Archive for July, 2008

Deadman’s Cove

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

100 km, 5 h 10 min ride time  – Triple Falls RV park to Deadman’s Cove

Our goal today was to get to St. Barbe, so that we could take the early ferry over to Labrador.  It rained heavily overnight, and we took the time to dry out the tent before leaving, which meant another post-noon start.  Fortunately, we again managed to ride with the wind mostly at our backs, so we made good time – the wind changed direction from earlier in the week. The tailwind was especially nice on the long straight flat stretches where there is no sign of population. 

After 90 km, we pulled into Sweet’n Eats – which you may recall is where we stopped for wonderful fresh bread treats on our first day on Newfoundland.  Since we were quite tired, we had another delicious meal and took our time before preparing to depart.  (We can report that the chili is as good as the chowder!)  While we were eating, Scott struck up a conversation with a couple of the nurses that were having their dinner at the café.  Judy and Margie were fun to chat with as they bantered with each other and with June.

As we climbed on our bikes, Judy and Margie drove back up, and Judy offered us her spare bedroom for the night!  They had overheard our conversation about $80 per night for the hotel in St. Barbe, and took us in.  She lives in Deadman’s Cove, so it means 10 km to get to the ferry tomorrow, but it’s wonderful to have a real home for a night.  (Margie would have taken us in too, but she has a smaller house, and is remodeling her spare room).

In true Newfoundland fashion, Judy brought us home, showed us around, then left us the run of the house for a few hours.  Her older son Bradley works at the Senior’s Centre, and Thursday evening is for cards, so she and Margie had a previous commitment.  I guess we must have honest faces.

It was a real delight to spend some time talking with them after cards, and to feel like we were in a real home again, even for a few hours.

A bit about Newfoundland

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

45 km, 3 hours

St. Lunaire-Griquet to Triple Falls Campground and St. Anthony

In the NE corner of Newfoundland, we discovered many interesting things.  Perhaps not profound, but  small things are interesting too.  There are many bogs, the trees are short and therefore provide no shade on a long hot sunny day, and the fresh water is yellow.  We noticed the water mostly in Hay Cove, L’Anse aux Meadows and St. Lunaire-Griquet – not as noticeable in the St. Anthony area.  A bit disconcerting when you come upon a toilet for the first time… The water is mostly from artesian springs and wells, and is quite drinkable though. 

There are also many cords of lumber stacked along the highways, and occasional teepees made from evergreen trunks.  These are for domestic heating in winter, and each household can get a permit from the government for cutting in a defined area.  The wood is cut and collected each winter by snowmobile and brought to the highway’s edge.  Some is cut and corded immediately, and other wood is stacked in teepees to dry.  Some wood piles are better organized than others, and in one case we came across a small sawmill near the edge of the road.  Each stack is labeled with a permit number, and collected in the fall for the heating season.

Today we rode from St Lunaire-Griquet to the Triple Falls Campground, set up our tent, dropped our gear and then headed into St. Anthony for a nice dinner and supplies. Dinner was at the famous Lighthouse Café with a view of St. Anthony harbor and “Iceberg Alley”. Unfortunately, today we had a view of the lighthouse (about 50 feet away) and that was about it.  The food was good (and we ate a lot of it), but it didn’t live up to the star billing we’d heard from several other people.

The fog we woke up with did not lift, and there was a light misting rain much of the day.   We’re finding that the cloudy, damp days are in some ways nicer for riding than a sunny day.  It may be damp, but the mist keeps us cool, and it is easy to add more clothing if we need it.

Murray’s Mom

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

21 km, 2 hours
As you can see by our distance and ride time, we certain didn’t go anywhere fast today. We started off slow in the morning, finishing up some photo updates while we had Internet.

We wanted to leave such that we could head up to the Northern Delights restaurant for after noon, since we heard that Murray’s mom would be there from noon on. Scott suggested a boat tour – and Becky could never say no to a boat tour, so we also added that to our days itinerary (4 pm tour after lunch).

