Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day 35-37. Into Quebec.

 Day 35 - Grenville Park to Maplewood Acres Campground ~ 75 miles

The alarm went off this morning around 7:50 and Kris immediately shut it off and we fell back asleep until sometime around 9. It was cold this morning and we didn't want to move. We reluctantly got up and put on several layers and rain gear because it was looking like rain. We packed up and took off and rode about 15 miles or so and stopped for a gas station breakfast of coffee and a pastry. Not too satisfying.

It trickled rain but never really got going...which we were thankful for. Around the 25 mile mark the odometer hit 2000 miles! We are happy to be at that point and still cruising. The Waterfront trail followed the highway for most of the day and the shoulders were pretty spacious. We went through a couple more small towns and then followed the trail out onto a series of islands called the Long Sault Parkway. In the 1950s Canada and the US decided to take advantage of the rapids in this section and built a dam to harness the energy of the moving water and to improve the Seaway. The dam flooded an area and created the islands. They relocated towns and moved homes that would have otherwise been flooded.

The trail went right through the islands and it was a nice ride. We were super hungry at that point though and by the time we made it to Cornwall we were really struggling. We eventually made it through Cornwall and stopped on the opposite side for some much needed lunch. That was at about 3:00 or so. After lunch we headed out of Cornwall towards Lancaster. We arrived at about 6 and stopped again to pick up what dinner we could scavenge. After stopping we continued on down parallel to the 401 and pulled into Glencarry Park (one of our options for camping for the night). We decided to keep going and take our chances with the next site, Maplewood Acres Campground. We had no idea that it wasn't on the Seaway. We found out after talking to someone down the road who told us it was across the least the riding was smooth. We crossed the freeway and headed into farm country and eventually made it to Maplewood Acres. It ended up being a 75 mile day. We are exhausted and are showering and then going to bed.

Tonight is our last night in Ontario and tomorrow we will be crossing into Quebec and staying with Laura, from the West Coast trip, in Montreal. Should be about a 60 mile day. The rain held off today and it looks like a partly sunny day tomorrow. We'll see.

Day 36 - Maplewood Acres to Downtown Montreal ~ 68 miles
We woke up this morning and got ready quite quickly as there were mosquitoes everywhere! We left the campground to the sun which was a very warm relief. We got breakfast at the nearby gas station and it just wasn't quite enough but we headed on anyways. We kept following the Waterfront trail until we crossed over into Quebec. Just at that moment Zach realized that he had left his phone behind in camp. After some extensive searching we found it in his trailer. So off we went again and quickly got turned around by all of the criss crossing trails. We had a hard time finding directions but soon a nice gentleman started talking to us in French. He realized we had no idea what he was saying and started talking in English. He pointed us on the right path that took us along a very long canal. We had a few detours on the trail but soon we were about to cross the bridge onto the island of Montreal. Right before that we met a couple of cyclists from the area and they showed us they way into the city. It was cool learning about the city ad what we were in store for. Richard had to turn back early but Gaetan kept going with us even past his own house.

We stopped for a beer and lunch in Point Claire and then said our goodbyes to him. It was so nice having help through part of the city. It would have taken hours for us without them. We kept following the trails around the edge of the water and passed by Old Montreal. We decided to head up into town a little and follow another canal. When we reached the shipping area in downtown we gave Laura a call. Laura was one of the cyclists we had biked with for part of our journey down the west coast of the US. She gave us some directions and we headed up hill through the heart of downtown Montreal. It was crazy busy and im surprised we made it out ok. Zach accidentally fell over waiting at a stoplight but he was ok. We kept heading uphill when all of a sudden Laura showed up and found us. She showed us they way back to her place. On the way we passed McGill college and some other wonderful sights. We rushed back to her place and locked up our bikes. We had to lug our stuff to the top floor of the apartment but at least we had a place to stay after a very long and trying day.

We had hoped to catch the Transit of Venus at 6pm but right as we got to a window to view it the clouds got in the way. I guess we will never see it in our lifetime now. It is where Venus passes in front of the sun and can be seen with eclipse glasses. It happens on a cycle of 8 years, 8 years, then 117 years. The old astronomers used it to figure out the size of the solar system based on its orbit. Pretty bummed we didn't get to see it but oh well. After we got showered up we headed down to a mexican place and the food was awesome. After that we went to a Dep (local corner store) and bought some stamps and then headed to a micro brewery. It was great to finally have a good beer for a change. After that we got a beer at the local beer store and snacks then headed back to the apartment where Laura told us about the protests that were going on in Quebec. Students are unhappy at the tuition hikes and are out in the streets in masses every night. It is great to see that the people of Quebec have so much pride in their provence and that they can stand together against (colonialism). We had great conversation then it was off to bed on the floor for another long day in the morning.

Tomorrow we will continue heading east towards Quebec. We will spend the night in Louisville at a marina and campground. Hope we can get by with the little french that we know. Its not going to be pretty, it feels like we are in another world.

Day 37 – Montreal to Camping et Marina, Louisville ~ 70 miles

We woke this morning after spending the night on the floor of Laura's apartment. Might not sound to luxurious to most, but to us it was amazing. Having a roof over our heads and a warm place to sleep makes all the difference. Laura went to class at around 8 or so and we got up not to long after she left. We packed our things, checked our route for the day/ emails, and then brought our trailers down to street level and headed off to find breakfast.

It was our plan to find one of the famous bagel shops in Montreal, but we couldn't find it so we headed to the closest one we could find and got coffee and chocolate croissants. Very tasty, but we are starting to learn that pastries alone are not sufficient to keep us going if we are going to have a later lunch. We headed northeast-ish out of the main part of the city and went right past the Olympic Stadium. Montreal played host to the 21st Olympiad in 1976. It is a very interesting looking stadium.

We really wished we could have spent more time in Montreal, but are using our rest day in Quebec City instead. We will hopefully return to the city someday though. It took us a while to get out of the city and suburbs and didn't really get out until well after the noon hour.

It was pretty slow going and we still hadn't found a decent place to stop for lunch by 2pm. We were getting pretty tired and cranky and we both knew it. We stopped at a small gas station and went in and looked for something to eat, but being sick of gas station food we opted out of getting anything there. We were stopped by a lady in the parking lot who was interested in what we were doing, she was a touring cyclist as well. We gave here our card and chatted for a bit and then parted ways. We finally reached Berthierville around 3 and stopped at a grocery store, well ready for some food. Since our French is extremely limited we just went into the store grabbed what we wanted and payed and left, almost without and words spoken. It is unfortunate, but that is the way it goes. We feel quite lost and alone in Quebec not being able to speak their language and it is very mentally taxing.

After eating in the sunshine we continued on toward Louiseville. We knew it was only about 15 miles away at that point and pushed out the miles pretty quickly after being refueled. We reached the city and again stopped at a local grocery store to pick up dinner. We were not in the mood to spend the time to fire up the stove tonight so we just got items to eat cold.

We headed out to the campground for the night called Camping et Marina. It sits right on a small channel that runs into the Seaway. We got here around 6 or 630 and set up camp and then showered. After showering and eating we headed back to town about 2 miles and got detergent to do laundry. We haven't done it since Niagara and it was much needed. We also wanted to take advantage of the facilities here and not have to do it on our day off in Quebec City.

We are headed to Portneuf tomorrow to set ourselves up for a nice short day into Quebec City on Friday. Today was mentally taxing and we are just exhausted. We are doing our best to stay in high spirits and we know the rest day will help. The fact that we will but turning around to head back west on Sunday is also a big boost to our morale. We will be back in the States in less than a week!

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