We’ve reached the end of Canada. Well almost. Just a few miles further east is “Lands End”; the very tip of the Gaspe peninsula. We can see it from our campsite, a formidable wall of sheer cliffs plunging into the Atlantic. Thats the way for a peninsula to end, not with a gradual, grassy descent into marshland and oblivion but with a bold show of rocky defiance.
Its nice to be able to see the sea from inside The RV. This morning it was just over the brow of the hill and the other side of two rows of campers. It was a pleasant spot though and we had breakfast in peaceful sunshine. We weren’t far from the road but there was hardly any traffic and it was still and quiet. The breeze barely fluttered the leaves of the trees around us which were used to much more. We’ve noticed a little bird which seems to be wherever we stop. We haven’t seen it but it has a very particular song which echoes a line of opera. I can’t remember the opera but the tune was lifted for a Cornetto ice-cream ad on the telly in the late seventies. “Just one Cornetto, give it to me” and if you ever saw it, you will know the tune. The bird does it exactly but plays with the syncopation; “just one cornetto-to-to, give it to me, me-me-me meee meee”. He was tweeting away as we had eggs courtesy of Tom, who learned about frying them this morning.
The Appalachian Trail starts in Forillon and runs through Grand Vallee, so we walked on it into the village which was a couple of miles away, staying mostly on the rocky beach, strewn with dried seaweed, crab carcasses, rusted ironwork and tree trunks softened and bleached by years of sea and sun. Not a pretty beach but an interesting one and Tom was amazed by the number of Precious Gems he was able to find. “Omygosh! Here’s ANOTHER ONE!!!!” Soon my pocket was heavy with little clinking pieces of green, blue and amber. Past the church and round a headland we cut in to the village to look for lunch. The ladies at the empty information centre seemed glad of the interruption and waxed lyrical about the Auberge at the other end of the village. We set out to the white clapboard building set above the road by the harbour and sat in the corner of the terrace.
P and I feasted on trout with shrimp sauce and perfectly steamed vegetables, while T had a rich home-made spaghetti bolognase. There was wine, there was chocolate and banana cake for pudding and there was a pleasantly small bill. I think we could have easily spent the afternoon there doing not very much; watching a local teenager drive endlessly up to the harbour and back in what must have been a newly purchased ten year old Honda Civic in dusty bubblegum pink. With his baseball cap, baggy T-shirt, shades and mate in the passenger seat he was clearly in cruising mode, and longing for an audience.
We tore ourselves away, feeling blurry from the sunshine and the wine. Tom of course was completely recharged. Possibly he is solar powered. We stuck to the pavement on the way back, climbing the headland we had skirted on the beach, until we came to a Laitierre with a fifties plastic ice-cream cone on its roof. The lady was tickled by how thrilled Tom was to be there, and laughed when she saw his face as he received an ice-cream tricked out to be a clown. Her shop backed onto the beach and had an official Appalachian Trail marker post (number 130 I think), so we went back down to the shoreline where Tom insisted we play hide and seek in the rocks until we got back to Harvey.
Forillon was a drive of about an hour and a half on a rollercoaster of a road, climbing steeply, plunging dramatically and turning tightly. There were, thankfully, no loop-the-loops. I had expected the settlements to become even smaller, but actually they got bigger. This stretch of coastline is the main focus of the fishing industry and the towns were more sprawling than anything we have been in for a while – but still small towns nonetheless. The docks were lined with blank-sided canneries and processing plants, big trawlers sat in the harbours.
A few people had told us that Forillon national park was lovely but expensive and if you camp it works out at about $50 a night – which is a lot, but you get what you pay for and locations don’t get much lovelier than this. The beach is a couple of hundred yards away, a glassy sea breaking onto the roundest softest pebbles. We had supper looking out across the bay and then played on the beach for a bit. Tom of course had to go in – up to his knees anyway. We walked back under a pink sky to the the usual accompanyment: “Just one cornetto-to-to-to”.