Lonnie and Sue - Traveling North America

Touring Quebec in 2004

 08-09-04MonDay 52Out at: 8:05 AMTrip meter: 187       Touring Montreal from here.

Left town on the 417 east. The 417 is a part of the Trans-Canadian Highway. At the 34 went north. Crossed into Quebec at the town of Hawkesbury.  Immediately after cross the river we took the 344 east. It is a narrow winding road that follows the river. The road is only 18’ wide, no shoulders, twists like a pretzel, bumpy like a rub board and the speed limit is 90 km/h. The road is paralleling the river but the underbrush is so thick we get only a glimpse occasionally. Entered a residential area and the speed limit was reduced to 80 km/h. After about 10 miles we got out of the underbrush, the view is fantastic, the road is a bit smoother, and the ride is quite an experience. After about 25 miles we hit about ½ mile of construction then got on some good highway. There was a sign that said they were rebuilding the highway. We are now on the part that has been completed.

At the junction of the 640 went east. Took exit 52E took the 40 east. At exit 108 took the 343 south. At the 138 took it east 3.2 miles to the campground. Stopped at Camping Le Marquis, St Sulpice, QC – about 25 miles east of Montreal. Pulled in so we are looking out on the St Lawrence River. Have water, electric, and sewer – level site – staying 4 nights. Got setup at 1:15 PM.

Took the 138 into Montreal. Stop and go traffic most of the way. Took 1 hr 15 min to go 25 miles. Went to the information center and got some brochures. Parked on Rue St Paul. It is an old section of town with about 8 blocks of cobble stone street. Did a walking tour – mostly old style French restaurants – on the sidewalk, in courtyards, and in basements. It was just one block to the harbor so we walked around it. During our drive we saw miles and miles of very quaint apartment buildings – all with balconies. Most of them were at least three floors tall – the majority with exposed staircases on the outside of the building from the first to the second floor. 

Tried to use the microwave but it keeps going off. Only have 15 amp service. The power went off several times. I realized it was the EMS shutting it off because the voltage dropped below 105 volts. Switched over to the inverter. This is an inverter I installed and I have to plug it into the electrical system.

08-10-04TueDay 53 - Departed camp at 9:45 AM. Went to the Jardin Botanique de Montreal (The botanical gardens). Purchased a combination ticket for the garden, the Biodome, and the Insectarium (insect display). We are not interested in the insects but a combination ticket was cheaper than the garden and biodome separately. 

The garden was beautiful and extremely large. There were two large vegetable gardens with items we had never seen or heard of. They had a wide assortment of plants and many different kinds of each, i.e. 5 kinds of corn, about 10 kinds of tomatoes, 10 kinds of beans, etc. There was a small stand of apple trees loaded with apples just about ready to pick. Saw several varieties of tobacco plants.

A street in the old section of Montreal.
The flower beds alone are worth a trip to Montreal. There was one bed of a flower called Dahlia. Sue took a lot of pictures of individual flowers and then a picture of the major bed. There were about 30 different types with the majority in the one bed but others were scattered through the garden.   Toured the rose garden but it only had 2 bushes in bloom.   

The Japanese garden was huge.  There were multiple waterfalls and koi that were over 24 inches long.  I set and watched the koi while Sue took pictures.  Also saw a lot of small koi that was only one inch long.  There was a nice exhibit of bonsai trees.   

The Chinese garden had a waterfall about 30 feet tall and an exhibit of bonsai trees.   

We went to the Green House.  It was a climate controlled building about 400 feet long that consisted of 10 different environments –  

Molson Hospitality Greenhouse – Saw the following trees with fruit on them:  orange, banana, coconut, starfruit, fig, and papaya.  Saw the following trees with no fruit:  mango, grapefruit, coffee, brazil nut, and macadamia nut.  Saw other assorted trees.  A cinnamon tree - they strip the bark, dry it, and then reduce it to power.  A mahogany tree.  A vanilla plant.  The vanilla plant is a variety of orchid.  Saw a common ginger plant with the ginger root exposed.

Tropical Rainforest

Tropical Economic Plant Greenhouse – Types of plants that grow in the tropics that are used for food and medicine.

Orchid and Aroid Greenhouse – Large assortment of orchids.

Fern Greenhouse.

Begonia and Gesneriad Greenhouse – Exhibit of plants from a single family – the Begoniaceae.  I did not find this one very interesting and walked through very rapidly.

Arid Regions – Cacti from around the world.

