Mon Coeur, Mont Tremblant

Throughout my childhood, I thought Thanksgiving was totally no big deal. I’d practically brag that it was my least favorite holiday, that the food “sucked” and that the tradition was a gross glorification of our colonial heritage. I anticipated no issue with coming to a Canadian school and trading in the American Turkeyday for an earlier Canadian one. But I was, of course, wrong. As Thanksgiving day approached that first year I was away, I felt the keen twist of nostalgia’s knife and I recruited several friends to have a second Thanksgiving dinner to make up for it. They were lovely, it was lovely, but it wasn’t the same. I needed my family.

Last year I didn’t have class on Fridays so I was able to travel home relatively painlessly. This year my schedule wouldn’t allow for it, and my parents are in the middle of a move and do not have the kitchen capacity for hosting, so I offered up the radical idea of hosting Thanksgiving in my Montreal apartment.

My parents are popular dinner guests, as it turns out, and they have two other dinners lined up, so they came up for this past weekend so we could celebrate together a bit early. And while they were here, we decided to drive the quick 1.5 hours through the mountains to beautiful Mont Tremblant. So that’s how I ended up sleeping here for two nights

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which was pretty cool. Granted, the sun streaming in over the mountaintops and through the window did wake me up quite early, but I guess I’ve had worse problems.

This time of year is very off-peak for Mont Tremblant. The fall foliage is gone, fiery hues having given way to damp brown, and the snow has yet to come and liven up the slopes. IMG_3172It is still worth a visit, I promise you this, especially if you like hiking. My dad and I drove around looking for a good spot and happened to stumble upon Mont Elephant. Good trails abound.

You know that feeling when you venture deep into the woods and up into the air, when you finally get out of range of the constant oppressive drone of cars on pavement? Once out there all you can hear is the trampling of your own clumsy footsteps and the snapping of twigs and the heavy breathing of your companion, but if you stop for a moment and just listen, catch your breath, there is nothing; nothing but the occasional woodpecker or a rustling of branches and the air is chilly but you don’t even mind because it is also sweet, and because, for the moment, you have been freed from a force you didn’t even notice until you had fully escaped it. We reached that after about 15 minutes of hiking, and it felt like hitting a pause button on all of my troubles.

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Winter may be approaching, but this mountain was still lush with life. We hiked a loop that wended its way through thick forest and up craggy rocks that were positively carpeted with moss and ferns.

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“That’s a nice boulder” is a joke I made more often than my dad was able to find funny. These massive hunks of fallen rock were everywhere and I kept imagining with awe the racket these must have made when they were cleaved from the side of the cliffs.

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As the hours passed, the ground grew soggier and soggier as sun streams began to melt the night’s frost. We slipped and slid the whole way down, but we made it in one piece, ready to refuel.

And refuel we did. We ate (and drank) well in Mont Tremblant.  Too well. I am officially spoiled.

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This is a smoked salmon-covered eggs benedict crepe from Creperie Catherine. Oh. My. God. I wept when I finished.

I love looking at signs when I am traveling. This was an especially fruitful exercise in Mont Tremblant, where the subtle strangeness and tension of rural tourist towns is present in abundance.

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“Pay attention to our children. This could be… yours”

See what I mean? They are not even remotely messing around. And it didn’t stop there.

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Drive with love”

Dealing with terrible drivers is dangerous. Dealing with terrible drivers from out of town is even worse.

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On a more humorous note, spaceship viewing ahead. Or, I guess, a sign for this lookout point.

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The next morning we found this sign/exhibition piece tucked away in the woods by our lodge.

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“Art fights against war and stupidity. Art is like good bread. Art is like green trees. Art is like white clouds in blue sky.”

That may or may not be true, but isn’t it so heartening to go into nature retreating from humanity, to only be reminded of humanity’s goodness and hope? I felt like it was. Apparently, weekends away make me sappy.

So, naturally then, I have to say an appropriately sappy happy Thanksgiving to all – to the Americans out there who are far away from home, to the Canadians who have already celebrated but still have much to be thankful for, to the people all over the world who make art and cook and go hiking and explore and wonder and love.

Thank you for making this world better (even though it is very nice to begin with and you all suck at driving and make a lot of noise).

– Kelly

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