the last day
so that last day into Montreal was crazy. as i remember, it all started in the morning as we left the crazy miniature summer French Canadian trailer park on Lake Champlain near St. Albans. We had our bug netting and no tarp as it was muggy, Matt freaking out about spiders in his pants at 3am, and old Quebecois ladies smoking and drinking coffee by 7am.
We left early that morning to Alburg for breakfast, where we stopped at the recommended diner called “May’s Diner”, and it was full of your usual 70+ elderly folk, the early morning crowd doing their share of gossip, mostly older ladies, and Ben orders the pancake combo, but the waitress tells Ben “the pancakes are _really big_” but Ben insists.
At some point an older, but not too old feeble gentlemen joins the old ladies and starts talking about his new arthritis medication very loudly. Then when he has their attention he goes on to tell his story of how his neighboring house was burned down and ransacked by punk kids, and how his septic system was connected to that house, and how now he’s been forced to carry he and his depressed and sickly wife’s and I quote “feces and urine in buckets” and at this point we couldn’t help but eavesdrop and this guy was really feeling sorry for himself, and then he adds, “that was when I got my heart attack, while I was carrying the feces and urine”.
and this is where god spites us. we laughed. it was too much. this guy was trying too hard to be pathetic. these old ladies weren’t that impressed, sure they felt sorry for he and his depressed wife, but they were clearly not part of their clique, and beyond that, this guy was a bit of a simpleton. so we regained our composure. Ben tried to eat his pancakes that were literally 24 inches in diameter, two of them, to no avail and I tried to help.
Upon crossing the boarder into Montreal we realized we didn’t really know which roads to take. While I did have my chance with some French Canadian cyclist’s at a gas station I instead relied upon my instincts which took us to an Indian Reservation across from southern Montreal, whereupon I was run off the road into a ditch with cattails The reservation was very geographically isolated with no mass transit, with no pedestrian or bicycle access across the bridge. There are something like 7 bridges into Montreal, this was not the one we should’ve ridden to.
After litterally 3 laps around the reservation asking quewe determined that if we walked up the far outgoing bridge ramp, something like walking up a 2 foot shoulder on a highway offramp, there would eventually be a sidewalk with the sign “Troittoir Barre” which translates to “walkway blockaded”, nonetheless, this was it, 3 hours has passed since we arrived within 3 miles of Montreal and this bridge was our punishment for laughing at the poor old man. We walked our bikes 2 miles across a blockaded walkway and ended up finally in South Montreal several hours after we should’ve, then asked some people in broken French English how to get to the Centre-Ville and finally made it. Zoe and her friends immediately wanted to head out and eat dinner. We were like sad tired sweaty burned brusied animals ready for air conditioning and food, not for a night out on the town. Zoe’s friends where quote accomdating though, and we found ourselves with 2.5 nice days around Montreal trying to speak French.