We make another very early start as today is the longest leg of our tour. So before 7am we are heading east on the 132 again and rounding the Gaspé Peninsula. More quieter roads and spectacular scenery, in some ways similar to the south-west peninsula, if you ignore the pine trees. The drawback of heading east at this time of day is that you can’t see anything because the sun is in your eyes; fortunately there are not many fellow travellers. Yesterday and today we have had hills, this makes a change from the pretty flat terrain of earlier in the week. I give our noble driver ten out of ten for ignoring the sat-nav who wants us to turn left on an unmade road. At some point the 132 est, that has been our friend for the best part of three days, becomes the 132 oest, as we drive along the north bank of the River Patapedia (I kid you not). We encounter yet more Travaux (roadworks to you English speakers). There are a number of gentlemen at a fairly significant road junction waving flags in a manner that would put any self respecting majorettes to shame. This is obviously to indicate which traffic should be moving but the significance of the random waving is lost on us. Some of the roadworks seem to involve injecting tar into cracks and then unrolling what looks like toilet paper over the top – each to their own.
More fire hydrants, which in Newcastle are painted to look like Disney characters, also notable are all the overhead electric wires. We have noticed that motor cyclists rarely come alone and that they favour massive Harley Davidson bikes or trikes. We are now in our third Canadian province, New Brunswick and I can confirm that our van is not twelve feet high, as previously reported, nor indeed eleven feet eight inches high. This is just as well. There really was no warning of that low bridge. We are exhorted to beware of the cheverils but this is beyond Google translate – I am sure it doesn’t mean low bridge though.
Tonight’s site, after over three hundred miles driving, is at Bathurst Marina. The site itself is not much more than a car park but the adjacent beach is attractive and we are able to download the many emails that have been piling up and restock the Kindle. Canadians consider this to be off season and our neighbours on the site obviously think we are a bit odd to be travelling at this time of year, despite the truly wonderful weather.
We do not have so far to go today and have carelessly lost an hour by crossing into a new time zone, so a later start. We being with a quick walk round the very attractive Youghall Beach and then set off southwards across several rivers on the 8 and 11. These are slightly less awesome than our old friend the 132 but we knew that we couldn’t carry on with such beautiful scenery for ever. Here we have plenty of forest but even fewer opportunities to pull over than previously. Do Canadians never stop on their car journeys? We have sussed that the occasional church does sometimes have a parking area that we can pause in and we make use of this. We are due to stop on a site close to the bridge to Prince Edward Island. We have emailed ahead and received a reply that informs us that we have no need to book. What they neglected to tell us was that we didn’t need to book because they were closed for the winter. The Canadian response to tourism is similar to that in England – everything shuts for the winter, although our ‘winter’ is shorter than theirs. The attitude is totally different in New Zealand and Australia where tourist attractions/information centres and so on are open 364 days a year (they do have Christmas Day off). The Canadians, like us, seem to play at tourism. I have to say that Scotland are getting their act together and in general are better than England at providing for visitors.
We decide to press on for the additional fifty miles to tomorrow’s site on Prince Edward Island (province four) and hope that they are a) open and b) have room. We have paid a deposit for this site so they had better be. The sat-nav is telling us it is 284km away. We know it isn’t. It seems that the sat-nav is unaware of the Confederation Bridge and wants us to go by ferry via Pictou. I then worry that for some reason we won’t be allowed to go across the bridge. We find a one pump petrol station in the middle of nowhere, where petrol is nonetheless a reasonable price and check with the owner who appears to be a close relation of the Clampits. It seems we are fine to cross but there is a toll payable when we want to escape.
Confederation Bridge is the longest in the world, at just short of 13km. It is also quite narrow, quite high and there is a fiendish crosswind. I shut my eyes for a lot of it. It has been there since 1997, so no idea when the sat-nav didn’t want us to use it. Once on PEI things are more familiar. There are flowers, shops that look like they are open and places to park! We find the site, which has plenty of facilities and are allocated our premium pitch within yards of the beach. We go for a stroll along the ‘sand’ which is more like red mud and therefore has little sandcastle potential. There are thousands of mussel shells and three small boats in the bay, who seem to be catching mussels and winkles. Chris chats to some of our fellow campers, whose trailers really are officially bigger than my house, ‘oh, this is just a small one’. No, really, it isn’t, you should see our caravan back home.