Search This Blog

Travel Blog

Travel Blog
Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Monday, October 23, 2017

Quebec by SpecialAgentNancy - Fall 2017

2500 KM in 5 days. 
Here is my delorme track. 

St Jean Sur Richelieu; Lake St Jean; Riviere Du Loup; Gaspe; Perce; Maria; Quebec; Montreal

Not one of my usual epic rides but a lot of things happened this past summer that kept me from adding to my list of countries. Don't worry, I'm at it again next summer 2018 and already posted here on ADV for Scandinavia.

Why is it that we always look for the furthest place to go instead of our own backyard? My family is from Quebec, in fact a tiny town most people who live here don't even know about called St Ours (it's on the Richelieu river on a historic road called 'chemin des patriotes') but more about that later.

I found Monette Sports in Laval, a suburb of Montreal, that rents motorcycles and discovered the Honda NC750X. Never heard of this bike? Not surprised. It's only sold in Canada. Why it's not sold in the US, I have no idea.  Because it's off season, I got the rental for half off. 

It's an ideal bike for a beginner but even someone as experienced as I am because it's light, capable and comfortable. I loved this bike. I'm frankly amazed I loved it so much. It's not for someone with the passion for performance but if you want an uncomplicated, easy and fun bike, this is it.  I am actually seriously considering selling the Tiger and buying this one. 

Here it is accumulating rain outside my mom's condo for a couple days, the rain would not let up and it just sat there. Forlornly. I couldn't wait to leave but the rain here when it starts is quite heavy and without relief and riding in that for hours and hours isn't fun no matter how much you want to roll. Plus it gave me quality time with mom and she started to see for herself how much I love riding.

Delayed by two days, I left Tuesday morning instead of Sunday but I made up for that by just starting earlier each morning and driving past sunset. Not something I would normally do but days are shorter now. So I left and took a scenic route on the Chemin Des Patriotes. I've been on this road hundreds of times to visit family.

It meanders slowly along the Richelieu river and St Ours is along the route. 

Heavy cloud cover is ideal for riding. Reduces the glare. It was a perfect day. 

Typical old style house along the water. Made with stones from the fields. 

To get to the other side of the river there are ferries at every 15 KM at little towns along the way. 

Cute doesn't even begin to describe this area....if you do come to Quebec, this short one hour ride is a must. The roads are in good condition. Most 'back roads' are incredibly bumpy with tar snakes and let's just say that it's brutal on a full bladder. Because this road is historic, it's well maintained. 

Stopped off in St Ours and visited the dam where boats can go upriver. 

My mother's side of the Bonnier family has a massive family get together each summer here with hundreds of cousins. 

This is the house my father was born in. 

And the town church, one of the most beautiful in the region. 

The old convent next door.  My old school is across the street. No photos. Still traumatic thinking about it all these years later. 

Here is the ferry for St Roch (St Rock) across the river. Dad had a house here for a bit. 

Quebec is a province of farmers. Lots of fields of food everywhere you go. I'd say Quebec is one of those 'bread basket' places. View of the corn fields behind my Uncle Pierre Girouard's house.

They are quite proud of their calling and the farms are always beautiful, well maintained and clean. They often have signs of the family name in front too. 

This place is religious too. Every town (and I do mean town) has a church and most are quite amazing and at important crossroads there are effigies. 

Another cute house, there are thousands of them here. You won't ever and I do mean ever, see junk or discarded crap in front of homes here. People have a pride of order and cleanliness I've never seen anywhere in the world. 

I took the long scenic 132 along the river up to Trois Rivieres (three rivers) and stopped for a business call and lunch in Shawinigan. Duck in a delicious mushroom sauce with veggies. 

I didn't eat a lot of great meals but this was one of them. You know how it is. Stop when you are hungry and hope for the best. 

So I took the 155 to Lac St Jean. Between Shawinigan and La Tuque, the colors were marvelous. Lured into a false sense of comfort and security, I didn't gas up before and halfway there realized this bike didn't have the range of my Tiger so I slowed down and puttered along a winding road north. Arrived in farmland near Saint Felicien and stayed here alone for $30. View from my window. 

Room was clean and warm. I was very cold. Despite heated gear, you still get cold when it's below 45

Of course Grindle came along...for those of you having read my prior posts know he came from Grindelwald Switzerland after a rather challenging ride through the snow in July. 

First night on the ride. Excited and happy to be visiting Quebec.

When I woke up I saw this outside. Bombardier! Auto-Neige (snow car)
They use it still, not a a spec of rust on it. I love old stuff like this. I arrived at night in the dark, I always do because the sun set's later now that it's October so I didn't see it.


They heat the whole house with this. It was toasty and warm for sure.
I do prefer to ride in cold weather over hot. Going through Turkey during multiple days of 120+ degrees nearly killed me. I actually tumbled off the bike at a gas station and the attendants made me eat watermelon in the shade before putting gas in the bike.

So I made this extra large, hopefully you can see all the large Canadian Geese V's in the sky. The sound was deafening. Lac St Jean has huge populations of fowl that stop on their migratory flight south for a day or two to feed and rest.

Gorgeous fields of corn and other food and a good heavy cloud cover really brought out the fall colors during my ride.

