Thursday, June 7, 2012

Canada 2012 –Day 3

Too much stuff! We just brought with us too much stuff, and it took us long hours to go through everything, discarding items that will have to stay behind in Montreal. We are coming back to the same hostel, and the folks here have agreed to look after our one suitcase, which is where all the discards are going to remain. Still, when we took off for the bus station at 6:30 am, we looked like two gypsies. We still had to pack the bikes in the luggage compartment of the bus, so we could not yet load them with the panniers, the sleeping bags, or the tent. Finally everything was in the belly of the bus, and we took off for Magog, about a 100 km southeast of Montreal, at 8:30 am.

The bus dropped us off in the Magog gas station, in the middle of nowhere, at about 10:30 am, and this is where the real outfitting happened. Miraculously everything found a place, but we are overloaded, and we will pay for it in energy. The first order of business was to found the town of Magog, so we asked and got an incomprehensible answer in Quebecois. Fortunately the answer was accompanied by a hand gesture and we knew which way to start, at about 11 am (so even though this is a full day in terms of kilometers to be covered (40 per day is the target), we were starting with at least 2 hours less than a normal biking day (in other words, a minimum day in teacher’s parlance).

Magog turned out to be a quaint small town, at the spilling end of Lake Memphremagog, which is the largest lake in the area, and the source of the Magog River. Today’s trek could indeed be described as following the valley of the Magog (with many small lakes and tributaries thrown in for good measure). I am sorry we didn’t stop to walk around Magog, but we were feeling pressed for time and pressed on.

We were now running parallel to Lake Magog (the second largest in the region), but we saw very little of it because the trail is surrounded by thick walls of verdant and luxurious vegetation. Talk about not being able to see the forest because of all the bloody trees. We were doing great, feeling powerful and enjoying the greenery, but unbeknownst to us the heavy load was zapping away our strength. By the time we had covered half the budgeted distance we were famished, and Annie was beginning to fell wobbly on the legs. Fortunately the path disgorged us right in front of the one restaurant in Deauville, and we were able to tame our hunger. Annie had a hamburger steak with a big mountain of fries (and for once in her life didn’t leave a scrap on the plate) and an orange juice, whereas I had a lobster burrito! It was very delicious, and a good omen for the culinary delights of this trip.

Back on the trail, we went for another 20 km along the west bank of the Magog River right into the town of Sherbrooke, where we planned to find a camping place to spend the night. It was only 4 pm, but we were tired and feeling the need for knowing where we were going to spend the night. A friendly tourist information person directed us to Ile-Marie Camping Ground, only a few kilometers up one of the tributaries of the Magog. We started but after a while I noticed that Annie was lagging behind. I waited for her and saw in her face the signs of terminal exhaustion. She needed to get out of the bike, and soon. Ten minutes later we were at the campground, quickly set the tent, and she laid down and passed out.

I took the opportunity to go pay the fee, admire the campground (it is in a very pretty little island in the middle Rivier Saint Francoise, and best of all is half empty (a great thing traveling at the very start of the tourist season, when all the facilities begin to open, but before the crowds come and the high season prices kick in). I also had to deal with the issue of provisions, so I got back on the bike and went back to town, to buy the makings of tonight dinner: Cheese, crackers and wine as an appetizer, vegetable bisque (out of a Campbell’s can), and spaghetti Alfredo with smoked roast beef. Tomorrow’s breakfast will consist of coffee and eggs.

Annie has revived, and the appetizer and a good washing, had brought back a sparkle to her eye. We did 40 km today, so I believe we can be rightfully proud of having accomplished a good deal for being hopelessly out of shape!

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