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Quebec
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There is a Canadian flag here, honest! A great big one!



July 31 - Day 85

Onward...

One quick bridge hop and I'm in Quebec. Though I have been to Hull before, and spend nearly 2 hours in Montreal waiting for a train, I don't really count that as "being" in Quebec. So today is a first.

The first thing that strikes me is the silence. Not of people, but of myself. I spent the last month (yes, by God, that's how long it's been) in contact with people I know, and able to talk all I wanted to. Today, since I've crossed the bridge, I've said almost nothing.

It's remarkably quite here, as well, which adds to that feeling. When I see people they are usually alone, and so aren't talking to anybody. When they do talk, it's in french, and I rarely understand a word of it.

One of my new fears now is doing the survey again with strangers. The last stranger was about six weeks ago.

I write now approximately 100k from Hull. It's only 3:30, so I'm doing well. I hope to be in Oka with time to spare. I also hope to interview a couple of locals there, one white, one indian.

As I suspected, it sucks riding alone again, but I manage. Obviously I can handle riding by myself and not go insane, but just because you CAN survive isolated in your tool shed doesn't mean you WANT to.

Time spent cycling: 8:01:31 hours

Distance traveled: 164.86 km

Total distance: 4611 km

Average Speed: 20.5 kph

Maximum speed: 39.6 kph

Current Location: Cemetery outside of Oka.

Today's trip was much longer than I thought. For some strange reason I thought it would only be 130k to Oka. Yeah, right.

Hmmm... interesting things that happened to me today... let's see...

Well, it didn't rain, and the cloud cover we most welcome in this heat. Looks like I chose the best time to leave, not the worst.

I saw a young woman mowing the lawn wearing only a tiny green bikini. VIVA LA QUEBEC!

I found a camera on the road today. Kodak Advantage camera, appears to be working, but something is wrong with it, power is supplied to it but it won't take a picture. Go figure. I'll either repair it or ditch it. Unfortunately neither the film or batteries are compatible with my camera.

Forgot to wear sunscreen today (read: thought I wouldn't need it), and right now I am a painful red lobster. I guess it has to happen to me every so often to remind me why I'm supposed to wear it... then again, it only reduces the burning, I'm out in the sun too long for it to completely stop it.

Ran into seven other long riding cyclists today. Three pairs of two and a solo. The first pair was geared up like me, but heading in the other direction, the next two pairs were decked out for motel and bed&breakfast hopping, and I chatted with them briefly before powering on ahead. The solo guy was also B&B hopping, but I just passed him by with a wave and honk of the horn.

Outside of Oka is a First Nations reserve. I stopped here to do an interview with a young mother of several children. By this time I had peddling for nearly 8 hours (headwinds cut into my average speed) and decided to call it a day.

I had planned on staying at the national park, but it is after Oka, and I didn't want to hurry through on account of that. Tomorrow I still need to get an interview from the town itself.

A campground near the outskirts was the usual outrageous price, and there was nobody in it for me to stay with, so I went for a cemetery. I then thought better of it, and tried the person who lived across from it.

He referred me to the cemetery.

So here I am, and after setting up my stuff, and talking to Sandra briefly (asking her permission and forgiveness for the intrusion) I'm ready to rest. I think I pushed myself a little too hard today... but my legs will remember by tomorrow how to work properly.

DANG! I forgot to say goodbye to Mel in Ottawa... Forgive me, old friend. But to be honest I don't even know if he came back from the Tall Ships in Halifax yet or not...

Something wonderful just happened. The guy who referred me here came by and asked me if I needed anything. Apparently he went from Montreal to Calgary before, and wanted to help me out. When I told him I was fine, he insisted he give me ten bucks. Strangely enough I almost cried. Ten bucks isn't much, but that's probably the most anyone has done for me yet (outside friends and family). After all, it's no skin off people's noses to let me stay in their backyard or campsite, and if they offer me food it's only because they have some to spare. It's generous, but this act was even more so. I thanked him, and Sandra, just in case she had something to do with it...

I spent some time wondering about Sandra.

Her grave, like most others, is piled so it is an above ground mound, rather than level with the earth. Probably a cultural thing. Her tombstone, however, is a simple wooden cross with her name painted onto it, very simple and cheap. Her family probably couldn't afford one, or are in the process of saving up for one.

I think Sandra was a young girl, judging from some of the flowers left there. Which means she probably had a tragic end. Suicide, perhaps? It happens more on reserves than anywhere else in Canada.

Assuming this is the case, I wonder why she did it. Accidental drug overdose? On purpose due to depression? I have no way of knowing. However, a thought for a story occurred to me, and that is that she'll still be there fifty years from now... I wonder how I'll work that in...

Hope you don't mind, Sandra...



Onto Day 86...