Nomadic Life – Week 12
On Saturday, the moment I knew was coming arrived. We woke up and started to take down our rig when something once again broke on the crankshaft and we were left with a mechanism that now jitters heavily as it lowers. This obviously isn’t good. In week 10 of our travels, we had the crank mechanism “repaired” at a tune of $800. I knew when we left that this wasn’t the fix we needed, but we had also apparently chosen the wrong mechanic for the job. Now here we were 9 days later and once again with a broken crank. It does still work, but in its current condition, I can’t imagine for long. It also has the added benefit of putting enormous stress on the roof structure in its current state. This was the start of our Nomadic Life – Week 12.
As most RV shops are closed on weekends, we set this misfortune aside to once again start the pursuit for a mechanic early next week. In the meantime, we did our best to enjoy our weekend. We headed for Huntington Gorge to the west of Burlington, Vermont. This is a picturesque little gorge that apparently has a deadly reputation. Signs up and down the small country road warned of how dangerous it was and listed the various number of those who had lost there lives in this spot. You all will be glad to know that we beat the odds and survived… probably because we didn’t attempt to swim in the area as most of the deaths are attributed to drowning.
Cycle Burlington’s Causeway
We then returned to Burlington and this time made our way to the north-west side of the city to get a little exercise in. We rode 24 miles along the Causeway Bike Trail. In reality, the city calls this trail three different trails, but as the Causeway is the main attraction and it all runs together we will refer to it as that. This is an amazing ride!
Parking can be difficult to find, but if you ever choose to visit the area make your way to the airport park parking lot on the north side of town. I saw this on the map but assumed that it was an airport parking lot… It is not. It is a confusing name that has nothing to do with aircraft other than it seems to be in the flight path of planes landing in Burlington.
The Causeway Bike Trail
The bike path itself is very cool. It leads out across Lake Chaplain on a thin causeway that was once the railway to the Grand Isle. Bike riders from the south can get within half a mile of the Grand Isle before arriving at a break in the causeway. There is a bike ferry that will take travelers across the gap for $5 ($8 for a round trip), but this seems steep to me given that the bike path is only about another mile in length past the gap.
We returned back down the path and continued riding all the way into the downtown area along the coastline. Our ride took us past many beaches and we found ourselves riding through dense crowds preparing for an outdoor event. We continued riding until we reached the end of the line in Oakledge Park. This is where we had worked the previous day. Turning around we headed back the way we had come. The ride was very flat but the scenery was stellar.
Once we had packed the bikes back in we headed north onto the Grand Isle and made our way up the island chain. We arrived at the reasonably priced Gooseneck Campground and took advantage of the included showers. We cranked up the roof hoping beyond all hope that it was magically fixed… it was not.
A Lazy Sunday
We decided to stay put on Sunday. We were both a little wary of traveling so fast and not quite prepared to enter Canada. Sunday was spent catching up on sleep, writing, editing photos and other various activities. We watched some Netflix and read books. We even caught some of the radio broadcast of the Broncos game. It was a lazy Sunday and it was nice not to have to test our luck with the camper crank.
Monday brought good news. We lowered the roof and realized that the jitter was being caused by a screw that had backed out of the shaft. I think the mechanic stripped it and it is slowly loosening over time. While this isn’t ideal, I should be able to fix it myself with a little epoxy. For now, I screwed it back in and the roof cranking is smooth once again. Unfortunately, the jitter must have opened a joint and caused the roof to leak in one of the corners which we found out on Friday morning under a heavy rain. There is always something to be fixed.
Back in New York State
We spent Monday doing work and laundry in the sleepy harbor town of Rouses Point, New York. The town was a very nice place to spend the day. It has sailboats sitting in the marina and a beautiful bridge crossing from New York to Vermont. The derelict remains of an old walking bridge still rise above the water of the lake. This looks like it would have been very nice in its day. It is a shame they haven’t kept it up. There is also a small fort here located on an island that apparently was never garrisoned as tensions between the Americans and the British had cooled by the time it was completed. Today the land is privately owned but for a mere 2.95 million, this piece of history is yours for the taking.
Crossing Into Canada Can Be a Challenge
After work, we headed for the border which was a 5-minute drive. Upon arriving we found out that the Canadian government is serious about the average person not being able to defend themselves. I knew you couldn’t carry a gun across the border without a permit but it was a shock when they confiscated Jennifer’s mace. Apparently, you can’t have anything that was designed to harm a fellow human. It is their country but this seems a little extreme to me.
Resupply in French Speaking Canada
We continued the drive up and found a Walmart from whence to resupply and rest on the outskirts of Montréal. The resupply was needed as fresh fruits and vegetables are another prohibited item when crossing the border. It is a shame really as the fruits in Canada are very small in comparison to what is available in the United States.
