On the 10th anniversary of my first arrival in Canada last year, I made it to the only Canadian province I had never been before: Saskatchewan. When I told people that I was going to Saskatchewan, they usually looked at me funny and then asked why. I simply said, because I’ve never been, which is pretty much the main reason for all my travels, really. I didn’t expect to fall in love with the province, but fall in love with it I did.
Most fellow Canadians seem to think that Saskatchewan is flat and boring with nothing to see, but I’ve found it to be quite the opposite. Now, I’ve only been to a small corner of Saskatchewan, but if one small corner could have that much to see, imagine how much the whole province has to offer! In the four days I spent in Southwestern Saskatchewan, I saw so many amazing sceneries and so much wildlife unlike anything I had ever seen before.
I’m a big fan of Parks Canada national parks. I don’t visit them enough to have an annual pass, but whenever there is one close to where I am and I have the time to visit it, I will visit it. My logic is, there must be something very special about a park that they had to turn it into a national park so it must be worth a visit. I still have yet to be disappointed by a visit to a national park and really wish that I could visit them more often. In my defense, the closest national park to where I live is about 3–4 hours drive away so it’s not like I could just walk to one. ;-)
Anyway, in my 11 years of living in Canada, I have managed to visit 11 of Canada’s national parks in 8 provinces. I’m one of the few lucky Canadians to have had the chance to visit all 10 Canadian provinces. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to visit any national parks when I was in New Brunswick and Manitoba due to one reason or another. But I’m sure I’ll get around to it someday. Wapusk National Park in Manitoba and Fundy National Park in New Brunswick are high on the list of national parks I’d like to visit!
I’m a big fan of national parks. Doesn’t matter where they are or which country they belong to. If there is one within a driving distance from where I am, I’m so there! Naturally I had to pay Forillon National Park (Quebec’s first national park) a visit while we were in Gaspé Peninsula even though it would take us about 90 minutes of driving to get there from where we were staying in Percé. When you live in a country as big as Canada, 90 minutes of driving is nothing. :-)
Before we left Percé, we stopped by Boulangerie Le Fournand, a local bakery, to pick up some tasty pastries for the trip. We ate some on our drive up to Gaspé and saved the rest for a little picnic in the park. We decided to have brunch at Restaurant Cafe Des Artistes in Gaspé to refuel before we headed into the park because we all know that hungry Firda is hangry Firda! :-D I had the shrimp panini sandwich. It was simple but tasty and also quite filling.
Sometimes when I’m wrong, I’m very, very wrong. Case in point: I was so sure we didn’t stay in Cavendish the last time we were in Prince Edward Island (PEI) 10 years ago, but one look into my blog archive and I found that yes, we sure did stay in Cavendish! And yet, we didn’t visit the Prince Edward Island National Park. How did that happen (or rather, not happen)? How could we possibly miss it? Well, I guess it doesn’t really matter now because when we were in Cavendish in May this year, we made it to the PEI National Park (at least the Cavendish part of it) and have pictures to prove it!
Another thing I was wrong about was that you can’t see a good sunset in Cavendish because it’s located in the northern shore of the island. One look into the Cavendish coast at sunset and I knew I was wrong again. I usually hate it when I’m wrong, but this time I was happy about it, because the sunset we saw was pretty spectacular! The wildlife at sunset wasn’t too bad either. I think we saw about half a dozen red foxes. And a bunny. Never forget the bunny!
I’ve been thinking about our little detour around West Iceland’s Hvalfjörđur (Whale fjord) a lot lately. I don’t know why. It could be that I’m just missing Iceland in general and the drive around Hvalfjörđur was the last item in our itinerary before we headed down to Reykjavik to spend the last two nights of our two week road trip around Iceland, so it was one of my last memories of Iceland. But it could also be because it was surprisingly beautiful. Like, breathtakingly beautiful.
Hvalfjörđur used to be a busy route because it used to be the only way for people in Reykjavik to get to the town of Borgarnes, which is like the gateway to the beautiful Snaefellsnes Peninsula. However, in the late 1990s, the tunnel Hvalfjarðargöngin was opened for public. For a small fee, people are now able to bypass the 62 km detour around Hvalfjörđur by taking the tunnel. When we were there two years ago, the Hvalfjörđur route had very little traffic. Driving around the fjord on a drizzly and foggy day, I felt like we were the last two people on Earth!
Some places you just know you’re going to love even before you’ve ever been there. Percé is one of those places for me. Every time I saw a picture of Percé Rock, I fell more and more in love with the idea of visiting it. Of course I had to add it into our Québec itinerary. And when we finally made it to Percé and saw the big rock, it was love at first sight for me. Who knew you could fall in love with a big chunk of rock. ;-)
While we were hanging out at the marina, taking pictures of the rock at sunset after a long drive from Prince Edward Island, we saw what would be my new favourite animal: the northern gannets! We were simultaneously impressed and amused by the way the sea birds dive into the water to catch fish. So confident, with no reservation whatsoever. They sure know what they’re doing! I just knew I wanted to get to know them better. So, on the next day, we bought our tickets for a boat tour around the Percé Rock and a round trip to Île Bonaventure, where the world’s most accessible northern gannet colony in the world is located.