We drove the beautiful Sunrise Trail before we said Farewell to Nova Scotia and left one of our favorite provinces at our backs. We continued the coastal route of New Brunswick, reminiscing about the good times we’d had here on our way through. We were driving the Acadian Coastal drive this time around which meant that we would maximize the land we covered.
We made it to Kouchibouguac and rolled into our reserved site. The site was nice and big but we arrived late and didn’t have time to explore the park that evening. We set up the tent, ate a late dinner, and got the kids settled in. We studied the map of the park for things to do the next day.
The park seemed to offer several short hikes with a double-wide gravel bike path linking them together. We decided that we would gear up for a day of 'bike and hike'. We packed the chariot with some gear and food for the day, and off we went. We fired up the Geocache App and pedaled along the coastal trail, stopping when we got closer to the buried treasures. The caches were placed several kilometers apart, a great motivator for the kids to keep pedaling. We had loads of fun finding them.
We also paused when we found some red ‘share-the-chairs’ for photo moments. The kids and I had taken to searching for these chairs in the National Parks. We talked about the places we’d taken pictures on the chairs and stated our disappointment with not having our picture on the red chairs in the Highlands. We figured that maybe there was a mix-up on the chair delivery and most of them landed in Fundy National Park where we’d seen lots.
We parked our bikes at the head of the Salt Marshes trail and walked it before we got on our bikes again. We learned about the different plants that grow on the banks of the salt marsh. How the different colors that lined the slope, giving it the appearance of a ribbon, showed the levels of robust species that could deal with greater salt content. After observing the Salt Marshes trail we biked to the Mi'kmaq Cedar trail. We uncovered another cache then learned about how the Mik’maq used the white cedars for building shelters and for medicinal purposes.
We finished the hike and picnicked before coaxing the kids to pedal back for ice cream. It was hot that day so we tried to lick it as fast as we could before it melted, which we failed of course. To our great surprise, just as we were frantically lapping up the creamy goodness, Parka made an appearance in the park. Now, if you don’t know who Parka is, she is a beaver mascot for the National Parks. The kids had completed several booklets from Parks Canada and Parka was often mentioned.
One of the parks we'd hit in Northern Ontario was Pukaskwa National Park. There, a Parka stuffy had been hidden in the park and part of the activities that they had was “Peek-a-Parka.” The kids had to find Parka hidden in the park and bring back a photograph to the visitor’s center to claim their prize. When they read about the competition, they peeked everywhere. In fact, I managed to get them to hike for several hours, find a set of red chairs, get loads of photographs, and even see a lynx in the park.
But no peeked Parka.
When it was time to go, they were disappointed that they hadn’t found the stuffy so we went to the visitor’s center to ask where Parka had been hidden. The Park’s staff working the center listened to the kids tell him about how much hiking they’d done in search of the beaver. Knowing that we were heading out, he told them that we really didn’t have to look very far because Parka had been hidden near the canoes by the boat lunch. The kids told them they’d just been there and that they hadn’t seen it. I told the Parks worker that I’d just taken photographs of the canoes, and so he told the kids to have a good look at the pictures because Parka was probably in them.
Excited, they grabbed my phone and perused the photographs. Sure enough, there was Parka hanging on the underside of a canoe. They were so excited, collected their prize and they’ve told the story over and over again. So to see Parka make an appearance in Kouchibouguac, nearly 4000 km passed Pukaskwa, was an unexpected fun moment.
After a round of hugs for the beaver, we checked out Kelly’s Beach Boardwalk. We spent a little bit of time soaking up the sun and sitting in the red chairs before heading back to our campground for dinner and an evening campfire.
Kouchibouguac had been wonderful, but it was time to start thinking about our next couple of days. Matt had us booked at Forillon National Park in the Gaspésie.
I crossed my fingers that Quebec would go better this time around!