Quebec City, QC to Edmundston, NB
9-12-01 I entered the ancient walls under the lights of the city, as the sun had set a while ago. Quebec city is a remnant of a time when it was necessary to build a wall around a city to protect it from invasions. As it has been well maintained, it has been recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. All the colors seemed exaggerated under these lights, and the atmosphere was that of a party with people dressed in many colors moving in all directions at once. There was no special event happening, it was simply evening time in the heart of the old city. The hills were very steep, and two guys helped me push my bike up to the hostel as I was simply moving too slowly for them to watch comfortably! It was here that I met a very interesting woman from Turkey named Asena. We got along very well, and toured the city together the following day.
9-13-01 Asena had wanted to take a walking tour with a guide... I wasn't so sure about paying money to some tour company to walk about a free city, especially when we had a guide book,
and many of the places we visited had English speaking tours for free. But she was set on the idea and we both signed up. The tour was run by the parks department, and was exactly the best thing to do within the old city. Our guide took us through the citadel, the old town, past many cannons from many eras,
and even took us into an underground bunk area for the soldiers and guards of hundreds of years ago. After this tour we visited the Mason Coitier, a house on the outside of the walls in the merchant center along the river. Here they had rooms fully furnished
in their original state, with explanations as to what everything was used for and why. Walking along the river we stopped at a market looking for more Melba apples. That evening was spent walking along the top of the wall, looking down into the city from above, followed by a ferry ride across the river and back to see the lights of the city reflected on the water.
Though we should have been tired that night, we stayed up talking about life in our various areas. She studies cancer of the lungs and is in Canada to further her studies with a well known professor in Canada. I asked her if she knew anything about Mesothelioma, as my mother had passed away from this virus caused cancer a few years back. She replied that in fact she had spent some time studying it. I continued to ask her about the probability that the virus could be passed on to a victim's children, thus limiting my life span to only the 35 year gestation period of the virus. She contemplated the question for a while, as even the thought of a second generation of effected people hadn't entered the research arena yet -
the medical community was just concerned with the people who had received the contaminated polio vaccinations so long ago and were now dying from the otherwise asbestos related disease. Her reply was heartening. She supposed that there was only about a 50% chance that the virus could have been passed in the first place. And then, they had no data on how this virus matures, but chances are good that if I were to keep biking and keep myself in as low a stress environment as possible, that my body would be less susceptible to the virus, and it may never take hold even if it were in my body. In other words, she said what many have said, just with more of a survival emphasis: "If I enjoy the adventure traveling lifestyle, keep doing it for as long as I can continue."
9-14-01 I left the city, happy to be on my bike again, after a wonderful breakfast of crepes. Gliding through the French countryside along the river I passed through many tiny towns, all close together but separated by small forests or fields. The biking was easy, and the art shops kept me entertained as I bike through town after town. I thought about Dad and Sharon - how much they would love this area! Biking in this area would be soooo easy if you didn't mind staying at the endless choices of Bed and Breakfasts in the area, and enjoyed going from art shop to antique shop and on.
It would in fact be more fun by bike than by car, as the towns were all very close to together, but the small roads of the old towns left little room for easy parking. At the end of the river road, is the Riviere-du-Loop traveler's hostel. With kids running around, the music from the upright piano drifting through the large house, and the ever present smell of the morning's fresh baked croissants for everyone in the morning, it felt like home.
9-17-01 The sun was starting to set so early, that there were more than ten hours from sun set to sun rise. I took to reading in my tent after dark to the light of a candle, as candles do not require an endless supply of batteries. I wonder how my tent looked from the outside, glowing with a dancing light. The days were crisp, and the trees were starting to turn color, forming an interesting backdrop to the view of military trucks on the move. These gray-green caravans of trucks were carrying soldiers and gear to the training camps and then on to Halifax to be ready when (the military men I met were not willing to settle on the word "if") the US called on Canada to help in the Middle East. One nice feature of New Brunswick are the snow mobile and ATV trails through the region. I spent one nippy night in a snow mobile warming hut, not quite open yet for the season. Without setting up my tent, the air felt especially cold as I listened to the pattering feet of the red squirrels carrying bright red Viburnum berries from one side of the hut to the opposite side where it had a stash inside a large tree.