Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Baie-Trinité, QC: Across One More Time

For the second time we ferried across the St Lawrence. The first time was a quickie 15 minutes from Quebec City to Lévis. This time it took a bit longer -- we are north enough to be in the Bay of the St Lawrence. Halfway through the 2 1/2 hour ride we could barely make out the hills on either the north or south shore.

This ferry is a government-run operation, and the fare was cheap -- $14 each. This line is a major connection between shores, and runs all year round. We were told it sometimes gets stuck in the ice in winter, and passengers may need to wait five hours for an icebreaker to come up from Quebec City. We sat in comfortable airplane-type seating that faced a big screen TV broadcasting the Canadian version of Candid Camera. There was also a snack bar which had quite a line that formed. Many folks had the poutine, an odd Quebec speciality of fries topped with gravy and melted cheese curds. I had to have a Tums after just watching someone eat it.

Most of the passengers were crossing with their vehicles, which were parked on the lower deck so tight you could barely squeeze between them. There was an assortment of passenger cars, motor homes, and semi-trucks. And our two bikes.

As we approached the North Shore, we saw the heavily wooded steep hills, quite a contrast from the flat agricultural/industrial landscape we left on the other side.

We had only 50 kilometers to get to our campground, but they were hard-earned. Steep uphills and exhilarating downhills across forest landscape dotted with glacial lakes. The only wildlife we saw were the mosquitoes, midges, and biting black flies that swarmed around us whenever we stopped. We are both sporting itchy red welts as souvenirs.

The l'Islet-Caribou campground was perched on a sandy spit. It was a beautiful spot, and the mosquitoes thought so, too. We retreated to the blessed community room to cook dinner.

We shared the space with a large group of fellow campers with the same idea. They were a group of friends and family that lived in towns up and down the North Shore, and were gathered that weekend to celebrate the La Fête nationale du Québec holiday. They asked the usual questions at first -- where are we from, where are we going. Soon glasses of wine, chunks of cheese, and chocolate-chip cookies were offered. Collectively they could talk enough English to ask questions about our travels, like how many hours do we cycle a day and what do we eat. We showed them pictures of June Lake and photos on our netbook of our trip so far, and we talked about California and skiing and Canadian winters until bedtime. We were surrounded by some very warm and friendly people. They continued the fun around the campfire late into the night while we opted for sleep.

What a difference twelve hours make -- we woke up to dense hanging fog. The sunshine of the last few days was the last we would see for a while.
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