Monday, June 29, 2015

Grand Manan, A Little Bit of Paradise at Hole in the Wall Campground

Our wonderful view

I am writing this a little out of order. Since we have been without a reliable wifi signal I have fallen behind with my postings.  I'm jumping to our most recent stay because it was so profoundly beautiful and I am so excited to share it with you.  A little voice wants me to keep this gem a secret but I would love for you to enjoy it too.

Top cliff site B in Section D

Our friend Yvette had suggested Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick if we had the time and the more I read about it the more I wanted to visit. As I researched campgrounds I could see we had two choices,The Anchorage,  a provincial park or a private park called Hole in the Wall.  All it took was for me to see the campsites on the edge at Hole in the Wall and read the reviews of campers hearing the whales pass by and I was sold.

We spent sunny lazy days watching whales,seals and sea lions along with the seagulls. We both agreed the very best time was hearing the whales exhale, magical music to our ears.

Champagne to celebrate our first night

Jim was inspired daily

Who wouldn't be inspired by these views!

The road less traveled, access to our site.

This is a picture of one of the cliff edge sites.  The cliff edge sites are only rented to tent campers.  The camper occupying site 25, pictured above,  was a 75 year woman from Northwestern Australia.  She was a bundle of energy and when I first met her on the trail she reminded me of Peter Pan !  So positive and excited to be here.  She told me her story of driving en route to the Maine border through New Brunswick , when on one of her stops she locked her keys in her vehicle.  She called a locksmith and had the problem resolved. But she said it was such a blow to her self confidence, she couldn't believe it.  She's been traveling on her own for years,  but this mistake made her think that maybe she was getting too old to fool around out on the road by herself.  She said she was white knuckle driving after that, completely second guessing herself, wondering if she should just stop traveling and head home.  She said her confidence was at an all time low. So she decided to pull over in Blacks Harbour. She thought the sea air could do her good.  She saw the ferry and asked some folks where it went to and they told her to an island called Grand Manan.  She thought to herself, no time for an island,and then thought oh what the heck, what do I have to lose and stopping might do me good.  So she bought a ferry ticket and when she got off the ferry she headed straight to the Hole in the Wall campground that some people on the ferry had told her about. They put her in site 25-the absolute best tent camping site in the campground.  She told me how she woke just before sunrise and was so excited and feeling so blessed with the beautiful site and the gorgeous sunrise, that she got up on her picnic table and started dancing around in the joy of the moment.  When I spoke with her she was still wrapped in that joyful feeling of believing that she was one of the most blessed people in the world.  Serendipity brought her to her spot, she said, and she was so very grateful-it was the best thing that could have happened to her.  I left her there, feeling infused with some of her joyful spirit and I don't think I will ever forget that face,that smile, those sparkling blue eyes and that incredible spirit.

This has to be the best view from an outhouse ever !

Every time we returned to our site we felt like we were camping in the clouds.

Our dinner for our second night, the incredibly sweet and fresh organic Newfoundland Mussels, in a tomato broth with Italian Sausage and good crusty bread for dipping .

Sometimes we would sneak over to site C next door for a different view and to spot more Minke whales. The site was empty the entire time we were there.

Our last day on the cliff we decided to hike over to the Hole in the Wall.  It's a rock formation with a giant hole in the center that the tide runs through when there is high tide.  We didn't realize what a challenging hike it would be, until we spotted the ropes along the trail that could be used to hold onto as you slid down rocks or used to pull yourself up when you returned from the bottom of the trail.

It was a beautiful hike and well worth the effort and negotiation of the hair raising trail down. Our original plan was to hike down to enjoy the sunset and then hike back up.  Well, once we experienced the trail going down to the Hole in the Wall we knew it was not a trail to be taken lightly and definitely not one to attempt at dusk or after sunset. So once the sun started to slowly set we quickly set out to climb back up the trail. We definitely slept well that night.

Our final goodbye from our Minke whale friend.  They would swim by early in the morning and usually hang around and feed between 5pm and 8pm.  Always so exciting when we spotted them.

I don't believe we will ever experience a campground as isolated and beautiful as this one.  It was so very good for our souls.  Besides hiking a little and reading a little, we mostly sat on the cliff and watched nature go by. We talked about how we would never forget this experience and again how very blessed we were to experience it.

I wish all of you that feeling at least once in your lives-Happy Trails, Safe Travels and Many Magic Moments.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Cap Chat,Quebec-One of the Most Beautiful Spots on the Gaspe Peninsula

Sunset, our last night at Cap Chat

We had no idea where we were heading to when we left Rimouski and the boon docking spot along the St. Lawrence. I was using our Garmin to see what campgrounds were up ahead and came across Camping au bord de la mer in Cap Chat. When we pulled into the parking lot we were surprised that it was a large grassy field, but we knew there was electric and water, both of which we needed. 

The most pleasant surprise about this campground was the owner-Joel. I should say the new owner-we were his first customers !  Joel was born on the Gaspe Peninsula and left when he was 3 years old with his family. Eventually he and his wife ended up living in Hawaii where he was the owner of the island's first Cross Fit gym.  They both knew they wanted a more relaxed and peaceful lifestyle so they decided to return to the Gaspe when they found this campground for sale.

His family will be joining him to help manage it during the season (4 months from June -September).  If you are ever in the area-stay here-they are such good sweet people. You will not regret it.

Our first day was sunny and very windy-not unusual for this spot.  And the Gulf of St. Lawrence just took my breath away.  I keep pinching myself at how fortunate we are for the life we get to live.

The campground filled up a little bit closer to the weekend, but the peak busy season will begin in July and we wish Joel and his family much luck and success. For most of the time the campground was deserted. 

You can see the outline of the cat-yes ?  For the name Cap Chat-look closely-the cat is lying down.

Our last night here we thought it was going to storm-we had lots of thunder which sent Hailey running under the bed inside Ruby.  But it didn't last long-we could watch the rain clouds move across the sky under the huge dark blue clouds-it just made the sunset even more beautiful.

 There is something so very special about the Gaspe Peninsula.  I had no idea I would fall so in love with this area. Jim thinks it's because it reminds me so much of France and he's probably right.  But it's more than that-it feels like a sacred place.  When you are driving along the water and see the majesty of the mountains coming right down to the sea-well it's just breathtaking. And all the little villages with their unique and beautiful churches.  Surprises await around each bend.


We met Sam here at the campground-he was from Saskatchewan and he said Cap Chat reminded him of Ireland with the green rolling hills and the rocky shoreline. It's a magical every changing place-I almost felt like I was in church while taking the photos and enjoying the beautiful show the Universe was putting on for all of us.


As we wandered the beach we stumbled upon this cross posted on a small grassy hill overlooking the shoreline. We had no idea why it was there or who the person was whose name appeared on the cross. I did think,what a peaceful sweet place to be-the hills behind you and the shoreline in front of you. It's the kind of place I would like to have my ashes sprinkled-I would always be at the shoreline then-a nice reassuring thought.

When we returned to Ruby I researched Donald Delaney and discovered he was the former councilman and mayor of the village of   Cap-aux-Meules. His boat with 2 other passengers sunk off of Cap Chat in 2010. The two passengers were rescued but sadly Mr. Delaney perished in the St. Lawrence. The article that I read about him said many wonderful things about him and that he was beloved by his people. You could feel the good spirits in this area-very peaceful.

It was difficult to say goodbye to Cap Chat and her beauty and good vibes.  Who knows what awaits us around the next bend.

Safe travels and Happy Trails my friends.