Friday, October 16, 2015

Cold Canada

It's getting cold here in French speaking Canada. Really cold for this temperate Seattle boy. Tonight it is suppose snow where we currently staying, Quebec City. I had planned on the cold weather, but what I didn't realize is that in the north country everything RV and camping related starts to shut down in October. We had planned to travel east from Niagara Falls, to Montreal to Quebec City and ultimately to Prince Edward Island before heading south back into the States. However, as I started doing my research (way too late), I realized that there would be no where available for camping or staying in an RV on Prince Edward Island. In fact, most of the campsites and RV parks in Maine are shut down too. It's getting to the point where I'm starting to look for Walmart's for camping in. So I'm writing this from our final Canadian city, from here we head south. I for one will be glad to no longer insult french speaking Canada with my horrid attempts at speaking French, with my "parlez-vous anglais?", only to hear the response "quoi?", to which I would say " you speak english", always to hear "of course, how can I help you?".

Montreal, where we spent three nights, was really our first real large city that we did anything more than drive though since we left Seattle a month and a half ago. We also stayed at our first KOA, Montreal KOA South. It was the closest place we could find to the city where we could stay in the camper. It was clean, nice, and largely empty. Most of the few RVs at the KOA have been winterized and set aside for storage. The manager told us that everyone left for Florida (sounds like a good idea). I found driving around Montreal to be a challenge, not just because it's a busy city and all the signs are in French, it's more than that. Little things in Montreal like the stop lights being square shaped instead of round just threw me off. So I was happy to find that from the KOA it was about a 15 mile drive to the Metro station Longueuil-Université-de-Sherbrooke where we would park the truck for the day and take the excellent Metro into the city. 

Our first day in Montreal we found a nice cafe where we had an early lunch before meeting with my parents. My parents were in Montreal with family friends (Jan and Larry) for a cruise along the St. Lawrence river. The cruise ship was beautiful, and it was quite a jolt going from our tiny camper onto this amazing cruise ship. I personally felt VERY out of place walking into the dining room of the cruise ship in blue jeans and polar fleece looking like I just walked out of the woods (I did). However, it was great getting to see family and friends again.
The girls with my mother on the cruise ship
After leaving the cruise ship, we searched for a place where we could have a nice dinner. After a little looking we found Bonaparte's in the old part of the city. The restaurant was far nicer than any of our previous dining out experiences on the trip, and again I felt very out of place. When I realized that this was going to be the kind of place where we would probably be sitting down to a 2+ hour meal I was a bit apprehensive, but the food looked so good. Kathy and I decided to just go for it and get the 6 course meal, order a bottle of red wine, and hope our girls don't lose it. In the end, it went great! The girls just ordered a simple entree and salad, but shared a bit of of each of our 6 courses and managed to behave and actually seem to enjoy themselves (they didn't even request to play on our iPhones). The downside is we blew a month's food budget (good thing we are headed to Debbie & Mike's soon, and now might have to stay a lot longer than expected).
dinner at Bonaparte's
The next day we explored the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal and especially enjoyed their excellent exhibit on Rodin. The one downside to the Rodin exhibit was how crowded it was, with me losing Kathy and the girls at one point and having to text back and forth with Kathy sending pictures of an exhibit in the room we were in to try and figure out where each of us are.
A picture I sent to Kathy, "I'm in the room with Rodin's The Thinker"
After the art museum we went to Biosphere Montreal an excellent museum built for the 1967 Worlds Fair and dedicated to education on the environment.
Biosphere Montreal
As I finish this blog sitting in a KOA just outside of Quebec City I'm realizing that once again we are spending far too little time in another part of North America to really begin to appreciate it. Our visit of Montreal only showed me how much I didn't know there was to see; I barely scratched the surface. Perhaps we will come back again, next time during the summer (or without a truck camper to park).

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