Archive for the ‘Quebec’ Category

Following the Ottawa River

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Our journey down the Ottawa River began at the top of Lake Temiskaming, the source of the river. In order to avoid highway 11, we choose to ride along the Quebec side of the lake. Upon entering Quebec the roads were immediately nicer. For the first time in weeks we saw a consistent shoulder. The rest areas were also a definite upgrade, most having running water although not always potable. All the rest areas we passed would make excellent sites for wild camping.

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Nice shoulders on Quebec roads.

The one disadvantage to riding along the Quebec side was that the roads were not flat. At times the hills were just as bad at the hills around Lake Superior. They made the ride more interesting, often providing pretty glimpses of the Lake, but also slowed us down and ensured that we were tired by the end of the day. Our first day after Barrie’s place we had hoped to ride 120 km, but only made 98 km. With the shorter distances and decreasing daylight hours, we soon realized that our goal of arriving home on September 15 was no longer realistic. We officially re-forecast our arrival home for September 16th.

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Beautiful views of Lake Temiskaming. In the north, there were farms along the shore, but further south the landscape was wooded, similar to Gatineau Park across the river from Ottawa.

We spent one night in Quebec at the beautiful Bannik Campground in Ville-Marie near Fort Temiskaming ($26). The campsites were set in a nice treed area, the showers were clean and warm, and they had laundry facilities.

The continued ride along Lake Temiskaming reminded us very much of riding the along the Gatineau Parkway just across the Ottawa River from home. The hills certainly reminded us of Gatineau, and reinforced that we would not be getting home on Monday as originally planned.

By 5:30 pm, we pulled into the town of Temiskaming at the southern tip of the lake and did a final re-supply – fresh bread and fruit. Our plan for the next day was to take the shortcut along highway 533 directly to Mattawa, saving us 80 km and avoiding North Bay. We first heard warning about the “back-roadness” of this highway from Isabelle at Barrie’s place. In Temiskaming a cottager also warned about the road. Both commented on the narrow road, limited sight-lines and crazy drivers, so we were a bit concerned what we were getting ourselves into.

With the warning of the road, and no campground nearby, we decided to ride out to the rest area near the intersection of highway 101 and 533. This would allow us to tackle highway 533 on Sunday morning and hopefully avoid the worst of the traffic. The rest area turned out to have a nice creek/river flowing next to it and a treed area behind it, allowing us to rinse the sweat and road grunge off our bodies and set up camp with a little bit of privacy. Other than being a bit too close to the road, it was a perfect free camping spot.

Becky went for a quick dip along the shore of the river without incident, but when Scott went for his dip, he was surprised by a car pulling in, and driving toward him. At this point he was standing completely naked in the river, balancing on one foot and attempting to dry off. Fortunately, it was after dark, and the river bank was high enough he could duck below it. The car parked well away, and he was able to finish drying off without further issues.

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Making breakfast at the rest area near the intersection of highways 101 and 533.

Our strategy of riding highway 533 on a Sunday morning worked out perfectly. It was indeed a “back-road” in that the quality of the tarmac was a significant downgrade from highway 101. In most places there was no yellow line, and the shoulders were made of loose sand and big rocks. On the plus side, there was very little traffic, and the route was very pretty, giving us many glimpses of small lakes through the mature forest. It had lots of ups and downs, only letting us average 15 km/hr, so by the time we arrived in Mattawa, we were ready for lunch, and to be back on a better road.

At Mattawa we rejoined highway 17, and would remain on highway 17 until Pembroke, where we could get off of it for good. The traffic was quite a bit lighter and more polite than we feared, making for a pleasant ride. Our map showed several towns on highway 17 that turned out to just be a few houses or resorts and had no services (Deux Rivieres and Bissett Creek). We unfortunately passed these as Becky was craving her afternoon ice cream break. Just as we had given up hope, a gas station / convenience store appeared in Stonecliffe and ensured Becky did not miss her day’s dose of ice cream.

We stayed at the Morning Mist Resort ($21) in Stonecliffe. They were definitely more accustomed to RVs than tents, but were very friendly and welcoming. Their sites were huge and they had a nice covered picnic shelter where we could plug in our laptops and check email while cooking breakfast :).

