Worst and longest day of the trip…Left Cochrane at 0615 in the rain and it rained off and on the entire 9 and 1/2 hours. There were some breaks in the rain and sometimes it was torrential downpours…not a relaxing way to drive. But that’s not why it really was the worst day.
Background….I’ve lived in Maine for over 30 years and have made numerous trips to Quebec Province and Quebec City. I love how the Québécois cherish and embrace their Francophil roots and celebrate their French heritage. For those that do not know, French is the primary language of Quebec and in the countryside sometimes its hard to find someone who can speak English. This French culture has a terrific upside in that the restaurants that I have gone to in Quebec City have amazing French cuisine and a very European attitude towards dining–the table is your for the night, take your time, savor the food and the wine, enjoy your company, live life like it as meant to be lived. I love my Quebecois neighbors and friends [plus it’s the only place in the world where being a relative of Benedict Arnold is a serious plus…]
Let me tell what I did learn today as I traversed the Province of Quebec. Quebec drivers are THE WORST DRIVERS IN THE WORLD. I’ve driven Boston, New York, Philly, all over the US. In Canada I just drove through the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and now Quebec…OH MY GOD. What is wrong with you all here? You take first prize for WORST DRIVERS EVER!
You may think I am exaggerating…well try this on. First, I drove the speed limit the entire way [maybe a kilometer or more over]. I’m a guest in Canada and I play by Canadian rules…. plus I don’t want to get hauled off to jail/magistrate or however they handle rural speeding tickets. I never passed anyone. Everyone passed me and not by a little but by a lot.
Even elderly “blue hairs” blew by my…I think I saw one Granny mouth to me “slap it on the ass sonny!” as she ripped by me at least 20 miles an hour over the limit.
Trucks got their grill right up to my bumper. In my passenger side mirror that says, “objects in the mirror are nearer than appear” I could see the eyeballs of a dragonfly caught in the Peterbuilt grill. These guys were over the top aggressive.
On numerous occasions cars came up and passed me, and multiple other cars in front of me, in the rain, on a hill, in a “No Pass” area. This was not an isolated incident. This was Darwin Award material. Never in my years of driving have I witnessed such boneheaded driving and it was an epidemic.
So, Surete du Quebec [State Troopers for Quebec] I have an idea for you and for your budget, which by listening to Public Radio Canada for 10 days I think I have a grip on the issues you face. Pick two random days in July and set up speed traps like we do in the US [not saying it’s better, just go with me here]. Only pick people going 10 kilometers over the limit and just pick people with Quebec plates so visitors don’t feel like they’re being picked on like we do here in the States [see, it’s already a better model]. I’ve seen the signs with your “fine” structure…you should make your annual budget in two weekends at the most. Write this down…your drivers SUCK…maybe its just everyone west of Montreal…dunno…
So for those reading yesterday’s blog you know I wrestled the Road Nuts/Queer devil into a mental compartment to keep it from raising its ugly head. I could hear it thumping around desperately trying to get out but I had it contained! I had this! No worries!
For one second let’s go back to the French language thing…it’s a matter of pride and I support the Québécois people! In Ontario, which has a sizable Francophone population, the signs would be in English with French below that. I learned some French! Thank you Ontario for being sensitive and respectful…
Hit the Quebec line and all signs in French, as I expected, but now with no English in smaller letters below. So my Québécois friends will be upset with me but… REALLY? Take the chip off the shoulder and help the rest of us who are not part of the great debate in Canada over Franco or Anglo navigate your incredibly beautiful country…this actually has a major impact on our experience in your wonderful country…and here ya go…
Leaving the Val D’Or area I noticed some signs in French that I couldn’t read and then a smaller one that said something about “Route Isolee”…hmm…wonder what that means…sounds like isolated…wonder what an isolated route is…
On a 1/2 tank of gas and now about 60 Kilometers beyond that sign it became very apparent to me that I was seriously in “The Bush”. No houses, no signs, no nothing…and then it struck me–I’m on a two-lane highway with no services for a very long and unknown time….I did remember seeing a sign that said something like “gas 72 kilometers” [it was closed].
I’ve been through upper Ontario in “The Bush” and they had services and now I’m heading toward major population centers so “The Bush”? Yea, I know “The Bush” and this must be some easterners idea of “The Bush”. Well how bad could this be? C’mon!
I’LL TELL YOU HOW BAD IT CAN BE!
No signs telling you anything like Gas in 100 miles, whatever signs were up were in French only [my Francophil friends you have put an ally in harms way…not happy right now]…so now the bag full of Road Nuts/Queer…
…springs open like a freaky Jack-in-the-Box.
I’m now down below a quarter of a tank, the empty tank light is about to come on and I am making peace with God that I will run out of gas on a far-from-anywhere stretch of road and eventually I will:
1.) Either flag someone down who can alert the police and eventually get back to civilization [oh by the way…its so deserted that every 10 kilometers there is an SOS phone…comforting…] or;
2.) They will find my bear-mauled body cached under a fallen tree [bears cache what they kill to come back an nosh on it later] and at least my kids will have a toe to bury at my memorial service.
I vacillated between acceptance of inner peace and bargaining with God still. At this time I also have 9 yards of leather seat fabric clenched between my butt cheeks from being Road Nuts/Queer…and by the way the difference between leather seats and fabric seats and the ability to clench leather demonstrates some mad skills here….Thinking I should try out for the “Rebels With Claws” once I get back [ref. yesterday’s post].
Taking all fuel-efficient measures I am squeezing mileage out of the car…love those downhill runs…when suddenly with no warning at the bottom of a hill on a curve is an Esso [Exxon to the US folk] station…no warning, no signs like 10 kilometers or miles or anything earlier…BOOM!
The joy erupting in my car put to shame the Apollo moon landing scene in Houston…and all was well and the Road Nuts/Queer devil was slammed back into his compartment.
Pulling into Mont-Tremblant was an exercise in restraint as all I wanted to do as get this lousy day over with…and it is…phew…that really sucked…
Tomorrow..the States and back in New England…the journey will be over…
UPDATE!…Mont-Tremblant just got hit with a major thunderstorm and the power is out…hotel is on emergency power [thus yours truly] but that also means all the restaurants are out…shout out to Kathy and RPK for my emergency food kits and thank you Yukon Brewery for the beers that ALMOST made it back to the States…peanut butter and jelly with Genoa Salami…hhhmmm…that’s good eatin [in a blacked out room with no other options]….did I mention this was THE WORST DAY?