Like I said, visit Quebec City, but don’t pass up some of the great nearby locations like Mont Sainte Anne.
The winter after my first trip to Canada, I returned with my great friend Mary whom I met in a French class at WVU. We shared a love for travel and french, so I invited her along for a great adventure. I usually prefer to travel solo, but I am so glad that Mary went with me. She is travel savvy and a go-getter when it comes to adventure.
Mont-Sainte-Anne is located about 44km north of Quebec City and you can easily catch a bus to take you there. Mary and I woke up before the sun, had a very quick breakfast, wrapped our scarves around our face and headed to catch the bus at 7am.
Keep in mind that I was new in my adventurous ways and my french wasn’t the best. Especially with the joual accent of Quebec. So we told the driver our destination, boarded the crowded bus and took our seats as close as possible to each other. I noticed that a lot of the other travels on the bus were skiers and some were even American. Taking the bus in a new place is always something that I want to do, but it also makes me a little nervous. A word to the wise, make sure that you know where you are getting off or that you tell the driver that you are unsure and ask if they could announce the stops. With that being said, I don’t really remember if the driver said that location and I didn’t understand or if he said anything at all. I just remember it taking a long while and him yelling out “terminus.” Yep, Mary and I had completely missed our stop. My first big touristy mistake.
If you happen to miss your stop, don’t fret. It often makes for a good story like this one. Mary approached the driver and said “we are really embarrassed, we think that we missed our stop.” He looked at us for a while, then said “the roads are too bad for me to turn around.” Duh duh duhhhhh.
After some negotiating and a rather large tip, we convinced him to turn around and take us to our original destination. Laugh it off, because we as humans are silly and mess up from time to time.
OH! Have a mentioned what our plans were for that day? DOG SLEDDING! Let me repeat, we were going DOG SLEDDING!! Now you understand how excited we were and why it was so imperative that we took the bus back.
It had been a longtime goal of mine, in fact, dog sledding was high on my bucket list. Traveling tip 23: check out the local tourist office because that is where we discovered dog sledding was an option. Mary and I arrived… late… and quickly began our crash course in sledding. Guess what, you and your partner get your own sled. I had imagined that they would pair us with one of the guides, but nope, you actually get your own dog team and you drive the sled. We learned how to command the dogs — in french — and what to do if your sled rolled. Being the nice guy I am, I let Mary drive the sled first while I rode (not really, I was too shy to be the first driver ;p).
It turns out, dog sledding is not the easiest thing to do. Poor out-of-shape me could barely keep up. When you are going uphill, you should run behind the sled to make it easier for your dogs — keeping in mind that you don’t actually push the sled, you just are not on the runners. Thankfully, Mary is a powerhouse and drove most of the way.
When I return for another dog sledding adventure, it is highly likely that I will use Les Secrets Nordiques again. The guides were so kind and understanding that we had never done it before. One of the other awesome parts was that at the end of our sledding (about two hours I believe), the guides took us to the dog compound and we got to meet all of the different dog teams.
We got to meet some precious baby angles, the husky pups! I am a dog lover through and through, so this made me happier than christmas morning. I can’t tell you how long that pic of me with the pup was my facebook profile picture. In fact, I remember feeling obligated to change it because it was summertime. Those memories with Mary, sledding through the canadian wilderness, are ones that I will cherish forever–thanks Mary! ❤
That evening, while waiting for the bus, was the harshest snow storm I have ever been in…ever! Mary and I started walking backwards to get into the lodge because the snow was coming down so hard that it hurt when it hit your face. I remember wondering whether or not the bus would even come to take us home. Mary and I nestled up next to the door so that we had the best view of the parking lot when our bus showed up. I had to assist opening the door several times on account of the wind blowing so hard against the door that it was even difficult for me to open. Once, I helped open the door for an older lady, watched her barely be able to walk against the strong wind, dust off her windshield and drive away. I was floored! She could barely walk outside and now she was going to drive home. Those québécois, they are winter savvy for sure.
Mont-Sainte-Anne offers other attractions than just dog sledding. Of course you can ski, snowboard or take lessons in either at their school. Don’t hesitate taking public transportation while traveling, as it is the best way to experience day-to-day life. But please, don’t be shy enough to not want to talk to your driver and be prepared! This remains, thankfully, my only “Oh shit!!” moment on any of my travels. I am glad it happened, but let’s make it a one time deal.
With much love,