Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gaspe: Sainte-Anne-des-Monts to Perce

Low tide in the morning at Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. A still night leaves fine lines in the sand with each gentle swell.
After Sainte-Anne, farmland disappears and the mountains come right to the edge of the sea. And it is a sea, la mer, now. The idea of a river has disappeared and here it is 50 miles to the opposite shore of Quebec. There are ferry boats connecting the shores as well as a line running down the north shore beyond the end of the road. The economy is based on fishing and in the summer a very short tourist season. There is a famous hang gliding center along this shore too. 
If you study the map you notice that for many miles the Gaspe coast runs east-northeast, then gradually flattens out to run straight east for a few miles, then begins to curve very gradually east-southeast. This is a wild coastline. Very few people live here, mostly clustered in villages in coastal coves. The full force of winter storms hits here. We can easily imagine how severe it can be. Sections of  roads are destroyed. 
No neon, no stop lights, no Wal-Marts, no chain motels.
We find plenty of fine seafood: Atlantic salmon fresh or smoked, cod, mackerel, lobster, scallops. small shrimp. Cod is totally delicious. It is not popular in the US and I hadn't had it before.
As we come into Forillon National Park, easternmost point of Gaspe, we begin to notice the birds. This raft of maybe two thousand eider ducks is in the same area two different days. Four-fifths of the raft rests; hungry ducks congregate and seem to collaborate, synchronizing diving and bobbing back to the surface. In the first ducks picture you can see the active group in the foreground where the water is riled. I think this group is constantly rotating, sated birds leaving as hungry birds join the fishing group.
Finally, by mid-afternoon, we arrive in Perce, find our motel, go for a walk and find an early supper, gourmet and feeling like a deserved reward for our miles and commitment to get to this land's end. 
We can see Ile-Bonaventure and Rocher-Perce from our room on the bay. Tomorrow: a boat ride to Ile-Bonaventure and thousands of pelagic birds, those who spend most of their lives at sea, coming ashore only to mate and nest. 

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