Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Peninsula

Ladies and gentlemen, I have finally returned from my trip to The Gaspé Peninsula, in very eastern Québec. We occupied 11/12 rooms at a seaside motel [see: Hotel-Motel, whatever that means. Silly French people.] in the lovely town of Mont Saint Pierre. The town of 243 was rocked to its very core... our group increased its population by over 1% for 6 days. Go us!

I'm about to go all Geography on your ass, but there will be a slideshow at the bottom. You can choose how fast the pictures move. There are some really nice pictures, and some silly ones. But the landscape was BEAUTIFUL. Now, Mont Saint Pierre is basically in the shape of a U with the main road along the water, and two side roads sticking out from each side. It is tucked lovingly between two mountains. One is Mont Saint Pierre [the mountain, not the town] and the other is unimportant. The town is settled in an ancient fjord. I tell you this, because Geographers love to say things like fjord and archipelego. Try it. I know you'll like it. When stepping outside the hotel-motel room door, you got an amazing view of the "sea" which I don't really know if its considered the sea or still the St. Lawrence River, but you couldn't see across it so who knows.

Day 1
- In my infinite wisdom at 7:30am I tried to pry a closing bus door open. It continue to close, and I bent back 3 fingernails. Ouch. For good measure, I gave the bus the finger. That'll teach it!
- 13 hour drive from Ottawa to Gaspé with a break at McDonalds before Montreal, lunch at Subway in Lévis, and break at OH MY GOD THIS TOWN HAS A TIM HORTONS PLEASE PULL OVER.
- The ride ultimately went quicker than expected. That was nice. We were all forced to document in our field notebooks the landscape we were seeing and the distances we'd traveled when we saw said landscapes. Later, we learned that this was to make us look out the window, and nothing more. Bastard!
- When we arrived at the hotel-motel, we had a wonderful dinner that was some sort of potatoes and salmon in a pie shell. We also learned that while the meals of the trip were free, the drinks were not. My Pepsi cost $2.53. Megan's iced tea cost $4.25. Yikes.

Day 2
- No one learned from the previous night's drink fiasco, and those who ordered orange juice were charged basically a buck a shot for it. Insane! From that point on, everyone stuck to water. I stuck it to the owners by using my best French at every meal to order pitchers of water for everyone. Ya, taht's right. We don't want your pay drinks! Breakfast every day was eggs and bacon and homefries and toast. Delicious!
- We drove to Mont Jacques-Cartier. We climbed for about 2 hours, 450m altitude [we started at 825m, so the summit was at about 1273m]. I was about 8th last to the top, even though I was last for most of the way up. I'm not a hiker. But when some people stopped to look at the beauty, I kept going so I wouldn't be last. At the summit, we watched a herd of caribu which was totally awesome. I was too tired to get out my camera. Sorry. On the way down the hill, we recorded the vegetation and how it changes.

Day 3
- Same deal. Climb to the top of Mont Jacques-Cartier. Didn't we JUST do this? The hike was different. It was much cooler out so I didn't add to my flaming sunburn from the day before. I took less breaks, but I hiked at a slower pace. I arrived at the top Along with the TA who is paid to stay behind with the slow loser, and a girl named Lynn who was the female slow loser [me being the male, if there's any confusion here]. At the top, we broke into groups to study periglacial landforms. Measurements of distance, slope angle, orientation of rocks forming stripes, polygons and a massive block field. GPSes, measuring tapes and compasses everywhere. What fun! My group was me and two French kids [its a bilingual trip/course] and they are fluently English as well, but I chose to work in French to practice a bit. The trip was good for that! We measured transects of the massive block field. Much fun. After abotu an hour, The clouds rolled over the mountain and enveloped us, and it was amazing.
- That night, all 21 people backed into a short bus and we were subjected to a treacherous, lengthy, steep-sloped drive up to the top of Mont Saint Pierre. We got to the top and got to watch the sun set on the St. Lawrence from high above the town. It was beautiful. Then we packed into the bus for the treacherous drive down. Scary stuff.

