My plan as I headed out onto the road for the first big chunk of this road trip was to take it slow and steady.
I’d never driven this distance by myself before, I’d always had someone to spell me off, and I’d never driven this long alone ever. Plus, this was February. You never know what weather is going to blow in. It could be sunny and warm, it could be blistering cold with hailstorms and, given the distance I was driving, it could be all that and more.
My first priority was making sure I was awake, alert and paying attention at all times. My plan was to stop every hour to get out of the car, stretch, get some fresh air and maybe take a photo or two.
Good plan, not so sustainable when you are actually trying to get somewhere.
My second priority was to avoid driving through Montreal at lunch time (or rush hour) since driving those freeways can make me nuts. And third, getting to Quebec City before it was too late to wander around and enjoy the city. Oh ya, and fourth, finding somewhere to stay in Quebec City. I don’t have any friends or family living there any more so I needed a hotel or B&B to crash. (Though for the purposes of this trip and paranoid superstition, I refused to use the word “crash” while I was on the trip.)
So off I went with these jaunty little tweets:
It was actually quite interesting to tweet as I went. I had people sharing their recommendations of what I should see and where I should stop along the route via twitter, facebook, this post and Pinterest. Don’t worry, I only tweeted when I had pulled over and stopped the car.
I found that tweeting as I went got me some great new recommendations and made me feel like I had friends traveling with me. This companionship was something I didn’t even consider earlier on, but absolutely loved every time I stopped. So thanks to @annafoat @osowired @FordCraigSilva @jennifer_jj @JulieTyios @fordrannie
@OutpostMagazine @BernadetteDCWin @TourismQuebec @FairmontFronten @fredericg @leilaboujnane @FredTourism @karenpinchin @SeeNewBrunswick @Digiteyes @casiestewart @conniecrosby @JaneMurphie @chef_ilona @andrea_r @fillealacarte @hudsonblu @alirucks @Schnitzel123 @JeanFrancoisDP @flackadelic @VisitEdmundston @cyrillesimard (yes, that’s the mayor of Edmunston) @foodbloggersCA @OverlordMarie @frogspadca @candrianos @JubleeW @momwhoruns @theresaalbert @OntarioCulinary @foodie411 … – for keeping me company.
Of course sometimes I got distracted by the tweets and at least once forgot that Travel Bunny was on the roof until I stopped for gas. (oops!)
My plan for hourly stops only lasted until the Quebec border when I realized it was already lunch time and all the stopping was slowing me down way too much if I wanted to actually make it to Quebec City for the night.
For those of you from away reading this, there really aren’t “borders” between provinces in Canada. However Tourism Quebec (a sponsor) has setup a Tourist Centre just inside Quebec where you can stop, get St. Hubert for lunch and check out information about Quebec.
Normally I just grab some magazines and fliers, but since I needed a hotel room I chatted with one of the Tourism people who not only hooked me up with a hotel room in Old Quebec, but also told me about Highway 30, a new route that bypasses Montreal entirely.
The last stretch only opened to traffic on December 15th, 2012 and it still wasn’t on my GPS so I had to ignore the lovely lady telling me I was doing wrong and just hang a right before L’ile de Perrot.
It’s a toll road but it’s only $1.50 and it shaves a good 30 minutes and a lot of frustration off your drive. And since it’s so new, the highway was practically empty from the time I turned onto it until I went back onto Highway 20.
After that I drove pretty directly along the Trans-Canada to Quebec City. I was anxious about time and how long it took me to get to Montreal, so I didn’t doddle or explore at all. I crossed over the bridge and was looking down into Quebec city just as dark fell. Timing was perfect and the view was beautiful, the city dark enough that the lights sparkled like jewels and made it feel warm and welcoming. (Of course I was driving in rush hour traffic, so there are no photos. You’ll have to use your imagination.)
A little drive through the gates of the Old City and I was ready to check into my hotel Hôtel Château Bellevue which was on le Jardin des Gouverneurs with a beautiful view of the St. Lawrence River.
I always find the first driving day in a road trip is often one of those days when you push through to your first destination, getting a feel for the road, the vehicle and the vibe of the trip. So far the road, the vehicle and the vibe were working well for me. Very well.
Trip Stats – Kingston to Quebec City
Departure: 9:40am Arrival: 5:56pm
Leg 4 Distance: 553.3km
Average Fuel: 9.2 l/100km
Distance to Empty: 107km
Gas purchased: $56.71 (43.924l @ $1.291)
Photos taken: 249
Total Distance Traveled: 816km
Note: this post part of my Lex Go Further – A Ford Escape series sponsored by Ford Canada and Tourism Quebec. If you want to know more about what trouble I get into, you can read my disclosure statement here.