After lunch, we had the opportunity to actually meet Murray’s mom… “Who is Murray” you may ask? Murray is a very friendly guy from Gunners Cove who we met in Perth Ontario on our first day riding. He was part of a team of people sandblasting and painting the water tower and staying at the same Motel we stayed at. It was neat being able to meet his mother. Apparently, he has been asking if we’d stopped by yet. (Yes, Murray’s mom does have a name – Grace. This, along with the name of the restaurant were minor details which we didn’t get from Murray… According to Grace, he does tend to leave out the odd detail) Our bikes and our various inquiries about “Murray’s mom’s restaurant” apparently caused some talk in Gunners Cove. We found out from Grace that we asked directions from a cousin yesterday, and her husband saw us riding before we got back to the restaurant.

Grace has run the restaurant for a number of years, and her mother Ethel had it before that, so it seems like they’re something of a Gunners Cove institution.

Our pilgrimage to meet Murray’s mom is now over. We had a lot of fun getting here, and having a quest made our visit to the Northern peninsula much more entertaining for us.

The food at Northern Delight is excellent and reasonably priced too! We enjoyed a traditional Newfoundland Jiggs Dinner for lunch. Fortunately we shared, since it was huge! Roast beef, chicken, salt pork, boiled potatoes, turnip, carrots, partridge berry pie, and there’s probably something we forgot. Highly recommended!

After our lunch, we headed down to St Lunaire for a quick tour of the Dark Tickle Jam shop. We had a chance to meet Steven Knudsen (the owner) and ask many questions about berries. It turns out that one of the things I thought might be a berry is actually quite poisonous .. oops .. guess we’ll stick to bakeapple berries, as they are pretty easy to identify.

At 3:30 pm we headed down to White Cove tours for a boat trip hosted by Captain Tobias (Tobe for short). We were the only tourists brave (or foolish) enough to go out in the weather, but it was still fun. The boat trip was rather wet, and we didn’t see whales, but Becky really enjoyed it. There was quite a bit of swell so the boat bounced around a bit. Neither of us took anything for motion sickness, which was unfortunate, as Scott spent much of the voyage feeling queasy. He still had fun though. We saw some baby eagles in their nest which was kind of cool. We also saw the house where E. Annie Proulx wrote her novel The Shipping News. Apparently she wasn’t particularly popular with some of the locals, but she and Tobe got along quite well.

Becky created some excitement by dropping her sunglasses from the fly bridge onto the edge of front deck, which wasn’t easily reachable, especially with the boat bouncing around. Sherlock (a friend of Tobe’s also on board) found a mop and used it to move the glasses into reach and successfully recovered them. Given how much the boat was bouncing, it was truly amazing they didn’t end up as fish food.

We were cold and wet when we got off the boat, so we decided to get a room at St. Brendan’s Motel in St. Lunaire-Griquet rather than riding the 25 km back to the Triple Falls RV park in the fog and drizzle.

Scott continued to feel queasy for a while after arriving at the hotel, and will be looking into various options for motion sickness before we get on the freighter. He has used Sea-Bands before, and we have Gravol, but there are probably other options too. Suggestions welcome!

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The end of the road .. and some sad news

Monday, July 28th, 2008

We were saddened to learn of the shootings at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday morning. It is hard for us to
believe that anyone would object to a UU congregation and its “liberal” stands enough to go on a shooting rampage. Our hearts go out to the victims and the families and friends of those involved.

We had another lazy morning this morning. This is looking like a theme for us, unless we have a reason to be somewhere quickly. We both enjoy having some time in the morning to reflect and relax before getting on the bikes and going, and it is helping us to slow down.

The riding today was hot, over 28 degrees C. We didn’t expect Newfoundland to be this warm, and it’s a bit of a surprise to the locals too. Apparently, this area hasn’t seen rain in July. It looks so lush that you wouldn’t know it.  The morning fog must help to keep everything hydrated.

