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Published: September 4th 2022
We left Perce and drove north to the St. Lawrence River, then headed west along the rest of the not good highways of the Gaspe Peninsula. After a night at a campground/motel, on to Rimouski, which is a town we really like. The highlight of our stay there was a muscle car show!
A KOA near Quebec City came next. We did our usual favorite thing in the city, walking around, gazing into shop windows and looking at people.
On to Montreal and another pleasant KOA. Our highlight there was a visit to the Botanic Gardens. The weather was not as nice as previously, so we skipped hanging out in other parts of the city, where we have visited several times.
After unsuccessful attempts to interact with our Google Maps feature, we at last reached the home of our friends in Ottawa. We had three delightful days there, including a couple of nice dinners in the city which concluded with stops at gelato shops.
We were able to spend a laughter-filled afternoon with our friends in Perth, followed by a night at a nearby Walmart. Then it was time to head back toward the U.S. so we drove south to a KOA near Carleton, very close to the border. The border patrol there gave us an interesting experience.
The muscle and antique car show in Rimouski was really fun. Great memories of the long, long cars of the 50’s, and these were so shiny and spiffy. John always looks for MG’s, and he will always miss having an MG (even though his wasn’t quite assembled…)
We had a longish drive from the Quebec area campground into the city, but we managed it. Quebec is so spectacular, with its lower town area dotted with shops and restaurants. And then, to get high above on a cliff, you can take the funicular to reach the glorious hotel, park, and streets heading off in all inland directions to businesses, shops, restaurants, dwellings, etc. It was a sunny, very warm day, and we walked a lot, just absorbing the energy and beauty of this special city.
When we arrived in Montreal, I was concerned because I was running out of books to read! So we learned the name and location of a bookshop which featured “livres Anglaise.” I indulged. There was a series of huge malls in the area, with indoor parking. I remember that Montreal had underground shops, but now I guess the big indoor malls have evolved.
Our drive to the Botanic Gardens was pleasant, mainly through residential areas. But, as has occurred more than once on this journey, we could not manage to work the parking payment machine in the lot. John says they are placed so that the sun strikes the screens and makes the directions illegible, even more so because they are in French. But we were reassured because most of the other parkers were also failing to work the machines successfully.
As we stood in line for our admission tickets, I happened to turn around and look toward the giant crane across the street. There was a sort of large basket attached and immediately I saw someone hurtle himself out of it! It alarmed me, but soon a parachute opened and he floated to earth. Now there’s a way to spend part of an afternoon.
The gardens are of course well worth the visit, and worth undergoing any silly problems. It was a Sunday afternoon, so there were plenty of families strolling through the different areas. And I love watching the children.
From Montreal we went to Ottawa, to stay with friends for a few days. They have a lovely home, and a spacious suite for guests. She’s a great cook, and spoiled us mightily. Mostly we had fresh fruits and vegetables - perfect! He also cooks well, just not as much.
There was a downpour en route to Ottawa, and the windshield wiper on John’s side went awry. As soon as possible, we pulled over and he fixed it. A couple of miles later, it went goofy again, so we pulled over again. This time, he was able to repair the wiper by clever placement of a pebble. I think this was another of the times when I started laughing, because it just seemed like “Okay, what next?”
Our arrival in Ottawa was not smooth. We had been having so much trouble with the cell phone that we took to writing down GPS directions, because we couldn’t ever count on connecting closer to our destination. Once in Ottawa, we turned onto a highway from which we were supposed to turn at exit 34. All I had written was “exit 34.” We drove and drove and never found exit 34. So eventually we exited and pulled into a Tim Horton’s to get our phone connection. Surprise! The owner of that particular branch did not have wifi. We got directions to a Starbucks which did have wifi. It also had two very nice barristas who helped us to locate directions and we arrived at our friends’ house within half an hour.
The problem was not our obvious incompetence. As we had traveled down the highway, we had noticed a sign that read “Montreal Road.” (no hint of exit 34) That’s all it stated, so we kept going. And going…
We were very lucky that we were able to park the RV near our friends’ house. We had wonderful meals and visiting and a long walk in the neighborhood. And twice we were driven into downtown Ottawa for meals. Ottawa is one of John’s and my favorite places anywhere: parks, rivers, skating, trees, charming architecture and streets, a lively open market, all kinds of delicious food.
