The morning set aside for me to leave dawned overcast and wet. It had been raining all night. I got up at 06:00 and got my bike all packed up. The streets were dry, but I took the precaution of dressing in my rain gear anyway, including my canvas tennis shoes, just in case. Sheryl sent me off at 07:30, after catching a couple of photos on the digital camera.
I travelled along my regular route for crossing the St. Lawrence via the St. Lambert locks: Down Beaconsfield to the DeMaisonneuve Bike Path, east to Decarie and over to St. Jacques, down to the St. Remi entrance to the Lachine Canal Bike path, and then east along the Canal to the Old Port.
When I reached the Old Port cut off at 08:00, half an hour out, I was struck by the absolute stillness of the water in the Wellington Basin. The buildings of downtown reflected in the water as in a mirror. All was still and quiet, except for the VIA train which passed along the railway embankment behind the basin. I managed to catch both with my camera.
I rode along the bike path that runs along the old Riverfront Drive, under the Bonaventure Expressway, to the Cité du Havre approach of the Concorde Bridge. As I looked back towards the west, I could see the overcast sky was much darker in that direction than in others. I noticed a haze extending across the river. I would soon learn that this haze was that of approaching rain, a thunderstorm almost completely hidden by the general grey and overcast pale of the day.
I had made it nearly all the way across the Concorde Bridge before the first raindrops hit, and was able to race on to Ile Notre Dame, where I knew there to be a shelter underneath the bridge. The time had advanced to 08:15; I was 45-minutes out.
I pulled on my rain poncho and steeled myself to begin riding out in the heavy rain. All was pretty much okay as I rode through the garden corridor of the Ile Notre Dame park, but as I approached the access to the St. Lambert Locks path, I heard nearby thunder, which spooked me. I doubled back a short ways and found shelter with a couple of other cyclists under the abri of a bus stop. There I waited for five minutes or so, until it seemed that the worst of the thunder and lightning had passed.
Once more I set out in the heavy rain. Although my large rubberized rain poncho kept my chest dry, my feet quickly became waterlogged. I could feel in my knees the extra effort as the weight of all the water soaking into the cloth of my paniers began to be felt.
By 08:30, one hour into my trip, I had crossed the St. Lambert Locks. I rode up over the highway and through the side streets of St. Lambert until I came to the corner of Victoria. Riding on through Ville LeMoyne, I came, at 09:00, to the Taschereau crossing at the far side of that tiny town.
A few weeks earlier, I had ridden over the Taschereau overpass for the very first time, although in the opposite direction, while heading home along the very same route I was about to follow. I assumed things would be the same heading outbound, so I began by following the traffic in a wide left turn and started climbing up the eastbound side of the overpass, as Taschereau transformed itself from a wide suburban boulevard into an elevated freeway. I immediately noticed that there was no sidewalk on the eastbound side, as had been on the westbound, and when I saw the sign announcing that the Boulevard Jacques-Cartier exit would come only in 800 metres, I knew I had made the wrong choice. I carefully backed my way back down in the rain, in the face of oncoming traffic, and made my way back across the intersection to the westbound side. There I rode up over the overpass along the sidewalk, against the flow of traffic. The sidewalk was totally empty anyway, on account of the heavy rain. At the far side of the bridge, the sidewalk came to an abrupt end at the top of a flight of wooden stairs leading down to the end of Boulevard Jacques-Cartier below. There was no way I could follow the road around the wide curve, for riding against the traffic in such a slippery situation and with such poor visibility would certainly have been foolhardy. I got off and hiked my heavily-loaded bike down the embankment in a wide circle, so as the alleviate the angle of descent. Finally, I regained the road at the base of the stairs, as it completed its own, wider circle.
