Category Archives: 2019 Ottawa and Points East

Dec 12 – Flight Home

Usually my last day on a trip is the last blog I write, but large sections of our flight home were in clear skies – and I had a window seat, so I took some photos.  It is rare to see anything other than white clouds on long flights so I enjoyed the different scenes far below.This is something I don’t see often – sunrise. Leaving Ottawa. Houses, houses, houses, and more houses. We had been flying for two hours of our four and a half hour flight to Calgary and we had been flying over the Canadian Shield in western Ontario for quite some time already.  The province of Ontario is BIG. Clouds moved in for awhile.  But, then it was clear again to see more treeless rocks and frozen lakes.The checkerboard fields of ManitobaWe had cloud cover over Saskatchewan and then clear sky again as we descended into Calgary – 7 minutes ahead of schedule. We had time for some lunch before our flight to BC and were blessed with bare roads for the drive home.

Another wonderful adventure completed.  I do love to travel…

Dec 11 – Ottawa, Ontario

We had a quiet morning in our room because we were meeting John’s cousin and his wife for lunch at 11:45.  We lingered after the meal until almost 3 o’clock chatting and catching up on news.  After we parted ways John and I drove to the Parliament Buildings because I wanted to walk the pathway behind the complex and see the views of the city and the Ottawa River and all the statues of some of the former Prime Ministers of Canada that have been erected over the years.  Unfortunately, we had forgotten that there is a major renovation project going on at the Hill and much of the grounds have been fenced off. We walked around the side of the building below and were able to find a walkway around the back.  We checked with several of the construction fellows if it was okay for us to go and were told it was fine. Behind the main building there is a usually a good view of the rotunda, but it is now cordoned off with tall metal fencing.  Which also enclosed all of the statues. Rats. We had a nice view of the city and the Ottawa River as we walked around the back of Parliament Hill, but when we reached the far side we discovered that there was no exit.  The fencing crossed the path.  We turned around and walked all the way back again. There was a virtual geocache at the War Memorial so we walked over to find the answer to the question that we needed to log the cache as a find.  Part of the main path past the memorial is also closed because there is a climate change protest tent camp set up on the lawn.

We found the information  we needed and  crossed the road to go to find an earth cache at the Rideau Canal locks that are between the Parliament Buildings and the Chateau Laurier. Where we taking some photos of the locks and the chateau a fellow came jogging down the stairs.  He was in shorts and a short-sleeve top!  He asked us if we would take his photo to show his family at home in Minnesota. He was in Ottawa for work and figured he would be warm enough to go for a jog since it was supposed to be 40° F (which is 4° C).  It was colder than that and windy, but he didn’t seem to mind.  He said the next day’s goal was to run across the bridge you can see in the background and check out the statue that rises above our heads.  The temperature was not fazing him – he is, after all, from Minnesota!  He insisted on taking our photo.

The beautiful Chateau Laurier.

By the time we made our way back up to the street it was rush hour so we wandered around the area for awhile to let some of the traffic get out of town.  We had to drive out to the hotel by the airport where we were staying the night to have a short commute for our 7:45 am flight. We  had  parked  our  car  in  the  arcade  of  the  World  Exchange  Plaza. There  were  models  of  beluga  whales  and  narwhals  hanging  from  ceiling.As we began our half-hour drive to the Hilton at the airport it began to snow and within a very short time there was limited visibility and white roads.  We were very thankful we had spent the extra money to have winter tires put on the rental.  We passed a city bus that was unable to get up a small grade due to the ice.   But, by the time we got to the hotel it had stopped completely.

It was another early-to-bed night as we had to be up at 5 to get ready and get to the airport for our flight home.

