We spent a month in Canada, travelling across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. Initially we wanted to go all the way to Churchill, Manitoba to catch some polar bears -well you know, not really CATCH them but to see some crossing town (apparently there could be 900 bears crossing in one season) but half way in Quebec we realised how much we underestimated the weather which started to wear us and Burt out a bit.
We camped in wonderful snowy forests listening to wolves howling, dramatic windy deserted beaches, by frozen fishing lakes, amongst Buddhist monks in the Highlands of Cape Breton and occasionally in some friendly Hotels’ car park.
One of our favourite places was Chibougamau (what a great name!) A small town with full of friendly and very helpful people and surrounded by nature, lush forest and fishing lakes. It was pretty town but nothing particular though it had a very good vibe which we loved.
We made our way up to the end of the James Bay highway in QC. The very last town one can reach over land was Radisson. We were driving for hours and hours on Christmas eve and it was starting to get dark -very fast. We arrived in Radisson in the pitch dark -though not very late. We thought it might well be our loneliest Christmas. The only place we found open was a motel with a bar and and a restaurant attached to it. The usual routine, I jumped out of the cab and asked the guy at the reception if we could park up at their back car park. The friendly man said yes and didn’t want any money. After parking up and setting up for the night we decided to have a drink at the bar -after all it’s Christmas! As we walked in all four people and the barmaid smiled and greeted us with a big cheer. One of the guys at the bar was the owner of the motel-bar-restaurant “complex”. His name was Michel and being a French-Canadian he had a sophisticated taste for fine wine, good food and high class vehicles. He welcomed us warmly and after a couple of hours chat he insisted to dine with him. He offered to guide us around Radisson the following day and drive us to the huge hydro complex which was fascinating. We ended up hanging out with Michel for 5 days who was tirelessly driving us around cooking us dinner and generally made us feeling home in “his” town. It was, in some respect, one of the best Christmases we had. Eventually we said our goodbyes to Michel and Radisson and made our way south.
It was solid -25C for the past 5 days (even colder during the nights) so we had a bit of a struggle starting up Burt -used our magic Ether that John just calls “throwing a grenade in to the engine”. But we had no choice. Burt started and after 20 minutes warm-up off we went.
Spent the next few days driving south. This was the time when we changed plans and decided to keep going south to reach warmer weather.
We crossed the border from Thunder Bay, Ontario to Minnesota by Lake Superior and just about escape jail for trying to smuggle avocados in! Phew. We were now in the USA and looked forward to driving across this part of the country.