I rode southward along Boulevard Jacques-Cartier, traveling in reverse along the route I had pioneered earlier that summer. For the first couple of blocks, where the end of the boulevard was one way as it approached the freeway interchange, I had no choice but to ride along the sidewalk, facing the oncoming traffic. Then a gravel bicycle trail began, leading along the boulevard's eastern side. Along the western side extended a long fence, behind which were the rail yards and, further on, Route 116, the very reason for the Taschereau Overpass.
The rain continued as I rode along, making the gravel surface of the bike path resistant to my pedaling. The bike trail along Boulevard Jacques-Cartier came to an end once I came even with the cut-off for the bike bridge over Route 116 towards Chambly, at which point I was forced to cross over to the correct side of the roadway and to ride alongside with the traffic and the parked cars.
Boulevard Jacques-Cartier turned away from the rail line and was enveloped on both sides by the streets and homes of suburbia. It remained a wide boulevard, the two sides separated by a grassy median. As I rode along, the boulevard made a wide arc towards the east. My spirits rose as I sensed a lessening in the intensity of the rain. I allowed myself to entertain the hope that perhaps it might stop raining altogether!
It was 9:10 by the time the swing from south to east along Boulevard Jacques-Cartier was completed. It seemed so much longer, but only ten minutes had passed since leaving the Boulevard Taschereau overpass. At the intersection with Chemin Chambly, the suburban nature of Boulevard Jacques-Cartier evaporated, to be replaced by that of shopping centres, vast parking lots and big box stores. The rain continued to lighten up.
As I headed east along the bottom edge of Longueuil, I passed a large hospital, several parks, an arena, and other public complexes. The south side of the boulevard was lined with apartment blocks and single residences. Through my rain-soaked glasses, I continued to search for the end of the road that I had taken earlier in the summer.
At 09:20, I finally came to the road I recognized as the one I had come in on earlier in the summer, the one that would lead me out of the back side of Longueuil and into the country: Chemin des Tremblay. The first few blocks continued to be surrounded by the typical apartment blocks I had been passing earlier, but these came to an abrupt end as I entered the Longueuil Woods. The wide boulevard narrowed to a two-laned road and scrub forest closed in on both sides. It was hard to believe I was still in town. I was not able to fully enjoy the experience because the rain began to turn heavy and I was being pelted by the downpour. Each vehicle that passed, now moving at highway speeds, left me drenched in spray and, at times, the road became difficult to see in the heavy rain.
I knew that my next landmark would be the Boucherville line, where the woods which had instantly appeared would just as instantly vanish and give way to an industrial park. When I reached Boucherville at 09:30, the road widened again, which gave me more room from the traffic. Factories, warehouses and other light industry lined both sides of the road. I passed by the factory in whose lee I had taken shelter from the wind my last time through. Within five minutes, the road was curving up alongside the Hwy 20 freeway. Still in the pouring rain, I pulled up to the head of the left-turn lane at Boulevard Mortagne and awaited my light. It was 09:35 when I crossed underneath Hwy 20 along Boulevard Mortagne.
At the far side of the Highway 20 freeway where Boulevard Mortagne comes out is a vast and brand-new complex of big box stores. When I had last passed this way, all the stores had been deserted and the parking lots empty, with only the MacDonald's still being open. Not much had changed this time, despite the fact it was Saturday morning. I could hardly see out across the parking lots through the rain, and I imagine most people had stayed at home. Perhaps the stores did not open until 10:00.
Only the MacDonald's showed signs of life, and it was crowded. The restaurant shone like a well-lit beacon amidst the dark, grey background of rain and haze. It promised a haven and a refuge from the last hour of rain-soaked travelling. I settled into MacDonald's at 09:40, buying myself an Egg-McMuffin and a hot coffee. I took a table by the window and then went into the washroom and wrung out my soaking-wet socks. Returning, I relaxed and looked out at the sheets of rain falling on the parking lot from the warm, comfort of my breafkast seat.
