Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Roque, the campsite with river devoid of fish, Poutine and other stories

This was our weekend with Roque, the sax/flute/clarinet (and also basoon, just not on our ship) master-player who sadly finished his last contract on the ship in July, and is living in Quebec city.

We showed up at his place, where dinner was served promptly and with Roque's inimitable flair. Roque has two fantastic cats, and he gives them lionish haircuts to make them look even more ferociously cool.
After dinner we took a 12k bikeride to this waterfall, a real beauty, where you could walk over a bridge across the top. There was also a very grand-looking hotel, where Roque used to play in a quartet, but he says "like so many things" the job is no longer there. We sat and drank wine-coolers and beer til it was really dark, and then came back.

Eric and I went into the town for a drink, and my favourite Canadian comfort food (yes, it even beats maple syrup in the 'SO unneccessary' food-treat stakes) poutine.

Usually, poutine is your basic chips (fries), curd cheese (squeaky cheese) and onion gravy, but we bought the souped-up version with chilli and sausage, all for a wonderful $4.

Next day, we took Roque out campervan camping, to a park known for it's fishing. You see, I've been desperate to try fishing for most of my adult (and some of my child) life, and although I'm a total beginner, Eric has been fishing once, and Roque is just a pro (see below). We were armed with a fishing permit (significantly more expensive if you're not Canadian) a brand new Canadian Tire $35 fishing line complete with various trout-fishing bait and waterproof guide, and Roque's amazing 1975 bolero trailer.

Here the guys are adjoining it to Roque's super car/van.

I must confess, I love Roque, but I'm IN love with his trailer. Look at this thing, it's like a Tardis, it has a fridge, double stove, sink, microwave (even sattelite TV!) these pictures don't even show the interior fully set up, but it was a gem.

Roque hooked it up to the electricity and water (again, the 'service' sites are different from regular camping. They have different sections for 2 and 3 service vans, ie. our camper doesn't have a toilet inside, so we don't need the third service. I'm kind of glad about this! I learnt that you still have to drain the tank of waste in most models) and got a toaster going and his CD player.

Eric meanwhile climbed this tree, and we went for a lake swim. I'm getting better at them, the cold tollerance is building up.

When we got back to Roque, he'd prepared a cold dinner with the planning and skill of an old pro who's been taking that trailer out once a year since 1975. Roque does neither desire nor require help when doing such things, so I got the fire going. Yes, me! I let Eric play with the embers, and stuff, but it was all my doing!

We learned that we couldn't just go out and fish that night, we had to wait and come back for 'the lottery' later on at the camp HQ, with our letter saying who we were, printed by them. The lottery was to begin at 9pm sharp. This was all very intriguing.

So, after dinner, Eric and I walked purposefully to the main-building with the relevant documentation in-hand. I realised I'd done well and gotten into the spirit of things when I turned up with my sneaky glass of red wine, because there on the porch, waiting for The Lottery to commence were around thirty other people, all slightly sloshed and all recounting the triumphs of their days' fishing ("It was thiiiiis big!") and psyching themselves up for tomorrow.

At 9pm (sharp, naturally) all filed in, and we stood and waited. I took this picture, realising I'd totally blown my cover as a fisherwoman. And so, the lottery began. Everyone who was a) in the campsite and b) had a permit waited for their pitch number to be called, and then chose a site for the next day's fishing from the board. The sites were assigned little blocks which you took with you, and only 2 boats per area, thus the fish remain plentiful.

Our problem was we had no idea which sites were better than others. Is it better to fish trout in a lake, or a river?

As The Lottery went on, I was conscious of all the little blocks diminishing in number, realising some sites most definitely were tried-and-tested favourites. Finally, there was just us left. The guy looked at us in dismay and said, "Did you not put your letter in the bucket?"

Ah. No. We thought we were just supposed to HOLD it to prove who we were and YOU did the rest. Oops.

So, we had the pick of the worst places to fish, but the guy was still very confident the river he recommended would suit us fine, and we would fill our quotas. This was the exact moment of the little block handover. We were warned you are not allowed to take away any more than 15 trout per person, that's your quota. 15! Suddenly I was excited, and on his advice bought some live worms, here they are, and a blue spinner because we were talking to a man who said trout like the blue shiny colour.

The next morning, at 7am, we were sitting in our 1975 trailer, eating home-made bread, getting ready to go fishing and listening to cranked-up Strauss on the CD player. A random set of circumstances in anyone's books!

We set out, and Roque quickly decided he didn't want to row, and as he didn't have a permit, left us to it. He did mention he couldn't see any trout, but that didn't deter me. Steeling myself to put the worm on the hook (which I performed unaided), and reading aloud from my waterproof Canadian Tire guide, I set up my line. What is a "riffle" anyway? And how do trout get "behind them" I was wondering.

We rowed some, we fished some. And then some more. I realised I was myself becoming bait, for mosquitos and even worse, black flies. I was clad from head to foot, but the small sliver of skin that is revealed between the small of your back and your butt when you sit on a low boat bench and hunch over to sort out you bait/line was covered in bites. They even scarred, and two weeks later I'm still scratching. They also bite around your hairline, your neck and behind your ears, EVEN when you're wearing a baseball cap.

By 12.30 we'd caught nothing. NOTHING. Sadly, no pictures of this escapade survived, because there was no big catch money-shot. We left, and Roque drove us back to Quebec. We stopped in McDonalds on the long drive back to Montreal, because with no fish to BBQ and the cooked chicken (the Plan B for all fisher/campers!) eaten the night before we were starving. Guess what I had? A Fillet-o-Fish, I relished it, I devoured that horrible fish just as if I'd hauled it in on my brand new line.


Runaway Rubber Duckie said...

It's so good to see pics of Roque!! I miss that guy... Love the pic of Roque on his bike, too, and was happy to see inside his house and rare antique, the Boler Trailer! (My grandparents had one, once)

Will you please remind Eric to water my thirsty Bamboo tree stump? Thanx...

quill said...

Thank you for your comment you left on my blog. I do tend to leave quite a few of my musings on place mats newspapers or anything really.