Day with Sylvain & Manon

Canada's flag
North America » Canada » Quebec
July 26th 2006
Published: August 12th 2006
Edit Blog Post

Total Distance: 0 miles / 0 kmMouse: 0,0

Riviere du Loup to Chesterville

Sylvain and Manon's place is just south of Chesterville.

Morning Fog on the RoadMorning Fog on the RoadMorning Fog on the Road

I think I saw two other cars the whole morning on this road. It was a dreamlike ride. I loved it.
Odometer: 38220km

The rain was continuous all night, but stopped at about 6am. This left everything wet and a thick fog blanketed the countryside. I thought the fog would be worst along the river, but the clerk at the hotel advised me to stay as close to the river as possible. Evidently the highways, which are at a higher elevation, have even worse fog and, with more traffic, a higher risk of an accident. This is the way it works along the St. Lawrence. I had planned to ride the narrow, slow roads close to the river anyway, so it worked out well.

I had a memorable ride this morning. There were no cars on the road. The villages appeared as though someone was drawing open a curtain in front of me. From time to time, a man or woman would appear out of the fog, on the side of the road, staring at me as I slowly passed by. Some of them had bicycles, but they all looked like they were going nowhere; just standing there watching to see who might go by.

Each village had a look of older times. Many houses could have been located
Typical Hotels along the shoreTypical Hotels along the shoreTypical Hotels along the shore

Not your typical chain hotel, eh.
in the middle of a village in France and no one would have thought them unique with thier multiple, single-window dormers and brilliant colours that looked freshly painted.

In between the villages the road weaved around flat farmland, sometimes coming alongside the St. Lawrence, then, in other places, wandering far away from the river up against small ridges that looked like they formed the river's bank centuries ago.

At Riviere-Oullette the towns started to become a little more commercial and they lost their carm for me, so I got on the main autoroute to Quebec City. At the outskirts of Quebec City I turned south and worked my way to Vallee-Junction then headed west towards Thetford Mines and Disraeli.

About 10-15km east of Thetford Mines, I saw some large piles of gray silt. I ralized later this was some of the spoilage from the mining operation. These piles were about three stories hight and, as I got closer to the open pit mine itself, they grew in hight and breadth. At one point, through the heat heze, I saw what looked to be a mountain, towering above the surrounding hills. When I got closer, it turned out to be yet another pile of waste. Some of it looked like burden removed from the mine while other bits looked like the waste from the asbestoes refining process. The whole vally was a wasteland. I couldn't help wondering how much free asbestoes there was in the air during the haydays of the mine opeation. I am certain the water and soil contamination must be devistating.

If you have been following my trip, you will remember that I met a couple, Sylvain and Manon, on the Digby ferry and they invited me to come and stay with them. I had been in touch with Sylvain earlier and he came out to Desraeli to meet me and be a guide back to their place. We zoomed down Highway 161 from Desreli to Chesterville, which was great ride in itself. I wished I had less weight so I could have opened up the bike a bit more, but it was still fun tracking behind Sylvain on his Suzuki V-Strom.

Their property and house are something to behold. The outside of the house is finished in wood and looks rustic. Inside it has a family friendly layout with all the modern conveniences. The kitchen was very special for me and probably should be reviewed by one of those home and garden magazines.

Once I unloaded my bags, Sylvain said we should go for a swim in the stream. I was a bit aprehensive as my only creek swimming experience was in mountain streams. I was so hot that I thought I would welcome even a cold swim. We all changed in to our bathing suits and walked up a hill to one of the four swimming holes on the creek that flows through their property. The water was clear, like a mountain stream, but the temperature was like a warm swimming pool. My goodness it was refershing after a hot, humid day on the bike. Their son and a cousin joined us and demonstrated all the diving ledges along the creek. Sylvain's father farmed close to this place and when Sylvain was a teenager he use to come to these same swimming holes. What a wonderful, contiguous life to live - staying in the same locale, especially when it looks like this.

A good friend of theirs, Francois, lives nearby. He came over in the evening and cooked a different supper of specially prepared, fresh mussles and French Fries from fresh cut potatoes. They call them, simply, 'frits'. The meal, accompanied by wine, was outstanding. I was embarrassed that I didn't have anything to contribute. I didn't have an inch of space on the bike to carry anything extra.

We talked about a lot of different things that evening. One subject was language and how the French in France are now inserting a lot of English words in their conversation rather than use a French equivalent. They believe that, in Quebec, there is a lot of effort to avoid this practice and keep the words French Canadian. They noted that all the traslation done in the movies is done for the market in France, so they sometimes have difficulty with the nuances of that French. Some groups in Quebec have tried to get the American companies to provide translation for French Canadian, but, from a business point of view, evidently the Quebec market is too small. Sylvain noted that was just one example where their small population has problems influencing change.

Jointly, we agreed on the fact that language is very intertwined with culture and it
The Creek and River JunctionThe Creek and River JunctionThe Creek and River Junction

This is the view Sylvain and Manon whenever they look out their front window. Beautiful.
is almost impossible to keep a culture alive without its root language. I remembered Les explaining this to me a couple of years ago. It made sense to me and it was nice to able to talk with the group that night with a common understanding. I'm not sure I would have been able to do that ten years ago.

Manon and I had a look through images of her photography. I found most of them very well done and several would be contest winners, as far as I was concerned. She has a good sense of when to push the shutter to capture people and their mannerisms. She has only been at it seriously for about three years, but I think she will go far with her photography.

I found it very comfortable to be with Sylvain, Manon, their family and friends. There is a lot of warmth and love in that house. All the young people, their son, daughter, and nephew, were very pleasant and fun to be around.

Their son kindly gave up his room for me for the night. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was gone. This seems to be happening regularily now. I think it is good. Anyhow, I like it. Not too many years back I use to struggle getting to sleep as my mind tried to process all the planning for the next day at work or the weekend jobs around the house.

Odometer at the end of the day: 38580km

Additional photos below
Photos: 10, Displayed: 10


Near Vallee-Jonction on Riviere ChaudiereNear Vallee-Jonction on Riviere Chaudiere
Near Vallee-Jonction on Riviere Chaudiere

Typcial farm scenery in the Eastern Townships.
Thetford Mine - the pitThetford Mine - the pit
Thetford Mine - the pit

All the stuff you don't see is spread out over 10km up and down the valley.
Jack & Sylvain at the swimming holeJack & Sylvain at the swimming hole
Jack & Sylvain at the swimming hole

This was incredible. Warmish water and incredible scenery. One of the swimming holes is just behind me. I could turn around there and dive off a little ledge into the deeper water. By the way, I'm the pasty white guy on the right. No suntanning on a motorcycle.

Tot: 0.442s; Tpl: 0.02s; cc: 11; qc: 68; dbt: 0.015s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb