Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 38-46

 Day 38 – Louiseville to Portneuf ~ 75 miles

This morning we got packed up and said our goodbyes to the french cyclist who was camped next to us. She didn't say much but neither did we. We headed up to a grocery store where we had breakfast outside on a table out in the sun. After that we were off towards Portneuf along the river. The sun was shining and the wind was in our faces but it was lite. We kept peddling all day long and kept each other occupied with conversation. We passed by many really neat churches today that were really old. In fact many of the towns we passed through today were founded in the 1600's. The churches had a really neat silver glow to them on their steeples.

We stopped for lunch at a supermarket and were really full afterwards. We didn't want to move, all we wanted was a nap. We reluctantly got back on our bikes and headed the 20 more miles towards Portneuf. When we reached the town we had a hard time finding a grocery store but we eventually did after climbing a big hill and asking for directions at a gas station. We had to cross over the freeway and up a huge hill that we almost had to walk up. We got stocked up for the night and then headed back down the hill, up another one, back down and finally up another huge hill to get to Camping de Panoramique. This place is a glorified retirement home where everyone lives in lavish trailers and drive golf carts around. We are literally the youngest people here and surely the only people in tents. Its a little uncomfortable being here but at least it is quiet. We took showers and then checked the email to see if anyone had responded to us for a place to stay tomorrow in Quebec city. No one had so we found some phone numbers on the Warm Showers Network and gave them a try. After much searching we found a place to stay tomorrow night and for our rest day on Saturday. We met some really nice people who spoke to us in english and asked about our trip so they could go tell their non english speaking friends about us. We definitely stick out like sore thumbs here. The rest of the evening was spent making calls, walking around this giant trailer park (with its own streets), and avoiding the rain.

Tomorrow we are off to Quebec city where we will explore and catch up an doing nothing. We may even have a radio interview on CBC radio so stay tuned!

Day 39 – Portneuf to Quebec City ~ 70 miles

This morning we packed quickly and had breakfast. We left and hopped back on the 138, spirits were high. We had the wind at our backs but it looked as though it might rain on us. We made our way along the river and caught sight of the bridge in Quebec City. After about 20 miles we stopped and got some coffee at Tim Hortons. Luckily we were inside because thats when the rain started. It did not last long and then we were on our way again nearing the city. When we were about 6 miles away we had to take a detour. We decided to stay on our path and see if we could walk our bikes around it. We found out that it was possible but they had fenced everything off so we had to turn back. We decided to look for something else after realizing that the detour would put us on the freeway. We headed down a small road that took us through a tunnel under the freeway. This led us to a small dirt road that eventually brought us to the train tracks. We crossed them and followed a dirt road into a neighborhood. We eventually found our way back onto our route.

Once in town we stopped at a grocery store for lunch and then headed to Marianne's house where we were to stay for the next 2 nights. She was a very nice person with a brand new cat. Kris called the bike shop where we had a package sent and then she showed us the way through downtown where we got our external hard drive that Mona had been so kind to send us with a hand made yarn owl that she had worked on as well. She went back to the house to get ready for dinner while we explored old downtown and the naval ship museum. We headed back to the house where dinner was running late. We decided to head off to the circus as that was the plan and have dinner afterwards. The circus was great! It was very small and intimate but hilarious even though it was in french. We had an amazing time and would have gone to see it again.

After the circus we went back and made stir fry before heading out on the town for a while. Marianne took us to a close by bar where we had great conversation as the night went on. On our way back home we went to a local snack bar and got some poutine to bring back before bed. It was delicious!

Tomorrow we have a rest day and plan on exploring as much of the city as possible after a morning of shopping at the local street days garage sale.

Day 40 – Quebec City Rest Day

This morning we woke up and got ready for the garage sales. We headed out and went down the block for espresso and chocolate croissants. We then spent the next few hours looking at all the stuff in the alleys for many blocks. Marianne found lots of stuff for her new apartment and Zach found a small painting. We helped her carry all of her stuff back including two new living room chairs. After that we said our goodbyes to her as she was leaving for the evening to go to a friend's cabin. We left and headed into downtown and our first stop was at the grocery store for some late lunch. After that we went up and up and up until we reached the top the the hill where downtown and old Quebec were. We saw so many old buildings and a beautiful streets. We went by parliament and talked to some protestors about the student protests and the ongoing pursuit of Quebec trying to become their own nation. It was very interesting talking to those people about these issues.

