Charming villages and rain, rain, rain.
Ok!! Now we are in Quebec city, and I will update you with what we have been up to. I have been speaking french and thinking french and thinking in English with a french accent even, so if a few sentences sound strange, you will know why!!
From Ottawa we headed towards the little town of Alfred, where we stayed in one of the biggest, loudest, RV campsites we had ever seen. People everywhere. And the tent site they gave us was atrocious, but she only charged us 10:50 so we were happy. We ran into - yet another - a thunderstorm and waited it out under the awning of a gas station (again). Now I will take a little tangent to illustrate...
THE EPILOGUE TO THE BLUE WATER BOTTLE STORY (story continued from last week).
As I was yanking on the bit of water bottle top to open it to take a drink, I saw a big truck approaching from behind and, thinking I would rather have both my hands for steering, balanced the water bottle between my teeth as the truck went by. Unfortunately my hold wasn`t as strong as it should have been and as the truck passed, the bottle slipped onto the road. I cursed and Mary Anne yelled, ``what?`` just as I spotted my poor, sad, blue water bottle being whipped violently into the air about 30 m ahead of us. When I found it on the road it was not only permanently dented but actually ripped in half at the thread. Never even found the top. Maybe that was just its way of saying enough`s enough.
The next day we cycled OUT OF ONTARIO (we were in that province for over a month!!!) and on a little secondary road through Hudson on the south side of the Ottawa river and checked out the most beautiful big houses with gorgeous sprawling gardens. We crossed the river on a little ferry with loads of other cyclists and entered into Park DÒka, where ``la Route Verte``, a bike path or route that goes all the way through Quebec, took us through some amazing scenery. Trees overhanging the path, dark black clouds (yes - another rainstorm) in the distance with the sun spotlighting the path and a bog to the left. Pale greens of leafy underbellies and pale reds of bog maples. Little white tiny flowers in the water. The rainstorm caught up with us midway through the park, and just as it really started to pound on us, we saw a little shelter where other bikers were huddling. Mary Anne said, `Should we stop?`` I said, ``Nah... no point``. Then Mary Anne paused, and said, ``Yeah, we`re hardcore.``
That night we actually ended up getting to visit my good friend Guillaume from Acadia, who is working at a field station about an hour north of Montreal. He picked us up and took us past the little town of St. Hippolyte, where we got to meet all the other students at the field station who even cooked us dinner!! It was great fun practising our french and trying to convince some of the other students from France to practice their English with us (``REAL english Canadians``, as Guillaume said.). We biked from St, Jerome, still north of Montreal, to St. Barthelemey, and had a ridiculous tailwind which made the first 95 km easy but the last 20 km we were pooped. No rain at all and wind at our backs - we were quite happy - until it started to rain again. When will it stop!!?? Really. Come ON!
From St. Barthelemy to St. Anne de la Parade, we cloud-dodged the entire day. When we exited the campground we were under a huge, grey, scary sky but we could see blue sky to the right, a downpour happening ahead of us, and puffy yellow and black clouds to the left. Very strange. We played tag with those big rainclouds all day and only got caught in it twice, but it was fun! We`d get into a town and see that it had JUST rained because there were still puddles everywhere. Or the time we found THE SPOT where it had started raining - and I mean, dry, then wet - like a line where the rain started, as defined as you can get basically. I`ve NEVER seen that before. We stopped on the road and waited for another rain cloud to pass to the right so it would miss us, and charted its trip across the St. Lawrence river where we could see it pouring on a little town on the other side - just one raincloud in the midst of other, more innocent ones. About 15 minutes later we spotted the biggest rainbow I`ve ever seen, soaring in a great full semicircle over the river and shimmering to an end right on the tip of a sunny little peninsula. The sun was out on our side and was it ever. Beautiful. We stayed in a ``Gite`` that night (an Inn) because we couldn`t find camping when we were planning the day before, and when we did find one in St. Anne de la Parade, we were so discusted we decided to stay in the Inn anyways. It was great - got to watch a movie and relax in style. Poor Mary Anne needed the comfort of a bed that night - she had lost her odometer slash bike computer over a bridge!!!
The day riding to Quebec City was just great. We had a side-tailwind, our favourite kind because it pushes you AND cools you off, whereas a straight tailwind makes you really hot because you can`t actually feel the wind, you`re going with it too much. I just can`t get over how nice the people in Quebec are - I`ve never had so many people (bikers and pedestrians) wave or smile, or wave or smile back. There are bikers everywhere all over the road. I had several very pleasant chatty encounters with people - many ask, ``Where did you learn your french, you speak so well!`` So here`s a big thank you to my three french immersion teachers in junior high, Mme. Rossignol, M. Herman and M. Aucoin. I can actually understand most of what people say to me and usually can get across what I need to.
This day was also the day that the Route Verte took us to the biggest steepest hill (we`ve done longer hills but none this steep) we`ve ever biked on. Oh. My. God. I didn`t know if it was possible. We were in our easiest gear, standing up (you couldn`t sit because it just would have been impossible) and working as HARD as we could to get up, and I was worried the whole time I would just tip over backwords. Whew!! We got lost a few times on our way to Laval University, where we were staying for the night, but kind bikers and pedestrians helped us find our way (just take out a map and someone will come tell you where you are and where to go - no need to ask for help). You`ll notice this is our one biking day without rain since.... I don`t know, four days before Ottawa???? GAHH
My feelings after arriving to Laval:
Hungry! Crotch sore. Back Sore. Bottoms of Feet, Sore. Legs, ok. Heart, Sore. Hungry. Arms ok. Eyes ok. Tounge - sore (probably too much chewing. I ate dinner the night before and reached a new low - hungry again 15 minutes after finishing my supper). Hungry, hungry, HUNGRY!!!!!!
And now, I am in the beautiful little apartment of Benoit, Mary Anne`s friend Guillaume`s friend, who is amazing - he picked us up by bike from Laval and guided us to his apartment, and then took us on a walking tour (after it stopped raining - SIGH...) of old Quebec city. Both Mary Anne and I were surprised to feel our legs shaking after our 3 hour stroll - evidently the walking muscles aren`t getting enough exercise this summer. Orrr maybe it could be because we`ve biked 5 days in a row and ... over 300 in the last 3 days. ...? hahaha... not sure. We ate delicious pastry and gelato, went to a little market, and saw the sights of Quebec city. And now, Benoit is in the kitchen making us a delicious chicken pesto pasta dinner, complete with chocolate angel food cake and fruit and whipped cream, and then we are going to go out and see this fantastic light and music show that is shown every night for the 400th anniversary of Quebec city! We love being spoiled.
We are both pretty exhausted. Can`t BELIEVE we are two weeks from being on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Halifax!!!