The drive from Kouchibouguac to Forillon was going to be another long day. We got up in Kouchibouguac, filled our bellies with breakfast, and efficiently got on our way. In Campbellton, we stopped to fuel up and replenish our food stock because I'd read on an online travel forum that there wasn’t much available after Campbellton in the Gaspésie. We wanted to make sure we were well stocked just in case.
When we crossed into Québec, I was apprehensive given my previous experience with la Semaine de Construction. I knew that we were going to be fine for the next couple of nights because Matt had booked a campsite. After that, we didn’t have a plan. I was okay with it, but I was a little nervous that it would make Matt crazy, as he likes to stay on top of things. If Québec was anything like it was when I drove across it with the kids, we were going to have some trying moments in our future. But I would worry about that later. For now, our sights were on Forillon.
The drive on the south shore of the Gaspésie was a pleasant surprise. It was a gorgeous coastal drive littered with many towns that seemed to run one into another. Contrary to what I’d read, there seemed to be plenty of amenities available. The shoulder on the highway was very wide and we saw many cyclists touring the area. It seemed extremely welcoming to riders. The vistas offered plenty of coves with striking rocky cliffs and views of the ocean for miles.
The drive from Campbellton to Gaspé was spectacular and if we would’ve had more time, I would’ve loved to make more stops. But alas, we were now on a bit of a schedule with lots of the country left to cover so I watched the floating yurts and the many artisanal shops pass by without stopping.
However, we took the time to stop at Roche Perçé.
I was excited about that because it was a natural iconic landmark in Québec and another impressive reflection of our Canadian landscape. I figured the kids would be sure to see it in textbooks or calendars in the future, and how cool for them to be able to say that they’d been there?! The hole in the rock became visible when we crested a hill so we pulled over at the nearest lookout to try and get a picture. I couldn’t get a good photo but I was certain that if we drove farther along, we would find another vantage point with the hole visible. But even then, it became apparent that many of the views were on private land.
We continued into the town of Perçé, which was surprisingly very busy. After finding a spot to park, we walked along a shoreline to try and get a better look but much of it was closed to rehabilitation and construction. We tried to walk to the end of a wharf located on the beach, and though it may have provided a better picture, it too was closed at the halfway mark. I was disappointed but we played on the beach before getting back into the van and my disappointment quickly dissolved.
We hit the road and from the highway, we saw a vehicle come down a steep dirt grade, then another. We thought that maybe there was something to see so Matt veered the van off the highway and pointed Black Betty up the hill. It turned out to be a very steep, rutted, tower road. I was glad Matt was at the wheel and I was certain our bike rack was going to snap off the back end of the van. Everything shook as we hit the uneven depressions and the loose gravel put the fully loaded van to the test. It was pure driving excitement and Black Betty didn’t disappoint! She made it to the top and the bikes were still intact.
After a moment with the beautiful view, we got back in and Matt maneuvered our load back down to bring our exploratory van hike to an end. It was getting late and we were still a good distance from the campground. We drove to a pullover east of the town of Perçé, and enjoyed a roadside dinner with a beautiful view. We stretched our legs, did some laps on stairs, and photographed the views.
With our tummies full, we got into the van. Ben requested “Looking for a Place to Happen” which we played as the sun went down. We talked about Gord Downie’s reference of Jacques Cartier in his song. How Jacques Cartier planted a cross in Gaspé to claim the land for France but that he also encountered Iroquoians. Just like Gord sings, “Jacques Cartier, right this way…No you’re not the first to show, we’ve all been here since god who knows…” After our chit chat and playing the song a few times, the kids were getting tired in the car but still, Ben sang.
We finally rolled into our campground well after dark. Matt and I put the tent up and carried sleeping kids to their sleeping bags. We were looking forward to exploring Forillon tomorrow.
Already, Québec had a better feel to it than the first time around.