We then headed into the walls of the old city and explored for a while. Kris got a couple of gifts and then we got ice cream. After that we went down to the overlook where you could see for miles in every direction. We shot some footage and reflected on how this was a far east as we will come on our trip. What a turning point both figurative and literal. We will be turning around and heading west for the first time on our trip back towards the USA, and eventually Duluth. It is a huge milestone for us to be here. We have been thinking about this city for the last month of the trip, but words cant describe how it feels to have made it. Getting here had gotten us through so much and now we have new milestones to reach. The USA, large cities, and then back home to Duluth!

We biked back to Marianne's house after checking out a couple more sights on the way. We caught her just before she left for the evening. After she was gone we walked to the grocery store to pick up dinner and breakfast for tomorrow morning. We got a decent frozen pizza so we could utilize the opportunity of the oven and had a mediocre hot meal. While the pizza cooked we worked on planning out our route for the next few days. We are adjusting some things so we wont have to do another 100 mile day when we head into Montreal on the South side of the river. After figuring out the route we are going to get organized before we clean up and go to bed.

Even though today was a rest day we are exhausted. But we have to keep pushing on and stay on track. You could spend so many more days in Quebec and not see it all. We hope we are doing enough is really difficult to keep up with it all, but we are doing the best we can.

Heading across the river and back West tomorrow!

Day 41 – Quebec City to Camping a la Roche ~ 65 miles

We woke up this morning at Marianne's place at around 9:30. We slept in a bit because we were up a bit late last night chasing down the protesters and enjoying our day off. We made some coffee and had our fruit and bagels for breakfast. We packed up our things and made our way into town. We headed down to the dock area because we wanted to avoid having to bike up and over the hill. It was busy and difficult trying to deal with the traffic and people, but we made good time and enjoyed biking next to the river.

As we made our way out of town we we able to see the bridge in the distance that we we going to cross. We made it very near the bridge and then had to climb the hill to make it up to the crossing level. The bridge is enormous and beautiful, but the path for bikes is very narrow so we crossed slowly in order to be safe. We made it across and were officially on the south side of the Seaway and on our way back home!

We stopped for lunch in Ste. Croix at the local grocery store and sat out in the Sun and enjoyed our food. It was a very nice day weather wise and had a decent tailwind to help us out. After lunch we reached a detour and decided to try to pass it. We reached the town and found the detour and realized it wasn't passable. We tried to communicate with someone before the detour and we thought they told us we would be ok. This is where being able to comprehend French would have helped. Luckily a family in the town saw us and noticed we were trying to pass. So they showed us a way around the detour and walked us through a field and got us by without having to bike out of our way to pass.

We got clear of the detour and continued to bike along the river. We reached Saint Pierre led Becquets around 6 or so and stopped at the grocery store for dinner. We picked up dinner and headed to the campground. Pretty normal day. We showered and ate and relaxed while we enjoyed the sunset. We walked back up into town to the local Dep to get prepaid phone cards and then went back and headed to bed. We have been leaving the fly of the tent open to keep it cool while we sleep.

Day 42 – A la Roche to South of Sorel-Tracy ~ 92 miles

We woke up around 9 or so feeling rested, but wanting to sleep longer. We slowly got up and ate our usual breakfast of fruit and bagels. We packed up and headed up the steep hill from the camp up to the road. We stopped about 10 miles down the road when we reached a payphone. We had to call into CBC radio because we had an interview that we were supposed to do over the phone. We did the interview and it aired at 4:00 today internationally. Really humbling to be a part of.

After the interview we continued on. We could tell early on that it was going to be a hot day. We bike at a pretty good pace until we reached Nicolet where we stopped for lunch. When we stopped for lunch however we really noticed the heat. After we ate we really slowed down and struggled to keep going. Now that we are headed west the sun is in our face for most of the day and it is really noticeable. The road quality also got worse which made the day even more stressful. We stopped a few times along the way in the shade to get a brake.

We reached Sorel-Tracy around 6:30 or so and stopped at a local pizza place for dinner. At that point we were exhausted and had already done 70+ miles. We ate and enjoyed the cool indoor temps. It didnt last long though and we had to continue on to find our site for the night. We were trying to make it to a campsite that had no water or toilets, but they said we could stay. We passed another campground on the way, but they wanted to charge us $50 dollars for the night! It was already 8:30! That was absurd so we continued on and tried to reach the campground that we had decided on prior.

