Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Six Mile Lake to Killbear Prov Park

Big Chute Marine Railway

After a good sleep at our Six Mile Lake site, we decided to take a side trip on the way out to the highway. Just a few km east is the Big Chute Marina and Marine Railway. We had visited this once, years ago with my parents. 

The railway handles transporting boats, some fairly large. 

<Wiki Note link>

It works on an inclined plane to carry boats in individual cradles over a change of height of about 60 feet (18 m). It is the only marine railway (or canal inclined plane) of its kind in North America still in use, and is overseen by federally operated Parks Canada.

It moves pretty slowly, but is neat to see in operation. I have some video I'll try to add once we get home and I can process it. Meanwhile here is a series of stills to give you a flavor:

It's in a beautiful setting
Boats waiting for a lift

The large carriage starts down for pickup

The carriage base goes underwater so the boats can drive right on

The trip up

Crossing the road at the top - like a RR crossing

Starting to descend at the high side

The carriage goes underwater here too, allowing the boats to drive off

The traffic goes both ways of course, much busier in the summer than it was today.

After a short stop at a Sobey's in Parry Sound we decided to head for Killbear Provincial Park for the night, another short drive today. We were a little apprehensive, as the web site says "all sites must be reserved" and we hadn't. It also said September bookings drop 50-60% from August peaks, so we figured that surely they'd have a site. As it turned out we had a large selection ($10 cheaper than Six Mile Lake per day), and no grief for not having a reservation. It would be different in the summer though.

We got a very nice site for 2 nights. We've never been to Killbear before. We used the GPS to route us to Killbear, but realized fairly quickly it was taking us off in the wrong direction, on Hwy 124 easterly towards Magnetawan. Correcting from that we headed north and west, arriving about 3pm this time. 

Killbear is a nice wooded park, quite large with several different camping areas, with hundreds of individual sites. Mostly the sites are pretty level and large, with many mature trees, including large oak trees.

Here is the site we had, #64:

That's a walking path, not the driveway :))


One of the pleasant surprises is that the smaller washrooms scattered around (as opposed to the larger "comfort stations" with showers) were complete with flush toilets and a sink with running water and soap. 

You remember I mentioned the large oak trees? This is a picture looking up at the washroom roof, corrugated plastic. When the wind blows just right, any number of acorns can land on that roof with a loud CRACK, a real surprise if you're not expecting it. We had heard and seen acorns landing on nearby campers though, and even on our van (only one on the van so far though):







Monday, September 18, 2023

A little Fall trip in Ontario

We've been wanting to go for a local trip this month, and with a good-looking forecast decided this was the week. 

After a quick stop in Goderich to pick up a couple of things from the car (stored in the usual van storage), we headed north and east. The GPS took us on some good back roads we hadn't been on before, really pleasant. 

We had to stop for a couple of pictures along the way:

Lots of alpacas, a real variety of colours

The next field over, a bull surveys his realm

Stopping for fuel at a station near Severn Bridge, these red and white devices seemed to match the PetroCan colours. They are a large bank of hi-speed Tesla EV chargers though. Unfortunately today we were paying for diesel. Ugh $$. That sign was the gas price, diesel quite a bit more.

We decided on an early stop today, so headed in to Six Mile Lake Provincial Park for the night, all set up by 4pm. This is a nice park, although quite close to the 400 Highway traffic noise. Just a dull noise  though, that soon we didn't hear any more.

Fall is nice for early campfires

Six Mile Lake view, a short walk from our site

Cathie took this about midnight - lots of stars!

A good night, we didn't even hear traffic overnight from inside the van.










Sunday, July 9, 2023

*END* of Nfld trip, wrapup

Saying bye to PEI once again

We really enjoyed our trip to Newfoundland, seeing more icebergs and whales than we ever have before. Cathie's finger injury seems to be coming along well, hopefully will "just" be the 6-8 weeks of keeping the support on before the recovery is complete (although some physio may be needed after that). 

We enjoyed our short PEI visit as usual. One day Pat, Nancy and Cathie went on a bit of a tour downtown, and had a good look at this amazing creation on display at Confederation Landing on the Charlottetown waterfront. This is the Canada Tree, and has been in storage for 20 years. It's on display from June 28 - July 16, 2023,  as part of the 150th anniversary of PEI.

It's kind of like a totem pole, being hollow inside, with many carvings on the outside. Much Canadiana is incorporated into the carving:

One evening the Bluenose slipped quietly into Charlottetown Harbour,  maybe needing shelter for the night while in transit elsewhere:

The PEI weather was erratic, and the plants should not need watering anytime soon. This ditch beside our van parking spot is normally dry this time of year:

On Monday afternoon the 4 of us attended a musical play put on at Holland College, Anne and Gilbert. This is part of the ongoing story of Anne of Green Gables, when she and Gilbert finally got together:


We reluctantly left PEI Wednesday morning, July 5, expecting to take several days to come home via the US. The trip always takes longer than the Trans Canada Highway through New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, but we prefer the US route overall.

