9/03… The Open Seas

Val gets seasick, it turns out.

We discover this about seven seconds into the ferry ride from Matane to Baie Comeau, which is roughly two and a half hours long.

I feel pretty crummy, the girls are completely unaffected and love that they are on a boat – a boat that serves poutine and rice krispies, no less – but Val is positively green.  She calls the entire trip into question before glumly clamming up, and is restored only a little after I insist she get out on the (cold, grey, rainy) deck to get some actual fresh air.


A magical boat with miniature boxes of Rice Krispies inside

We left Gaspeisie after a cold night that made it clear summer had come to an end, packed bundled in our hats and sweaters and gloves, and only finally got some respite from the sun as we were puling away.

We made the rest of our lazy north shore traverse into Matane, just a gorgeous drive along 132 as it clings at almost exactly sea level (which, shortly, became river level as the waters ceased being the ocean and officially became the St. Lawrence).

We stopped at a tiny casse croute when the girls’ combined demands for poutine became too great to ignore, and then in the early afternoon resumed en route to Matane.

Like nitwits, we had not really bothered to check the ferry schedule or even internalized that it was the last day of the last holiday weekend of the summer – so, as we pulled into the ferry port at two o’clock to get our tickets for the 5 pm ferry, we were informed that it was totally booked and the next available slot was 5 the next day.

Further, because it was a holiday, I couldn’t deal with the alignment / tire issue as nobody was open.

The guy at the ferry ticket office told us we could get in line to walk on, the success of this plan on a holiday weekend being a crapshoot but with nothing better to do we figured we’d try our luck and parked the truck in the third spot at the reservation-less line.

The girls, in an indescribably good mood that appears to only get better with each passing day, got themselves into the waiting lounge with their DVD player, some snacks, and watched “the Incredibles” for the 100th time.

In fact, their enthusiasm overcame the brooding unrest that had infected both Val and myself at having not done something as simple as calling ahead to book tickets.

Dozens of cars and trucks began to line up, and the reservations lanes quickly became completely crowded .  Despite being third in line, we began to worry that we would be enjoying and involuntary night in Matane.

At ten to five, after vehicle upon vehicle had been delivered into the hold of the ferry, a dockworker marched toward us, a line of optimists and dreamers.

He looked at the first car in the line, a late model Civic.  No problem.

He then looked at the car directly in front of us, a little white BMW X1, considered it, and then waved it aboard.

Finally, he looked directly at the Taco, masking tape fangs and all.  I leaned out of my window and asked “Ca marche?”


And then he produced a golden ticket, a yellow cardboard slip that allowed us on board, almost the last car – the creepy panel van behind us somehow defied the laws of physics and made it onto the ferry, despite the parking being so tight that val and the girls had to get out of the truck before I finished parking her in.

We were feeling pretty good about this turn of events, as I was certain we would find a decent truck shop in Baie Comeau.

That is, until the moment the ferry pulled out of the port and immediately into large, rolling seas and both Val and I immediately felt unwell.  Incredibly, the girls proved to be completely immune to the laconic unrest, and pulled out their workbooks to do “homework” while the two of us languished, miserably, in the seats at the end of the table.


With the ferry ride over, both of us felt a huge sense of relief linked directly to the fact that the two of us were no longer feeling as though our stomachs were working their way into our nostrils.

We spilled out into the dark rain of Baie Comeau, and I realized that we had been spoiled by all these small towns that we travel through – there is one road, and everything a traveller needs to find is either on it or it isn’t.

Thus, a sense of panic settled over me as I confronted my first traffic light in weeks.

Where exactly were we supposed to turn?  Where were the motels?

Of course, all of these answers were in the Quebec tourism guide we had picked up weeks ago as we crossed into the gaspe, and after a few u-turns and assorted late evening traffic infractions, we were off.


We have checked in to the Motel Le Carousel, finally out of this dark and driving rain, and the twin beds, fresh towels, soap, and odd feeling of being in a time capsule from the 1970s given the decor infect both Val and I with a sense of cozy optimism.

I’m sure we’ll get the truck fixed here, and the town is both big and small enough to have a specialist that should be able to see us pretty quickly, and even it not, we’re warm and dry.

The girls, thrilled at the presence of a robin’s egg blue bathtub, use every soap, shampoo, and towel in the place while Val and I check messages, fix a modest dinner of cheese and bread, and laze in bed to French language news broadcasts.

Disaster averted, and I’m optimistic that we’ll be back on the road in no time.

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