Saturday, August 25, 2018

*END* of BC trip, Aug 2018

We got home in good time yesterday afternoon, after a nice uneventful drive home from Thessalon. The highway surface continued to be much better than earlier years. Not the spectacular scenery that one sees north of Sault Ste Marie and on around Lake Superior, but pleasant farm country along Hwy 17, and of course very pretty around the Parry Sound area. The air around Parry Sound is clear now.

We had a really good trip again overall, but the fires and smoke did impact our trip. We had intended to see more of the southeast area of BC, places like Kimberly and Radium Hot Springs. The main highway 93 in that area was closed off and on while we were in BC, not just because of smoke but the risk of fires too close to the highway. We would have been away longer if that area had been more open.

Our van performed well yet again. The trip was about 11,420 km, about 7,100 miles. Mileage averaged 8.9 liters per 100 km for the trip (26.4 mpg US, 31.6 miles per old Cdn gallon). That helped keep the costs down somewhat, as our fuel averaged $1.28 per liter. We saw gas prices approaching $1.50 per liter in places, but diesel cost was more stable and usually lower than gas.

Now for the least favorite part of every trip - the cleanup!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Rainbow Falls to Thessalon ON

Another driving day, tonight we're camped at Lakeview Park in Thessalon, just off Hwy 17. It's a really nice evening, blue skies and a breeze off the lake.

Today we just rolled along from last night's site to this one. Nice day for the drive, even some tailwinds. Back at Kenora we had about 1880 km to go to get home. We've split it into 3 days of pretty close to 600 km each (400 miles), so comfortable days, time to stop etc. It was a beautiful day to drive this road today, great views especially heading south from Wawa.

Foggy in places early on...

But cleared up nicely later in the morning

The usual Winnie stop in White River, kind of a halfway point in Ontario

Right in the town of White River we saw some railcars for housing work crews (we assumed), something we've never seen before:

Hard to read in the picture, but "Do Not Hump" sticker on the dorm car

 At the Wawa tourist info center:


Also at the Tourist Info Center, we parked next to a somewhat unusual camper:

The owner said when he was getting ready to travel fulltime, he decided he wanted something safe. So he bought a highway tractor that had about 750,000 miles on it, and fixed it up as his tow vehicle. It cost him less than a new medium-duty truck would have.

He said the most expensive customization was taking off the 2 rear axles and installing just one. This made the rig more manoeuvrable and got rid of the commercial vehicle designation in his home state of Washington. Much cheaper licensing etc.

He's towing a 2003 Newmar Mountain Air 35 ft 5th wheel trailer. Unusually, this trailer has dual wheels on each of the 2 axles, for a total of 8 tires. Very solid. 

The Smart Car is loaded and unloaded via ramps that store in the platform under the car. 

After a pit stop at the Sault Ste Marie Walmart and a fuel topup, we headed east on Hwy 17 to Thessalon, camping for the night at Lakeview Park. Nicely named, far enough off the highway so virtually no traffic noise, just waves on the beach:

Nice sandy beach just across the town road from camp

Moonrise at the beach


Today's route:

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Kenora to Rainbow Falls ON

When we left this morning we went right by the Walmart we intended to park at last night. Several RV's were there, likely for overnight since it was just 7am. Some were parked right under the big "No Parking Overnight, Strictly Enforced" signs. So much for that.

It turned out ok that we got a site last night though. Cathie was unwell, and having a bathroom nearby was much appreciated. Neither of us had a good sleep though.

A few pics from a mostly-travel day:

Morning welcome in the cg

A nice little lake just off the morning highway

Rest area lunch stop view

Voyageur at Nipigon Tourist Info

Frequent construction delays - road widening here

A new (?) eye-catching bridge on the TCH 4-lane


We're camped for the night in Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, a nice little park just east of Rossport. No hookups for us though, so we're still roughing it. lol

We'll just be heading for home now, likely be there sometime Friday. 


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Yorkton SK to Kenora ON

Another lovely clear day as we headed east.

At the tourist info place in Russel MB, this guy was ready for a romp:

We had seen signs to a National Monument display of grain elevators in Inglis so thought we'd have a look. It was about 15 minutes north of Russel. One elevator was open for self-guided tours. It was interesting getting inside one of these elevators. This one was built in about 1922, and a group is trying to restore and maintain the rest too. The newest one was built in about 1940.

The reality of modern farming


Earlier while in the tourist info place, we noticed some stained-glass displayed:

Turns out it wasn't stained glass, but more of an appliqué of pieces applied to a plain glass background. This gave the piece a real 3-D look. It was done by a local artist, with more of his and other works displayed in the TinHouse coffee shop in downtown Russell:

 The coffee shop is kind of an artists co-op type of place. They set up a booth every year in Toronto at the One-of-a-Kind show there. We (aka Cathie) wanted lots from the store, but we resisted.

