A Travellerspoint blog

DAY 11 - OTTAWA, ONTARIO TO QUEBEC CITY

July 02, 2011

I packed up the Goldwing and hit the road to Quebec City at 8:30 a.m. It was Saturday morning and traffic out of town was light. I stopped at an A&W just outside Ottawa on Hwy. 17 and had a coffee and a bun for breakfast. There were a few motorcycles at the A&W but no one was talkative except for one of the A&W employees who was outside having a smoke. She walked over to my bike and was very interested in the license plate. She came inside and asked me if I really rode all the way from Columbia. I don't think she knew there was a British Columbia. Anyway, she was very pleasant.

I continued on Hwy. #17 until I hit the Quebec border at Hawksbury. It's hard to believe that #17 is the only highway I've ridden on for the past 5 riding days. Ontario is one big province. The closer I got to the Quebec border, the more French things got. In Ontario, the highway signs are in English and in French but in Quebec, they are entirely French. Most of the signage has symbols on it so it's no problem. However there were a number of electric signs around construction zones that had messages I could not decipher.DSCN0939.jpgDSCN0953.jpgDSCN0946.jpgDSCN0944.jpg

Speed zones appear to be just minor annoyances for most Quebec drivers. I usually ride about 10 over the limit but dozens went by me like I was standing still. There was one radar trap on #40. I had hoped to stay off the primary highways to make the ride more enjoyable. I got off of #50 and found #158 that would take me to #40 at Berthierville, west of Trois Rivieres but the pace on this secondary road was painfully slow. With the speed zones around all the small towns, it was going to take forever to get to Quebec City so I went back to the major highways and skirted the north side of Montreal on #640. I rode by the now defunct airport at Mirabel. This was the International Airport that the Feds built to service Montreal and that nobody wanted. It is now abandoned with empty terminals and grass growing through cracks in the tarmac. Our tax dollars in action.

The topography between Montreal and Quebec City is very flat, almost like taking the #1 from Chilliwack to Vancouver, only 200 kms in length. Lots of lush looking farmland but straight roads and no real scenery.

I have to say that the GPS on the Goldwing, although not as sophisticated as some systems, is a life saver. It took me into Quebec City and guided me to the B & B without a hitch. I'm staying at the Auberge J.A. Moisan, located right in the heart of Quebec City on Rue St. Jean. I was greeted by the owner, Clement, who showed me the garage where I will park the bike until Monday morning. Trip Advisor dot com rates this place at the #1 place to stay in Q.C.

The B & B is ornate. There are antiques and hardwood floors everywhere. Although old as the hills, my room is very comfortable and the air conditioning is wonderful. Clement also operates a gourmet food store on the ground floor. I am expecting breakfast tomorrow to be something special. I'll take some photos of the place and put them on tomorrow's blog.

After a shower and attempted nap, I took a 3 hour walk about town. This is a fascinating city. I find it more French than Montreal but I don't feel uncomfortable not speaking French because everyone I encountered was very friendly and happy to speak to me in English.

It was a Saturday night and the streets were packed with people. I've never seen so many restaurants. Most have sidewalk tables and most of the tables were full of patrons. The primary cuisine appears to be French of course but there were many others including Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Lebanese and Irish/English pub style. I was surprised to see only one smoked-meat place like you see in Montreal.

I'm looking forward to looking around for the full day tomorrow.

Distance today 465 kms
Distance to date 5099 kms

Posted by wpcross625 18:53 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

DAY 10 - 2ND FULL DAY IN OTTAWA

July 01, 2011

sunny 28 °C

I had another early start on the bus to downtown this morning. It's Canada Day and the weather today is absolutely fantastic with blue sky and not a cloud in sight. It's 8 a.m and the bus is full already.

Arriving at Parliament Hill at 9 a.m., I found that I was not the " early bird". There were thousands of people there ahead of me. Many actually were there from the night before, hoping to get a good vantage of the festivities as well as Prince William and Katherine. Not wanting to spend 3 hours in the hot sun waiting, I walked over to the National Gallery and waited for it to open at 10 a.m.

This is Canada's National art gallery. In it you will find contemporary and classic art from all over the world and particularly Canada. I was impressed by two things. One was an exhibit of photography by Fred Herzog who specialized in photography taken in urban places, particularly Vancouver. Many of the photos were from the '50s and '60s, taken on the Downtown Eastside. The other art that was breathtaking was the works by the Group of Seven.

I left the Gallery at 11:30, thinking that I would walk up to Parliament Hill for the celebration. I gave up on that plan when I saw the crowds on the streets. As luck would have it, the Prince and his wife were going to travel right by the front of the Gallery. So I found a place reasonably close to the street. Again, I have to thank the zoom lens on my Nikon for getting a couple of decent pictures of the Prince. Unfortunately, Katherine was looking the other way.

