We began the day at 8:40 with 72 degrees. And although the temps seem on the low side, we have not given up our shorts and short-sleeved shirts. 72 in Maine feels a lot warmer than 72 in Florida. It warmed up a bit, but we got into a lot of rain today, so the temps varied over the afternoon.
Our first hurdle was getting the Quebec address into our Toyota GPS. For some reason, it just didn't like the address we were given, so over the day, we decided to put in just the city of Levis and go with that until we arrived…in the wrong part of town, of course. But it gave me a chance to exercise my rusty French, by asking for directions from someone who did not speak any English. Fortunately, I understood every word she spoke (thanks to my French-Canadian background), and was able to ask questions, and it all worked out fine. We found our way to the hotel seamlessly. And that felt good.
We drove for hours through back country today, from Bangor and NE to Quebec. Maine never disappoints me. And this ride was lush with dark green spruce trees and pine trees, maples and delicate white birch along the highway…well…not exactly highway. For the most part, we were on back country roads, following the Kennebec River, weaving our way through small towns, where there is often nothing more than a house or two. We saw single-wide mobile homes parked on secluded plots of land (the house was not fancy but the land is theirs), old houses, farms and small ranch homes. There was little traffic and we pretty much had the road to ourselves except for occasional pulp hauling trucks. And I mused…these guys would not have a job if they were still sending logs down the Kennebec as they used to. We followed that river most of the way until we crossed it just south of Moosehead Lake where it originates, and headed west toward Canada.
The small rural towns have a charm all their own. We saw signs that advertised "Bait, Bolts, and Bullets", “Whitewater Rafting and Snowmobiling”, and “Friggen good food”. And we saw a sign for Moxie. I don’t think you can buy that in the south, at lease I have not seen it, but this beverage is a flash from the past and there is still a loyal contingent of Moxie drinkers in Maine. They even have an annual festival to celebrate it.
And then we came to the border and had a nice long chat with a Canadian Border Agent. Nice guy. I was glad he didn’t search the car, because Steve fibbed a little about how much wine we had back there and didn’t admit to having a few cigars. And as we entered Canada we found ourselves faced with the metric system and kilometers instead of miles. And the signs were all in French. Now, I can read some French, however it takes me a little time to recognize what I am looking at and then making sense of it. So, I was slow on the trigger a lot of the time. Many of the words were words I have not used in decades. But it was fun trying. And as we drove through populated, commercial areas, I read all the signs I could see, or I tried, anyway. And then we were just outside Quebec and we saw Tim Hortons, Burger King, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Subway, and I had no difficulty reading those signs. No trouble at all.
We have settled into our hotel now and tomorrow we will take in Quebec City, which appears, at lease on the horizon, to be a lot bigger than I remember it to be. But last time I was here was in 1958, when I was 10 years old. Can’t wait to see the Chateau Frontenac.