We followed the road north towards L’Anse-aux-Meadows,
a Viking village and the first sign of Europeans landing in North America, over 1000 years ago. It is hard to imagine people that long ago. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site, and quite interesting.  They have reconstructed a few sod huts and allow you to  go inside them, which was a definitely highlight for
Becky.  We also got a chance to talk with the “Vikings”, a number of locals in
period costume who have studied the history and the sagas, and act as

L’Anse-aux-Meadows is about as far north as the roads go on Newfoundland, although Marie Cove on the other side of the bay may be a bit further.  For our purposes, we’ll call this the northern tip of Newfoundland though.

We decided to live a little of our former life, and had dinner at the Norseman Restaurant in L’Anse-aux-Meadows – although we did limit ourselves to soups and starters. The restaurant was ranked as “one of the top 100 restaurants in Canada” a few years ago. The meal was good, but not outstanding – the butternut squash soup was very good, but the roasted root vegetable soup a bit overpowering.  The “Macaroni and Cheese” had lobster, orzo and mascarpone cheese witha hint of blackberry and raspberry.  Not quite your standard Kraft Dinner, and it was excellent!  The restaurant definitely caters to the tourist market, serving a Lobster and Caribou surf-and-turf, but that was beyond our price range even for splurging.  We suspect the locals are more likely to go to Northern Delight down in Gunners Cove for dinner – where we had a delightful lunch of crab and cod.  Very tasty, more filling, and half the price of dinner.

With a late night, no campgrounds in site, and Becky’s desire for a bed for tonight, we called up the Viking Nest B&B. For $48 we get a nice queen size bed, Internet, and a full breakfast. Not a bad deal and it doesn’t kill our budget – at least not yet!


20080727 Going North

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

80 km, 4 h 10 min ride time

We got off to a very late start today, but made good use of the time. We got most of our photo backlog uploaded and tagged, and had a chance to chat more with Rosie and Colby, and get to know them a bit better. We got a better appreciation for some of the difficulties you run into as a fisherman, two principal ones right now being higher fuel costs, and low lobster prices this year due to low demand from the U.S. With the tail-off in consumer spending, much less lobster is being bought (it is a bit of a luxury item for most people). Fortunately, Colby and his partners have licenses for several fisheries, so they’re able to fish Cod, Lobster and several others. In the off season, they also guide hunters who come to Newfoundland to hunt moose.

Their son Keenan was quite fascinated by our bikes, so we got some pictures with him and the bikes, and he took some pictures of us too.Rosie, Colby, Becky and I - courtesy of Keegan

The weather was great for cycling today, with a strong tailwind out of the southwest, which pushed us along quite well. The sun made an appearance after about an hour riding, so it also got quite hot out.

Everyone we’ve talked to so far have warned us about the road to Cartwright, so we may end up hitching a ride from Red Bay to Cartwright rather than riding the 400 km of gravel. That said, people have also been warning us about the Newfoundland roads and drivers, and so far both have been excellent! We have some more time to gather information and explore options, and we want to do some riding in Labrador, so we may just ride to Red Bay and see for ourselves.
First sign of civilization after 60 km.
First signs of civilization after 60 km.

Our original plan had been to get to L’anse aux Meadow today, but with a 1:30 start we decided to stop at the Triple Falls RV park instead. We have a lovely spot right beside a stream, which mostly drowns out the highway noise. It’s nice to be camping in the dry again – hopefully it lasts for a day or two as the forecast predicts.

Our campsite - with babbling stream.

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20080726 On the rock

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

The day started rather wet, so we opted for a short ride. We started out making our way to the ferry terminal from the beach where we camped with Thomas and Isabel. This was our first “free camping” on the trip, and it worked out well, despite the rain.

