We just put 5000 miles on my new car by driving from middle Georgia to the end of the Gaspe peninsula in Quebec and back. We liked the Gaspe but were also enjoyed New Brunswick and the Blue Ridge and Skyline Parkway drives.
Deciding to Drive to the Gaspe
One thing or another kept us at home this summer. After we got back from our beach trip, we realized that we had less than a month before our fall baby-sitting duties were approaching. We decided to take an epic unplanned driving and camping trip to the Gaspe Peninsula in eastern Quebec with our 4-year old grandson.
We could have easily flown into several Canadian cities and rented a car. However, we wanted to test our new camping rig under strenuous conditions. I now require a comfy mattress to sleep on the ground, and it would have been hard to bring 3-inch foam mattresses on the plane! We also took a huge cooler so that we could keep fresh ingredients to make meals, and we had a separate pans and dishes kitchen locker.
We also planned to make several stops on our way up and back. We wanted to see our grandson in Montreal, and we wanted to visit B.’s 95 year-old father.
I’m not going to do a trip report series, but I do want to show my family and friends some photos. I will do just a few blog posts on this trip. The drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive turned out to be surprisingly beautiful and interesting. I’ll upload some pictures of the scenic Gaspe peninsula and talk a little bit about a quick sojourn through New Brunswick–land of the peat bogs!
We took the trip without doing research and without guidebooks. We stayed in a different place every night, and drove 5000 miles in three weeks. I think we have seen the best of the Gaspe, but we regretfully blew by some really interesting spots. For example, we were in New Brunswick, and didn’t see the Bay of Fundy!
We stayed in campgrounds most nights and paid from $8-$30 for basic tent sites. The low-end was for federal campsites (using our senior passes–more on this later) and the high-end was for state and provincial park campgrounds. Private campgrounds in Canada were the same price or less than the national and provincial parks, were easier to find, and often had swimming pools and playgrounds. These came in handy for entertaining our 4-year-old grandson.
We ate in restaurants for three meals and cooked all other meals ourselves. We spent about $125 in grocery stores every two or three days. This included beer, wine, and plenty of fresh seafood in the Gaspe peninsula. We do not skimp on good food if it is available! Food, beer, and wine cost about 50% more in Canada than in the US.
We ended up spending about every third night in hotels. We didn’t book our hotels ahead of time. If it was raining in the late afternoon, we ditched the idea of pitching our tent in the rain and found a modest hotel. Cheap hotels in Canada all seem to charge around 92 Canadian (about US $70). Quebec charges about 15% tax on everything which increases traveling costs substantially.
I have been putting all my spend on my Bank of America Travel Rewards card. I became a Platinum Honors member after transferring my IRA over to Merrill Edge. This status gives me 2.6% back on all spend that I can redeem for travel expenses. I’ve been wiping out the hotel and camping costs with statement credits on my BOA TR card.
If I had known how much driving we would be doing, I would not have chosen this specific trip. However, I was able to knock one of my destinations–the Gaspe– off of my bucket list. We stumbled across some new locations that we hadn’t visited before. The New Brunswick coast was a pleasant surprise. We’ve been driving back and forth from the Northeast for years, but never had time to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive are destinations unto themselves, I’m so glad we decided to take the extra time to enjoy them.
My next blog post will be about our time on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive.