Destination: wal-mart parking lot, Rivière-du-loup, Quebec
I woke up early in our site at Lac-a-la-peche in La Mauricie National Park and sat on the stairs leading to the water. I took time to meditate and enjoy the sun. It was a lovely clear blue day, and the lake was so quiet, looking out over the soft hills across the water. I knew myself well enough to know that I had to make sure to take time for myself on this trip. I don’t normally spend so much time with another person, and indeed this was likely the longest stretch of time I’d spent with my sister since our childhood, and even then we’d be broke up by school and friends visits. There likely isn’t another person I could have spent that much time with without losing my mind, so I’m certainly glad it was her, but as a rather solitary person and an introvert, I knew I needed to recharge myself. And sitting with my feet in the cool water and watching the morning mist rise over the lake was just what I needed to get grounded and step back into myself. We had been moving so much – driving so far in such a short period of time. The stillness of the moment centred me.
Eventually I returned to the tent and Christine was waking up. We went for a morning swim in our underwear, and I floated on my back and looked up at the underside of the trees hanging over the water. The lake was still and I could float without worrying about current carrying me too far from shore. Once in the water, I didn’t want to leave. It was brisk but I can, for some reason, tolerate cold water really well – just not cold air. The lake was so peaceful. It reminded me about what this trip had begun as. In my initial itinerary, before we shaved it from 60 days to 45, we had several backpacking trips included. Unfortunately, they were the first thing to get cut when we worked out the budget and timeline. This was my passion – being deep in the woods and alone, the only sounds and smells are completely natural. No driving, no ordering fast food. Just immersion in the space I feel most myself.
We let the sun dry us off since we hadn’t anticipated a swim and didn’t have towels. I loved the moment of standing on the little stairs, basking in the sun like mermaids. When dry enough, we made some food and were just packing up when two canoeists came onto our site. It was a straight couple, both having a cracked beer – yep, first thing in the morning. Was this a Quebec thing or a canoeist thing, I wonder? We had a very lively conversation before deciding it was time to get on the trail.
On our way back through, there was a side trail to Parker Chutes, and we tucked our packs away in the woods and went down the side trail. It was beautiful, a good sized rushing waterfall. We took some lovely photos and enjoyed the white noise, letting my mind go blank.
Back on the trail with our packs, it seemed to last forever. We saw a lot of other people, which was fun. We practised our ‘bonjour!’ and I think we nailed it by the end of the hike. Back at the car, we stretched out and packed up, and Christine did all the driving.
Our first stop was at the best poutine in Quebec (we know because we looked it up!). Micheline’s! Oh my goodness it was too good, and the amount of food you get was outrageous. I also never thought I’d arrive at place where I felt like there were too many cheese curds, but even if I ate one with every fry, I had some left over! I happily shared with my sister.
It was a nice drive to our destination. We stopped a few times for gas, snacks, and bathrooms, but spent most of the afternoon on the road. We were pretty sore from the hike and then forcing ourselves into the cramped car for hours, but such is life on the road. The roads didn’t feel as wild as they had when I’d been driving, but I’m not sure that’s entirely because the traffic or drivers had gotten better. Sometimes it’s nice to just passenge.
We set the gps for Rivière-du-loup, and when we got there, we realized we’d arrived in the middle of the town, not the wal-mart. I had done this a few times and I think my sister was starting to get annoyed because when all you want to get out from behind the steering wheel, to have to navigate back through a town to find a wal-mart is, I guess, a little annoying. But Christine was a trooper and we carried on to our actual destination, navigating through one-way streets and winding side roads.
Finally we pulled into RV village. It was the most RVs we had seen to date! There must have about more than forty. It was a true village. We got settled in fairly early for being in a parking lot, and we quickly moved our gear into the front seats of the car, a chore at which we’d become completely adept. It became a challenge to do it better every time, but by this time we’d really figured out the perfect fit for all our things, which gave us the most space in the back, where we slept on top of the tucked away seats. Tomorrow we are back in a park, only about 1.5 hours away. We’re looking forward to doing some hiking on an actual trail, as well as a nice campsite to get properly set up. We hadn’t car camped in a week or so, and we really needed to organize the car and get our bins straightened up.
The parking lot was a little noisy but calmed down soon enough, and we wrote in our respective journals before getting to sleep.