2019 Dec 10 – Trois Rivière, Québec to Ottawa, Ontario

This is our last driving day before we arrive back in Ottawa.  We left our hotel shortly after 9 am and headed southwest.  After about 55 km (34 miles) we exited the freeway (always a good thing) at Berthierville and got on to the much quieter Highway 158.  Well, it was supposed to be quieter, but there was quite a lot of traffic until we passed the exits into Montréal.  Then the majority of the cars veered off and we had a nice drive through more farmland and villages.  This whole river delta area is dotted with dairy farms.  As we have been driving around in New Brunswick and Québec we have spotted groves of trees crisscrossed with connecting blue lines. We have concluded this is the new method of tapping maple trees for syrup.  It is a bit hard to see because I took this photo out of John’s side of the car  as  he  drove past.Is there such a thing as too much when it comes to Christmas decorations??? At St. Lin-Laurentides we stopped to find a geocache hidden at the back of the grounds of the Sir Wilfred Laurier House.  It was closed for the season of course, but we had done the tour in 2014 on our drive across Canada so we were not disappointed. There was a geocache hidden at the Visitor’s Center so we walked over the bridge beside the waterfall and the park to find it. We were looking around the doorway of the Visitor’s Center trying to find the cache and a lady came along who worked there and had been on her lunch break. I had just said to John that I thought the cache was inside when she unlocked the door.  John said we were geocaching and she said – in French – that it was indeed inside.  She even pointed it out to us and then gave me three brochures, chatting away explaining the different things in the area even though we told her we did not speak anything more than a few words of French.  Somehow, I guess she thought we could understand it.  She was sweet.We also see quite a few of these gingerbread-style houses.  I love all the intricate railings. This house, like so many others we passed was decorated for the holidays. There was a geocache hidden at an old truck weigh scale and when I took the lid off the container I saw this encouraging message.Driving through Gatineau on our way to Ottawa we passed a few nice art pieces – and got stuck in a long line of traffic.  I don’t know if this was a normal amount of after-work rush hour vehicles or if it was more congested due to the accidents that were on the 417 freeway.

Driving into a city watching a pretty sunset is always a bit more enjoyable. I didn’t even see the biker ride into my shot as I took this photo.  It looks  kind of neat, even though it is out of focus. If you keep taking photos as you drive along, eventually you will get a good one.  I really like this shot.

We have lunch tomorrow with John’s other cousin and then, depending on weather, we hope to do a bit of touring around the Parliament Buildings area.  Our last day before we fly home again.

Dec 9 – Rivièvere-du-Loup. QC to Trois Rivière, QC

Once again we took the roads-less-travelled as we headed west along the St. Lawrence River from Rivière-du-Loup to Trois Rivière.  We spent the morning driving Highway 132 on the south side of the river, crossed the bridge into Québec City and headed west again on the north side along Highway 138.  Both of the roads had some winter friendly geocaches and took us through farm country and lots of villages.

It was a grey day though.  We had low cloud and rain drizzle all day.  Thankfully, no snow. One of the geocache hides we stopped to find was in a tree behind this memorial sculpture.

This spot marks the point of departure on May 29, 1783 of a route between the St. Lawrence River Valley and Acadia (in what was parts of eastern Québec, the Maritimes and Maine, USA).  The route was first used by the First Nations people and later became a strategic road frequented by French and British Colonists. There is lots of ice built up along the St. Lawrence shores. We stopped near this bridge to find a geocache that was hidden down by the river, but we were unable to find it.  I do admit we did not look too long for caches along the route today. Most of the time there was quite a cold wind blowing so we did not spend nearly the amount of time searching that we usually do.  We also had some distance to travel so elected to move on to another cache hide rather than spend too much time trying to find an elusive one. The big circle of thicker, different coloured ice is at the base of a culvert that drains storm water into the river.There was an earthcache at an ecological preserve at Kamouraska.  It was only a short distance off our route so we turned in to find it.  Last night in the hotel, on my computer, I had very cleverly looked along our planned drive for any virtual or earth caches and translated (not me literally, but the built-in translator on the Geocache site) all the information ( info on all hides in Québec are in French only) and the questions we needed to answer.  We were hoping to that would assist in the finds.  However, at this location there were 8 information panels strung out along a pathway – all in French – so having the questions in English didn’t help when we couldn’t read the panels.  And, it was too cold to walk along the water’s edge trying to translate the signs for the answers.  Time to move on…  I have  actually  been  quite  impressed  with  how much  French  I am able  to figure  out on  signs,  menues,  and  geocache  descriptions.  I am bad at  understanding  the  spoken  word,but  am  able  to  figure  out  the  gist  of  a lot  of  things  I read.  I guess  some  of  the  high  school  French  actually  stayed  in  my  brain.   Kamouraska is an old community.  It was settled in the later part of the 17th century and is mentioned in the constituency rolls of the Government of French Canada in 1674.  The name is Algonquin for “where the rushes grow at the water’s edge.”  The area has a long tradition of eel fishing.As I said, it was a grey day.

