Monday, July 30, 2012

Welcome to Camp Walmart

July 29 to 30, 2012 – Riviere du Loup, QC, CA Our Current Location

We've left Quebec and are traveling the Transcanadian Highway, also known as Autoroute 20. We remark on how heavy traffic is but then remember that this is the only east west route south of the St. Lawrence River, so naturally there will be a lot of traffic.  Plus it is Sunday afternoon and all those partying Camping Canadians are headed back home too.

We rolled into town at about 4:30 Sunday evening in search of the local Walmart for an overnight stay.  We were not prepared for what we saw. When we arrived there were already about 20 RV's in the parking lot.  People had their chairs and tables out and once again the party was going strong. There are no Super Walmarts in Quebec Provence and this one closed at 5pm.

Riviere du Loup is a crossroads for continuing on into New Brunswick or to the Gaspe Peninsula.  So it is a natural place to stop and stock up on supplies and fuel. But these folks are treating it like a regular campground.  And apparently they do it a lot because we are seeing people walking around greeting each other like old friends.

After we got set up and unhooked the Element, we drove around town and found a great park on the St. Lawrence River where folks go to watch the sun set. The folks in Canada really utilize their parks.  We see lots of folks biking, walking and spending time with their families, eating picnic meals and getting ready to see the evening spectacle. Great stuff!!

We drive around some more and find signs with the question mark and follow them to the end where we actually find a visitor center.  That's open. Until 8pm.  On a Sunday night.  We get some information and find out where the old town area is and head over to see it.

On the way back, we stop at the local IGA grocery store and get some tilapia and chicken to grille out tonight.  Yes, we're joining the crowd and pretending it's a regular campground.

Just before retiring for the evening, we took a stroll around the parking lot and counted 46 RV's parked for the night. It was a pretty full lot.

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On Monday we had some stuff we wanted to do around the RV and catch up on the blog since we also have internet access via the McDonalds (Le Coin Gourmand) in Walmart. It was really fun connecting  and seeing only French for logging in.  We needed  to do research and figure out where we are headed next so we decided to stay over another day.  Besides, we wanted to see if tonight's parking lot show would be as good as last nights.

Not ones to stay in the RV all day, we took a break and headed out for another look around town. Part  of town is built way up on a hill so we took off to explore that and we found a Parc de Chutes, too.  That's French for waterfall park.

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We spent a quiet night back at the RV and did another tour around the parking lot just before retiring for the evening.  This time we counted 38 RVs at Campground Walmart. Not as festive as last night, but it was still a full house and a nice sunset.

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After all of our research, and our desire to seek a more English friendly environment, we decided to go on into New Brunswick and head down to the Bay of Fundy. Looks like we need to make reservations if we want to stay in the National Park, so we need to pick weekdays as the weekends are full. There are several routes we can take and things to see along the way, so stay tuned for our next installment.

Driving Directions from 32 Fox Valley Dr, Orange Park, undefined to Riviere-Du-Loup, Quebec _ MapQuest

Saturday, July 28, 2012


July 26 to 28, 2012 - Au Sous-Bois at St. Nicholas, Quebec, CA      Our Current Location

EJ found us a nice campground that was 2 exits away from the bridge that leads into downtown Quebec City.  There were a number of places but with no good way to narrow down the choices we just picked one.  Plan "B" was a truck stop or 2 Walmarts. But since it was going to be warm during the days we were here, and we would be leaving the RV all day long, and we wanted to keep Taz and Mocha cool, we were hoping Au Sous-Bois du Campeur (get the idea about how we have trouble understanding things) would have a 2-way spot for us. 2-way is electric and water.

We pulled up to the campground office and pretty much took up the whole driveway.  Inside, the first person we encountered spoke no English, kept waving a sheaf of papers at us, and saying something that we interpreted to mean "do you have a reservation?". Realizing that we weren't going to magically begin speaking French she frantically began calling for help.

Person #2 showed up to tell us that they had no openings for the 3 nights that we wanted to stay.  Then she remembered that a seasonal camper had left for a while and rented us their site.

Then person #3 showed up to guide us back to the camping site.  He spoke English quite well and was very proud of it. He said he would look out for us and if anybody took the Elements parking spot, to let him know and he would run them off.  No one took Ella's parking spot the 3 days we were there so we never got to see how well that was going to work.

Canadian campgrounds are built for smaller RVs/campers and to see how many spaces they can cram into a set area.  So, getting Big Guy into our designated space was like threading a needle, actually several needles, one right after another.  It was a great site, with a wooden deck right out side our door, and it even had 3-way service.

