Hello, Quebec

Trip Start Jun 16, 2012
Trip End Jun 23, 2012

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Where I stayed

Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Thursday, June 21, 2012

Once I got close to Quebec Route 20, traffic got much heavier and I ended up in some intense construction activity where they were completely rebuilding the road.  Travel was down to one lane in each direction for many kilometers and there were lots of large trucks with flying dirt, rocks and dust everywhere.  It definitely was not the most pleasant riding...the only thing worse would have been if it was raining. Little did I know the crappy riding conditions were just a small hint of the crappy time I would have in Quebec!

Once I made the turn west onto Route 20, the construction stopped but the drivers got worse.  I have ridden my motorcycle in more than a few states, including Florida and New York, and I have never seen ruder, more inept drivers than I saw in Quebec on Route 20.  Horrible!!  I made the best progress I could on Route 20.  The temperature quickly rose and soon I had to stop in order to take off the cold weather gear I had been wearing since Frederickton.  

I stopped for gas along the way.  I was out in the countryside so I made sure to look for big, well-positioned signs figuring that would be an indicator of a truck stop or other large facility where I could take a break, use the restroom and recharge a bit.  I saw a big, well-painted Esso sign and pulled off the freeway.  When I got to the top of the ramp, all I saw was a tiny, dumpy two-pump island in the middle of crumbling asphalt next to a shed and a metal building.  I was too low on gas to get back on the freeway and find another place so I had to stop.  So much for my "big sign, big station" theory!

When I rolled in, I started to pump the gas myself when I realized they didn't even have 93 octane, only 91. Just then a teenager came out of the shed with a sullen look on his face and walked up to me.  He started talking to me in French and when I said "s'il vous plait, parlez-vous anglais?" he gave me a dirty look and shook his head. He motioned to me that he had to pump the gas, not me.  I wasn't too keen on that idea, all I needed was for him to splash gas all over my tank but beggars can't be choosers so I nodded and stepped out of the way.  Then he said "Premium?"  I nodded my head and for some reason he stepped back and waved at the pump.  I took that as my cue that I could pump my own gas so I did.  I filled up the tank as quickly as I could and put the nozzle back on the pump.  I handed him my Visa card and he shook his head and said "cash".  I looked at the total, looked in my wallet and saw that I barely had enough cash to cover. I didn't feel like standing around waiting for him to come back with a few coins of change.  I gave him all my cash, said "keep it" and quickly got back on the bike and took off.

My goal was the Best Western in Drummondville.  I had picked Drummondville because I didn't think I would make it all the way to Montreal until later in the day and didn't want to deal with downtown rush hour traffic or downtown parking.  I didn't want to stay by the airport, either.  On the way to Drummondville I passed some crazy mountains that appeared out of nowhere.  They reminded me of Devil's Tower in Wyoming.  I found out later they were the Monteregian Hills.

I pulled into the Best Western in Drummondville tired, grubby, sweaty and hungry.  It had been a long, dirty, hot ride all the way from Fredericton.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the hotel was the location of the local high school's prom and it was filled with kids (poorly behaved kids, I might add) dressed in tuxes and dresses and looking at me, my clothes and my Harley like I was the lowest piece of trash they had ever seen.  It took extra effort for me to relax and go with the flow and ignore the looks and comments as I checked in.

The concierge looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if any of the restaurants that would deliver to the hotel would speak English on the phone.  She told me to come down to the desk and tell them what I wanted and they would order it in French on the phone.  I found this really strange...I had been to Montreal before and many people spoke English, no problem, and I wasn't that far from the city at all.  Nevertheless, all I wanted was to get something to eat and get some sleep so I parked the bike as far away from the kids as I could and went up to unpack and change.

After I changed, I walked down the street to some restaurant called Normandin.  It was the nuttiest place I had ever seen. Part Denny's, part sports bar, part Bob Evans, part Olive Garden, part Red Robin. The menu had every style of food I could think of...very strange. I sat at the bar...the bartender didn't speak English so I ordered a beer, burger and fries by pointing at the menu pictures.  Nobody said a word to me the whole time so I stared at the TV and tried to figure out what they were talking about by the pictures.  The food was OK, nothing special at all.

Walking back to the hotel there was a gas station with an ATM.  I was out of Canadian cash and luckily the ATM took my US debit card so I maxed it out, bought some snacks and water for the next day and went back to the hotel to crash.

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Gorilaman on

Note to self: All businesses in Montreal speak English... they just choose not to!

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