Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Days of Deer and Porcupine

Deep River, ON to Quebec City, Quebec

My standard of Hell has a new definition.  So, I left Deep River, Ontario--lovely provincial park there--and an early alarm (and my new experiment to make my oatmeal and tea the night before saved me some time) meant I could be on the road not too long after 7:00. I'd always rather be up early than not.  Getting through Ottawa was no problem, though it was a bit funny that the speed limits through town were higher than out in the boonies on the 11-17.  I figured out my route--I wanted to be on the east side of the St. Lawrence River, but that proposition got more interesting as I'd forgotten just how French Quebec is.  I was in Montreal two years ago, but I wasn't driving.

Trying to figure out road signs in French is hard.

And by the time I got to Montreal, the stress of driving plus the stress of French road signs was compounded by a thunderstorm.  And then road construction.  I did miss my turn once, but on the strength of my four-letter-words, I managed to turn around and get back in the right direction without too much trouble.  I don't know that I've ever been so terrified while driving--and that includes the previous standard (Chicago during rush hour).  I arrived at Camping Transit in Quebec City between 4:00 and 5:00 and it seems to be full up with what I think is the Federation Quebecois de Camping et de Caravaning.  Never did figure out what it was all about, though.

There's a 16-ft. Scamp here, with Quebec plates.

The campground--Camping Transit--is right off the 20 and the water/electric sites are right on the highway. I'm always torn about staying in places like this, because the sites are "stacked like cordwood" (as my dad says) and there's just too much highway noise to be satisfying.  Mostly, the highway noise sounds like white noise to me, since I can't see the traffic, and I suppose the big rigs don't even notice.

On Sunday, I did laundry and planned out the next leg of my trip, how I'll get from here to where I'm going. Mostly, that meant calculating how many days it'll take me to get home and then calculating how many days that leaves me between PEI and Nova Scotia.

Only the fact that I had been to Montreal and Quebec City two years ago kept me from feeling too guilty about not going exploring.  And I think that part of why the weekend felt so unsatisfying is that I was in a huge, impersonal RV park right on the highway.  I had a hunch that once I got back to staying in provincial parks (like the great experiences at Kakabeka Falls and Driftwood), I'd be back to enjoying myself more.

On the road like this, especially in a language I don't know, just makes me feel internally guarded, like my midsection is filled with concrete.

Mactaquac Provincial Park, Fredericton, NB

This was not supposed to be a ten hour day, but the best laid plans, I guess.  Pulled out just after 7:00 this morning and even though I had a headache, I'd regained some of my joy of the trip.  It wasn't more than an hour and out of Quebec that the road signs went back to English.  Also French--I learned that New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province, though I thought the whole country was bilingual, so I need to do more research on that.

Also crossing into NB, I entered the Atlantic Time Zone, which I didn't know existed.  There's no end to what I'm learning on this trip.

But the drive went fairly well, though I missed lunch again, and I turned off the road for Mactaquac and I'm tootling down a ridiculously bad road that knocked everything loose again--including Maeve's breakfast--and before I know it, I'm back on Hwy 2, 30 km back the direction I came.  Apparently I'd missed the park completely and had somehow made a loop--still not sure how that happened.

I've now figured out why I hate detours and wrong turns: they are damned inefficient uses of time.  Obviously detours are necessary (nobody wants to drive into a sinkhole), but they're still inefficient methods of movement and getting where you're going.  That's their nature.  Frankly, the idea that better things happen on those detours and wrong turns obviously requires more imagination than I have.  I wouldn't have likely seen a bear on Wednesday--but maybe I would have a better story to tell.

I did get off the beaten path around the lunch I should have taken to see the falls and gorge at Grand Falls.  Must be some hydro electric at the top of the waterfall--and the sight and sound of it was magnificent.  I'm going to have to compare it to my thoughts about Kakabeka Falls.  But I will say that I drove straight through town without losing my mind, not once.  I was quite proud of myself.  And I saw a deer, somewhere along there.

I did decide to give Mactaquac another try--and I'm glad I did.  The wind is in the trees and the only noise I hear are crows--and yup, that's a fat and gorgeous porcupine waddling across my campsite.  I've forgotten how cute they actually are.  Still working on the best method to combat black flies, but no success yet.  And even so, I spent a great deal of time on the picnic table, trying to rid myself of the feeling that I was still moving.  This is what I needed, the quiet of trees, not the carefully manicured parking lots for as many Class A's as will fit.

Next stop:  Fundy National Park

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