One of the things we enjoy on these quieter roads is driving through the villages.  We like looking at houses and various styles of architecture.   On our drive we have seen ultra-modern houses, 1960’s bungalows, 1950’s cottages and very old stone houses.  We love the old houses and see so many of them are beautifully decorated for Christmas.

We found a geocache in a tree along this nice long driveway to an research farm.As we stopped to find another cache in a guard rail we saw a big tanker making it’s way up the St. Lawrence. We arrived in Trois Rivière at 4:30, negotiated a convoluted route to find our hotel, and got settled in.  Tomorrow we  travel on freeway for about 55 km out of Trois Rivière and then exit onto Highway 158, a secondary road to circle around Montreal.  We are able to stay on this road (although it’s number changes to 148) all the way to Ottawa. We arrive from the Québec side, driving through Gatineau and across the bridge into Ottawa.

Moncton, NB to Carleton-Borden, PEI to Miramichi, NB – Dec 7

We achieved our second goal for this short road trip – our 4000 cache find!  And we got three caches on Prince Edward Island.

We were on the road at 9:40 and headed directly from Moncton to Prince Edward Island.  As soon as we traveled east of Moncton almost all of the snow disappeared. I love the Confederation Bridge that connects New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island.  One of the conditions of the island joining the Confederation of Canada in 1873 was that access to the mainland would be provided; either by tunnel under the Northumberland Strait or a bridge across it – whichever became feasible.  That promise was a long time coming because the Confederation Bridge was not opened until 1997!

The bridge was built by a private consortium, took four years to build with almost 6000 workers and a cost of $840 million.  They negotiated a 35-year agreement with the Federal Government.  Each year for 35 years Canada pays Strait Crossing Bridge Ltd. $41.9 million.  After that time the bridge becomes the property of Canada and part of the Trans-Canada Highway.  If you do the math the taxpayers will, in 35 years, pay Strait Crossing Bridge Ltd. close to 1.5 billion dollars – which pays for the bridge plus over $600 million in interest on the privately financed construction project.

The bridge is also a toll bridge.  It costs nothing to go from New Brunswick to PEI, but the cost to go back to the mainland for a passenger car is $47.75.  A motorcycle costs $19.00 and an individual or cyclist riding in the provided shuttle pays $4.50 or $9.00 respectively.  (No pedestrians or bicycles are allowed to cross) Even in the slow winter season that adds up to several thousand dollars per day.  The construction consortium keeps all the tolls for the 35 years.  Sounds great, but the money from the tolls had to first be used to cover the $330 million construction cost overrun before any of it became profit.  Maintaining the bridge has also cut into some of the projected gains, but the company shareholders will still make a considerable amount of money from their investment – over 35 years. The bridge is built in an S curve specifically to reduce the risk of accidents from drivers getting complacent during the 13 kilometer (8 mile) crossing.  At the speed limit of 80 kmp (50 mph) it takes 12 minutes to get from New Brunswick to PEI.  It is the longest bridge in the world across ice-filled water.

We did not have to drive very far once we were on the island to find a geocache to complete our Canadian provinces.  There is an immediate exit to a nice park with a view of the bridge that has a cache hidden in the base of an information sign.  The wind was bitterly cold!  We did not linger long outside the warmth of the car.  We found another cache nearby and looked for another one at the visitor’s center that we couldn’t find, Then we found the road to Noonan Beach where we got the information for an Earthcache. I was smart enough to wrap my scarf around my head before I ventured near the water.You can’t really see it in the photo but the grass is really blowing inland.   As we were getting back into the car snow flurries began to fall.   We had achieved our goal of a PEI cache ( X 3) and now it was time to head back to New Brunswick and start making our way back to Ottawa.  Our destination for the night was Miramichi which is about 200 km from the New Brunswick side of the bridge.

