The 2nd Trans-America Challenge 2015
7th - 28th June 2015
Day 3 - Edmundston to Quebec City
Last night we finished with torrential rain so whatever happened today was definitely going to be an improvement.
Thus we started this morning in the mist. Low lying cloud rendered the top of the paper mill chimney all but invisible and, as Marco Halter fired up his Ford Falcon with a pistol like shot from the exhaust, and the good folk of Edmundston sought whatever cover they could we started the drive to Quebec and our first rest day.
This was to be a short day and with the lure of a sumptuous hotel at the other end everyone was keen to get moving along the Route de Frontiers an imaginatively named stretch of road because… it runs along the frontier with the USA.
Skirting Lac Baker with its RV campsites and slipways this fast flowing blacktop delivered us to the dirt and our first, indeed only, regularity of the day at Glendyne. A willowy deciduous forest, as dense as anything in the tropics teeming with both bird and insect life gave up around 11km of rolling track where the phrase, 'grinding it out on the gravel’ once again rang true.
Driving through countryside like this is always very special and one sharp eyed rally aficionado commented that this landscape was exactly the same as that used by the 1000 Lakes Rally held in Finnish lakeland where the recently departed Eric Carlsson became the first non Finn to take the honours in 1958 in his Saab 93.
The 2015 Glendyne Regularity had an even more remarkable result though with six crews all achieving a perfect score. Kiang and Kuan Rong Sia in the big Rolls Royce, Michael and Lorna Harrison in the Volvo PV544, Mark and Colin Winkleman in a Porsche 912, Phil Garratt and Kieron Brown in the Triumph Stag, Albrecht and Christine Haase in the Jaguar Mk1 and Marco Halter and Claudia Englehardt in the Ford Falcon.
This means that our overall leader board is unchanged from last night although Phil Garratt and Kieron Brown have slightly extended their lead over Clint and Dawn Smith and Peter and Zoe Lovett.
After the rolling wooded hills we’d become so used to it was something of a surprise to emerge onto a treeless plain alongside the misty St Lawrence River. On the way to the passage control in Kamouraska on highway 132 we saw flat meadows, grain silos and herds of black and white Friesian cows. Just because it was flat and open didn’t mean it was dull though, we swapped dirt for tarmac, tarmac for gravel and dirt back for tarmac as we ploughed on through the Canadian wilderness heading north by north west to the lunch halt in la Roche a Veillon where boiled dinner was the house speciality served by a team of costumed waitresses.
Crews suitably refreshed and, in one case, cars suitably washed we sped towards Levis where a quick ten minute ferry crossing aboard the good ship NM Alphonse-Desjardins, took us from one side of the St Lawrence River to Quebec on the other to the fabulous Chateau Frontenac… our hotel for the next two nights.
Dinner tonight was superb and included a fine selection of fresh salad leading some diners to wisely choose a local speciality, Thousand Island dressing no less, to accompany their meals. Seemingly named because of its origin somewhere within the 1,000 islands of the St Lawrence Estuary this popular, yet slightly unremarkable product could possibly be the most successful export that Quebec has ever produced.
Tomorrow is a well-deserved rest day and there’s plenty to do and see in this charming old city.