Since my daughter’s death, her adopted siblings have been critical in my healing process and I hope I’ve been instrumental in their’s as well. As most of her friends reside in Vegas, I was blessed with extended family the seven weeks I slept in her bed and finalized her affairs. It was always necessary for me to come to Montreal to be with another one of my daughter’s adopted siblings, Mirjana and her precious Una. And, although it’s been a bittersweet reunion, we’ve finally been able to go through a process of healing our hearts which could only be done one-on-one. It’s been remarkable. Not only have they embraced me as “mom/grandma,” they have embraced my core, grief and all by making sacrifices and extending themselves in such a way as few in this world do.

Mirjana, a very busy mother , voice teacher and performer in her own right, canceled her scheduled lessons to meet me in Niagara Falls and camp with me on our way to her home in Montreal. She has not only opened her heart but her small apartment and made me feel exceedingly welcome and comfortable.

Her boyfriend, Serge, surprised us all with a special treat. We all went camping in Charlevoix, Quebec where we camped on the banks of the St. Laurent River where it meets the ocean overlooking its rocky cliffs where whales abound. This is about that trip.

The view along the way to Charlevoix, Quebec via Quebec City

The highway view

Longest bridge I ever saw!

Beach along the way to Charlevoix!

Falls along the highway to Charlevoix!

And I thought WE had a lot of churches in the south! Quebec has us beat! As it was my only picture of a church here, I decided to included it even though it certainly isn’t a great one!

Farms with amazing views of the St. Laurent River (St. Lawrence River for those of you who don’t read French! Okay, so I’m showing off a bit!)

Where the river meets the ocean.

We stayed perched on the banks of the St. Lawrence River overlooking where it meets the ocean at Camping Spa Falaise sur Mer in St. Simeon, Charlevoix in Quebec. This facility is erroneously rated Three Stars instead of Five so it comes highly recommended by us. The owner was gracious and extended all courtesies to us above and beyond the call of duty. She even gave us two sites for the price of one. Check it out at http://www.camping-falaisesurmer.com or call 1-888638-1441. The facilities are orderly, clean and new. We really didn’t want to break camp!

Rock climbing in Charlevoix!

Can you see the rock to the left which I repelled and then had to climb back up to get to the campsite? Serge, Una and Mirjana were all quite proud of me. They didn’t know I grew up climbing. This felt awkward but totally doable especially with them cheering me on and lending a hand when needed. Montana helped too, ya’ know!

Montana on the Beach looking for rabbits, deer, squirrels, bicycles and whales? What’s a whale? LOL !

Wildflowers at the campground

On Friday, we took a road trip to Baie St. Paul, a little mountain village.

Breathtaking turns with a magnificent view perched in the middle of the turn!

Unusual architecture is very common here…no two houses the same makes the drive a welcomed relief. Even the farms vary greatly from the more traditional placing of outbuildings far from the main house to several cramped close to the home. This area of Canada had an interesting variation of architecture but it also had something I’d never seen in such abundance: red galvonized roofs and white houses with bright red trim!

Baie St. Catherine where we caught the whale cruise.

Saturday, we took a shorter trip to Baie St. Catherine to catch the whale watching cruise near Tadoussac through Cruises 2001 in Baie St. Catherine. Serge was told three times that we could take Montana on the cruise with us. When we arrived, however, we were told Montana could not go! I freaked out. There was no place to leave her and Serge had already booked the tour. The lady who was to guide us to the cruise ship graciously volunteered to take care of Montana while we were on the four-hour tour. I wasn’t comfortable leaving Montana with a stranger knowing there were horses and dogs in the back of their neighbors’ yard and, with a loose grip on the lease, Montana could take off for Europe or, with a tighter grip, take the nice lady DOWN. Of course, the nice lady didn’t speak English too well but her eyes convinced me she would love up on my puppy the whole time and I’d find her navy blue pants covered in Montana’s white fur! So, off we went.

Marina sign at boat dock

On the cruise.

There’s our first whale sighting! We even heard and saw him “blow” the water out! We were told he was a Minke whale.

The black line of turbulence is a group of seals swimming together at quite a rapid pace for thousand pound animals! If you look closely, you can see their heads out of the water. The white in the middle of them is water splashing.

We then headed toward the fjord where the Beluga Whales are found.

BELUGAS! They’re quite endangered and Atlanta shouldn’t try to keep them in their aquarium. They really don’t do well in captivity. Maybe somebody should tell them to put something in there that does! Duh!

See the white dot in the water? That’s the Beluga! There were several diving rather rapidly and were quite hard to catch on camera.

Breathtaking views

Much to my relief, as we walked off the ship, the lady who took care of Montana greeted us with how much in love she was with her and how she wanted to keep her. She told us of how Montana stayed right by her side and turned over on her back for tummy love. The nice lady was wrapped around Montana’s paw! Thank you God that Montana didn’t take off after the horse in the back!

After she finished telling us all about her time with Montana, I asked her name. It was “Angel”, of course! Their website is: www.croisieres2001.com. They were amazingly accommodating.

After the cruise, we decided to find a beach so we rambled Saguenay where there was a music festival on the beach. We took the ferry to Hotel Tadoussac and played on the beach.

Free ferry boats to Hotel Tadoussac in Saguenay.

Although I liked the idea of finding a beach, my idea was to find a deserted beach but was out voted. They wanted to go to the beach where there was a music festival in town and I pictured being trampled with hordes of drunk people. I was so wrong. The beach was lovely and not crowded at all. There was a sand art competition and Serge and I picked our favorite to be the one that looked like a forest.

Beach at Hotel Tadoussac in Saguenay

Sand art

Boats anchored right off the beach.

Marina just a few feet from the beach.

Montana playing on the beach with the rich and famous!

We went back to the campsite tired but very happy. Una and I got cracked out on Smores (Marshmellows roasted over an open fire sandwiched between dark chocolate and two graham crackers…drool…as in “I want some more!”) yet another night, showered and turned in early as Sunday was going to be full of more adventures in 600-year-old Old Quebec City (Le Vieux Quebec).

First sight of Quebec City!

Beautiful city but Old Quebec City is what we were going to see.

Old Quebec City has very steep inclines but it is worth the extra effort. This is from the park which sits below the palace and above this view. Beautiful city.

The palace above the park overlooking the structures in the pictures above.

Hotel Chateau Frontenac in Old Quebec City. Beautiful old world architecture designed by an American Architect in the late 1800’s. Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met there during the early 1940’s to discuss strategies of World War II.

Chateau Frontenac

Chateau Frontenac

And what trip would be complete without a picture of Montana? For those who don’t personally know Montana, she’s a bird dog of the English Pointer variety which means she’s a hunter. Hunting anything that moves is her passion be it squirrel, turtle, rabbit, deer or bicycle. And, as there are so many bicycles in Montreal, she’s been quite challenged keeping up with all of them.

Is that a bicycle I see over there?

We enjoyed a dessert at a cafe overlooking the old city.

We continued onto Montreal back to the apartment and Montana’s obsession with finding all the bicycles in Montreal!

We’ll stay here a few more days before heading toward Prince Edward Island to find Anne of Green Gables.

The healing heart tour continues for a few more weeks. I plan to be back at the cabin around the first weeks of July. Then, I’ll head toward Florida to see other family down there which includes my other granddaughter, Angela, who was born during this fray.

Happy Trails!

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