After the first meal, on a deck by the river, we went to the Market area and a favorite gelato spot of theirs. One of their daughters lives nearby in the city, and she arrived to join us, on her electric scooter. We wandered around slurping our gelatos, but some of us couldn’t get ahead of the drips and got very, very sticky hands.
Someone recently asked me what was the favorite thing I had seen on the trip. That is always a challenging question. But I finally realized that a monument in Ottawa honoring the “Peacekeepers” was a special place to me. It has statues of three uniformed men who hold guns, but the guns rest in their laps. The expressions on their faces were far from aggressively warlike, more alert and kind. There are so many war memorials in our world, and we owe much to soldiers, but it is heartwarming to see tributes to peacekeepers as well.
Our second meal was at the Tavern at the Gallery. What a beautiful place! It is outside with all sorts of different seating areas, and plants and sculptures. After enjoying our imaginative pizzas, it was again time for a gelato. We drove to another Tavern, affiliated with the first. This was also outdoors and they warned us that rain was approaching. But we were undeterred and got slightly wet. Again their daughter Nancy came by to say hello.
The next day, we left with many thanks and wonderful memories. We drove to a Walmart lot in Smiths Falls, where we would spend that night, and left the RV there. Then we drove to nearby Perth, a wonderful vacation area with many, many lakes. Even though we actually had GPS connection, we took a few wrong turns en route to our friends’ house. Their house is on a delightful lake, beautiful views. We could not go into the house because her 102-year old mom is living with them, and we are all wary of infecting each other. We sat at a table outside, which was soon covered with several delicious salads for our “lupper.” Laughter was continuous. He is a brilliant punster, and she is utterly bubbly and engages hilariously with John. They were both wearing colorful outfits that showed maps of the world; they are devoted to the idea that everybody in the world be willing and able to get vaccinated.
Back we drove to Smiths Falls, and we didn’t even get lost once! We slept fine, even though we were right next to a main road.
In the morning, we attempted to drive through downtown Smiths Falls, but there was a lot of construction occurring, and the signage wasn’t adequate to our needs.
After a very brief discussion, we agreed that it was time to head home. We drove south to a campground not far from a border-crossing bridge across the St. Lawrence. And next day, we proceeded to Customs and the USA.
When we stopped at the booth on the U.S. side, the attendant asked if we would mind helping with the training of a German shepherd who was being trained to sniff drugs. Why not? So we sat awhile, and border patrol officers were behind our vehicles with their dog. Finally we heard them say, “He found it.” We asked the attendant what he found, and the answer was “heroin.” That was a little freaky until they clarified that they had planted the heroin.
We traveled across far northern New York State and into Vermont. We stayed at a campground on one of the islands in Lake Champlain, and watched little kids riding around and around in golf carts.
Next day we traveled on down through the Champlain Islands, a drive we have always loved, and onto major highways from Burlington to Lebanon, NH and then eastward to home. We did take a detour into Montpelier for coffee and a snack, and decided that that is one very lovely state capitol. We parked in front of the state government buildings, then walked to a large square which was full of people on that Sunday morning. We each had an enormous almond croissant and watched bicyclists and walkers, families and friends. I happened to notice that a lot of the women were wearing skirts, which looked nice. There’s much charm in that city, and of course it’s not overwhelmingly big.
We arrived home in late afternoon. John was relieved that only parts of our lawn were brown, in this persistent drought, and there was still a lot of green. We have a huge chore of deadheading flowers ahead! But it is good to be home.
There is one thing I keep forgetting to include. It was a sign that I saw only at one campground. It reminds people not to invite thefts of things in their cars:
Be alert to the area where you are parking.
Lock your car.
Take your keys; don’t leave them on top of a tire.
Lock enticing-looking materials in the car’s trunk.
Fill an enticing-looking handbag with a thousand angry bees, and leave it easily visible in the car.
(I know my memory of the sign is imperfect, but there is something about the last reminder that seems to me to be Canadian - droll, low-key)
We haven’t made any plans yet for our next RV trip.
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