Day 4
-We drove to the bottom of another mountain. Well, more like a forrested slope. We took some dirt samples from the ground which we will later have to run through an expensive machine which is really boring. I've done it once. I'd like to never do it again. Then, we had the joy of bushwhacking vertically for about 30 minutes. I was 2nd last, because the TA was behind me flagging our path.
- When we got to the top of the vegetation, we were at the bottom of a scree slope. A lovely 35° incline that is basically a loosely sorted rocky beach. The rocks are jagged and loose, the slope is steep, the distance is about 200m altitude. Let's climb it! [Michael cries, no, actually it was fun]. we went up in 60m intervals and periodically recorded the change in slope [it ranged from 29°-35°] and recorded the number of boulders in our vicinity at each stop. I took pictures at each level just to see if they were any different. Who knows lol. We ate our hotel-motel-provided bagged lunches [which were delicious and full of variety] at the top, and then it was back down we went. You could jump down the rocks and it was only dangerous if you fell or sent boulders flying at people below. We all survived.
- We then got in our vans and drove to a WIND FARM! YAY! It was so fucking awesome. I spent my summer reading about GE wind turbines and I finally got to go to see one. I drove through a wind farm once in Nebraska or something, but its not awesome until you've been inside a windmill. We also saw the most primitive laptop every which rocked.
- That night, supper was at a great seafood restaurant in Saint-Anne-des-Monts. I had a lobster club sandwich was was so amazingly good. Mmm.

Day 5
- The horror. Welcome to the very bottom of Mont Albert, the highest mountain in the area! You need to hike 6km to get to the top. Also, the climb is 850m into the air. Go!
- I hiked at the back with the TA, slow Lynn, and sore-lung Kerri. I was still last. But I did it, and I'll probably never do something so intensive in my life. Also, I beat small boy up the hill by like 20 minutes. Take THAT small boy! 7 year olds have nothing on me! lol At the top, it started to rain. To pour. With wind. And fog. Being geographers, we trudged around a plateau for TWO HOURS in this condition, taking measurements and comparing it to the other mountain. Finally we got to go back down, which took over an hour in the pouring rain, with our boots full of water, our toes jamming into the front of the boots, and a river building up on the path. It sucked. In the cold warmth of the van, we had an hour for our feet to rot in the boots. We dried a little bit, but with the heat cranked to dry our bodies, the foot stench cranked as well. What an awful day LOL.
- Supper was spaghetti, and then we all got drunk. It was wonderful. We also played the game 'tour everyone's bedrooms' because every room at the motel was different, and they all had their own creepiness. Our room has a small child's bed near the sink. One room had curtains with bleeding-eye angels. One room had PORN WALLPAPER. One room had a purple toilet. It was crazy, y'all!

Day 6
-The drive home was long. By this point, bickering had set in between even the best of friends. I had been without technology greater than a measuring tape for 6 days, since cell phones were rendered useless. You should have seen us on the first night when we fell out of the vans. 21 cell phones held to the sky like a team of "can you hear me now?" guys... 21 people praying to the Bars Of Reception Gods. Unanswered calls. Literally!
- We got back to Ottawa at 8:15 instead of 7:30. Then like 6 of us helped to carry all the equipment inside while the rest of the assholes stood around like assholes in the parking lot. Then we had a final chat, then we all left.
- On the bus ride home, a ceiling panel fell down and caused a large noise. There weren't many people, so no one was hurt. The driver was not getting anywhere with fixing it with a very large fork handle. Eventually, I stepped up since I had a pocket knife with me [thanks trip!] and i screwed the panel back in place in no time so we didn't have to wait for a repairman to arrive. I'm awesome.

Now, enjoy the pictures!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Beautiful photos and so much content in this post I have no idea what to make a real comment about. I had no idea this place existed and will be Google Earth-ing it immediately.

i am playing outside said...

yes it is well worth Google Earth-ing! Its a beautiful place for sure! naturally, the beautiful pictures still don't do it justice... its even nicer in person! everything comes with a view!

Bec said...

I want to hear about Cantley!