Our arrival at the ferry was somewhat optimal, as just as Becky bought our tickets the computer died, which slowed everything down (perhaps it didn’t like Scott’s name?). We managed to get our tickets, and those who were only 5 minutes behind us ended up waiting another 45 minutes!

The boat was clearly a purchase from somewhere in Europe, as the English listing on the signs was the third language listed. The second language was one of the Scandinavian languages, but we didn’t recognize the first (Dutch perhaps?). The boat also had 220 volt European plugs – good thing we didn’t need to charge anything. For this routing they could use a boat that had more car space and less passenger space, since some cars got left behind. In the passenger area, the boat felt rather empty – especially compared to the last 4 days on the Nordik Express.

We said our goodbyes to Thomas and Isabel, and Paula, Dave and family after disembarking. It was sad to go our separate ways after spending so much of the past four days together, but also nice to be in our own space again.

When we left Blanc-Sablon the fog was so thick we could barely see the shoreline. Fortunately, the fog lifted a fair bit (but not completely) in Newfoundland. It was much warming than we expected, especially with the fog. The weather report says 22 degrees but feels like 29. Knowing what 29 feels like in Ottawa, neither of us are sure about the “feels like” 29, but it definitely felt nice and warm, which was good because it was rather wet at times. It rained on and off, but most of the heavy rain was during our lunch break.

We took a brief detour shortly after getting off the ferry. There was a sign to the “Viking winter site”, but the interpretation centre looked rather abandoned. The road was more of an ATV or 4-week track, but we decided to follow it rather than the highway. The GPS indicated to us that the road did join back up with the highway. It was a rather amusing distraction and probably some good practice for other roads. Becky saw her first Newfoundland moose, but we’re sure there will be more! We stopped to talk to Ross who was collecting kelp for his garden. He was quite intrigued by our bikes – they continue to be conversation-starters. Ross is back from a tour in the oil patch, and enjoying gardening the organic way, not least because kelp is free, compared to $50/bag for fertilizer.

We stopped in Flowers Cove at “Sweets ‘n Eats” for lunch, which was delicious! June fed us a great chowder and delicious fresh-baked buns, and we sampled some sweet-bread with raisins (much like a loaf of hot-crossed buns). The sweet-bread was just coming out of the oven, so between the scent and the free sample we were hooked! We now have a loaf we need to eat in the next day or two, but that shouldn’t be too hard.

Given that the tent was wet and we were wet and Becky wanted to do laundry, we decided to stay at a B&B tonight. The prices for B&B outside of L’anse-aux-Meadows and St. Anthony are quite inexpensive (under $50 for two), so we figured we should take advantage of it while we can. We’ll probably try and do some free camping for the next couple of nights while the weather is good.

We’re in the Coziest B&B in Green Island Cove, near the end of a series of small fishing villages. Rosie and her husband Colby are great hosts, and the B&B is very nice. Scott has taken over Colby’s shed (more like a barn) to hang our wet tarp and tent – fortunately he doesn’t mind.

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20080725 One last day in Quebec

Friday, July 25th, 2008

We made it to Sablon-Blanc and we are camping on the beach in the fog with Isabel, Thomas, and Sebastian. Thomas and Isabel met Sebastian on the ferry. He is visiting his mother in St. Pierre et Michelon, but rather than go there directly he came to Canada via Calgary and took the bus to Rimouski (via Winnipeg, Ottawa and Quebec). After Rimouski, he made his way to Sept-Iles hitchhiking, since he missed the boat in Rimouski by an hour. Perhaps a little more adventure than he was planning on!

The fog is thick and making the outside of the tent any everything that comes in direct contact with the outside damp. The beach smells of dead fish. We are less than a km from the ferry docks, so we can hear the boat unloading cargo. The boat will leave Blanc-Sablon at midnight, so after that things will get quieter.

