blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wednesday, into Quebec

August 8th

Lifting off from Charlo we struck out across the Baie des Chaleurs, IFR but in good visibility, climbing to cross the hills on the Quebec side and eventually "maintaining 6000" feet ASL, which gave us a good vantage point for spotting the towering cumulus ahead. Even in the morning the bigger clouds appeared to be building quite rapidly above the Gaspésie once we had left the coast. We requested a detour around one cloud before returning on course which took us straight towards another, that we penetrated. We reckoned it was towering to 20,000' at most, not really dangerous yet; despite definite turbulence as we entered and left the cloud it didn't seem too drastic in the middle, just very wet––heavy rain washed our windscreen clean; it needed that. Beyond this encounter with "active weather" we could see our way to the coast, i.e. the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

A twin-prop Navajo ahead of us cancelled IFR to allow us to do a long RNAV approach over the water, partly covered in a thin low layer of mist, to Mont Joli (CYYY). We know this airport but hadn't approached it like this before, flying a 12 mile final quite low over the sea! This airport is much livelier than the one at Charlo, advertising chartered flights to the Ile d'Anticosti: rich people fly there, willing to pay $4000 for their hunting and fishing experience. Another vehicle that stops at Mt. Joli airport is the courtesy shuttle bus from the Motel Gaspésiana by the shore at Ste. Flavie down the hill. This institution takes pride in the service it provides, so we were willing to order our lunch at their restaurant with its view of the rocky beach (tide out). The tables were stylishly laid, the waitresses looked smart in their navy blue uniforms and freshly caught cod was on the menu.

Before going back up the hill to our 'plane we decided to take a walk along the road (Rte 132) to see Le Grand Rassemblement again, Marcel Gagnon's concrete figures emerging from the sea and clustering together by his house, the Centre d'Art that I've mentioned before in this blog, where we stayed in 2009. There they were again, none of them submerged because of the low tide and some with seaweed for hair, this year. There were extra ones on tethered rafts, and when we turned away and returned up the road to the airport we passed another Gagnon creation, a flock of concrete sheep with their shepherd on the grassy slope by the Mont Joli Motel.

This time round we chose not to stay in Ste. Flavie but to fly on to Rimouski, taking the precaution of booking a room at the Comfort Inn before setting off. It was the high season. We feared we'd be too far from the centre, around the Institut Maritime, but we found we could walk there in less than an hour, along the Promenade de la Mer. Rimouski is a cultured town and a chamber music festival was going on in the area: the Concerts aux Iles du Bic, now in its 11th season. If we'd known about this beforehand we might have planned our summer trip differently! Unfortunately most of the concerts were happening in country churches at some distance, e.g. in St.-Fabien-sur-mer. The Bic islands are in an area of outstanding natural beauty, but we'd have needed more time and preparation to get there and back from Rimouski ... or perhaps not! I have just discovered from the website that a festi-bus shuttle could have served our purpose: how frustrating to find that out too late. Anyhow, we did catch part of a free, outdoor concert that was taking place in the central gardens of Rimouski's Place Publique, hearing two young performers, David Stylenko, on saxophone and Olivier Tremblay-Noël, on the marimba. I haven't been able to discover who composed their duet for "anche et baguettes" (reed and sticks) but it was French-style music of very good quality. Lots of people were sitting on the grass listening carefully.

We had a panini at Tim Horton's, a walk down the Boulevard where the shops are, including a good French bookshop that stays open 12 hours a day in the summer season, and wandered back to the Promenade just before high tide. If you scroll down to the bottom of this page (or read the French version) you'll find some information about the Tide Tower. We climbed onto the lookout to see the view and while we were up there heard the signal announcing the turn of the tide––la pause entre le flot et le jusant. An elderly gentleman sitting on the bench up there told me that, and kept talking to me when not reading his book (marking it with a pencil from time to time). He comes up to sit there every evening. He said he was born in Rimouski but had left the town for 43 years until he came back six years ago. He had missed the sunsets.

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