As Becky was taking down the tent, she lifted the tent by the poles and shook out the dirt from the bottom of the tent. This was our normal routine, but just as she was about to put  the tent down, she heard a CRACK! The tent was now looking quite lopsided. After further investigation, she discovered that one of the poles had snapped at the join. Quickly she removed the tent releasing any pressure on the rest of the poles. Fortunately, Scott was able to make a temporary repair using one of the hose-clamps he has been carrying. It is nice that we weren’t carrying the hose clamps the entire trip for nothing! We don’t recommend this as a permanent fix as the clamp has rough edges that could cause a rip in the fly – but it was good enough for our one remaining night of camping.

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Broken and temporarily repaired tent pole.

We had an easy day riding into Pembroke. From here, we would be riding the back-roads home – no more highways. Pembroke was also our last night camping. We stayed at the municipal Riverside Campground ($21) which had adequate facilities – it felt more like camping in a sports fields than a campground. We were glad for access to a table in the laundry room, as it started to rain just as Becky was preparing dinner. After dinner, as Becky was sitting in the tent with lightening and rain all around, she was reminded of our journey around Lake Ontario last June. It was appropriate that our last night in the tent would be so similar to our first!

113 km, 7h 20 min, Bannik Campground, Quebec to rest area

125 km, 8h, Ouest-Duhamel rest area to Stonecliffe

84 km, 4h 30 min, Stonecliffe to Pembroke

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We saw these crosses all along the Quebec shore of Lake Temiskaming. We’ve never seen crosses like this before, but we assume that the ladder, hammer and pliers are a reference to the tools used to crucify Jesus. Can anyone confirm?

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Lunch by a small lake East of Lake Temiskaming along highway 101 in Quebec.

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Welcome back to Ontario!

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Our first sight of the Ottawa River. Almost home!

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Railway bridge across the Ottawa River.

 

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w with fish, bucket, bucket, candy cane

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

47 km, 3 hours, Max temp 42
¾Ñ§§Ò aka Phang-nga (if you are seeing gibberish, it may be that you don’t have the Thai font installed)
We are having some fun with the Thai script. The characters have great shapes to them, such that you can image different things with the names. Unfortunately, there are so many of them, and they’re so different, that we need to come up with some way to remember them. At some point during our ride today, Phang-nga became w, bucket, bucket, candy cane, although we soon realized we were missing the fish above the w, so it is now w with fish, bucket, bucket, candy cane!

Typical Thai street, with frequent small storefronts

Typical Thai street, with frequent small storefronts

We were slow to get organized in the morning, and did a short ride to Phang-nga. Becky is having some stomach issues – likely related to the change in diet rather than anything specific. It will definitely slow us down a little, so we decided a short day was in order.

A Wat in Phang Nga (and some impressive hills behind)

A Wat in Phang Nga (and some impressive hills behind)

When we set out, we were expecting the ride to only be 39 km, but soon discovered that the town was not exactly where we expected it to be. With a little exploration, we found the town and stumbled upon a temple and a fellow Canadian Tourist. We had a brief conversation with Stephen and he pointed us in the correct direction for the Phang-nga Inn.

We have decided to spend two nights in Phang-nga. The Phang-nga Inn is a nice house-based inn. Our room is clean although a little small, and the bed is comfortable. We will also use the extra day to do some much needed bike maintenance. Our shifters are not working as well as we would like, and Becky’s front brake cable needs replacing. Our chains were last cleaned in Turkey, so perhaps we should do something about that as well!

The maps for Thailand are still posing a challenge for us. We are finding that the towns are not where they say they are, and the roads are often labeled different than our map. Google and Yahoo disagree on where some of the roads are! Scott has found a different GPS map which will hopefully prove to be more accurate than the previous one.

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Topkapi Palace

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Our day started with a visit to the Topkapi Palace. Becky was not too keen on the price (20 Lira + 15 Lira Harem tour + 10 Lira Audio Guide = 90 YTL), but we used the regret test. Is this something we would regret not doing? Our first answer was yes, and in the end we were very glad we went. For us, the palace had several must-see attractions. The palace was in use until 1924, so many parts are more modern than other places we have visited.

Fancy domed ceiling in the Hamam.

Fancy domed ceiling in the Hamam.

