Posts Tagged With: Ontario

Ottawa and Montreal

It was nice not to have to get up early, break camp and head out early in the morning.  We have two nights here in Ottawa, giving us a full day to explore the city.  It is a Saturday, so it is even better.  Of course we had rain overnight, but it wasn’t raining yet, even though the temperature was in the 40’s.  We quickly got to town, in fact we almost missed the exit, it was so close.  First task was to get free tickets for a tour of parliament, then we walked around parliament hill.  There is currently a 10-year restoration in progress for the main historic buildings, so you could see some of the restored changes and compare to the weathered look of some of the older buildings.

 

 

After taking some photos of the Peace Tower we walked to the riverfront and then to Rideau Canal to watch some boats go through the locks.  Further along was the Museum of Art and this wild spider sculpture (reminded me of one mentioned in Dan Brown’s Origin, but that one was in Bilbao, Spain.)  Not much farther along was the very cool Byward Market –  several blocks of restaurants, bars, shops and lots of farmer’s market stalls.  Since it was Saturday, it got increasingly busy.  We did manage to grab some delicious pastries and farther along opted for a sandwich and mocha at Starbucks.  It was still chilly and partly cloudy, so the coffee was good.

  

  

Back to the Peace Tower for our tour of parliament.  We got to see the Canadian version of the House and Senate and the Library of Parliament and learned a lot about the constitutional monarchy and the role that Queen Elizabeth still plays in this country, part of the UK.  Interesting contrast to the government buildings we saw on our trip to Washington (Capital and Library of Congress).

  

  

 

 

Lots of photos of stone buildings (gallery below), but it was all so very interesting.  We finished the day with a search for the special Christmas yarn at our second Wal-Mart stop, but no luck.  Wal-Mart 2, Jackie 0.  I also stopped off at the Small Pony Barrelworks for just two more tastes of the sours while working on the blog.  A nice grilled steak finished off the evening as we awaited yet another night of rain (?).  Up early tomorrow for a short drive to Montreal, making camp and heading into the city all in one day.  Should be fun.

MONTREAL

Indeed, it only took us just over 2 hours to reach our KOA outside Montreal, a nice clean spot with many open sites.  We got Kodi and Merlin situated, unhitched the car yet again and drove in to Montreal.  Let me warn you if you are traveling to this city, there is major road construction on the way in and on many of the city streets.  Allow yourself plenty of time.  Fortunately it was Sunday.

We kind of felt like we were in an episode of the Amazing Race, since everything in Quebec is in French.  At least in Ontario you had both English and French on signs.  Not that we find the directional signs exactly plentiful here in Canada.  So we are quickly translating the English approximation for scenic drive, detour, stop, no turn on red, yield … that sort of then, plus still trying to see what 100 kph translates to (maybe 62 mph?)  Closer to the city we were on a wide detour that dropped us in downtown, but there were police lights flashing all around us.  What the heck?   Get this … a motorcycle rally was riding through. – exactly where we wanted to be Lots of police, closed streets and, well, you know our luck and motorcycle rallies.  We scooted around it and found a parking spot and started off on foot in Old Montreal.

The first “must see” building is the Basilica Notre-Dame de Montreal.  Once through the line, we were treated with a beautiful sanctuary.  Impressive design.

  

   

We continued on along the cobbled streets, heading downhill toward the waterfront.  Montreal is along the St. Lawrence River and there is quite a lot of shopping, restaurants, museums and recreation along the waterfront.  While the flowers and artists and shops were colorful and inviting, we were on a mission to find some sort of pub to get something good to eat and drink.  Aha!  Jackie found a spot hidden under one of the old stone waterfront buildings called “Pub BreWskey”  Sounds like our kinda place.  Well it was perfect.  Intimate, warm (it was a chilly day for sure) and lots of beer on tap.  We ordered two flights from sours to ambers to lagers and a peanut butter stout.  They added a special “weekend-only” variant of one of the beers, complimentary, which was cool.

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Food-wise this was a treat.  We ordered two cups of beer cheese soup and split a grilled cheese with skirt steak sandwich, and as you can see by the picture, it was a pretty big portion.  The cheese soup was the best we have ever tasted and the sandwich — yum.  Melted cheese and steak on a crusty French bread, plus smashed potatoes that were really more like home fries soaked in bacon grease and then fried.  Perfect with the beer.

