We spoke too soon! We thought the road between Moose Jaw and Regina was bad but the road from North Bay to Arnprior was even worse. And the poor town of Mattawa was totally dug up! More mud! But as it turned out Mother Nature had huge bouts of power washing in store for us. Our first afternoon in Ottawa saw the heaviest rain we've ever seen. They got 91 mm (3.5 inches) on the 24th, surpassing the old record of 31 mm (1.2 inches) by a lot. We were doing a general drive around and also looking for the CAA office. Then we went to Welcome Back Chinese Food for our 34th anniversary dinner. The rain was coming down so hard when we went back to the car with our leftovers that we had to run for it with the bag under our jacket. Nasty!
The 25th was still very cloudy and unsettled. We managed to get quite a bit of sightseeing done anyway. We started out with Parliament Hill. On their website, it suggests if you want disabled parking to contact security. Larry e-mailed them and got a quick reply from Corporal Lizanne Guay. She later called and got our vehicle information and told us we could park in the handicapped parking right behind Centre Block. Of course when we got to the vehicle inspection area they had not received the information yet. We got a RCMP escort to the parking area. We had about a 20 minute wait until the 10:50 tour. The tour was very interesting. We were not able to go into the House because the NDP were filibustering the Canada Post issue. They had been at it since Thursday and this was Saturday! We were allowed into the Senate chamber because they were not sitting. We saw the library, which was absolutely breathtaking, but were unable to take any pictures because they were working (again because the House was in session). At the end of the tour, we were able to go to the public gallery and watch the MP's in action. Not much action - they are getting tired! Seems a bit silly really.
From there we went to Bytown Market. There are numerous restaurants and street vendors. The fruit and vegetable displays were beautiful. We ended up at McDonald's for lunch. Then we hopped back in the car and drove quite a way down Sussex Street. We went past Rideau Hall where the Governor General lives. The annual Teddy Bear Picnic was to be held there this day but was cancelled because of the weather. We went past the Prime Minister's Residence and they seemed to be having some kind of party on the lawn (bouncy castles, a merry go round and lots of people). We then drove the length of Wellington Street and passed many other interesting places.
On Sunday we drove out to the Diefenbunker. This was a facility built in Carp Ontario to protect the Government of Canada from nuclear attack during the Cold War, which never happened. It also serves as a museum to preserve Canada's Cold War history. For the 33 years it was in operation, day-to-day operations made it the key strategic communications facility for the Canadian Forces. There were other smaller bunkers throughout the country including one in Nanaimo, BC. It was never actually used for the purpose it was created and only one Prime Minister ever visited, namely Trudeau. It was not designed for families just the Prime Minister and his staff, including a minimum of 3 MP's and the Governor General. The opposition party had their own under ground bunker somewhere in Ottawa.
Maureen's cousin Sheila and her husband Claude live in Ottawa. We were invited there for dinner Sunday night. Their son Trevor was also there. Dinner was excellent and it was great talking about relatives we hadn't thought about for a very long time. On Monday morning we met Sheila's daughter Jeanine and husband Alex and daughter Sophie for breakfast at Cora's. Maureen had never met Trevor or Jeanine before so it was great to see them. Sophie is adorable and loves to hug! After breakfast we did a little shopping and went over to Gatineau and had a look around. Then a bit more through Ottawa and back to the campsite. Larry cooked up a wonderful BBQ. It was nice to be able to use it since it was dry out finally.
Tuesday we headed to Montreal, a relatively short drive. We had to stop at Cummins to have the generator looked at and we went to St. Hubert's for lunch. Cummins was finished work by the time we got back. Then our GPS led us astray. We had come over Pont Champlain to get to Cummins and we thought did not have to go back over it or into the city to get to the RV park. The GPS had other ideas. Not only did we go back over the bridge we also went down several very busy city streets then back over the bridge again. We finally got to the campground - after taking another wrong turn then having to deal with a detour. There is lots of road construction. Fortunately, we are already on the road to Quebec City when we leave here.
