Monday, 4 August 2008

On the road again

I now have the time to write more extensively about the last 72 hours or so. The bus ride from Montreal to Le Bic went very smoothly with never a moment of doubt that I would make the connection in Quebec City: the same bus went on from Quebec City to Le Bic. Only the driver changed!
Pascale meet me at the bus stop and drove me back to her place where I extracted Leonardo from the barn, sorted my gear, changed into biking gear and printed out my information from my data-cache. After bidding them adieu, I rolled off on my way. Suddenly, it hit me, Newfoundland was at the end of the road I was traveling. I let off a loud yeehheee!!!
The elation didn't last too long. As I whee'd down the hill to the St-Lawrence, I ran into a blast of very cool air blowing from the East off the river. All that afternoon, I fought the stiff wind. Fortunately, there was very little rain in with the wind or else it would been monumentally unpleasant.

In addition, I found I had left my map case in Montreal. I improvised one with a zip-lock bag that I will hope will last until Newfoundland. I tried looking the bike shops in Rimouski, but no luck. Maybe in Moncton or Charlottetown.
I took some photographs in Sainte-Flavie of the signs pointing to the same thing in different directions, namely Percé and route 132 East. Up the right hand branch of the 132 was Mont-Joli, and my bed of the night. Mont-Joli is a run-down industrial town right next to some tourist towns such as Sainte-Flavie and Grand-Metis. The hotel was something of an anachronism. It felt like a low end early 20th century hotel. Very comfortable, mind you.
The next day started not too badly but it eventually began to pour in a serious manner. Fortunately, I don't think I missed much scenery. The Route-Verte took me off the 132 at times. Near the end of the day, I turned off a side route in Lac-aux-Saumons onto what I thought was route 132. After about 1 km, I noticed that I hadn't been passed by much traffic and not even one RV. I wondered if I might be on the wrong road, but dismissed that thought as it didn't fit with my sense of the geography of the area. I then noticed the RV's on the road on the other side of the lake on my left. I simply hadn't reached the 132 again.

I spent the night in a B&B run by a former head of the Quebec milk producers. He said that he had started the Tour de l'Ile for a number of years starting in 1988. The B&B also housed a restaurant that specialized in crepes Bretons. These were a feature of supper and breakfast and very good they were.
Today was relatively free from rain and wind. Most the ride was following the Matapedia river down from Causapscal to the Restigouche. The Matapedia is in a canyon of possibly glacial origins (feel free to correct me, Papicito). It is heavily treed and well salmon'd as evidenced by the number of fishermen and the presence of a bald eagle. It was quite beautiful but I was glad to reach the Restigouche and more open country. It was also time for lunch.

After lunch, I visited the Parcs Canada Battle of the Restigouche Historic Site. It covered a little known but interesting post-script to the Plains of Abraham. Unfortunately, it made the battle seem more important that it was. It was also created by a francophone as it made the English seem like bad guys and gave too much weight to the French chances to begin with. The short version of the event was that in 1760 the French sent a small fleet of merchantmen guarded by one small frigate to try to support French efforts to retake Quebec City. It left France too late, and found that the Royal Navy had beaten them to the St-Lawrence. The fleet tried to hide in the Baie des Chaleurs while they sent someone to walk to Montreal for more orders. The British eventually found the fleet and sent a proper squadron of warships (three ships of the line and two frigates). The battle was something of a foregone conclusion from the word go. The only hold up for the British was trying to find the deep parts of the Restigouche for their ships. While the presentation was fairly interesting, it was needlessly biased and limited. I wonder what my uncle Julian, a naval historian of both the period and the region, would make of it, or possibly made of it. On the plus side, I was intrigued to find out that the MiqMaq word for moose is pronounced rather like "Diam" which is also the French word for a type of deer.

Time for bed.

Anyway, my watch is now set to Atlantic Time and I am in a hostel that is part of an old lighthouse in Campbellton, New Brunwick.

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