Destination: Lac Temiscouata, Quebec
We woke up absolutely scorching in the car in the middle of the wal-mart parking lot.
It’s an odd thing, pulling into an empty lot in the dark of night and then waking up to hearing cars pulling in beside you, kids yelling, shopping cards rumbling around you. Sometimes we had to try to maneuver doing the bin changeover with cars parked directly beside us. We became adapted to odd looks. The moment when you open the back door of the car and crawl out, only to come face to face with someone who can see that you definitely slept in there – you have to laugh because it must seem so odd!
That day, we did the switch and then went to wal-mart to use the facilities. In the bathroom, there was a little card that said “cadeau!” and I was so excited – a present! The card had instructions to go to the photo studio, but when we did, they were closed. I was hoping we could get some glamour shots done or something – but instead I drew a little sad face on the card and stuck it between the locked doors.
Our next stop, Lac Temiscouata, was only about 2 hours from where we woke up. It was a lovely drive there, but we discovered upon arrival that it was not a national park in the tradition of the rest. This park charged $17.50 just for day entry and an additional $35 to camp. We spent a lot of time debating on whether we actually wanted to stay because of the expense, but it had been a long drive into the park so we decided to go for it. We were there early enough in the day that we could really enjoy the park amenities, and the sites were nice. In Quebec, there is a collection of parks that they refer to as national parks (sepaq) but do not fall under Parks Canada, so this really confused us a lot and actually we had to re-evaluate some of our destinations because of this. We really had wanted to take advantage of the free park entry that year, as well as keep to our theme of visiting as many national parks as possible.
We set up camp and headed straight to the beach because it was a beautiful day and you can never have enough beach time. It was fairly quiet and we got two of the Muskoka chairs. We both had our e-books and we read in our swimsuits until it was hot enough to get into the water. The water was bathwater warm because it was so shallow for so much of the lake. The water was less than knee deep until a deep drop-off that could easily have been over our heads – but it was plagued with thick water plants, so we didn’t really want to try to swim through that. We sat in the water and relaxed and washed up but most of the time we spent at the beach was in our chairs, reading.
After a few hours, we returned to our site. It was really private but in time we gained neighbours. It also was quite a walk to the bathrooms. I felt for people with young families.
We spent the rest of the afternoon completing cleaning and organizing the car and the bins. We’d gathered quite a bit of garbage and recycling along the way, so we sorted through all that as well. It felt amazing to have everything organized again. I need to stress how important this is when travelling. It is so tempting to just let it all collapse into entropy, but for your sanity, create a system and stick to it. It’s okay to adapt the system – like we had a bin that was just anything we would both need – but we ended up designating most of that bin to things we needed quick access to every day, like the camera and the file folder with the maps etc, as well as our souvenirs that we were collecting. But I would not have wanted to try to do this trip without a strategy for things – and without it, sleeping in the car would have been a much more chaotic undertaking.
It’s also really important, as we were both learning, to find the jobs you like and do them. Like, Christine liked doing the window writing, and I liked doing set-up and cooking. And she liked short spurts of city driving and I preferred long highway drives. We were really stepping into our balance by Quebec. It’s kind of like with backpacking – the first few days are brutal because your body isn’t used to the extra weight (unless you do it a lot) but by the time your hike is over, it feels so natural and much easier. It takes time to settle into any kind of journey, and often by the time you feel at ease, the journey is almost done. But here’s the beautiful thing – now you have evidence that you can settle into something as wild as roadtripping across Canada. That’s evidence of your competence and adaptability for the next big thing!
Christine used the window markers to redo the messages on our windows again. We really wanted a lot of engagement from people who saw us, but it hadn’t happened as much as we’d’ve liked. I think if we’d been more active on social media, we may have made that happened, but neither of us were really into that, and being out of range of cell towers so often put a damper on that anyway.
For dinner that night, we made mashed potatoes, and had cashews, pickles, and pickled milkweed pods, which ended up being absolutely delicious.
After dinner, we returned to the beach to watch the sunset. I missed it, though – I had to use the bathroom! Oops. Apparently, it was lovely. While we were there, we wrote in our journals and enjoyed the quiet evening. When we returned to the campsite, Christine stayed outside to look at the stars. They were beautiful that night, clear and glittering. I went into the tent to read. She saw four meteorites that night, and told me about them as they flew across the sky.