Kingston, ON Wednesday Sept 24
Beautiful time in Quebec province and we still have 5 nights in Montreal to look forward to. Everyone was nice and we had no problems in making ourselves understood in Quebec Province. But we have to say, it is nice walking in to a restaurant or hotel and speaking English right off the bat. I am sure this is a self-inflicted problem, but so be it. We are who we are.
Our decision yesterday to hold off on the gondola ride was justified by today’s weather. It has been gorgeous and we began the morning by riding the gondola to the top of Mont-Tremblant mountain. The gondolas ride was smooth and the gondola moves quickly. However, it is enclosed with windows of a plastic type material that is cloudy and scratched, making for poor pictures. A small window might open to give you limited picture-taking opportunities. The gondola in Banff gave great pictures, I can not remember now if Banff was open or just great glass but the images from there are vastly superior.
Luckily we planned to hike the upper level also. We climbed a lookout tower and shot the video below. The noise in the background of the video is the wind.
Next was the 360 trail which winds around the mountain top. It starts on a gravel road and then alternates between the grassy fields of the winter ski slopes with trails that again are muddy, rocky, and with tree roots. The mountain has ski trails going downhill in all directions. Today’s path came with the extra feature of rain run-off using the trail as its route to lower ground. Nevertheless, the hike was good exercise and provided sunny views for a change.
This trail, and the ones the last few days, were ranked as easy. We have come to understand that Canadian and American park trail definitions differ. An easy trail in an American park would be a paved, level, handicap accessible trail. Not so here.
Montebello was our mid-day destination. You may recall we stopped here for chocolate on our drive to Quebec City. A different target today, though. We ate lunch at Aux-Chantignoles, the restaurant at the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. A waiter in Quebec City had said we should go back and eat here.
This place is something else. It was built in the 1930s as a private business and political leaders retreat, which it remained for 40 years. World leaders have met here. It reminded us of the great US National Park lodges at Glacier, Mt. Rainier, Yosemite, etc.
A Wikipedia note about its construction states that the crews worked around the clock to accomplish the work in 4 months. Since working on the Sabbath was frowned upon, the local cure’ received an all expense paid trip to Rome for two months. The place is frequently described as the world’s largest log cabin since 10,000 red cedar logs from British Columbia comprise the building’s structure. The logs are painted black on the exterior but are natural inside.
We had the lunch buffet (one hot and one cold buffet) which pretty much used up our meal budget for the day. The dessert selection made up for the cost. We each had two helpings of several desserts each time. After lunch we walked around the grounds which are situated on the banks of the Ottawa River.
Then it was on to Kingston, situated at the eastern end of Lake Ontario and the beginning of the St. Lawrence River and Thousand Islands area. First we had to cross the Ottawa River which took some doing. We knew (kinda) that there was a bridge at Grenville. We drove the slow route to Grenville, it was not supposed to be that far but our understanding of Canada town structure is lacking. It seemed that we passed through at least three city (well, maybe village) centers named Grenville before finally coming to the bridge.
As we crossed over the Ottawa River we returned to more level land, primarily agricultural with small towns and our usual two lane roads. For the last 120 miles, we drove a four lane, 100 kph road heavy with truck traffic as we entered a more urban area of Ontario. The rocky ground replaced at least a portion of the agricultural land.
Fall colors are less plentiful since the Ottawa River area, but not non-existent. Shrubs, in particular, are showing bright colors. Pockets of brilliant red trees show up.
Ed and Chris 9/25 5 AM