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Ramblin's IV


Pat Gluck

Back in the '70's, my wife and I were on our way to a convention which my company had sent me to for 'meritorious services.' It was held at a beautiful Chateau overlooking the St. Lawrence River on the Point-au-Pic cliff in the heart of the Charlevoix region of southeastern Quebec, Canada.

The scenery was spectacular, my Volvo was in tip-top shape, and my wife was astounded at the view and mountains, etc. Neither of us had experienced such surroundings, having lived in the 'flatlands' in the State of Illinois in the U.S.A.

Well, on the chart, (you guys call it a map) it showed a secondary road, paralleling our main highway, that ultimately led to our destination anyhow. I reasoned that if we took this lesser route we just might get a glimpse of what the local scenery had to offer.

That detour was sure bedlam! It was like a roller-coaster ride at an amusement park! As we came to the top of some 'hills,' our car seemed to just hang there with no vision of the roadway beneath it! This got to my wife who, alternately, laughed and screamed and clutched her seatbelt and the dashboard simultaneously! Later, she admitted to peeing in her pants because she was so frightened! As for me, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. My car was equipped with what they call a 'synchromesh transmission' with four speeds, allowing me to gear up or gear down while moving at any speed without having to use my brakes. It was like the Sunday races I was accustomed to where I had to downshift to negotiate a tight turn on the track.

The small towns we drove through were quaint and picturesque and we had never seen anything like that except on our T.V.'s. All of the houses had big... no, HUGE... piles of firewood stacked neatly next to them. We knew, then, with terrain like that, the people were forced to remain in their homes once winter arrived. In mountains such as those it would have been utterly impossible to use a motorcar in bad weather!

I noticed two American cars behind me, from time to time when vision permitted, and then they disappeared from view. I assumed their automatic transmissions didn't allow them to slow down, when necessary, and that they had to use their brakes... and had to use their brakes... and had to use their brakes! Whether they and their cars EVER got to the convention, I never knew!

At any rate, during the course of our stay at the hotel, some would chat about the beauty of the trip up from the 'States.' Being some sort of a devil, I remarked that, on the way home, they should take that spur on Highway # (?) which was most scenic and unusual.

Here it is, some thirty years later, and I am apologizing to all those who heeded my advice about that detour I mentioned to them. Whether or not they ever got home, I'll never know. As for me, I stuck to the main road on the way back!!!

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