Heading out of Trois-Rivieres, the Ducati Multistrada and I arc slightly south and skirt the edges of Montreal. The morning starts with something novel and surprising for a wet-coaster like myself, a new type of rain. I thought I’d seen it all, but Quebec serves up something new – a cool, penetrating drizzle. I’m not sure how that’s possible, but it is.
No matter how I wipe the creeping moisture, it fogs my visor in and out, limiting my visibility. Eventually I concede slight defeat and pull into a Tim Horton’s and Esso to refill. Ahead of me in line are a young couple ordering. The woman dressed with a stylish and effortless Québécois verve, and with only a light accent asks for a “triple, triple.”
Three sugar and three cream, it sounds brilliant and I can’t help myself from exclaiming, “I didn’t even know that was an option.”
Truly, the concept never occurred to me. The result is warm, sweet and rich – exactly what the doctor ordered after the weather. I fold my map out across the Multistrada’s seat to get the “big picture”, as the drizzle diminishes.
The GPS is great, but it never gives you a true sense of the possible routes. Unfortunately neither does the map I’ve purchased; it simply adds vague hopes of non-freeway routes to the journey with a lack of resolution.
The couple walks over coffees in hand and start to chat. Christina and Mark are traveling to Montreal, Mark’s driving truck and Christina joins him for stints. Healthy, happy, and fit this couple could be the new face of trucking for any marketing campaign the industry sees fit to launch.
Mark lives outside Toronto, on the “7”, will and asks if I’ll make it down that way? I admit that having “done” Toronto and the surrounding area on the way out east that I’d like to take a more northerly course. I begin paging though the GPS route, but Mark offers a better option. It’s off to his rig, where he and Christina pull out a laptop and mapping software and load me up with route suggestions.
You would think the road is lonely, that traveling solo invites isolation, but it doesn’t. As I discovered during my attempt to reach the Arctic Circle, there is a quiet community of travelers. They form a network woven out of rumours, happenstance meetings, and the occasional bit of radio chatter, and most importantly, people quietly watching each other’s backs. It was stronger in Newfoundland, where tour bus passengers greeted me in the hotel lobby after gossiping with other travelers about that guy on the bike. Here in populated areas, it’s not as needed, and therefore is less developed, but the road community is still comforting.
The drizzle has ceased, we part ways, Mark’s big rig pulling out of the parking lot with a wave while I gear up. Thrumming along the Autoroute 50 a contradiction grabs my eye, the antithesis of the community I’ve just experienced… an eerily empty place – Mirabelle.
If there was one thing the soulless 70’s era Russian industrial complex architecture of the Mirabel airport was never meant to be it was empty. Opened October 4th, 1974, Mirabel’s passenger terminal operated until passenger operation ceased on October 31st, 2004. Cargo flights continue to use Mirabel, but to ride around the abandoned passenger terminal is creepily cinematic. An airport without people, planes or the promise of travel, a place devoid of life and purposeless, Mirabel simply waits begging to be a zombie flick set. I can’t help setting up the camera, riding the wrong way along a one way, and taking advantage of the setting’s surreal properties… until I’m asked to leave by security
Here’s the definition of a job without prospect of advancement, protecting a disused airport in our Bush-ian era of fear. Likely my antics made this cowboy’s day… is there a French Canadian equivalent of cowboy in the personality sense? I mean other than “Anglo”?