19 November 2018

OH Canada, Lac-Mégantic

10/07/18 - 10/10/18
Move to Lac-Mégantic

We stop at a grocery store in Ange-Gardien, Quebec “Marché du Village” along the way.  

Mr SMT desires leg stretching.  I desire a nap.  Kickboxing that AM in 48 degrees (9 C) apparently took more out of me than I realized.
I get a text from the aisle wanderer ... “I am lost in the bread forest.”

He found his way back eventually, and shared a haul of chips, bread, and hummus.  He recommends the store.  I recommend the bread and hummus.  Yum!

🙄 No me parle pas français.  


That should be "Je ne parle."

I mangle. Or should I say, I Españçais!  🤪

Baie des Sables
Victoria Loop, site 33

34 sites in our loop and we get the next to last one (number wise), and the next to last one (available on our loop).

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Jour de l’action de grâce!  The Canadian roadways resemble American holiday traffic.  The country is on the move! And our campground is packed with revelers.

I wonder how late our neighbors will be partying.  I’m expecting them to keep me awake all hours of the night.

Hm, unlike American campers who TOTALLY ignore camping rules, the Québécois actually adhere to campground rules.  Wow!  They are quiet and well behaved after 11 pm.  I fall asleep easily.  😁 

The memorial at Lac-Mégantic

In 2013, a train carrying 72 tankers of crude oil broke away from its brake settings, 63 tank cars derailed and spilled their contents on downtown Lac-Mégantic.  The explosions that followed destroyed many of the buildings left standing after the derailment.

The story and timeline are very complex.  

The train crew placed the train into a holding pattern near Nantes, at the top of a hill, for the crew’s evening shift break (a crew of 1 due to company policy).  The current crew headed to town for the evening.

Firefighters were called to the train to put out a fire noticed by a passing motorist.  In the process, the single running engine was shut down as per fire regulation.

Shutting down the engine ALSO (inadvertently) shut down the air system feeding the brakes.

An hour later, the train began moving under its own weight (the TSB later reports this is due in part to an insufficient repair by the railway company).  It reached 100 km/h (65 mph) at the time of derailment in Lac-Mégantic.

The crude oil fed fire burned for two days.

47 people died as a result of this derailment.  Thirty of them were in one local bar, the Musi-Cafe.  We passed by the relocated and rebuilt Musi-Cafe on walking tour of the town.

Soil, buildings, the Chaudière River, and storm sewers were heavily contaminated with crude oil.

Lac-Mégantic Train Disaster Memorial

48 sculptures have been sprinkled around downtown Lac-Mégantic as remembrance and homage to the dead as a result of this disaster.

I found the sculptures contemplative and hopeful.  A far cry from the doom and gloom of the 9/11 memorial.

A walk through Veterans Park and the downtown green space was refreshing and engaging.  I recommend a visit to this town.

Upon our return to the campground, we are greeted by a deserted loop.  We practically have the entire installation to ourselves.  Both cool, but carrying slight overtones of "apocalyptic storytelling."

Les Fromageries et Les Boulangeries!!!

I can’t speak to the cheeses of Quebec, though Mr. SMT and the pups give 10 paws up.

Parking at a Grocery.

However, the bread I can speak to ... when my mouth is not full!  The breads of Quebec are simply delicious.

I do not want to say that the Québécois have lost much of their “French-ness,” because they have not lost they are just separate.  Their culture evolved independently of France, much like the Creoles and Cajuns of Louisiana.  

As such, Quebec does not read (stereotypically, since I’ve never been to France) French, to me.  Canada is, for the most part, highly North Americanized (not Americanized).  Our neighbors to the north are kind, respectful, congenial, educated, and welcoming.  And openly curious without being intrusive (a problem we Americans have in spades, and is one of the most easily recognized symptoms of our foot-in-mouth disease.)

However, the Québécois do retain some of the traits and practices of their French forefathers.  One such example - the bakeries.  If we lived in Quebec, I’d likely never bake again.  

Mr SMT did mention that he would happily move to the Lac-Mégantic region, his only concern is whether he could meet the language requirements!

