Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 33 - Saturday July 3 - Rockland ON to Saint-Sulpice (207 km)

"Parlez-vous francais?"
Well, we've finally left Ontario behind. It is lucky that most everyone speaks English here in Quebec, as my knowledge of the French language is sadly quite dismal. I only took French in school until grade 9, and never gained conversational mastery of the language. Then in grade 11, I went to China for 4 months on exchange and developed a working usage of Mandarin (just enough to get around). Now, years later, I can speak neither language with any degree of fluency. In fact, if I try, I often end up combining the two, such as in "ni you yi ge pomme?" for "do you have an apple?". I feel sort of ashamed that on this trek across the country I can't speak Canada's other official language. Maybe I'll have to add that to the bucket list... On a similar note, listening to Aunt Trish try to pronounce French names, that moreover she is trying to read without her reading glasses, has been a constant source of hilarity. No doubt why the young man on the street couldn't tell her where "Pritchard Street" was ("er, Aunt Trish, I think it says "Rue Louis-P-Picard"). There has been lots of giddy laughter today, and I think it has something to do with the HEAT! It's been a real scorcher for sure. We had an early start, as per usual, although we had to drive to where we'd left off in Rockland (about 45 mins). We were on the road from there by 7:15am, and took the old hwy 17 along the Ottawa River (gorgeous). I've been to Quebec before (Montreal and Quebec City), although I've never had the opportunity to travel through it in a leisurely manner like this. From my first impression today, I'd say I'm going to have a love-hate relationship with the province...

Crossing over the Ottawa River into Quebec was, you guessed it, beautiful (sun sparkling on clean, deep blue-green water, people out boating, green-lined banks). Across the bridge, we turned onto hwy 344, and headed east on part of "La Route Verte", a system of bike trails purported to be some of the best in the world. The route consisted of nice wide bike lanes lined by trees which provided a cooling shade out of the beaming sun, and in some places a paved "road" entirely separate from the highway. There was barely any traffic, and I rode along in my own little private world, enjoying the scenery and the ease of the flat, tailwind-assisted ride. We had a fantastic lunch (Thank You for the sandwiches Aunt Wendy, and the cupcakes Abbie!!).

After lunch, the highway began to loop through small towns, and I have never seen so many stop signs in my life! Aunt Trish guesses that there were 1,000 stop signs, but I think this may be a Slight exaggeration. All of that stopping and starting gets tiring after a while, and it really congests the traffic too (at times, Aunt Trish and I went at basically the same rate because I'd catch up at red lights and backed-up stop signs). Ridiculous! Furthermore, traffic was crazy. We saw the wrecked-car remains from one accident, and I saw a car turn left on a red while oncoming traffic laid on the horns and narrowly avoided a collision. I also had my first real close encounter with a vehicle (a van), and it left me shaky and rattled for a little while. (I've never made my tires squeal like that before, or done a 90 degree skid!). To top it off, the road signs were brutal! Aunt Trish and I both took a wrong turn (we think at the same place). I turned around after going about a km in the wrong direction and found the right way, while Aunt Trish, after asking 3 people for direction without luck (although maybe this isn't surprising, considering earlier comments), said to heck with it and went another way. She called me to tell me (I didn't hear my phone ring), and then "lost" her phone in the truck. Anyway, we made it! In our defense, the "highway" changed its name approximately one billion times.

We'd planned to camp in Terrebonne, but all of the campgrounds were full. We knew it'd be crazy because of the long weekend, but it's hard to make reservations in advance as circumstances can change pretty quickly to determine where we end up regardless of the plan. So, we're a day ahead od schedule, and there are a bunch of shorter days planned for the next little bit, which should be relaxing. Tonight we're overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, and there's a nice cool breeze. We're heating up some gourmet leftovers for dinner (Thank You Aunt Wendy!) And are going to have a nice relaxing evening.. ahhhh. Who knows what this province has in store for us tomorrow!
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  1. Started praying in French today... maybe that will help with the Quebec drivers! Je vous salue Marie... Notre Pere qui est aux cieux...
    Keep save out there,
    xxxooo Mom

  2. Can't believe my good fortune: the opportunity to host my beautiful niece, Veronica, and my sisters Trish (Veronica's aunt) and Laura (Veronica's Mom). Snuggles also loved all of the extra snuggling that she got during your visit, and that sleep that she had on Lief's chest while he dozed all unawares. I had not fully appreciated, until I saw the map of Canada with your route traced up, the incredible distance that you have travelled so far. This is an exceptional accomplishment that you can remember and treasure all of your life. Thank you for letting me be a very small part of that experience. Lots of love, Aunt Wendy