After that meal it was time to walk the several blocks back to the car and find our way home.  This direction we didn’t hit the construction detours, so we made better time.  Wait…. there is a Wal-Mart.  Must stop and check for the special yarn.  Ooops.  Wal-Mart: 3, Jackie: 0, since the store was closed (early on Sundays!)  Darn.  Back in camp we took the dog for a walk, listened to Merlin complain and put our feet up.  Tomorrow is another short run, as we cross the border back into the US and find our way to Grand Isle, Vermont.  We have to dump and fill with fresh water, as we are going to be without electric and water for a week now.

Thanks for following along.  More to come on the journey, as we cross back into the US.

Doug

 

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Crossing Ontario, Canada

An early sunrise greeted us as we showered and pulled up to head into Canada.  Crossing over the bridge at Sault Saint Marie (oh and it’s Soo, not salt), we looked down on the locks, the rapids and the power canals.  And then we were at the border crossing, handing over our passports. A few questions about where we were headed, firearms and did we have alcohol (yes, just two bottles) and we were waved through.  Wow a lot easier than we thought. Shoulda bought that Kentucky Bourbon after all.

The day was a long drive across the upper shore of Lake Huron and the North Channel, but the scenery was spectacular.  There is so much water: ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, bogs all of which look like they would be perfect for wildlife, especially moose.  We even saw several moose crossing signs, but alas no moose. Plenty of beaver lodges though. We are also seeing the first signs of fall color among the spruces, firs, aspens and birch.  Just some pops of color among the dark evergreens and white trunks.

The first part of the drive had small towns and farmland.  We saw some more sandhill cranes in the cornfields and plenty of geese.  One flock might have had some snow geese mixed in. In some of the farming areas we saw horse and buggy warning signs and we weren’t sure why until we passed a horse and carriage trotting along the wide shoulder.  Neither of us knew if there were Quakers or Mennonites locally, but it seems so. As we got closer to our destination, Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, the terrain was more rocky, with outcrops along the road covered in reindeer moss and spruce.  Canadians must love stacking rocks, as there were many rock cairns (or totems or hoodoos) on the outcroppings. Some were rather artistic creations, one even had a yellow cape.

The campground was a very nice wooded spot, but the entrance road was way too bumpy – we were pitching left and right and up and down and… well everything seemed to be rattling.  Our site was just across from a stream that ran from a nice lake to the Matawa River, with a nice overlook down 50 feet or so to the water. Once settled in and after a walk with Kodi to find bear or moose (no luck) we sat with our drinks at a table on the edge of the stream.  As we reviewed the day’s travel, we watched several mergansers swimming along. It was really cool.

 

Of course it rained again overnight and the fabric footstools we left outside to dry (from our plumbing adventure) got soaked once again.  But since it was a pull-through site we didn’t have to disconnect the car and it was easy to leave in the moring for our final leg to Ottawa.  The road we travel goes along the Mattawa River, the northern border of Ontario. Lots of water again, ponds, lakes, the river, bogs, several beaver lodges, but no wildlife.  It was an easier day of driving and we got to Wesley Clover Campground, just outside Ottawa and right off the interstate just after noon. Disconnected the car and set up in camp. 

One fun thing in camp are these oversized picnic tables with carved animals on the ends.  It seems that Kodi was quite taken with one.

Jackie discovered (somewhere along the trip in Ohio) that Bernat yarn had come out with special color blends for Christmas, but would only be available in Wal-Marts in Canada.  Well isn’t that lucky for us? So a mission, once we got into Canada, was to find a Wal-Mart and get that yarn. Of course no stores until Ottawa, so once here we hopped in the car to get to a Wal-Mart close by.  Alas, all out. Ah well, guess we will do the brew tour instead.

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Three breweries within 4 miles (er kilometers), so we sampled a little at each.  Covered Bridge brewing had a nice raspberry wheat; Big Rig was a very cool set-up and pretty big, with a delicious pumpkin porter, grapefruit shandy and a porter Jackie liked.  Last stop was Small Pony Barrelworks. All they brewed was barrel-aged sours, so Jackie was kinda out of luck, but I loved it. Sampled all sorts of blueberry, raspberry, sour cherry, elderberry, hibiscus sours, each with a different color and flavor.  What fun. 

Back in camp now, after grilling a nice dinner of boneless chops and brussel sprouts.  Our footstools finally dried so I put them away – which was a good thing because it is now raining once again as I write this blog.  Ah well, at least it really hasn’t rained in the afternoons when we arrive at destinations. Tomorrow is a full day in Ottawa seeing the city and then we pick up and head east just a bit to stay outside Montreal.  Looking forward to a nice Saturday in Ottawa.  

Check back as we post more pictures and stories of our trek to Maine.  Thanks for following along so far.

Doug

 

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