Browsing "Quebec"
May 17, 2012 -

Saratoga Springs, NY, to Chambly, QC

I had a slow morning at Saratoga Springs. The cats certainly were in no rush to go anywhere:

I enjoyed my quiet little corner of the raceway parking lot:

I backed right into a corner, just because I could:

The raceway was a long ways away:

I got the rig as squared away as I could and took off around 10. I was really impressed with the signage right at the Jefferson Street exit. It was certainly more helpful than my GPS, who told me to navigate to such and such a street:

I meandered my way to I-87 north and got off two exits later to take highway 50 north to Saratoga RV Park. Their dump fee is $20 and it’s just that, a dump fee. There is no potable water for filling an RV holding tank. They also sell propane and it cost $50 to fill the on board tank. Propane is the only thing I’ve found to be much cheaper in Canada than the US; this price would be exorbitant in Whitehorse, but was cheaper than in Washington State. That sure was an easy $70 for these very nice people!

Before heading back on the road, I parked the rig to the side so I could change into a nicer skirt (I’d worn grubbies to dump!). In a moment of perfect timing, the phone rang. It was the adjuster from Aviva wanting to let me know that the cheque was in the mail. She also asked me when I’m getting the other repairs done and I asked her to please give me a few days to breathe and think about this when I get to Montreal, a place I wasn’t at yet. I told her I’ll be filing my reimbursement claims shortly.

From the RV park, I was able to continue on highway 50 north to I-87, so the RV park wasn’t really a detour. It didn’t take long to reach the scenic and isolated Adirondacks. It is a rather long stretch after Saratoga Springs before you reach civilization again in Plattsburgh and you have to go through the scenic Lake George region.

I was amused when we started to hit the bilingual signs. Quebec does have some bilingual signage near the border, but the English is in tiny print, as per the law, while the French on the US signs is the same size as the English.

I’m always amazed by how quickly the landscape changes before Plattsburgh. One minute, you are surrounded by towering trees and the next you are in open cultivated land full of neat orchards.

It was going on 2:00 when I hit Plattsburgh for lunch. It was a bit of an emotional stop in that the last time I ate at the Applebee’s there was with my dad in late 2006. He was having a rare good day in his final stages of terminal colon cancer and we were on what turned out to be our last road trip together, just a quick border run, because he got tired so easily. I remember so clearly our discussion that day, with him making me promise that I would from then on make changes that would make me happy rather than satisfy other people in my life. Little did we know that less than two years later, I would be setting off on a great adventure. But I digress.

The border was nearly upon me, but I had one more stop to make after lunch. I pulled off in Champlain to get half a tank of gas, at a whopping $4.03 a gallon, the worst I’ve seen on this trip! A fill would have been $200, which is still cheaper than anywhere in Canada right now.

The knots in my stomach tightened when I reached the point of no return:

Left: Canada. Right: last US exit

It’s amazing how returning to my own country is more stressful than entering another one.

Croft asked in a comment if I was planning to cross in French or English. This was something that I debated and I finally decided to let the guard’s accent answer the question for me. I got a woman with a very thick accent when she spoke English. So I decided to cross over in French.

I was asked how long I was in the US, the purpose for my trip, how I met my friend in Virginia, and if I owned the motorhome. Then I got asked a question I could not answer and I froze: what was my license plate number? The car and the rig are one number apart and I can never remember which is which. I was just about to offer to jump out and check when the officer asked if I had my registration on hand. Oh, yeah. Duh. I got the right papers out and told her. She ran the plate number then asked the value of the goods I’d bought, if I had booze, drugs, or personal weapons on board. And that was it. The last time I had an easy clearing like that was back in 2005! I’ve been grilled harder coming back from a Walmart run! WOOHOO!!!!

From the border, it was just 45  minutes to my mother’s. I arrived, got level, and accepted a cold beer! That and getting the bike out of the living room were the only things I planned to do tonight. Tomorrow, we’ll deal with getting some water on board, plugging me in, and getting me hard wired to the internet.

