Irregular Posts; Chaudiere-Appalaches, Quebec

Monday, Sept 2, 2013 Bonjour, “Hunting.” “Again?  Where now?” “South bank of the St Lawrence near Quebec City.  My Chouinard roots are in St Jean Port Joli. ” Above Greenville, Maine the sky really got dark.  The wind whipped whitecaps on Moosehead Lake in Rockwood.  Rain came in torrents, making the road slick.  Off and on, to the border above Jackman, the rains came.  In Quebec, the clouds began to lift, but it didn’t get sunny again.   I had thought of driving country roads down to the St Lawrence looking for rural Canadian scenes.  But with the poor light, it was a straight shot to Lévis across the river from Quebec City. Lévis is a bedroom community for QC.  Near the expressway Rt 20, it is ugly with strip malls and businesses of every type. The drive down to the river goes from ugly to charming.   Down beside the river is Old Lévis where a ferry frequently crosses the river between there and QC. We found a cul-de-sac terrace above the ferry port and watched a gorgeous sunset behind the lights of Frontenac and QC. The scenic “Route des Navigateurs”, Rt 132, follows the south banks of the St Lawrence east beyond Rimouski to the Gaspé.  Originally the land was sectioned off with narrow frontage on the river and farm land or woodland extending far uphill and back towards the south.  This region now has large farms that grow a lot of feed corn, grass/hay, sunflower, alfalfa, and some potatoes and wheat.   Rt 132 is pleasant, with diversions off the route into villages along the river.  The architecture is French...

Irregular Posts; Last Leg From Canada

Andover; Aug 25th G’Evenin’ When the ferry docks 4 hours late, it messes up schedules.  A 5 o’clock Sunday evening landing sends everyone south on the same road towards Cape Bretton or Baddeck.  There are not a lot of campgrounds, motels, or restaurants and gas stations beyond North Sydney.  I took a chance on finding some services beyond Bras d’Or Lake and up the road towards Cape Bretton.  Bad choice.  Three lodging/restaurants were “no vacancy”.  No gas station signs were on the road service sign.  A 6 km stretch of torn up narrow road was under construction; no outlet.  We were hungry and the car needed gas. I gave up and found a ferry short cut back towards North Sydney.  Rounding a hairy pin turn on the descent of Mt Kelly towards Lake Bras d’Or, I could see a fire on the road side ahead.  I could see four people silhouetted against the flames and rising black smoke on the ascending shoulder 100 yards below.  We decided that it would be good to stay the night in a motel. Monday AM we backtracked to North Sydney for Tim Horton and PetroCanada.  After a side trip to “one of the oldest lighthouses” in Canada, we decided to do the lower part of Cabot Trail.  The local news was full of talk of a major flooding on the very north tip of Cape Bretton at Meat Cove.  Saturday morning, torrential overnight rains of 6 inches or so had caused the access road and bridge to be washed into the ocean.  A German couple narrowly escaped after their car had been swept...

Irregular Posts; Bras d’Or, Nova Scotia, Canada

Bras d’Or; Aug 21st Evenin! The Argentia – North Sydney ferry arrived at 9PM, 4 hours late.   We loaded at 10.  I passed by the country duo singing in the lounge on the 5th deck.  Past the video games next door and the cafeteria still open.  A pause in the toilet for the essentials.  Our dorm room on the 6th deck had 30 bunk beds in the co-ed/family setup. No privacy curtains as on the Goose Bay ferry.  Interesting to watch rookie ferry riders looking stunned at the arrangements.   Veterans riders just flopped on the blanket in their clothes, some wearing ear plugs in.  Meg changed in the women’s toilet. My pack went under the bottom bunk and the camera bag came on top with me.  The mattress is covered with the same material that they put over lawn chaise lounges.  Easy to wash down.  There is no sheet, only a blanket.  My hostel sleep sack was spread on the top bunk, the pillow arranged.   Clothes were placed beside the wall.  I never heard or felt the ferry depart.   Perhaps it was because three engines are quieter than four. The cafeteria was large and had plenty of choices for breakfast.  But we got only the needed coffee and ate some peanut butter sandwiches that had been made in the ferry line in Argentia.  Some small navel oranges topped off the meal. Early in the morning, people cruised the 5th and 6th floors looking for open seats or tables or plug-ins for computers or DVD players.  Plug-ins were scarce.  When one of the few opened, a number of people descended...