We turned north immediately across the bridge and took the secondary coastal road called Murray Corner;  finding  a couple  of  geocaches  along  the way. We discovered as we neared the end of the road that the bridge that connected Murray Corner to the main highway was closed so we had to go back a few kilometers to another crossroad.  Instead of turning around and navigating the same road again, we took a lesser used country road.  I was hoping to see a moose since there are warning signs for them all over this province, but no such luck.We spent a lot of the day driving near coastal inlets and there were lots of pretty views of houses and cottages reflected in the ice or water. About halfway to Miramichi there was a side road called Beaubassin Road that had a string of 20 geocaches hidden along it.  We gave ourselves one hour to find as many as we could before we stopped and drove the rest of the way to Miramichi.  There were a couple we could not get because the ditch was full of water, or rather ice, that we did not trust to walk on, and near the end of the road the last six or so caches were hidden further into the bush on the opposite side.  We decided to find them on the way a back if we had time; since it was a dead-end road.  As it was our hour was up just as we got to the final cache so we ignored the ones we passed by and headed back to the highway again.  We did find 12 of them though.

During our few days of driving in New Brunswick we would occasionally spot a bright red bush among the trees alongside the road.  There were some of them growing along Beaubassin Road so we were finally able to see one up close. I don’t know what it is called but the berries are certainly bright.

The last 100 km was driven in fading light and setting sun. We arrived in Miramichi at 5:30.  Tomorrow we cut across NB to Grand Falls and up to Rivière-du-Loup, Québec.  We have yet to decide if we will stick to the freeway from Grand Falls to Québec or take a road-less-traveled, but longer.


2019 Dec 6 – Grand Falls, NB to Moncton, NB

To be honest, this blog series seems a bit weird to me.  Usually when I am writing about one of our road trips I can include information and photos of museums, or historical sites, or old forts.  This trip is literally a road trip and all I have to share are things we see along the road, which seems strange.  But it is winter and everything is closed; including the tourist information centers.  And our primary goal on this little journey is to get at least one geocache in New Brunswick and one in Prince Edward Island to complete our Canadain Provinces cache finds.  After today we can check New Brunswick off the list!

We were blessed once again with bare roads and sunny skies.  It was a lovely drive from Grand Falls to Moncton.  Before we left Grand Falls this morning we drove down to see the falls for which the town is named.

There is a bit of snow here and I had to make my way over to the fence behind this picnic table to see the falls.  There is a hydro-electric plant here that uses the massive amount of water that flows through here to produce power.  In the winter there is very little water flowing into the gorge. If you look closely at the photo above, near the right side there is a muddy-looking bit.  That is the only open flowing water.   But,  judging  by  the  information  on  the  plaque  below,  in  the  spring  it  would  be incredible!We went back over the bridge after trying to see the falls from the tourist viewing area and walked halfway across to get a better look at the gorge. The nice round holes you can see on the images above are potholes carved out of the rock by the water.

After checking out the falls we took to the road again toward Moncton.

There are two bridges that cross the river near Aroostook and just off the freeway between the bridges there are two geocaches hidden. This was our first real opportunity to find a New Brunswick cache since it was dark when we got into Grand Falls last night. If one is going geocache hunting in New Brunswick in the winter, one must be prepared to walk through some snow!

We deviated from the Trans-Canada Highway near Aroostook and drove down the quieter Highway 130 as far as Hartland before rejoining the main highway.

We came across another covered bridge; one that was connected to a metal trestle bridge at Florenceville.  Florenceville was named in 1855 by the Lt. Governor of the day in honour of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing and the heroine of the Crimean War.  I remember reading her biography when I was in Grade 8. Florenceville is the french fry capital of the world due to the McCain Foods factory.    Information on the company says, “Since 1957, McCain Foods has grown proudly from its Florenceville, New Brunswick roots. With 30 employees and sales of $150,000 in its first year of business, the company has grown to become a global enterprise with more than 21,000 employees operating out of 53 production facilities on six continents with sales in excess of CDN $9.5 billion globally, while remaining Canadian headquartered and family-owned.” The icy St. John River.We stopped near the famous Hartland Bridge and bought some lunch at a local grocery store deli, then drove across the world’s longest covered bridge and parked on the other side so we could walk back and find a geocache hidden about halfway along the 391 meter-long bridge. It is only a one-lane bridge so you have to look to the far end and see if there is a car coming before you enter. I  liked  the look of  the  bridge  peeking through  all  the  tree  branches.There are lots of bridges across the St. John River.  This the newer bridge at Hartland.  After we found the cache on the covered bridge we re-connected with the Highway 2 – the Trans-Canada – and drove to Fredericton.

