Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Percé, Quebec to New Brunswick

Awakened at 7:30, someone banging on the door of the trailer out behind the restaurant. Must have been time for the chef to report to work. Overcast & drizzle. Slowly packed. My mental state was more neutral-to-optimistic this morning. Checked out and drove two blocks and parked again. I wanted to get some coffee and a pastry, then give the internet another try.

Walked several blocks to the boulangerie. It was jammed. Ordered a cappuccino and croissant. By the time I finished, the shop was nearly empty. Walked back to the "Office de Tourisme du Rocher-Percé" and set up my laptop in the back "office". I concluded that even though the computer is receiving a strong 54 Mbps signal from the wireless transmitter, the signal to that transmitter must be at much slower dial-up speeds, hence the problems. (Looking around to the other terminals, I saw others experiencing problems too, including Jeff who was trying to check e-mail using a Mac for the first time.) So, I suspect the waitress was right - there is no true high-speed internet service out here.

Left Percé in a light drizzle and rode south along the Gaspé coast. The spacing of small towns every three to five miles, was so odd to me that I tried come up with a theory to explain it. Was this the distance travelers afoot long ago could comfortably walk before stopping for lunch, or, after lunch, stopping for the night?

On a motorcycle, the drill became quite tedious, as we constantly shifted through the gears, accelerating away from one town only to start slowing a few minutes later for the next town's 18 or 24 mph zone. I couldn't possibly absorb all the names as one village blended into the next. I'm sure each was very quaint in it's own right, but the repetition was having the effect of urging me onward, wanting to put it all behind.

As we turned west along the northern shore of Chaleur Bay, a storm front was dead ahead. Now the frequency of towns provided an advantage: we could use them as "stepping stones" on our approach to the rain. Shelter would be no more than a few minutes away. We pressed on to New Richmond, taking refuge in a restaurant just as the rain came on. Unfortunately, this particular restaurant was not particularly good, but we were now committed.

Stretched out lunch until the brunt of the storm had passed eastward. Continuing west, there was still quite a bit of water on the highway, and our legs and boots were getting soaked, but we were encouraged by signs of clearing ahead. Broke through to sunshine just east of Campbellton, New Brunswick. Crossing the bridge into the city, I admit of feeling some relief that I was back in the English-speaking provinces. I never felt particularly comfortable in Quebec (being ignorant of the French language.)

Now that that rain had passed, it was time to start thinking about camping options. The ground was soaked, so the thought was not really appealing, and when Jeff suggested a motel, I was ready to agree.

We looked to Bathurst to offer a selection of motels. Near Bathurst, we stopped at a public beach. A bicyclist approached and asked us about our travels. He also motorcycles and had recently driven out to California and back. When we asked about accommodations in the area, he recommended "Danny's" a short distance south. It looked great, but we were disappointed to learn they had no rooms available.

Further down the highway was a "Comfort Inn". They wanted over $100 for a room. That seemed exorbitant out here in the "boonies". I wasn't happy with it. "We should be camping!" But Jeff said he's paying; and I get my internet, so I'm happy and everything's okay. (Someone said "a trifle makes us happy, because a trifle upsets us.")

Later, we went out to find the "St. Hubert's" restaurant in town. Drove several miles into Bathurst, but wandering the streets, we couldn't find it. A gas station attendant directed us back the way we had come. It was half a block from the "Comfort Inn". And it was closed. Then Jeff realized we had crossed into the Atlantic Time Zone (entering New Brunswick) and it was an hour later than we thought.

Again we set out driving around, looking for ANY open restaurant. Failing to find one, the search turned to any convenience store or market that might be open. Jeff remembered seeing a "Sobey's" supermarket. When we finally found it, we were directly across the street from our motel. We had been driving 35 or 40 minutes, and in the end could have walked to the store! Are we hopeless, or what?

Bought sandwiches, drinks and chips and drove back across the street.

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