Irregular Posts; Dunville, Newfoundland, Canada

Friday 20th G’Day The 38 hour cruise from Goose Bay to Lewisport, NL was quiet.  It left Goose Bay Sunday evening and landed Tuesday morning.  Three minke whales and three small icebergs entertained us a bit.  More interesting were the dozen jet skis and skidoos that played behind the ferry as we left Goose Bay.  They would cross back and forth over the wakewaves, leaping into the air whenever they could.  Swirling, throwing curves of white water at each other.  Obviously they were well practiced as I saw no collisions in the half hour show. Meg and I read and napped and ate and talked to strangers on the passage.  I passed up the movies on the various screens.  This small boat didn’t have much to occupy you. After landing Tuesday AM, we headed off to see the small harbours and villages that make Newfoundland so attractive.  These small villages are working fishing villages.  Almost every road turn – a cove, a fishing village, small fishing boats and activity.  Houses and Newfoundland dories are often painted distinct coordinated colors to identify the owner.  It is cheaper if the same paint is on the dories and houses.  The two-color schemes are bright but simple.  Every three years or so they must be repainted, as the salt air fades and chips the paint. Away from the villages the land is simple and basically unpopulated.  It is wide expanses of short black spruce and birch and alder.  Magenta fireweed, yellow golden rod, and white Queens Ann Lace line the roads.  Small and large water bodies are everywhere; ponds, tarns, bays, coves, and the inlets...

Irregular Posts: Off Newfoundland, Canada

The Sir Robert Bond: Off Newfoundland, Canada;  Monday 16th G’Day, Derek was a game player.  He was here on a Canadian leg of the Game.  Saturday afternoon, he had flown into Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador from Halifax, NS.  After our Sunday breakfast at the B&B, he had to fly to St John’s, NL. Then he had a shuttle to Trinity and Bonaventure on the Avalon Peninsula. “It is tough when you can’t drive”, he said.  “Living in London, a car isn’t needed.   I have real good public transport.  But in other places, there is none.  Find ways to get where I need to go is a challenge.” HVGB is not an easy place without a car, even with a small duffel.  He had taken a taxi 8 miles from the airport in Goose Bay to the B&B in Happy Valley.  Too far to walk and the black flies and mosquitos would have eaten him alive. “The cab drivers are girls,” he said.  “Mine recommended this B&B at $50 over the $95 at the lodge, without breakfast, near the airport.” The airport at Goose Bay is the former US Air Force base from WWII.  The Americans had built it as a fuel stop between USA and England 35 km upriver from the trading settlement of North West River.  People located here to service the base and the town was born.  A little out of town some entertainment places opened.  Service men went here to spend some money and enjoy themselves.  This settlement became known as “Happy Valley”.  Today the airbase and airport is Canadian.  But it is an emergency landing...

Irregular Posts; Happy Valley – Goose Bay, Labrador Newfoundland, Canada

Second leg of this Canadian RoadTrip: Saturday 14th G’Day, It’s 1100 km from Baie-Comeau to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.  The road heads north for 590 km on Quebec Rt 389 to Labrador City then east 510 km along Labrador Rt 500.  The first 225 km of Rt 389 is paved but with hardly any shoulders…keep focus on the road.   It is narrow and twisty through the boreal forest.  The bumpy asphalt road is contained by magenta fireweed and black spruce.  Carpets of pale greenwhite reindeer lichen cover the forest floor in places.  Ponds and marshy places dot the landscape in the low areas.  Large construction trucks move along this road.  Not much extra space when they are on the opposite side of the road or you are passing them. Two and a half billion years ago a large meteor hit the Canadian Shield creating a massive circular crater.  The last ice age scraped the land clean revealing the “Eye of Quebec”.   Now the mighty Manicougan River drains the region and the eye into the St Lawrence River at Baie-Comeau.  It is dammed in four places by Hydro Quebec.  On Rt 389, we passed signs for Manic-Deux and Manic-III.  Then there was Manic-Cinq.  It is the largest buttress dam in the world. A two hour tour is free but you have to show picture ID or passport.  No cameras, cell phones, or any kind of electronic device permitted in certain places.  “Leave them with the bus driver, please.”  The tour was in French but we had the special infrequent introduction to the facility in English and the guide’s “script” printed in...