Wednesday, August 4, 2010


We left Escuminac, drawn to move on by a mail delivery in Presque Isle, Maine, and looking forward to Quebec City. It was hard, though, to leave the beautiful beach park for only $11/night, our cheapest rate of the trip so far.

We drove across New Brunswick, leaving civilization for the middle two hours of the drive - we saw few cars, no houses, and three moose. Trees and logging roads... We arrived at our next camp, River Country Campground, and were disappointed to find it to be another seasonal stronghold, closely packed and not catering as much to transients. I did find some logging roads to get a quick ride in, climbing up into hay fields with a great view of the St. John River valley.

We drove into Presque Isle, Maine, to pick up mail, and also to stock up on groceries, diesel, and a couple of bottles of booze, all of which are much more costly in Canada. We crossed into Maine on a tiny dirt road, with a railroad-crossing style gate, and trailer/customs office. Once into Maine, we drove through massive potato farms and to the relative bustle of Presque Isle. Got all stocked up and headed back to the border, arriving at the gate at 4:07 - it was closed and locked! We decided not to bust through, and drove back and up to the next crossing at Perth-Andover. Here we learned that you can't pop into the US for booze without paying a heavy tariff on the way back into Canada. It was so high ($25 tax on the gin, $10 for triple sec) that we forfeited the gin - just not worth it.

The next day we drove north and into Quebec. Suddenly all signage was in French only! On the way we passed what must be a truly funny place: Saint Louis-du-Ha!Ha!

But it was a nice drive, especially in the St. Lawrence river valley, and we arrived at our next camp, Camping Erables in Montmagny, to find that they could only accommodate us for 1 night. Too bad, because they put us on a great site on the very corner of the campground, backed up to open fields. So, we had to move again the next day, this time driving through the city of Quebec.

Here is Toby in the field behind our camp:

I was low on fuel, having forgotten to fill up before hooking up, so we paused at a rest area so that I could empty my 5 gallon can into Gigantor. But a traffic jam in the city put us on E again, and I was worried that we'd run out before getting to camp. We made it! Camping Turmel is a big, crowded place, almost all seasonals, and right next to a busy roadway. We were put on the outskirts, in a field not really set up for camping, and overflow area, really. We scabbed onto other sites' electric and water. The road noise is terrible, and our power has popped off several times. The seasonal campers are unfriendly, although this seems to be typical of most Quebecois people. Except in business, they mostly do not make eye contact, and if they do, just stare un-smiling. They are also generally uninterested in the dogs, which we haven't seen before. It's very strange and not very welcoming.

But we made the best of a couple of days there, going to visit Chute-Montmorency, a 272' tall waterfall (apparently 98 feet higher than Niagra):

I wend to nearby Mont Sainte Anne which has major system of mountain bike trails, both Cross-Country and Downhill. I did downhill, as I can XC anywhere. The top of the mountain is serviced by gondola. I made three trips up and back down, and that was enough! The trails were 5, 6 and 9 kilometers long, technical and sometimes very steep, with some small drops, wooden ramps & platforms, dirt burms, and lots of bumpy dirt track. It was a huge workout for my legs, which are still very sore days later. I enjoyed it thoroughly - it was a huge adrenaline rush, and very demanding of my concentration and all of my Trek Remedy's full suspension. An awesome adventure! Also, I noticed that the people there were much friendlier than those in more urban settings. It made me feel better about the Quebecois. Here I am riding the gondola up the mountain:

And here is a view of the Saint Lawrence river valley from the gondola:

Then we went into Old Quebec. After some stressfull driving around the city looking for parking in our massive truck, we walked to the old walled city and joined the throngs of tourists packing the steets. Here is Nancy in front of one of the gates in the wall:

And here is a view down a street blocked to traffic, jam packed with tourists:

We walked along, admiring the cities architecture, old world feel, shops and street performers. We came to a high overlook and gazed out over the city's port and the St. Lawrence River:

We walked the governor's promenade along the walls of the city's fortification, the citadel, and then went back into town to find a place to eat. We ended up at a creperie on the backside of the massive Chateau Frontenac:

There we were poorly served mediocre food, but the setting was magnificent, and there was a musician performing there who was very good, so not a total loss. Also, the River Tavern in Chester, CT, has set the bar so high for us that almost every other restaurant is a let down! Here we are waiting for service:

We walked off our meal finding our way back to the truck,

and finding it we drove around trying to find our way out of the city, passing along the way a Circue-du-Soliel production going on under an overpass. We know now that it's a free show, and we'll be going in tomorrow night to check it out. We hurried home, trying to get there before an international fireworks competition begen echoing through the valley, reducing our dogs to quivering wrecks. We made it in time, and turned out that we could hardly hear the booming over the traffic anyway!

Now we are camped over near Mont Saint Anne, in a MUCH nicer place, but no WiFi, so I write this from a cafe in Beaupre. More later on the remainder of our visit to Quebec!

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