There is a theory that the ferry leaves at 10:30; however, the latest information is that it is 10:30 in the Newfoundland timezone, not Quebec timezone — even though it is leaving from Quebec. So, we will need to be back at the ferry docks for 8:00 am to buy tickets for the 9:00 am departure. We’ll try to pack up immediately in the morning and go directly to the ferry docks. If we have a wait there, we can make breakfast up there (and there is likely to be fresh water somewhere up there, which will make it easier).

In the afternoon at one of the stops we were able to visit the bridge of the ship. This was only because we had done the captain a favour by pumping up his bicycle tires :). We managed to bring Thomas and Isabel It was neat to see the bridge, and get an idea of the equipment used to maneuver the ferry through some of the narrow channels. They rely fairly extensively on radar and the gyrocompass, but still take fixes to validate the radar and gyrocompass are still sane. The GPS-enabled electronic charts are not accurate enough to keep them in the centre of the channel in some places, so they are used mainly as a backup and for general reference.

One other area that was particularly interesting was around the discussion of the new boat. This discussion occurred in French so we missed most of it, but were briefed by Thomas afterwards. The new boat will be twice as big and have a separate VIP section, with a bar. It sounds like this may lead to segregation between the tourist passengers and the locals – especially the natives.

There seems to be significant segregation in the coastal villages we visited over the last few days. There are “white” villages and “native” villages, and they each have their own schools. A lady we met from the village of St. Augustine said that the kids in the white school learn English and French, such that by the time they are in Grade 6, they are fluent in both. In the native school they learn 3 languages (English, French, and the native language). Neither of us understand enough of the situation to have an informed opinion, but our gut reaction is anti-segregation. One question seems to be how do you provide a common curriculum with two such different cultures and different languages. Is part of this a reaction to the Residential Schools and their attempts to re-culture the native children?

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20080724 A day of stops

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

The boat totally changed this morning. Becky awoke at 5:45am to an onrush of people. We docked at Natashquan at 5:30 am, and a large influx of people joined the boat. There are more than double the number of people now, and many of them do not have cabins. Last night, there were only a few of us that didn’t have cabins. It looks like tonight the boat will be full of people sleeping on chairs, benches, and floors. Tonight we will squeeze into the space that Becky had to herself last night.

The influx of people has been an interesting experience. There are a number of native Canadian’s, as well as people from Newfoundland, and people from Quebec. There is a greater mix of languages being spoken and interesting accents.

We reduced our footprint on C deck from two tables to one table, and the second table was grabbed by Thomas and Isabel, from Quebec City who are hitchhiking from Sept Iles around through the Maritimes. They’re interesting people, and have been fun to get to know. Isabelle is a music teacher, and will be starting in her first school in the fall. Thomas is taking Creative Writing at University, and it wouldn’t surprise us to hear his name again as a playwright in a few years.

Our first stop was at Natashquan from 5:30 to 7:45am. Becky got up for long enough to take a quick look around and noticed that the landscape had changed dramatically from last night. The trees are much shorter, the landscape much flatter. It is reminiscent of Newfoundland, but the colours are different.

At 10:45 we stopped at Kegaska for a quick hour and half stop. We had enough time to walk around the shoreline and make our way up to the general store (Epicere CJ’s). We were surprised to hear the lady running the store speaking English. Her name is Cheryl (likely the C in CJ’s) and The community appeared to have more English speakers than French speakers.

After lunch the boat stopped in La Romaine. Since we were stopping for 3 hours, we took our bikes off and went for a ride. We rode through town and up to the airport. This was the first of the towns we saw that segregated the white community from the native community. Most of where we rode was through the native community. We waved and everyone waved back and smiled. Several of the children tried to ask us questions, but unfortunately they spoke French so we were unable to communicate with them :(. It was kind of sad riding through town – the people smiled at us but otherwise did not appear to be happy. We also observed significant obesity, and saw only junk food in the depanneur – a significant contrast to other depanneurs we have visited.

