Following our five day stay on Prince Edward Island we headed west, crossing the 8 mile long Confederation Bridge into New Brunswick. During our route planning for this leg of the journey we noted that it was a shorter distance to cut through Maine, then back into Canada in Quebec, but a shorter time to take stay in Canada and go over the top of Maine. Considering the added ordeal of two border crossings for the former option, we opted for the latter.
I mentioned at the bottom of our last post that PEI marked the end of the affordable portion of our Canadian travels. This references the somewhat more expensive costs we experienced near Quebec City, but primarily reflects the big chunk of change we dropped on gas for the 1,360 mile trek to the US border in Sault Ste Marie. Along the way the importance or researching gas prices reemerged as an key part of the planning process. Though price per liter seemed relatively consistent in Nova Scotia and PEI, we saw a huge variation between the conveniently located places near Quebec City versus what we could find in certain parts of Ontario. In short: Gas Buddy allowed us to save 60 cents per gallon on one of our fill ups, and that with no added mileage!
Rosemarie’s new favorite store, but it’s only in Canada, sadly.
Now, before I get to our first stop, I have a question for you Canadians, particularly those from New Brunswick. You see, shortly after crossing into that province we spotted a buck naked man on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway. Yes, there was a car pulled over to the side, so I am assuming an urgent call of nature. But he was standing maybe 20 feet from the shoulder, in full view, facing the road, not merely with pants pulled down but with no pants or shirt at all, carrying on a conversation with someone in the car. OK, one either crazy or proud person, got it.
And then it happened again. A women this time, in the act of relieving herself, but having made no effort at privacy. Pants down, so far from her car that it offered no cover, and having intentionally avoided going behind nearby bushes. An older woman was holding a shirt up ostensibly to provide some privacy, but she was at least five feet away and thus doing nothing of value. The woman wasn’t even squatted down, but was, rather, in a very slight crouch, naked rear pointed towards the road, and if it is not clear, this means pointed up hill with all that gravity and fluid dynamics implies in such a situation. So the question: is this some Canadian thing? Public roadside nudity while urinating? Or did we just get “lucky?”
Anyhoo, our first stop after PEI was Mactaquac Provincial Park. A nice place on the St John River with large, grassy sites. It is a popular venue on weekends; we were limited to a two day, Wednesday-Thursday stay, so plan accordingly. We did little but relax and plan while we were there due to sporadic rain on day two, but it was a nice place in the “state park style” we prefer, and at $24.50 USD a night all in, was well priced. We even sold a couple of necklaces to some curious kids, one of which even haggled us down, which meant we had to honor the same rate to his friend.
Big grassy site at Mactaquac Provincial Park.
Recognizing that the monthly budget would soon be blown, we attempted a bit of financial damage control with an overnight stop at a Walmart roughly half way to our next actual destination. All Stay has a “Walmart Feature” which makes it easy to find not only Walmart Supercenters but other big box chains, such as K-Mart and Cabela’s, that also allow overnight stays on the outskirts of their parking lots. This particular Walmart Supercenter in Edmunston, New Brunswick was memorable for how many RVers joined us. At last count there were 18 overnight rigs, and I heard a couple more pull in after dark. I have never seen so many making use of the free Walmart camping.
Terrible picture, but it shows less than half the rigs that ended up staying the night.
The next morning it was into Quebec and a two day stay on the outskirts of historic Quebec City. Our traditional cross-referencing of Passport America, All Stays, and RV Park Reviews, with judicious use of Trip Advisor as well, revealed a couple of interesting things: A great many PA participating parks have much of the peak summer tourist season blacked out for their 50% discount rate, and that most of the parks near Quebec City are significantly more expensive than what we had experienced in Canada to date.
We found the reasonably well reviewed Camping La Relache to meet our needs. Located across the St Lawrence River and a quick 20 minute drive to the historic district, we secured a 2-way (power and water only) pull through site for about $46 USD a night, all in. Dont be distracted by how it looks from the road (a bit seedy to be honest) once you pass through the RV long term storage area in the front it becomes much nicer, and arranging things in such a matter really cut down on the road noise. It was a quite little park with modest facilities that suited our needs.
Our site at Camping La Relache.
The draw for this region is Quebec City, particularly the Old Town section. Dating back to the 1600’s, it is a remarkable place with beautiful restored buildings, outdoor cafes, boutique shops, art galleries, and wonderful pedestrian-only alleys. Plentiful food options, an occasional street musician, and a generally pleasant environment make for a great place to spend at a day or a week.
It also has one of the nicest farmers markets we have ever seen. A large C-shaped indoor facility had dozens of fresh produce vendors, plenty of ready to eat delicous looking food options, and an assortment of art and craft booths as well. We enjoyed what we were told is one of the few foods distinct to Quebec (as opposed to being French derived): Fried Parmesan Cheese, or in this particular case, Fondue parmesan aux trois fromages. Good lord were they good.
We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon down town. Parking was pretty easy and not absurdly priced (about $2 US per hour) and it is a great place for pedestrian tourists. Which, I must admit, there were a lot of, probably the only down side to the place. I suspect taht if you are longing for a French vacation but need to keep it a bit more affordable, Quebec City would be a good option.
Ongoing Canadian Lesson Learned:
- Research gas prices: don’t be fooled by consistency in one region, we found a huge disparity between the conveniently positioned stations near Quebec City and a few equally accessible stations in New Brunswick and Ontario: 60 cents per gallon savings.
- Naked people line portions of the Trans-Canadian Highway in New Brunswick.
- We found it helpful to convert our rig’s Miles Per Gallon to Kilometers Per Liter for planning purposes.