Friday, June 30, 2017

Quebec Blog #22: The Breakneck Stairs!

Breakneck Stairs
In this Quebec City blog, you'll see the historic "Breakneck Stairs" and learn the history behind them.

WHAT ARE THE BREAKNECK STAIRS?  - There's an old outside staircase built in 1635, that consists of 59 steps, that descends from the Upper Town of Old Quebec into the lower town's main street of shopping. The stairs link  "côte de la Montagne" with (street) "rue du Petit-Champlain." It's the oldest stairway in the city! 
  In fact, in 1660, this staircase appears on a map of the village that grew into Québec City.
The stairs are very steep and have been worn down from time and usage. Apparently there have been a lot of accidents on them. Thus, they're called "the Breakneck Stairs of Old Quebec."
  According to, the stairs have been restored several times since then, including once in 1889 by the city's celebrated architect and engineer Charles Baillargé. 

NEXT: An Amazing Overlook 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Quebec Trip #21: Great Bakeries in Old Quebec City

Mike, Nick and  Palliard's Deliciousness!
During our vacation in Old Quebec City, we enjoyed some amazing bakeries! 
THREE BAKERIES TO FIND - Whenever we travel, we're always sure to find bakeries so we can enjoy a light lunch of a pastry and coffee and tea. We found 3 of them that all visitors must enjoy! 

Rob and Tom at one of the bakeries 

PALLIARD - This was truly a great bakery and it's located in the Upper Town of Old Quebec. I (Rob) had a gourmet cupcake that was so delicious! 
  Paillard is a favorite of visitors due to its location, right in the heart of the Old City. Communal tables, classic bistro chairs, high ceilings, made-to-order sandwiches, and colorful pastries all add to the Parisian flair of the place, and the fact that they make the prettiest croissants in town doesn’t hurt either. Palliard is located at 1097 Rue Saint-Jean, Ville de Québec, QC G1R 1S3, Canada. 
Madame Gigi's Bakery 

After you come down the breakneck stairs into the Lower Town and proceed down Rue du Petit-Champlain you'll come across Madame Gigi's bakery. **I knew we had to eat there, because it has the same name as my family's poodle from my childhood. You can find a great lunch there and great baked treats. We enjoyed lunch sitting outside. It's located at 84 Rue du Petit-Champlain, Quebec City, QC G1K 4H4, Phone number (418) 694-2269
Gigi's Bakery Menu
Case of great pastries at La Maison Smith

LA MAISON SMITH BAKERY - Located in the lower town near the statute of Louis XIV. The pastries were awesome and the coffee delicious. The location we enjoyed was at 23 Rue Notre Dame, Ville de Québec, QC G1K 4E9, Canada. You can find them at 581-742-6777. Website: There's another location at 9 Rue des Jardins.

NEXT: The Breakneck Stairs

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Quebec Blog #20: 2 Amazing Murals (one of which was also on Amazing Race Canada)

Fresque des Québécois
In today's blog about our Quebec trip in May, we'll show you 2 Amazing Murals (one of which was also on Amazing Race Canada) and there's a great history behind them.
    We saw two amazing murals or frescoes painted on the walls of buildings in old Quebec City. One called La Fresque du Petit-Champlain and the other called La Fresque des Quebecois. provided a good background on the 2 murals we enjoyed and both of these were featured in Amazing Race Canada (which we watched), so it was cool to see them in person!

The first of these frescoes was completed in 1999 and is located near Place Royale (it's a big square). If you go, this mural is located on the wall of Soumande House on Notre-Dame Street. The 502 square yard (420 meter squared) mural, known as the Fresque des Québécois [or Quebecers' Fresco], is the result of a joint effort by Cité Création and Quebec artists Hélène Fleury, Marie-Chantal Lachance and Pierre Laforest.
Samuel de Champlain and Rob 
It depicts the history of Quebec City with key figures like founder Samuel de Champlain, and the Ursiline Nun we talked about earlier:  Marie Guyart de l'Incarnation (she founded the order in Quebec).  There are others, too such as Lord Dufferin and Félix Leclerc, but you'll have to look up who they were
A storefront part of the mural
It also features a number of the city's most notable architectural, geographical and cultural elements, such as Place Royale's historic homes, the stairs connecting upper and lower town, the walls surrounding Old Quebec, and the city's coat of arms. Finally, the mural celebrates the various cultural communities that were and are part of life in the capital, namely Amerindians, French and British settlers, Irish immigrants, and of course contemporary Quebeckers.


