Friday, July 4, 2008

Canada Days (Pt. 3) (The Final Chapter)

We set out on a road trip to Tadoussac, to see if we could get a spot on a whale watch boat.

It was another trip with nervous butterflies in my stomach, because now we were going to go out on the water and look for whales, which is what I did every day for two weeks when I was last here fifteen years ago. This time, I was not so much worried that the trip would live up to my memory, because one 3-hour trip couldn't compare to two weeks of being on the water all day. This time, I was worried about making a fool of myself. Fifteen years ago, I was planning to become a whale researcher. I learned many skills that I thought were just the beginning. But not long after, I made some decisions to go a different direction. I went into education, and then having a family, and now here I was, fifteen years later: a tourist instead of a scientist.

I don't regret the direction I ended up choosing (too much), but I really wanted to still be good at the whale stuff! So I was worried that day about whether I would look like I knew what I was doing as I got in the zodiac, rode the rough waters, and watched for the whales surfacing. I'm a person who chose not to go into whale science (at least so far), but who really could have, not someone who was never cut out for it in the first place; that self-image is important to me.

Despite my anxiety, the drive was pretty. We took in the scenery along the way, and although the morning was cloudy (even on the ferry across the Saguenay fjord into Tadoussac), when we made our way down to the dock the sun was shining. We got spots on a 12-passenger zodiac for a 3-hour whale watch trip and decided to find some lunch before we had to be back at the dock.

The sun was out and it was lovely, and we sat on an outdoor patio and ordered some lunch. I had no appetite, but knew that I needed to eat something and drink some water before I went out on the water for three hours. As I shoo-ed bug after bug away from my face, I made myself eat and drink a little.

I visited the rest room at the end of our lunch time, since my nervous stomach had moved southward a little (that's me trying to talk about it delicately), and since I also wanted to tie my hair back before going out on the boat. As I looked in the mirror to do my hair, I noticed three drops of blood on my neck. Great, I'm not feeling that great due to nerves, and now I'm bleeding too. Apparently some bug(s) had bitten me during lunch. Super.

We walked down to the dock and suited up in gear similar to what we all wore fifteen years ago:

Looks a little big on me! It felt alright, though.

Our guide told us that the morning's cruise had been very cloudy, and now that the sun was out the visibility should be better. However, the ride would be rougher (very bumpy, like lift you off your seat bumpy). This took me back! We sure bounced around fifteen years ago!

I stepped into the zodiac just fine, and found my seat at the front. Soon we were on our way out of the harbor, and then kicking up to a higher speed to bounce along the waves toward the open river. It only took me a minute to remember how to ride with the boat, and oh, it felt good to be back. I love being on boats; my body quickly relaxed and I felt better than I had all day. Really, it just felt RIGHT.

As soon as we got out of the harbor, we hit the cloud bank (and never saw the sun again that day). The temperature dropped and we were cold! But we did see some minke whales and a small pod of beluga (I estimated 3 adults and 2 juveniles). We had decided to focus on experiencing it rather than photographing it, but we did get a couple of shots.

That last one was in the Saguenay fjord. This whale was circling under the surface, rounding up fish into a clump and then surfacing through them to feed on them. A few times, he came up sideways (minkes like to do that) and we saw his belly and pectoral fin. Fantastic!

We also took in some scenery in the fjord, which I never did fifteen years ago, since our camp and dock was 15 miles away from Tadoussac in Grandes Bergeronnes.

The last portion of our ride was ridiculously cold, with a light rain pelting us in the face. Nonetheless, I faced into the wind and enjoyed the ride. (I am something like a dog hanging his head out a car window when I'm on a boat, I guess, since The Hubby had long ago turned his back to the wind out of sheer discomfort and couldn't believe I was still riding that way!) Also, I really had to pee. When we got off the boat, and got out of our gear, I could hardly walk up the hill to find a restroom. Luckily, we did find one in the Interpretation Center. Seriously, it was painful. Nice.

But soon, I felt much better and we warmed up a little while finding souvenirs for the kids. As an example, the girls got cute T-shirts with drawings of beluga behaviors labeled in French!

It was a good day (except for the bladder issue)! I felt so good out on the water, and was so glad that I still enjoyed it after all these years, and had even retained some of my knowledge of whale behavior. I was happy.

We drove back to Quebec City and had a nice evening walk, and then the next morning headed out of the city, stopping by Ile d'Orleans. The island has been settled since 1535, and is an agricultural center but has retained many of the older farming techniques.

We then went back to Montreal, and hiked up to Parc du Mont-Royal to see the view at Kondiaronk Belvedere and the Chalet du Mont Royal. Hubby and I travel well together, but neither of us knew where we were going as we were hiking, hiking, hiking up, up, up through the trees on a trail in the park, and we sure did bicker at each other. I let off some travel-fatigue steam at him, I'm not proud to say.

We eventually found the Chalet, and saw this sight, which cheered us up fast!

During the rest of our final evening, we walked around a bit in the Underground City, but my body was so tired that it wouldn't let me go on any further. Shower and bed were all it would allow, and then we woke up in the morning to the quiet of St-Jean day. The Hubby went out to that yummy bakery and got me a last cinnamon roll, and then it was off to the airport.

It was a full day of plane travel (which I really don't mind when we're without kids - sitting and reading or doing crosswords for a few hours is actually kind of a gift!), and then we walked in our front door and were greeted by our children running at us and tackling us with hugs. Middle Girl cried with joy ("I'm so happy I'm crying!") and wouldn't let go of me, so I carried her around for a while. Big Girl and The Boy were full of smiles and giggles at seeing their long-lost parents! It was great to see their sweet faces again!

1 comment:

Guillaume said...

Nice, you saw my region (Saguenay), my favorite city (Montreal) and the (probably) most beautiful city in the world (Quebec City). It's ncie to read your blog entries and see the pictures, I miss Quebec quite a lot. Interesting to see it from a foreign perspective as well. I have been to tadoussac a couple of times during the Summer holidays, it's absolutely gorgeous.