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by Lloyd Treichel
Dateline: August 25, 2004 -- Bar Harbor, Maine
Future travel plans... Following the fall colors down the east coast to arrive in Florida by late November.
This Wandrin column covers some of my exploring while crossing Canada.
Wanted: Navigator.... Once I crossed into Canada at Port Huron and after driving along the freeway for just a short time, I was off onto the secondary roads with the help of a map.
With all my travels in the US, I may have taken wrong turns a half dozen times. My first day in Ontario, I was off course at least a half dozen times. Road signs were infrequent, small in size and one sign was the only identifier of the road I was looking for. There were no second chances. Once on a road there was no sign identifying the number. To make matters worse the road number would change as the road crossed into another county.
Late in the day I was searching for the right hand turn to a town where I would stop for the evening. Surprise! The sign identified it as left turn. Once again I was on the wrong road. That was when I broke into a fit of laughter.
When I related my distress to Ontario's citizens, they were aware of the signage problems. I guess they have come to accept it.
Since Toronto is a huge sprawling city with even wider freeways, I just passed through without a stop.
Quebec is a foreign country... Most signs in Ontario are bi-lingual -- French and English. However, it appears that Quebec is not part of Canada; all signs are in French. When I recalled some of my high school French, I was able to read most of the signs. It helped that I had the refresher course as I drove through bi-lingual Ontario.
Natural stone building construction is something that I cannot pass up. Montreal and Quebec city both have old sections that date to the early 1600s. The narrow streets and touring the stone constructions gave me the opportunity to walk in both cities. That provided some needed exercise.
The St. Anne de Beaupre cathedral near Montreal was another stop to see stone construction on a grand scale. Included with the stone art were the wood carvings throughout the interior including the pews.
High school French... did not help me when people spoke the language. As I toured the beautiful old Quebec city on foot, French was the language most often heard. The greeting was always "Bonjour." I would respond with "Bonjour", only to have them head into French. I learned fast; I said "Hello" in response to "Bonjour". All of the people I spoke with were bi-lingual. No doubt if I were off the tourist path, French would have been the only way to communicate.
Tour to Grosse Ile... This island was the quarantine station from 1832 to 1937 for all immigrants who were to land in Quebec city. My ancestor Carl Treichel arrived in Quebec city in June of 1852. How much time, if any, he, his wife Johanna and five children spent on the island is unknown. There is a memorial to all those who died there in quarantine. Most of those deaths occurred between 1847 and 1851 as the Irish were immigrating in record numbers. Most of the names on the memorial were Irish.
On the day I visited the island in August of 2004, I was with about 200 other tourists who arrived in a motorized boat -- no sails. When I arrived, the visitor attire was shorts, T-shirts and baseball caps. Many of those visitors were also lugging coolers for the planned picnic on the island.
Now imagine a scene in June of 1852 arriving at that same island. Attire would have been long dresses, dark clothes, and hats. Instead of coolers the trunks contained their prized possessions. In 1852 as each new ship arrived, the quarantine island doctor would board to inspect the ship for disease. If the doctor determined the ship had no disease, the ship was allowed to proceed to the port of Quebec without a quarantine stay.
More French discomfort.... Being an outgoing person I will make small talk to anyone as I am on these tours. However, when not speaking the language, this makes for an unsettling experience. As we waited for the boat to arrive, there was joking among the passengers. There was laughter in reaction to the comments. One of the speakers happened to look at me and of course I have nothing but a dumb grin upon my face. At that point he may have wondered what he said. Perhaps it really wasn't so funny! Ces't la vie.
Historical village ... at King's Landing near Fredericton, New Brunswick was the scene for thisgentleman who was training the cattle in their role as oxen. He started the training when they were five months old and now at 18 months they are mostly trained. As he related his experience with his boys, he spoke of how they bonded. They were always next to each other. The one on the right in the yoke was always on the right even when they were at the watering trough.
More trivia about oxen came out during our conversation and this from a man who had never trained oxen before. The team was a team until death. If one were to die, there would be no way to get another animal to work with the survivor.
Highest tides ... at the Bay of Fundy are during the full moon each month and exceed 40 feet. At Hopewell Cape I walked at the bottom of the ocean at low tide. Six hours later that location was covered with 10 to 15 feet of water.
Reversing Falls.... With these high tides, the flow of the water is changed on the St. John River at a point called the Reversing Falls. The collage is the view at low tide at the top. The center is at slack tide when the river actually resembles a lake. The bottom picture was taken when the water is pushed upstream reversing the rapids hence the name.
More observations on Canada.... Couldn't pass up the road side stands with blueberries. Is it possible to overdose... Back roads in Maritimes were so rough that I had whipped cream in the half and half.... Diesel was about $2.40 a gallon. No automatic shutoffs at filling stations.... Sales tax is high. An ice cream bar for $1.79 with the 15% sales tax was $2.05.... Extensive bicycle trails in Montreal, Quebec city, and major cities throughout the Maritimes.
Crossing back into the US... I was stopped and the agent decided to do a check of my home. The only thing that he found were two Canadian eggs that I was smuggling into the US. Poultry products were not allowed because of Asian bird flu. The chicken breasts in the freezer were missed.
Cinnamon Roll Search ... No new rolls to report on. Cinnamon rolls that I did find were harder and more like a very chewy cookie. There were also the traditional cinnamon rolls -- way to large. A meal for four.
Vanity License Plates ....
SPDSLYF --- Speeds life? Spuds life?
LUV2BBQ --- Me too.
WIL2XL -- Good idea.
AW HECC --- Gave up on trying to be clever?
CWITCH --- No smile on the lady driver.
FRK SHOW --- 20 something drives this little car.
WHP LASH --- On a Corvette.
KUZIKAN --- Good enough reason for me!
With the exception of Quebec, Canadian provinces had vanity plates. I was hoping that Quebec would have vanity so I could try to decipher the French.
Comment overheard at a souvenir stop: "Do I really want this or am I just buying something from here."
John Adams by John McCollough. Through letters, diaries and newspaper accounts, the author creates a very readable biography as well as Adams' place in the history of the formation of these United States.
Small World by Brad Herzog. In this book, the author travels by RV (I can relate to this) to US towns with internationally known names such as Moscow, Calcutta and Mecca. Once there he relates the stories of fascinating people who reside in these small towns.
Jupiter's Travels by Ted Simon. This motorcycle ride around the world is a vicarious thrill to experience the world up close and personal. The action and the danger that the author experiences makes me conclude that the author has a very different genetic makeup.
Zephyr -- Tracking a Dream Across America by Henry Kisor. A story of US train travel, the author travels by train from Chicago to San Francisco. Through passenger stories, railroad employees and historical sources, the story of riding the rails comes alive.
... and I also read a couple of fiction books. One of those was ...
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. A good mystery.
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