Carleton-sur-Mer. Mile 2330

The rain was hammering on the roof when we woke this morning and a blustery offshore wind was blowing old Harvey around a bit too. Brilliant. Philippa and I grinned at each other knowing we had the perfect excuse to stay in bed with cups of tea and books; being cozy while the storm whipped around us. Tom was pretty pleased too as the campsite wifi was up and running so he could spend some quality time with Lunar Jim.

Eventually we hauled ourselves up with the rain still pouring outside. Harv seems pretty watertight these days. There were a couple of small leaks when I first drove down from Michigan, but I seem to have fixed them and all is snug. Outside, the view stopped at the end of the campsight; a thick grey wall of cloud was sitting on our ridge. It was a shame in some ways as Perce is so very pretty and it would have been nice to walk across to its famous rock, but on days like this you might as well eat up some miles. We ate up some croissants first though, and discovered that the browner on our original microwave (which is brilliant by the way) is perfect for warming croissants.

Its interesting reading the GMC Owners Handbook about the microwave which was still relatively new technology back in ’78. Several pages are devoted to its operation, and they were clearly a bit concerned about what microwaves could actually do, so they included the advice that its use is recorded in a log book which should be kept somewhere nearby. Dutifully I anotated “croissant warming, 2 minutes, Philippa in charge.” in the vellum covered ringbinder we keep in a time-locked safe in the kitchen cabinet. Its a complete history of our microwave usage and I am thinking of having it published.

Stuffed with croissant and coffee we reluctantly fired up and skidded our way along the steep gravel track out of the campsite. Coming down the ridge and finally ducking under the cloud we could see the ocean; white caps running at the shore on churning grey waves. The stiff wind blew us around a bit and the rain was relentless. Tom settled in for a long day of books and dvds and Philippa and I watched the rain streaked world go by.

The south coast is clearly more heavily populated than the north. One hamlet wishes you au revoir on a cheery sign and almost immediately another sign is welcoming you to the next place. There are neatly clipped lawns and familiar signs on still-small shops; Sears, Subway, Radio Shack. There are signs for bus terminuses (termini..?) and small train stations. The line runs roughly parallel with the road, crossing and recrossing it. We are moving into English speaking areas, populated at some point by Scots and Irish and Loyalists to the English crown. Once the French speaking Acadians had been booted out of course.

In Shigawake, “the land of the rising sun” according to the sign, the rain stopped and the sun, indeed, came out. The sea had calmed down and was all tame and sparkly in the sunshine. We failed to get lunch at a big restaurant by the road – the owner actually came out to tell us that they had just closed which was nice of him. But a little further on in St Godefroi there was a “Cantine” by the roadside serving terrific lobster club sandwiches. Our resident gourmet went for the Hot Dog option, which I had to repeat several times to the girl at the counter until she said “AAh! Ut deug!” I hadn’t wanted to say that, thinking it would sound too much like an Englishman hamming up a French accent, but when in Rome I suppose…


Just as Tom was settling into Monsters Inc and P was preparing to drift off, I pulled off the road in Bonaventure and frog-marched them into the Museum of Acadia. To be honest, I’ve always been a bit hazy about who the Acadians actually were. Well now I know. From 1604 they started arriving in this area as the vangard of French territorial ambition. But a hundred and fifty years later the Brits decided they wanted it, and without all those people speaking French thank you very much. So the Acadians were unceremoniously uprooted and driven out. Some were deported back to France, others fled inland or to the US and some shacked up with the local Mic-mac Indians. Once peace was restored with the French in the 1760s many Acadians started returning but others stayed in the new communities they had established in Lousiana, Alabama and even Texas. Bonaventure is very proud of its heritage and most windows had the Acadian flag – a French tricolour with a gold star. Its a handsome place with a fine church in the traditional Gaspe style.

There are still some Mic-Macs left too. In Marie there was a little market devoted to native crafts and a gas station with a roof in the shape of a teepee. And so to Carleton-Sur-Mer. Its a gentle sort of place curving around a lagoon, with the requisite tall-steepled church. The campground is on a spit on the other side of the lagoon, with a fat little lighthouse on the end. We cycled to it after supper and then watched the sunset. Its hard to believe that the day started with a storm.

Author: Richard Lister

Chasing horizons...

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