La Fresque du Petit-Champlain is located at 102 Petit-Champlain Street, at the western most tip of the historic lower town district (near Place Royale). It was created in 2001 by Murale Création, a Canadian group founded in June 2000 by French artists from Cité Création and Quebec painters from Sautozieux Création.

La Fresque du Petit-Champlain
It depicts various stages in the history of "Cap-Blanc," a working-class port neighborhood located on the narrow strip of land between Cap Diamant (Cape Diamond) and the St. Lawrence River. The mural portrays the fishing and sea trade activities that was the foundation of the area's economy.
It also includes locals, historic visitors and fictional characters. Among those depicted in the fresco are Captain Bernier, a Quebec explorer sent by the King of England to the North Pole; Lord Nelson, a British officer that fell in love with a local woman and had to be dragged back to his ship by his fellow crewmen; sail repairer Gustave Guay; and a sailor's wife anxiously awaiting her husband's return.
Petit Champlain sign
Several major historical events that affected the area are shown like a devastating fire in 1682, a military attack in 1759, landslides in 1889 and a number of other disasters.


We did see mural called Les Fresques des Piliers, but because it was painted on the pillar of a highway we drove past it in a cab and couldn't take a picture of it. 
  There are other murals in Quebec City that we didn't see, including: La Fresque BMO de la Capitale Nationale du Québec, La Fresque de la Bibliothèque Gabrielle-Roy [Library] and La Fresque de l'Hôtel-Dieu de Québec.

NEXT: The Breakneck Stairs and 2 Great Bakeries

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Quebec Trip #19: Petit Champlain, Balloon Street, Funny Photos

Tom and Rob with a beaver character
In this blog about our trip to Old Quebec City we'll step back from the history and look at a famous tourist area in the city. You'll explore Petit Champlain, Balloon Street, and Funny Photos today.   

WHAT IS THE PETIT CHAMPLAIN NEIGHBORHOOD?  Quartier Petit-Champlain comprises narrow streets lined with one-of-a-kind boutiques and bistros. Visitors come in droves throughout the year to see the impressive historical architecture and cobblestone streets, making the Petit-Champlain one of the most popular attractions in the city. For more info:
Petit Champlain
Street in Petit Champlain


the Balloon Street

AMAZING RACE CANADA STREET OF COLORED FLOATING BALLS - We've watched all 4 seasons of the Amazing Race Canada and were inspired to go to Quebec. In fact,  one street where there are large plastic multi-colored balloons or balls, was the site of an Amazing Race challenge. The producers of the episode hung up what had to be 200 more multicolored balls on lines over the street and contestants had to add up the correct number of yellow-colored ones. When we were visiting, the remaining balls suspended over the street numbered about 40, not 200. 

NEXT: TWO AMAZING MURALS (one of which was also on Amazing Race Canada)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Quebec Trip #18: Quebec's Ursuline Nuns, Crypt and Smallest House

Ursuline Monastery of Quebec City
In today's blog, we'll explore an order of nuns that helped form the city. Although the
Ursuline nuns have been in Quebec for four centuries, they are departing in 2018.  Here's a look at their chapel, a creepy crypt inside and their tiny house.

The Ursuline Monastery of Quebec City and convent was founded by a missionary group of Ursuline nuns in 1639 under the leadership of Mother Marie of the Incarnation, O.S.U. She's also buried in the Monastery.

