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Well, the excitement of the 39th Annual Tournament of the Fire Brigades of East Quebec was all too much for me. I need to head for the hills in order to relax and find some peace and quiet, just in case I do stumble across a tractor pull somewhere this afternoon.

The way out of of St Louis de Ha! Ha! southwards found me back in Cabano. From there, the only road southwards seemed to be along the new modern highway and that didn't appeal all that much to me so I went for a wander up the valley of the River Cabano.

And do you know what? I drove for miles up the aforementioned and there wasn't anything to see, to photograph or to talk about. A veritable desolation if you ask me.

After a good while I did manage to stumble across a sign indicating a church and here we had something of an exciting moment. I come to a dead stop to take a closer look at the sign without, just for once, looking in my rear-view mirror and the screech of tyres indicated that there was a couple of vehicles following me rather too closely for their own benefit.

Following what in vernacular circles is called "an exchange of pleasantries", transmitted in morse code via the motor horns, I turn to the left and go for a nosy about.

Graveyards in remote rural locations are always interesting places to visit. You can learn very much about an area by looking at the graves.

cemetery Gospel Baptist Church Riviere Bleu route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

I was quite surprised by this graveyard. In fact it was rather poignant, for what impressed itself on my mind was the number of very young children buried here. If you click on the thumbnail and enlarge it you will see a sample of what I mean. The infant mortality rate in this area must have been horrific.

And we aren't talking about primitive living conditions, epidemic, massacre or Victorian squalor either. As far as I can tell, the earliest grave here seems to be 1908. It's as recent as that.

Gospel Baptist Church Riviere Bleu route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

There's a sign here - a bilingual sign in fact, to note for the record - to tell me that I'm at the Gospel Baptist Church of Rivière Bleu. And it's an interesting sign, to say the least.

Apparently, so we are told, the reason for the establishment of the church is that it was some kind of rebellion against the tight grip that the Catholic Church had on the population here.

That's what it says on the sign, and it adds a few bells and whistles too, so all that I can say is that it is quite a controversial sign, to say the least. One doesn't expect to see this kind of thing on a sign on display to the public, especially when it's talking about the Catholic church.

In fact, given the tenor of this sign, which clearly implies something other than friendly rivalry, I wonder if the Catholics looked upon this high rate of infantile mortality as some kind of divine retribution.

st eusebe route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

One of the habits that I must keep trying to put out of my mind while I'm here in North America is the one that I have of looking at the sites of towns and villages with my pre-medieval military defensive fortress eyes like I would do when I am in Europe.

Having said that, however, just look at this particular site. Yonder town would appear to be St Eusèbe and its setting looks to be truly magnificent.

I forgot to mention by the way that this road is called the Route des Beaux Lieux, the "Route of Beautiful Places" and I'm not complaining about that name.

st eusebe route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

Its blowing a gale up here. An absolute gale as well. And guess what? Never mind a defensive wall or block work, or a motte and bailey, there's not a single wind turbine up here either. But don't get me started on that again here in Québec. You know full well that it's my favourite topic.

Nevertheless, I probably have more wind turbines on the side of my house and barn than they have in the whole of this part of the Province of Québec. The area of the north coast of the Gaspésie is of course quite different, as you will remember if you were with me last year.

st eusebe route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

You might have peered over the top of the roof of the house in the last photo and seen the road. And of course the advantages of having a decent camera and a high-quality lens is that you can take a photo from a better position, crop out part of the image and enlarge it, and it still give a respectable photo.

And so that is the road that I have just driven along, and it was somewhere down there not too far from those buildings where I stopped to take the photo of the village.

st eusebe route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

Despite the weather, I'm enticed out of the Dodge for a wander around in the rain and wind. First stop is the back of the town.

Well, if only photos would do justice to the views that they represent, then this particular one of the mountains away in the ... errr ... west, I suppose (I wish the sun would show itself so that I can fix my bearings) would be absolutely marvellous.

I've mentioned before that this part of Canada - the Québec - New Brunswick border - is a continuation of the Appalachian mountains, and stretches all the way out to the tip of the Gaspé peninsula. It really is beautiful here and it must be stunning in the sunshine.

st eusebe route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

In this photograph you can see what the national sports are in this part of the world. We have a basketball court that doubles as an ice hockey rink. I suppose that what they do is that they play basketball until the weather turns cold and then they flood it with water to make an ice rink and play ice hockey until the thaw.

