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

Day 3:  Thu 3 Aug 2002

00:00 UTC - 02:00 UTC (Back to Pignons Verts)

After getting back to Milot, the drive back was fairly uneventful.  As the sun came out, haze and fog came up.


Fog Coming Up


I did stop at a little place for dinner.  It was labeled for tourists, but I was the only one there.  I thought I ordered a hamburger, but what I got appeared to be a chicken sandwich.  But given my extensive French skills, I wasn't going to argue.  I ate the chicken sandwich, got out of there, and finished the ride back.

02:00 UTC - 05:00 UTC (Logs)

Once back, I spoked to the host for a few minutes (the dog barked when I came back and woke him up) but then he headed back to bed and I headed up to my room.  I had had a long day but was still a little wound up.  To relax I go online for a bit, did some email, and wrote up some of this story until I got too tired to continue.

05:00 UTC - 12:00 UTC (Sleep)

And then I slept.  Longer than I should have.

13:00 UTC - 15:00 UTC (Brazillian Breakfast)

When I woke up, it was already time for breakfast.  As I was about to rush out to shower, I realized that there were other guests in the house.  One of them was in the bathroom at the moment, and it seemed there were even more.  They must have arrived while I was out the previous day.  So I waited a bit for them to be done and head downstairs, then I headed into the shower to get ready for the day myself.


When I got downstairs, I was introduced to the other guests.  2 Brazillians and a Quebecer.  They were apperantly part of a band. 


2 Brazillians and a Quebecer


The hosts had even put up a Brazillian flag for them, but there wasn't much wind.


Brazillian Flag


As I joined them for breakfast we talked a bit about various things.  I thought for a minute that I would have a chance to practive my Portuguese, which while still close to nothing, was still about five times better (or more) than my French!  But basically everybody switched to English for my benefit.  Which probably made for better conversation.  :-)  They talked a bit about what they were doing, I showed some of the pictures from the last couple days on my computer, etc.  Then they got the tour of the place I had gotten when I first arrived. 


Around this time I started asking the host about the seaplane flights.  I was still mad at myself for not having gone into that place the other night.  After talking to him, it seemed that it probably would have only cost me a few hundred dollars.  It certainly would have been possible.  But I probabl;y would have had to have arranged it in advance.  Which I SHOULD have done when Jean-Claude (the host) had first emailed me about the possibility when I had first contacted him about staying here.  But no, I had figured I'd just do the best I could driving, and the sea plane thing would be overboard.  Now I really wish I had arranged that!  It would have been a blast!  Next time I get a chance to do a sea plane, I'm going to do it.  But it was too late for this trip.  Drat!


Anyway, I was got a few more last pictures of Pignons Verts and my hosts there.




Long Shot


Short Shot


And then we all left and headed off on our different ways.

15:00 UTC - 17:00 UTC (South of Lac St Jean)

As I left, I was still simmering with ideas of finding a seaplane and doing an impromptu flight up to my spot, but I realized chances were slim and time was short.  Jean-Claude had recommended a zoo on the Western side of Lac St Jean as a possible thing to do before I headed south back to Quebec.  So I headed in  the direction of Lac St. Jean, and then when I got to the area of the lake, headed around it to the South, since to get to Milot I'd gone to the North.  I drove fairly quickly around the southern side of the lake, occationally stopping for the view...


View of Lac St Jean


People Watching Lake


I stopped at a little museum I saw about native cultures in the area. 


Native Cultures


And I saw a curling club, although it unfortunately seemed to be closed.  It would have been fun to actually see curling in person.




And for those of you who didn't think coming to Canada would be good because you thought it would be cold...  This was August!  Canada is not Antarctica!  It was warm and beautiful weather the whole time!  Sometimes it was even downright hot!  Hot enough to go to the beach!




A little later I came across some more monuments to the native peoples that were quite striking.




And all around the lake there was a big loop of bike paths.  Everywhere there were bikers going around the lake.  It was perfect weather for it, and great scenery.  It made me wish I'd had my bike with me!  Biking around the lake would have been a lot of fun!


Bike Paths

17:00 UTC - 18:00 UTC (Lunch)

Before too long, I was getting hungry.  So I stopped at a chain restaurant type place for lunch.  I only used a few words, but I managed to order my whole lunch using only French words, and without the waitress switching into English for my benefit.  I still pointed a little though.  I got a small personal pizza, then headed out with the goal of getting to the zoo that had been mentioned, then finishing the loop around the lake before heading to Quebec City.

18:00 UTC - 19:00 UTC (Musee de Cheddar)

But then, just as I was starting to head in the direction of the zoo, I saw something that I just could not resist stopping for...


Musee de Cheddar


It looked like A Museum to Cheddar Cheese!  So I went and parked in their lot.  As I was walking up, I wondered "Perhaps Cheddar means something else in French".  But no, when I got inside, it was indeed a museum to Cheddar Cheese!  At first I was confused as to where I was supposed to go first, but after watching a couple other people, I determined that I needed to start at the little booth where they sold tickets.  (I probably should have guessed that.) 


