Friday, May 31, 2024

Turtle Crossing MB to Gas City camp, in Medicine Hat AB


After a good night's sleep at Turtle Cross camp we hit the ground running, aiming to make it to Medicine Hat today. We've been taking it easy so far, but want to cover some ground today.

It was mostly an easy drive, decent weather except for a brisk headwind all day. Light traffic though, and way less trucks than yesterday.

Along the way we saw what looked like huge piles of white and sometimes dirty snow:

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.


We did hit a bit of rainy weather today:

It looked like somebody was getting some rain over there

We did get a quick window wash at the end of this cloud

Rail and grain are often paired out here:


A landmark coming in to Medicine Hat:

We did make it to Medicine Hat today, and were camped at Gas City camp about 6pm.


Thursday, May 30, 2024

Dryden ON to Turtle Cross camp, near Brandon MB

Approaching Winnipeg


Weather was a mixed bag today. It started "ok" at Dryden after another nice stay at the Walmart, got really nasty around Winnipeg, then cleared up nicely by the time we got to Brandon MB.

Leaving Dryden we had to take a couple of pictures of a bridge that figured in to our 2022 trip blogs.


Going West, May 29 2022

Coming back East, Jul 4 2022

As you can likely guess, May of 2022 was very wet.


Near Feist Lake we came across yet another "Last spike" memorial. I think we looked for this plaque on an earlier trip but didn't find it.

It's in a pretty setting

It commemorates a 600 km (375 mile) rail line completed in June 1882, quite a feat in its day.  

There's always construction to provide parts of the Trans Canada Highway with a much-improved roadway once the construction is done, and short-term pain while it's happening:

 As we approached Winnipeg the sky started looking quite ominous:

Before the clouds let loose we noticed a display celebrating being the Longitudinal Centre of Canada.


The threatening skies delivered, along with lightning, thunder and  terrific crosswinds: 

In the midst of all this we had to deal with major truck traffic. A lot of the tractor-trailer rigs had 2 normal-sized highway trailers, likely 48 ft long each. When the crosswinds hit these guys the end of the rear trailer would be 4-6 feet downwind compared to the front wheels of the tractor. 

Some of these drivers would not slow down one bit from the posted 100 and 110 km/hr speed limits. It got quite scary sometimes when they passed us, as the crosswind could shove the trailers very close to us. We got off when we could and waited the worst of it out, then carried on to Brandon.

We figured we'd make it to Brandon MB today and see then whether we felt like continuing. Not today thanks! We found a nice private park just about 2.5km west of Brandon, but still in the town limits, the Turtle Cross campground. It's mainly for seasonal RVs but they had some spots empty today. $30 cash (3% more to use credit) for a fully serviced site. What a deal compared to Ont Provincial Parks!

Our nice level site

Large pool for summer visitors

A makeshift fountain to keep the water moving

Even toys for the "kiddies"

We were especially glad to be sunning ourselves here this afternoon. And virtually no black flies here!





Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Rainbow Falls to Dryden ON

It was a beautiful day to drive across part of the northern Lake Superior shore. In spite of the reservation hassles, we had a good night's sleep at the Rainbow Falls / Rossport park. A few pictures from along the way:

A huge rock face beside a lookout area

A big truck for scale

A fairly new cable-stay bridge at Nipigon

A cute sign in Nipigon
We had passed through some major construction early in the day today but didn't take any pictures, then encountered similar work nearer Thunder Bay. It's hard to catch the scale of this with drive-by pics, but major improvements and rerouting of roads:

We did see evidence of earlier forest fires, with regrowth starting right away. Luckily we've had no forest fires to deal with on our route so far, not even smoky smells. 

Sorry for the reflections here

We carried on through Thunder Bay after a fuel stop and a few things at the Walmart. We stayed right on Hwy 11/17 instead of taking the hwy 102 trucker bypass. The 11/17 route is much nicer now, better than it was 40 years ago and a more interesting drive than the bypass.

On our way past Kakabeka Falls about 10:30 we saw a restaurant with a sign that they were now serving breakfast, so decided it was time for breakfast. Unfortunately they had just stopped serving breakfast. 😞

So we had their lunch special, a hot roast beef sandwich, excellent.

We debated driving further today since we reached Dryden about 3:20 CST (4:20 EST), but decided it was enough for today so are parked at Walmart for the night.

One of the things that has surprised us is the number of EV chargers in little towns along the Trans Canada Hwy. Often they are at a gas station, like Wawa's were. Here in Dryden they are at a Co-op gas bar, right next to the Walmart. Handy.


I talked to the young couple charging their Tesla. They are on their way home to BC, after coming from there to Quebec. They've had no problem finding chargers, but did admit you have to stay on the main routes. If you start going north from the TCH chargers are rare, especially fast chargers like these in Dryden.

An interesting tidbit (to me anyway, my apologies for the EV tech) is that they usually fully charge at stops. If they charged the battery from zero to a full 70 KWH, it would cost about $40. That gives them about 475 km of range. We'd use almost half a tank of diesel in our van for the same range, costing about $70 now. Their experience is that even using the expensive chargers along the way, it's still only costing them about half what it would cost to drive their previous gas car.