Wednesday July 5:

We expected to make it to St Stephen New Brunswick today and stay there overnight. Even with a short detour to Blacks Harbour NB so Cathie could pop in to a yarn supply shop she likes, Cricket Cove, we still got to St Stephen in early afternoon. The weather was hot and muggy, and once we stop we have no AC to keep us cool for camping, so we pressed on, crossing into the US about 2:30. 

The weather worsened, cloudy and rain with thunder and lightning, but didn't cool off. So we kept going through Bangor Maine, and on to a nice Walmart in Skowhegan ME. It even had a tree-lined parking lot with some shade.

Thursday July 6

After a good night at Walmart we headed out fairly early. We planned to get to a L L Beans store in West Lebanon NH today, and did. It was a similar route to our way east, but we did get on I91 for the second half of the drive today. 

The Beans store is in a plaza along with other stores. This is not the principal Bean store, which is a huge multi-building site in Freeport ME. The West Lebanon store is much smaller but still has a good selection of Bean's items, is much easier to navigate, and there is no sales tax in NH.

One of the other stores is a Woodfire Pizza place, where we had a good lunch a number of years ago. Still good today:

After a good browse at Beans, and a couple of small purchases, we pressed on. Like yesterday it was still hot and humid, so once again we drove further than we expected, and ended up in Molly Stark State Park, a small Vermont camping park. Very threatening skies, and the park ranger came around warning campers about reported hail in the area, and to get things put away. Luckily no hail, but more rain and thunderstorms. The camp showers were very welcome before the rains came.

Friday July 7

We decided to try for home today, if we could get across the border by early afternoon. Heading out about 6:20 we got to I90 about 9, and cruised from there. 

I90 is pretty straight, even for a turnpike, and avoids most cities and towns. Coming east we had reluctantly used I90 from Buffalo to Troy, and still didn't know what the toll had cost us then. Today we decided we didn't care, it was hot and humid again, not nice camping weather, and we wanted to get home. 

I90 toll note: after we got home we found we could access a NY web site, find out what our toll bill was, and pay it online. On the way east it was $31 US for 300 miles/ 480 km, which seemed pretty reasonable as it likely saved us several hours driving. There are no toll booths now, detectors pick up our license plate and NY will send us a bill eventually, even to Canada. It's cheaper to pay the bill proactively though. If travelling toll roads frequently it's likely worth buying a pass, I think it was called EZ-pass, good in some 13 states. We found the road signs on I90 did very little to explain any of this process, they mostly just threatened dire consequences if you didn't pay your toll.

Anyway, we made it to the border by 1:15, and after a short delay were on our way home in Canada. It's great to be away, and always nice to get home (even if there is a lot of unpacking and cleanup!). 

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Leaving Newfoundland, and Canada Day evening on PEI

Fireworks warmup from some residents across the bay in PEI

Friday Jun 30

After a quiet night boondocking in Port Aux Basques, we were up early and heading for a nearby breakfast stop. The ferry check-in process went smoothly as it usually does, and we pulled away pretty much at the scheduled 11:45 Nfld time.

It was pretty foggy early on:

Looking out a rear window from our lounge seats


But mostly cleared up later on:

A sister ship on its way


We had to wait about 10 minutes when docking, as the above ship hadn't left yet. Our crossing took only about 6 hours, faster than expected, so the other ferry was still in the dock when we arrived. Otherwise the crossing was uneventful, which is good! We were unloaded by 6:30 ADT (Nova Scotia time, 1/2 hour less than Nfld time).

Because of the ferry timing, we simply "checked in" at a Sydney Walmart for the night.



Saturday July 1

We expected to get a campsite for the night somewhere Saturday, and get to PEI on Sunday. We forgot about this being a Saturday night of a long summer weekend, but were reminded when we couldn't find an available campsite. Since we didn't fancy roughing it for a third night in a row, we decided to press on to our personal boondock space in Stratford PEI, at Nancy and Pat's place. Nancy is Cathie's sister.  Nancy and Pat were out visiting when we arrived, as expected, but returned in the early evening.

Each year on July 1, Charlottetown celebrates with a day of activities, topped off by a fireworks show at dusk. We got a fine view across the water to Charlottetown where the fireworks are based:

Quite a crowd gathers, just down the road from N&P's place

Lots of families here with their kids, watching across Charlottetown harbour

Here's a 1-minute video clip of some of the main event fireworks:


We expect to be here until we start heading home Wednesday morning.