My last post was written when I was comfortably engrossed in vacation doings for a week. We had a respite by a small lake in New Hampshire and got to spend a lot of time enjoying the outdoors. On the last couple of days, I'd gotten away from work long enough so that I'd unwound and was able to have a couple of productive writing sessions on my current work in process, in between kayak rides and visits to the local restaurants. Here's a scene from that trip.
A couple of weeks later, a business trip took me to one of my favorite North American cities, Quebec City. From where I live near Boston, there's no concept of a direct flight to QC, so I rented a car and drove the 425 miles. It's a long, but scenic ride. Near the halfway point, the highway narrowed and I stopped by one of the most beautiful areas in New England, Franconia Notch. This is an area with a lot of history and precious little development. Just up the road, we once were able to view the famous Old Man in the Mountain, until the jutting stones that made up the face came down to earth about ten years ago. But the mountains themselves still remain, along with a campground, paved bike path and several trails that lead up to the peaks of several mountains. My odometer said I still had a long way to go, but taking the time to get out of the car and walk around gave me the extra boost I needed to complete the trip. This kind of view gave me lots of energy to keep going:
The ride to Quebec City was a long one. I got off the road in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, checked my map and realized I was only halfway there after driving through all of New Hampshire. But once I reached Canada, the miles got consumed at a steady pace and I arrived in Quebec City before dusk. When I finally settled in my hotel room, the view was amazing, as I faced a panorama along the St. Lawrence River and had clear sight lines looking across to the historic Hotel Frontenac.
Quebec City in the summertime is a remarkable place. The city is hilly, but a walkabout reveals intriguing vistas, streets filled with roving pedestrians and many choices for food, drink and shopping. From my hotel, the walled city -- Vieux Quebec -- was just steps away. An outdoor stage was set up just downhill from there, and a variety of world music was pumped out by various live bands during that week.
I stayed very busy during the day attending a standards meeting, but evening offered the chance to sample what the city had to offer. I ate well, enjoying diverse seafood dishes and other hearty fare throughout the week. The city has a festive atmosphere during its short summer and this included live shows by Cirque du Soleil, who set up underneath one of the local highways and began their performances once darkness fell.
The route to the stage entailed walking several blocks, dropping down several stories via wooden staircases and then following a circuituitous path to the impromptu stage area. Here's a sample of what it looked like just before the troupe began their performance:
Once the show began, we were treated to an extravaganza of pulsing lights, crazy ensemble acrobatics and an energetic mix of live and recorded music. My favorite bit was when several of the men got on trampolines and were jumping so high that they were able to literally walk up the walls of towers.
I had a great week in Quebec City and this added a totally different dimension to a summer which was otherwise dominated by lots of outdoor activities. As I write this, the days of Indian summer have just passed and autumn's nip is in the air. The change of seasons is underway and we'll be seeing lots of color in the weeks ahead here in New England.
How was your summer? Did it inspire you? Or are you only too ready for the fall season to begin?