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August 3 - Day 88

I left early, about 7 o'clock, said good-bye and left my farewell poem for the family. But despite this early start, I was delayed until after 10 because I tried to get an interview with a Catholic priest in Trois Riviers. Problem is, none that spoke english were present.

Just outside the city, however, is a religious pilgrimage ground, Notre Dame du Cap. Here the statue of the Virgin Mary opened her eyes in 1888 and stuff like that. The grounds here are absolutely beautiful, even if they are filled with depressing statues of the stations of the cross and the rosary. I was no surprised, but a little depressed to see the fee for lighting a candle in the church placed on the stand like it was a bubble gum machine. And the souvenir shop... there are over a dozen different crucifixions there, with a half dozen different poses: ranging from the classic "dead wearing a loin cloth" to one where he's wearing a king's wardrobe and looks proud and noble, and not minding being crucified at all.

The interview was a success. Not only that, but I spoke with a priest from Ghana as well, and we discussed the difficulties of peace and governments for a while. Quite and interesting fellow. Too bad he wasn't Canadian, or I would have interviewed him as well.

I replaced my tire about 60k short of Quebec. I had nearly ripped out the plug on my old tube because of these silly caps the guy in Ottawa had put on them. Five K down the road, and a family of three who had seen me fix my bike brought me a little something: my vest! I had left it back there (with mossfoot, my wallet and tape recorder), which would have been disastrous! Thank goodness for nice people.

Mean people, however, still suck. A lady at a convenience store wanted me to pay her a dollar to use her microwave! WHY? It's no skin off her nose! And I'm obviously exhausted and famished. Why try to take advantage of me? I immediately pushed off for the next town, giving her the english sign of defiance (an inverted peace sign) as I did so.

Hoo-boy. I'm beat. I haven't even done 150k yet, and even with a beautiful tail wind, I want to call it a day. The reason why? Perhaps some of you are familiar with my Halifax trip (http://www.geocities.com/area51/cavern/6040 Look it up under "adventures"). Quebec City is just like Portland, Maine... ALL uphill. No matter where you go it's more uphill. Thankfully there was a nice payoff at the end. What a wonderful city! I want to visit again for a few days sometime. There is a historical cultural festival going on, and I wanted to stay for that most of all! Had to settle for pictures and sounds.

I'm on the ferry across the river. Soon it will be time to quit.

Time spent cycling: 6:58:12 hours

Distance traveled: 160.38 km

Total distance: 4946 km

Average Speed: 25.1 kph

Maximum speed: 53.4 kph

Current Location: backyard of nice couple just after Levis

The back of my neck is sunburnt. Ouch. I keep forgetting it's mostly uncovered when I don't wear the vest. This can be dangerous since it's the area that leads to sunstroke (next to the main nervous system). I'm out of sunblock and will have to buy more tomorrow.

Riviere du-loup is a good 180k away, which means, at my current pace of 160k (100miles) a day I won't quite make it. Maybe Notre-Dame-du-Portage.

I've mentioned it on my tapes and I must mention it here. I have a new respect for Quebec. After traveling across 4000 kilometers where every city you can expect to find the exact same stores, it's refreshing to be in a place where there is a whole new set of local favorites. Sure you can find McDonnalds here, and Wal-Marts. But more often than not you find Boni Nuit and Giante Tigre. Instead of Safeway it's Metro and instead of Shopper's Drug Mart it's Uniprix. It is forty percent familiar, and sixty percent foreign.

I don't even mind the fact that half the people I speak to now don't understand sufficient english, after all, we may technically be bilingual, but how is YOUR french lately? Some of you may be fluent, and some, being American, it may not apply, but most of you get my drift. They should be expected to understand english here only insomuch as we are expected to learn french elsewhere. I had originally planned on listening to french language cassettes across the country, so I could partly understand the language here. I truly regret not having done that.

Another thing I've noticed is the profound Catholic influence. Crosses are everywhere, and I mean elaborate ones. Cavalries I think they are called. there are also little displays that tend to show something grim like Mary holding Jesus in her arms once taken down from the cross. These appear in seeming random spots along the road, for no reason I can fathom whatsoever.

Man, I really wished I could have stayed in Quebec City today. It was wonderful! I even tried to find a hostel, but found everything here tended to be expensive, and the hostel was very far away, on the other side of town. Dang.

I eventually stopped about 10k after departing from the ferry. The family here is young, and have no qualms about me staying in the backyard. And what a backyard it is! Spacious is the first word that comes to mind. Along with a few other houses, it goes all the way down to the St. Lawrence... well, it would if it weren't for the fence. The large pasture is probably farmland or something.

Chef Noah Says: if you don't have any bread, a spoonful of jelly and peanut butter (or a single packet of each in my case) provides a quick energy treat!

Alright, that's it, time to sleep. After a bit of reading, naturally.



Onto Day 89...