Thursday, July 7, 2022

*END* of 2022 Yukon trip - Home to Bayfield

We really kicked into go-home mode on Tuesday. That mood was helped by the weather. After having such amazingly good weather most of the trip, this was the view as we drove the normally scenic North of Superior route:

Early morning fog

Improved a bit as the day went on

We'll just have to rely on the good memories (and pictures) from our way West on May 27. We ended the day as we had ended our first day on the road, at the Sault Ste Marie Walmart. There were some 20 other campers there tonight; the roads and camps are much busier now than a month ago.

It will be of interest to some that White River Ont now had a strong cellular signal for our Koodo-powered phones. This area has been a black hole for most cell reception for, well, forever.

Wednesday cleared up a lot, but we were going home, so kept going steadily (with breaks), being slowed by quite a bit of construction on Hwy 17 between Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury. We pulled in to our driveway a little before 5pm.

The trip may seem rushed to some, especially the home stretch. We were ready to be home again though, being away almost exactly 6 weeks. 

Van and fuel statistics:

A number of people have been interested in the fuel prices etc:

- the trip was just over 17,000 km (10,560 miles) in total

- the van averaged 9.0 Ltrs per 100 km (26.2 mpg US, 31.5 per the old Canadian gallon). It sipped that expensive diesel, by RV standards anyway. It's hard for us to imagine a better RV for what we want to do. 

- diesel averaged $2.17 per litre, with Ontario and BC having the highest prices. Prices were somewhat high in the Yukon apart from Whitehorse, reaching $2.45 in Eagle Plains, an outpost just short of the Arctic Circle. That's more understandable than BC and Ontario prices though. Luckily the Prairie province prices were noticeably lower, and helped keep the average down.

We had no major problems (except for the breakdown of Cathie's cell phone), and we got to places we've only dreamed about. A great trip we'll remember for a long time.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Crystal Lake ON to Nipigon ON

Kakabeka Falls

Mostly a driving day today, but we're back on Ontario time today! We did have a couple of stops of note. In Dryden we had a look at that pedestrian bridge that was submerged when we came through on our way west.



Hard to believe there was that much water around then.

In need of a midday break, we decided to visit Kakabeka Falls in Thunder Bay, a site we'd never been to before (thanks for the reminder Joy!). Lots of water today, a nice place to roam around for a while, so we did:

On our way west, we had shown a not-so-good picture of a modern highway bridge near Nipigon. Tonight we stopped there for some better pics, and are planning to stay there overnight at the town Marina park:

A viewing tower has been raised nearby, so people can get a better view:

The above picture of the nearby lake may look like a picture of a picture. It's real, but seen through the clear safety panels installed on the viewing tower platform.

Thunder Bay route note: The last couple of times we've gone through Thunder Bay, we've turned onto Hwy 102 from Hwy 11 to bypass the town. This is the truck route around the town.

Today, because Kakabeka Falls is past the western 102 junction, we stayed on Hwy 11 from the Falls right through to the east end of Thunder Bay, where Hwy 102 rejoins Hwy 11. Hwy 11 seems so much improved since the olden days we used to take it, that today we preferred that route to the truck route. It's a prettier drive, if a bit longer, and the only issue was slow traffic lights. But, you know, we're retired...



Sunday, July 3, 2022

Elkhorn MB to Crystal Lake ON

Yes, we're back in Ontario! Still about 3 days from home, but the end of the trip is in sight. 

It was hard to find pictures today, but was a really good drive. Real easy in Manitoba, good (in most places) 4-lane divided highway, light traffic. As soon as we hit the Ontario border though, the highway became mostly 2-lane, and the oncoming traffic heading west was unbelievable. Looong strings of vehicles, a short break when you think "it must be over now", and more vehicles. Not sure what the occasion was, maybe just the start of the summer travel holiday season? It did dwindle down a bit once we were past Kenora.

There's something about morning sun rays filtered through light clouds...

When we came west this trip, it surprised us that Manitoba had shut down its Welcome Center just inside their provincial boundary on the TCH (Trans Canada Highway). When we headed east we found that, while some of the Ontario Welcome Center is still open (mostly the washrooms, and a gift shop that was closed today until 10 am; this was after noon and still closed) the tourist info function has been moved into Kenora, which is not even on the actual TCH. 

We didn't take any more pictures until we stopped at a nice picnic area off Hwy 17 in Ontario. We were kind of heading for Dryden Walmart again, and thought this looked like a better spot to lounge for a while:

Cathie is waving from the bushes up there

We don't usually get choice spots like this in picnic areas

Cathie spotted this flower plant apparently growing underwater

It was a really pleasant surprise to not have Black Flies around a spot like this. If you're not familiar with what we call Black Flies, you're lucky! They are a small fly that bites by removing a small chunk of skin, then injecting an anti-coagulant while they lap up the blood. I'm one of the unlucky people that react badly to this, with swelling and itching that can last up to a couple of weeks. 

So we carried on, still too early to think about settling down at Walmart, when we came across the Crystal Lake campground. Pretty nice for an afternoon like this, and no Black Flies here either. Some larger biting flies, but there are dragonflies zooming around hunting these flies.

There's a small lake through those trees, and a nice beach area

Looking back at our site

 Still about an hour west of Dryden.



Saturday, July 2, 2022

Gull Lake SK to Elkhorn MB


Another travel day, this one was a bit longer. After the early stop yesterday and a good night's sleep, we were more ambitious today.

Last night's campground, with cottonwood fluff in the air

The little campground we were in last night kept filling up on into the night, mostly with smaller campers and tenters. You might not be able to see the fluff in the air, but there was lots of it.

Today we cruised along the TCH:

This was supposed to be a marsh viewing point. Nope.

Not sure when it would be open. Drought maybe?

The way back out

A Potash mine

We saw something different along the highway:

Train cars backing in to be loaded up with salt

Turns out it was a salt mining operation, producing sodium sulfate. If you're interested just do a Google search on "Chaplin salt". Here's an extract from company info:

Over the course of the company’s nearly 75 years, Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals has become known internationally as a reliable, long-term supplier of natural sodium sulphate to blue-chip customers. Operating in southwest Saskatchewan, Canada, the company is the North American market leader in production of high-quality natural sodium sulphate. Over 80 domestic and international customers use Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals’ sodium sulphate in detergents, pulp and paper, glass, starch, industrial enzymes, water treatment and livestock mineral feed.

Some of the sites have much better pictures than ours.

Moose Jaw had some highway signs that made the town seem interesting, and we were in need of a break...:

Grain elevators looked like they've been here a while

A small Farmers Market today

Cath contributed to the entertainment

Several wall murals around town

Moose Jaw seemed like a vibrant friendly town with a healthy-looking downtown area.

Later we stopped in to Wolseley to check out their swinging bridge. They also had a mural or two:

The bridge was not quite what we expected, but it's fun to walk across it. Maybe it should be called a swaying bridge:

It gets quite a side-to-side sway from walkers

The bridge spans a pretty little lake in front of a nice retirement home

Our camp tonight is in another community campground, this one in Elkhorn MB. The camp helper just delivered a picnic table to us, the easy way:

We do enjoy the prairies. Stopping here and there to look more closely is mandatory to make the drive more interesting.