It isn’t always dark and gloomy, but often is.  Anyway, he was happy to see it.

We went to the downtown area with lots of restaurants with outside dining and found they are pet friendly.  We were able to have lunch outside with Dart at the table.  They provide a bowl and water.  We had the bowl, so we just needed the water.  The weather was astonishing and the food was wonderful.  So were the local brews!

After we left, we visited the “reversing falls”.  The St. Johns River flows into the Bay of Fundy here.  The St. Johns river maintains it’s height, but the tidal Bay of Fundy waters change by at least 24 feet between tides.  We arrived about two hours before the lowest tide.  Click here for a short video.  High tide was at dark, so we couldn’t get back to see how it works when the tide is higher than the river.

saint john
Reversing falls in S.t John, New Brunswick.

Regis has been fascinated with watching the ship activity in St. John from the overlook at our campground.  Tonight, we both grabbed a glass of wine to go sit at the overlook and watch tugboats, ships, etc.  There was also a local ball game visible from the overlook.  When Regis took to cheering at the game, Dart was not pleased.  I left with Dart to go back to the quiet of the RV.  Regis says the red team was decimating the black team.

 

Encounter with a Groundhog (Marmot)

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Groundhog in New Brunswick, Canada.  This doesn’t look like the groundhogs I am familiar with but my research on the internet indicates this is a groundhog and groundhogs are in the marmot family.  

I wish I hadn’t said anything negative about our Halifax area campground.  We arrived in our new campground this afternoon.  Although the park is nice, the campground is not very nice.  The bad news is that this is the worst campsite we have ever had.  The good news is that it has decent WIFI access that we can get inside the RV.  This is a first on this trip!!  The other good news is that there is an overlook a short distance from our campsite with views of St. John.  The bad news is that it is so foggy, I can’t see anything.

We had some nice wildlife encounters today.  As we were leaving our campsite this morning, we came across a doe with her two fawns.  When we arrived in our new campground, we took a walk through the park in which it is located.  We saw a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers.  We haven’t see Hairy Woodpeckers in years.  We saw a couple of bucks.  And we encountered a groundhog on the trail.  Dart went nuts because he thought it was a squirrel.  The groundhog paid him no mind.

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Doe and two fawns in the woods in Nova Scotia.
0719 Hairy Woodpecker (1 of 1)
Hairy Woodpecker in New Brunswick, Canada.
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Buck in New Brunswick, Canada.
0719 Deer 1 (1 of 1)
Buck in New Brunswick, Canada.

Dart is one of those dogs that doesn’t bother with most animals.  When we encounter rabbits or chipmunks, he doesn’t care.  For the first 5 years of Dart’s life, Regis encouraged him to chase squirrels.  (There was never a danger of him catching one even though he is very fast.)  Dart loves to chase squirrels.  We encountered lots of these little reddish squirrels that are not much bigger than chipmunks at many of the campgrounds.  In fact, a pair of them may have been stashing things in the RV at the last campsite.  Dart does not consider them squirrels and pays no attention to them.  At our current campsite, we encountered a gray squirrel at the beginning of our walk and that got Dart going.  He was on high alert.  Then, when he saw the groundhog, he was convinced it was a squirrel and wanted desperately to be freed for the chase.

 

Halifax Area

0718 Beach (1 of 1)
Canadians enjoying the beach in Nova Scotia. Look closely and you can see several surfers enjoying the surf. There is heavy fog so it is nearly impossible to see much. The non-surfers are fully clothed and the surfers are in wet suits.

Note to my personal trainer:  Please don’t read this post.

We are staying in a campground about 25 kilometers from Halifax.  We originally planned to go into the city but decided not to do that with the dog.  A local I met in Shediac recommended we visit Peggy’s Cove, so that’s what we did.

0718 Peggys Cove Landscape (1 of 1)
Peggy’s Cove landscape. It is granite with very little soil so there are no trees.

We arrived in Peggy’s Cove along with every other tourist in the area.  It is a very small, cute little town that was overwhelmed by the tourists.  This is not what we like.  Instead, we drove up the road for about 10 or 15 minutes and stopped for lunch at the Finer Diner.  They had free WIFI access, so Regis took advantage of it to upload some video.  After we finished eating a delicious lunch, Regis said he needed more time for the upload.  So, he ordered a beer and I ordered a Coconut Cream pie.  It was the best Coconut Cream pie I have ever eaten.  I may never be able to eat this kind of pie again because it will not be possible for it to live up to the standards of this pie.  (My favorite personal trainer.  I told you not to read this.  Anyway, I wouldn’t have gotten desert but I love Coconut Cream pie.)