Hacienda – Exhibit of a Spanish hacienda as it may be landscaped with local Mexican plants.

Garden of Weedlessness – Another bonsai tree exhibit.

Main Exhibition Greenhouse – Nice display of flowers with a waterfall and a VW auto covered with flowering fern. 

This reminds me of the Biosphere in Oklahoma City.  It does not have the different levels and waterfalls, but it has a wider variety of plants.  We spent about 5 hours in the garden.  It sprinkled on us while we were having lunch on the patio.  Will do the Biodome tomorrow.  See Photos. 

08-11-04WedDay 54- Rained real hard last night and the wind blew really hard. Departed camp at 11:20 AM. Petro Canada and Canada-Shell both have large refineries and tank farms on the 138 east of Montreal. 

Went to the Biodome. On the walk in we noticed what appears to be a long snake made of Lego’s. It is made up of sections that appear to be about 18 inches long, 12 inches tall, and 12 inches wide. I estimate it to be over ½ mile long. Sue took a picture. When we got to the head of it there were several tents with people assembling these sections – both children and adults. There was a sign that said it was going to be one mile long. There were Lego representatives giving boxes of Lego’s away in the walkway. We went into the main tent and talked to a Lego rep. It seems they are trying to break a Guinness world record. The record is 1,390 meters and they are trying to get to 1,395 meters by Sunday. Went into the Biodome. It is in four sections and is a mini zoo, aquarium, and greenhouse. It is worth the visit if you are in Montreal. 

A word about the busses in Montreal. On the older busses the center of the front wheels are 8 feet from the front of the bus – I measured them. On the newer busses they appear to be about 10 feet from the front. It really seems to me that it would be extremely difficult to drive one on the narrow Montreal streets in traffic. 

While on the way back to the campground we saw bowling lanes and stopped. It was rubber duckpins. We bowled 3 games. I won 2 games and Sue won 1 plus total. She had high game of 126. These were semi-automatic pinsetters. They sweep the deck and reset the pins but we had to press a button after each ball to get them to work. We had to keep our own score.

The Lego snake.
08-12-04ThurDay 55 - It rained again last night. Departed camp at 11:30 AM. Just driving around today – going to tour Laval. Took the 344 west, which followed the river on the north side of the island. In the town of Terrebonne we toured several new housing developments. We saw over 200 new homes under construction. All of the new construction was brick. A lot of the older homes are constructed of quarried stone, river rock, and flat stone. Traveled about 25 miles on the 344. It was completely covered with residential and businesses the entire 25 miles. With the exception of the town of Terrebonne there were very few side streets off of the 344 – nearly everything was on the highway. It was a nice drive even though there were at least 6 stop signs every mile.

Went across the river into Laval on the 15 and turned east on the148. Saw a drive-in theatre with 4 screens and it was still in use.

At this time I would like to note that when we were in Ontario the people usually stopped at stop signs. In Quebec there must be a difference in the stop signs that I have been unable to identify because the majority of the drivers use a “rolling” stop. I need to know which one mean STOP and which ones mean ROLLING STOP.

Stopped at Loblaws, a grocery store. We have seen them since Ontario but thought they were more along the line of a department store because of the type merchandise that was displayed outside. However, they are not. They are a combination of United Market Place and Wal-Mart. The grocery department was far larger than any Super Wal-Mart I have seen. The building was a city block long and there was only one entrance. The majority of the items we looked at were more expensive than what we have seen elsewhere but Sue loved the place. It was the closest to a state side super market we have been in.

As I have been catching up this log it has been raining for the past 2 hours. The radio predicted up to 2 inches during the next 48 hours. Drove the jeep 301 miles this stop .

08-13-04FriDay 56Out at:  8:05 AMTrip meter:  136

Broke camp in the rain.  Looks like it rained all night long.  Know it rained fairly hard for 3 hours before I went to bed at 1:00 AM and was still raining when I did.  It stopped raining at 8:15 AM.  Took the 138 from the campground east toward Quebec City.  It follows the river and is a very scenic drive.  The road is very narrow with very narrow shoulders.  The King needs to invest some money in maintenance.  The AAA guidebook said that Quebec highways were the worst in Canada and they are certainly worse than any we traveled in Ontario.

Got on the 40 at exit 151.  The reason was because the 138 swung to the north away from the river.  One thing we have noticed is that when we get outside the cities we do not see any McDonalds or Burger King’s in the small towns.  Quebec City is the last town of any size we are going to see during the remainder of our stay in Canada.  

