Home > Day to Day > Riviere Ouelle to St. Marc Sur Lac Long (day 1) to Edmonston to Grand Falls (day 2) — “Look, Ma, no glasses!”, Kamouraska, a close call,and help from Const. Pierre Ouellette;and $214.02 collected by K93 radio station van!

Riviere Ouelle to St. Marc Sur Lac Long (day 1) to Edmonston to Grand Falls (day 2) — “Look, Ma, no glasses!”, Kamouraska, a close call,and help from Const. Pierre Ouellette;and $214.02 collected by K93 radio station van!

So I actually ‘lost’ a day in there! Maybe because it was a rough one? The photos of the two days are mingled together, but the memories are not!

Riviere Ouelle to St. Marc Sur Lac Long (day 1)

Riviere Ouelle was a tough campsite. What does this mean? The truck was parked a bit further from our tents than usual. and there were other people’s campsites between us and the truck, so we had to ‘detour’ in order to get to our stuff, food etc. And I broke my glasses. All this you know if you read yesterday’s blog. So here is some new stuff: I found my backup glasses. Cool. And one nose pad was missing! I remembered it was loose already when I last used them, a few years ago. And now it was gone! I searched the bathroom — no luck. So what’s resting on the left side of my nose bridge is a thin metal loop that digs in … leaving a real impression, which turned into a headache within an hour, give or take. Soooooooo…. as the (modified) saying goes: “Look, Ma, no glasses!” I can ride this way, without much difficulty. Things are a bit blurry — so I think of this as ‘another perspective on the world!’ But I can’t read without glasses. So I tucked the less disabled backup pair into one of my jersey’s three rear pockets and pulled them out whenever I needed to check the map, or the GPS, or a menu, or…

But I am getting ahead of myself. We left Riviere Ouelle with rain coming down. A drizzle, actually. I led for the first 10 km. Then Owen, and then Isabel. The wind was at our back and there was almost no traffic, so we kept a fast pace, often exceeding 30 kph. We rode by the picturesque village of Kamouraska, famous because of the novel by Anne Hebert and the subsequent film by Claude Jutra. But the rain prevented me from taking photos, of the village or of the famous low-tide mud flats stretching into the St. Lawrence. Oh well. Those who are really interested can read the book, or watch the film, or cycle … you get my drift!

It was now 08:59. Landen took over the lead at 30 km. I was behind him. Up ahead a small side road joined our highway from the right. A small two-door car, faded red, approached the intersection at considerable speed. I recall thinking: “They aren’t going to stop!” as we both approached the junction. The four of us were meters from the intersection when the car just kept going and turned left, right in front of us! I clearly saw the young woman driving, alone in the car. Dark hair, expressionless, seemed tired or… ?

All four of us slammed our brakes, skidding on the wet pavement in all directions — to avoid being hit and to avoid each other. I shouted “Hey!” and watched her whip by, about a meter or two from Landen and I. Then I shouted an obscenity and flipped her a rude hand sign. No reaction — she just kept going. I had my glasses on as protection against the rain. I glanced at my GPS monitor — my heart rate jumped from its steady rate of around 110 to over 130! This is the kind of adrenaline rush none of us wants.

We kept flying northeast. I was now in the lead. Suddenly we came into a large intersection with Hwy 289 which headed southeast. And I remembered that this was our turn. I signaled a stop, confirmed my recollection and looked at our new direction — a steep rise cutting through thick forest. No more ‘shores of the St. Lawrence’ for us! And the wind was now directly in my face! The grade reached 10% and I was soon huffing noisily. Discouraging, how quickly you lose your climbing edge! We crested the first big climb and stopped in Saint Alexandre for a coffee, chocolate bar and a pit stop. And we donned our full rain gear: jackets, helmet covers and rain pants. And then we kept going. We were a lot less talkative, each rider ensconced in their world of pedaling discomfort.

