July 27, 2008

7/27/08 Coteau de Lac, Quebec

167.6km/5403km

I didn't sleep well last night but it was my own fault. No, it didn't rain. But next to us were two young guys with too much beer and too little maturity, so I thought there was going to be problems. Either I slept through them or they didn't happen. Silly me.

The town was big enough to have a Tim Horton's but we got there too early as it wasn't open. We grabbed some danishes at the local 24-hour grocery store before heading out of town (there was a line forming outside of Tim Horton's by the time we passed it again).

Another cool house

Traffic was very light since it was early Sunday morning. We had blue skies and mostly a tail wind all day as we kept following the Waterfront Trail. I'm sorry to say that the towns all blended together in my mind: Maitland, Riverview Heights, Prescott, Johnstown, Cardinal, Iroquois, Morrisburg and Ingleside.

It was a beautiful day and I wondered what it would be like to live on the river like these people. I mean it seemed that every food of the riverbank had a house or a dock or both. There were a few cottages but mostly there were very nice houses, some even mansions. And in the sunshine, everything looked great.

What a beautiful day!

In Ingleside, our route took us onto the Long Sault Parkway that ties eleven islands together and is also a park. It was a great ride and we saw tons of people out riding there bikes, including a women's fitness group. They asked Mike to take there picture and were excited to talk to him about the trip.

From here, we had a glorious bike path that wound it's way to Cornwall. It's still amazing to think that across this thin stretch of water (the St Lawrence River) is the shore of New York.

What a great bike path into Cornwall

As is our habit, we stopped to grab a bite to eat in town, then rejoined the bike path as it hugged the shoreline. Soon after leaving Cornwall, we ended up on the road again but with a bike lane designated shoulder.

We decided to bypass several campgrounds and finally leave Ontario by entering the provence of Quebec. And it was like we stepped into another country.

Finally out of Ontario and onto Quebec

The first thing I noticed was the highway sings were first written in French with English underneath if at all. Then we joined one of Quebec's bike routes, la route verde 5. It was amazing! It was a road unto itself with passing/no passing lines, it's own shoulder separating us from the road and even upright reflective pylons to protect us from traffic. If bike paths are all like this in Quebec, Mike and I have gone to biker heaven.

The Taj Mahal of bike paths

The other thing was language. In the last few days, we've overheard people speaking French, but just as we crossed the line today, it's the language spoken by everyone everywhere.

With little knowledge of French (so we couldn't ask for directions) we opted for the first campground we saw which was on the Canal de Coteau Canal. I could tell the young guy behind the counter wasn't used to getting English-speaking campers but we communicated pretty well.

We have a great little (actually, it's really huge) tent site right on the water. Soon after we got set up, our camp neighbor Roger came over to chat. His first words were French but soon he switched to English with ease. He too is a cyclist having done a few short bike touring trips in Quebec. Roger said after he retired, he'd like to do a bit of what we're doing. Such a nice guy.

A great campsite

Over the canal is a wooden footbridge which was a great meditation spot tonight. I could hear the waves lapping up against the boats while feeling the stiff breezes pushing me this way and that, all the while watching my breathing instead of getting too wrapped up in my thoughts.

A campground with boat moorings

Tomorrow we enter Montreal like last minute guests. We don't have any reservations so not even sure we'll get a place at the hostel. We're way ahead of schedule so we'll take another day off here. I know I can get the website/blog updated at last.

And I fell asleep with the sound of rain dancing on the tent for yet another night. [smile]