Crypt of Mother Marie of the Incarnation
It is the oldest institution of learning for women in North America. We learned that they started the first school for girls in North America for both native Americans and French girls. They made a huge mark in educating girls and women.
What Tom thought about the crypt...

The Ursuline Tiny House
THE TINIEST HOUSE - In part of the monastery there's a very tiny house that was built between the church and another building. It looked like it was just 15 feet wide!  

Statue outside the monastery

NEXT: Porte de Champlain, the Balloon Street and Funny Photos


Sunday, June 25, 2017

THIS AFFECTS YOU: Senators pan Trump’s proposed cuts to rural airports

Welcome to another blog of "This Affects You" - well, if you live in rural areas and use airports... the

Trump administration wants to remove that convenience for you.
   Of course, many who live in these areas voted for Trump, so perhaps they don't want access to air travel.Did you vote for this? :)
Here's the story from the

Senators pan Trump’s proposed cuts to rural airports

A bipartisan group of senators is fighting to maintain commercial air service in rural communities after the Trump administration called for eliminating federal support for such a program.

In a letter to the administration on Monday, a group of lawmakers led by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) expressed concern over the president’s budget proposal, which would cut all funding for Essential Air Service (EAS).

The 40-year-old program helps give small towns and remote communities access to air service, where it can otherwise be difficult to support financially.

“Without this support, many rural areas may no longer have access to air services,” the letter says. “This would significantly reduce support for rural communities in our states.  A reduction in support could lead to a reduction in services and ultimately in jobs for rural America.”

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao recognized the importance of the EAS program during a recent Senate hearing, assuring rural lawmakers that she is “working with the administration to address” the issue.

But the administration may need to work harder to assuage their concerns, as criticism has been mounting that a number of Trump’s initiatives would leave rural communities behind.

Another contentious aviation idea endorsed by Trump would separate air traffic control from the federal government and hand it over to a nonprofit or nongovernmental agency in an effort to modernize operations.

Critics argue that the interests of the general aviation industry and small airports would not be adequately represented under such a model and worry that an outside agency would impose new fees and taxes.

Lawmakers will have a chance to debate Trump’s aviation proposals when they work to reauthorize of the Federal Aviation Administration, whose legal authority expires in September.

“As we move forward with the budget and FAA Reauthorization, we ask that you work with us on issues and challenges pertinent to rural aviation, and keep us informed relative to any changes regarding the EAS program,” the senators wro

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Karma for Idiots: Stupid Voters Losing Island Home to Rising Seas: President says "Don't Worry"

 Some Tangier  homes flood now in storms. Cr: baldeaglebluff/Flickr   

It's Karma in Action for idiots:  If you're stupid enough to support someone who doesn't believe that climate change and rising oceans will drown your island, you deserve what you get.  That's EXACTLY what's happening with Tangier Island in Virginia where most of the residents voted for someone who thinks their loss of 12 feet of land a year is "Fake."  Well, they voted for their own demise.

From the News:

Scientists predict rising seas will soon swamp Virginia’s Tangier Island. The president doesn’t seem to believe it. Trump phoned James “Ooker” Eskridge, the mayor of Tangier, Virginia, on Monday, a few days after CNN aired a story about the impacts of climate change on the island in the middle of the bay, The Daily Times in Salisbury, Maryland, reports. Trump “said not to worry about sea-level rise,” Eskridge told the newspaper. “He said, ‘Your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.’”(Photo: )

IDIOTS OF THE ISLAND: Eskridge told the president that Tangier Island is "a huge supporter of Donald Trump. ... This is a Trump island; we really love you down here." The island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay is a Republican stronghold — about 87 percent of residents voted for Trump in the November 2016 election. 

The island, population about 450, is losing up to 16 feet of land a year, scientists say. 

BOTTOM LINE: If you're stupid enough to support someone who doesn't believe that climate change and rising oceans will drown your island, you deserve what you get.  Buy a houseboat and remain stupid. 

