Glen Sutton August 11

Good morning on the last full day of our adventure. Even for such a short outing, there’s definitely a tinge of sadness that it will all be changing soon. So that explains the photo above: it’s the group gathering for the map and instructions for our last ride. One member of the group, Siobhan, had left suddenly last night because of a family emergency, and that also made our time together seem more tenuous. So I took another photo of the grounds of the Lodge:P1020266

Elaine and I had discussed the possibility of pancakes or waffles for breakfast, something that could be prepared in quantity, in advance. But when I wandered into the kitchen, lo! Deby announced that these were “egg nests”–bread, salsa, egg, and cheese, baked. They were adorable, and she explained we could each only start with one. There was some etiquette confusion if they were finger food, or eaten with a fork and knife, but they were delicious in any fashion. Well fortified, we headed out.P1020265

Because of the heat and humidity (around 90F, I’m told) the route chosen was shorter and easier than initially planned. yes! We were driven out to what’s on our map as “the summit of Route 105,” told to check our brakes, stay away from the shoulder of the road, get downhill and gather at the base of the hill. And off we went. It was glorious and gorgeous. I was about fourth in the pack. I was passed by a huge truck, also heading downhill at an impressive speed, and it was a bit of a struggle to maintain my balance in the backdraft of the truck. I continued, and saw a body crumpled by the road alongside a bike, with someone else crouched nearby. It was Jurn, injured, and Delia who stopped to assist. We decided I would continue downhill and warn Jean at the base so he could notify the others. I’m not sure what all happened, but Jurn was whisked away to receive medical attention, and we, slightly shaken, continued on our route. We all rendezvoused in Troy at the Troy General Store. There we were delighted by an incredible series of wood carvings, which we ALL photographed. Here are the ones I took:

The third photo, the carving of the little bear trying to ease down the steep slope reminded me of my cat Bubba, who often seems more ursine than feline. So we used the bathroom and headed out again. We then stopped to regroup on a quiet street and were greeted by the resident and his elderly dog. The dog was quite pleased with all the attention–it was probably the most excitement he’d had all week. The doggy seemed especially pleased when Ryan took photos of him. I found a weathered old barn to photograph:P1020274

Notice the cheerful, modern-looking weather vane, featuring a horse, on top.

We then pedaled on, and were solemnly promised that there were just three more rolling hills, some flatlands, a downhill, and we would soon be at Paddie’s Snack Bar, a very funky and fun little establishment that had an amazing selection of foods on the menu. I only had a lemonade, but Mike thought the lobster roll was outstanding, and David enjoyed his ice cream. Sorry there’s no photo. At Paddie’s we were told Jurn was still at the hospital, but would be released soon, and we could either 1.) be driven to the Louis Garneau outlet store for a little light shopping, and either a.) be driven from there to the Lodge; or b.) be driven back to Paddie’s to collect bicycles and pedal to the Lodge; or 2.) pedal home and skip the shopping. Only a few chose that option, and left with Jean.

The outlet store was very interesting, though since I don’t wear ski or bicycling gear, I only found a pair of cycling gloves for me. It was fun to look at all the offerings. While we were shopping, Joy went to the hospital and picked up Jurn, then left him at the pharmacy while she collected the shoppers, then back to the pharmacy for Jurn. Jurn’s first remark was that he regretted it wasn’t Hallowe’en, as he wouldn’t need a mask at all to be scary. It was a rather solemn trip back to the Lodge, and the border agent, after taking one look at Jurn, sent us on our way.

So now we’re back, starting to pack, thinking about dinner and the concert, and realizing what a magical week it’s been. There’s even rain predicted for tomorrow. Stay tuned. For our entertainment, here’s the last obligatory photo of cattle:P1020275

Before dinner, we gathered in the lounge for what we hoped what a new tradition. People contributed wedges of cheese they had acquired during the visit, Stephen had picked up some delicious crackers, and folks brought bottles of wine, so we had appetizers while watching the Olympics and chatting. It was a very nice start to the evening.

The last dinner was as spectacular as ever. We started with a big green salad, with all sorts of interesting bits and a very delicious dressing. We were then served big bowls of spaghetti, with a dollop of pesto. Perhaps it was the anticipation of dessert, or the fewer number of miles cycled, but it was the first time I couldn’t quite finish my dinner.

