|Sunday, September 11, 2016
A very restless night in Rimouski! We woke up about 1 AM by the RV rocking in the wind. Checked my phone to find the winds were 16-20 MPH. The truck camper parked next to us moved closer to the Walmart building hoping to escape the shaking – not sure if he succeeded. A storm with lightening passed over but the strong winds and rain continued all night. We would doze a bit and wake again when a particularly strong gust shook the RV. The temperature dropped considerably overnight, waking up to a temp of 50⁰. We waited for the winds to calm before we starting for Quebec City. They never did calm but did slow to gusts of only 13-17 mph. Tom had a tiring day of driving trying to keep in our own lane. Luckily there wasn’t a lot of traffic until we were close to Quebec City.
Rimouski is a very pretty town along the St. Lawrence River. There is a wide paved path shared by walkers and bicyclists extending for miles along the river. As we drove south the cliffs disappeared and land became almost as flat as our area of Ohio. There were fields of corn and wheat yet to be combined. The corn was still green but the wheat heads looked heavy. We saw several large farming operations with one or more barns and 3-5 outbuildings.
AHHH! Quebec City - what a gem. As we approached the walled city a park extended for several miles along Boulevard Champlain. There were greenspaces, various playground areas, benches to sit and watch the St. Lawrence River glide by and numerous walking and biking trails. We did not see graffiti or vandalism. Many people were utilizing the park on a sunny cool afternoon.
We were lucky enough to find a parking spot on the wharf right across Boulevard Champlain from the Lower Village. This part of the city was where first the merchants and traders lived to be close to the river traffic. Later the merchants prospered and moved to Upper Quebec City behind the fortified wall. It then became a mainly Irish neighborhood. As years passed and the population changed it devolved to a very dilapidated area. In the early 1960s a group of entrepreneurs began renovations in the areas. Some buildings date to the 1600’s. The area is called Place Royale’ and is filled with many restaurants and boutiques. Tourists crowded the area.
We opted to skip the $2.50/each trip on the funicular and get our exercise by climbing the stairs to the walled city. 201 stair steps later we were at the top of the wall and the view was spectacular! Samuel Champlain established the city in 1608. He chose the site because it was situate at a narrow section of the St. Lawrence River. The Inner City is set upon a high hill that makes it easy to see oncoming attackers and defend.
It was already 4:30 so we decided on a 90 minute city bus tour to familiarize ourselves with the city. We started the ride on the open upper deck of the bus. The wind was still gusting and temperatures dropping as the sun was sinking in the west. We spent the last half hour inside the bus – the view wasn’t near as good. After the bus ride we took off exploring on our own. Looking for a restaurant we found a cute cottage restaurant offering a price fixed menu of $19.95. Having checked many menus on our walk we found the price quite reasonable. Included in the price was a glass of local beer or wine, soup, entrée and dessert. There were probably 25-30 choices of add-ons for various price increases. The restaurant specializes in “old” Quebec recipes. We were led up a narrow staircase to a small inviting room with a very low ceiling and gabled windows. We found that the building history dates to 1675. The room was decorated with many antique gadgets and pictures. Tom enjoyed a beer while I chose the wine. We both started with the creamy vegetable soup. Tom chose the Quebec Meat Pie (potatoes, ground pork & gravy wrapped in a pastry shell). My choice was Grandmere’s Meatball Ragout (meatballs and potatoes in gravy with a side order of beets). We both chose the maple syrup pie for dessert. We enjoyed the entire experience. Things all Canadians are proud of – their potatoes, beets and maple syrup along with their very fresh seafood.
After eating we explored some more on our way back down to Lower Quebec. Walking the cobbled streets of Place Royale’ we met an interesting family from Ontario. Brothers Jeremy & Josh are both wheelchair-bound and have quite lively personalities. Josh won the 4 day trip by train to Quebec City. The young men have their own local radio program. We haven’t had a chance to check it out but I’m sure it is as interesting and animated as they are. Jeremy ran for a seat in the Parliament and lost by 3 votes. Josh was a bit quieter but got his points across. He is a poet and recited one of his poems for us. We enjoyed talking with them and their parents for quite a while.
On to the RV parked at the harbor. We decided to spend the night in the parking lot. Our slot was paid for until 6 AM Monday morning and we would be parking there again on Monday. Our rear windows looked out on the St. Lawrence, through the front windshield we viewed Quebec City and the Hotel Frontenac rising above the city. A couple in a Roadtrek also spent the night in the lot. We were just about asleep when we heard a very loud sound like a train passing very close. The sound only lasted about a minute but was a very definite loud metal on metal sound. A bit later we heard the same grinding sound. We had to wait until morning to solve the mystery.