Across the broad St. Lawrence–a couple typical days on the road


If you miss the bridge at Levis, maybe because you are distracted by the enticements of Quebec City, you will have to cross the St. Lawrence River by ferry farther north. At Quebec City, the St. Lawrence is still a river, but soon it widens into an estuary, then it becomes a bay, and if you stay on the north shore, eventually you will end up in Labrador.

If you cross to the south shore, however, at one of  three ferry crossings, you will eventually round the Gaspé Peninsula, that blunt “nose” of Quebec that juts into the Atlantic.

Gaspe on the south; Labrador on the north

That was our plan, and since the ferry at San Siméon was the first, shortest, and cheapest crossing, that was also our destination for the night.

By now, I’m becoming adept at “guerrilla camping,” which involves sniffing out the least unpleasant and, ideally, legal spot to park for the night. I’ll get into the etiquette and intricacies of guerrilla camping in a future post, but trust me when I say that a place to camp for the night can be found almost anywhere. (Peculiarly, Iowa is one of the more difficult places to guerrilla camp, I think, because the land is all buttoned up and neatly farmed.)

San Siméon was easy.

This town, like all the small towns that line the St. Lawrence on either shore, was quaint and charming (sorry—the default adjectives again). One road through town. Good signage for the ferry (I never take good signage for granted.) Post office for stamps. Pharmacy for seasickness meds. (Try asking for that in French). Then we backtracked to a wide apron of gravel beside a truck-stop restaurant that we had targeted on the way into town. The view (of snowplow equipment) wasn’t great, but our stroll down a country road was delightful. Besides, transients can’t be choosy.

plows for serious snow. I haven’t seen the like, even in Michigan

We were hoping for clear skies for the afternoon ferry crossing, but fog rolled in. Mist, like snow, can cover a multitude of sins, scenically speaking, and so it was with San Siméon, which became a place of mystery under the roiling mist. The hour crossing was alternately rainy, sunny, and misty.

the mist rolls in

We landed at Rivière du Loup during the early afternoon “rush hour,” such as it was, and I just wanted to get out of town.

Deciding when to stop and smell the roses and when to keep rolling down the road is a perennial dilemma for me. My default is to keep going. How many fromageries (cheese shops), boulangeries (bakeries), poissoneries (fish markets), artisanats, galleries, and what-have-you have I blasted by because: a. I couldn’t stop in time, b. there was no place to pull in, c. there are too many such attractions, and d. I can’t keep spending money on cheese, wine, gifts, souvenirs, pastries, and what-have-you.

ghost ferry

This is a serious problem for me. What little roadside attraction will I think back upon, that I will never be able to visit again—and wish that I had. Any advice? How do YOU decide when to stop along the road when you travel?


But I digress. I turned my back on the pointy steeples and twisty streets of Rivière du Loup and continued north along the St. Lawrence. The immediate task was to find yet another place to camp for the night, and with any luck, a wifi hotspot nearby.

We found both at Trois Pistoles. The camping was dismal; the wifi hotspot was delightful. And Notre Dame de la Neige was

dismal camping behind the bar in Trois Pistoles

a bonus—one of the more unusual of the many churches found in every village in Quebec.

Delightful hotspot in Trois Pistoles




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  1. Guerrilla camping in the Gaspe | Adventure Blog | Travel Journal Blog | WanderingNotLost - 10 August, 2012

    […] had gotten a late start that morning, having dawdled in Trois Pistoles. We hung out at the cafe; we took the tour of Notre Dame de la Neige with a guide who was barely […]