Day 20 – Quebec to Vermont

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Hotel Citadelle was well presented and comfortable. The only downside was the trucks that woke us as they left soon after 5:00 am but we got back to sleep easily enough. We were awake properly at our usual time, showered, ate breakfast (juice, cereal, coffee – from a machine that made decent cappuccino and long blacks, more evidence that the québécois care about their coffee), packed, and were on the road before 8:30 am.

I had set the GPS for our destination near Burlington VT but was aware that it would take us almost to Montreal on the south side of the river before turning south and crossing the USA border to Vermont. I thought we would prefer a more scenic route so some way out I pointed it toward Sherbrooke which would take us south from the east-west road into what might be more interesting territory.

The drive along the highway was mostly through flat farmland with occasional more undulating sections. Most of the patches of woodland showed signs of fall colour with some small sections where almost every tree was at least beginning the change and others where a single tree stood out among the green.

A bit less than two hours along Majella was beginning to tire of driving. When I asked about our fuel level she noticed that it was approaching empty. We stopped at a station just short of Drummondville. The bowser messages were all in French so I could tell that it refused my card and indicated I should see the cashier but no more. Thinking it needed prepayment as some do we both went in so Majella could translate. Turned out it was a matter of fill first and pay later rather than requiring some surety – unusual here. I had a bit more than $50 in Canadian currency which would soon be no use so I decided to use $40 of that for fuel and the rest for coffee and lunch. The servo had an attached McDonalds with a McCafe so we bought cappuccino and americano in preference to the regular coffee. They were doing a roaring trade with passengers from two buses – mostly seniors on tour it seemed.

I drove from there, taking the turn just past Drummondville and heading south toward Sherbrooke. Some way down that road we spotted a sign for Moulin de Ulverton (Ulverton Woollen Mill) and decided that 1 km off the road was worthwhile for what we hoped would be a scenic historic site. The first 100 m or so of the side road was well graded gravel but the bitumen soon returned and we found the mill easily on a stream by a covered bridge. It was open only on weekends so we were not able to do more than look at the outside and take a few photographs of the mill and the covered bridge. That done we departed, following the directions of the GPS which took us by a meandering route on secondary roads through the village of Ulverton and, after 15 to 20 km, back to the highway.

We continued that way to Sherbrooke where we were headed for the city centre with the intention of picking up the makings for lunch. I took an exit too soon near the centre of town and with some more errors went around in a circle and back to our entry point where we were stuck for a while with roadworks. We’d have been better if I had managed the first corrections but once through the roadworks we found a supermarket where we shopped for lunch. We picked up a baguette, some packaged ham, lettuce, tomato, peaches, juice for drinking, and a McIntosh apple. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try the last given my affinity for all things Apple and the origins of the Mac name. That reduced my holdings of Canadian currency to a touch more than $5.

I drove out of Sherbrooke, heading west, expecting to turn south for Vermont further along and looking for a picnic spot where we might eat our lunch. The first we spotted was at the service centre just west of Magog (I had a vague recollection of Gog and Magog as names but could recall no details) so we pulled in there and ate at one of the picnic tables. We had part of the baguette, ham, cheese, tomato and lettuce with juice but left the fruit for later. Once we had eaten lunch we spent most of my remaining Canadian currency on sweets to amuse Majella along the way and drove on with her at the wheel again.

We eventually turned off the main road and took minor roads south through Farnham and some other villages until we rejoined a main road just north of the USA border. We stopped briefly on a side road by Lake Champlain to make sure that we had our passports ready and then headed for the border. The official asked where we lived, how long we had been in Canada, why we were there, and whether we had any food. Majella mentioned bread, ham, and fruit. He asked about tomatoes and peppers. She answered that we had half a tomato. Apparently having it cut open was the trick, perhaps because if it had any unwelcome passengers we would have dumped it. We passed through and headed south.

I had planned to visit the Ben & Jerry’s factory tomorrow morning but my information said the tours started at 10:00 am and that would have delayed our travel across New Hampshire and into Maine. Given that we crossed the border a little before 3:00 pm I suggested that we head straight for B&J’s so that we could get an earlier start tomorrow. We arrived at the Ben & Jerry’s factory just outside Waterbury in time for the 3:45 pm tour. We enjoyed that, with its humorous/semi-serious approach, and the sampling that followed. After the tour we walked up to the flavour graveyard and then back down. It took some effort to persuade Majella to have more ice cream beyond the sample but she relented and had the New York Super Fudge Chunk, commenting as she ate it on each nut and other goodie. I had Coffee Coffee Buzzbuzzbuzz, which is shown in the flavour graveyard but still available at the factory shop. It was coffee flavored with chunks of espresso chocolate. After that lot we figured we might not need much dinner.

As we started the drive back toward Burlington and our bed for the night we realized we were once again short of fuel but figured we could get back and then fill up. As we turned off to our motel we were caught up in traffic and it took a while to get off the exit and down to Handy’s Extended Stay Suites where we were booked in. They informed us that they were overbooked and had arranged to ‘upgrade’ us to the Days Inn a couple of doors away. Traffic being as it was we walked to the Days Inn, checked in, and then went back for the car. While at the Days Inn we realized what the fuss was about. There is a major hot rod show in town this weekend.

Once we had dropped our bags we drove up the street and bought fuel and then into town to do the laundry. I’d located a laundromat near the lake while in the hotel but when we arrived there we found an accident obstructing access. We drove around the downtown area trying to park for a view of sunset over the lake but parking was impossible. We headed back toward our hotel hoping to find one of the other laundromats we had seen on the way in. That worked and we did the laundry. Majella had decided that after ice cream we did not need much dinner and could manage with the baguette remnant, ham, cheese, tomato and lettuce, with fruit for dessert. On the way back to the room we found the Winooski Beverage Warehouse offering 900 beers and 4000 wines. Majella wanted a premix. She eventually settled for cider (apple and ginger). I thought a cider would be a good start but picked up a Californian Cabernet to follow. We both enjoyed the cider and the simple food we had with it. I enjoyed my McIntosh which was too tart for Majella. The peaches were OK but not brilliant. I’m enjoying the wine with this 🙂

Distance travelled today was 555 km but about 100 km of that was our trip to Ben & Jerry’s and return. As a side note to our time in Quebec, we were fascinated by the wide variety of saints recognized in place names. Any saints who do not have a village or at least a street in Quebec named after them must be very disappointed.