August 24th-29th: Goodbye Gaspésie, the Friendly Bilingual Province, and the Home Stretch.

I’ve finally completed all the big provinces. All that remains is circling through the maritimes before hopping on my final ferry to Newfoundland. 

During a Gaspé McDonald’s blogging Thursday morning, I enjoyed a long conversation with a friendly stranger – first in quite some time due to my lacking French abilities. Dan from Toronto was retired and visiting Gaspé, and we exchanged stories of travelling and thoughts on big city life and language barriers. He’d travelled all around Asia when younger, and commended me for doing this now, when I can “rough it” and do things I won’t be able to later. Looking back to many moments of this journey, he’s spot on there!

New friend and fellow traveller.
Also in McDonald’s, I met a cyclist travelling the opposite direction as me, who informed me coming up there was an unused train bridge across the water I could walk across to save myself 20km of riding. While it was awkward to maneuver my bike through, the more interesting and time-efficient excursion was well worth it!

This shot tells the full story: the small sandy hill I heaved my bike up, the stretch of coastline I saved riding, and the tracks and bridge I walked over.

I planned to finish Quebec strong while continuing to enjoy the captivating coastline. And that I sure did:

Found time to bask in the beach near Percé.
Cyclists get to be just that extra bit closer to the water going through Bonaventure.
These tree-topped rocky outcrops remind me of Lake Superior’s north coast.
Long downhills and small towns go hand in hand in La Gaspésie.

The stretch after Gaspé was less hilly than that before it, but still produced impressive backdrops. Quite a few extra kilometres on the dial, but La Gaspésie was yet another detour I’m very glad I chose.

Saturday afternoon I found myself approaching the provincial border – in this case, a short bridge to Campbellton, New Brunswick.

According to my clock, this bridge took me over an hour to cross… An hour and two minutes to be exact!

A bit counterintuitive to hit the time change in Campbellton, since I’d been further East for the past five days in Quebec. 

The sun setting on my Quebec adventure.
Hello maritimes!

Almost immediately after crossing that bridge, I felt the maritime friendliness I’d been constantly informed of along the way. The grocery store cashier was less rushed and more engaging in conversation. As I cooked my spaghetti dinner on a picnic table outside, three different people stopped to chat. The following morning while riding, a man doing yard work stopped and shouted out “Hey! Where ya biking from?” As I pulled over to chat, he welcomed me to the maritimes and spent a solid twenty minutes telling me of all the great places and people I have ahead of me. I sensed it all around me too. People simply made time to connect with each other. 

On Sunday I came across a fellow solo cycle tourist in Dalhousie – from Courtenay, British Columbia! Quite the experienced cyclist, Peter had cycled across Canada and down the west coast to San Diego, and was on a shorter trip from Quebec to PEI.

A couple west coasters crossing paths on the east coast.

Through generally flat terrain, I continued hugging coastline Sunday from Campbellton to Bathurst. It was quite neat to look over my shoulder to see Quebec  across the water, where I’d been the previous day.

The rare sight of a widespread wheat field backed by colossal waters.

New Brunswick is noticeably bilingual: signage contains both French and English, I heard conversations split roughly evenly, and even their licence plates read “New Nouveau Brunswick”. It’s also home to many of a proud group, the Acadians, descendants of 17th-18th Century French colonists who settled in the area which was at the time known as Acadia. 

They sure like to show their colours, even painting the Acadian flag on telephone poles!

Monday was a “series of unfortunate events” kind of day, my first set of speed bumps after a long stretch of smooth sailing. I took my bike in to the Bathurst bike shop right at opening time, as my rear wheel had been grinding over the past couple days, likely meaning something inside was loose. 

“Sorry, our bike mechanic is sick today, it’ll have to be tomorrow.”

The Bathurst bike shop had a pet parrot, but unfortunately no mechanic.

Not keen on waiting around for the day, I hit the road with 100km and change to the next shop on my route in Miramichi. The top route Google Maps gave me was via secondary highways, logging roads, and trails. Excellent, minimal traffic and a more direct route. Not so excellent, while on the trail and without reception, this was where I was supposed to turn off:

Maybe once upon a time, there was a trail here… ?
I couldn’t even walk through these trees, let alone cycle.

So I instead kept following the trail, figuring it would eventually lead to a road and I’d be back on track. Nope, it just lead to someone’s property. Okay, surely these people can direct me back toward civilization… Nope, nobody’s home. With no other choice, I backtracked to the logging road where I’d entered the trail and followed it in the general direction of Miramichi, eventually winding my way to the highway.

Oh, the sweet sight of pavement.

I did manage to reach Miramichi Monday night, but with an upset stomach, which I believe stemmed from some avocado gone bad in my wraps. Tuesday was my first (and hopefully only!) sick day of the trip, though I did manage to find the shop and get my bike road ready before my body was. I luckily found a Warmshowers host for Tuesday night, expecting a much smoother recovery in a house than my tent.

The end is in sight, and I have minimal ground left to cover. Yet I still have so much to look forward to: PEI, Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail, the 30-minute time zone change, trying to keep up with obscure Newfie lingo… 
Strava:

August 24 – Forillon National Park to Barachois.
August 25 – Barachois to Saint-Godefroi.
August 26 – Saint-Godefroi to Campbellton.
August 27 – Campbellton to Bathurst.
August 28 – Bathurst to Miramichi.

2 thoughts on “August 24th-29th: Goodbye Gaspésie, the Friendly Bilingual Province, and the Home Stretch.

  1. Looks like the weather is being kind to you Cameron. Hope it does not rain much at all!
    Your thighs look strong in the photos!
    Fun to keep meeting interesting people. I agree that the people in the Maritimes are friendly, and love good food! Enjoy what is ahead. love Anti x

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  2. Too bad you got sick! Hopefully all OK now. Great that you have been so healthy up ’til then. Your comments about the French/English mix in New Brunswick are interesting. Bad luck with the Google Maps’ misleading trail directions. I find that Google Map directions are usually excellent for big cities; but that for small towns there can be errors like telling one to take a non-existent road; or a very inefficient route that no local person would ever take to the destination. Not sure if it’s because Google feels that small towns aren’t worth much investment of time & effort? Have fun getting to know some of the very friendly Maritimers!

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