We began our tour with the Harem in an attempt to avoid any crowds. The Harem is the part of the palace where the Sultan, his family, and concubines, lived. The Harem had many incredible domed ceilings with amazing tile work that the pictures do not show well. When the sun shone just right, the gold in the designs shone.

Other than many groups of school children, the palace grounds were quite empty. We even had a few rooms in the Harem to ourselves – quite the contrast with what the guidebook told us to expect. A definite benefit to visiting on a cold day in late November!

We were very glad we had rented the audio guides (20 YTL for two). Scott felt a bit silly walking around with headphones on, but we found the explanations added a lot to our understanding, and the occasional music provided extra ambience.

Scott wearing goofy audio guide headphones.

Scott wearing goofy audio guide headphones.

After viewing the harem and walking around a bit, Becky was in need of a rest and we were both a little hungry. We did not really expect there to be so much to see, so we had not planned on being in the palace over lunch. Our visit to the palace kitchens and the explanation of the meals cooked for 10000 or 15000 people whetted our appetites even more.

We headed to the cafeteria to find a cup of tea and a snack. We were shocked by the prices (14 Lira for a donair which is usually 2-4 Lira on the street, and 4 Lira for tea which is usually 50 cents). Added to the horrible prices, the food was also pretty bad. We recommend that anyone planning a trip to the Topkapi Palace to bring along a picnic.

Huge pots in the palace kitchen.

Huge pots in the palace kitchen.

Our guidebook says that the treasury is an additional fee, but when we approached it was free. We were glad to be seeing the treasury with so few other people, as it is the habit here for people to stand as close as possible to the glass windows to view the items. This means that only one or two people can view them at a time. If you step back to allow more people to see them, someone inevitably just steps in front of you, blocking your view. Becky tried to be a polite Canadian, but found this to be rather frustrating! Scott quickly gave up and crowded up to the glass with everyone else.

Our vote for the most amazing thing we saw in the treasury were candle sticks made to sit outside the tomb of Mohammed. These did spent some time in Medina (Saudi Arabia) but were transported back to Turkey for protection during the first world war. They are about five feet tall and one foot in diameter and made of solid gold. If these items were in the Smithsonian in Washington DC, you would see armed guards very near. The security here seemed to be rather subdued given the value of the items on display.

Our second to last stop was the Sultan’s Palace containing holy relics of the Islamic faith. These include the turban of the prophet Joseph (Old Testament, Joseph and the coat of many colours – made famous in pop culture in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), the staff that Moses used to part the Red Sea, various vials of Prophet Mohammed’s hair, and an imprint of Mohammed’s foot. Adding to the ambiance of the holy relics, the Koran was being read and piped through this section of the museum. When read aloud in Arabic, the Koran sounds very poetic. We aren’t quite sure what to think of many of the relics – many seem to Scott like all the fragments of the “True Cross” which are found in Christian churches around the world. Prophet Mohammed’s relics seem most likely to be authentic, since Islam was a well-established religion by the time he died. Then again – what is real and authentic in this context? It was surprising to us to find all of these here, but Turkey is the successor to the Ottoman Empire, which was for many years the center of Islamic faith in the world. Perhaps it shouldn’t have surprised us.

Becky standing in front of some fancy tiles in the Summer Pavillion.

Becky standing in front of some fancy tiles in the Summer Pavillion.

Our final stop was the Summer Pavillion, built in 1640 by Sultan Ibrahim and used for circumcision ceremonies for the crown princes. Becky took great delight in calling it the Circumcision Room, and watching Scott cross his legs. The whole area is decorated with beautiful tile works and we took lots of photos.

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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?

Elevation Profile

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.

Elevation Profile

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
it.

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.

Elevation Profile

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.

Elevation Profile

Photos and boats

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

You may have noticed that there are only a few photos in the posts from the last few days. We were hoping to get them updated, but it looks like we’ll be out of time before we leave.

Also, a number of people have been asking to see a wider assortment of our photos. If you want to see our complete photo album, you can view it on Smug Mug here. They all have GPS locations in the photo metadata, but the SmugMug map doesn’t seem to work quite right for us.

This morning we begin the next phase of our journey. We get on a ferry (Relais Nordik) that takes us from Rimouski up to Blanc-Sablon (the Quebec – Labrador border). We’ll be on the boat for 4 days and 3 nights and stop at many small towns along the north shore of Quebec that are only serviced by this once a week ferry.

