Sunshine at 8am, there’s no time to be wasted. We grab a tuna sandwich a-piece in the now the clearly very picturesque town centre; sunlight really does wonders for any place. It’s another ten minute wait for tinned fished in a hunk of bread but it doesn’t even bother us, we must be relaxing! Heading back down the 132 to do some kayaking on the beautiful Riviere Bonaventure, this time I make sure to “ooooh” and “ahhh” at all the seaside tableaus I couldn’t fully appreciate in yesterday’s gloom. I’m DJing again, but Skepta’s revenge rap doesn’t fit the mood, so I swing for our friend Ariane’s 90’s pop throwback playlist, and we take a tour through Backstreet Boys, Avril Lavigne and Alanis Morisette. There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure.
The river safety video is predictably patronising, given the maximum depth on our 8km section is 70cm, but eventually we leap enthusiastically into two kayaks and paddle swiftly away from the other dozen clients ruining our tranquillity. It becomes clear though, as we cover ground fast, that a preferable strategy for solitude would be to hang back, so we let the plebs disappear around the sweeping bend, tie ourselves together and crack a can of Miller Highlife (“The Champagne of Beers”). As I said, no such thing as a guilty pleasure. The cans float alongside us in the cooling current, and we take in the foliage filled banks, the stark rock formations jutting upward from within, and even the occasional chalet, the shoreline garden of one in which we derive some satisfaction from relieving ourselves. It’s almost too perfect a scene, uncannily flawless like a film set, and the promised wildlife again eerily absent. “Which of these houses would you most like to buy?”…”None” I reply. No property can bring me the happiness I feel drifting along under these blue skies and sunshine; it’s bliss, and maybe my favourite moment of the whole trip .
Shit! With all the appreciation of the moment and our kayaking complacency we’re now well behind schedule, but we could use some exercise following all this beer, so we power 4km into the wind to avoid being the last home, I myself paddling unnecessarily hard just to show Laurence (though of course she didn’t ask) what a phenomenal athletic specimen I am…such a petty man. Out of the water the wind is chilly, I having twice dunked myself heroically saving someone’s errant plastic bag, then my own sunglasses. We shiver onto a classic yellow school bus for a lift back to the car, and chow down on some crunchy Miss Vicky’s crisps, discussing the rumoured shortening of the 5 second rule to 4, as we drop and rescue stragglers from our greedy handfuls. It’s suggested that for dinner tonight we take advantage of the barbeques offered on the seaside patio of Pit Caribou’s actual microbrewery. Je suis down. I’ve honestly planned nothing this trip and gems like this keep coming…maybe I can learn to hand control of the wheel to others more often.
Some steaks, incredibly flavourful “patates” (no ‘apples of the ground’ in Quebec) and some very intriguing seafood sausages; that’s pork with chunks of prawn and lobster inside, go down delightfully with more top-notch beer and the company of two dogs. A little authorial self-indulgence here: I crush some sort of “I can, and you cannette” pun, but I’m told I don’t have to follow every gag boasting “I’m funny in French now!”. I am though. Canadian government provided THC oil gives an added giggle to the exchange of travelling horror stories among our group as the light fades, and I sit back and enjoy not being a key player in the conversation for once. An after dinner coffee spiked with Quebec’s own maple liqueur - Coureurs des Bois - is so delicious it becomes a daily ritual and helps us to get cosy in the caravan that will be our abode these next three nights, perched atop the Cap d’Espoir with a stunning 270 degree sea view. We bed down with two feline roommates insisting on sharing our pillows, one of which later snores so impossibly loud I get a dig in the ribs under the assumption it’s me. Everyone here has multiple pets; I can only assume both for company and for something to talk about in the loneliness of what must be a tough winter off-season. For us though animal friends are just a bonus in another fantastic day.