We stopped at a depanneur to get a snack. As we ate our snacks every dog in town appeared hoping to get a treat too. One of the puppies decided to take a nap on Becky’s back tire. We saw on cute little girl riding a tricycle carrying a little puppy dog. Becky asked if she could take a picture and the girl posed and smiled. Unfortunately for the puppy, the girl soon dropped it and rode over it :(. When we left the puppy was doing OK, but not happy about the prospect of another bicycle ride.

There was some spontaneous Quebecois folk singing on the upper deck shortly after dark, which was fun to observe (and try to sing along with). Someone had a guitar, another person had an accordion, and Isabel led some of the singing. It was neat music

At midnight we got into Harrington Harbour, and they had a big lantern-light tour of the town, highlighting its history. This was part of CoastFest 2008, which is celebrated by all of the lower north shore communities, but this was the only piece we will be around for. All the streets in town are boardwalks or granite, and the transport is ATV or snowmobile. (And a couple of forklifts on the wharf). We had a chance to meet Jacques Cartier (who spoke French with a bit of a Newfoundland accent) and Margeuritte – a French noblewoman who was marooned here by her Uncle with the sailor who had become her lover. Good fun, and well worth staying up for (and not just for the molasses cookies and bakeapple tarts at the end).

Harrington Harbour was the site used to film La Grande Seduction, which seems to be quite an interesting film. They have a co-op fish processing plant, but not much else in the way of industry. The forests nearby were infested with spruce budworm a few years back, and there’s little left. The community has had a stable population (280) for over 50 years, which they are very proud of. When asked about real-estate, the mayor said that there were no houses for sale and that there was no land, so there wasn’t any room (or necessarily any desire) for growth.

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20080723 Anticosti Island

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Scott slept very well in the cabin last night. I slept OK. In the morning, I found it very difficult not knowing what the weather was like outside and whether or not I should be getting up. Eventually I gave up, got out of bed and walked upstairs. The sun was shining and the temperature had warmed considerably over yesterday. It is a beautiful day and almost a shame to be on a boat rather than on a bikes.

Our first stop today was at Port Menier on Anticosti Island. The boat stopped for 2 hours, so we had an hour and half to ride around and check out the sites. The village is rather small. I did not expect to see modern and rather large houses. Scott pointed out that a house that large at home would have multiple garages, but here it only made sense to have one.

We rode our bikes out to the site of the Chateau Menier. We expected to see a large building of some kind. The Chateau turned out to be an archeological site, where a large building once was. From what we were able to understand, this was the site of the home of a French multi-millionaire, who bought L’Isle d’Anticosti with profits from the Nicaraguan Cacao trade. We took photos of the various explanatory
plaques, but haven’t had time to translate them yet.

At dinner last night, Roselyne mentioned that the deer on Anticosti were so tame that you could feed them from your hand in the town site. While we were riding, we saw a small child (maybe 4 years old) feeding a deer. Unfortunately, we didn’t stop, since neither of us verbalized the desire to take a picture, so we don’t have a picture. I did manage to get a few good photos of a deer walking in the woods near the Chateau site.

Scott says:

Our cabin was on A-deck, in the bowels of the ship, and at the rear of the passenger cabin, so we were pretty insulated from the outside world. I put in ear plugs to block some of the engine noise, so I completely missed our docking at midnight and our 6 am departure.

I slept from 11pm until 8am when Becky finally woke me up, after going in and out of the cabin several times. For me, a cabin on a ship with no windows appears to be a good cure for any sleep deprivation!

We have continued to chat with Dave, Paula, Irene and Owen. Dave has become something of a solar power expert at home, since he wrote a couple of successful grant proposals, and has overseen installation of 5 (soon to be 12) panels on the roof of their local food co-op. In Michigan, as with Ottawa, local conditions don’t make solar economical given current equipment and installation costs, but I think it’s good to spread the expertise around as panel costs decrease. He loaned me a solar magazine, and I’m looking forward to chatting more with him about

Anticosti Island looks like a neat place to explore. It really is a huge island, with over 300 km of roads, although not much in the way of services. Lots of opportunities for hiking, wildlife and exploration, without much human presence.

