I wake early enough to see an impressive sunrise over Lac Témiscouata. By the time I have pulled on my clothes, I am just a few seconds too late for the idea photograph but it is still beautiful. There is no sign of life on the campsite. We think it is 7.30am. Our Canadian-set watch says it is 7.30am. Our bodies still think it is about midday but it might actually be 8.30am as we may have crossed into another time zone (turns out it was 7.30am). Either way, it is clearly too early for the site receptionist so we have no way of paying. We are due back at this site next week and plan to pay for both nights then. We have to be careful at the start of our journey as we are only twenty miles from the US border and although we have permission to take the van to the US, we lack the necessary visas for ourselves and whilst it would be nice to put our feet on US soil to say we had been, it is not worth the risk. We drive through acrid smoke coming from a factory that is subsuming the nearby houses; I decide that this is not high on my list of places where I want to live. There are patches of thick fog as we head north through the forest. By dint of a road closure we have found our way on to the 232 and the 55 north, just where we want to be and then a second day of the 132 est along the northern shore of the Gaspé Peninsula, complete with more lovely vistas of the river.
We draw in to a petrol station for more fuel, by the end of today we will have done more than 1000 miles. In the nick of time, I spot that the headroom under the canopy is eleven foot six. This may not bode well for our allegedly twelve foot high camper van. We decide not to test the accuracy of this measurement and go on to seek fuel elsewhere. I am fascinated by the yellow school buses, which look like something out of the 1950s. When one stops, traffic in both directions has to halt. Little stops signs open out from the sides of the bus to remind you. I manage to photograph a ‘beware of the moose’ sign, one of the typical barns with a double pitched roof and a church, albeit one with only one spire. Next on the list is a fire hydrant, also very old-fashioned looking. Today’s (un-photographed) wildlife haul includes a squashed racoon and a herd of captive bison in a field. Although today there have been a few more places where you are allowed to stop, it is virtually impossible to just pull over to take pictures or look at something of interest, or at least not legally. Not that Canadian drivers seem particularly law abiding. We have been told that double yellow lines in the middle of the road mean no overtaking. You could have fooled us. Judging by the number of people who have gone sailing past us when the lines are double we would never have known.
As we near the site which, guess what, the sat-van does not recognise, we spot an information bureau. Great, we can ask for directions. Chris volunteers, despite us still being in the French-speaking part of Canada but unhelpfully it is closed. He does manage to find someone who understands not just English but Devonshire and we are sorted. This site too is totally deserted and a notice tells us that someone will be on duty at 10am, by which time we hope to be long gone. At this rate we could be in for a cheap holiday. In fact, Chris later tracks down the site owner who is very apologetic because the pitch chairs and tables have been put away for the winter. This is our cheapest site yet and our new favourite. Chris even rates the showers as passable. Up until now these have been of the wooden hut variety, nothing like we would expect in England – not that we are too bothered as the van has its own. We have a wonderful view over the St. Lawrence estuary, which is teeming with ducks. I wish I had thought to bring the binoculars, as they are just too far away to identify, even with the aid of my camera on zoom.
We wage war on the flies that are a legacy from our site two days ago. My weapon of choice is a tea-towel 3:1 to us so far. Then we walk the few yards down to the shore. Despite the noise of the ducks, this is incredibly tranquil and beautiful – just what we came to Canada for. Driftwood forms strange patterns and there are wild roses and rosehips by the shore. I dip my toe in the St. Lawrence, which is swarming with tiny baby lobsters. My only complaint is the lack of wi-fi and I am in danger of running out of things to read. I thought I had stocked my Kindle up with enough books to last six weeks. Here we are at the end of week one and I am already on the last book. I am convinced that Kindle books are shorter than ‘real’ ones.