I maintained the fervent hope that my 25-minute breakfast stop at McDonald's would allow for a let-up in the heavy rain. Alas, this was not too be. The sheets of rain continued billowing across the parking lot, making curtain-like patterns as the waves of more intense rain hit the pavement. The water cascading off the blacktop was so thick, it gave the whole vista the air of a vast lake.
Finally deciding there was no point in waiting any longer; that the weather was not going to improve, I collected my stuff together and steeled myself for facing the torrent once again. I took a short pause on the way out, at the phone booth in the entranceway, to call my daughter, Tannissa, to whom I owed a call. It was far too early on a Saturday morning for her, however, so beyond a grunt, we agreed I would call later. She never remembered the call. It was 10:05 when I finally rode out of the parking lot.
To my left was a dark wall of trees. I knew that to my right would have opened up vast farmer's fields, if I could have seen them. I remembered from my previous ride that the Highway 20 freeway angled along behind these fields and that nearby Mont-Saint-Bruno loomed behind. All this detail was invisible this day; I looked out on nothing but an impenetrable gray haze.
Just when I thought things could not get any worse, I saw lightning flashes and heard thunder. While steady, even heavy, rain, is a cycling condition which, though unpleasant, I can live with, lightning scares me a great deal. I always feel like a target as I sit up high on my bicycle, out in the open of the highway. I knew that thunderstorm cells were all around, but the heavy rain made their approach impossible to discern. They became apparent only once one was already in their midst.
I prayed fervently for my safety and deliverance as I rode ever more quickly through the lightning flashes, for there was no shelter anywhere around.. Things having gotten worse, they could get worse still. As I approached the Highway 30 overpass, the road climbed up high over the highway, holding me up even more as a target. Worse still, I had to pass under massive high-voltage transmission lines at the same moment. I felt raw fear as I anticipated the tingling feeling at the back of the neck, which I understand is the precursor of a lightning strike.
Thankfully, such a feeling did not come. On the far side of the overpass was a plant nursery with an outdoor sales stall. Some kids were busy setting up the fruits and vegetables for the day’s sales. I rode straight on in and parked myself under the shelter. I asked politely if I could wait out the storm, but it was for form only, for I had no intention of going back out into the lightning. It was 10:25 when I took shelter. If felt much longer, but I had been riding for twenty minutes since leaving McDonald's.
I stayed fifteen minutes under the shelter. The young people setting up the stand essentially ignored me, except for some strange glances from time to time. After a while, I began to sense that the dark, grey sky was becoming a little lighter and the rain a little less intense. Looking out behind the shelter, I could see the darker skies and lightning flashes moving towards the south. I decided it was time to head on out, so I put my helmet back on, donned my glasses and snapped up my rain poncho. I was on my way across the rain-soaked gravel parking lot towards the road at 10:40.
I came soon to the intersection of the main road connecting Sainte-Julie with Varennes. On the previous visit, I had seen the houses of suburbia perched along the crest of the ridge to the south, but of course I could see nothing now. My road became even quieter after this interchange. Soon I began to climb up onto the ridge upon which sits the town of Saint-Amable.
I reached the St. Amable town line at 11:05 and noted that the rain had nearly stopped. Progress was much more rapid than on my previous visit, when I had been cycling against the wind. By 11:15, I was riding past the church at the town center and a road sign indicating that Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu was 10km distant. I came to the same detour I had seen earlier in the summer, where the main road was closed for repair. Again, I refused to go off along the muddy side roads. I was able to guide my bike across people's lawns and past the giant holes in the ground, to come out the other side. It was quite difficult to ride along the wet, course gravel of the sections of new road which had not yet been blacktopped. Once I reached the end of the construction zone, I was rewarded for my trouble, by fresh, new pavement, with wide shoulders.
Gradually, the built-up area along Saint-Amable's only main street began to fade and I found myself once again alone in the woods. My rapid progress was amazing me, compared with my previous passage though this along this route. It was 11:30 when I came to the Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu town line. Soon thereafter, the trees opened up on both sides, as I came to the open section at the end of the ridge. Here, the highway would drop down from the heights, past several large farms, to meet the road connecting Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu with Verchères.
