Where is your gun?
Written by Trae
Leaving Maine was a rainy, cold, but beautiful drive through thick woods. Plenty of signs indicated that we were in moose territory, so we kept our eyes peeled for any that may have been wandering near the roadside. With no moose in sight, we finally arrived at the Canadian border for Quebec. We were worried they were going to have a problem with our dog’s shot records, or the alcohol we had in the trailer, but no problems with anything like that. Instead, the border patrol officer checked our licenses, asked some basic questions regarding our occupations, and then asked, “where is your gun?” Thinking I misheard him with his French Canadian accent, I replied, “oh uhh… we have a dog – he’s in the back”. “No, Where is your gun?” the officer repeated. I answered, “I’m sorry sir – we don’t have a gun”. He shot back with “You’re from North Carolina and you don’t have a gun?” – followed by a chuckle. Nice joke.
Entering Quebec was a culture shock – we both had travelled in Canada before and knew that French and English were both official languages of the country. We knew Quebec was a francophone territory, and Jamie was even excited about the opportunity to draw upon her high school French education, but both of us naively assumed that all major road signs and stores would use both French and English. With only our satellite GPS at our disposal, we were able to navigate to Camping Juneau Chalets, an RV park just outside Quebec City and [minimally] communicate with the attendant at the front counter. What initially looked like a nice park with WiFi at each spot turned out to be more of a trailer park with unpaved, muddy roads and tightly-packed spots. It looked to still be under construction and not suitable for guests yet, which was confirmed later when I used the urinal and everything splattered onto the floor below due to the absence of plumbing…
When we opened the door to the trailer, we found Bob’s floor sopping wet with water trails leading straight to the wheel wells. This time it was more than just something we could let air dry and solve after dinner. We cleaned up what we could and tried to connect to the WiFi – no dice. To say that we were discouraged is a huge understatement. We were cold, wet and tired, in a foreign country, with no internet to figure out our next steps, and a limited ability to communicate with the people around us. We knew we needed to get some sort of internet connectivity to search for a hardware store and some food. As we drove down the street, we didn’t recognize any of the places we passed – were they stores? Restaurants? Did any of them have public WiFi? – and then, in the distance, we spotted the international sign of safe haven…The Golden Arches!
We walked in, slowly ordered a large cola and large fries, ended up with a small water and small fries…and free WiFi! We googled a Home Depot nearby (to buy some fans to dry out the trailer) and found a sushi restaurant for dinner! It was incredible how a little bit of success turned our night around. By the end of the night, our stomachs were filled and our trailer was drying out, so we hit the sack.
The following morning we found a Starbucks (another international sign of safe haven!), ordered coffee and breakfast [in French!], and used their WiFi to plan out our day in Quebec City. With the previous day’s ordeal still fresh in our minds, we began to rethink our original plans to stay in Canada for a week. The language barrier could be managed, but we just couldn’t shake the feeling of being so unexpectedly disconnected with no cell phones and not much public WiFi. We decided to head towards the city center, play out the day and see what our feelings would be later.
One of the main reasons why we came to Quebec City was to explore Old Quebec, the original walled-portion of the city that is lined with cobblestone streets and old buildings, some dating back to the early 1600s. As my history-nerd wife would tell you – North America has 3 historic walled cities (north of Mexico): St Augustine, FL (the Spanish colonial settlement), Charleston, SC (the English colonial settlement), and Quebec City (the French colonial settlement, and the only one with walls still standing). We have already travelled to St. Augustine and Charleston, so Quebec City was an obvious next on our list. The stresses of the previous day seemed to fade a bit as we strolled along the charming streets of Old Quebec. Some say it’s a little slice of Europe here in North America, and we would agree – similar beauty and charm. After walking around the Citadel de Québec and hitting up a few shops, we decided to grab some lunch and a couple La Fin du Mondes at a little pub called D’Orsay. After a delicious meal and more discussion about whether to head back stateside, we returned to our car to find a lovely $70 parking ticket (all in French), which seemed to us to be a sign that our time in Quebec needed to come to an end 🙂
We headed back to our trailer, hitched everything up, and as snow began to flurry down on us, we pulled away from our [trailer park] rv site and bee-lined for the Vermont border. Quebec City was beautiful, and all our previous Canadian travels have been amazing, but between a flooded trailer, language barriers, limited WiFi, missing plumbing and French parking tickets – we were done. Peace out, Quebec!
Trae and Jamie