Quebec & Ontario Roadtrip May 2017
I’ve been fighting for years against my chronic and increasingly frequent and debilitating migraine.
What are migraines?
I worked a good job. A regular 8-5 job in a management position that left me in more pain from the stress and constant heartbreaking disappointment caused by migraines dominating my senses
Rachel and I have decided not to allow my pain to get in the way of our living. We’ve decided to Live Free. In our decision to Live Free, we’ve decided to spend more time on activities that we enjoy and find fulfilling.
We have always loved travelling, especially together. While we are working toward financial independence, money is tight. We decided not to let this get in our way and instead decided to embark on a road trip together.
Note: Ontario and Quebec have experienced heavy rains and winter melts recently that have caused flooding across the region. As such we have to be very careful about where we choose to camp and visit. We avoided areas that had been on our shortlist of places to visit for safety reasons: Live Free, but don’t be stupid about it.
Ontario - Quinte Region & Prince Edward County
Late Wednesday afternoon we left Toronto with all of our supplies arriving at Sandbanks Provincial Park after dark. The starlight from the clear night sky away from any large source of light pollution lit up our campsite as we prepared our bedding and evening snacks. We could hear the whoosh of the waves as they rolled onto the beach onto the sand dunes.
There wasn’t another soul around. We had the beach, the sky, and indeed the night itself all to ourselves. Sandbanks was had flooded leaving the sandy beach mostly underwater. Barricades and sand dunes had been erected around the shoreline to stop the advance of water. We camped beyond a secondary set of dunes where it would be safe.
We woke up along with the sun. The water having receded somewhat we enjoyed a walk hand in hand along the beach in absolute privacy. The air was fresh and cool, carrying the sweet smells of summer. A beautiful start to our adventures.
Later Thursday morning we drove to nearby Bloomfield, Ontario to have coffee and get some work done at the quirky and picturesque Saylor House Café. Coffee was refreshing and the staff were friendly and inspired a smile.
We had a nice walk through the town of Bloomfield, past Slicker’s Ice Cream – the best ice cream in the county – and Dead People’s Stuff, an eclectic antique shop with some lovely classic pieces and interesting oddities that Rachel and I visit every time we go to the county.
The flowers and foliage were incredibly vibrant with tulips so red they seemed to glow, flowering trees in bloom and teeming with the feeling of life. We stopped to take photos by a particularly beautiful tree, when the owner of the property came out and with a smile offered to take a shot of us together. A friendly place with friendly folks.
Leaving Bloomfield, we drove to Belleville, Ontario to visit my mother and her implausibly fat cat. My ma shared some of her stories of me as a cute, impudent child (I’m still all of those things). She showed Rachel pamphlets and photos from musical theatre performances I acted in and other fun memorabilia. We found my old high-school football jacket was there which is big on me and huge on Rachel, but Rachel wants it – I guess it’s vintage now. My mother’s lilac and apple trees are in bloom, giving the air a fresh and inviting fragrance. My mother was kind enough to clip some blossoms to hang in the car during our trip. After leaving my ma’s, we drove through Belleville to share some of my old haunts with Rachel that we didn’t visit the last few times we’ve come to Belleville. We rested and lunched at Zwick’s Island where we could see how high the water from the Bay of Quinte still was. We went to local landmark Reid’s Dairy for a couple of tasty, not-too-sweet $1 milkshakes - just like when I was a kid.
We drove out to Cannifton to a bridge that my friends and I used to jump off into the river as teenagers, where we sat and quietly enjoyed the calm of the river for a while before getting back on the road.
Province of Quebec
Rachel took over driving from Belleville, most of the way to Montreal. We went directly to downtown Montreal and walked around to soak in the energy of the local revellers out enjoying themselves. There is a vibe of lightness and fun here that Rachel and I really dig.
We rented a room privately, cooked dinner, had showers (hallelujah), and discussed our dreams and goals - like owning property in the Caribbean – as well as the sort of habits that are the foundation of the lifestyle that we want. We stayed up until nearly 1 am, just enjoying each other’s company. We awoke and made our way to Old Montreal where Rachel and I worked at the gorgeous and uniquely opulent Crew Collective & Café, housed in an old Royal Bank. Complete with high vaulted and ornamented ceilings, a beautifully picturesque entrance hall, floors, stairs, and railings of marble. We stayed for several hours working on our projects before leaving to find some eats.
This being Montreal, good food is everywhere. We went for a delicious, fast-food poutine at Frite Alors! After dinner we walked Old Montreal until we ended up back at our car.
Ville du Quebec
That night we drove to the City of Quebec. The drive was fun for us as we had a phone call handsfree on WeChat with a friend in China who is always a laugh.
We followed our whims, and made a detour toward Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly to chase a faint glimpse of the Northern Lights that we caught from the road. It was brief, but spectacular. We arrived in Quebec City after midnight to find the city quiet, calm and stunningly beautiful. We stopped near Hotel-Dieu and Old Quebec and got some rest.
In the morning, I started to see colours and had other premonitory symptoms that signal the prodromal phase from my type of migraines.
Despite waking up with a migraine that didn’t allow me to leave the bed for a number of hours, the morning was a gift -with moderate temperatures and a blue sky without a glimpse of clouds.
After medicine, rest, and a head massage my migraine pain was into manageable territory and Rachel was hungry. I put on my MigraineV outdoor glasses because my sensitivity to light is very painful without them.
We went to Chez Victor, a boutique restaurant with very friendly service and a wonderful poutine.
After our breakfast poutine we walked from Centre Lucien-Borne along Avenue Cartier and visited the boutique shops and enjoyed the Lumiere des Arts along the way. We rested at Parc Musee where I was surprised to find free Wi-Fi outdoors where I can work on my projects while Rachel naps in full view of the St. Lawrence river with a contented smile on her face. Neither of us are particularly tired, but the calm peace of this place gives on the impulse towards rest and personal reflection.
After a rest and some work, we walked from the park along the St. Lawrence river, past the Musee National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec and the Plains d’Abraham before stopping at La Citadelle de Quebec to enjoy a breathtaking view of Chateau Frontenac.
We slowly walked along the top of the last remaining city wall in North America through Old Quebec.
Later in the evening we had gourmet burgers at Chic Shack. We had planned to stay one more night, but to save some money on lodging and avoid long weekend traffic back into Toronto, I drove the 800km from Quebec City to Toronto overnight, arriving around 6 am without dealing with any traffic along the way.
The freedom afforded us by our open schedule allowed us to go where our sense of adventure took us rather than deal with the anxiety of missing something scheduled if migraine attack were to occur. The reduction in anxiety probably resulted in fewer migraines as stress and anxiety are migraine triggers.
The Quebec’s unrelenting beauty made an interesting photography challenge, as it was difficult to choose a subject when every building facade, street and shop was so aesthetically pleasing. It also means that there are always opportunities to experiment with the setting. We’ve been here only a short time, but Quebec City seems to be one of the most livable cities Rachel and I have visited. The people are very warm and inviting, the pace of life seems slower and enjoyed and truly lived moment by moment. I’m very lucky to be travelling with my best friend & wife, Rachel.
Our businesses are just getting started and we have to be frugal in order to work towards our goals of financial independence. As such we camped where we could and rented rooms or hotel when necessary. We saved a lot of money on lodging. We also brought food for the road and camping along with us, that way we only bought meals when we really wanted something local and special (can’t go to Montreal without having poutine).