For our final stop in a long exploration of eastern Canada & New England, we pulled up to a grand house in a leafy neighborhood. Our home exchangers left a beautiful gift basket for us (thanks Korina & Stéphane!) and our mellow introductory day of lounging was capped off with local berries on ice cream in the backyard.
The next day we explored a wooden maze of one-way doors. Sarah really got to practice her French since they woman running it didn't speak English and we got to practice our deduction skills since there was no map.
While one might say that eventually I cheated, that isn't exactly true. I tried to release a one-way latch from the wrong side to get to where Sarah was, but I couldn't fit my hand in between the slats. So I got The Little Lady to do the dirty work. Once that small hurdle was passed we solved it legitimately moving forward, though we didn't actually catch up with Sarah, who eventually, and grudgingly, agreed to allow me to open the door for her so the boys could quench their thirst since I was the only one with the water.
Did I mention that Canada (& Boston) was hot? Except for some of our time in the Maritimes, the trip was a direct confirmation of climate change. So we took the next day at the local water park.
That said, it was actually the coldest day we were there, so we were thankful that the water in the wave pool and on all the slides was heated(!).
That night we cleaned our borrowed house and got ready to welcome our guests of honor: my folks!
We finally went into Quebec City proper and explored the walled city.
"We need to cross this park...wait, what are you doing?"
And yes, like every other tourist, I took too many pictures of Le Château Frontenac hotel.
Day one in the city gained us our bearings, while day two offered more earthly delights. Our food tour of the old town was spectacular. Highlights included fancy poutine, maple taffy on snow, and Québécois mac and cheese with maple bacon. They kind of have a thing for maple syrup.
The Museum of Civilization rounded out the day. The optical illusion section was quite captivating.
It was quite amazing to wander a city which celebrated its 400-year anniversary ten years ago (granted, Panama City will be celebrating 500 years next year). The buildings were neat, but when we learned about how life was like back then we were certainly glad that we live in 2018.
Do you need a better look at the sad little gal? I think you do.
Next, a geography lesson. The Great Lakes drain into the St. Lawrence river, which flows past Montreal and Quebec City, then widens tremendously until it blends into the Atlantic. On maps it's still labeled as the St. Lawrence river well into what I would call the ocean, but I'm neither a professional geographer nor am I Canadian, so it seems I'm unqualified to make that call.
But I digress. the "river" is saltwater as it passes the town of Tadoussac, where an actual river meets it and gives is shot of cold freshwater. Why do you care about all of this? Because this mix makes krill happy, which then makes whales happy, which then makes Schnacks happy when they see them. See?
That there's a Minke whale, and we saw a bunch of them! We also saw at least one fin whale (the second biggest whales on the planet!), as well as a some harbor seals and the showy humpback whales. How are they showy, you may be wondering? Because they always show off their tail right before they dive. Like this:
The boat ride was fun as well.
On the way home we stopped by a local jocal honey farm and the biggest pilgrimage site north of Mexico.
And then it was time to say goodbye. To Grammy and Gramps. To our last beautiful home exchange. To our, gulp, summer vacation. We certainly squeezed quite a bit out of it, I think. We did good.