All Altos on the river’s edge
At last we get to the destination event of this whole journey! Way back in December, when I was a firm nope on making this trek again, this was the gathering that was giving me the most FOMO. Even when I knew it would be a horribly stressful experience to make the return home in just over a week’s time, I still made reservations for La Jolie Rochelle, just in case. The just in case paid off when I found out that the school year would start two weeks later than I expected. That made the return trip doable, and thus the whole cross country adventure was on the table! That’s how fun these people are and how much I wanted to be at this location with them again. How does that old commercial go? 4,000 miles worth of gas: a million dollars; forty nights of reservations: another million dollars; camping with these Altoistes: priceless.
Find someone who looks at you the way Dory is looking at Frederic Pratte
Taking a break from the horrible travel conditions, we made a quick stop in St. Frederic. I really didn’t have any idea where we were, but when I saw the sign, I made a quick turn toward the Safari Condo factory. I was hoping we might catch Mr. Frederic Pratte there for a Dory shot, and he delivered. And in a swanky suit no less! Then it was on to the campground to settle in for three nights. Richard was pretty tense about the rain by the time we got there, and was certain it would be like that for the next ten days straight. Unhitching, he dropped a washer from the tongue wheels and it landed in an inch of grassy water. It was definitely lost forever. Then he went to plug in, but he always uses a power tester on the pole before hooking up. It showed red and indicated a problem with the ground, which meant it was a bad idea to plug in, which meant we wouldn’t be able to dehumidify by using the AC. Richard was bumming and there was no way to bike off the frustration.
The correct group to camp with
Here’s the thing about camping with Altoistes: they are very smart people and many of them have advanced unofficial degrees in electronics. Through the use of multimeters and their combined know how, they determined that the pole was , in their technical terminology: “f*cked.” However, there was one among them, Jim from RouteAlto80, who had modded a 15-30 amp adaptor plug so that it would fit into poles exactly like these, thus allowing us to plug in through our neighbors’ extra 110 outlet. See what I mean? If you’re going to have a camping problem, you want to be camping with these people.
Huh. Wasn’t there a bank here a little while ago?
The rest of the night it continued to rain pretty hard. I had noticed when we pulled in that the river level was quite a bit higher than I remembered from the last time. In the morning, as I pulled the curtain back to greet the day, I was starting to wonder whether the river could get so high that it would flood the banks. It was rushing hard, and I watched as a large rock in the middle of the current slowly became engulfed and submerged. I was not the only one questioning what it would take to rise another several feet.
Our glorious group (and one random tenter who must have felt awkward)
Morning brought some relief from the deluge, and the chance to greet and chat with many people. Most we had not seen in person since the last Grand Rassemblement, five years ago. Oh how I wish someone would invent a trailer teleportation device. It is really far too long between visits.
At least he got lost onto a bike trail
The plan for the day was to get Richard on his bike STAT. Following that, we wanted to get back into Quebec City to be touristy. Richard had procured a bicycle map from the office and it showed straightforward bike trails as well as signed routes that mostly went on city streets. He wanted to do a street one, but his talent for getting immediately lost made the choice for him, as he took a wrong turn right off the bat, but at least found himself on a bike path. I was able to monitor his location and simply met him at the farthest point where the path crossed the road. He was much more himself at that point, and we then drove into the city.
Being city mice on the Plains of Abraham
Quebec City is definitely a big time metropolis for the likes of us, so we gamed the parking situation by leaving the car outside the craziness of downtown. We walked about a mile from there to the center of the city and just started finding places of interest. We did not know that this week happened to be the Festival d’Ete de Quebec. There were tons of people, with booths and live music spread across the center of town. It was a scene, but fun, and we’d worked up an appetite. We chose a touristy, but delicious place to have dinner: Le Casse-Crepe Breton. I had an amazing savory ham, cheese, and asparagus crepe. After dinner, we found gelato at Le Vendome. It was another mile to walk back to the car, making a total of about five and a half miles for the day. I really wanted to earn that gelato.
Crepes in Quebec seemed appropriate
By the time we left, it was after 8, and it would take about an hour to get back to the campground. We were content, but tired, and turned in just before an exciting lightning storm blew through. I was glad not to be plugged into the pole with the faulty ground, I can tell you.
Malcom is super serious and never any fun
By morning, there were blue skies and receding waters. I stayed in the campground all day, catching up with people and watching the river level go down. Richard went out for another ride and I coached him through the confusing parts using Find My Friends. It’s good to be able to track him because he does get lost rather a lot. He returned happy and hot, and more than willing to try taking a dip in the river. That night, we all gathered round a campfire and drank and laughed. This is the best life can get.
Hmm… I wonder whose bright orange van that is in the middle?
Our last morning offered a chance for me and my buddy Kit to have our dip in the water. It really wasn’t too cold and we both got some great shots of the row of Altos all lined up at the river’s edge. Soon, it was time to start packing up and making our way to the Dump Dance. Happily, this was a move and not a farewell because now it was time to form the Alto Parade and head together to the Great Gathering.
Hate to break camp
If this happened every year, I don’t know what I’d do. For now, I will be content with every five. I am so glad we came. It was really good for the soul to be with these people in this place. The grand parking lot adventure is something entirely different, so this pre rally rally is the perfect way to get the vibes going.
Total miles from Prouty Beach: 249.4, 17.2 mpg, 6 hours 32 min of rain and misery. Site 10. “Hookups” except the pole at our specific site was no good (“F…ed” was the diagnosis given by very smart people). Fast wifi that you can pay for by device. 1 bar of LTE for both, but intermittent. Water at the site. Dump was fine, though dumping with 12 of your best friends can be a complex dance.