44 Quebec & Maritimes


Furthest East in North America

Canada was much more expensive than the U.S and we were glad that we had stocked up on fuel, food and liquid refreshments.

The changing of the guard on Parliament hill in Ottawa, Ontario was a bit of British pomp and then in the Province of Quebec we enjoyed the French culture, especially the cuisine.

The Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum, was built near Ottawa in 1959-61 as a subterranean place of safety in case of nuclear war. The 4 levels of thick steel and concrete has a blast tunnel, decontamination area, ministerial offices, federal warning centre, and a Bank of Canada vault (to prevent the gold supply from being radioactive afterwards!).

In Montreal we spread out in the lovely home of good friends. The temperatures were high and the pool a welcome refuge. They showed us the historic Lachine canal of the fur-trade era as well as the tower and grounds of the 1976 Olympics.

Quebec City is perched on a cliff within fortified walls overlooking the St Lawrence River. We took a tour of the grand old hotel Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac. On level 3, the chef has a garden and hives to supply the kitchen with fresh herbs and honey. We had dinner and celebrated the arrival of a new grand daughter, Jana Leoné Olivier. (To Ingrid and Gerhard). We followed the road right around the Gaspe Peninsula. Tiny villages, punctuated by silvery church spires, crouch around coves. Each little community has a picturesque picnic area for travellers to stop at.

We entered New Brunswick on a balmy Sunday. Children were frolicking in water sprays. There was a band playing and couples were dancing on the banks of the Salmon river. It was difficult to imagine the same area in winter under 3m of snow.

“Lobster Season”-signs were up. For lunch we had to stop for a Big Mac…McLobster!

The 13km Confederation Bridge took us to Prince Edward Island. We noticed red earth peeking out from under corn and potato plants; culminating in sienna-colored cliffs and golden beaches..

The book “Anne of Green Gables” portrays 19th Century farm life and the landscape around Cavendish. The author Lucy Maud Montgomery grew up and wrote there. The Victorian farmhouse which inspired her writing is still standing.

From Nova Scotia to Newfoundland was a 6-hour ferry journey. We landed in the night. Road signs warned: “Slow down for moose!” As everywhere in the Maritimes, it was easy to find wild camping. A coyote sauntered through our chosen spot.

We stopped at Gander Airport, where during the 9-11 attacks, 47 planes had been commanded to land. A town of 10 000 people had to take care of 7000 crew and passengers.

St John’s on NFL’s east coast was founded in 1528. Above the strategic harbour, we watched the re-enacting of a battle between British and French regiments. Soldiers in period costume marched, then fired muskets and cannons.

There, in 1901, the Italian inventor, Guillermo Marconi, received the first wireless transatlantic message.

Dipli, however, wanted to be at the “furthest East” in North America. Cape Spear is the Eastern most point and lies on a scenic peninsula. By the direct route, it is 10 000km from “furthest West by road” at Anchor Point in Alaska, where Dipli had been in 2008; but we did it in 37 000km.

Cape Spear. "The most Eastern point in North America"

The drive back to the ferry was 900 km. There were continuous forests with lakes and rivers. Side trips were to linked islands with bays and pretty fishing harbours. A few vendors had rare Cloudberries for sale. The fruit resembles a yellow raspberry and tastes like apricot.

Nova Scotia

Alexander Graham Bell was a teacher to the deaf and he married a pupil of his. Mabel was an inspiration and participant in his research. In Baddeck they had bought a peninsula and there he schemed and experimented. He designed the tetrahedron and hydrofoil and invented the telephone (the patent awarded to him in 1876.)

It was time for a maintenance stop. The seats were out; the engine compartment and holds were open and tools spread out. To escape from the horseflies, Leone had to perch in a rear corner of the camper, just below the ceiling. TLC for Dipli: Fitted brake & clutch master cylinder kits on the RHD side (in anticipation of the UK); did 10 000 km service (since new engine). RH rear side shaft needed replacement after 140 000 km (since Mossman, Australia) but LH was badly worn after only 36 000 km (since Tok, Alaska)….?

We loved Cape Breton Island, NS with its vast central lakes. We would have stayed longer but radio warnings about approaching Hurricane Irene, sent us away from the coast. At a Walmart parking lot we (and 7 other motorhomes) waited out the storm. Strong winds rocked Dipli throughout the night and the next morning.

A member of the “Maritimes Organization of Rover Enthusiasts” invited us to the annual Labour Day long weekend on a farm near Wolfville, Nova Scotia. There were 20 Land Rover vehicles of all vintages. The challenging drives were through brooks on muddy tracks in forests. A steep rocky ascent led to a picnic on a beach. Meals were provided and were of traditional Nova Scotian fare.

The highest tides in the world (up to 15,8m) are recorded on the Bay of Fundy. We were on a beach near Parrsboro and at low tide could walk to the lighthouse on the other side of the bay. At high tide the sea almost touched the base of the lighthouse on the hill.

At Truro we watched how the high tide came in behind a vertical wave, “the tidal bore”.

The rugged Atlantic coastline of NS has beaches and charming fishing villages, serving delectable clam chowder. We parked at the pretty bay of Chester. We were still considering whether we would bother to contact friends of friends who live there, when, can you believe it!, they happened to come shopping, and spotted Dipli!

They fetched us later and took us by boat to their idyllic house on an island. We were spoilt with lobster and fresh vegetables from their garden.

Dipli was to be shipped from Halifax to Liverpool, UK. The booking had been made and freight paid for on the internet but the Forwarding Agent had to be paid and provided with the paperwork. The undercarriage had to be sort of clean. Before loading a certificate had to show that the propane cylinders are empty and had been flushed with nitrogen.

Shipping costs are calculated by cubic meter. We were irritated when the agent turned up with a short tape-measure marked in inches! (And Canada is supposed to be metric.) Not surprisingly, he got the volume wrong!

The cheapest fare from Canada to the UK is with Iceland Air. While Dipli was at sea, we spent a week in Iceland; touring by hired car. In mid September the fields were still green but families on horseback were herding ponies and sheep to their winter shelter.

People live next to active volcanoes where there is evidence of past eruptions; lava, ash, spewed boulders, and flood- damage. We saw glaciers, spouting hot water geysers, bubbling mud pools, gas vents and a geothermal Power Station. At a volcano show we were astounded to witness how close to erupting volcanoes, vulcanologist-photographers fly, drive and walk! Every village has a hot pool but the ultimate one is The Blue Lagoon.

Dipli arrived at Liverpool docks. We had to wait while 2 customs officials searched 1½ hours (for drugs). At the caravan storage site in Bedford we had 3 days, where we could sort and pack. Jan changed the steering from left-hand to right-hand drive. On 1st October 2011 we flew back to South Africa (for 6 months).

This journey up to October 2011:

Time on the road (excluding home visits): 6 years, 4months

Kilometres driven: 258 000 Countries visited: 88 (with Dipli). US States: 49

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