Stayed on the 138 to the campground.  Stopped at Camping Juneau-Chalets, St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, QC – about 8 miles west of Quebec City - Have water, electric, and sewer.  Staying 5 nights.  Got setup at 1:55 PM.  Unable to get satellite – believe the dish is not working properly because we had trouble with it at the last site.  I will look at it on a day when the weather clears.  We have DirecTv with an 18" dish.

Heard on the news that Target was trying to enter the Canadian market by buying "The Bay" and "Zeller’s" for about one billion dollars.  We had seen something that had indicated The Bay and Zeller’s were part of the same company.  There is a third company involved but we failed to get its name – it is involved in the sports outfitting business.  It seems that Zeller’s is doing real good but Wal-Mart is putting a big dent in The Bay’s business.  In our dealing with the two businesses it is our opinion that Zeller’s is a Target type store and The Bay is more on the line of a Dillard’s.  Don’t understand why Wal-Mart is competition for The Bay.  As noted earlier in this log The Bay is a descendent of the Hudson Bay Co.  As verified by the radio announcer The Bay is Canada’s oldest national company.  We feel it will be a slap in the face of Canadians if this company is sold to a foreign purchaser.   

At 2:40 PM we departed the campground to drive into Quebec City and it started to rain again.  Stopped at the tourist center then drove into old Quebec City.  Very narrow streets.  Will return tomorrow and do a walking tour.  

Drove by the racetrack – harness racing.  Stopped to get a schedule and found they only race on Thursday’s.   

08-14-04SatDay 57   - Looks like it rained all night long but stopped some time early this morning.  It appears to be trying to clear.  Departed camp at 9 AM.  Decided to head toward Quebec City.  If it clears before we get there then we will do our walking tour – if not then we will do our driving tour to Chicoutimi.  We had originally planned to take the coach to Chicoutimi then the ferry across the St Lawrence river but changed our minds when we got the price for the ferry crossing.  Decided to do a driving tour out of Quebec City.

It cleared so we went to old Quebec City.  Now a bit of history about Quebec City.  The city was founded in 1608 by the French.  It was locate on a cliff at the point where the St Charles River enters the St Lawrence River because the two rivers provided protection from attack from three sides, north, west, and south.  During the development years the town was expanded and grew down the bluff.  The first of many attacks on the city came from the British in 1690 and as a result a wooden wall was construction for protection on the west side.  In 1693 it was reinforced with a quarried rock fence.  Another attack proved it to be ineffective so the current fence, called the fortification, was started in 1712.  

I measured the fortification in several places.  It is not of a consistent width.  The top seems to measure between 20 and 25 feet but the base runs from 30 to 70 feet.  It has a lot to do with the terrain of the cliff.  Documentation indicates it was extremely difficult to construct an effective wall so it appears the builders just built whatever was necessary for the particular area they were building in.  The wall is a parallel wall with dirt packed in between.  The base of each is about 8 feet and narrows to 2 to 4 feet at the top.  There are gates build into the walls and also rooms for ammunition storage and other uses.  The walls on the outside are exposed rock but the inside has been covered with a dirt brume.  That is so the wall can be patrolled and provides an area for the cannon. 

Over the years the town grew to cover all of the area from the fortification to the rivers.  That is now old Quebec City.  The majority of the building, the most would have been residences, are constructed of quarried stone.  It is amazing to me that they were able to get that much material to the top of the cliff in the 1600’s to do this construction.  It appears that at least 80% of the buildings on the main drags are restaurants – the majority with seating on the sidewalk.  Could not tell what the ones on the side streets (one lane streets) were but assume they are residential.

The growth to the west of the fortification and down to the flat is called upper Quebec City.  The growth on the flat is lower Quebec City.  

The sun is out and it is a beautiful day.  We drove through Plaines D’Abraham – the Plains of Abraham.  It is the site of the of the September 1759 battle where the British attacked and captured Quebec City.  It was the last major battle in the 7-year war.  The French thought Quebec City was impregnable because of the cliff walls and the fortification.  During the night British General Wolfe took 4,800 troops and scaled the cliffs in the night.  The French had 4,500 troops but the majority of them were scattered along the St Lawrence River outside the fortification.  By the time they could be recalled to defend Quebec City it was to late.  The French were never able to recapture Quebec City but they have retained the culture and heritage to this day.  

The Plains is a large beautiful park.  We drove through it in several different directions and got out in several spots and walked.  One walk was around the Citadel, the southern most portion of the fortification overlooking the St Lawrence River.  The Citadel is also the official residence of the Governor General in Quebec City.