17 November 2018

OH Canada, Montreal

10/03/18 -10/07/18
Camping Domaine Du Bel-Âge
Site 44

These grounds home mostly full time RV owners.  

It is in the backyard acreage of a family home.  The grounds are nice, walkable, and have showers and a laundry.  The office manager is kind, speaks English, and walked us to our spot.    

Mr SMT suggests a morning bakery run.  I think someone wants some vegan sweets.  And can I just say that in this city of 4 million people, there are more vegan restaurants than I have seen in ANY other city.

Lane markings are a suggestion
Everyone should toss their cigarette butts out the window
Exceed the speed limit, even in times of high traffic
Change lanes regularly
Bicyclists and walkers are not subject to any rules of the road
When you want to turn, park yourself in the oncoming traffic lane several tire widths in, and queue

These are some of the roughest roads I've driven
Every part of the city is under construction

The drive into Montreal was not BAD, per say.
Parking is a nightmare (not knowing the language was tough, it was probably even the number of signs translated versus not).  And the city is not built for larger vehicles (though I would argue that the Wrangler is medium sized in my mind, in Montreal it is massive.)

However, once parked, we had three vegan options within easy walking distance!

Sophie Sucrée has lovely vegan desserts.  http://www.sophiesucree.com/

Herbivores Marché Végétalien is an awesome little grocery!  https://herbivores.ca

But Sushi Momo no longer does take out.  And, as they do not have outdoor seating, we had to go elsewhere.

So, Sushi Shop on D'Anjou it is!  http://www.sushishop.com/en/menu  I would not call it the largest vegan menu I've ever seen, nor the smallest.  However, they were very responsive to my no: dairy, mayo, or cream cheese request.  The food was delicious, and hit the spot.  AND, they do takeout, so we brought it home.  


Wanting to avoid the island for the day, we searched for local laundromats ...

... crickets chirping

... crickets chirping

Well, we found an Albany Laundromat in the Kahnawake Reservation, at least, it was present online, but in reality it does not seem to exist.

Then on to a thirty minute drive up the river to Laundry Longueuil, in Longueuil, QC.  The guys working the area were helpful, kind, and fluent in English.

My Bonjour must be improving a touch, since not everyone immediately switches to English upon my greeting.

Compared to yesterday, this day was COLD.  The temp never rose out of the 40s (4.4+ C).  The pups gratefully donned their clean jackets.

Dinner was takeout from Copper Branch in Broussard, QC, vegan fast food.  We tried the Poutine and Nachos.  I'd eat a LOT more fast food if I had access to one of these on a regular basis!  

Off to Beauharnois (Bo-ahn-wa) Generating Plant Tour.  

We had called several days ago, setting up alternating tours due to the pups.  We arrived in plenty of time to sign up.  And then we hit ... not a snag, but minor complication.  The other group members I was touring with had cancelled, leaving me on the tour alone.  

As a result, one of the gals offered to keep an eye on the pups while the humans toured together. The boy was whiny (as usual) and a bit barky (oh, shudder).  I offered to put them in the car, but I was reassured that they would calm once we left the building.  

Our tour was AWESOME!   Our guide, Melynda knew her stuff back and forth.  She could discuss the biological side with me, and the physics side with Mr SMT.  We highly recommend this tour.

15 November 2018

OH Canada, Ottawa

Wesley Clover Campground in Ottawa
Site 4, group 3
$47/night ... seems a bit high

I had sent a text to Mr SMT, which he ignored.  So I thought we were skipping Ottawa.  Pembroke is not that far, afterall.  During this short drive he said, “Well I was doing some research last night, and I’d like to see Parliament Hill.  What do you think?  And what do you think about my post jamboree idea from the other day?  You never responded.  You are doing that a lot lately.”

And my comments were, “I think our goals for this trip are not aligned.  I started ignoring your ideas because you ALWAYS change your mind.  And I figured we were skipping Ottawa since your main goal is to lookie loo Lac-Mégantic.”

Mr SMT, “Ignoring me is not good.  My main goal is to make you happy.”

