Travels in the American Southwest

From 101° to  -21° (and then some!)

What a difference from my usual travels when survival concerns things like heat stroke, dehydration, and overheated radiators. Now my worries were on the other end of the spectrum - frostbite, wind chill factors and hypothermia.

Most Significant Other (MSO) and I headed to Quebec City, Canada, originally the soul and center of New France. Perched on the north side of the St. Lawrence river, you'd think you were in a village in France. 18th and 19th century granite buildings topped with steep pitched slate and copper roofs line the narrow streets. Quebec City has been called the most European city in North America. The architecture reminded MSO and me of travels in Europe. Some 95% of the residents are of french ancestry, many speaking only french. This posed few problems as we relied on near-forgotten high school french, the resident's halting english and a lot of arm waving and gesticulating! When we went astray, it was just part of the adventure.

Why would any semi-rational human being, used to vacationing in the summertime desert, head to a land where the it was considered a warm day when the temperature made it into the teens?  Carnival! Just like Rio but with a whole lot fewer bikinis and thongs showing. Quebec City's Winter Carnival is the 637,000 residents' way of thumbing their collective nose at the winter season. In 2003, the biggest winter festival in the world ran from January 31st to February 16th. The event's mascot is a rolly-polly snowman named Bonhomme who oversees the celebration. Activities range from an international snow sculpture competition attracting artists from around the globe to a hair-raising canoe race crossing the ice floe-sprinkled St. Lawrence River.

Join us as we travel to where the the average temperature is below zero, Arctic wind howls down from the North Pole and people have learned to have a whole lotta fun in the most adverse of conditions.

 Day 1