Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Charleviox Quebec - Part Three of a 3 part series

Belt Drive Betty  By Belt Drive Betty with photos by Belt Drive Betty and Ken Aiken

On this day of riding we would be having a late lunch in L’Anse-St-Anne in the Saguenay–Lac -Saint-Jean region!
The day’s route was: Rt 138 - Rt. 381 to La Baie - Rt. 170 with a side trip to L’Anse-St-Anne for lunch and continued to St. Simeon and Rt.138 to return to La Malbaie.
We would go through the Grands-Jardins National Park, and ride in some beautiful mountainous areas with spectacular scenery.
We encountered some gravel in the national park, three rather long stretches but the Honda maneuvered through it beautifully, other wise the road is in great repair and should be fabulous for this riding season once the repairs to those three spots are accomplished! As we came down out of the mountains heading toward Lac Otis the landscape shifted to seascape and it was breathtaking.
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We arrived in L’Anse-St-Anne at the Restaurant l’Islet. Nancy Donnelly, the media relation’s agent for the Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean tourism region, met us for what was going to be another memorable meal.
The restaurant looks over the bay and has a wonderful atmosphere. Our waitress who professed to not speak good English did very well in assisting me to make a choice off of the menu.
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 It amazes me just how many fabulous chefs there are in Quebec! I think there are as many talented chefs as there are painters, sculptures and bike builders! It appears to me that Quebec is a hot bed of creativity and I attribute that to these people being surrounded by so much incredible beauty; volatile and diverse in it’s history with the rich and long standing examples of a creative culture as is evidenced in the architecture. Even those of us with little measurable talent could not help but feel inspired here.
I had smoked trout for my appetizer and it was wonderful, no over powering fishy taste and the smoking was light and mellow. It was a very flavorful dish. For the main course I had the caribou sausage with blueberries (this region is world famous for it’s blueberries) served with a yogurt dip. The presentation of the dishes we ate here were colorful and well balanced. Ken and I both ate the same thing for a change! While the sausage was a wee bit dry, it was very flavorful and the yogurt dip did its job in moistening the elk.
We ate sugar pie for dessert and by the time I waddled down the steps to get back on the bike I
was a stuffed as a human being could get!
We road towards the covered bridge which has been turned into an art gallery of sorts! We got off the bikes and walked through the bridge admiring the local artists handiworks.
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Soon we had to get back on the road as we had a 7 pm dinner reservation at the hotel! My word I have never eaten so much fine, rich food in all my life!
As we headed out on Rte 170 towards St Simon, the landscaped changed yet again, back to one of pastoral hillsides, with light green buds everywhere. As we got closer to St. Simon and the water, the seascape unfurled in front of us. It was another vista that quite frankly took my breath away. It is always amazing to me how beautiful this country of ours is, how diverse and how very, very impressive it is.
The highway was filled with bikes. And from the smug and satisfied grins I was privileged to see, one thought kept running through my head, these Quebec bikers, these smug beggars, they know just how lucky they are to have Charlevoix as their playground, look at their smiles – I felt horrible, horrible envy hit me as I realized that I was going to be on a plane back to Alberta the next day and that they would still be riding in this magnificent part of the country.
And then I smiled, as I rode behind Ken, my eyes sweeping from side to side and taking in the drastic differences in the landscape – river to the left, rolling hills to the right, I remembered other rides, like the Cabot Trail, the MOM’s Highway in Ontario and Manitoba, riding in the badlands of Saskatchewan or the north Peace where I live… taking in the Kootenays, the magnificence of the inside passage and northern BC or the stunning majesty of the Yukon and realized, I feel the same way about every region I ride in – they worm their way into my soul and I become envious of those who get to live with the beauty all of the time. I often wonder if riders truly appreciate where they live and ride and how special it is. Well in Quebec, I did not have to wonder as so many riders shared with me how much they love this region whether we were talking face to face or simply riding by each other – their joy and satisfaction of having this incredible place to ride in was highly evident! Ken and I pulled into our hotel for the night.

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