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Bonjour, Croissant!

Posted by on September 2, 2010

The scenery on the way to Quebec City.

I do not speak French. At all. I am ashamed to say that I hardly know even the basic French phrases. Beyond “Bonjour!”, I’m at a loss.  Oh, and I know “Croissant” but how many conversations involve this word? Not many, I assure you.  So, I had “lost tourist” written all over me a few weekends ago when we took a trip up to Quebec City. It didn’t stop me from having an amazing day, though. I just did a lot of smiling, nodding, and giving my best “I’m so very sorry I don’t speak your language” look.

Being in Burlington put us less than an hour from Canada and that was just too tempting.  So, I did my research on what documents were needed for Emerson to cross the border and off we went!  (FYI: For one’s own children under 16 years of age, a certified birth certificate is the only document needed if traveling to Canada via land. All other persons require a passport. If you are traveling with other people’s children under the age of 16, the rules are different. And, if you are traveling via air, all persons need a passport, including children. Make sure you check out the State Department’s website before traveling!)

One of the many beautiful parks.

We departed for Quebec City once Chris was finished with work on a Friday afternoon.  We got to the border and for some reason this always makes me nervous. I find I start lecturing Chris miles before we get there; telling him not to make jokes and to answer their questions seriously.  I have all of our paperwork in order and ready to hand over.  We get up to the booth, hand our papers over and Chris begins answering questions.  He threw in a joke or two…I’ve decided he can’t help it. He doesn’t even realize what he’s doing. I give the agent the “Please excuse my husband’s bad jokes” look. I’ve gotten really good at that one.  Thankfully, the border agent tolerated the joking and wished us well on our journey as our 7 week old daughter screamed bloody murder from the back seat.

Downtown Quebec City.

We proceeded on to Quebec City with no reservations and no clue where we’d stay the night.  By 9:00 p.m., after a few stops along the way to eat and feed Emerson, we were about an hour away from the city. (Hmmm…that last sentence is so poorly worded and makes it sound like I’m eating my child. I should remove it but it made me chuckle, so I’m leaving it in.  And, no, I’m not eating my child.  I’m feeding myself and my child on these stops.)  Anyways…we were exhausted by 9pm. Emerson was crying and we needed to stop and try to soothe her to sleep.  So, we did what other RVers and truckers were doing.  We stopped at a rest area for the night. Is this allowed in Canada? Anyone? Anyone? I suspected to hear a knock on the door through the night from officials asking us to leave but no one did.  We slept peacefully (as peacefully as expected with a 7-week old) and continued on our journey the following day.


As you may know, Chris and I approach travel a little differently. I usually like a plan while he prefers spontaneity.  I don’t dislike spontaneity — this method has provided many entertaining and wonderful travel memories.  But, sometimes (like when traveling with a trailer into a foreign city where parking may be an issue), I like a plan.  So, as we got closer to the city I continuously called out, “there’s a campground!” only to be ignored.  His thought was that there would be street parking for us and we could just park and walk into the city.  I had my “I told you so” speech all prepared for when we could find no parking.  I mean, come on! Parking a trailer within walking distance to a popular tourist destination? On a Saturday? In the summer? Not possible! And then I heard, “Look! There’s a parking lot with plenty of spots! And, it’s free!” D’oh! My “I told you so” speech was never delivered. Chris was right. Again. I cannot even begin to tell you how tired I am of him being right.

Playing with Emerson in the park.

Quebec City is one of my favorite places. It’s full of culture, life, beautiful parks, fabulous shopping, delicious food, and entertainment.  If only I knew French so I could easily converse with Quebec’s lovely people! We spent the afternoon walking the beautiful and crowded city streets. We watched the street performers do their break-dancing, magic acts, hula hooping, and creepy mannequin/statue poses. Seriously, those statue people both intrigue and creep me out.  We listened to a great band perform. We had incredible falafel wraps followed by delicious gelato.  We sat in one of the many parks, playing with Emerson and people watching. We witnessed not one, not two, not even three, but four wedding parties getting their pictures taken around the city. Finally, we ended our afternoon with some tasty Tim Horton’s coffee (my first ever!) before walking back to the Airstream.

We made our way back to the states that night, crossing into Maine but not before Chris joked around with the border agent.  Again.  And, once again, the border agent did not laugh.  Shocker.

We also learned a valuable lesson that night.  When traveling from Quebec City into Maine, always remember to make sure your gas tank is full.  Just as we crossed the border, our fuel light came on.  It was dark out. We had no cell phone service. We were in the middle of nowhere.  And, at one point, we were towing a trailer up hill fearing that the truck would die at that moment.  We passed a moose and I’m pretty sure he was laughing at us.  Thankfully, we made it to the town of Jackman, Maine on fumes and found a gas station.  Phew! We called Jackman home that night and boondocked at a lovely roadside park.    It was a fun-filled, exhausting day.

8 Responses to Bonjour, Croissant!

  1. Vegetable Assassin

    I’ve been stalking…I mean secretly following your trip for ages now since I would like to do similar someday and I am a giant Airstream fanatic.

    I have to say, I cross the US/Canada border regularly and I know all about the joking thing. Sometimes the Canadian agents will tolerate it and you get some light banter but the Americans never. They stare you down like you just insulted their mom. I believe they are taken into a small room during training and all their emotions are removed along with their sense of humor. They’re all about intimidation. :)

    Looking forward to your next leg. The journey’s I mean, not…yours. That would be bizarre.

  2. Mom

    How do you spell what Miss Piggy always said….Moi?? I have no idea how to spell, but I can say it with such a French flair!!! (Ha ha – a flair with a bit of the deep south mingled in.) Very funny entry – loved the “eating Emerson” part!!!

  3. Lani

    Veg…(can I call you Veg?), So true! The American agents were scary. All three of them. I think you’re right, all emotions have been removed.

    Thank you for commenting. And, for making it so humorous. I sit all day waiting for comments from people other than my mother. (Not that I don’t like my mom commenting and I’m so happy she reads my blog since no other family members do) But it’s nice to hear from others. Please keep stalking…I mean, secretly following.

    I checked out your blog – hilarious. Ahem…even the one about denouncing children. ;-)

  4. Manisha

    Sounds like a great trip! You mentioned another thing i wasn’t really expecting with having a baby: sitting in the park on a blanket. My Niobe loves it! After a long day of traveling back to the city from our Airstream retreat, we make a point to have a Niobe day either out in the park or in our backyard. It helps her get over her carseat annoyance.

    Did you have any croissants?

  5. Ben

    People who read, but never repond are called “lurkers.” It’s scary the first time you post. There’s no telling how many people are going to read your comment and if you say something stupid, you’ll be criticized in front of the whole universe!

    Great story Lani. My wife and I never plan our trips. We just have a general destination in mind; never reservations. I love boondocking, and I’ve decided that RV parks are the worst part of RVing. I hate it when they present you with a multipage list of rules :(

    Have I said too much? I think I’ll go now…

  6. Lani

    Ha! Thanks for the comment Ben! I confess to being a “lurker” of several blogs myself.

    Ugh! the list of rules are the worst! We learned all about that this summer!

  7. Lani

    Manisha, no we didn’t have any croissants. :( But, it was a great trip and Emerson seems to love her blanket time in the park…at least for a few minutes. She definitely needs breaks from her carseat. I’d need a break too if I had to sit backwards and couldn’t really see out the window. :)

  8. Freely Living Life

    Glad yo made it to beautiful Quebec City! Beautiful place to visit.

    Tim Hortons?! Well congratulations on your first ever! Thats a celebration in itself! =) Yummy!

    Take care and safe travels.

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