August 15 + 17, 2019
This story starts back on August 15 when, after spending the night in Rivière-du-Loup, QC which is on the Gaspé Peninsula on the south side of the St. Lawrence River, I took a ferry across the River. My destination was Québec City but it was only a short distance away. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to traverse some scenic roads to see more of the province before arriving in the city.
The book my friends Eric and Shawn had given me, which was the basis for the earlier routes I had been driving since arriving in Canada, no longer applied as it only covered the Maritime provinces. Québec province is not a Maritime province. Na-na na-na boo-boo, Québec. You reach the Bay of St. Lawrence with a significant land area and don’t even rate as a Maritime province! I am now a free spirit and may choose my scenic routes at will using map indicated recommendations and word of mouth from the locals.
When discussing my route with my Airbnb hosts up in Quirpon, NL they suggested that after I cross the river I backtrack northeast on the north side of it to see some neat little towns and enjoy the views. So first thing the morning after I arrived I drove to the ferry dock in Rivière-du-Loup to board the ferry, bound for Saint-Siméon on the other side.
As we rode across the St. Lawrence River I got caught up on some paperwork organization and entered some data into various spreadsheets on my laptop. Towards the end of the ride I put my things away and went outside. The photo above is of a buoy we passed. The “wake” generated by it is caused not by it’s movement but by the force of the river flowing past it. Turns out it was significant to our ships crew as it marked the point at which we turned to approach the dock in Saint-Siméon.
When I was safely back on terra firma I drove northeast along a road which parallels the river. Shortly after starting my drive I discovered that I had to ride yet another ferry across the confluence where a fjord meets the St. Lawrence near the town of Tadoussac in order to continue my drive further northeast.
I will have lots more photos to share from this leg of my trip when I get caught up on posting, but for now I am just setting up my story. When I got to the northeast shore in Tadoussac I stopped at the first Visitor Information Center I came to. I knew how far northeast I planned to drive before reversing direction and heading for Québec City and assumed I’d be making stops various places for photos. I went in the Center to ask approximately how long it took to drive from where I was to the City so I could monitor the time and not put myself “on the clock” to scramble and get there before dark. The gentleman at the Center didn’t speak a word of English and I effectively don’t speak a word of French. I can say basic words but don’t even humor them with that as it will get their hopes up for the inevitable disappointment that I am merely a “poser”. So now we have a dilemma.
Well this guy whips out his cell phone, pushes a few buttons on it and thrusts it towards me indicating that I should speak into it. He had an app which would convert English speech to French text so he could understand what I was asking. He answered my question by changing the settings and speaking French which his phone converted to written English. Magic. I thanked him and was on my way. The experience prompted me to ask my friend back in Durham, who had helped me solve the “accents” issue, about similar apps which might be useful for me to have on my phone. My friend is from Italy and although he speaks English very well I sometimes puzzle him during our conversations with words he doesn’t understand. Sometimes he’ll repeat the word as a question and I will try to clarify the meaning but sometimes I see him type a word into HIS phone for an interpretation. Enter Reverso. My friend recommended several apps, WordReference, Reverso and a basic English/French dictionary among them. His preference is WordReference but I am simple and have come to like Reverso, which not only shows the word options in the target language but will even pronounce them and show their use in various contexts. This is how I can now magically write words in French.
That was all setup – now here’s the meat of the story. The four days I was in Québec City the first thing I did each morning was walk 20 blocks (round trip) to a small French bakery for pastries. I immediately took some back to where I was staying as a reward for when I got back from walking around the city each day. I did eat a few during my walk to, uh, test them for freshness… The second day, as I was walking home from the bakery I noticed a small restaurant which had outside tables made of large mirror-like surfaces in elaborate frames laid flat on a base.
A pretty clever idea. Hanging above the tables were rows of bras:
Also a clever idea. I got so tickled thinking about how I was going to present this on the blog that I walked right past my turn and went two more blocks before I even noticed. I decided to say that the bras were there to protect patrons from bird poop. I was going to write “poopé” just to be cute but then remembered that I had Reverso. I looked up the word poop to get the French versions but also received a warning about Possibly Inappropriate Content. Terrific. The fourth or fifth thing I looked up on the damn app (I had made some test runs just to see how it worked) and I’m already pegged as a vulgar American.
As I was walking in to the city I decided to go all-in and really push the envelope. After logging on to wifi at a Tim Hortons (no need for timbits now, I have fresh French pastries!) I entered the word “dildo”. Another Possibly Inappropriate Content warning and some very, VERY amusing examples of how the word can be used in various situations. Terrific. Now I’m pegged as a vulgar American deviant and my personal information probably now appears on some watchlist with Homeland Security and I won’t be allowed to return to the United States on Tuesday.
No pickleball for you, JohnBoy… Maybe they’ll teach you how to play it in a Canadian prison.
I can hear it now, Tuesday morning at the border crossing: So Mr. Danhart, did you have any dildoes to declare????