Based on the information we had received from the visitor center several days ago, we planned our foray into the city for the next day.

Friday, The Citadelle and Old Quebec were on our list of must sees.  The Citadelle is a star shaped stone fort, with four and  a half bastions. How do you get half a bastion you ask?  Well it's smaller than the other four and has a smaller cannon.  The Citadelle is the largest fort in North America and the road in is still only large enough for  horses. They have a light to control the flow through the entrance. The fort is currently active as it is home to the 22nd Regiment of the Canadian Forces.

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We got to see the changing of the guards at the entrance into the fort. It is interesting that a place so obviously French would keep such a British tradition.

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We signed up for a guided tour, English speaking of course, with Emma.  She was very informative and answered all questions with authority.

Like most forts this one was completed about the time the threat it was built for no longer existed. After guarding the St. Lawrence River and Quebec for years, it's main purpose now is to house soldiers, entertain tourist, and provide a part time residence for the Governor-General of Canada. According to Emma, most Canadians could not explain what the function of the Governor-General is, or why he needs a part time residence in Quebec paid for by the tax payers.

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The views from the top of the fort were pretty nice.

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They also had some beautiful landscaping.

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We next drove around Old Quebec, so named because it is the original town and it is built inside a high stone wall for protection. There are many open squares with park like settings where sidewalk performers do their acts, bands play, and choirs sing.  The streets are narrow and the sidewalks teeming with shoppers and tourists. It definitely has an old world feel about it.

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But of course all of the modern conveniences are available.

They have some of the smallest busses we have seen. I guess with the narrow streets and small spaces they work.

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It was getting late and we were tired so we decided to go back to Au Sous-Bois du Campeur (the French do have a way with words). Traffic out of town across the bridge was busy.

14th (10) We remembered a water fall that was not too far off our return path and we thought we'd treat ourselves to one more "falls" walk before we called it a day.
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That evening, we meet one of our neighbors (that spoke English!) who loaned us a great map and what was a must see while we are in Quebec. By the way, up here Quebec is pronounced "K-beck".  We developed our list of what we wanted to do tomorrow and called it a night.

For today, Saturday, we decided to spend the bulk of the day walking around Old Quebec.  Our neighbor had pointed out an easier way to get to where we wanted to go and even told us where to find parking.  After we parked, our first challenge was to climb from the lower level next to the St. Lawrence River, up to the level of Old Quebec.  We found several streets that zig zagged back and forth to ease the climb. It's also fun because all the signs are in French and we're trying to figure out what they mean. We got the important one down pat though.  The French word for bathroom is "Toilette".

We don't know how to describe it, but even though the streets and sidewalks are small and the crowds are large, some how it all works. The masses move, people don't get upset, and every where you look it's pleasing to the eye.

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On our way to Basilique-Cathedrale Norte-Dame De Quebec, a huge catholic church, we got to see a band of instrument playing young cadets performing in one of the squares.

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After the Church we walked to the Chateau de Frontenac, one of the oldest hotels in Quebec.  We noticed the hotel from The Citadelle the previous day by it's gleaming copper roofs.

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Then we continued browsing the shops and galleries along the streets, walked along the St Lawrence  and stopped to watch performers in the square.

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Next up was another set of waterfalls reported to be 35 feet higher than Niagara Falls.  They were impressive but we're betting the real thing is going to be even better (another bucket list item and planned stop on this trip).

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As we were beginning to run out of day and energy, we marked another one off the list as we drove around Isle d'Orleans.  This island is unique as the property lines are laid out so that all the farms have waterfront frontage. This method of property division is called signory. When the farms were first established on the island, there was no bridge to the mainland and each owner needed access to the river to receive and transport goods.  This island also has the right soil and climate to be a major strawberry producer.

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One of the things we were told to be on the look out for was a chocolatier which was our first stop on the island.  Naturally we had to take home a few samples.

On the opposite end of the island was a wooden tower that offered a commanding view of the river and the mainland.  And yes, we climbed all the way to the top.

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It was 9:30pm when we returned to the campground and traffic was being rerouted through the park because a band was playing on the entrance road.  Didn't we tell you camping Canadians are partiers?  The band played a variety of good ole USA music including Pink Floyd, Beach Boys, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson and more.  I guess Canadians don't have their own music?

Tomorrow, Sunday, it's time to hit the road again and get a little closer to New Brunswick.

Driving Directions from 32 Fox Valley Dr, Orange Park, to Au Sous Bois de Campeur