After they went by, I started walking to the Hill but gave up after getting stuck in pedestrian gridlock. I finally ducked out of the crowd and went into the lobby of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. I found a comfy chair and sat there for a half-hour. When I got back on the street, the police were allowing people to cross to the other side of the street so I walked over and spent a couple of hours walking on the Sparks Street Mall. There was some great entertainment and the people-watching was superb. I am struck with the number of people in the crowd who are obviously immigrants. They appear sincerely proud to be in Canada.

I got back to the hotel about 4pm and had a good nap. It was quite warm this afternoon and I got a sample of that eastern humidity.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be leaving for Quebec City.
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Posted by wpcross625 19:02 Archived in Canada Tagged gallery ottawa building day national parliament katherine prince william canda Comments (0)

Day 9 - OTTAWA, ONTARIO

June 30, 2011

sunny 25 °C

I got an early start on my first full day in Ottawa by taking a bus ride downtown leaving the hotel at 8 am. I hit the Tim's on Sparks Street for a biscuit and coffee for breakfast. Like every Tim's in Canada, there was a line-up at that time in the morning. I choked-down the biscuit then moved out to a bench on the street to enjoy the sunshine.

I walked over to the Parliament Buildings and walked around the outside of the entire building. There are statues of famous Canadians all over the place. I picked-up a tour at 10 a.m. They took us through the House of Commons, the Senate, the Parliamentary Library and up to the top of the Peace Tower. I've been through the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and I have to admit.... our's is more impressive.

In 1967, I visited the Parliament Buildings. I recall that back then, we just walked into the building and walked around. Now the security is just like at the airport.

Next on the agenda was a visit to the Byward Market, a few blocks away just past the Chateau Laurier Hotel. Byward is Ottawa's equivalent of Granville Island in Vancouver. There are dozens of stands offering fresh flowers, vegetables, fruit, tee-shirts, jewelry, pottery, etc. The quality of the produce looked wonderful and I was very impressed with the reasonable prices. If I wasn't on the bike, I'd pick-up some of the maple syrup that was most reasonable. There are also a number of restaurants and pubs. There is a huge international influence with many ethnic restaurants, particularly from the Middle East and Caribbean.

The highlight of the market was a stop at "Beavertails" where I purchased a coffee and a beavertail, which is a long flat donut sprinkled with sugar and in my case, covered with apples and cinnamon sauce. It was a sticky thing to eat but worth it. I asked a British tourist at the next table to take my picture (attached).

After a trip to Subway to wash the sugar from my hands, I took a walk along the Rideau Canal. There is a series of six locks that transport boats up from the Ottawa River. There were many pleasure boats from Ontario, Quebec and the U.S. moored along the canal. What a great way to visit the city, moored right in the middle of all the action.

My next stop was the Royal Mint. Wouldn't you know it.... they charge you to go through it and they don't give away samples! It was very interesting. I didn't know it but there are two mints in Canada. The mint in Winnipeg makes all of the coins for circulation in Canada. The mint in Ottawa makes investment coins and collector coins. As well, they made the medals for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

I went back to the National War Memorial and waited about a half-hour for Prince William and Katherine to arrive. They laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier accompanied by Prime Minster Harper and his wife. This was their first official duty on their tour of Canada. They arrive in the country just 40 minutes before. I was quite a distance from them but thanks to the 26X zoom on my new Nikon, I got a few decent photos of them (one attached).

I returned to the hotel about 3:30. I'd been walking almost non-stop for over 7 hours and I need to save my feet for tomorrow for the Canada Celebrations on Parliament Hill.
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Posted by wpcross625 17:30 Archived in Canada Tagged ottawa building canal parliament katherine prince william rideau byward Comments (1)

Day 8 - North Bay, Ontario to Ottawa

June 29, 2011

Another dreary day in Northern Ontario. I awoke to gray skies and drizzle. I fueled-up I got on the road about 7:30 a.m. heading east, still on #17. Road conditions vary from good to broken pavement. Traffic was light at sometimes and heavy at others. There's a big forces base at Petawawa and it was quite busy there.

The night before, at the hotel in North Bay, I got talking with another Goldwing rider from Reno, Nevada. He as doing the Four Corner's Rally sponsored by the Southern California Motorcycle Association (the same ones that sponsor the3 Flags). He was heading west to Blaine, Washington to finish off the loop from San Diego, California, Key West Florida and someplace in North Eastern Maine. He was on Day 11 of the loop and hoping to finish in 16 days. Something to consider for next year?

