Escape from Degelis

Degelis, Quebec, Quebec - Saturday, January 18th, 2014

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Usually you don’t leave your home base because the weather’s too good, but that was the case yesterday as we decided to go in search of winter. All of our snow was melted by the torrential rains of the past few days. The temperatures were close to record breaking, but there wasn’t much you could do outside because it was so muddy. For years we have spent a week in Quebec where they always seem to have a real winter and know how to enjoy it. So, on a whim we packed our cross country gear and headed out with no destination in mind; maybe Quebec City if the driving was good, Riviere du Loup in the worst case scenario.

The driving was good all the way to the New Brunswick border and from there through to Quebec. We were listening to Pat Conroy’s The River is Wide which was his first foray into writing and describes his experience as a young teacher trying to use outside the box teaching methods to help the desperately poor and illiterate black children of Dafuskie Island, South Carolina. It is an excellent book which was made into the movie Conrack with Jon Voight, in the days when he could act.

We hit the Quebec border in time to think about Quebec City, but about 18 kms. in at Degelis there was a flashing sign ‘Congestion” and soon we came to a dead halt and the traffic was stopped as far as we could see ahead. It was a divided highway and things were moving normally on the eastbound lanes. On our side all the traffic had stopped in the right hand lane. After 15 minutes with nothing happening cars started to turn around and drive down the left hand lane to a lane that connected both sides. It had the usual “Official Use Only” sign (in French), but that didn’t stop me from following a guy with Quebec plates who I assumed knew a way around this mess. We turned off at the first turn and I drove through the town and followed the old road until I thought I probably was past the log jam. I made a turn that put me back on the Trans-Canada exactly at the end of the line. Idiot that I was, I thought “No problem, just make the U-Turn again and go farther on the old road”.  Only problem as that the ever helpful Surete du Quebec had cottoned on to the trick and were blocking the turn around. Apparently it was illegal to try to avoid a traffic jam in Quebec.

By some small miracle the traffic started moving and I just got past the turnaround when it stopped again. After another fifteen minutes people started driving up the left hand lane which offended the peace officer more than trying to turn around as he left his post and went after the few who had strayed out of line. This attempt to get ahead also pissed off one of the dozens of stalled truckers who pulled over and blocked the left lane. This was starting to remind of the mayhem on the blocked interstate in The Walking Dead. There were cars coming up the left lane and in about 10 seconds I would be completely boxed. I shot into reverse, drove the wrong way down the left lane squeezing by the on coming vehicles and made it to the turn around. By now it was getting dark and all thoughts of continuing on were abandoned.

We headed back to New Brunswick and the Auberge du Jardins which we have stayed in numerous times and knew it to have a very good restaurant and decent accommodations.  In a few minutes we were ensconced in a warm room and looking forward to the signature escargot appetizer.

This morning we’ll try again.

  • Driving

The Maritime Explorer Score:
“A big tall glass of nope.”


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