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North America 2004

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Journal for 26-July-2004 : Riviere Heva

Out on Quebec's roads this beautiful sunny morning morning after drying off the tent. Quebecers don't enjoy a good reputation for their driving in Canada. Back on the main road we approached the top of a crest and the car behind ignored all warnings about the car coming towards us over the hill, and run us and the oncoming car off the road. Maybe the traffic rules are a bit different here. It would seem tailgating is a statutory requirement, and use of the brakes is strictly prohibited. Actually, it must be said that the driving here while noticeably worse than (most of) the rest of Canada, it's about the same as the east coast of Australia. At least that's our first impression. There is plenty of scope for things to deteriorate!

The roads here in Northern Quebec are not exactly the safest either, for driving as well as cycling. The designers had no objection to blind corners or hill crests best described as voluptuous. They are the difficult kind where there is no obvious top, and no matter how far over the hill we ride, the other side is never properly visible. The Quebecers have a sign indicating crests (at least they do near the border) with a car speeding up the hill and crashing into a tractor going down the other side. In any case, the way Quebecer's drive it's clear they can see through the hills.

Made it to Rouyn Noranda by 11ish. Quite a nice looking town, even if it did have a huge mine pit in the middle of it. It was especially nice considering I was told it was a cross between Mt Isa and Timmins. Fortunately the comparisons were economic rather than visual. However Mt Isa has a beautiful lake with a park as it's show piece only for a few hours every few years when there is a flood.

Sat in the park and a couple of guys started speaking to us in French. I have yet to learn my French phrases (stupidly sent our phrasebook to Montreal), the most important being “I'm from Australia, please speak slowly!”. Fortunately these guys weren't long enough out of high school (if at all) to have forgotten their Anglais, especially words starting with f.

Riding on the 117 a bit hair raising. Lots of traffic (and they are Quebecers) and no paved shoulder. Lots of gravel on the verge, which we got to experience at first hand quite often.

Made it to Cadillac, which we picked as our overnight stop as it was small enough to search in it's entirety for it's one motel. And we could pronounce it. No motel to be found anywhere, just a bin to throw our completely useless Quebec accommodation guide in.

More highway riding to Riviere Heva. Found a truckstop motel where we were able to negotiate a room. The proprietor was an ex-pat American. At the nearby snack bar we managed to get a meal too. I was asked “Do you speak French?”
”Oui: Bon Apatite!”

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