We never found it. We ended up stopping at a Historical site which was a canal/ dam. We found a square of tall cedar bushes that was covering a power box and pitched our tent inside the square. It was protected from view, but not from the heat a mosquitos. We quickly set up our tent and hopped in to avoid getting eaten alive. We laid in bed and sweated for a while before we fell asleep. Not ideal but we had gone 92 miles and didn't want to go any further.

Day 43 – South of Sorel-Tracy to Montreal ~ 56 miles

Woke up very early today to all of the park workers arriving and looking at us in our hidden abode. We quickly threw everything together and left onto the road. On the road we packed up our stuff properly and then we were off. It was quite a ways before we found a town where we could get something to eat and refill our water bottles. Yesterday really took it out of us and we were feeling it, especially dehydration. Once we found a town we got huge bottles of juice and milk and then ate our other pizza that we couldn't finish last night. After that we were off into the strong wind towards Montreal.

A few hours later we stopped to get some more water and then started to enter the busy city. We were actually on the south side of the river and the city is on the north side but it still a very populated area. Right as the rain started to fall we stopped at a grocery store for lunch and took refuge under the awning as we ate. It started to rain harder and we had to go back out in it. We made our way over a bike ramp that took us over the freeway and found a really cool bike path that was actually out on the water. We were not sure if it was a breakwater or what but we biked along a dirt path out on the water looking out at the city on the other side of the river in the hazy rain. About ½ mile before we reached a bridge Zach got the first flat tire of the trip. It was pretty impressive since we have biked over 2500 miles but it couldn't have come at a worse time. Zach walked his bike to the bridge where he found the source of the problem, a small but very sharp thorn shaped rock. He tried to repair the leak but it was wet so he just put on a new tube and we were on our way in the rain again.

Bike paths are always a blessing as they get you away from traffic and tend to be quieter, but as you bikers know a dirt path in the rain causes havoc on your chain and shifting systems on road bikes. By the time the trail turned to pavement, everything was caked in dirt and grit. We will definitely need to clean our bikes and trailers tonight or tomorrow. Once we got off the trail we had to find our warm shower spot for the night. We got a little mixed up but eventually found the right roads that took us there. We arrived at Domanique's house right as he got there. We sprayed off all the grime with the hose and then went inside to get showered up and ready for dinner. He had a great salmon dinner made up in no time and soon we were engaged in conversations about past trips and his bicycle journey throughout south america. The rest of the night we sat out on the porch with his dad and had Cuban cigars and flaming Sambuca. We went to bed watching Te Dark Knight, hoping that the rain will end by tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will head to Camping le Dauphin, which is very near the US border. We are very excited to be entering back into America in the next two days!

Day 44 – South Montreal to Camping le Dauphin ~ 53 miles

This morning could not have come at a worse time, all we wanted was to sleep the day away. But got ready and brought all of our things outside. We pumped up our tires and made some quick adjustments before saying our goodbyes. We headed to a grocery store for breakfast and then we were off west towards St-Anicet. The wind was pretty bad and we were so tired so it was slow going. We passed through a reservation and couldn't believe all of the smoke shops, literally 50 or so in a mile! After that we found a random DQ in the middle of nowhere and stopped for some Blizzards. That definitely made us feel better. After that we kept following hwy 132 and slowly making our way west. We should have gotten lunch a few hours before but there really wasn't much until we made it to St-Anicet. There we got lunch and dinner and then made the final 2 miles to the campground. We showered and then Zach headed back into town for some more supplies, while Kris made some phone calls back home. After Zach returned we both extensively cleaned our bikes and that took so long but it was so needed! The rest of the night we looked at our route for the next few days and marveled in the fact that the US is so close. The border is only 10 miles away and we will strike early in the morning.

Looking back at our time in Canada, we have seen so much in such a short time. It was an amazing experience but what we will come away with the most is how wonderful people were to us. Everyone was interested in what we were doing and were so willing to lend a hand or a place to stay. The people who put us up at night were so incredibly friendly and hospitable, they really made us feel at home. We cant thank them enough and will never forget what they did for us. Canada it has been a pleasure, Quebec it has been interesting but great. USA here we come, you better be ready because we wont be looking back!