I had lamented not taking a photo at this spot the first time through, so I stopped at the bottom of the descent to remedy this oversight. As I was fumbling with my camera, I felt great disappointment as raindrops began to hit me again. It was long before I was once again riding through the heavy rain. There remained 6km to go in before reaching the town and coming out at the Richelieu River. I made it there at 12:00.
Despite all the rain, my spirits lifted immediately once I was riding alongside the river. Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu did not have many businesses. I stopped into a depanneur and asked if there were any restaurants in town. I was directed to the town's one restaurant, which was luckily down the road a ways in the direction I was headed. I placed my 12:00 check-in call to Sheryl from inside an old-fashioned phone booth, so as to be able to shut out the rain. Montreal was still a local call. Sheryl was amazed I had gotten as far as I did. "Do you want me to come get you?" she asked. "No, thanks," I responded, "I'll be fine."
I headed on northward out of town along the river road, a delightful quiet road running just a few feet from the river. I quickly passed the ferry where I had crossed earlier in the summer, the furthest extent, to date, of my investigation. As the houses of the town began to thin out, I began to worry about not finding the restaurant I was searching for. At last, though, I finally came to Resto-bar Le Riverain. I rolled in past the several cars in the gravel parking lot and rested my heavy, drenched rig against the building.
I must have been quite a sight to the regulars gathered at the small bar as I walked in. They expressed disbelief that I was out riding on such a day! I found myself a table to all to myself over by the window and ordered some hot soup, a BLT, and some coffee. After I had`ducked into the washroom to wring out my soaking wet socks, I felt immediately better. I'm glad wool socks are warm, even when wet. I felt bad for all the mess my wet poncho and other dripping gear were making on the floor of my corner. Still, the hot soup was wonderful. It cheered my spirits as well as my insides. As I ate and looked out onto the rain hitting the river, I amused myself listening in on the conversations of the regulars at the bar. It had been 12:15 when I had arrived, and I set out again at 12:50.
The rain had once again died down and the dark sky was a little lighter as I continued my way down alongside the river. The main, busier road runs along the other shore. On my side, a car would pass only every few minutes. Riding along was quiet and peaceful. When my road did not run directly alongside the water, the intervening space was only broken by family homes on shallow lots, offering little obstacle to my view. To my left were fields of corn, broken up by the occasional farmhouse complex.
Fifty minutes later, at 13:40, I came to the next town of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu. Here was another quiet, country town, stretched lengthwise along the river. Save for near the town centre, the highway was the town's only street. Across from the stone church at the town centre was a city park with a well-groomed promenade along the river's edge. I stopped to explore this, and then stopped once again at the town pier to explore the gazebo the town had built. I took this rest opportunity to get a look up and down the river with my field glasses.
Just across and slightly downriver was another town, Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu. I could see downriver another ferry plying its regular way back and forth. As I sat and watched, several pleasure boats passed in front of me, heading upriver. Just across from me were a number of houses, including one with an outdoor pool. Even though it was still raining slightly, I could see people having fun in the pool.
Since the gazebo stood out in the open, my view was not obstructed by trees or houses. Looking back westward, I could see how dark and black the sky had become. It was darker than anything I had seen so far that day. In fact, It was the blackest, darkest cloud I could remember seeing in a long time. Had I been cycling, I would not had any clue, for this view would have been behind me. I decided that since I had the shelter of the gazebo, I should patiently wait out the approaching storm.
I grew impatient with the long wait. It would take the storm nearly an hour to reach me. I spent more time examining the river, using my field glasses to watch the passing boats and the swimmers across the water. I took a walk over to the local market and bought myself a bottle of water. At one point, I was ready to give it up. Maybe the storm I was watching was too far away. I saddled up and had ridden about a block down the road when the peal of distant thunder brought me to my senses. I returned to the gazebo and waited.