We had visited Fredericton sights, including the New Brunswick Parliament Building in 2014 and we only diverted today to go find three earth caches and a virtual cache that were all close together and did not have a lot of onerous questions to answer.  It took us about an hour to find them all and then we were on the road again without stopping until we reached our hotel in Moncton.One of the Earthcaches was at the Science Center which is located in the old Fredericton Provincial Jail.  It was built between 1840 and 1842 and was a maximum security facility. There are still bars on the upper story windows.

The last Earthcache took us to the campus of the Univerity of New Brunswick, Fredericton Campus to find an erratic glacier boulder that had been unearthed during construction and now sits in front of the Forestry and Geology Building.A few of the nice old buildings on the campus. The moon had risen in the sky as we approached Moncton at 5 pm and located our hotel and our dinner.

Québec, QC to Grand Falls, NB – Dec 5

We reverted to Plan A after checking New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island weather for the last couple of days.  The big storms must have veer off elsewhere and the forecast for the rest of the week is a mix of sun and cloud with a bit of rain and snow flurries.  We decided to head to Grand Falls, New Brunswick, which is about 50 km further south than our origial destination of Edmunston.

The majority of the day was spent on divided highway so not really exciting.  We did, however, make a couple of detours to find some geocaches and therefore drove for several kilometers on country roads.  This is still very much farm country with many large dairies and chicken farms. One of the little communities we drove through to find some geocaches was L’Islet.  There was a large Catholic Churh with an adjoining school.  At the back of the church was a small gazebo right on the shore of the St. Lawrence River.  There was supposed to be a geocache hidden in it but we could not find it.  The spot gave us a good view of the bunched-up ice chunks that have been pushed on shore by wind and waves. Just down the street from the church is the Québec Maritime Museum.  This boat, and the one behind it are moored at the museum and can be toured.Another geocache detour was a few kilometers along Chemin de la Desserte – a semi-maintained side road that was very icy.   John took his time and drove on the height of the ruts in case our rented Toyota Camry did not have enough clearance.The icy road joined a regular country road- Chemin Morin – which was bare and dry. There were 11 caches hidden along the side of the road but three of them were missing.  The caches were hidden about 400-500 meters apart so we would drive along, then as we neared the cache site John would pull over to the left side of the road where the caches were hidden and park.  One of us would get out and go down the snowy bank to find it on the fence or in a tree.  We had people in several cars that passed by watch us closely (one fellow stopped immediately he saw me walking around the back of the car toward the ditch and asked if I needed help, which I thought was very nice of him).  A few caches later as John was searching for one along comes a police car with lights flashing.  The office pulled along side the car and asked me if were were all right.  I said yes and told her we were looking for geocaches.  She had heard of the hobby so she thanked me nicely and drove off.  I don’t know if someone reported a suspicious vehicle on the road or if she was just going by, but she did have her lights on as she was approaching.

Also walking along the road for quite a distance as we looked for about three of the caches was an older couple.  We pulled behind them and in front of them and almost beside them on the last one.  They too asked, in French, if we were okay?  They did not speak English, but John had spotted the cache container hanging on the fence and went to get it and we showed them how the compass on our phone pointed to the cache, then we opened it, signed the log and put it back to demonstrate what we were doing.  They smiled kindly, wished us well and continued their walk.  We were driving alongside a nice big lake and couldn’t get a photo of it due to the guard rails.  John spotted a side road up a hill and drove up so I could get a picture or two.  We startled two deer up ahead.  The lake is called Témiscouata.  I have no idea what the translation might be.  It was a nice lake though. The rocks in Québec weep in the winter and form ice columns just like they do at home in BC.We crossed the Québec/New Brunswick border and continued south to Grand Falls. We were approaching Grand Falls at 5 pm NB time (four hours ahead of BC) and the sun was setting.  There is a lot more snow beside the roads as we go further south. The lady at the reception desk of our hotel recommended we have dinner at the Grand Saut Restaurant on Main Street.  Main Street is a divided road with a wide space between lanes, which is needed to put all the snow in winter.  All along the middle of the street are groupings of four or five fir trees; each one covered in different colored lights.  There is all so a pretty gazebo and a large Nativity.The restaurant looks like a large old house but was actually built for the restaurant in that style in 2003.  It was beautifully decorated inside and out.  And our dinners were really good. There was a geocache hidden about three blocks behind the restaurant near the curling rink, but there was too much snow to find it – plus it was pitch dark. This is a photo of a house across the street.We were told they get a lot of snow out this way and they were not kidding.