This was one of the cutest homes nestled back from the road with a stream next to it. Came back for this photo.

So I abhor fast food....well except for In and Out burger but anyhoo. The A&W chain here in Canada is fabulous. They are hyper-focused on organic and non-hormonal foods. Their eggs are free range and the coffee is from Van Houtte. I had breakfast here twice it was so good.

I rode along the Saguenay Fjord to Saint Simeon to wait for the ferry from the north shore to the south shore of the St Lawrence River to make it to the Gaspe Peninsula. I waited about 2 hours for the ferry and had a rather miserable meal. (no photo)

Motos park in front but load last. $50 one way. 
The crossing is so calm no need for tie downs and takes just over 1 hour.

I did see a pair of Beluga whales, lucky me. 

Got to the north shore of the Gaspe and booked a hostel room just past Matane where I stopped at "La Fabrique" pub and had Indian spiced wings. Take a look at the size of these miniatures wings.  Chickens aren't pumped full of hormones here and you can tell.

And the pork in Canada is some of the best in the world. 

BBQ sauce was homemade and presented in a basket on top of a neat little fake newspaper.
I devoured them. 

Here is the hostel from the outside the next morning, yep, arrived in the dark again.
I didn't actually mind that much riding in the dark because in general people here in Quebec (at least) don't drive like maniacs escaping a tidal wave. People follow safe distances and on the rare occasion that someone doesn't, half that time it's a Vermont/NY license plate. Drivers are just not in a mad rush here and the police stops people all the time who go even 15-20 km over the speed limit.

There is a zero tolerance here to aggressive drivers. Amen.

My room. Large but a bit cold. Didn't sleep very well here despite my scalding hot bath.

Had the whole place to myself. I was literally alone in this giant place.


Real wood burning stove.

This place had a "shining" feel to it.

Big empty place, cold, felt haunted.

Slept like the dead though. Har-Har. 

Every place along the Gaspe Peninsula has nautical themed things like these boat lights.

Other travelers opt for a more sensible method of transportation.

Still I'd not switch riding for driving no matter what. There was ice on the bike. 

The north shore reminded me a bit of Iceland. Long expanses of road and water along the left and rock walls on the right so tall that I was often riding in the shade.

Not many of these left. I saw 5 in total going around the whole region.

Made it to Gaspe and really noticed how 'off season' it was. Couldn't find a restaurant.

Really wanted fish. Fresh fish and chips. No luck so I finally gave up and went to a pizzeria.

Lo and behold, they had fresh fish n chips and it was delicious.

The most eastern point is Perce. Mom and dad came here in 1964 before I was born.
She said when the tide is out you can walk to the hole.

This is where the ride turns back for home.

I downloaded the airbnb app and used it to find places to stay. 

This was advertised as a renovated home in the countryside. 

Arrived in the dark and google maps didn't work and found myself screwing around going down narrow dark dirt roads in the forest and having to turn around at dead ends. I was grateful to have such a light, easy to maneuver, bike.  

It was worth it for sure, as I finally pulled into the right driveway, chock full of deer eating, I pulled the bike into the wood barn and met Pirate. 

Here is my wonderful room that smelled of wood and was toasty warm. 
I dreamed that I was swimming in a warm Jacuzzi playing with lion cubs. 
I think I dreamed that because this little pooch seemed like one. 

Fabulous, unique home. 

They renovated this home and host guests all summer long on airbnb.

Finding a motorcycle friendly home is always best as they can tell you about cool stuff to see that you'd otherwise miss. Patrice showed me his harley in the basement and told me about this special little place with a well. 

Water coming right off the mountain. It was delicious. 

I am glad that I rode the North Shore first and the South shore last because of the position of the sun. This morning I woke up to 29 degrees. Fearful of black ice, I rode reasonably and even got a head nod of slight disgust by the female cop parked at the gas station waiting for someone going to fast. 

90% of the road was in the sun so I was fine. Stopped in Amqui and found this neat old bridge. 

Quebec has it's weird quirks. People will sell anything in their front yard. 
I saw: 
-snow plow

You name it. 

Lot's of these covered wood bridges too. Did I say cute? 

Along the north shore of the Gaspe are hoards of migratory birds hanging out before the flight south.

Powered on to Quebec and stopped at a restaurant chain Scores. 
Had a pound of ribs. 
I asked the guy before ordering that 'if' i had leftovers, if they could be wrapped in foil. 
He came back to a plate of bones and I used a French-Canadian expression of "ca a bouché un trou" which roughly translates to "that plugged a hole" and he gave me this look and said "I sure hope so". 

People are very curious and helpful here. They aren't nosy per se. 
So I mentioned to him, between mouthful's, that I was trying to decide whether to stay the night in Quebec or power back to Montreal for another 3 hours of road. 
He smiled and said kindly "you should stay here". 

So I went on airbnb and found this fabulous home for $50. 
I told the owner that it looked like the haunted mansion in Disneyland. 

The place was enormous and comfortable. 

And my view was fabulous!

Rain announced for the next day but I only had about three hours to get back. 
2nd breakfast at A&W. 

Oh and this was dinner the next day. Ribs. Again. 

Not wanting to finish with a food photo, I'll offer up the best fall color photo I have.