Aerial photograph of Tangier Island Virginia. Credit:
Full Story from DelMarvaNow NEWS: (The news source for the Delaware/Maryland/Virginia peninsula region): 

HOW THE ISLAND IS SHRINKING: Read or listen to this storm from Living on Earth:
Tangier, The Shrinking Island in Chesapeake Bay

Friday, June 23, 2017

Quebec Trip #17: Duke of Kent's Claim to Fame and his Home

Rob and Tom walking to the Kent House
In this 16th blog about Old Quebec City and our May 2017 visit, you'll learn about a famous residence called the Duke of Kent House (Not the Clark Kent house, as Rob would have hoped). 

WHERE IS THE DUKE OF KENT HOUSE?  It is located on the corner of Rue Saint-Louis and Haldimand streets in the Upper Town. It's near the Château Frontenac.

Nick, Mike and Tom outside the Kent House
Originally it was the site of the home of Louis d'Ailleboust de Coulonge, 4th Governor of New France from 1648 to 1651 and his wife. It was later a hotel, and then a residence again.

DUKE OF KENT'S ARRIVAL - On the formation of Lower Canada, in August, 1791, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn in the U.K. arrived in Quebec City and leased Judge Mabane's house. He lived there for 3  years with his mistress, Madame de Saint Laurent, before he was transferred to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1794.

Duke of Kent by Sir William Beechey 1818
WHAT IS THE DUKE OF KENT FAMOUS FOR? Prince Edward was the fourth son and fifth child of George III, King of the United Kingdom and the father of Queen Victoria! 

FUN FACT - On June 27, 1792, Edward is credited with the first use of the term "Canadian" to mean both French and English settlers in Upper and Lower Canada. The Prince used the term in an effort to quell a riot between the two groups at a polling station in Charlesbourg, Lower Canada. He's also known as the "Father of the Canadian Crown" for his impact on the development of Canada.
A sign we liked with a dog in sunglasses

Though altered and transformed since its original construction, the most part of its foundations and of the first floor walls date back to the vicinity of 1650, making it one of the oldest houses, if not the oldest house in Quebec City. In 1759, the Articles of Capitulation of Quebec were signed within the house. The present edifice has remained largely unchanged since 1819. It presently serves as the French Consulate.  

If you want the full and very, very, very long history of who lived in the house go to:,_Quebec


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Quebec Trip #16: The Funiclaire and Who is Louis Jolliet?

Nick and Mike Ride the Funiculare

In this 15th blog on our May 2017 trip to Old Quebec City, Canada, we'll ride the Funiclaire which runs a boxy "car" on a track from the lower to the upper town. We'll also tell you who Louis Jolliet is and why you should know him. It's his house that acts as a station to the funiclaire.


The Old Quebec Funiculare is a funiculare railway in the Old Quebec. It connects the lower town to the upper town and a trip on the line travels 210 feet at a 45 degree angle!!  There are 2 cars, one on each track.   
View from upper to lower town onboard
Looking at the Upper Town station
The historic building in lower town where it arrives

BUILT, REBUILT, REBUILT, REBUILT... The funiculaire opened on November 17, 1879, and originally used the water ballast system of propulsion, similar to that still used by the Nerobergbahn in Wiesbaden, Germany. The line was converted to electrical operation in 1907. On July 2, 1945, a major fire destroyed the structure, necessitating a rebuild that was completed in 1946. Since then, major renovations have taken place in 1978 and 1998. In 2004 it celebrated 125 years of operating

THE FAMOUS LOUIS JOLLIET HOUSE /FUNICULAIRE STATION - Although you may not know who Louis Jolliet is, you should. He made a major discovery in the U.S. Louis Jolliet,  "discovered" the Mississippi River along with Father Jacques Marquette in 1673
Historic Marker on the Louis Jolliet House
  His 2 story house was completed in 1683 according to plans by the French stonecutter and architect, Claude Baillif.  Since 1879 the house has served as the lower station for the funicular linking the Upper and Lower towns.

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next