Kieran has been here for a week now and we have managed to travel a bit in that time though at a rate which might seem a little weird. Everything has to be compressed because our son is working Monday to Friday normal business hours and our daughter is enrolled in classes for the summer to bring up her math and science to the advanced level she needs to get into the courses she wants in CEGEP and eventually university. This leaves very little time to actually do things as a family or group. (Photos in the gallery – full sized for printing so be patient)
We have managed to do a little walk about downtown along St. Catherine between Metcalf and Papineau which is a good hoof especially if you start in Chinatown head west then east and back again. Kieran had a smoked meat sandwich which failed to impress. Oh well. It’s a Montreal thing. He seemed to enjoy the walk about though we didn’t actually do anything other than walk and talk.
We had a down day then our daughter and I took Kieran on another walk about. This time we went to Old Montreal and inflicted poutine on him. Poutine is a mixture of french fries, curd cheese and gravy. Kieran, not content with the traditional order, added pulled pork as a garnish and washed it down with a little local hard cider.
It is surprising how tiring just walking around looking at stuff can be.
The big trip was one of those things which probably sounded good at the time. Kieran wanted to see Niagara Falls but Niagara Falls is wicked pricey. I decided that Hopewell Rocks would be close enough, inexpensive enough and interesting enough to makeup for not going to Niagara. Not sure it worked out that way. Hopewell Rocks was once shortlisted as a possible World Heritage site and while it didn’t make the final cut (who knows why) it is a magnificent thing to behold. The downside is that it is an eleven hour drive from Montreal. Ten hours to Moncton and then another hour to the rocks.
We drove almost nonstop from Montreal to Moncton only taking a gas and lunch break in Edmunston. We rolled into Moncton and into our hotel, the Delta Beausejour, while there was still some daylight and a music festival in full swing. We were really bushed from the drive – well I was really bushed from the drive – so we went to Alexandra’s Pizza on Main (the best pizza in Moncton and better than any I’ve had in Montreal) bought the boys each their own pie while our daughter and I shared a small cheese pizza and some fries.
After pizza the boys went off to find women and drink while our daughter and I did a little walk about along Main to see what we could see. In truth Main Street is kind of nice but Moncton is a small city and they roll up the sidewalks pretty early in comparison to Montreal. There was a nice theatre which would have made a nice picture had I brought a tripod. Lacking a tripod I tried to use a post on the side of the street and was bent over taking the picture when Hank, a local guy down on his luck, came over to see if I was okay. Hank had a close trimmed mostly salt with a dash of pepper beard and a face which has seen more sun than most and the kind of crows feet that say he’s laughed more than most too. He had old school large bore tattoos which had, no doubt, once been black but now were blurred blue and faded. He asked for a little spare change which as it turned out was jangling around in my pocket with nothing to do for the rest of the evening.
We were both asleep when one of them made their way back to the hotel. It turned out to be our son who managed to make it into bed without any of the static sparks from the hotel carpet igniting the fumes from his breath. My fitful sleep was made more so by the phone ringing at two thirty in the morning. The front desk called to tell me that my son had made it back to the hotel but had forgotten the room number. Kieran made it upstairs a few minutes later.
There is nothing to be done with two twenty year old men who’ve had a few too many because they will snore. It is the nature of the beast. One was sawing lumber the other was milling it. Our daughter can sleep through anything but she had not been woken up several times already. I on the other hand could not find rest between the two so picked up my sleeping bag and pillow and made a bed for myself in the bathtub. It was uncomfortable but I did manage to sleep between three and five thirty. In total I probably managed about five hours sleep after being awake for sixteen hours, ten of which was spent driving. On the upside the early morning in Moncton is beautiful and Tim Horton’s was empty.
At Tim Horton’s I ran into Hank again and we had a coffee before I toddled off to the river to have a walk along the footpath there.
There are a lot of runners in Montreal. On the mountain on any given day there are hundreds of them. Thousands and thousands across the island of Montreal but Moncton seems to have a running tradition and time which brings many of them together on Sunday morning along the river. Who can blame them? Beautiful scenery and a cooler run than on pavement. They were legion.
After a little morning constitutional I returned to Tim Horton’s and picked up some breakfast, water and juice for the kids. The goal was to get out and to Hopewell Rocks for around eleven when the tide had gone out and the sea floor was accessible. The kids had other ideas involving sleep and boozer gloom. By dint of cajoling and nagging they did manage to clear the room by a little before eleven and we were on the road again.
The drive to Hopewell was uneventful but it was brutal hot, humid and sunny. From the car park to the beach is about 800 meters which doesn’t take long to walk but there is a shuttle if you have any difficulty walking. We hoofed it on down and went straight to the beach. In all we spent about two hours at Hopewell Rocks before starting our journey back to Montreal. We finally hit the road around noon and by 14:00 I was struggling to keep my eyes open as the kids drifted off to sleep. I’ve come up with exercises which I do when I am feeling sleepy and driving. Simple isometrics with big muscle groups helps to get the blood flowing and increases alertness. So lots of leg tension, stomach tension, buttock tension and eventually they eyelids relented and full alertness returned. Aside from a brief stop at a gas station to get gas and pick up a few snacks, we drove straight through from Hopewell to Grand Falls where we decided that Kieran had to do the Zip Zag zip line over the gorge.
The Zip Zag is a little pricey but worth it when you consider that to get two people safely over the gorge it requires five people who do it professionally. The zip rides themselves are only about a minute each but they are exciting. Kieran seemed to have fun as did our daughter who was doing it for her second time.
After the short respite from travel we headed out on the road again and arrive back in Montreal shortly after midnight.
In all we probably spent about twenty two hours in the van covering a little over 2200 kilometers. Probably not the most adventurous trip he’s ever taken but I venture to guess probably the longest drive Kieran’s every been on.