We walked through old Quebec City.  There was a lot of free entertainment going on in the little park areas and on the streets.  It looked like it is a daily event.  Not good entertainment but free.  We had lunch.  One area was dominated by artist and galleries.  We walked through an alley that was packed with vendors.  They had prints hanging on both walls that were selling 6 for $10 – rather good too.  On the streets were artist doing landscapes, portraits, and funny portraits (caricature).  

We went to a diorama about the 6 battles for Quebec City.  Found out some facts we had not gotten from our touring and reading.  

We took a walk on the fortification. Sue took some really good pictures. There were several gates for vehicle traffic and some for foot traffic. We read that the traffic gates had been widened from the original configuration.

During our drive through old Quebec City we probably saw at least 2,000 automobiles – only saw 2 pickup trucks the entire day – did not see any suburbans – just small cars.

A note about the parking meters – we have also seen this in other cities.  In the older parts of town they are set back behind the sidewalks, sometime as much as 10 to 15 feet.  That is because the meters were put in long after the streets – also because the streets are so narrow that cars are sometime parked on the sidewalk.  On numerous occasions we have been on narrow 2 lane streets and there will be a car stopped in one lane with the emergency flashers on and the driver in a store conducting business.  

08-15-04SunDay 58 - Slept in this morning and had a late late breakfast.  Departed camp at 1:00 PM.  Going to tour the Ile d’Orleans (Island of Orleans) located in the St Lawrence River.  Stopped at the tourist center and rented an audio tour tape – had 2 cassette tapes. 

Walking the wall that surrounds Old Quebec City.  The Parliament building is visible on the right. 
Got to the island via a bridge that was constructed in 1935.  Got there by taking the 40 west from the campground.  The island is 34 kilometers long and 8 kilometers wide with a permanent winter population of 7,000 and summer of 10,000.  There are 2 major industries- agriculture and tourism.  Stopped at the Le Vignoble de Sainte-Petronille winery.  They only make dry wines so we didn’t buy any but they had a wonderful view of the falls on the mainland – the falls will be discussed later today.  

The 368 goes completely around the island.  There are 3 roads that cut across the island – 2 on the southwest end and the other, Route du Mitan, at the widest part of the island.  The 368 follows the coast except for the turn at the northeast end.  It was a wonderful drive through quaint little towns with magnificent views of the St Lawrence.  There are six parishes on the island, each with their own church, the oldest being built in 1717.  We stopped at all of them for Sue to tour.  The last two were closed because it was after 5 PM.   

The road around the island was fairly level but that levelness only extended 200 to 500 feet inland before it rose, rather rapidly, to 100 plus feet.  For a better comparison, consider the road running next to the river with one row of houses on the other side of the road then the increased elevation.  For another, consider one row of houses next to the river, then the road, then one row of houses before the beginning of the elevation.  That would be the widest part of the flat area.  You could see houses build on the side of the elevation and on the top with dirt roads leading up.  We took several of those roads.  They would lead to several houses – the ones we took were two to eight houses with multiple out buildings.  We saw a dairy farm and a lot of acreage under cultivation.  It looked like the only way to get to the farmland inside the island is through these farms.  

We took Route du Mitan about half way across the island then returned.  There was a lot of acreage under cultivation but about half of what we saw was wooded area.   

We made several stops and looked at old buildings, docks, one garage sale (didn’t buy anything), and a trout hatchery.  They were renting fishing poles at the hatchery so believe it is just a fishing pond.  We feed the fish.  The ones being caught were only 8 to 12 inches long.   

The total drive around the island was 57.5 miles.  The actual road is 42 miles so we did a lot of extra driving.  One side trip was at the northeast end where the highway does not go all the way to the coast.  There is a dead end road that does so we took it.  There is a campground there but it is for tents only.  

We stopped at a restaurant on the island and had dinner. It was advertised as the best Canadian food on the island (there were about 20 restaurants). We had the Canadian pot roast. I thought it was awful – Sue didn’t like it much either. If this was the best then these people don’t eat very well. Went back to the mainland. 

Now about the falls – Parc de la Chute-Montmorency (Montmorency Falls) is located at the end of the Montmorency River. It is located just a bit to the west of the entrance to the bridge. We were able to drive close to the top then walk the rest of the way to a suspension bridge that spans the falls. The falls is 240 feet wide and 272 feet tall – that 98 feet taller than Niagara Falls. Not nearly as spectacular as Niagara Falls but still a nice falls. Enjoyed the visit.