Tomorrow we drive to Moncton and hopefully we can locate a winter friendly geocache so we can cross New Brunswick off our to-do list.

2019 Dec 4 – Québec, Québec

You can always tell when I have a great day by the abundance of photographs I put into my blog!

We visited the city of Québec in 2014 on our drive across Canada and spent our time on the Plains of Abraham and the Citadel (There is  a blog on that trip if you wish to check it out.)  Today we spent about five hours wandering around Old Town Québec.

Old Town is the original walled city built by the French after Québec was discovered and claimed for France by Samuel de Champlain in 1608.  The streets are narrow and are bordered by old stone buildings, many of which have been in constant use for centuries and others that have been re-built several times.  St. John’s Gate is Door #1 into the walled city.  There are several gates that give access to Old Town as you wander around the city.
The  Muses  – representing the Greco-Roman  dieties  of  the arts  and  letters:  Architecture,  Sculpture,  Poetry,  Painting,  Music,  and  Eloquence. There is a large skating rink set up in the center of Place D’Youville.  We walked out of our parking arcade just up the stairs from here.  The Palais Montcalm Concert building overlooks the square. Our geocache hobby is a great way to see places like Old Town Québec.  There are regular caches, Earthcaches and Virtual caches all over the place.  We followed the map to several of them and it gave us a really good overall look at the area.

All the shops and hotels were decorated, or are in the process of being decorated, for the Christmas season.  We saw many, many lovely displays. Right where I stood to take this photograph of the St. Patrick Pub there was an historical memorial to three-generations of a family who recorded the changes in Québec.  Between1854  and  1953  they  amassed  over  300,000  negatives  and  over 500,000 photographic prints! The section of the city behind these arches is where the first Anglo-Saxon inhabitants lived and worked and set up shop. The old Kirk (Church) Hall.

This memorial was to honour the 12 men from Québec who died fighting for the British Empire in South Africa between 1898 -1902. This is a cannon ball said to have been fired by the British when they attacked Québec in 1759.  It crashed into the base of the tree and has been embedded over the years. You can still see the scar at the base of the tree where the ball hit it. Atop this wall is the Citadel and the Plains of Abraham; which were farmer’s fields and the site of the Battle of Abraham during the Seven Years War between Britain and France from 1756-1763.  During the battle in 1759 the opposing generals – Wolfe for the British and Montcalm for the French – were both mortally wounded.  The consequences of the battle were the surrender of the French to the British and the loss of Québec; and led eventually to the take-over of French Canada by the British. The  statue  of  the  Founding Father  of  Québec,  Samuel  de  Champlain and  a couple  of  photos of the side  of the Château  Frontenac;  said  to  be the  most  photographed  hotel  in  the  world.A big boardwalk goes along the front of the Château over to the base of the Plains of Abraham.  On this side there is a large square with the statue of Champlain and a beautiful view of the St. Lawrence River and down below, Le Petit Champlain, a small commercial zone that runs along the river shore. The easiest way to get to Le Petit Champlain is via the funicular.There were Christmas trees everywhere along the old cobbled streets of Le Petit Champlain, and the decorations were even more elaborate than in Old Town. We stopped for lunch in this old timbered cafe.  The soup of the day was Butternut Peach, which John ordered.  It was surprisingly good with a sweet after taste.  I had a yummy bowl of French Onion Soup.  By then we needed a bit of warming up  and  also enjoyed  a cup  of  hot  chocolate (with whipped cream on top, of course). Hidden in the dark space in the lower left of the building above was a little cannon geocache.  The log paper was rolled up and inside the muzzle.  It was so cute. One of the virtual geocaches we found was called “Arrette moi si tu peux,” which translated means “Catch Me If You Can.”  (A virtual cache, by the way, is one where there is no container, nor a log paper to sign.  It is usually an historic or significant place where an actual physical cache container is not hidden.  Instead you usually must answer a question or two about the place and post a photo of yourself or your GPS at the site to prove you were there.)

