Return to Val David: There are safe ways to renew our souls during COVID

We took our first foray outside our Montreal neighbourhood last week when we visited our favourite motel in Ste. Agathe des Monts for four days. It was a bit of a leap for us to leave the city and the comfort and safety of our lower duplex on Marcil Ave. in N.D.G. but it was well worth it.

We stayed at the Clair Mont, which is on Highway 117 halfway between Val David and the centre of Ste. Agathe. We were welcomed by Bruce the owner who cleaned our room again, before he allowed us to enter it. Then I did my own Lysol cleaning of the surfaces and we immediately decided to take out the little table and two chairs and have our meals on the balcony. Fortunately, we were the only travelers to go this route.

We found a Maxi supermarket not far away and stocked up on anything that could be microwaved and kept in the fridge (with the exception of “TV dinners”), having brought some keto pancakes (made with almond flour) and other treats to see us through the four days.

There’s a lot you can heat in a microwave including broccoli and corn on the cob, and with Irwin’s ready-made chicken and cold cuts and my Caesar Salad and Veggie Salami and with lots of hard boiled eggs, fruit, and fresh veggies, we were pretty well set for food and had no desire to visit any of the restos on the main drag of Val David, most full up with diners.

So what did we do for excitement? Well, just being there was exciting and the cooler temperatures and the fresh Laurentian air fed our spirits.

It seems that now the small pleasures are worth so much more than they were in pre-COVID times. Just driving around the country roads gazing at the river and watching families enjoying the outdoor picnic tables near the old train station in Val David did our hearts good.

I don’t know if we would have dared leave our neighbourhood and go to a place we did not already know very well. It helps to know the owner of our motel and also to know he does everything to keep us safe, including advising us not to use the outdoor pool. “Why take chances?” he asked us rhetorically.

We met one couple with two big dogs staying in a room a few doors from us who had driven from Alberta (with the dogs in the back seat of the small car) and told us they enjoyed the 4,000-kilometer drive. Having grown up in Edmonton, it was fun to talk to them about the city and how they were faring out West. We could always think about driving West with our little dog Rufus in the back — or not!

Rufus, our dog, enjoyed the fresh air and long walk with Irwin on the Petit Train Du Nord path, the popular bike and walking trail that’s a cross country ski trail in the winter. It goes right through the Laurentians and used to be the CP rail track. It’s draped by luxurious trees and greenery and goes alongside the Rivière du nord, which unfortunately is still polluted after all these years.

As soon as we arrived back home we called Bruce to make another reservation. He got back to us right away with a plan so we will be leaving tomorrow, Sunday, August 23 for five days. And this time we might even try C’est La Vie resto where we can sit outside and enjoy one of their fancy omelettes and a cappuccino — made by someone other than me!

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