After sleeping like the dead following our trans-Magdalen pedalling excursion m’lady and I awoke to a gorgeous day basking down onto our spectacular campsite. Crawling out of the tent with my toothbrush, I stretched my calcifying carcass and mumbled something about it being a nice day for exploring the island. From within the tent behind me came m’lady’s voice, which I thought sounded surprisingly strong and clear considering we had just woken up.
“I told you last night. I’m never riding a bicycle again.”
So I set off by myself in search of a nearby property for sale, perhaps something with an ocean view and maybe an outbuilding where we could set up some sort of shop, like selling used bicycle parts for example. On my mission I discovered a nearby variety/liquor store and a wharf just three-and-a-half kilometres away that had several restaurants and gift shops, but no potential homesteads.
On my way back to the campsite I stopped into the variety store and bought a couple of coffees and a small bottle of Irish cream. I rode my bike extremely gently the rest of the way but I still spilled just enough of the coffees to make room for the Irish cream. Perfect.
Armed with the balm of liquorfied caffeine and such high-quality intel I was eventaully able to convince m’lady to get back on the horse – if ever so briefly – and make the ride to lunch. Along the way we cemented our compromise by stopping into the camp office and rebooking our campsite for a second night. While we were in there the lady pointed out several adventure excursions offered by the campground, including a swimming tour in and around a string of caves that are carved into the island rock a few kilometres away. I peppered her for details and quickly confirmed that there was no way in hell I was going to plunge into the turbulent, frigid Atlantic ocean and bob helplessly through a labyrinth of jagged tunnels like a cork in a tempest, much less spend $38 for the privilege. Actually, anything that requires both a lifejacket and a helmet is pretty much a no-go for me. I’d learned my lesson a few years previously at the gates of a watery death beneath Peru’s mighty Rio Urubamba, thank-you very much. I was, however, rather interested in checking out the beach where the swimming tour began, as it looked cool in the pictures.
A very lovely (and purposely relaxed) ride later we arrived at the wharf and selected one of the restaurants. We enjoyed a great lunch and even bought a few small paintings from a local artist weirdo (I mean that in the nicest of ways, of course) who puts on one-woman shows nightly in her own little theatre. Her technician was out of town so unfortunately there was to be no show that night, lest m’lady would have gone for certain.
The paintings are quite clever and unique. They are photocopies of tiny, colourful Magdalen landscapes that are lacquered into thin, sturdy frames made from repurposed lobster traps. What makes them so endearing is their shapes. Of the half-dozen or so we brought home two are tiny, maybe three inches square (one hangs just a few inches up from our kitchen floor next to our cat’s food bowl) while the others are all long and thin, like 3” x 15” or 3” x 20”. Almost all of these are wide landscapes but my favourite is the one that hangs portrait-style. It’s also a landscape but it’s an absurdly narrow one that is only a couple of inches wide. And durable? I’ll say. I can’t imagine a better souvenir for someone who is forced to stuff everything into a bicycle pannier bag.
After our shopabout we took a scenic bike path back to the campground and soon set out again to find that beach where the caves were. We cycled to the area and walked along a rock line that the lady in the camp office had described and we found it! An enormous, barren beach flanked with amazing caves and endless rock formations carved into the squat cliffs on either side. The sandy crescent was easily a kilometre long and it was all ours. While m’lady dipped her feet into the sea and busied herself taking pictures I walked all the way to the far end of the beach and ogled as waves crashed into the very caves that the crazy tourists swim up to. Gosh, it was all so spectacular.
Eventually we returned to our bikes and made our way back to our campsite for good. We stopped for groceries and drink on the way and cooked up a batch of overly-delicious hot dogs upon our return. A couple from Chicoutimi had pitched their tent next door so I fished a bottle of special-occasion tequila out of my pannier and the four of us shared it until it was gone.
With m’lady tucked into her sleeping bag for the night and a tantalizing full moon lighting the way I took a well-drunken stroll through the woods for a late-nite look-see at the ocean. It was beautiful, as everything in Les Îles de la Madeleine seems to be, and I managed to not drown myself or anything.
And that, my friends, was that. Here are the stats:
Average speed: 15.1
Total trip distance: 97.33
Top speed: 39.5