I got up to the booth and was all ready to just put one finger up and order one ticket without saying much, but I got up to the desk and the girl immediately said several sentences in French.  I just looked back with a completely blank stare.  She had obviously just welcomed me and then asked me something.  But I had no idea what she had asked me.  So I reluctantly revealed I didn't speak French.  So she started to try to speak English, but only had a few words, and it wasn't working well.  I did get that she was asking if I wanted the recorded tour, of which they had an English version.   I said yes and she got out the CD player they used for that, but it wasn't working right.  She started looking around the corner and yelling for someone.  After a little bit they showed up.  It was the designated English speaker.  She had very good English, with a great accent.  She got me all set up with the little CD player tour and actually seemed quite happy to be using her English.  I snuck this shot of her through the door after I started the tour.  She is cuter than you can tell in this picture though.


Helpful Cheddar Woman


Anyway, it was time for the tour.  The place was an old cheddar cheese factory.  Cheese making is appearantly a major industry of the area.  This place had been an active factory from the late 19th century until around 50 years ago when it was replaced by a more modern factory.  They showed you all about how Cheddar Chesse was made in these big vats, and then cut into slabs which get packed up, aged and sold.


Cheese Glorious Cheese


Then after the cheese factory itself, you walk upstairs and see the rooms that the owner of the cheese factory and his family lived in.


Upstairs at the Cheese Factory


Then I headed back downstairs, and it was time for a little movie on modern cheese making.  Now, as I went downstairs, a group was just finishing watching the movie.  So they came over and gave me the cheese samples that you normally get after the movie while I was waiting.  Three different kinds of cheddar cheese.  I liked them all.


Then it was time for the movie.  As it turns out, the staff had set up just for me their English language version of the tape.  I was the only one in the movie hall.


Movie Just for Me


It was a nice little documentary on cheese.  About 10 minutes long.  After the movie I thanked the designated English speaker again for taking all the extra time to help me out.  She was very cheerful and no problem about it (after all it was her job).  But she also said something along the lines of "No, No, English is the International language, you are right to speak it, we all are wrong speaking French!".  No, no, that's not right...  French is a fine language.  In any case, she was very cheerful and helpful.  I felt very self-consious getting all the individual attention rather than just getting in and out without being noticed, but it was a fun little visit to the Cheddar Museum.  I filled out their little comment card with all positive comments.

19:00 UTC - 22:00 UTC (Zoo)

Finally it was time for the zoo.  I was running out of time.  It was already the time of day where I had planned to be heading back down to Quebec.  But I still wanted to see the zoo!  A few more miles down the road and I saw the signs for the zoo.  I got there, parked, and paid my ticket.  The people at the gate told me to head down to the back of the zoo right away, because the last train was leaving in just a few minutes.  Turns out that they had a little ride where you went through a big loop with animals running around in "native habitat" as it were nstead of little pens.  The people at the gate spoke in French, but I got the gist.  A little further in another zoo employee, realized I spoke English, and told me the same thing in English.  So I got to the train place as quickly as possible, getting there a couple minutes before the last train was to leave.  There was a sign saying the last "English Train" had gone several hours previously.  That's OK though, French was fine.  In fact, I'd probably prefer it.  More the right flavor of the place and all that.  Anyway, I made it to the train/bus thing, and we got underway.


Train at Zoo


The first thing we saw, and saw a bunch of, were black bears...


Black Bear


One of them even walked right next to the train, but basically ignored us.


Close Bear


Then occationally there would be people dressed up and pretending to be settler type folks.  They would give a little speil explaining things. But this guy was very entertaining.  He went back and forth with the people on the train and ad libbed a lot.  People laughed. Of course, I didn't understand a word.  But I laughed too.


Settler Guy at Zoo


Then we saw Bison wandering around...



And deer...




And there were moose...




There were lots of each of these animals of course, not just one of each.  And then there were more settlers.




Then this guy was around a corner...


Guy around Corner


And then there was a field.  A field just full of prarie dogs and ground hogs.  All over the place.  A few ground hogs and probably hundreds of prarie dogs.  They were everywhere.  As the train passed by they all came out of their holes and stood up looking at us as we passed.  It was quite impressive to see a whole city of the little guys, as opposed to the little patches of them I've seen in zoos elsewhere (Washington primarily).


Praire and Ground Dog and Hog


Then more settler types...


More settlers


And then the train ride was over.  Now it was time for the regular zoo.  So yes, you get to see even more animal pictures.

The first thing I saw once back in the normal zoo was a lazy brown bear...


Brown Bear


But the best thing there were the polar bears...  They had an area where you could see them underwater and I just couldn't rip myself away...


Swimming Bear


Bear Looking


Rolling Bear


Bear Swimming By


I call this next one, "A bear, a girl, and two photographers".  The bear clearly didn't care.


A bear, a girl, and two photographers


Other than that one, the reflections are kind of annoying in the pictures, but I still couldn't stop taking pictures of the polar bears.


Slow Swim


OK, just one picture from above the water, then I forced myself to leave the polar bears...


From Above


I visited a few more animals, but the rest went by quickly, and it was finally time to head out and onward.

22:00 UTC - 00:00 UTC (North of Lac St Jean)

I finished the lap of Lac St Jean fairly uneventfully, as soon after the zoo I was back on familiar territory from the trip to Milot.  I was still deciding which way to head back to Quebec.  In the end, I decided to head back along a different route than what I had come up on several days previously, but still not the "main" route from Quebec to Chicoutimi.  To get to where this would start I actually finished my lap and then repeated a little of the route from earlier in the day.  But then I turned south and started heading back to Quebec City.  It was time to start the journey home.


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