Tuesday, July 31, 2018

At Prince Albert National Park

We had a pretty lazy day today. After a late start we went out for a drive around the park and the nearby town.

The town (Waskesiu) is quite touristy, with an amazing quantity and range of rental accommodations. We didn't expect it to be this much of a resort town. The Park itself is sort of what you'd expect from a northern Ontario provincial park. Fairly low-lying, lots of trees like Black Spruce, beside a large lake system.

The town is somewhat dressed up for summer festivities:

We roamed a bit, and got a filet of Walleye at a nearby marina for tonight's supper. Stopped at a lovely stream:

That's Cathie on the left

On the way back in to the campground we encountered some nice elk:
It was warm enough all afternoon to relax on our site, so in between walks around the campground roads we read our Kobos and relaxed. Very few bugs around, a nice bonus.

We'll be heading out tomorrow, expecting to be at Cathie's sister's place sometime Friday.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Foam Lake MB to Prince Albert SK

I missed mentioning a stop at Russel MB yesterday (Sunday). We needed an early afternoon break, and found a nice little town park in Russel. Peace Park was free for picnicking and for overnight camping, most sites with electric hookup (donation requested for camping). We didn't stay there but had a nice siesta.

At the entrance to the park was this unique cycle:

It was built (and rebuilt) to set a Guinness record but alas did not stand up to the stresses of 40+ cyclists. It's hoped someone will pick up the challenge one day.

Monday Jul 30
It was a very quiet night in the Foam Lake campground. There were some big rigs there in another section of this small cg. We had an electric hookup but didn't use it. This reduced the price from $25 to $15 for the night.

This area is important for migratory birds apparently, especially the nearby Quill Lakes. We tried to get to some viewing areas, but couldn't as the water levels were too high, flooding the access roads. Lots of large mosquitoes back there though! Maybe it's just as well we couldn't get to the viewing areas.

We were heading for Saskatoon today, hoping for a tour of the Pleasure-Way van factory there. When we called about a tour though, we found the plant is shut for their 2-week summer shutdown. Some travel days are like this eh.

We decided to head for Prince Albert National Park instead, as we had never been there before. We were on hwy #2 for quite a ways on our way to Prince Albert the town. It was quite rough in spots, nice drive but poor road surface.

This old barn has wet feet. High water mark is even higher than today.

Along the way we stopped at a large grain elevator and watched a "little" grain transport truck being loaded up:
See the truck at the base of the concrete silos?

The double-trailer transport looked pretty small compared to silos
Also along the way we noticed some structures in several fields. They seem about the size of calf boxes, but I'm pretty sure that's not what they were. There are many of them, scattered all over the field. Anyone have any ideas?

It looks like aluminum pie plates hung in the doorways, maybe to discourage birds from entering?

We managed to get a site in Prince Albert National Park for 2 nights, we'll see how it goes after that. 

REMINDER: you can click on any picture to see a larger version.

Dryden ON to Foam Lake MB

Lots of road between these two places. 

Just west of Dryden we stopped at a wool ranch, Egli's Farm . Nice store, with really ni$e stuff, mostly Canadian made and woolen at least in part:

Once we left the wool shop, we continued on the quite pleasant drive through Ontario to Manitoba. There's still no cell service (at least from our Koodo/Telus phones) in the White River area. However we could have camped overnight for free at the Tourist Info place there. 

Still in Ontario, we met about 20 of what looked like cross-Canada cyclists, strung out over a few miles. Lightly loaded with no packs, so must have had a support vehicle involved. All were well-tanned.

We passed Inwood Park, on past Thunder Bay on Hwy 17. On our first trip west in 1974, this was a Provincial Park. Facilites were limited, they had only pit toilets and they were out of order!! Today it's a private park that looked quite nice from the road.

For the initial few kms west from the Manitoba border, the terrain is quite bleak all of a sudden. Good roads though, and once past Winnipeg things improved. 