About 55 km later we were all ready for a real break. Riviere Bleue was one of the only villages of any size along the day’s route so we slowed down and searched for any familiar names. None appeared. But we saw a ‘resto’ advertising spaghetti and pizza — the cyclists’ ideal meals. My French enabled us to order without too much fanfare. And to the advertised fare we added a medium plate of Poutine — Quebec’s contribution to world cuisine: french fries drenched in gravy and topped by (unpasteurized?) raw cheese curds. YUM! Real stick-to-your-ribs food, perfect for such a day and for our group! We wolfed down every last bit of every dish and suddenly the world seemed brighter! And the rain ebbed away!

A really bad stretch of road — all cut up and sending shocks through our tired bodies. And hilly. We caught up with Graham and Ric. And then Jim came riding in the opposite direction! I figured he had gone to camp to secure the better tent sites and had now ridden back to join the others.

Then we rode into the village of St. Marc Sur Lac Long. My odometer showed “119”. Bud’s map indicated a turn at “129”. And we did not see an Eglise (church) so we figured we had to keep riding. Up a steep hill, across a really bad section of gravel, permitting one way travel at a time. So much fun! At km 129 we were outside the village and heading… this just didn’t feel right! Could it have been another Bud blunder, a typo? Landen and I checked our GPS units. Neither of us had any reception but Landen’s phone had stored a map of the area when he had looked it up the day before. And sure enough, it confirmed that we had overshot our mark! Damn! Just as we were about to turn the Mouseketeers came up to us! We told them we were turning back but they just kept going. Oh well.

Back in the village I saw an old woman and asked her about Rue de l’Eglise. She pointed at the other side of the bridge. From this angle I could see the tip of the church’s steeple. OK. We rode there. No road. No road sign. Just a rough dirt path filled with holes and boulders and mud. But this had to be it! So we gingerly rode up and then on this path, waiting for the next surprise. A couple of km down the awful path, this turned out to be the campsite! Situated on a rise above the lake with a magnificent view of the water and the opposite shore, where we had ridden in error just a short while back and where we expected (hoped) to see our three comrades riding…soon!

And the surprises did not end here! The only place for our tents was a fairly narrow ledge, about 20 steps below the plateau on which the truck and all the RVs and campers were parked! This put us a meter or so above the water! Interesting! The ledge was covered by goose poop. The geese were floating on the water and loudly protesting our invasion of their territory.

The next surprise was the ‘bathroom’. Singular. One toilet, one shower. For everyone! The shower didn’t even have a lockable door! And the toilet ran out of paper. And there did not seem to be anyone in charge!

Rain was clearly coming again. We set up our tents and huddled under the tarp next to the kitchen area. We ate their as the rainfall intensified, until it was no longer possible to stay dry, so some of us ran into the truck while others shivered and ate, ate and shivered, and then witnessed two spectacular rainbows over the water. And then the only thing to do was to dash into the tents and hope we would not get drenched from above or flooded from below!

St. Marc Sur Lac Long to Edmonston to Grand Falls (day 2)

Started rough. As we ate our breakfast a young couple approached. The man asked me (in French) if I spoke French. I answered ‘a bit’ at which point the woman asked, in quite good English, if Margot was here. ‘Margo is not with the tour, she is in Ontario’ I replied. ‘Well, you were not supposed to stay here last night! You are just lucky that a bunch of campers cancelled their reservation at the last moment, otherwise there would have been no room for you!’ Great. I passed the conversation on to Nieka for her to handle this latest demonstration of Cycle Canada ineptitude.

Subtle welcome to New Brunswick. The road to the boundary was poor and we wondered aloud what it would be like on the other side: better? Worse? The sign welcoming us to New Brunswick was very modest, unlike most of the signs till now.
Superb road. We were relieved to find a much improved surface with a very good shoulder. Looked promising! One thing that did not change was the strong French and Catholic influence. This is the only fully bilingual province in Canada, but so far we were seeing French, almost exclusively.

Graham loses a tire. We rode up to the Mouseketeers standing at the side of the road, with Graham waving a tire. It was incredible — the tire had totally fallen apart at the point that it connects with the wheel’s rim. We could see long strands of rubber, metal and other fibers, delaminated in catastrophic failure! And again, no cellular reception, and thus no way to reach Cycle Canada! So they could only wait and hope that the truck would be by soon, carrying the spares that each of us has there.

