Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Somewhat Sunny Saturday

The lodging for the first night of our trip down Le P'tit Train du Nord was Auberge Chez Ignace, which was not only a refuge from the storm, but also a welcome oasis of warmth, charm and wonderful food. Here too, we finally had an opportunity to meet the other six people, who were travelling with us. Although all of us had our own itineraries, we still met in the evenings to share stories of the journey - perhaps the bicycling equivalent of The Canterbury Tales :)

There was a husband and wife team from Vermont who rode a tandem and were retired from positions in education. The husband had been a school social worker and his wife, a school librarian. What emerged from our conversation, was that biking was almost a way of life for them. They had cycled all over the world, done Le P'tit Train twice, and Bill (husband) had also biked with his son and a group of 700 other cyclists from Seattle to Washington DC - You are known by the company you keep, or at least talk to. Bill and Susan were travelling with another couple (younger) who were also from Vermont and very accomplished cyclists.

The other two bikers were two woman from Calgary, both retired from research positions with the government. They were not only avid travellers and strong cyclists but actively involved in other activities. Fay was taking a degree in Fine Arts and Marjorie (who had walked the Camino) was planning another trip, this time to Estonia. Both Marjorie and Fay were lifelong friends, who had decided to combine the biking with train trips to visit family in Montreal and Ottawa.

Labelle on the Train du Nord

It was wonderful to meet these amazing people in such a lovely inn. Not only was Chez Ignace beautifully decorated, with many interesting curios and several fine art pieces, but our host was also a very charming man. His wife, Yolande was a lovely, sympathetic (she laundered the guest's wet clothing) woman, who could really cook!! We had a great choice of starters for dinner, including deer pate, in-house smoked salmon and escargot. The main dishes, were tastefully prepared from locally raised rabbit, elk or walleye and were just as delicious, as were the desserts. Chez Ignace is also licensed with an impressive array of affordable wines - I would come back here again!! Breakfast was a generous omellet or a paper thin crepe (or both) with lots of fruit, and homemade breads and jam!! With our strength, restored, we were ready to continue the journey, albeit with some adjustments.

My husband looking a whole lot better!!

We knew, for example, that we could not do the next complete leg of the journey, which was another 60kms. This is where a typo can kill. On the written instructions, the distance to the next inn was printed as 28kms. However, a quick look at a dry trail map clearly showed that St Jovite was another 60kms away. With remnants of Plan B still in place, we decided to ask the tour company, who was transporting the luggage, to take us to a point about half way along the trail towards the next inn. We knew that we could easily cycle 30kms and not have a medical emergency on route.

The tour company agreed to this, although it was not something that they wanted to do on a regular basis. I think, though, that they may have been making up for the bad weather. And so, we began the next section of the trip on an almost sunny Saturday, with a sense of success rather than failure. We had had a wonderful evening the night before, with great company and superb food, and this morning, after a substantial breakfast, we had the promise of a sunny day!

Lac Mercier near Tremblant

More tomorrow. Have a wonderful day!!

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