Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It’s Cold Up Here

We spent the night in Burlington and then after N’s game we headed up to Quebec for a new year celebration, which is a bit unusual for us because we usually don’t make a big deal out of New Year’s Eve. It’s hard to get too crazy with young kids, and we usually end up spending a quiet night at home. Not this year.

Since we are not swimming in money these days, we haven’t really done any extravagant or ambitious vacations, so a few days in Canada represents a nice way to get away without breaking the bank. Getting into French Canada is like being in another country (because you are) without the cost or rigmarole of traveling overseas.

We ended up departing out of Burlington maybe a bit later than was optimal, because it was dusk when we crossed the border, and dark by the time we were deep into Quebec. Normally this would not be a big deal, but there was some sort of storm front moving in and the winds were brutal. Visibility wasn’t great, and the roads were frozen and somewhat precarious. It was a little rough, and I felt stressed. It didn’t help that the locals drive like maniacs in dangerous conditions. There were times when I couldn’t see the road because so much snow was blowing around.

When we finally did arrive, it was dark, but not that late. We are pretty high up in latitude, so I’m guessing the days might be shorter. Is this possible? Getting around Quebec City was daunting and an adventure in itself. First off, as I mentioned, the conditions were terrible. Not only was the wind howling, but there was so much snow and visibility was not good. Factor in the locals driving way too fast and it’s a recipe for disaster. There were accidents all over the city, with cars on top of snow banks, and even in light of this, people were driving way too fast. We got lost a few times and ended up driving all over the place, including crossing the big bridge into town several times. It was frustrating and a little scary driving over this huge bridge (it spans the St. Lawrence River) that is covered in slippery snow. I was not amused.

It reminded me in a way of driving in San Francisco, where I always seem to end up at the Golden Gate Bridge, and there’s no turning back. Anyway, we found our hotel, checked in, and decided to explore a little. We were staying in a Holiday Inn just outside the old section, and again, the conditions were brutal. The snow and wind were amazing, and it was a little precarious. I thought Vermont was cold, this made it look like California.

We headed into the old section and parked the car, and walking into town was when we really got to taste the cold of Quebec. I couldn’t believe it. I hate to sound like such a wimp, but the wind chill was below zero, and it was blowing hard. They had done the town up beautifully for the Festival of Lights, and you could tell that there was some big party being planned for New Year’s Eve, but it was hard to enjoy it when you’re freezing your YKW off.

We ducked into a cafe for a quick bite to eat, and then it was the long brutal walk back to the car. We hopped in, got back to the hotel, and resolved to be more prepared for the cold the next time. We went out in jeans, shoes, and jackets, which is completely inadequate. You really have to wear snow clothes with lots of insulation, because the cold will kill you otherwise.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to kenny_lex for the pic.

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