We started our day by taking advantage of the KOA’s hot showers and were on the road by 8 AM. Though we started the journey in Canada, it was not until we crossed the border from Ontario into Québec that we really felt like we were in a foreign country.
Québec is the only province in Canada where French is the official language. Thus, nearly all of the signs — both government and private party — are in French. Also, all the face-to-face interactions begin in French and then quickly revert to English if you can’t keep up. It was jarring. Although we both knew Québec was home to many French-Canadians, we weren’t quite prepared for just how French-Canadian it would be. Definitely quite the experience.
We made our way into Montreal and headed for the Old Port. We found parking along a marina that, for some reason, doubled as a beach right along the river. No joke, it was outfitted complete with sand, beach chairs, and permanent umbrellas. Good on you, Canada. Good on you.
After taking in that unique site, we ascended a large clock tower that seemed like it would give us the perfect vantage point to scope our the next few hours’ adventure.
From there, we had commanding views of both the city to the west and the St. Lawrence River to the north, east, and south.
Once back down, we continued to check out the Old Port area which is currently in the process of extensive renovation and construction. One such project is a London Eye-styled ferris wheel that was not quite open but looks like it will become quite the feature attraction along the waterfront.
We then made our way inland a bit and were pleased to discover “Old Montreal.” We had no plans for our stop to the city, and were only utilizing our trusty Rand McNally Atlas for clues on tourist hot spots, so stumbling upon this gem of an area was a welcomed stroke of luck.
We enjoyed these cobblestone streets for blocks and blocks, but then made our way back toward Bullseye as the specter of a long afternoon of driving loomed. With this self-directed tour, we were happy to find so many gorgeous buildings.
We soon decided hydration would be good and so snagged an outside seat at Pub Brewsky for some prime people-watching. We managed to accidentally order the two house-brews — one, a Coffee Stout and the other, an IPA.
After refreshing our directions with the widely available free wi-fi (thanks, City of Montreal), we were back on the road to Maine. After Montreal, we stayed south and travelled through the countryside just north of Vermont and New Hampshire before reentering the U.S. in Coburn Gore, ME.
With no set campsite or destination for the night, our planning gears went into overdrive. The original plan was to stop at Baxter State Park and hike Mount Katahdin — the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and the highest point in the state — but time was just not on our side for getting there and setting up, then being prepared for a full day’s hike and still making our way to Bar Harbor all in one day. So, we called an audible and decided to drive right to Mount Desert Island (home to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor).
A flurry of phone calls later, we got ourselves a site and coordinated for late check in. That flexibility allowed us to visit the nearby grocer for our last supply stop without stress. Once reloaded, we made the short half-hour drive to our site, made dinner, and enjoyed a late-night fire under the stars.
It is our friend Mike’s birthday tomorrow (8/10), so we continued a tradition of marking a log for him and were off to bed. Tomorrow, we explore!
Mallorytown, ON to Somesville, ME (via Montreal) – 475 miles (9 hours)
-Ally and Patrick