Friday, September 16, 2011

Montreal to Ottawa - Part 3

Ottawa to L'Orignal - 62 miles

We were tired Friday afternoon, especially after checking into the Ottawa Jail Hostel and lugging our heavy bikes up and down stairs and through a warren of rooms to a secure courtyard. That particular storage area is a beer garden at night, so the husband and I fretted a bit, wondering whether our panniers and tent would be pilfered (had this trouble in the past), but we just decided to let it go. Neither of us wanted to unhook and lug the extra baggage to the 3rd floor, only to stow it in a bunk room with 8 beds - there was miscommunication with our private room reservation. It was a similar situation, leaving the car in a parking lot for four days. Some things are just not worth the worry.

After a rejuvenating shower we set off on a walk. I immediately noticed the BIXI public bikes, same type as Montreal.

Black squirrels are a common sight and I finally photographed one, nosing around the Parliament building.

From the hill the view is breathtaking. Public parks line both sides of the river.

Looking back on the Victoria Bridge.

The ornate library connected to the Parliament.

I'm constantly amazed at what one can discover by bike, but this miniature housing arrangement we would only come across on foot. It's a shelter for cats, started 20 years ago by one person, and taken over recently by another to continue the love for the homeless felines. All cats are spayed or neutered, and fed daily. Notice the occupant at the food dish on the right - it's an opportunistic black squirrel.

A short amble along the canal... There is a 10K bike path on each side. But we were exhausted, even for walking. Though Ottawa was our turnaround destination for the trip, we plan to come back with our family as there are multiple paths and museums worth a whole vacation - only a 3 hour drive from home. I'm also intrigued by nearby Gatineau Park.

Our bicycles outside the Ottawa Jail Hostel. The jail was in use until 1972.

Saturday morning, after a good night's sleep and breakfast in the hostel's kitchen, we set off in the chilly air. We wore sweaters and tights. The plan was to follow Brian Hedney's cycling route on the other side of the river back towards Montreal, on the promise that it would be quieter.

I loved this metal spider sculpture, approximately 3 stories high.

Following a bike lane on a parkway past lots of embassies, we eventually pedal on a separate path graciously hugging the river. The surface was sometimes smooth gravel. The locals walked dogs or jogged the pleasant trails. 1-, 2-, 4-,6- and 8-person sculls skimmed the glassy surface, reminding me of gigantic water striders. Someday I'd like to try out this type of boat as the movement looks graceful and methodical. The river and sky were constant companions for 30K of trail. What a world of difference from the two previous days' rides! 

When the route headed inland, it followed a busier highway, unfortunately with rolling hills too, but after 10K we headed back toward the river again, passing in and out of small towns. We purchased juice at a grocery store and brought our bikes to where the back parking lot emptied onto this welcoming grassy bank. A perfect place for a picnic.

By days end we entered L'Orignal to tent at the municipal campground. But providence shined again in the form of a biker who invited us to use his lawn or stay at his bed & breakfast. It reminded me of our  tree house adventure in Bromont on last year's Canadian trip.

The narrow property extends all the way to the river.
Jacques Riopel invited us for a beer on his terrace. Thankfully, he confirmed our inquiry regarding pedaling East of Hawksbury - current directions had us crossing a bridge thus repeating 30 miles of Route Verte 1. A chill and heavy dew promised a cold night so Jacques and I biked to a store - I borrowed his wife's Electra Townie for the hurried trip. With its upright style and hands way above my shoulders, it was an odd change from my Miyata. A convenient picnic table stood at the river's edge. Hot soup, cheese curds, and pie (we do like our pie!) rounded out the evening..

Looking uphill from the table. Jacques' home in the background.
Tired and cool, I hunkered in the tent and perused the new maps from Jacques while my husband went for a walk. A creek bordered Jacques' land, spilling into the Ottawa river, providing a soothing backdrop aided by a chorus of chirping crickets - for the first time I didn't wear earplugs. L'Orignal is, thankfully, a sleepy town, even on a Saturday night.


  1. It all looks beautiful! I have not heard of L'Original, but will keep in mind when we head out there sometime in the next few years. ... I love the property where you stayed.. pretty cool for a chance encounter!

  2. I've been following your touring and it just makes me want to chuck it all and head out. The jail hostel sounds interesting, love the cat hotel, black squirrels, library ( is it used that way?) and spider sculpture. I think you've inspired me to visit next summer. Hope you continue to have a great trip.


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