I had seen the desserts being made, and was beside myself with anticipation.  They were these little chocolate pastry pillows, and when you broke one open, molten chocolate oozed out. These little treasures were served with some more delicious thimble-berries, dusted with powdered sugar and adorned with a sprig of mint. . Here’s a photo, and here’s some of the group at the table.

After dinner, Ryan asked me if he could do a video interview with me for Road Scholar. He had interviewed several other bicyclists, and explained the interviews would be edited and put on the Road Scholar site for this ride, so possible participants could hear what folks thought of it. Of course I agreed, and Ryan and I had a chat about the trip, and Road Scholar, and what I thought of things. It was a lot of fun, and good for me to verbalize my impressions (so I could use them in the blog.)

The cheese and crackers and dinner prep made things a little late, but we headed off, on foot, for the 8:00 PM concert. Here was the first indication that this would be a magical evening:P1020280

The concert venue, just a few minutes from the Lodge, had begun life in 1877 as a church, and was a working Anglican church until 1999, when it was sold to a famous music conductor. I think he stayed part of the time in the house by the church, and put on wonderful concerts for the neighborhood. The woodwork in the little church is just exquisite, and the acoustics are perfect. It was such a wonderful space to be in.

Maude Blondin Benoit works in the Lodge kitchen–I had been admiring her apron with the hilarious drawing of cats on it, but she vanished before I could compliment her on it. She had gone to open the church for us, and was the featured performer. Maude gave us the history of the church, and told the story of how she became a musician. It was lovely, though I couldn’t wait to hear her sing. She invited the audience to join her in singing, or just hum along. I think her first selection was Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and we all joined in on the chorus. It was just enchanting, and Joy and I agreed the next morning the whole concert was “magical.” There’s no other way to describe it. Maude performed some excerpts from “The Sound of Music” which was instrumental in her decision to be a performer, some opera pieces, some popular songs. They were all delightful. I’m sorry the photo I have of her is out of focus. Maybe it’s the aura of the music swirling around her.P1020283

Our next treat was a pianist, Ginette St. Andre, whom we all knew as another cook in the kitchen at the Lodge, and I found always so sweet and helpful when I had questions. Ginette performed a couple pieces by, I think, Borodin, then some Gershwin pieces that just about brought the house down. I think if we hadn’t been so tired we would have been dancing in the aisles. P1020284

Then there was a surprise artist. Somehow the rumor got around that Ryan, in addition to his other talents, had worked as a jazz pianist, so he was persuaded to sit at the big grand piano, protesting that he wouldn’t sound as good as Ginette. But he was very, very good. I’m not a jazz fan, but what he played was so sophisticated, so perfectly arranged, so tuneful that we were all dazzled. I think standing ovations were involved.

P1020286

After he played a couple pieces, the party started to break up, and I asked if I could try the piano. Maude invited me to sit, and I played a couple of my folk tune riffs. The piano was great, though a mosquito kept trying to bite my hands during the first song. My second selection was “Greensleeves” and Maude, in a haunting soprano, vocalized the melody as I played. It was a wonderful duet. Then Maude played one more piece, and Ryan sat down and played John Lennon’s “Imagine.” He couldn’t have picked a better song to end with. The arrangement was perfect, and all of us Baby Boomers knew all the words of hope, and love, and caring. It was exactly where our hearts were. And my last photo, of Lisa and Mike, shows just that.P1020287

By Friday morning, we were packed, a few folks had departed, and there was the bittersweet feeling of a special time coming to an end. As I brought my laptop from the chalet to the porch, I could feel the first rain drops. It increased to a heavy shower, and there was a distant rumble of thunder, and the internet went out. That was a fitting end.

We had one more yummy breakfast, and as Stephen drove us to the airport on the back roads, he pointed out various sites and locations that figured in Louise Penny’s books. That provided like an excellent excuse to come back. I hope to do that. Good bye.

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One Response

  1. Zecca – This is a lovely summary of our Quebec cycling adventure! Thank you for your lyrical prose, careful descriptions, and beautiful photos. (And thank you for not commenting about my over-packing!)

    My fears about sharing a room with a stranger were unfounded; you were an absolutely delightful roommate.

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