We made an early camp this afternoon for the night, a little west/north from Winnipeg, off the TCH (Trans Canada Highway) near Portage La Prairie. It was a nicely shaded site in Miller's Camping Resort, very nice as it got quite warm in the sun. Only about 27C, but felt hotter than that.

In the morning we were soon turning on to TCH 16 (Yellowhead route), heading northwest. 

Friendly roadside stop on TCH 16

The little park by the happy face

Sunflowers, with new power lines behind

 In Neepawa we had a nice break at a Bird Sanctuary there, kind of a town park:

Emu in eating position

Head butting practice- the peacock didn't flinch

Some pelicans in the distance
For a late breakfast we picnicked in the bison viewing area in Minnedosa:

A beautiful spot on a beautiful day. We watched an Osprey hunting up and down the river hidden by those trees near the bison.

All along Hwy 16 there are sloughs (little ponds) just teeming with bird life. Everything around here is green right now.

Another early stop - we camped for the night at Foam Lake, a little campground right behind the Foam Lake tourist center.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Wawa to Dryden ON

We got further than expected yesterday, all the way to the wilds of the Dryden Walmart for the night. The tires stayed aired up fine all day, what a relief! They must have been exhaling that sultry southern air from Woodstock, getting ready to inhale some crisp northern air! fyi, we recently had the 4 new tires installed at Woodstock Tire, this is their first real trip.

We left Wawa in the mist and overcast, but it cleared up as the day went on. Very little traffic as we made our way to and past Thunder Bay, and on to Dryden. The roads are so MUCH better than years ago, excellent surface most of the way. Lots of ups and downs though, would affect the big rigs more than our van.

With all the times we've been back and forth this way, we never noticed that Central time begins well inside Ontario.

Gas reached $1.50/ltr across northern Ontario, varied quite a bit. We oil-burners caught a break with diesel prices usually in the low $1.30's, and $1.20 today in Steinbach. No forest fires or even smoke since the French River area though.

Today's route:

Friday, July 27, 2018

*START* of BC Trip, July 2018

We left Wednesday afternoon, just couldn't wait around any more. A good drive up Hwy 400 to #69 towards Sudbury.

We ended up boondocking for the night. This was our first boondock in Ontario, and the first time we've done it the first night out. It's not nearly so nice for boondocking in Ontario or Michigan in February on our way south!

A new Hydro corridor is under construction along Hwy 69. Every so often there's an access road in to the new corridor, a couple of hundred yards off the highway. Some of these are ok for a van, and we found a nice spot for the night:

A bit of highway noise overnight, but otherwise a fine site.After we left in the early morning mist, we saw a moose and her calf in another one of these access roads. They didn't stick around for a picture though.

Continuing on, we stopped in Sault Ste Marie for a lunch break, at their harbourfront near the locks:

Then had a mostly pleasant drive to Wawa. The weather didn't stay sunny, but we did lose the oppressive heat. We encountered some smoke in the French River area, but no nearby fires. The misty rain will help dampen the fires in the area.

During the day, all 4 of our tires mysteriously lost about 5 lbs of pressure, triggering the van's tire pressure warnings. Not sure what's going on, but will keep a close eye on them.

We're in a campground just outside of Wawa tonight, on a cool misty night, heading for Thunder Bay in the morning (tires permitting!).

Wednesday's route:

 Thursday's route:

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Monarchs, and planning to leave Thursday

A few days ago I noticed a Monarch around some milkweed plants in our birdfeeder area. Later I saw what I thought were Monarch eggs on the underside of several of the leaves. I guess they were, because we found 2 Monarch caterpillars on the plants this morning, chowing down. It's likely hard to tell from the pictures, but the one in the first picture is twice the size of the other already. They must grow really fast.

Note the dark clumps to the right of the lower caterpillar. I think this is their excretion, rather large for their size. They must pretty much eat, poop and grow fulltime. 

In years gone by this would not likely be too exciting, but it's been a rare sight around here for several years now. 

Also exciting to us - we expect to be leaving on Thursday morning, heading out to southern British Columbia. Sounds like we may be dodging forest fires as we go, but we'll pay attention to the news. We expect to be blogging periodically as we go.