Day 45 – Camping le Dauphin to Jacques Cartier State Park ~ 90 miles

Woke up late this morning to the mosquitoes waiting for us on the edges of the tent. A bit tired after having to deal with our first pesky raccoon of the trip. It came right up to our tent and we had to get out and hit it with a stick. It came back a second time and we had to hit it even harder and chase it up a tree before it decided to leave us alone. We got ready quickly and headed out in high spirits towards the USA! We stopped about 8 miles down the road and tried to get rid of some of our canadian money and get some snacks. About 10 minutes later we were at the US border, crossing into New York, something we have been waiting 45 days to see. We crossed the border and then had to go through customs. They had a lot of questions for us and then wanted to see our footage that we had just filmed. In the end they gave us a lot of grief for two guys being on bicycles. We finally were on our way again and stopped in Messena for some lunch and Zach went looking for a Sprint store to get a new phone. He didn't find one and then were on our way along the Seaway trail that will take us along all of the NY shorelines.

We made it to our destination by 3pm and decided that we would keep going as it would make tomorrow shorter. Tomorrow we will be staying at a lake home and having a good relaxing rest with good people form Duluth. We ended up continuing on and headed towards Ogdensburg. On the way there we stopped for a snack at a gas station and then were off again. We then stopped at a campground and found out if we went 20 more miles we would find a state park. In Ogdensburg we stopped for dinner and then were off again with the wind at our backs and shoulders that were 10 feet wide at times. We quickly made it to Morrisburg and got some beer and then made it to the campground before the sun went down. It was the cheapest site yet but the most beautiful and well groomed. We had the site all to ourselves, which it meant it was quiet. We went down to the shoreline and watched the sunset and filmed the 1000 islands and Brockville across the river. We went back up to the campsite where we showered up and then went off into the woods and found a abundance of firewood and then made a great fire and had great conversations of life. We went to bed a few hours later to the sounds of the woods in peace.

We are so happy to be back in the USA where we don't have to speak French to survive and everything is cheap. Tomorrow we have a short day to Cape Vincent where we will be staying with a couple from Duluth at their lake home where we will have a nice rest and some time to explore, reset, and get ready for the second half of our trip!

Day 46 – Jacque Cartier SP to Cape Vincent, NY ~ 40 miles

We woke up this morning to the sound of a lawn mower at 7 am...luckily that is what time we had the alarm set for. We fell back to sleep until about 8 and then got up for our last day on the Seaway. We packed up our stuff and ate our breakfast of an apple and bagel with Nutella. We wanted to get going ASAP because we knew that it would mean a longer time to relax once we reached our destination 40 miles or so away.

We headed out of the park with the sky blue and sun beating down. We headed west towards Alexandria Bay. We continued on pretty uneventfully, but making pretty good time considering we had a bit of headwind. We stopped at an overlook that looked out on the Seaway and we could see the Singer Castle on Dark Island, which is one of a couple big castles on the Seaway in the Thousand Islands region. It was paid for to be build by one of the early Presidents of the Singer Sewing Machine company. It is a beautiful building from a far and we would love to tour it someday.

We continued on through the countryside until we reached the town of Clayton. We stopped at a gas station and got a snack and sat outside and watched as a bunch of cigarette racing boats pulled into the gas station to fill up. Being Friday people are headed to the water to relax.

After we stopped it was a pretty quick jaunt to Ken and Joanne's home along the river just outside of Cape Vincent. The wind switched a bit a so it was great as made our way to their place. We arrived around 1:30, so it was a quick day for us.

They came out to greet us as we arrived and we stood out and talked a bit. After we went inside and enjoyed the sloppy joe sandwiches that they prepared for us. After we ate we showered and then hopped in the car and we drove up to Cape Vincent to check out the town and the Tibbet's Point Lighthouse. We drove around to Clayton and Alexandria Bay and they showed us around the area and explained some of the history of the area.

We made our way back to the house and had a happy hour with Gin and Tonics and some snacks. At about 8:30 we sat down for an amazing dinner prepared by Joanne and Ken of Beef, Pork, Mashed Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Bread, and Salad with the “Original” Thousand Island Dressing. The dressing was invented in the Clayton area and named after the Thousand Island region of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Right in the middle of dinner a few of Ken and Joannes friends stopped by and said hello. They arrived here last night at 7 and haven't had a chance to really settle in yet.

After dinner we sat and watched the guy tight rope over the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara. It has been a relaxing afternoon and we have really enjoyed their company and can't thank them enough for opening their home to us.

Tomorrow we have another short day to Selkirk Shores SP and should be going through Rochester, NY on Monday!

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