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????

A GPS 4.0 update

August 22, 2019

Real time

This isn’t about an update as in it becoming GPS 4.1 but just a report on how well we are co-existing. I am pleased to report that so far things are going swimmingly (an odd word to express what it expresses but apparently with Old English roots). Yes, there have been a few hiccups but the good far outweighs the bad.

It is rather amusing to hear her pronounce street names here in Canada. The names are almost always French words and if you think my French is bad (trust me, it is) you should hear her struggle with it. Of course I chose “English” when doing the initial setup but most street names are comprised of a string of several French words and what she says doesn’t sound anywhere near what they look like, bless her little microchips.

Entering destinations is counter-intuitive and is something I hope I can change going forward but I dare not try to make any adjustments until I am at least 100 kilometers, oops, I mean miles, in to New York State early next week. If she starts speaking French now I’m screwed.

One thing she did which really blew me away…. I was in the parking lot of the venue I went to after aborting my visit to Parc National de Jacques-Cartier (which ISN’T a National Park) when I was near Québec City and she actually told me I was going the wrong way. In the PARKING LOT. And of course she was right!


Some dickhead had parked his or her vehicle right on the white line and after I had skillfully squeezed in to the narrow space which resulted (backwards, thank you very much, hold your applause, please)….


… I realized I could barely open my doors and was afraid they’d ding my car on the way out – especially if they were upset that I had parked that close. I took some photos, of their full license plate and BEFORE pictures of my car where their doors would hit, but as I was walking towards the venue entrance I realized there were lots of open spots further back in the lot. I knew I’d get ulcers worrying about it while visiting the venue and be looking at all the patrons there suspiciously (was it YOU sir, or perhaps YOU madam?) and wouldn’t enjoy my visit. Further, I knew I would be upset with myself if my fears were later realized since I now had control in de-escalating a potential confrontation so I decided to simply move my car. I took the “arrow” photo after I had moved my car to another spot and had been admonished by my new little friend. I still find it pretty étonnant (amazing) that she knew.

I can’t wait to hear her tackle the Parkway I live near in Durham, which is actually a derivation of an English family name, not just a random American English word. None of her predecessors could do it and I’ll report how well she does when I get home. I also want to see if she knows exactly which street I live on. Again, all the others have been wrong. My apartment is relatively new and so are the street names.

And not to worry, I will explain my sudden ability to write, if not speak, in tongues in a subsequent post, probably sooner rather than later. And I’ll have you know that in my unquenchable thirst for knowledge I learned “dickhead” from a mere child many years ago. Another story for another time, perhaps.

I have good news and bad news…

August 21, 2019

Real time

Nothing serious at all so don’t panic.



I am in Ottawa, Ontario and have just returned to my Airbnb after having spent several hours downtown.  I took 696 pictures just with the digital camera today (many of them duplicates, but still…).  I haven’t even transferred the pictures from my smartphone to my laptop so I don’t even know how many of those there will be.  It is still charging as I almost drained the battery again today taking photos.  The day I drained it in Québec I was afraid I had lost a whole day’s worth of photos but was fortunately able to recover them.  So the good news is I have lots of pictures to share – eventually.

The photo above is of the Parliament building.  EVERYONE knows that Ottawa is the national capital of Canada….

I know I’m a week behind in posting and I have LOTS of photos to share, including several days in Québec City and several travel days when I saw lots of things, including a few surprises.  And I spent some time online the afternoon of my aborted visit to the Jacques-Cartier “National” Park looking up actual road signs to add to the ones I have seen myself and will have a few more posts worth of those to hopefully amuse you with.  I took more actual ones just today.

My point is – please be patient with me.  At the rate I’m going I may not finishing posting pictures until well after I am back home in North Carolina.  I am Ottawa one more full day and Friday is a travel day to Toronto.  I am there 3 full days and then a travel day back to the US, after which I will visit my youngest brother, sister-in-law and niece in Ohio for a few days and I know I won’t do any posting while I’m there.  I’m sure they plan to work me to death playing pickleball while I’m there which may lend itself to some amusing JohnBoy stories.  Then one travel day home, hopefully the Thursday or Friday leading in to Labor Day weekend.

I will try to sneak a few posts in here and there but don’t want to promise anything.  I am going to take a nap shortly (rain is on the way and I am exhausted) and then plan to visit this evening with my Airbnb hosts.  We had an enjoyable conversation after I arrived last night and I think we’ll have lots to talk about.  The same may be true with my Airbnb hostess in Toronto who sounds very interesting.  Spending time visiting with my hosts adds to my travel experience and is time well spent.  I have done more of it this trip than in the past.

I’m going to try and keep things mainly in the order they occurred but may interject quickies to try and hold your interest.

Thank you all for your continuing interest and hang in there, please!

UPDATE – My smartphone picture count for the day is 238 bringing the total pictures for the day up to 934, a new record.  I believe the old record was around 770, combined, when I was based in Durango, Colorado two years ago (Durango, Silverton, Ouray area).  Again, many are duplicates – the beauty of digital camera – take lots of photos and eliminate the bad ones.