This virtual used the title of the Leonardo di Caprio/Tom Hanks film because the scene where the di Caprio’s character returns to France (where his mother was from) and gets caught in a church was filmed here.  The square in front of the church is called Place Royale, The cache description says: “The Place Royale is considered to be the oldest French site in America. It was Samuel de Champlain, founder of Québec City, who launched the construction of this fortified post in 1608, thus constituting the first habitation of Québec. The buildings served, among other things, to trade with the Amerindians. From 1687 to 1723, a fabulous construction was built: that of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, the oldest stone church in North America. Destroyed by the bombing of the lower town by the British on August 1759, which was a premise for the British victory over the French and the end of the French regime in America on September 1759, it was rebuilt and reborn from its ashes (1766) . In 1929, the church was declared a historic monument and was designated a national historic site by the Government of Canada in 1988.”  Steven Spielberg used this square and church instead of finding a location in France because it is historically and visually  very typical French section of a city.This mural was unveiled in October 1999.  It is called “The History of Québec” and represents 1500 historical figures.  It is 420 sq. meters in size and is a beautiful mixture of old and modern vignettes of the city.The Post Office sits alongside the steep curved road that goes from Le Petit Champlain back up to Old town.

It was time to head back to the car park and make our way to the hotel before the mass exodus of workers began to leave the city.  We walked back via a different route to see more of Old Town.The little huts were set up for a huge Christmas market in this square and up the next street as well.

The Hôtel de Ville was draped in lights and had beautiful pots of greenery and Grinch-like figures outside.The statue on the right is “a work paying tribute to the 11 congregations of teaching brothers that have been active in Québec since the end of the 17th century. A wing etched into stone is echoed bronze, outlining an arch that turns the mind to higher things. Behind them, two blocks form an open book in which a bronze flame relief replies to its counterpart hollowed out of the stone, suggesting the passing on of knowledge.”We walked by an old St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and exited the walled city before arriving back at Place D’Youville and the car.There were quite a few skaters enjoying the ice rink.  We arrived at our hotel just after four and had an expensive – $50 per plate filet mignon – dinner at the hotel.  Good thing it was delicious!

Drummondville, Québec to Québec, Québec – Dec 3

The bad weather predictions were showing on the maps this morning.  Up to 30 cm (1 foot) was expected to fall today in Edmunston, NB, which was our destination.  Moncton (tomorrow’s plan) was expecting a major fall of ice rain over the next few days.  There were travel advisorys for both locations.  Time to make a Plan B.

Southern Québec has little snow right now and is basking under sunny skies with temperatures just below freezing.  We decided to cancel our reservations in Edmunston and Moncton and head, by a round-about route that bypassed the freeway, to Québec City.

We had been to Québec (they drop the ‘City’ designation that I am used to) briefly on our cross-Canada road trip but had only visited the Plains of Abraham Historic District.  Québec is a wonderful place to visit in the winter so we made a reservation for two nights at the same hotel we stayed in before.  This hotel is located just across the St. Lawrence River at the southern outskirts of the city near Old Town.

