July 15, 2017, 62.4 miles
Camping Cote Surprise, Perce, Gaspe, Quebec
What a treat the day was…we only traveled 62.4 miles!! We didn’t realize how tiring it would be to travel every other day with only one/two days to explore and see as much as we can along the way. Taking pictures thru the windshield leaves little to be desired….I delete many due to the window bugs or glare.
The morning started off nice and slow as Will, our wagon master, fearless leader, had coffee and donuts for us while we had a morning briefing about out trip to Perce. Also advising us the times to leave the campground, 11:30 and to please not arrive at the next campground until 1:30.
The drive to Perce was an easy relaxing trip and so very scenic along the St Lawrence coast. Going over the last hill down into the town of Perce was breathtaking, looking down at Perce Rock jutting out of the lake high into the sky, surrounded by blue, blue water. The rock is a huge sheer rock formation sitting in the gulf of St Lawrence river at the very tip of Gaspe Peninsula.
It is one of the world’s largest arches over water. The formation is 1420 feet in length and over 300 feet in width. The arch is large enough that a small boat could pass through during low tide, hence, the name Perce Rock.
A little further out is another island, which is The Parc national del I’lle-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Perce. The importance of this parc is the nesting site for several species of seabirds. Some 200,000 seabirds, including 110,000 Northern Gannets, make I’lle Bonaventure the most accessible bird watching site. The Northern Gannets have been studies for the las few years to supply information about the breeding of Gannets.
We all drove our own cars into town the first night to walk around town and explore the stores. We had dinner with Steve and Sharon overlooking the river, it was nice to sit and get to know each other better. The guys had the buffett, while Sharon and I ordered off the menu. The food was ok, but the building friendship was priceless.
The next day the group met in town to watch a movie about the island and the many sea birds that inhabit the island. We all then loaded up on a ferry boat for a 15 min ride around the Perce Rock and over to the National park. There were 7 of us that decided we didn’t want to miss out on anything so we all went on the hike out to the breeding grounds of the Gannets.
Deciding on the easy trail out to view the birds and taking the harder trail back to the boat, turned out to be 6.5 miles. The trail out was pretty flat with a slight incline going out, coming back was downhill, lots of stairs and boardwalks with a view of the shoreline and thru the forest with wonderful shade as the sun was rather hot.
As we were heading the last part of the walk the clouds were forming, we could see that the rain was headed our way. There were some abandoned houses along the way back that we just had to explore but as we looked at the clock it was 1:45 and the boat was leaving at 2:00 the next boat wasn’t until 3:00 so we took off, hoping to make it…we did just in the nick of time.
We were so surprised when we got out to the breeding grounds, such an amazing sight to see, thousands of Gannets flying or preening each other, some moms were sitting with their chicks, there were moms that were feeding their babies, there was one mom even laying on an egg. The Gannets were all sitting on their nests and pointing in the same direction.
Gannets are identifiable by their bright white plumage, long neck and beak, and their black wing tips. They have a 6.6 ft wingspan. Gannets can dive from a height of 98 ft with speeds of 62 mph as they strike the water, enabling them to catch fish much deeper than most airborne birds. They lay one blue egg per season, keeping the egg warm by using their webbed feet.
A Gannet has a lifespan of up to 35 years, they are fiercely territorial and very aggressive to neighbors even their mates. The sight and smell of all those birds burned the nose, the flies and knats were almost unbearable.
After our awesome trip watching the birds, once we got back to town we made a mad dash for the ice cream store…vanilla dipped in chocolate…yumm!!
Our next day off we were heading on our marvelous adventure to Caraquuet, New Brunswick, which was going to be a grueling 258.5 miles. So hang with us and read about our next adventure! We are leaving on a 16 hour ferry trip from Sydney, NS for the month of August to New Foundland and Labradore and have been told there will be limited phone and internet service. I will post more when we get back. Thanks for hanging in there with us.