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2002 Q3 Vacation:  51°1.90979'N, 71°11.76453'W

Day 1:  Wed 1 Aug 2002

00:00 UTC - 02:00 UTC (Flight to Quebec City)

Before long they called my flight.  I made a quick trip to the restroom and they were already giving the "last call" for my flight.  I raced to the gate and the attendant said "You must be Mr. Minter."  Yup.  I headed to the plane.  It was down a corridor and then out for another walk across the tarmack.  It was a small turboprop plane.  The person walking next to me down the hallway turned out to be the co-pilot.  When I got on the plane it turned out there were only two passengers. 


Small Plane Inside


It was a 20 seater plane...  including the spaces for the two crew members.  And it was just the four of us.  Pilot, copilot, myself and an older woman.


Woman on Plane


At first I sat in the back, but as I realized it was just going to be us, I moved up near the woman.  Turns out she was returning home to Quebec City after visiting family in Ireland.  She had been overbooked and rerouted several times, and was supposed to have been home many hours previously and was quite tired of flying at this point.  We had a conversation as the plane was preparing for takeoff, but once we were going down the runway full speed it was too loud to talk much more.


For most of the flight the crew left the flight deck door open, only closing it for take off and landing.  So I had a great time just watching the various gauges and indicators. 




There was a great sunset out the window.




Before long though we had landed in Quebec City. 




I walked with the woman out to the baggage area where she was being met by her family, then said goodbye and headed to the rental cars.


I did not get the extra insurance on the rental car, since I've heard that is usually a waste.  But then as soon as I'd signed the papers and started heading to the car I started double guessing.  Wait, does my coverage actually work in canada for rental cars?  Given my history with the car in Nevada, should I have gotten it?  Oh well, too late now.  I was at my bright banana yellow Ford Escape, and it was time to find the hotel.


Banana Yellow Ford Escape

02:00 UTC - 04:00 UTC (Finding Hotel Money and Food)

I left the airport with only a general concept of the direction in which the Comfort Inn lay.  I headed in one direction and figured I would circle the airport and find it eventually.  As it turns out, it was the second Comfort Inn I found.  Check in was uneventful.  After I got settled I decided it was time to get some Canadian currency and some food.  I remembered having passed a convienence store a few miles back, so I hopped in the Escape and headed out.  Sure enough, the convienence store had what I needed.  An ATM.  I withdrew a bunch of cash, which of course was Canadian currencies.  The banks would deal with the conversion and taking the correct amount out of my account back home.  And when I was done with the ATM, I turned around and there were potato chips and soda.  So I stocked up on those, plus a cold ham sandwich, paid the cashier, and headed back to the hotel.

04:00 UTC - 05:00 UTC (Eating and Emailing and Logging)

After getting back, I popped open the potato chips, soda and sandwich and answered some email and wrote some of the trip web log for awhile.  Eventyually though I got sleepy.

05:00 UTC - 14:00 UTC (Sleep)

And once I got sleepy I was out very quickly.  ZZZzzz...

14:00 UTC - 15:00 UTC (Check Out)

The morning consisted of the usual hitting the snooze button a few too many times, then rushing to get ready and out before checkout.  Turns out checkout was an hour later than I thought it was, so I got out with plenty of time to spare.

15:00 UTC - 16:00 UTC (Quebec Outskirts)

I set the GPS to aim me at Chicoutimi, prefering to avoid major highways as usual.  The GPS maps for this part of Canada do not have the level of detail I have at home, but it still put me on slightly smaller highways, and I appreciated that.  The first part of the trip was just a loop around Quebec City through the suburbs to avoid going down town.  Then the trip North began in earnest.


Around Quebec

16:00 UTC - 17:00 UTC (Lunch)

But first, it was lunch time.  I stopped at some family restaurant type place that reminded me of a Denny's back home.  Something with an "N" as the logo.  Once in the restaurant was the first time I really realized I was in a French speaking region.  At the airport and the hotel everybody had been fully bilingual and as soon as they realized I was an English speaker they switched.  Here, the waitress clearly only had a few words of English, which to be fair was a lot more words of English than I knew of French.  So I basically grunted and pointed at the pictures in the menu and felt like a complete idiot.  With Spanish and Protuguese I can usually pick out enough words to at least know the general topic of what I'm hearing, and sometimes can even understand what is being asked of me.  With French, I can provide nothing but blank stares.  But between the context and gestures, I was able to get through the restaurant experience.  But it did make me very self-concious of the fact I did not understand the language at all. It is a very isolating feeling.

17:00 UTC - 22:00 UTC (Drive to Saint Ambroise)

As mentioned, I took the scenic route north.  There were a lot of cute little towns I passed through, with cute little houses and cute little churches.  


Cute Little Church


And I saw lots of picturesque pine forests and mountains.




And lots of lakes.




There was a lake named Lac Ha! Ha!  That made me laugh.


Lac Ha! Ha!


After awhile, I arrived at Chicoutimi.  I stopped at a city parked and walked around a bit and took a few pictures to stretch my legs and get my bearings.




Chicoutimi Walk


Chicoutimi Fountain


Then I pointed my GPS at St. Ambroise where my B&B was, and made sure I had the directions to the place handy, and headed off again.  A few more miles down the road, going slow to make sure I caught the turns from the directions, and I pulled into the driveway of the B&B.


Pignons Verts

22:00 UTC - 00:00 UTC (Pignons Verts)

As I pulled and got out of the car, the owner, Jean-Claude Villeneuve, stepped out and said "Hello Sam!  Welcome!".  He offered me a beer (I asked for water instead) and then he asked me about my drive up, we looked at my route on a map, and he generally was a great host.


After a few minutes, he gave me a tour of the grounds, which he was obviously (and justifiably) quite proud of.  Behind the house was a small manmade lake, a replica of a settler era cabin, an aboriginal tent, and a few other items, all which he had put in place himself.


Behind Pignons Verts


Cabin Outside


Cabin Inside




In addition, he keeps some chickens,




some sheep,




some rabbits




and some ducks. 




Oh yes, and a friendly dog.




And of course, there was the inside of the B&B, which was well decorated and very nice looking. 


Inside B&B


Finally was my bedroom, where I quickly made myself at home.




Then I took a quick shower to freshen up before heading out again for dinner.


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