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Nick & Tim’s Travel Diary

Friday, 15 Aug 2003

Location: Montreal, Canada

Map6430km

Mike and Pete have been voted off the island. Unlike Oscar in the Soo, we did say goodbye to them however. We almost shed tears it was so painful! It's back to Nick and Tim and back to Trans Canada Trail.

Ottawa was a fantastic break for us all, mainly due to the generousity and friendliness of quite a few people. Pete and Mike knew a guy called T-Dog, that's in some way short for Tyler Johnson. T-Dog had a small appartment in Ottawa that he shared with his sister and amazingly decided to share with Mike, Pete and two Aussies that he'd never met for three days. Not only that, but he'd planned some social events for us. What a champion, as was his sister Holly who had no problems with sweaty cyclists taking over the house. Sweaty was an understatement with Ottawa reaching a million percent humidity or so. First night in Ottawa, it was very hot and humid, so T-Dog had organised a night on someone elses porch for beer drinking. A fantastic idea. "Holly Number Two" was the owner of the said porch, and rather than be surprised at our being on her porch she joined in. A nice night was had, and thankfully we ran out of beer before a massive hangover was created. Turns out that "Holly Number Two" works for the government in Ottawa (as it would appear do a lot of people) and offered to give us a guided tour of the parliament building the next day. Fantastic again. So the next day we had the zany "Holly Number Two" flashing her pass at all the security guards and personally showing us through all the secret areas of Canada's government. She only got stopped once when she tried to get us past the tourist queue for the big tower. Apparently only MP's with an "ootrageous' accent can skip that line up. Thanks Holly for the unique view of Ottawa.

It didn't stop there, that night the T-Dog had organised for us all to go to a keg party at the porch house - lived in by "Holly Number Two". The party was in a bit of a political vein, and we all had to do a bit of topic changing a few times when people started talking shop. But as we all got drunker we somehow seemed to be a bit more knowledgeable of Canadian politics and could join in with the best of em. Due to a name badge mix up, we were all know as Tyler Johnson. Tyler Johnson, 4,5,6 and 007. 007 being the real one. The cell phone was from there on answered "Administratively Yours - Tyler Johnson". We were known as "The Aussies biking across Canada." There was other misbehaving, but nothing that can be mentioned here.

Not feeling so good we decided to hit the Museum of Civilisation. So we went out there with the lovely Christine (who reminded us of Banana!) and Agada, both girls we met at the party. It was a pretty damn impressive museum, with a whole dome dedicated to a recreation of Canada in history from coast to coast. Kind of like a mini-historical version of what we're doing now.

After the museum it was time for a dinner to thank the T-Dog and Holly for letting us take over their house. Thanks guys! If ever you're in Sydney be sure to email us and if we're there we'll return the favour (otherwise we'll force you on our friends!). The dinner was also to say good bye to Mike and Pete. After over a thousand kilometres and some 20 days or so, it was time to part company as we headed back onto the Trans Canada Trail and they gun it for Newfoundland. We enjoyed every moment guys - even the hammock rebirthing and barb flaring urethra creatures.

Quebec has been a bit of a surprise for us, not really knowing what to expect, the trail has turned out to be nothing short of brilliant. Getting out of Ottawa we headed North towards the Laurentian mountains. Almost immediatley we were in coutry cottage kind of surroundings and away from any kind of highway or traffic (a very nice change). French became the language of choice immediately as well, but you can usually find English somewhere if you need it. Our first day we made it over a long and hilly, but very scenic dirt road to a Lake area. Riding along the trail trying to find camping, as it was getting dark, like a sign from God himself, a Christian run campground appeared in the middle of nowhere. Despite Tim's bike being named Satan we were alowed in to one of the nicest campgrounds we've been to.

After a good Christian sleep we set off for some more scenic riding through lakes and trees towards our destination for the day, Mont Laurier. The ride was especially scenic and being on trail again was again superb. Not only that but finaly the humidity subsided, (the bugs too, amazing what a border crossing can do). We arrived in Mont Laurier and started on the next part of the Trans Canda Trail, a trail called "Le P'tit Train du Nord". This path is a testament to the Quebecois love of cycling. Its an old railway line that has not only been cleared, but been paved like a bike highway. For 200km. C'est supercool Non? We set off on this eagerly, only to be stopped very quickly by a red shirted man that looked suspiciously like a hobo. He spat unintelligable French at us and some pidgeon English as well. Turns out someone has to pay for the paved trail - ten dollars. We didn't mind too much, the Canadian Prime Minister looks a bit like a hobo too, and this guy turned out be pretty helpful - although we could have done without dodging the spit. The ten dollars was worth it with us flying towards our next campground at high speed past lakes and forests with no cars in sight.

One problem, our campground didn't exist. After much riding in circles and many confusing french conversations (one involving a very crank old lady) we still couldn't find it, so we rang em on the cell. "Oh yes, we are the camp ground, but we are a hostel now and we have moved ten miles away and don't take tents." Perfect. In fact it was perfect, as it meant we found a very nice spot to throw up the tent for free, with a nice lake.

Next day we were back on that cycle freeway and loving it. We may have scared some of the locals as we are a little bit conditioned at this stage as you can imagine, and two fully loaded bikes bearing down on a family bike outing at 40km/h can be unnerving. Still, we were courteous. We wound our way through yet more lakes to Mont Tremblant, an old town on a lake, with a new Ski resort nearby. After a very nice swim indeed off someone's very expensive pontoon, we met some "patrouilleuses" two nice Quebecois girls in red shirts patrolling the trail. On their advice we visited the ski resort. Nice, but a little bit too Disney for our liking. $20 for some cake and coke was also a bit steep. We preferred the original Mont Tremblant on the lake.

That night we stayed in Ste Jovite - a nice town with a nice campground on a river (more swimming) and awoke refreshed for more fun on the "P'tit Train du Nord". The previous night Nick had tried to repair his disk brakes and failed. So now he had to ride with his brakes always on. Not so fun. A stop mid-morning and some handy work with a pocket knife fixed this. Our aim was Montreal and so it was a long day. But also an especially good one. The scenery as usual was fantastic, and very French with cafes and nice shops the whole way. We met up with Pierre and Bridgitte a very nice couple who were taking a trip away from Quebec City. They offered us a place to stay there - more fantastic people. In Ste Jerome we met an Aussie - its been a long while since we heard that accent! We had a good chat with her and then headed on to Montreal.

Getting into Montreal was interesting, with the trail turning into an 8 lane highway. Nick's first lose it of the trip (pretty good for 6000km). We eventually found our lodging in the University of Concordia and thats where we are now.