I could see now that the sky was becoming darker by the minute. It was like late dusk. As I watched a boat head upriver, it seemed to just vanish into the haze. I could see, then, that his grey wall of invisibility was advancing upriver, hiding everything in its path. I noticed that the ferry upriver had stopped running. The lack of familiar noise caused me to look across the river where the people had been in the pool. It was deserted.
The storm finally struck around 14:30-40. I have never experienced a storm of such intensity. I do not know what I would have done had I not had some shelter. As it was, the Gazebo provided little. The wind was so strong I had to hold on for fear of being blown away. If my bike had not been so heavy, I am sure it would have been carried away. The wind drove the rain sideways, right underneath the covering, but I was protected by my rain poncho and by having my back to the direction of the wind.
The far side of the river vanished. I was transfixed by the myriad, moving patterns that the waves of rain made on the surface of the river. For a while, I could hardly even see the river at all. Nearby trees were bent over almost sideways.
As suddenly as it had struck, the rain came to an end. Indeed, for the first time that day, the sun broke through the clouds. I set off down the rain-soaked road, basking in the sunshine and happy not to be wearing my rain poncho for the first time. I continued to be able to watch the dark, black sky as it moved off to the east, however. I passed by the ferry, which had resumed its operations, and by the town of ??, on the opposite bank.
Soon I came to a nicely groomed riverside rest area, where I was able to take a much-needed`rest. I called Sheryl on the cell to report in. It was 15:00.
At 15:20, I came to the dam at Saint-Ours and stopped a few moments to investigate. There was a bridge over the top of the dam, leading to an island amidst the stream. I surmise that there must have been some locks on the far side of the island, but the bridge was barred. (I do not know why, for according to the hours sign posted, it should have been open.) I contented myself with exploring the fish ladder for a few minutes before mounting up and heading on downriver.
The sunny breakthrough was short-lived. Again the sky became covered with grey cloud, but it was much lighter than before and, most importantly, it was not raining.
I came to the town of Saint-Roch-sur-Richelieu at 15:45. This point is the point of the last ferry, over to the town of Saint-Ours on the opposite side. I was tempted to cross over, for I could tell from the map that the road on my side would leave the side the river for some time at this point. I did not cross over, however. After descending the hill to the ferry level, in order to take some photos, I climbed back up and rode through the small town of Saint-Roch. Then I followed the highway as it climbed up out of the valley, at right angles to the river.
Ahead was a distant, tree-covered ridge. I figured the road would lead me at least that far, before I would be able to turn right and continue downriver. Actually, though, my turn-off came much sooner. I knew that I was on the peninsula formed by the angle of the Richelieu and the Saint-Lawrence Rivers and I realized it could not be very wide here, so close to their junction. The option of climbing over the ridge to Route 132 was always there if I wished to go that way. I was pretty disheartened to see how black the sky was beyond the ridge. It was clear that yet another storm cell would pass. The only question was how much time I had. Would I be able to reach shelter beforehand?
The turn-off led me onto an even tinier, narrower road than before. It was clear that few ever bothered to come this way. I passed the last few old and quaint houses of Saint-Roch and then was back out into the countryside. It was not long before I was able to see the river again, which lightened my spirits. I could see a vast campground stretched out along the far shore, climbing up the embankment from the river’s edge to the crest and highway. My road was similarly well above the level of the river, and a slope led down to the narrow floodplain below.
I rode along with on with one eye on the road ahead and one eye on the storm behind me and to the left. Soon the black sky was no longer behind the ridge, but over it. When I crossed the Sorel/Tracy line at 16:25, the black sky was now nearly over me and I could feel the tell-tale gusts of wind that announced the impending thunderstorm. Thunder was could clearly be heard, and close, and I could see flashes of lightning over the ridge to my left. The rain began to fall at 16:40. I had already stopped along the way to prepare myself by re-donning my rain poncho. The pitter-patter of occasional large raindrops quickly grew to a torrent, as the strong wind struck and everything around me turned black as night.
