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June 27th - July 1
After a quick stop at the CBC store on Sparks Street to by a couple of T-shirts, we tried to track our Member of Parliament down to see if we could get some Canadian flag pins to hand out during our trip. We couldn't find him, but we did get one of his assistants who was able to give us loads of pins and a Canadian flag we hope to show off in some future photos. Then it was across the river to Quebec.
One of Sandra's colleagues, Steve, has a beautiful chalet near the Laurentian Mountains just north of Montreal, and he kindly offered it to us for a few days. Merci Steve!!! We had to hop onto the very busy Hwy 15 for a while. We've met a lot of Quebecois on our trip, and they have been nothing but generous, interesting and a lot of fun. However, put them behind a steering wheel, mon dieu…! We were clearly too slow and in their way most the time. It was a short, tense bit of riding and, thankfully, we were able to get to the cottage by our preferred method of using smaller roads (it will be much worse in Central & South America and we'll probably look back on riding in Quebec as 'relaxed'). We enjoyed a long, hot soak in the hot tub on the first evening under a blanket of stars while watching fire flies (we should bring some of those back with us to Alberta - they're fun to watch!). We also found the largest moth we've ever seen… We were turning down the lights when Jordan noticed a "hummingbird" flapping around the cottage. It was not a hummingbird but a gigantic (seriously GIGANTIC) moth. Well, we were quick to escort that guy out of the cottage 'tout-suite'.
For the next 3 days, we traveled to Quebec City along the St. Lawrence on a small road - the Chemin du Roy (Hwy 138). The Chemin du Roy was created in 1737 to connect Montreal to Quebec City and travelled by stage coach http://www.lecheminduroy.com/en/ and was the longest road in North America at the time. It is now a gorgeous tourist route that took us off the main highway and through quaint towns & villages along very picturesque countryside.
National Geographic recognized the Gaspe Peninsula as the 20 Best Trips of 2011 and we agree! We crossed over to the south side of the St. Lawrence at Quebec City and chose Hwy 132 for the trip. "The Route de Navigateurs" runs along the coast with rolling countryside to the south and cliffs overlooking the sea to the north. Absolutely gorgeous! Seeing this area of the country was practically a dream come true!
We were loving the riding so much, and even though it was getting misty and rainy again, we wanted to continue on. Normally, we've been getting 305kms out our bikes before the fuel light comes on. After that - we have another 35kms or so. Today, however, the ride was into strong headwinds, which reduced the bikes' efficiency. We were admiring the views and hadn't been keeping track of the mileage. Our fuel lights came on a full 30km sooner than usual… which meant our reserve was probably not going to last 35kms either. The next town on our maps was 60kms away and it was getting dark…
GPS to the rescue! Even though that darn thing often takes us down the wrong road, gives us confounding directions, and often shows us riding off the road (and once in the ocean!) it is great for searching out things like "gas stations". It showed us that there was one 15kms behind us. We circled back filled up and were happy campers… or roadside motel guests, as it were.
We continued on around the peninsula, admiring how we could feel every subtle change in temperature as the road took us in to the fog/clouds on the hilltops and back down to the sea. We lunched beside lighthouses, and frequently stopped to take photos - it was a great leisurely ride - there were some fun bits, too! For a part of the ride, the route takes you inland up and down over the hills and around hair-pin corners. While Sandra often likes to take the twisty bits a little slower, Jordan advised that he was going to 'have some fun' (not sure if this is really possible on a heavily loaded, 11 year-old dual sport motorcycle - but he made a go of it). So we parted ways for a short while. We were not the only GS's to enjoy the run - we were both smoked by a R1200 GS (twice the size and power of our bikes) who was obviously not as concerned about 20km/h hairpin corners as we were. Jordan reluctantly sold is R1200 GS to help finance the trip, so it was an emotional moment for him…
The peninsula doesn't last forever, no matter how hard we wished it could. Finally, we rounded to the actual town of Gaspe, found a nice camping spot and settled in. It was Canada Day (which did not appear to be really celebrated in that part of Quebec) but we enjoyed our wine and sang O Canada (quietly) on the beach before calling it a night, watching some fireworks in the distance from a nearby National Park. Today, we really did feel happy to be in Canada and quite possibly in the most beautiful part of it.