Some people shouldn’t have nice things…

August 20, 2019

Real time (I know, I know…. I’m still a week behind in posting but this can’t wait)

It is Tuesday morning and I am getting ready to (reluctantly) leave my Airbnb in Trois-Rivières, QC, about halfway between Québec City and Montreal and 1/3 of the way to Ottawa, ON, my destination for the next three nights. My host is out of town, out of the country actually, and when I arrived last night his brother showed me where my room was and gave me a quick tour of the house. I am staying in the basement but in an area his brother very accurately described as my host’s ManCave. Bar, pool table, popcorn machine, video projector, plush leather furniture, fireplace, should I stop now???


There are pictures all over the walls of this guy, taken literally all over the world. I don’t know what the hell he does but I want to be him (unless he’s a drug dealer or the brother of Jeffrey Epstein who wasn’t named in the will).

But let’s talk about the shower, which I got out of about 15 minutes ago.


He’s got one of these huge, high tech, walk-in showers with water jets coming out of every conceivable nook & cranny. My host in Gaspé had one of these, too. Well – no one tells you how they work.

As I did in Gaspé I gingerly turned the two square knobs until I determined the right mix of water pressure and hot/cold mixture. I went about my business and I admit I enjoyed the luxury.

Then I went to turn it off.

I didn’t remember which knobs I had turned which way and just twisted both counterclockwise, assuming that was OFF. I was mistaken. Out of the “wand” thingie below the two square knobs – ZAP – a blast of ice cold water right to “zee privates”.

See, I told you it couldn’t wait.

I swear, the company that manufactures these things probably had hidden cameras installed and I’m probably on YouTube already. DON’T LOOK, ETHEL!! (Shout out to Ray Stevens and The Streak).

My host deserves everything he’s got but this is a classic example of why some people (me) shouldn’t have nice things. It’s about me. It’s always about me.

Forillon National Park

August 13, 2019

One of the primary reasons I came to Gaspé and spent an extra day there was to go through this National Park, which is pronounced  for-ee-yaw.  No emphasis on a particular syllable, it just flows.  There are two theories as to it’s meaning but neither one really explains it so I’ll just skip it and we’ll enjoy the simple beauty of the name.

I had now driven all the way around Forillon on Route 132 so it was time to venture inside.  I had done everything else on my list for the day and figured I had all afternoon to explore the Park.  Unfortunately my visit would be short lived.  Let’s just say all the beautiful pictures from earlier in the day were the calm before the storm….

1151 am – I had gone in the south entrance of the Park and had found this beach.  Here is a four shot, left to right panorama:





A little threatening in the last shot perhaps but the hill on the right obscures what’s coming.  Things were fixin’ to go downhill real fast.

A little further up the road (literally) I topped a hill, parked at the bottom and walked back up to take a photo showing the road descending back down towards the water.  I had also taken the digital camera with me to get some zoom shots.  Time now is 1206, only 15 minutes after the beach pictures and I still hadn’t noticed what was about to happen.



I felt a few drops and looked back over my right shoulder.

This was at 1209pm…


and at 1222pm…


In that interval I had used the digital camera to zoom in and take photos as the rain overtook a small town on the other side of the bay.  I’ve learned that photos of rain taken with the zoom are just a blurry mess and are not blogworthy.  I now knew the storm was quickly overtaking me as well.

Suffice it to say I made a hasty exit to head back to my Airbnb northwest of the Park and check the weather radar.  I’ve learned that the radar app I use on my phone doesn’t always give an accurate depiction of conditions in many of the places I’ve been while in Canada.  I love it in the US but there seem to be lots of “holes” up here which make it appear clearer than it really is.

It started dumping rain before I could even get back out of the Park.  I hadn’t realized the road I was on was a dead-end and when I did I had even further to drive to get out to the main road.

After I got back to the house and checked the radar on my computer I determined I was effectively in for the day and spent the remainder of the afternoon trying to get caught up with some postings on the blog.

Some of the photos I have seen of Forillon are amazing and I have now officially decided I am coming back to spend even more time in this part of Canada next year (Yay!!).  I have a growing list of places to revisit and will budget more time in various places, as well as adding some new destinations.  I actually considered backtracking at the end of this trip but was told that, especially in Newfoundland where I plan to spend LOTS more time, snow in September may actually be an issue.  Parts of western Canada are already getting snow.



The Red House

August 13, 2019

I’m I got another bite at this apple.

As I was driving in to Gaspé from the south on Monday I saw this long ago abandoned house and outbuilding off to my left.  It was late afternoon and the sun was low and behind it from my vantage point so I knew any pictures would look “washed out”.  I made note of the location and hoped the opportunity would present itself to come back with the sun at my back.  Well here I am.

This was around 1030am Tuesday after I had driven through Gaspé and continued south on Route 132 towards Percé.







And from just a tad further up the road, looking back:


Gaspé, QC from afar

August 13, 2019

These shots were taken from roughly the same vantage point as the two previous posts but looking southwest towards the town of Gaspé.  This is from Route 132 near Penouille.


The photo above was taken with the smartphone camera.  I went back to the car to get the digital camera and got into position to get some closeups using the zoom lens.

This is as I moved around to the “safe side” of the guardrail next to the road.  These green plants almost look fake but they are quite real.



OK – In position, you may fire when ready….