The open countryside ended abruptly at the town line, to be replaced by thick trees with large, upper-crust suburban homes nestled beneath. The country road turned into a city street, complete with curbs. I sought immediate shelter and turned into an empty driveway to find refuge beneath the two-foot awning overhand of a garage door. Since the rain was not coming down straight, but from the direction of the storm, the overhang provided enough cover to keep me dry. A neighbour eyed me warily from his picture window across the street, but did nothing. The storm was not of the intensity of earlier in the afternoon, but it was a healthy thunderstorm. Strong gusts of wind tore at the trees and the rain fell in sheets like billowing theatre curtains. The force of the rain being thrown back up from hitting the pavement in front of me was enough to get me wet.
After fifteen minutes, the main storm had passed. Although it was still raining lightly, I set out along my way at 16:55. Slowly the tree-lined and upscale residential neighbourhood gave way to the built-up section of Tracy. At 17:20, I passed back underneath Highway 30, as its modern span leapt across the Richelieu River, towards Sorel on the far side. I was at the older and more familiar Route 132 bridge ten minutes later, at 17:30.
I stopped to take one quick photo downriver as I crossed the drawbridge, but otherwise did not dally. Reaching the Sorel side, I rode directly down through the old section of town and along the waterfront, arriving at Parc Vue-sur-le-fleuve by 17:40.
Though the rain had had stopped, I still was soaked. I took advantage of the sheltered gazebo to take off my shoes and wring out my sodden socks. Once I had put myself back together, I gave Sheryl her 18:00 check-in call, even though I was a bit early.
I set out eastward at 17:55, knowing that I still had a fair ways to go, for my campground was in Sorel proper but in Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel, some 10km distant. At first, I was able to ride along the shoreline, which was quite pleasant. I feared, though, that the pleasant road I was following would not go through. I worried about reaching a dead-end and having to backtrack. From the address of the campground, I knew it to be along the main highway, which came up the back side of the peninsula was riding out into. My map showed the last clear cutover between the two shores to be ?? Street, so when I reached it I led prudence take over and abandoned the river road. (It turns out that I could have continued, for the two roads did eventually meet. It was the fault of not having dependable local maps!). A few typical suburban blocks brought me to ??, which had all the air and charm of a major highway. I was surprised by the large number of cars racing by, going who knows where, for by the very nature of the peninsula, the highway must eventually be a dead end.
With the address of the campground in my mind, I watched as the numbers changed ever so slowly. I panicked for a moment at one point, for I had passed the number where I thought the campground should have been, and saw nothing. Only upon re-checking the number did I see I had remembered it wrong.
It seemed to take forever to reach my destination, though in fact the time from Sorel would be, in the end, only half an hour. The wind was getting colder and I was wet and tired. I arrived at 18:25. Up ahead I saw what must have be a very busy resort at certain times of the year, though it was fairly quiet now. A footbridge was built up over the highway for pedestrians. To my left opened up a vast complex comprising theatre, restaurant and parking lot, jammed full of cars. There was another fancy resort inn was just next door. It was directly across from these, on my side of the road, that I found the campground, a narrow strip of land that extending far out into the marsh to my right. As I rode in, I spied a small depanneur next door to the entrance.
I turned and rode in along the rain-soaked gravel road, pitted with deep potholes full of water. After several hundred feet of lined with grass on both sides, and backed by a high fence, I came to the gate, set amidst another high fence connecting the two sides. I parked my bike and went into the office, which was staffed by two young girls who did not turn out to be either friendly or helpful. Yes, after some searching, they were able to find my reservation. Yes, they were only about half full, but the only site I could have was in the "open" camping way at the back of the long campground, several hundred metres away.
