We cross the last bridge going east along the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City. After this bridge the only was to cross the river is by ferry and it’s not a good weekend for ferrying. It’s Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a major holiday in Quebec. It seems everyone is leaving the cities for the long holiday weekend. The roads are thick with traffic. It's time to move on. And so we’re headed east. We’re bound for the Atlantic.
The banks of the St. Lawrence widen and deepen as we move east, becoming blanketed by farms. The river widens like a zipper, the mountains of Quebec on the north banks peeling away from the Gaspé Peninsula where we are driving. The river will eventually become the Gulf of St. Lawrence and then the Atlantic Ocean. But it already looks like an ocean, wide and vast. We continue driving down the highway. It’s a day for making miles. I'd rather have a long full day of driving than a bunch of days fragmented with a few hours here and there. We descend sharply from the highway to a small river town to view the last of the evening sunlight across the banks of the St. Lawrence before turning inland. We can hardly see the other side of the river anymore. There’s a ghostly silloulette of mountains in the distance.
We turn southeast towards New Brunswick driving into the twilight. 9pm becomes 10pm as we cross into the Atlantic Timezone. We make camp, eat a quick meal, and go to bed. It has been a long day of travel but we’re excited for what’s next. Quebec has been a taste of a different people, language, and culture. It’s still Canadian but also very French. It deserves more time when we can travel into its cities and immerse ourselves in its culture. We’ll be back.
The nextday, we continue east towards the Atlantic. We resupply gas, groceries, and even a quick truck wash in a spray bay to remove the worst of dust, dirt, and bugs. We stop at Mt. Carleton Provincial Park based on a recommendation. It has the highest mountain in New Brunswick but we decide to enjoy a day by Nictau Lake after unexpectedly discovering it a short walk from our campsite. We sit for hours at the edge of its clear cool water. We dig our feet into the smooth beach of polished river pebbles. A few other people also laze the day away with a bottle of wine or a small boat on the lake. Too often I feel an expectation to climb the highest peak or hike the hardest trail. Perhaps I’ve been trained in superlatives - better, faster, harder, stronger. But in my heart of hearts there’s nothing I would rather being doing today than sitting by Nictau Lake.
The next day we continue onward. We should arrive at the Atlantic today. Well technically the Gulf of St. Lawrence but I’m still calling it the Atlantic when we arrive. I take a deep breath just thinking about the smell of the ocean air. We drive onto the Acadian Peninsula. We drive past tiny cottages perched on cliffs above the water’s edge. We stop at a small provincial park, hiking along the beach. It’s seems like the ocean and the water is somewhat salty. But it’s not quite the ocean yet. We drive along the coast through a few small towns but mostly cottages or small grassy plots with a few chairs and maybe a deck for an seasonal RV. It’s mostly French, a strong Acadian region.
We pass a restaurant by the road above the harbor of Caraquet. It seems like one of the only places to eat and it’d be nice to let someone else cook for us today. We get a table on the patio and realize we’ve stumbled into a diner. They’re still serving breakfast but we order lunch. Val gets fish and chips and I get seafood stew. We’re hungry for the ocean. We bask in the sun, lazily eating and chatting. Mostly everyone around seems like a local out for Saturday brunch. They say hi to each other and catch up on the happenings of the town and life. Revived by the ocean, seafood, and salty breeze, we muse about visiting a place like this for longer. Visiting for a week, a month, a season. It’s an exciting dream that I trust will come true. But until then, we move on to embrace and explore the Atlantic and it's shores for the time that we have.
See you out there,