It did not rain today – it has been real clear and sunny – one of the best days yet. We arrived back at camp at 8:10 PM – the sky is covered with beautiful swirls and streaks of bright red. Since the sailors say “red sky at night sailors delight” we are looking forward to a nice day tomorrow.

08-16-04MonDay 59 - Departed camp at 8:30 AM – going for a long drive – the morning is clear and sunny.  Heading for Chicoutimi, a city of 60,000 that is north of Quebec City.  It is a scenic drive.  Left town on the 175.  It is a mountain drive on a 2 and 3 lane road.  Three lanes on long mountain climb.  It is about 130 miles to Chicoutimi then we plan to take the 170 east and return along the St Lawrence on the 138 – a drive of about 330 miles.

Restaurant we stopped at for dinner.  Fantastic setting but really bad food.
Stopped at McDonalds about 12 miles out of Quebec City and had breakfast.  This is the first McDonalds we have stopped at in Canada.  This is the first McDonalds we have seen outside the limits of a city. 
About 25 miles into the drive we came on a very interesting side road, dirt, into the mountains. We took it. Went 37 km in then had to turn around. Did not know where the road was going and was running low on fuel. There are a lot of dirt roads meandering around the mountains because there is a lot of logging. We met 4 trucks on the roads – 3 empty and 1 loaded. Saw several stacks of cut logs and a number of mountains that had been clear-cut. It was a very interesting drive – just wish I had fueled up before making the trip. This was our first real adventure. The roads we traveled were in remarkable condition – probably kept that way for the logging trucks.

Got back on the 175.  Found fuel at an area 62 miles north of Quebec City and 67 miles south of Chicoutimi.  It is the last fuel before Chicoutimi.  We have seen a lot of moose signs i.e. “Moose Crossing” and “Beware of the Moose” but we haven’t seen any moose. 

 
Made a change in plans.  Decided to return via the 381 south instead of the 170.  It appears to be a narrower road – not marked as scenic like the 170 though.  Took the 170 west about 15 miles to La Baie – the 381 goes south from there.  Stopped in a park in La Baie and had our lunch.

 

One of the clear cut mountains we saw on our drive.
The drive down the 381 was prettier than the one up the 175 – should be marked scenic on the AAA map.  Stopped and Sue took pictures of a dam and creek at the north end of Lac Ha Ha.  We made a 4-wheel drive side trip to a campground – only tents.  Highly recommend this drive.  The entire trip was 376 miles.  

08-17-04TueDay 60  - Another pretty day.  Maybe we have turned the corner on the weather.  Departed camp at 12:30 PM – going to town to see a Russian exhibit at the Museum of Civilization.   

Stopped at an RV store.  Sue stayed in the car while I went inside so I left the key in the ignition.  After I had gone inside she decided to come in also.  She locked the car, left the key in the ignition, and left her key in the car.  I borrowed a hammer and broke the small window on the rear door on the driver’s side.  Went to the Jeep place to get another one put in but they did not have one.  The service rep put out a query citywide but did not find one in stock.  He referred me to a glass dealer that could get one shipped in tomorrow.  We went to the glass dealer and their company had one in Toronto that could be sent in overnight but the cost for the glass, without installation, was $377.00.  I decided to pass on it.  The service rep at the glass dealer taped a piece of plastic over the opening free of charge.

Went to Home Depot and bought a piece of 1/8 inch hardboard.  I cut it to size and installed it in the door.  It appears to fits tight but will keep an eye on it.  The board was glazed white so I taped it up with black duct tape.  If it rains and starts leaking then I will caulk it. 

Stopped at the grocery store and stocked up on meat.  Do not expect to see any large supermarkets after we leave Quebec City tomorrow.  Purchased some firewood and had a campfire.  Roasted marshmallows.  Drove the jeep 627 miles this stop.

08-18-04WedDay 61Out at:  11:45 AMTrip meter:  140 

Took the 40 to the 73 south.  After we crossed the St Lawrence River turned east on the 132 all the way to Riviere-du-Loup.  

Stopped at Camping du Quai, Riviere-du-Loup, QC.  Got setup at 5:15 PM - Have water, electric, and sewer.  Stayed 3 nights.  Sites are close together, fairly level, with no shade.  There is a partial view of the lake.  The fire rings are the inner tubs out of washing machines.  Have satellite.

 

 

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