I rode in along the park road, a gravel way which wound back and forth from one side of the narrow property to the other as it led ever further back into the marsh.. It was some effort to dodge all the potholes. (Coming back late in the evening, with few lights around, would prove even harder!). I passed many empty sites which were quite nice, though wet. I had been told in no uncertain terms, however, that I must search out the location I had been given. When I thought I had gone as far as the road extended, after crossing a small bridge, I finally came to the small expanse of wet grass amidst the marsh on which I was allowed to pitch my tent. There was only one other tent there. Two ladies, also cyclists, were preparing a meal.
I found a place on the highest ground around, near a tree. Bugs were everywhere, so generous dousings of ‘Deep Woods Off’ had to be my first consideration. All the grass was, of course, soaking wet, but I did my best to pitch the tent, blow up my air mattress and put it inside, along with my sleeping bag, and all the while keeping everything dry. It was definitely a crappy site.
As I was completing my set up, the two lady cyclists, who were my only neighbours, came over to chat. Both were from Quebec City, and had come from the opposite direction I was going. They were on their way to Drummondville from Quebec City. After a few minutes of pleasantries, they bid me good night and returned to the supper that was cooking at their campsite.
I was all set up by 18:40 and ready to set out to explore the area. My first stop was the depanneur, where I bought myself some peroxide for the wound I had sustained that morning: I had fallen and hurt myself while going down my very own front steps, and now gash was looking pretty nasty. I decided that washing it out with peroxide a few times would be a good move. I also bought some wine for later.
The only restaurants anywhere nearby were the two fancy restaurants just across the highway. After checking both out, I finally chose "Le Survenant"; it was the one with the largest crowd. The other one looked too much like a suit-and-tie kind of place for my current attire. Attached to the same complex as Le Survenant was a theatre: Theatre le Chenal du Moine. It was for the theatre that most of the parking lot was full. People were lined up to get in and eat before seeing the show, probably as part of some package.
I parked my bike next door, in the small provincial park wedged in between the two resorts. From the bar section of the restaurant, I would have no trouble seeing my bike. The bar also looked pretty empty. Unfortunately, I would find that I had to wait in line before I could get to the head and I could tell them that the bar was fine. Before leaving my bike, and standing outside, I changed into my street clothes: I changed into dry socks and shoes and pulled street shorts and a regular shirt on over my bicycle gear. My bicycle clothes were mostly dry by this time, but not so the socks I had been wearing. I hung those over the fence, assured that no one would steal them.
Waiting my time in line, and getting inside the door just before another little bout of rain, I finally got close enough to the desk to inform them that I did not need a table in the dining room; that I preferred the bar. I was immediately seated by myself at a large table in front of a tall picture window looking out on the channel. I would have a marvelous view of dusk as it came over the water, while I ate. Along with the very scrumptious and full buffet, which filled me completely, I had a couple of beers.
I had gotten to the depanneur by 19:00 and I figure I must have been in line at the restaurant by 19:15. Assuming I was seated by 19:30, and took about half an hour to eat, I would have been back out in the parking lot by 20:00. It was getting quite cool, so I donned my windbreaker.
I spent the next hour and a half exploring my little corner of civilization. I rode around behind the restaurant where there was a breakwater encircling a small marina. I rode out to the end. Across the channel, on a small island, was a small lighthouse. Upriver was a fully-loaded container ship, undergoing some kind of late-night work and brilliantly lit. The small cruise boat that figured in all their publicity was docked nearby. Although it was night, I explored everything through my field glasses.
The show was letting out at 21:30, when I decided to leave, so I rode out of the parking lot along with all the traffic. All was quite well illuminated. Across the road, though, and into my campground, I suddenly found myself pitch-black darkness. Few campfires were still going and the lights on the road were too far apart to cast light where they should. I did my best to peer out in the dark and to avoid potholes, but I hit more than one quite solidly, and with jolting effect.
Eventually I found my way back to my tent. I took a short walk back along the unlit road, up to the distant washroom building, and then settled in at 22:30.Top