Kira - Snort.  “Then stop with the short overnight or two days here, two days there stops.  I am sick of traveling this way.”

Result, we have stopped in Ottawa for three nights.  Our minimum stop we agreed, unless we are just driving through.

Ottawa is pretty awesome, except for the parking garages.  By just wandering the downtown area we strolled through: Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal (oldest lock system in North America), and the Byway Market stalls (where Mr SMT purchased an entire flat of raspberries).  The last two being Kira's wish list for Ottawa.

Oh look!  The US Embassy.

Oh look!  How much the US Embassy does NOT want you to visit.

Back to Parking Garages ... Your 3 Challenges:
Now, FINDING the vehicle entrance to the parking garage is the first challenge, followed thereafter by finding the human exit from the parking garage, and finally completed by finding the human entrance to the parking garage (since the exit doors lock behind you, barring re-entry).  Whew!

Our Ottawa day closed with a visit to Whole Foods, since Mr SMT needs his yogurt, and that was another parking garage nightmare.  The garage entrance is WAAAAAAY in the back of the property, several buildings away.  And no signs point the way.  Arg.  Also, the grocery comps your parking ticket, as long as you spend $10 and less than 90 minutes in the garage.  Mr SMT was seriously sweating the time as the store was down to two cashiers, and a loooooong line to check out.  We were safe!  As in, we made it under the 90 minute mark.  Just barely!

A rainy day stuck in the camper: embroidery, reading, and research commence.

It FINALLY dries up for a bit of kickboxing the day we pull out.

The dump station is a joy for Kira, as the view of the sewer pipe exit is highly visible, and therefore, entertaining.  As long as I provide no running commentary to Mr SMT, who wanders around to check out the passenger side of the truck during the dumping of the black tank ... proverbial fingers in ears "La la la-ing."

This was a great way to check out:
     A)  How well our bacteria are working


      B)  How well our toilet paper is breaking down.

In Kira’s opinion, “looks good to me.”  :)

13 November 2018

OH Canada, Camper Crossing

09/28/18 and 09/29/18

Crossing into Canada with the camper was dead easy.  We were asked about our plans, and we told them the truth and nothing but the truth.  "Enjoy your stay!"

That was painless.

Walmart Parking Lots

Sudbury, Ontario
Park by the wall of rock.

Pembroke, Ontario
Next to a Canadian Tire that closes at 8.

Walmarts do not stay open for 24 hours a day in Canada, so it gets quiet after the businesses close.  However, Mr SMT got a pizza at the local Boston Pizza in the parking lot, and it stays open until 1 am.  That was a touch noisy. The pizza joint is THE place to go the world over, apparently.

The photos below are from a rest stop along the way to Ottawa.

The rest stop has a recycling bin, and a neat little bathroom (based off a home design).  In the states, this lovely little park would have long been destroyed.  

I am in awe of Canadian signage.  The symbolism perfectly crosses language barriers!

11 November 2018

Soo Locks and OH Canada 1

Rainy day, with few peeks of the sun.

Renee’s House of Quilting in Williamsburg is awesome!  Recommended by my friend Amy.

I bought map fabric (always seeking this), orange starburst, a free motion design wholecloth book, and green clearance fabric.  Yes!

Renee and her employees enjoyed our chat.  What a wonderful start to the day.

Soo Locks Campground
Site 29

Not the best, but not the worst site.  However, it is a large site, and we can angle the truck so Mr SMT can watch the ships as they pass.

Reasonably sized showers with a stool for assistance.  How novel, giving campers a place to put stuff!  (Eye Roll, not enough campgrounds do this, in my opinion.  Then again, I do not know how many campground items disappear throughout a camping season.)

Rude campers leave their trash in the firepit, rather than walking (or driving it) the few steps necessary to properly dispose of their waste.  Disgusting.

Sault Ste Marie
One city spread over two countries.  How often do you find that?

The US side of the locks is military fenced looking, no dogs allowed enclosed space.

The Canadian side has public parks and plenty of green space that allows dogs.  

We crossed the border to visit the plane museum, explore the Canadian side of the locks (with dogs), and get an idea of how crossing with the camper will go.