It makes a change from the village footy pitch, and that reminds me. I don't recall seeing a single football (or "soccer" for the benefit of my North American readers) pitch on my travels. That's enough to rule me out of coming to live here - the absence of my weekly footy fix - for which everyone in North America ought to be extremely grateful.

We did however remedy this - at least along the north bank of the St Lawrence - in 2012 so there's hope for me yet.

grader st eusebe route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

Ohh, now look at this. This is an exciting find, isn't it? We saw dozens of those in 2010 when we were out in Upper Labrador driving around the Trans-Labrador Highway but this is the first opportunity that I have had for a close-up view of one.

You can see quite clearly how it works anyway. It lowers down the front arm which has all of the griffers on it, and these roughen up the surface, and the blade of the grader spreads it all back out again. You can see that the blade can be pivoted round to give the driver whatever angle he likes on the blade.

grader st eusebe route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

The next question though that needs to be asked is "why does it not tow a roller behind it to compact it all afterwards?". That would be the ideal combination as far as I am concerned. It seems to be such an obvious design improvement.

Up in Labrador though, I don't recall the graders having the griffers fitted. Maybe they thought that the roads up there were rough enough. That's not a sentiment that I'm going to disagree with.

And I'm wondering whether, if Neil Young had lived up here instead of out in Ontario, he would have written about "graders" and not thrashers being more than six lanes wide.

st eusebe Packington route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

I'm heading in a vaguely south-westish direction and so my little wander takes me in that direction. Apparently I'm going to be going down there and that will be exciting, won't it? The dip is pretty impressive and it looks like it's an unpaved road as well.

I could build up a decent head of steam going down there and if someone pulls out of a side entry I'll have no traction at all and no grip to slow down with, especially in this weather.

On the way back to the car I actually see a living soul - the first one that I've seen since I arrived here. I was beginning to think that it was a ghost town or something, or one of these places where all of the inhabitants were abducted by aliens 100 years ago and no-one else has noticed.

There isn't anyone at the fire station, and no vehicles either, of course. They are all at the competition at St Louis de Ha! Ha!. So what will they do if something catches fire now? They will all be snookered, wont they?

church st eusebe route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

I'd parked up the Dodge in front of the church, on what passes for a car park round here and so here I am again. I seem to have a thing about churches just now, don't I? And it's not surprising either. I've just remembered that it's Sunday. No wonder that I've gone all religious!

I'm glad to be back in the car anyway. That wind was wicked, and it's not just the rain that is chucking it down here. The leaves are having a pretty good go too. It's definitely autumn.

st eusebe Packington route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

Down at the bottom of the hill and slightly up the rise, we can look back and see the road down which I have just driven. and it was as impressive as it looks, and as exciting as I thought that it might be. It's nice to be back on the dirt roads again.

You have to agree though that the site and situation of St Eusèbe is thoroughly impressive. The defenders of a medieval castle up there would make mincemeat of a bunch of knights struggling up that slope in full armour.

And what about any wind turbines up there as well? I know that it sounds as if I'm always going on about them ... "well, you are" - ed ... but having heard everyone in Québec moaning about the prices of electricity from Québec Hydro, and a village having such an exciting site as this, the prospect of the inhabitants having an autonomous supply of electricity must be quite exciting to say the least.

Perhaps they need me to do a survey for them. Residents of St Eusèbe, .

st eusebe Packington route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

Anyway, let's get ourselves back on track. And it's a dirt track at that of course.

And as if a dirt track isn't enough to be going on with, we've hit a dirt track with a descent of 17% and that's definitely impressive, and I dunno what the ascent is back up the other side of whatever there is at the bottom but that looks impressive as well.

I'm really intrigued now to find out what there is at the bottom because that must be impressive as well too, if it's created a valley like this.

st eusebe Packington route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

Well, that was what I thought at the time but you can see that it's not as impressive as all that.