It’s nearing sunset now, and we’re passing the Mingan Archipelago, a National Wildlife Preserve. It looks like a very neat place to kayak or hike.

We got off the boat at Havre-Saint-Pierre for a short walk to the Depanneur. On the way back, Paula invited us to join her for a beer – which we gladly accepted. We enjoyed some Quebec micro-brews and watched the boat crew unloading and re-loading containers. It was a pleasant way to end the evening.

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20080722 Our first freighter cruise!

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

When we booked the ferry service from Rimouski to Blanc-Sablon we had not expected that the boat was a freighter as well as a passenger ferry. The Nordik Express provides both freight services and passenger services to remote villages on the north shore of the St. Lawrence, so more than half the ship is dedicated to containers and a crane.

The boat is relatively small as far as passengers are concerned. There are two small decks of cabins (about 10 cabins on one deck and 2 on the other) and two decks with seating areas. The total capacity of the boat is 283 people. From Rimouski to Sept-Iles there are only 39 people on board, so the boat feels pretty roomy. By the time we get to Natashquan the boat will be much fuller (all the cabins are sold out for the last night).

Upon departure, we participated in the weekly safety drill and debriefing. The crew actually did a drill that involved putting on life jackets. It was unclear what all they were doing, as we were all gathered in the front upper seating area for a debriefing. The debriefing involved a fair bit of laughing; however, we didn?t understand enough of what was being said to really appreciate the humour. The purser did repeat the key points in English, so we didn’t miss that much. We did however find the experience interesting and we figured out what we needed to know to make the trip more enjoyable.

Purser giving the safety briefing.

We decided to try out the ?dinner service? rather than the canteen for supper. The cost was pretty high ($21 each) which made it the most expensive meal we have had so far on this trip. The meal was OK. It provided us an opportunity to meet Roselyne and Manuel – a couple who were on their way to Anticosti Island to visit their daughter and grandchildren. They did not speak much English, so we had a very interesting conversation involving their limited English and our limited French. I think we managed to get most of the concepts across successfully. Roselyne even drew us a map of Port Menier (the village on Anticosti Island) to let us know where we go and what we should see when we arrive on the Island. It was one of the more meaningful interactions we have had with people since we entered Quebec.

On the boat, we have also met the only other English speakers: Dave and Paula, Irene and Owen. They are a family from Michigan (near Detroit) who are doing a circle route involving trains, boats, and rental cars. They are also going to Blanc-Sablon and St. Anthony. ?They have been so nice to us, and have lent us their English magazines to read while onboard. I was not successful in finding English magazines in Rimouski, so it is nice to be able to borrow a couple!

Today does not involve any stops. The boat crosses the Gulf of St. Laurence and takes 11 hours to go to Sept-Iles, where it spends the night and departs early in the morning for Port Menier on Anticosti island. To make the adjustment to the boat easier, we booked a cabin for the first night. They had the extra space, so it was nice to have the room to ourselves. I’m a little nervous about sleeping so low down on the boat. There is a part of me that is still a little frazzled about the Queen of the North sinking a couple years ago. I think being higher up may involve more distractions but
I’ll feel safer. We’ll see.

Scott says:

Dave is reading Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire to Irene and Owen, which Becky managed to identify almost instantly. I still haven’t read the series, but it’s fun listening in. Chatting with them is a huge contrast to our stilted interactions in French, and I’m very much enjoying getting to know them. I suspect this is part of the reason for the “backpacker culture” in so many countries. It’s far easier to bond with other travelers (where you share a language and/or culture) than to interact
with the locals. It will be an interesting challenge for us as we get to Europe and the Middle East to meet and communicate with locals. I hope that being on our bikes, and our Servas connections will help.

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