Edmonston:
– Looking for Tim’s, finding Subway. We actually started out looking for an optical store, to hopefully supply a nose piece for my backup glasses. Couldn’t find one, nor could we find the Tim Horton that Owen’s GPS suggested should be “right here!” Technology can sometimes be really frustrating! But we saw a Subway and decided to stop for lunch.
– The most helpful policeman: Const. Pierre Ouellette. I had seen him walk into the restaurant ahead of us. He was now eating his lunch at the booth next to our. Then he leaned over and asked if we spoke French. He then switched to quite good English and asked about our ride. We got into a long conversation. Among others I learned that the optician across the hall from where we sat, about 10 meters away, had closed at noon — about 15 minutes earlier. Damn! We also asked about where we could get maps of the province, since such maps had proven very helpful earlier in our ride when looking for alternatives to Bud’s routes. Pierre said: ‘Just follow my cruiser’! And he drove off with us chasing him! He stopped by an old wood fort, encouraged us to photograph him and then suggested that I come in the cruiser so he would quickly show me the location of the Information Center, in case he got called away. He sped to that destination, mentioned that his wife worked at a restaurant across the street that offered a local specialty, a type of crepe made with maple sugar, then sped back to where the others were waiting. He then confirmed that Hwy 144 would be the better choice for us, and then he sped away! The perfect example of a friendly, engaging, helpful civil servant! I would love for him to be recognized for his service to us!
– Hwy 144 was the right way to go. It was a terrific road and got us to Grand Falls quickly and safely. If only they were all this great!

Grand Falls is impressive. The falls are beautiful and the town is lovely.

The obscure campsite. Took us a while to find it, tucked away as it was in a hollow next to the river’s gorge. Again a crowded spot, with one toilet and one shower… for all us guys! This can’t be the best a group can do!

$214.02 collected by K93 radio station van! Shane Button came dropped by the campsite and brought with him a large envelope filled with coins and a few bills! They had a fund collection initiative, run by Justine in the station’s van. What wonderful generosity from total strangers!

imageA couple of expert windsurfers were flying across the waves, making full use of the high winds. Beautiful to watch.
imageNot sure about this one :-)
imageView from the little restaurant where we stopped for lunch: decent spaghetti with meat sauce and …poutine!
image…and Owen got a very good pizza!
imageTents on a ledge at St. Marc du Lac Long — just before the deluge
imageStorm coming…
imageRainbow…and more storm coming in a few minutes…
imageBreaking down camp in the deep fog
imageFOG
imageMore fog
imageLanden’s improvised drying rack — clothes were just as wet as the evening before, when he hung them :-(
imageAnother province and another time zone!
imageReally, really, we did come from Quebec!
imageWe didn’t get the chance to shoot a Welcome to Quebec sign when we entered from Ottawa, so this is a ‘makeup’ shot :-)
imageWith Const. Pierre Ouellette — the friendliest and most helpful police officer we have met on this ride!

imageFort in Edmonston, dating back to the British – French conflict (17th Century?)
imageGrand Falls — very impressive
imageGrand Falls, NB
imageGrand Falls
imageGrand Falls
image

Grand Falls

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Categories: Day to Day
  1. August 17, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Grand Falls is truly spectacular – you will be able to write a travelogue among other things after your adventure. I’m excited to hear your stories – even though I hear you speaking through each of your blogs. I’m also eager to see you come home. And know that your work ahead is so worth it – thank you for giving so much of yourself and fulfilling a quest that demonstrates so much of your commitment to education and to future generations.

    Love Leslie

  2. darylwood
    August 13, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Well Ilan, I’ve been watching and waiting for your updates and the pictures were worth it. Great job of documenting with your camera and seeing you reaching $75,000 is AWESOME. Keep your eye on the prize my friend. You are heading for a home run!! Love Daryl

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