An occasional journal of the Life of Reilly

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

L'Islet-sur-Mer, QC: Sailing Along

Cycling down the road with four fully loaded panniers makes for quite a profile. Motorists notice us because we look like a motorcycle but we are going slow and hugging the right shoulder of the road. And another advantage of being a wide load is the panniers act like sails, catching a tailwind like the 30+ km/hr we have had the last three days, and pushing us so we barely need to pedal. Of course, it is a curse if it is a headwind, but the cycling gods have been good to us the last few days. The Achilles tendon, I am happy to report, is much improved. With the level terrain, tailwind, short days, and lots of ice and anti-inflammatories, we can still move forward and allow the tendinitis to heal.

We said goodbye to the skyline of Old Quebec City as we crossed the St Lawrence River on the ferry to the east shore. This is where the La Route Verte continues, and is gentler terrain than our originally planned route on the west side. It felt like we were starting our trip all over again.

After the train tickets, more nights than expected in hotels, and physical therapy, our bank account has been hemorrhaging money. Back to frugal travel and trying to stay on a $50/day budget. We have been a bit disappointed in the cost of campgrounds in Canada -- on this first night back camping we paid almost $30. It made no difference that we were in a tent -- no breaks for arriving by bike -- and we paid the same as someone with a van using electricity. At this campground showers cost extra. We went to the bathrooms to fill our water bottles and noticed a sign indicating not to drink the water. John inquired if this was just in the bathrooms or for all the spigots throughout the place, and was informed that the water was tested and exceeded drinking water standards for arsenic. We could buy bottled water if we wished. Geeze. We drank the melt water from the bag of ice we bought for treating my tendon instead.

The campground was nearly abandoned and very quiet. We did meet Louis and Helene, and we had a nice conversation. Helene bestowed us with homemade muffins full of cranberries, nuts and wheat germ to power us ahead. Thanks...they were delicious!

We made a brief stop at the harbor outside St Valliert. There we met Gerald, who greeted us enthusiastically with a barrage of French. Once he realized we did not understand a word, he switched over to perfect English and asked where we were from. California!-- are you Republicans? Our reply -- would you see a Republican bike touring? Politics established, he wanted to take us sailing right then and there. We demurred, not wanting to stall and lose our opportunity to sail with our bikes with the tailwind. But he insisted at least to buy us a coffee and introduce us to his genius boat builder friend. I wanted to take a picture of him, but he was a bit camera-shy. He had the lean chisled face of a French Canadian, not unlike the trio of wooden statues we saw along the side of the road. Except he smiled, and we will remember him for his warm Quebec hospitality.

We spent the night in L'Islet sur Mer in the transition zone between river and sea. The water is brackish and muddy from the turbulence of the interaction of river flow and tidal influence. Eel are harvested here, and the countryside dotted with the silos marking the many dairy farms in the area. We are now able to reliably buy artisan breads and cheeses produced locally, both might tasty.


And there are beautiful sunsets, too.

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