On Wednesday we went into the City. Lots of traffic, lots of bumps, lots of construction. Everyone goes at least 120 km/h even if the construction speed is 70 km/h. There are freeways everywhere. After coming 2/3 of the way across the country on a two to four-lane non-freeway highway, it's quite amazing here. There are many bridges and tunnels. We've also learned very well what "Rue Barree" means - Road Closed.
In the morning we drove across both islands to Boisbriand to visit the guys who are responsible for the creation of the satellite dish we have on the RV. They are just a small company with a lot of work to do. Then we went to Schwartz's Hebrew Deli for a smoked meat sandwich. The best! Thanks Janet for the tip. By the time we drove around Old Montreal and found the Notre Dame Basilica, we decided we should come back to that the next day. We were caught in rush hour yesterday and had no desire to be caught in it again.
On the 30th we went into the City again. We visited the Notre Dame Basilica. A large very beautiful church that was opened in 1829. There was a fire in the Chapel in 1972 and it was repaired and reopened in 1982. The original church began as a small chapel in 1657. We did a bit of a walk around (Maureen bought a Canada T-shirt) and then headed back to Schwartz's to get some smoked meat for the freezer. Since it was so close to lunchtime (what a coincidence) we had lunch there again. It's so good! We then went to Ile Ste Helene and Ile Notre Dame to see what was there. We ended up on the Montreal Grand Prix track! You could drive all the way around it - cars in one lane, cyclists and roller bladers in the other. The track is right in the middle of a park. Then we stopped at Costco to see if they have anything different being in Quebec. There wasn't!
We left Montreal on July 1 headed to Quebec City. That afternoon we drove around Levis getting our bearings. The weather has improved a little bit, in that it is warmer but still very cloudy. On July 2 we went into Quebec City. We drove around the whole thing first, deciding that we would take the ferry back to Levis when we were done. From there we went on the Funiculaire, a tram car originally opened in 1879. This links Lower Quebec with Upper Quebec, or the walled part of the city. At the top was Chateau Frontenac which is a Fairmont Hotel. It was built as a hotel for CP travellers in the late 19th century. A statue of Samuel de Champlain is located in the courtyard at the tope of the Funiculaire. We did a little walkabout seeing a display of cannons along the boardwalk.
Then we went back down the Funiculaire ($4 each round trip) and walked along Petit Champlain, a quaint little shopping district. We stopped for a very delicious ice cream. We continued driving up and down the narrow one-way streets. We ended up at Battlefields Park which is a huge park including the Plains of Abraham where Wolfe beat Montcalm in a historic battle. It's a beautiful park with lots of cannons on display. We ended up on Cartier Boulevard for lunch at Pizzadelic. We took the ferry back to Levis. It's a 20 minute ride and you can see a magnificant view of Quebec City from the boat.
We came back to the RV and were finally able to BBQ! This park (Camping Transit) was totally full for the long weekend. There were RV's with two or three tents per site. Lots of families. The wood we bought ($8 for a bag) took forever to light even though we burned almost every speck of paper we had on board!
July 3 was the day that William and Kate were to attend a fair at Fort-de-Levis. We didn't plan it this way but the fort was about 10 minutes from the RV park! We went to the fort about 1:00 and found out what route they would be taking. It was not worth climbing up the hilly road to the fort because they were not doing a walkabout anyway. So we waited at the bottom for two hours - for a 3 second glimpse of them in their limo. We had hoped that the helicopter that was taking them to the airport would land not far from where we were waiting but they changed the itinery. So we saw them another 3 seconds while they were coming down the hill - we saw Kate waving! For a Royal watcher it was worth it but in reality not really. The policemen were very friendly as were some of the crowd - when they found we did not speak French they tried the best they could to speak English.
After that we met the brother of one of our long time friends who lives just up the road. Then we came back to the site for another BBQ - this time it rained and the bugs came out so we ate inside. We both have a few huge bug bites. Very sore and itchy.
July 4 we headed for our next stop. Just outside of Levis we stopped at Richard and Gemma's who live in St. Michel-de-Bellechasse. It's a very cute little village with a few quite old building. One house on their street was only built 15 years ago but they used very old methods. We managed to turn the RV towing the car around in their cul-de-sac with minimal damage to the lawn.
On to Rimouski!!