There's nothing particular to be seen at the bottom except some kind of wet boggy marshland-type of peat bog depression with a boggy peat bog lake in it, but it's still the best way to come, though, even if it was just for the exciting drive.

That's a nice solid wooden bridge as well that passes over the stream at the bottom of the depression. And by "solid" I mean "solid", and not a lattice-work deck to let the snow and the ice pass through. I bet that's fun in winter

st eusebe Packington route des beaux lieux quebec canada september septembre 2011

A few kilometres farther on there's another really impressive view that is worth a photograph. In fact there were all kinds of views along this road that were worth photographing and I found myself having to be quite selective about it all. There's only so much time, and so much memory in the camera.

The earlier part of this road was called Route des Beaux Lieux, the "Route of Beautiful Places" and if the part of my drive onwards from St Eusèbe had been included in that description, then I wouldn't have imagined there to have been any complaints.

After that, we are soon back on the tarmac again and that is quite a shame. I really enjoyed that bit of road back there and all in all it was quite exciting. It would be a really good road to come on a motor bike and pretend that it was a roller coaster.

Packington route des frontieres quebec canada september septembre 2011

Up there on that ridge is the town of Packington but I'm not going there - I'm going to be turning right in a minute and heading down the Rue Lac Jerry. Nevertheless, Packington is the start of the Route des Frontieres and we'll be on that road in a short while.

And there's another thing about Packington. Situated on a ridge like that and although it isn't as impressive as St Eusèbe you could still put a couple of wi ...thud... .

redundant school bus Packington route des frontieres quebec canada september septembre 2011

I've said before that there are limits on the ages of school buses, and there are only so many opportunities for a redundant school bus to continue its natural occupation on the highways of North America. So much so that last year when I was in Canada I started something of a competition for "101 things to do with a redundant school bus"

There's part 73 I reckon. It's currently a storage shed and greenhouse by the looks of things. I wonder whatever happened to the rest of it though. All of the front end, the motor and the chassis seem to be missing.

lac jerry Packington route des frontieres quebec canada september septembre 2011

I said just a couple of minutes ago that I would be turning right in a short while. And so I did. and this is the reason why - namely that this road takes me around the head of the quaintly-named Lac Jerry.

The bad weather always makes places look so depressing, but even in the kind of weather that we are experiencing just now (and you can see how low the cloud is by looking across to the mountains in the distance) this place does have a certain intrinsic beauty that the weather can't disguise.

And what's the story about those wheels in the foreground? They could probably have something very interesting to say about themselves.

st marc du lac long route des frontieres quebec canada september septembre 2011

Our roller-coaster ride finds us another village hidden away deep in the countryside and I wonder what it is. It certainly looks impressive. So much so that I don't understand now why I didn't take 5 minutes out of my itinerary to go for a wander over there. It's not as if I'm that pushed for time.

But I'm not going that way. At the bottom of the hill I hit a highway of which the number I need to clarify. It might be Highway 289 and I would know if I didn't mumble into my dictaphone with a mouth full of biscuit.

And have I been on Highway 289 already? ... "No, you haven't" - ed ... The number certainly sounds familiar. However, it's signposted "Nouveau Brunswick 7kms" to the left and that's the way that I shall be travelling.

Now the Lady Who Lives In The Sat-Nav seems to think that I'm on Highway 120 but according to a road sign that I've just driven past, it seems that we're on Highway 289. But whatever it is, it is a beautiful road as well so I'm not too concerned and it's taking me in the direction that I want to go.

I'm driving alongside a stretch of water at the moment and it seems to be called Lac Long. That's a really good name for it too - it certainly lives up to its description, and if this is indeed the case that village back there might have been St Marc du Lac Long and I still don't know why I never went to find out.

The Lady Who Lives In The Sat-Nav is now telling me that we have finally found the Rue des Frontieres, and so I wonder if that's the USA that is on the other side of this border. But never mind that for a moment for I seem to have found a railway line as well.

I'm not half having my money's worth. And so are you as well. You should be grateful.

I'm glad that the Lady Who Lives In The Sat-Nav brought me this way because this was a lovely drive along some of the most beautiful countryside that can recall seeing. And that's in the miserable weather too. Just imagine what it must be like in the sun.

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