I stopped to top up the tank in a small town called Blind River. I also stopped at the local Tim's for a coffee. There I met a chap from Calgary, also on a Wing and traveling to the Maritimes, with his travelling companion (photo attached). He had a small pup (complete) with "Doggles" riding in a carrier on the passenger seat of the Wing. He said the dog goes everywhere with him. I'll have to look into this for Fidel. I'd never take him on such a long trip but for day rides it's a possibility. Fidel actually had a pair of Doggles when he was a puppy but he ate them.

The geography changed about 75 kms from Ottawa, from forest and lakes to rolling hills and farmland. The weather also changed to heavy rain for about 40 kms. As I neared Ottawa, the rain quit and the skies got a bit brighter (but not sunny).

Thanks to the onboard GPS on the Wing, I found my way into the city and straight to the Best Western on Carling Avenue. Hotel prices in Canada are almost as mysterious as gasoline prices. The hotel room here is fabulous, The strange thing is that it's $20 a night cheaper than the dump in Hanna, Alberta.

After getting settled in the room, I took the bus downtown and had a look around the parliament buildings. I had picked this hotel because I looked like walking distance to downtown and Parliament Hill. I really goofed because it's quite a distance from downtown. This is not a problem however because the bus stops right outside the hotel and I ride free because I'm a "senior". When I got on the bus, i asked the driver (a big Caribbean fellow) about the fare. He said are you a senior. I told his I was 64. He looked at me like I was a real dummy for being honest about my age. He gave me a big smile and declared me a "young" senior and I got on for free.

There is a big stage erected in front of Parliament for the Canada Day celebrations. The big deal this year is the visit of Prince William and Katherine. Typically they get about 50,000 at the "Hill" for the Canada Day events. When Queen Elizabeth was here a few years ago, they had 100,000. Some estimates are calling for 300,000 his year. It looks like I may witness some History on July 1st.

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I returned to the hotel and had dinner. Feeling a bit "bagged" after my 4500+ km trip so far, I turned-in early and caught-up on some sleep. I'll need the rest as I thing I'll be walking lots over the next couple of days.

Distance today = 363 kms
Distance todate - 4,634 kms

Posted by wpcross625 05:02 Comments (3)

Day 7 - Sault Ste. Marie to North Bay, Ontario

June 28, 2011

rain 18 °C

We awoke this morning to "West Coast Drizzle". We took our time loading the bikes hoping the rain would quit but that was not to be. About 8 am we rode down the street and fueled-up at the Petro Canada then across the street to Tim Hortons for coffee and oatmeal. Karl is a big Tim's fan. I think I've been in more Tim's this week than I have in the last year at home. The oatmeal actually wasn't bad.... lots of fruit in it.

We headed east on Hwy 17 (we've been on #17 ever since we crossed over the border from Manitoba). I've been riding for 3 days now and I've still got another 450 kms before I've crossed the province.

We travelled about 250 kilometers to Espanola where Karl and Derek headed south to the ferry across the lake and to Derek's home in Guelph. I fuelled up and headed east towards North Bay. The rain/drizzle would come and go through the entire trip to North Bay except for the last 50 kms when the sun tried to shine (but not quite).

The further south and east you go in Ontario, the larger the towns and cities get. Up until now there would be 40 or 50 kms between the towns. Now there seems to be one every 10 or 15 kms. Travel is a bit slower because of all the speed zones and increased traffic. There appears to be a much larger police presence on the highways in Ontario than in B.C. The speed limit on #17 is almost always 90 between the villages. If you do just over 100, the police don't bother you.

Northern Ontario is rugged country. Looking at the map, I'd call it Western Ontario, but the Ontarians call it "Northern". The towns are kind of gritty, something like you see in northern B.C. The scenery is quite blah. Even views of the lakes was uninspiring. Maybe it would be better if the sun was shining. The economy appears to be resource-based (mining, forestry etc). Like B.C., there is a lot of highway construction. I rode past Sudbury, the nickel capital of Canada. It was raining and foggy. It looked bleak. North Bay is sort of like Prince George.

So far on this trip, Saskatchewan has had the friendliest people. I haven't found people to be that friendly here in Ontario. In fact, in the Tim Hortons I've visited here in Ontario, the staff are downright indifferent. But then, it must be tough to be upbeat if you are working at Tim's.

Tomorrow, I've got about 350 kilometers to Ottawa. I'm looking forward to another short day and then a couple of days off the road to enjoy Canada Day in our Capital City.

No photos to add today. Nothing to take pictures of !!

Distance today - 467 kms
Distance to date - 4,271 kms

Posted by wpcross625 19:40 Comments (2)

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