The night is windy and rainy and there are loud thumping noises as if something is trying to break in through the roof. Are these the bears of which we have been warned or just very heavy chipmunks? It turns out that this is merely innocuous and very light pine cones falling on the roof from the tree under which we are parked.
We attempt to set the Sat-nav for our destination. Hiring the sat-nav was a very wise move. Despite my using half a tree to print off Google maps before we came, without it we would still be somewhere in Toronto. I attempt to set the sat-nav for today’s destination. The sat-nav doesn’t recognise it. Aware that we are entering French speaking Canada and the destination is Trois Rivieres, I wonder if perhaps the sat-nav is not biligual. Even my limited French can cope with Trois Rivieres but the sat-nav doesn’t recognise Three Rivers either. I try several other things including Québec with no success. Surely we don’t have an Ontario only sat-nav. After much fiddling we discover that each province has to be set separately and we are off.
The disadvantage of the sat-nav is that it takes you along the direct route and we are yet to find the ‘avoid highways’ or ‘seek alternative route’ function. My lovely maps had opted for slightly less main roads but we fail to find these. This means that we spend the day on the not especially inspiring and monotonous road 417. This despite being Sunday, gets very busy as we get to Montreal. This journey is turning into the equivalent of one long high-adrenaline theme park ride. Did I say I don’t like theme parks? My stress levels are not reduced by two cars directly in front of us crashing into each other. Miraculously, despite bits flying off in all directions they career blithely onwards and Chris slows down in time, as does the vehicle behind us, so we emerge physically unscathed, if slightly un-nerved.
We are now in to our second Canadian province – Québec. Although we pronounce it Qwebec, it seems we should be saying Keybec instead. I had expected road signs to be in both French and English, a little like Wales but no; French alone. I just about know my droit from my gauche so can cope with most of these, including the ones that tell us we are going to die if we don’t rest. That is as maybe but stopping on Canadian roads does not seem to be an option. Even the slightly less busy sections don’t have lay-bys. There is also a distinct lack of garages and shops. We do eventually find the former and refuel. We press on to Lac St-Michel Campsite, where we opt for the pitch of the receptionist’s choice. This is not the most inspiring and today’s unwelcome wildlife is a plague of flies but we are close enough to the site office to intermittently pick up the free wifi, which is normally only accessible from the public buildings, from the van. It does keep dropping out which is frustrating but its occasional presence may be the highlight of today. We wander to the bottom of the site to look at one of the three rivers (Riviere Saint-Maurice) and then call it a day. I use the sporadic internet access to try to work out how we can continue east on anything except the Trans-Canadian Highway, of which I have already had more than enough.