0718 Peggys Cove (1 of 1)
Almost the entire town of Peggy’s Cove.

The next day, we went to the beach which is a few kilometers from our campsite.  The Atlantic View Trail runs along the beach and we thought we would hike a portion of it.  The fog was very thick at the beach.  There were many surfers and a few companies renting surf boards.  I can’t understand how people can surf when you can’t see a thing.  I saw more surfers within a few kilometers on this stretch of beach than I have seen in one location before.   The non-surfers on the beach were enjoying it fully clothed while sitting in the thick fog.  I much prefer Florida beaches!  I can’t even see the beach here.

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Lobster traps in Nova Scotia.
0718 Lobster Traps (1 of 1)
Lobster traps in Nova Scotia.

We gave up on the hike after a short way because the fog was so thick we couldn’t see much.  But, back at our campground, it was nice.

This campground is having infrastructure issues.  The water pressure dropped so low the first day we were here that the water was inaccessible.  Regis was smart enough to realize there was a water pressure problem and put as much water in our tanks as he could before the water basically shut down.  It was eventually fixed but broke again the next day.  The electricity has gone out a few times also.

This campground is the most self-service we have seen.  If you arrive without a reservation, you must pay cash.  With a reservation, you can go straight to your campsite.  There are only 10 full hook-up sites here.  On our second day, our neighbors took off for the day leaving their trailer and belongings.  Apparently, they were supposed to leave that morning.  The campers who had paid and reserved the site for that night arrived.  There was no other site for them.  They waited several hours in hopes that our neighbors would return and vacate the spot, but the neighbors did not return until 10:30 that night.  The park personnel let the other campers park somewhere else in the park and use their generator.  I hope they got their money back.

I am not fond of this campground.  Add the weather issues to the mix and I am ready to move to our next location.

 

Leaving Cape Breton

We left Cape Breton and headed to the Halifax area.  We had great luck with the weather while in Cape Breton.  The mosquito abatement plan continues to be effective.  Buy an expensive screened room to keep away from the bugs and they disappear so you never need to open the box!

We learned something from the children in the campground.  A bunch of the little boys inserted plastic water bottles between the frame of their bike and the back wheel.  When they ride the bike, they sound like little chainsaws rolling through the campground.  They call them “motors”.  It is great fun for the kids but can get a little annoying for the adults.  We noticed that the parents would step in after a while and make the children remove their motors.

As we were traveling on the Cabot Trail heading to Halifax, we put the camera in the windshield to record a view of the scenery.  When we were descending a hill we had climbed, we came upon a switchback with a large truck with heavy equipment on it stuck on a hairpin turn.  This, of course, stopped all traffic in both directions.  We got video of the situation for those interested.  Click here. The video is about 11 minutes.  If you are not interested in how the truck gets out of this mess, you should still watch the beginning of the video to see the views on the road.  (Special note to Jeff from Regis.  The hills here are massive with 13% grades.)

We also came upon this water truck transporting a small swimming pool.  Oddly, the pool was full of water.

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Water truck hauling a swimming pool full of water (sort of since it is spilling out going over bumps).

One of the things we noticed when we first arrived on Cape Breton Island was that the signs were no longer in English and French.  They were in English and another language.  We thought it was language from the First Nation people.  When we passed the Gaelic College, we realized that it was probably Gaelic.  These signs stopped our French lessons.  We thought we were doing pretty well learning French by seeing all the dual French/English signs.  Throwing in the Gaelic was too much for us to handle!

We managed to get some internet access which has not only allowed us to upload this road/truck video, but we were able to load some wildlife video.  Click here to see some video of a Guillemot with food.  Click here to see video of Gannets feeding.  They are a little hard to see against the stunning background, but if you watch closely you can see them occasionally plunge into the water.  If this video is not satisfactory, I recommend coming to Cape Breton yourself and hopping on a whale boat tour.   Also, watching on a bigger screen will help.  Here is a video of the nesting bird colony.  Click here.

Here is a video of Common Terns feeding while we were at Kouchibouguac National Park. Click here.

I came upon a mother grouse while walking in Kouchibouguac National Park.  In the beginning of this video, notice the small thing run across the path after mom crossed.  I thought it was a mouse at first.  Eventually, a few more chicks cross.  Click here.