Our travels took us once again through farm country and about eight small rural communities.  It was a leisurely drive on quiet roads under sunny skies – with geocaches thrown in.  I enjoyed the day very much. There is a very long power trail of geocaches hidden beside the road in this area that is quad friendly.  All of them are hung in trees and so are winter friendly.   We found #80 because it was very near a side road.  We also fund caches #43 through #35 which were hidden along a short section of Range Road #6 that paralled the highway. We diverted to find them and then drove back to the main road again.  The quad trail extends for many kilometers and would make for several days of fun geocaching if we lived in the area – and owned a quad or snowmobile; which we don’t. It really was a picturesqe day. We rounded a corner and came upon a covered bridge!  That was an unexpected surprise.  We bought a sandwich for lunch at a gas station in Sainte Étienne and then drove the last 40 or so kilometers up to the freeway and into Québec.  We only had to drive 5 km on the busy road and we were ahead of rush hour so it was not bad at all. We crossed the St. Lawrence River a few minutes before three o’clock.  Our hotel is literally 600 meters across the bridge so we checked in and had a leisurely rest of the afternoon before finding dinner.

Ottawa, ON to Drummondville, QC – Dec 2

We left our comfortable little studio apartment at 11 am and headed south out of Ottawa.  Our destination for the day is Drummondville, Québec, which is about 300 km away.  We planned to do some geocaching between the road section south of Ottawa and Hawksbury.  After that the rest of the trip is divided highway.  It was a lovely sunny day and we did not even have to put our coats on to go find the caches.  We located 16 of them before we arrived at the freeway portion of the drive.

Our goal on this mini-10-day road trip is to reach 4000 geocache finds and to find a cache in the provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.  They are the only two provinces of Canada that we have not yet found a geocache.  We would have liked to fly up to the territory of Nunavet while in Ottawa because that is the only one of Canada’s three territories we have not logged a geocache find as well.  But the three-hour flight from Ottawa to Iqualuit costs $1,600 per person and we would only be there for 24 hours so we decided to pass (for now).

We checked the Maritime weather before we left Ottawa and there are supposed to be four winter storms coming one after another with ice rain, ice pellets and 60 kph winds in southern New Brunswick and up to 20 cm (over a foot) of snow in northern New Brunswick over the majority of the upcoming week.  Us being us, or rather John being John, that did not change our plans.  Yet.  We will keep an eye on things and perhaps have an earlier return to Ottawa than planned. That would be okay as well  since there are lots of places to see and things to do in Canada’s capital city and we could amuse ourselves nicely until our flight home to BC on Dec, 12.

Our first stop was a little roadside park called Barnett Park on the outskirts of Cumberland.  There was some nice ice pools near the shore of the Ottawa River.

Across the highway from Barnett Park is Quigley Road and we drove along it into Cumberland and Rockland finding several caches.This nice little birdhouse cache was hidden in a hollow at the back of a large tree.

Another cache was located at the far end of the Cumberland Cemetery. (Cemeteries are popular geocache hiding spots.)  While John was off signing the log I checked out the lovely silk flower arrangements in handy over-the-top-of-the-headstone holders. Much of today’s drive was through farm country and we were surprised at how much corn was still standing in the fields.  We saw several combines working to harvest it and it looked like the farmers had cut some earlier in the fall and then left sections of the fields until later.  We are not sure that is what they do or whether the weather was too wet to harvest earlier, but it was interesting to see crops coming off in early December. We took a few short detours into small communities to find a few of the geocaches.  One of them was L’Original where we found a cache hidden under the edge of the Mill Creek Bridge.Also in L’Original is an old jail.  It was open and I think guided tours were still available even though it is the off season, but we had not traveled very far by this point and had over 200 km to go so we decided not to check it out. Much of our freeway travel was skirting Montreal and the sun was setting by the time we were passing the community of Bossard and heading toward Drummondville.  It was also rush hour for those getting off work in the city and heading home. We were happy to be going east instead of west; although the traffic in our lanes was quite thicks we had very few slow sections unlike the opposite lanes which were crawling. I did not see the sign for this ski resort but it certainly would not take long to reach the bottom of the runs.  The hills at home are three times as high as this.I remember from my long ago geography classes that the central and eastern parts of Canada are much older than the west.  The ‘mountains’ out here have had many more centuries to round-off and wear down.  Unlike the western Rockies and Coast mountains, which are relatively young and therefore very high and rugged.  The short length of the range below was by far the highest land we saw all day.We checked into our hotel in Drummondville at 5:30 and headed to the restaurant for some dinner.  It was a much more pleasant winter geocaching day than I was expecting to have.  And, if the weather man is correct, it may be the only one we get.