The Gaspé Peninsula (or Gaspesie, as they call it here) officially begins at Ste. Flavie and continues north along the southern coast of the St. Lawrence as the river widens into an estuary and then becomes a bay.
By sheer chance, Julia and I spent our first night in the Gaspé on a little pull-off between the highway and the St. Lawrence in what turned out to be one of my favorite stealth camping spots.
We 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 out of high school. Between her English and my French, we were a virtual tower of Babel with incomprehension on both sides. She finally deposited us on the second floor of the massive church and retreated to the admission desk.
Then we poked around this little town that is quaint in a tumbledown sort of way.
By the time we got on the road that day, I knew we weren’t going far. I wanted to visit the Redford Gardens at Grand Metis, and I wanted a whole day in which to do it. This meant traveling to within a few kilometers of the place and finding a spot to pull off for the night. I was hoping for something better than the bar we had parked behind in Trois Pistoles.
We found our little piece of paradise just past Ste. Flavie where the Gaspe officially begins. There was even a pull-off overlooking the bay. We waited out the woman who was watching the tides for an eternity, then we grabbed our corner of the pull-off.
As the afternoon faded into evening, we discovered:
- Beach glass. Julia, as it turns out, is a Zen master at finding beach glass. (Who knew?) She strolls casually along and effortlessly vaccuums up every morsel of glass on the beach. She tried to teach me her secret. I stared at the pebbles on the beach until I got a headache and found one microscopic brown bit of glass. She’s since found beach glass elsewhere, but nothing to rival this.
- Weather. A new weather drama unfolded every few minutes. It was like adolescent weather. It was teenage weather. Sunny one minute and blowing furiously the next. Then raining. Then sunny again.
- Crazy artist family. The Gagnon family has its gallery/restaurant/auberge just down the road. The cement and wood figures that surround the family enterprise are interesting, surprising, quirky, and fun. But after touring the gallery and the outdoor work, which also includes some poetry (in French), I’m thinking that the whole she-bang is as much good business as good art. The dude has one compelling idea and plays that note to the max. More power to him, but looking was all the fun I wanted. I wasn’t tempted to buy.
Despite being parked right beside the road, the only sound I recall was the rythmic shushing of the waves. I haven’t fallen asleep to that in a long time.