M’lady and I woke up to another stunning day in the Maggies. We pulled back the tent flap and started our day with campstove coffees and hot cereals. After our sun-kissed breakfast we stretched out on the picnic table, stared up at the clear blue sky and formulated a plan. We decided to try cycling from our spot on the farthest end of the island chain all the way back to Havre aux Maison Island, where the next nearest campground was. From there it’s only about a dozen kilometres to the ferry terminal in Cap aux Meules. An essential part of the plan was to ride nice and easy and to take mandatory 45-minute breaks every fifteen kilometres whether we felt we needed it or not. The wind was still blowing north – the same way it had been blowing since we’d arrived on the Magdalen Islands – so we figured it would be against us for most of the day.
And…break! With a clap of the hands we roused ourselves and silently selected chores, packing, zipping, cleaning, and strapping everything in sight. We were on our bikes and ready to head out by 10:30am. The first seven or eight kilometres saw us travelling north so with a brisk wind at our backs it was a pretty sweet start to the journey.
We pulled over at a wildlife reserve and enjoyed a short walk down to the wide, gorgeous beach, stopping along the way to pick a handful of fresh blueberries. This was where huddles of walri* would bask shoulder-to-shoulder in the not-so-long-ago, in the heady times before they were slaughtered into oblivion by greedy European blubber-hunters who just didn’t know when to let up. Any walrus that survived the onslaught managed to put the islands in their rear-view mirror by 1799, the last time one of the majestic sea-cows was ever spotted in the Maggies. Sigh. It was a nice spot though.
(I just can’t imagine what an amazing, awesome sight it would have been to see that vast beach filled with those giant creatures. And there’s absolutely no reason why it isn’t, except that certain long-dead rich people pined to be richer.)
Just past the park the road hooked around and pointed us south, straight into the wind, which was quite ferocious. Sticking with the plan, we took our first scheduled break despite having stopped already at No-Walrus Beach. And what do you know, pretty much exactly at our fifteen-kilometre mark was an info/interpretation center. What luck! Or was it?
The info was all about the island we had just left so all of that was moot, and the interpretation was an overview of a neighbouring salt mine that didn’t seem very interesting to us. No matter, I figured we could just sit there and rest.
The lady who was manning the booth was a real go-getter; she simply would not leave us be. In fact, she insisted on giving us her entire spiel, which took forever. It was tiring, annoying, amusing and informative all at the same time, kinda like high school. Get this: the island system itself was created out of salt. 300 million years ago these salt deposits built up near the equator before migrating north and settling here. Layers of silt eventually built up, increasing both the pressure and the temperature of the salt and causing the deposit to expand upwards into a huge dome. Eventually the salt rose high enough to poke the accumulated silt above the water and voila, les Îles de la Madeleine were born. Nowadays the province has doozers stationed miles underground and undersea doing their best to get all that salt up to the surface where they can eat it, spread it on their roads, and sell it. I hope the dome holds up.
Well rested and overly informed we finally set off again, stopping another fifteen kilometres later to cook some beans and wieners on the beach. Our plan was definitely working. The relatively relaxed pace we were setting combined with an abundance of fuel (read: food) kept m’lady in happier times for the ride despite the rude wind that continually impeded us. When we arrived at the Havre aux Maisons campground our spirits were high and we felt good. And what’s more, our campsite was right next to the mini-putt! I do love me some mini-putt. It makes me feel like a giant, especially when they have windmills and things like that.
Anyway, I excitedly dumped the gear off my bike and rode to the nearest depanneur for celebratory beers for the two of us. M’lady made some dinner and we settled in to celebrate.
The day’s stats:
Average speed: 15.5
Total trip distance: 148.33
Top speed: 50.0
By the time we finished supper the weather had turned rather bleak, bleak enough to prevent us from playing mini-putt, which was a shame. We would have had the course all to ourselves and everything. In the very, very short moment between laying my head on my inflatable pillow and falling dead asleep I hoped, dreamed, and nearly prayed that the weather would clear up overnight so we could play a morning game.
*Though groups of walri** can be referred to as either “herds” or “pods”, the collective noun “huddle” is also acceptable and way cuter, so “huddle” it is. What I’d like to know is who gets to come up with these terms and how do I apply for the gig?
**Not a real word. Yet.