20.2 mi / 9.8 mph / 638 ft. climbing
Home: Parc de Gros-Cap Campground
A good sleep with a slightly-slower than normal morning, due to our totally-worth-it extra imbibing with our hosts last night. They came out to see us on our way, and I remain amazed at the open hearts and homes people hold out for these two strange strangers.
Route 2 had a good combination of good shoulder and light traffic as we headed east toward Souris and the ferry to the Magdalen Islands. We had totally forgotten that one of the interest-points starred on Rett’s Google Map that had brought us to this northeast corner of PEI was Myriad View Distillery. We were about to pass it, it was surprisingly open, but did we have time to stop and still make our ferry? Sure, if we’re quick about it! It would have been nicer to hang out and chat a bit more with the female owner/distiller, but we will get to spend time later with 375ml of her whiskey.
We still made it to the ferry in time, though it was a bit of a pain at the entrance booth, since the stupid online reservation system had only allowed us to book one bicycle. So we needed to make a new payment for the second bike, but luckily the workers were helpful and understanding.
The Magdalen Islands are difficult to get to. They are a small constellation of large stones in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, connected to each other by wisps of beach, but unconnected to anything else. They’re unexpectedly part of Quebec, despite the fact that there is less sea to cross if you set sail from the provinces of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and maybe even New Brunswick. The ferry from Prince Edward Island takes 5+ hours, longer than any ferry we’ve ever taken. One idea regarding unspoiled, uncrowded places that we learned in Baja was that, as people without timelines, we have the ability to go to areas that require a lot of time to get to, and these islands qualify as such a place.
Another advantage we had was our bicycles. There is enough demand during peak season that it’s difficult to get a ferry reservation if you have a vehicle. So most bookings are made far in advance. But the bicycles gave us the last-minute flexibility to decide to go only when the weather forecast showed that it would be favorable for us.
I was momentarily frightened when, after climbing the many flights up to the passenger decks, to see that the electrical outlets (that we were planning to use to keep our devices topped up in preparation for three nights of camping) were European-style. I thought “shit, does Quebec, in its Frenchiness, use European plugs?! I don’t have any adapters, and if both the boat and the campground are like this, we’re screwed!” But no, you goof, we’ve been in Quebec before, and they have normal plugs. And so does this boat, at least in places where they have adapter power-strips plugged in to the Euro outlets. I guess it just must be a European-origin boat!
We ate our packed lunches in the mostly-empty forward seating area where we’d set up, but then got a relatively-fancy dinner (mussels for Rett, spaghetti for me) from the cafeteria-style restaurant on board. I was expecting the Magdalens to be basically smaller versions of PEI, but could tell well before we docked that their rocky, mounded, treeless forms are really something quite different. On the arrival end we also had to (got to) do quite a tour of the coastline to reach the central harbor guarded by the outlying islands. Everyone was definitely on deck or standing to look out the windows as we approached.
The campground where we were able to book three nights was just a few miles from the dock, and luckily the boat got in a bit earlier than expected so we wouldn’t need to be racing the dark. Riding near sunset past the colorfully-painted houses scattered on their large plots was an exciting change-of-pace; it’s a time I’ve always really enjoyed riding, but with Rett’s preference to get settled into camp as early as possible, it rarely happens.
As usual, we’d gotten priority disembarkation with the bicycles, but then during the ride we quickly got passed by most of the cars, so then we ended near the end of a long line to check in at the campground (with one ferry arrival per day, this incredibly-concentrated campground arrival queue must be the norm). So, our early-arrival was cancelled-out, and we ended up setting up the tent (on its wooden platform, only the second time we’ve done that) in the post-sunset twilight. But it worked out well, and we settled into a beautiful windless, mosquito-free night in new beautiful place.