Bonjour, mes amis. Hello from sunny Quebec. Hubby and I are spending a quiet week at a resort in the Laurentians. Not the glitzy, newer than new, kind of resort. L'Auberge du Lac Morency was originally built in the 1930s, and although the log lodge has been renovated, it still feels vintage. The condos retain that flavour as well, lots of wood beams, and floors. Kind of homey, and not too startlingly modern. We don't generally do "startlingly modern" at home or away. So, Lac Morency is our kind of place.
|Vintage "Ski the Laurentians" poster|
There's a long history of outdoor fun in these parts.The shot below is from a "Ski in the Laurentians" poster used by CN Rail back in the day. In one establishment we saw lots of old photos of skiers on trains in the thirties and forties, their skis and poles bristling from racks behind the seats. Or shots of people removing their skies at the platform in Morin Heights, getting ready to catch the ski train back to Montreal. There are, of course, other winter sports besides skiing. Our resort organizes snowmobile treks and dogsled rides, but we'd rather ski.
|Vintage photo in the Café De La Gare. Once used to advertise CN Rail.|
There are several downhill facilities near by, but Hubby and I gave up downhill skiing years ago. It's an expensive sport, with expensive equipment and long drives from home to ski hills. And when we finally arrive, the hills are usually crowded, and often too fast for me. I was a late starter; I took lessons in my thirties, and finally after a couple of years had a certain amount of confidence on the hills. But only on good days. Give me an icy run, with better and faster skiers whooshing around me, and I totally lose my nerve and have all I can do to get down the hill. We had some fun downhill ski trips to Vermont, or Quebec City... back in the day. But I don't miss it.
These days we prefer cross-country skiing. We can ski practically out our back door at home, for one thing. So skiing can be a two hour endeavour instead of gobbling up one's whole day. Plus we prefer quiet trails with no ski-lifts and few people. And you can't get better exercise than cross-country skiing. It's a good cardio workout, and it works all the major muscle groups, legs and arms. This trip we've been skiing the trails in the linear park called "Le P'tit Train du Nord." Part of the Trans-Canada Trail, fashioned along abandoned railway beds with over 40 kilometres of groomed trials, this is a great facility. Perfect for us.
|Perfect snow, perfect -8 C temps, and a mostly sunny day.|
Skiers can access the trail in several villages or towns along the route. We've been sampling the trail from a different village each day. In some, the old rail station has been reborn as a shop, or a restaurant. One day, we stopped for coffee after our ski at the Café de la Gare, below, in Sainte-Adèle. Inside is all old wood and vintage pictures of skiers from long ago. Lovely.
|Café De La Gare, trailside in Sainte- Adele|
After three days of skiing, my knees needed a rest. Not to mention my arms. So, since we'd brought our skates, we drove to the little village of Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson to try their outdoor rink. We'd spied it on the way to the ski trail the day before. What a great place. Heated warm-up hut, washrooms, and rubber matting all the way down to the rink. The ice had been recently flooded, so it was smooth and glassy and practically empty. We skated for a while, then I sat on the side-lines, and filmed Hubby as he made a few more circuits. He cringed at the video I posted on Instagram: "Look how slow I'm going, Suz." He looked pretty good to me. But I guess playing hockey all those years gives him a different benchmark than me. Ha.
|Skating in Sainte- Margeurite-du-Lac-Masson|
|Stu waving from the big, big chair on the rink on Lac Masson|
Looks like Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson had its own mini-winter carnival the weekend before. They had ice sculptures, an ice castle, and a great ice slide for the kids. It's wonderful that small communities can still put on these events, and that families participate, instead of sitting at home watching netflicks. As kids we skated mostly on outdoor rinks. I remember clearly my first time skating at an indoor facility. The York Arena in Fredericton. It was so darned cold, the term "indoor" must have referred to the fact that it had a roof. But, we thought it was wonderful. There were change rooms (instead of a snow bank), and washrooms, and even a canteen. I still remember the smell of the hotdogs they sold, the taste of the hot chocolate, and the feel of burnt tongue after the first sip. So after our skating the other day, in the spirit of nostalgia, we ate lunch at the local casse croute, or take-out. Casse-Croute Arc-en-Ciel in Piedmont must be a local institution because it was packed. And the hot dog and French fries were worth the extra hour of skiing I'll have to do to burn them off. Ha. I passed on the hot chocolate, though.
|The ice castle at Sainte-Margeurite-du-Lac-Masson|
And just because Hubby and I are burning a lot of calories this week what with all that exercise, don't be fooled, we're not suffering. We're eating well. Very well. We brought provisions from home. Dinner on our first night was my homemade tourtière, with a green salad, my homemade dressing (really simple, just Sicilian lemon balsamic vinegar, and basil olive oil), and Hubby's homemade mustard pickles. You can't have tourtière without pickles. Hubby makes his from an old recipe of my Mum's called "Lady Ashburnham pickles." I love them. And so do many New Brunswickers. Apparently Lady Ashburnham was a Fredericton telephone operator when she met and fell in love with the fifth son of an English earl who'd been banished to the colonies and wasn't supposed to inherit the title, but did. You can read the story yourself, here, if you're interested.
|Our dinner brought from home for our first night in our cosy condo|
And tonight we're dining in style at the lodge. They have a wonderful table d'hôte. Lots of local favourites, presented in creative ways. The lodge smokes its own salmon, for instance. Yum. So I'll actually be putting on make-up tonight for the first time since we arrived. And appearing in public without my toque. No joke... I have had a serious case of hat head for five straight days.
Besides all the skiing and skating and eating, we've been reading, and binge watching season two of the Australian television series Rake. Oh my goodness. This is the best series we've seen in years. The "rake" is Cleaver Greene, played by Richard Roxburgh, a dissipated but brilliant Sydney lawyer, and the plots involve the scrapes he and his friends and enemies get into. Lots of government corruption, and bad guys getting their just desserts, eventually, most of the time. So funny, such clever writing. Sometimes we pause the video just to make sure the other person has caught the funny line. We saw season one years ago, but it wasn't until a blog reader mentioned it in a comment that I thought to see if I could find season two. If you don't mind the odd profanity, sometimes lots of profanity, and the occasional glimpse of nudity, you should try it. We roared laughing when at the end of one episode when things did not go his way, Cleaver tossed off the line: "Such is life" with a cheeky grin. Legend has it that "Such is life" were the dying words of the much beloved Aussie bandit Ned Kelly. Now that really is clever. And I felt really smart because I caught the reference. Ha. But only because we immersed ourselves in Aussie culture and history before we visited the first time in 2003. So we know a fair bit about Ned Kelly. I'll tell you about our Ned Kelly adventure one day. It's pretty funny.
|More perfect snow, perfect temperatures, and perfect skiing|
Now, I must go and get ready for dinner. Hope I can get my eye-liner on straight. I'm kind of out of practice. And what with the wine and the three course meal tonight.... I mean... smoked salmon candies marinated in maple syrup, with horseradish crème fraîche, and watercress... and that's just for starters ... sigh... we'll have to hit the ski trail hard tomorrow.
You should see the dessert menu.
So, while we've been skiing and eating and practicing our very bad French here in "La Belle Province" ... what have you been up to my friends?
Linking up with Thursday Favourites at Katherine's Corner and Saturday Share at Not Dressed as Lamb