The drive today was really difficult and I am exhausted! It was windy, but I also think my suspension needs to be looked at. I started to notice that the roads felt really rough well before my accident, so I’m sure the issue is not related to it, but it seems worse now that I don’t have the toad. I just find that I’m bouncing a lot more and hearing things shift around in the rig. Tioga George just got some Bilstein shocks installed and I’m hoping that a simple cure like that is all that’s needed. It just seems that if I don’t have a perfectly smooth road I’m more bouncing than rolling down the highway and having a lot of side to side movement. I just did some quick research and it doesn’t sound like I have a major or unusual problem, but I’m astounded by how differently the rig handles solo!

Finally, I want to, again, raise both my middle fingers to the guy who honked at me for going 5 miles below the speed limit on a narrow, twisty road and to the guy at the shopping plaza in Plattsburgh who honked at me because I wasn’t turning fast enough for him. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!

And I would like to end by quoting T.S. Eliot:

We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

I have complained bitterly about how rude and rash are Quebec drivers. But having just traveled the breadth of the United States, I have to say that Quebec drivers were a breath of fresh air. After weeks of having the cars behind me whip around me at a highway on ramp, making it impossible for me to merge, it was a breath of fresh air to have the column of cars behind me wait patiently while I got over safely. And then I got caught on autoroute 10 in construction and traffic (its usual state) and everyone gave me my space and made sure I had enough room to change lanes. Merci beaucoup!

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Canada, Cats, Driving, Insurance, Law and Government, New York, Passport, Personal, Quebec, Technical, Travel, USA    9 Comments
May 17, 2012 -

Cutting It Close

I got a 7GB internet package for this month and I’m at just over 6.9GB this morning! I’m pretty sure that I will be over by a few MB. I’m shutting down the computer shortly and will be calling Verizon to turn off the data plan before I cross the border.

Speaking of the border, I hate border crossing day. 🙂 The rig really isn’t in very good shape right now, not at all the way I like to have it in preparation for an inspection, but I can’t help the chaos in here. I tidied up as best as I can and am crossing my fingers that the crossing back to Canada will be as easy as was the crossing into the US. I’m going through a major border point (Lacolle/Champlain).

I was surprised by how much I have to declare; $450. That’s $200 in clothes, $200 for a new computer battery, and $50 in assorted sundries for the rig. I’m still well below the limit and only have 12 beers on board, so I should be fine provided I don’t get accused of braying.

I hoping to arrive at my mother’s between 4 and 6. The big question marks today will be propane, dumping, and the border. The drive will be fine, except maybe the bit around Candiac depending on whether they’re still working on the 30. I should have asked my mother about that.

Google Maps says 15 to 30 to 112 to get to my mother’s, which is a terrible route since 112 would take me through St. Hubert and tons of traffic lights and slow speeds. Instead, I will take the 10 and then the back roads for a much easier/smoother trip. Anyway, once I get back on the road after doing the propane and dumping, the GPS is only going to serve to give me an ETA!

I’ll check back in tonight once I’m squared away. I’m also going to share some pics of where I’m parked this morning. I’ve been getting really lucky with my overnighting spots!

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Canada, Itineraries, Law and Government, Passport, Quebec, Travel    1 Comment
May 5, 2011 -

An Image From My Old World

Parts of Montreal’s South Shore along the banks of the Richelieu River, where I spent the bulk of my childhood, are under water. It’s so bad it’s turning into a scene I haven’t witnessed since the Ice Storm of ’98:

Photo Credit : Jean-Pierre Rozon

More images of the army marching into the South Shore on the TVA news website.

I lived through a flood in my childhood and I would not want to go through something like that again. An RV isn’t a guarantee of being able to evacuate, but it’s a fighting chance.

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Canada, Personal, Quebec, Travel, Weather, Why I Do This    No Comments