Continuing to head east, we lunched with the bison again at the paddock in Minnedosa MB:

Tonight we're in a Kenora ON campground, right in town. We tried for the Walmart, but this is one of those well-signed "No Overnighting, due to town ordinance" places that is enforced apparently. Turns out we stayed at this cg many years ago, and didn't like it much then either. The washrooms are better now though.

Today's route:

Monday, August 20, 2018

Saskatoon SK to Yorkton SK

It felt like we had a busy day today. We stayed at a Saskatoon Walmart last night and had a good quiet night there, then headed over to Pleasure-Way. We were early for our 9:30 tour, but since we were the only tourists scheduled, Grant started our tour about 9.

The place was sure busy this morning. Lots of vans in the works. We had a really good 2 hr tour, very interesting. I think Pleasure-Way does make a good solid product. Not leading edge technology really, mostly the tried-and-true. No pictures, we didn't want to make them think we were spies from "that other van company" in Ontario. (Our son-in-law works at Road Trek in Kitchener).

After the tour we headed out of town, with a detour in to a Costco we came across. Can't beat their lunch prices. A beautiful clear day.

We kept seeing potash mines with huge piles of what we guessed were tailings beside the mine buildings. The town of Lanigan museum was featuring a Potash exhibit, so we stopped to find out some more. The short video and posters were mostly about the company, but it gave a sense for the mining process.

The museum did have a couple of samples of potash "nuggets" on display:

This one was the size of a big fist

This one was a lot larger

Mostly though, the potash is extracted from the ore that is mined underground and sent to the surface. Those huge piles were indeed the waste product from the extracted potash, and will be used someday (?) to backfill the mine tunnels. The Lanigan mine has about 500 miles (!) of tunnels under there, and is very active.

The museum did have some local history on display too:

Fur coats. Third from left is red fox fur.

Whadda ya mean Historical? Geez, this looked very familiar!


We passed lots of prairie sloughs today. Water levels are still high. When coming west we tried to get to viewing areas on the Quill lakes and couldn't because levels were too high. Same thing today, but high water levels meant lots of sloughs (prairie landlocked ponds) with much bird life.

Black-headed birds are Franklin's Gull, not terns like we first thought

A large Heron cruises by

Yep, water levels are high (that's a silo)
A prairie Inukshuk

We're camped for the night at the Yorkton city campground. We wanted some luxury tonight (like running water and hot showers).

A little campground display


We did drive past the Yorkton branch of the Western Development Museum today, but didn't stop in, as it was getting late in the day. It specializes in Transportation, with an enormous quantity of antique machinery outside under cover. Apparently they also have a small working train with 1/4 mile of track.

Along the way going west and coming back east now, we had seen a couple of places along the highway warning of moose. It surprised us there would be "in the wild" moose around here as it just didn't feel like moose country, so asked at a tourist info place. Yes indeed, there is a moose population in places around the area. They live in the woods mostly, and the sloughs give them the water they need. We haven't seen any, although we did see a whole field of llamas today, a breeding herd with several young ones.

While we were at the Foam Lake tourist info asking about moose, an older couple pulled in with a Hymer travel van. Of course we had to ask them how they liked it. They are from Switzerland, had picked up their rental in Cambridge Ont (not sure where) and were on their way to Vancouver and BC. An adventurous trip for them!

Another easy-to-follow route today along the TCH#16 Yellowhead route:

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Hanna AB to Saskatoon SK

A pretty straight prairie drive today, much clearer than yesterday:

On drives like this, you may find yourself wondering how long it took to put up this line of poles, and how they kept them so well lined up:

This field was an unusual mix of the older-style small rectangular hay bales and the large round ones:

A friendly-looking grain elevator

Fields are dotted here and there with small pumping and collection stations, some for oil, maybe some for natural gas (since there was no visible pump)? These were for oil.

The pump to the left, storage on the right

Storage tanks had containment rings around them

There were quite a few in this area


Some local wildlife:

Once in Saskatoon we located the Pleasure-Way factory to make sure we could find it ok, as we can stay there overnight with electric hookup. Might be handy as it's supposed to go down to 5C tonight, but we're at a local Walmart right now.

Because we were in town by 2pm, we decided to visit the Western Development Museum. The site we visited here in Saskatoon was quite interesting. They have historic type businesses etc, recreating a somewhat typical main street in an early Western town, all indoors.

Main Street

Some nicely-restored old cars

Fire Hall, the harnesses are all ready to drop on the horses.

A soddy, right inside

A HUGE old steam-driven tractor, used 5,000 lbs of coal per day.


There was lots more old farm equipment on display, way too much to include here. Follow the link above if you'd like to see more from their web site.

Our route today was pretty easy to follow: