Thursday August 8, 2013. Day 63

Ottawa to Vankleek Hill

Guest posting from Team Twite and their Tandem (Marius and Helen):  Day 4 of cycling in Canada, and Day 1 of cycling with Paul and Lois.  After breakfast at the Best Western in Ottawa – get there before 7 am to beat the crowds! – we started the day properly with expresso (or tea if your name’s Helen) at Bridgehead, before photos in front of Parliament, where hundreds of Scouts from around the world had turned out to greet us….and to be addressed by the Governor General.  We then hit the tarmac, weaving through the suburbs before joining the Prescott-Russell railway line.  The line was turned into a leisure trail (bikes in summer; skidoos in winter) in 1999 and provides a good crushed stone surface without any significant slopes.   Whilst the day was hot, we were sustained by a lunch of sandwiches and cake (also purchased at Bridgehead this morning), and sheltered from the sun by trees lining some of the route. We continued on the same trail through the afternoon, before leaving to ride into Vankleek Hill (“Gingerbread Capital of Ontario”) to find our accommodation, a beautiful small house.  Team Gul-lie (or Les-ly) proved to be good company and knowledgable about local birdlife, flora and bicycling hand signals.  We understand that they also excel in medical matters, but hope not to have to try this out.  We’re looking forward to sampling the beer from Vankleek Hill’s Beau Brewing Company this evening, but apparently we have to cycle to Montreal tomorrow so we can’t have too much.

Highlights (sites):  Bourget station (lovely old station building still standing); Plantagenet (for the ice cream shop); Alfred’s Bog (for the name).
Highlights (wildlife):  Turkey Vultures; butterflies (lots, and varied); 2 garter snakes (1 dead, 1 very much alive); horse flies (many; maximum flight speed of around 20kph); turtle; large as-yet unidentified hawk-type bird.
p.s. (from Lois) We did sample the beer, which was very good, and managed to resist compromising our ability to remain safely on the straight and narrow (cycle path) tomorrow. We also toured the town, which included having a look at Higginson  Tower, and talking our way into a pastry shop that was closed  (the owner has also agreed to let us in at 8:00 tomorrow morning, although she doesn’t open until 10:00).

We remain on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Nation.

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