As promised, in a prior post (What is Christmas?) here is a summary of our 2014 Christmas adventure.
Since this year’s adventure centered on fun in the snow, we had to head north. Fortunately (as we haven’t had much snow this year in New England), our plans were to go “way north” into Quebec, Canada.
The first stop was lunch in Quebec City at Bistro Sous-Le-Fort where they served venison (deer meat), elk burgers and other foods of the north country. Outstanding food and service. Highly recommended!
Left to right: Ian, Evan, Ethan, Cindy, Aaron and Craig
After lunch we took a short stroll on the cobblestone streets of Old Quebec City and happened upon a group of Christmas Carolers, who were singing beautifully. I wanted to stay and listen longer (than 2 songs), but the boys wouldn’t have it 🙂
After lunch we continued our journey north to Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval to spend the night at the lodge of Nord Expe’, providers of “Authentic Snowmobile Adventures in Canada.” Christel and Pierre (husband and wife, founders of Nord Expe’) were absolutely fantastic hosts! But, we weren’t there just to enjoy the log cabin and fine food they served. We were there for the snowmobile adventure, the following day!
Nord Expe’ did NOT disappoint. We had an amazing trip.
The sled I was using (the one with the lime green skis) was an 800cc crotch-rocket for the snow. I’ve ridden a number of snowmobiles in my life, but I’ve never had an opportunity to ride one of these. Since there were lots of wide open, straight trails, with no other carbon units (people) I was able to get the velocity up to the point at which it felt like the helmet was going to be pulled from my head. I still shudder to think what would have happened if a moose walked out onto the trail ahead of me. We both would probably have evaporated. Well, maybe not the moose…
Fortunately, no-one went off the trail at high speeds. However, we did have one incident…Ethan was playing in the powder on the side of the trail and ended up launching his sled into the woods.
Ethan – 10-12′ below the trail, wondering how he is ever going to get his sled out.
In case you haven’t snowmobiled before, you cannot just pick these things up, turn them around and put them back on the trail. These sleds are heavy and it takes WORK!!!
Our guide, Phillip, had obviously dealt with MUCH worse. He quickly went into action asking Evan to cut down several small trees that were in the path of getting the sled upright again and towed back onto the trail. Within 20 minutes or so we were again on our way with only minor damage to Ethan’s sled.
Our total journey was about 100 miles round trip through absolutely beautiful country. I would definitely do this again. And, Nord Expe’ offers multi-day adventures with the option of staying in lodges, cabins and/or doing some winter camping along the way.
After our day of snowmobiling we headed to Mont-Sante-Anne ski resort, in Beaupre’ Quebec. During the first day we skied in the rain. Thankfully, the resort provided ponchos to slow down the saturation factor. Pictured below are 3 of the boys (Ethan, Evan in the back and Aaron).
The final day was bright and sunny. Below is a picture of the boys as we were in the gondola on our way to the summit.
What is really neat about this mountain (and area) is that it is far enough north to sustain snow on the south side of the mountain as well as the north. So, once you are at the summit you have MANY options in terms of trails to ski.
In addition to the great skiing, the resort offers several eating establishments. The one we frequented the most was Le Brez, which offered a number of unique dinners. The most memorable left a scar…The boys hadn’t previously experienced a meal cooked fondue-style. So, we went for it. After cooking my first piece of seafood I was quickly reminded – DON’T EAT OFF THE FONDUE STICK! It was so hot that it seared my bottom lip. As a result, great laughter was had by all, at my expense 🙂
If you weren’t aware, Quebec is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population. While that may be the case, the good news is that of the people we interacted with, only a few spoke zero English. Even so, out of respect, one should always try to speak some basic words and phrases in the local language. So, a few that came in handy for me were:
- Bonjour – Good day! Or, Hello!
- Joyeux Noel – Merry Christmas
- Parlez-vous Anglais – Do you speak English?
- Oui – Yes!
- Non – No!
- Merci Beaucoup – Thank you very much!
- Non merci – No thank you
- Tres bon – Very good!
- Fini – Finished
- Au revoir – Bye
That’s about all I’ve got. I should have paid more attention during French class in High School.
I found that in making an attempt at the language locals were more than happy to speak to us in (often) broken English.
After a very enjoyable stay in Canada it was now time to return home…
Once we completed our final stop for lunch in Canada, prior to the border crossing, we started up the Suburban to begin our last leg of the trip. On pulling out of our parking spot we heard an awful grinding sound coming from the front left wheel. Uh-oh…Not now. Now here…
I jumped out, visually inspected the situation and saw nothing out of sorts, being the master mechanic that I am (NOT).
We decided to press on. Things were good so long as we went in a straight line. However, whenever we turned (mostly rights) the grinding sound would occur. The goal: make it back to the states before the truck dies. Not only did we make it to the Vermont border without incident (other than the grinding noise) we made it all the way home. Needless to say, I was on extra high alert during the final 4.5 hours of drive time. The truck is now in the shop.
In closing, we are so thankful to have been able to spend this quality time together enjoying beautiful scenery, exhilarating experiences with no-one getting hurt, and that we made it home without breaking down in the woods of Canada, Vermont or northern New Hampshire.
May you have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
You can fill up your memory jar pretty quick with vacations like this. Those young men will remember these outings for the rest of their lives, and probably treat their own to the same thrills. By the way, you and your bros are pretty good writers.