After visiting all 10 provinces we were starting to get pretty high on ourselves. We’d braved wind, rain, snow, and lightning storms… dealt with exploding butts, exploding windshields and exploding personalties (mostly mine when I accidentally deleted entire blog posts)… and had come out on the other side.

It was starting to feel like the worst was behind us…

And then we faced a series of impossible decisions that marked the end of scrappy truth-cation mode and ushered in the era of Survivor: East Coast. Our motto? Outwit (the weather), out-complain (each other), and outlast (the urge to take the next plane ride home, leaving the other person with huskies AND the hatch).

I realize how melodramatic this all sounds. WAHHH camping, WAHHH bad weather…. WAHHH. SO I thought it might be fun for you to navigate the next few days of our trip, faced with the same decisions we bumbled (read: fought) through.

I don’t know if you remember the choose-your-own-adventure books that existed in the “very scholarly” libraries of the elementary schools we attended as kids, but they were my personal favourites.

I hope you enjoy ours:

We came off of PEI tired but optimistic about the camping destinations we’d planned for our next leg. We were booked to spend one night in Kouchibouguac, NB followed by two nights in Forillon, QC before heading to our next airbnb .

Kouchibouguac (Kouch-ee-boo-quack) National Park was a place we were both looking forward to (that is after we figured out how to spell AND pronounce it). Entrenched in Mi’kmaq heritage, with long sandy beaches and grassy dunes, the park seemed like a great place to relax. We were ready to drive the 3 hours, set up camp, and STAY PUT.

The weather forecast for the next leg of our trip seemed to be changing daily, so on the last day in PEI we checked again. Some “mild” rain was expected in 36 hours, and would hit our destinations with varying intensity, never going past the “cloud with a few rain drops” icon.

Patrice our GPS was up to her usual antics, taking us on wild goose chases through impossibly small towns to find gas, so we were already running behind when we hit our first roadblock. Literally.

ROAD CLOSED.

And not just closed as in we ignore the sign and pretend to be local traffic. Around the bend, the bridge on the only road in and out of this side of the park was completely out. On top of that, the weather forecast had upped the ante and the rain was coming early.

We had two choices:

  1. Back track almost 2 hours on an alternate route, camp, and run the risk of taking down a wet tent the next day, driving said wet tent to Quebec, setting it up wet and camping two more days in the rain OR
  2. Drive another 7 and a half hours that day, set up the tent before the rain started, and spend all three days in Forillon.

We chose option 2…

It was going to be a close call to make it there before dark, but we were in GO mode, already game-planning how we’d multitask the last hour of daylight to set up camp. It was pretty much handled.

And then we got lost….

…in the remote woods of Eastern Quebec…. on steep, winding roads… in the dark…. with such thick fog that both sets of headlights were rendered useless. To call the mood in the car “TENSE” would have been understatement of the year.

By the time we found our campsite it was well after 10pm. There were only two other people camping in the park (in trailers) and we were faced with decision number 2:

  1. Set up the tent in the pitch black OR
  2. Sleep in the car, seats fully upright, with all three dogs squished in the back seat and set up the tent tomorrow in the rain.

We chose option 1…

You know that phase of sleep you cling to when someone is trying to wake you up? When you’re half conscious and you fight it, desperate to hold on to the utopia of dreamland. Well, the next morning was SORT OF like that, but I was also sobbing uncontrollably in my almost-sleep.

The storm had started early, violently raining through our tent in the night. I was soaking wet and freezing cold, but also so emotionally drained from the day before that I was trying desperately to stay asleep.

When I fully woke up I was inconsolable, repeating the same statement over and over, while rocking like a small child:

“I want to go home!”

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We barricaded ourselves in the car, trying desperately to warm up (it was barely above zero) and had to make decision number 3:

  1. Try to fortify the tent with tarps and dry all of our belongings in the park bathroom OR
  2. Take down the tent (which now had a river of water running through it) in the torrential rain and come up with another plan.

We chose option 2.

(Well, almost number 3: leave the tent and cut our losses)

With a Parks Canada truck circling our site repeatedly, inevitably mocking the stupidity of us as “amateur campers”, we spent almost an hour in the bone chilling rain taking down our soaking wet tent…. and air mattress… and sleeping bags….. and pillows…. and packing up wet dogs.

It was the lowest point of our trip, bar none.

When we finally got back in the car, there were no more words, no more tears. And as we drove out of the park, the next decision wasn’t really a decision at all, it was a hail mary…

In rural Quebec, where pet policies are laughable, our only hope was that our airbnb could take us two days early. I sent the message and we waited…

 

(to be continued…)

 

Sonia (and Dustin) and 3 drowned toddler huskies.

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