Jennifer is loving the challenges of communicating in French with the locals. I’m not as enthralled by it. I knew they spoke French in this area but as Canada is a mostly English speaking country I thought most people would be bilingual. I was wrong. At least the self-checkout machines at Walmart are available in both languages.
Tuesday morning we crossed onto the Isle of Montréal. We set up in Rapids Park adjacent to the water. This is an aptly named park adjacent to the roaring rapids of the St. Lawrence River. After work, we made our way to the cities Metro and headed into downtown. Dinner was at an amazing Brit & Chips. You can probably guess what their specialty is. We love fish-n-chips! We thought it was amazing.
Montréal’s Cité Mémoire
After dinner, we explored the downtown area and learned about Montréal’s history by checking out the unique Cité Memorie. Nightly Tuesday – Saturday from 7:30 PM – 11:00 buildings across the metropolis are lit up with projections creatively telling the story of this amazing city. It is an interesting use of a technique known as image mapping. Having worked in an industry where I did some image mapping this is a massive and expensive undertaking on a city-sized scale.
The Mémoire Stories
The creator’s artistry blends with the technology to achieve an amazing result. Each projection creatively tells a story often as if from the perspective of a central character in the history of Montreal. My favorite was the story of the beaver trade told from the perspective of the beavers.
Another favorite was the progression of the collective Montréal attitude towards the “Negro.” Told from the perspective of Marie-Josèphe Angélique who was accused and executed for starting a city-wide fire. From the perspective of the Cité Memorie, I am left with the belief that her trial was somewhat dubious and that her guilt or innocence will be left a mystery for the ages. This story is told simultaneously with that of Jackie Robinson who played minor league ball in Montréal before heading to Brooklyn to become the first black major league player. According to the tone of the story, Robinson was well-loved by the city showing how far the city had come since the execution of Marie-Josèphe Angélique.
Finding the Mémoires
In order to find the locations for each projection, a phone app is needed. The app is also used to start the story at each location and tell it in either French or English. City WiFi is available for those who need it. I downloaded the app before we arrived in Montréal. It is a large app. This interactive app is astonishing. The map can be clunky to use and there is no order to the projections. No specific route to be followed. The stories are a little jumbled spanning the last 400 years which can make it hard to follow as well. But as a whole, I found the experience of exploring the city in this creative modern way to be outstanding. It is amazing how much control the user has over this whole experience.
We really enjoyed the Cité Memorie. So much so that we returned the next evening to continue our exploration. There are so many that even with the additional night we didn’t get to see them all.
On Wednesday we set up in another city park for the workday. After a late lunch, I set off on some exploration of the city via my bike. I rode along the canal, the river’s edge and over to a smaller island and then onto a causeway connecting another two islands. Then I returned on a bridge near midtown before finding the canal and returning to YOLOM. This was a great way to experience the city. The bike lanes on the east side of the island are amazing.
Tonight Jennifer and I returned to midtown. We walked the Cité Memorie again but first, we went to a local restaurant to try the local flavor of Poutine. If one of my friends in the southeast is looking for a new restaurant idea this might be it. French fries, gravy, and curdled cheese are the base ingredients. Add your favorite meats, veggies, and spices and you have a winner southern dish in my opinion and apparently a favorite of French Canadians.
The 1976 Olympic Park
Thursday we ventured to the Olympic Park. This is where the 1976 games were held. The buildings all had a futuristic 70s look. The tower over the main arena is apparently the tallest leaning tower in the world. For almost $35 Canadian we could have taken a kind of elevator to the top. Money is a little tight this month because of the repairs so we passed. The Olympic pool was the only building that guests could enter without a fee. Jennifer set up here to work and I headed for Mount Royal on my bike. This is the highest point on the island and has some stunning views of the downtown metropolis.
Google Tried to Kill Me
On the return to the Olympic Park, my navigation app thought it would be fun for me to ride the congested downtown city streets. This was a unique experience for this country boy. The excellent bike lanes I found along the island’s coast the day before were nowhere to be found. I found myself sliding between moving vehicles in a steady stream of cyclists all jockeying for road space between the autos. I felt like I should be delivering pizzas.
Once I made it safely back Jennifer and I packed up and continued north deeper into Canada towards Quebec City. Tonight we found a Flying-J to park at about half way to Trios-Rivières.
Friday morning was a wet one. It rained from the time we woke up until nearly the time we went to sleep. This is when we found our new roof leak. In the morning we continued north stopping at Notre-Dame-du-Cap. A beautiful church in the city of Trois-Rivières. This was apparently a place of pilgrimage and an RV site was available on the property next to the river. We choose to push on north but didn’t make it far before needing to stop for work. Finding a fast food joint with a large parking lot in the back we pulled in and set up for the day. After work, we finished our drive into the outskirts of Quebec City and set up at a campground to have access to showers as there are no Planet Fitness locations in this part of Canada.