We do not anticipate having Interent for a while (definitely not on the ferry). We might be able to find it in St. Barbe, but I expect that by then we will be eager to be riding. We will continue to write, and will update when we can.

20080721 Running errands in Rimouski

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Rimouski is a beautiful town at the beginning of the Gaspe Peninsula. We had several errands to run, including picking up our new bike shorts from the Rimouski station A post office. This was the first time we tried to use “Poste Restante” (General delivery) to receive a package, and it worked remarkably well. We also stocked up on some groceries and camping supplies, since Rimouski is our last large town until St. John’s, which is several weeks away.

The ride from the campsite to downtown was quite nice once we discovered the shoreline trail. There are beautiful bike and walking paths around Rimouski. One of the paths goes along the shoreline of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It became very clear by the smell and the lack of water that this area was tidal. With every deep breath I was reminded of my childhood and the smell of the sea.

I do wonder if I am beginning to feel the first pangs of homesickness. It is not unexpected as we have been travelling through a province where we don’t speak the language well and the culture is different than what we are accustomed to. I am looking forward to Newfoundland and being able to communicate with people more easily again. Physically however, I’m feeling quite well. Given we’ve been riding for 7 days I’m very happy how well my body is adjusting!

Scott says:
Communication continues to be our biggest challenge. Although we are comfortable enough with French for activities of daily living, it’s a challenge to learn anything about the person we’re talking to. I had a brief chat with some Boy Scouts from Quebec City who were interested in our bikes. It appears that Quetzel (s.p.?) is a synonym for recumbent in at least some parts of Quebec. We’ve seen a couple of them on the road – a long wheelbase recumbent similar to a Longbike. The most common question we get is “do you have a motor on that?”, to which our usual response is “seulment mes jambes” (only my legs). Fortunately the bike questions are fairly consistent, so we have a chance to think about our answers in advance of the next questioner.

Yay, we made it!

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

57 km, 3 h 10 min

Today is our last ride day on the south shore, and it is a relatively short 60 km. We need to make it to Rimouski today so we can do a bunch of chores tomorrow before we get on the boat. Once we get on the boat we will only see small towns until we get to Lewisport or St. John’s which is at least 3 weeks away. It will be a completely different riding experience in the wilds of Labrador and Newfoundland.

This morning, I awoke with the same headache that plagued me during the ride yesterday. The rash on my thighs does appear much better. I suspect that the Vitamin D supplement is the source of my issues. Last time I took it, I also got a rash, and cut all vitamins until it cleared. When we skipped the D the day before yesterday I was OK. So, I hope that is the source of the problem and both the headache and rash will go away in the next day or two. For today, a couple of Tylenol should allow me to ride without the unpleasantness of a headache.

Since we don’t have a long ride, this will be a lazy morning, which we both need. Neither of us like getting up and rushing in the morning. We would rather lounge around reading or writing and slowly make our way. We each get our own space in the morning. I sit out at the picnic table drinking coffee and writing or reading. Scott lies in the tent reading or meditating. In some ways, this is an individual spiritual practice that we each need to stay sane. Since we missed it the last couple of days in the rush to get to Rimouski on time.

As I type this I’m chuckling at the campers two sites down. They have a young child of 2 or 3 who is making screaming sounds to match the cackling crows. It seems the crows are playing along, so the two of them are making a gawd-awful racked! I’m just amazed at how well the child can imitate the crow. If you were still asleep before, you certainly aren’t now.

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We followed the 132 to Rimouski, which wasn’t that interesting, but very quick and relatively flat. We stopped briefly after 15 km for a hotdog, which turned into over an hour break. It took them more than 45 minutes to prepare 2 hotdogs! If we had any clue how long it was going to take, we would have continued along and stopped later in the day!

We at now in Rimouski and happily settled in our campsite for the night. It is nice to have Internet again, so we’ll try and get everything updated before we get on the boat Tuesday morning.

Church in Quebec town
Every little Quebec town on the Saint Laurence has a beautiful church. This is the one in the town with the 45 minute hot dogs!

Some of the hills we didn't ride over!
Since we didn’t take the Route Verte, we got to avoid climbing and decending these hills.

More hills

Going down ... and then up ... into Rimouski
We did get to go down (and then up) some fun hills as we approached Rimouski.

Elevation Profile