Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Road-trip September 8 - October 8, 2017 (Day 27 - 30)

Georgian Bay, Ontario
From Sudbury we took highway 69 south, following the waters of Georgian Bay to Parry Sound. This town is known as the home of Bobby Orr but it is interesting  that it also has the world's deepest natural freshwater port. From here we picked up the 400 to Barrie. Then it was a scenic drive cross country through a dotting of small villages until we reached Erin. It was here that Debbie, Richard's first wife was buried and since her passing in 1988 we had never visited her gravesite. We stopped and made inquiries at Butcher Funeral Home who gave us the name of the graveyard, only two minutes away. They couldn't pinpoint the grave location but we found it after a short search, brushed away some leaves and old flower petals from Mother's Day and said a prayer. We left a little sadder but glad we had had this opportunity after so many years. Guelph was just a half hour away and we met up with Richard in the shopping centre parking lot across from his brand new condominium, still in the later stages of completion. His condo was large and bright with a lot of windows and he had made it distinctly his - airline posters, model cars and lots of magazines and DVDs. Rich took us out for supper at Romero's Restaurant, a casual place serving a variety of tasty Mediterranean cuisine, then we retired and spent the rest of the evening enjoying some of his Kraken dark spiced rum and a hockey game.

dinner with Richard, Guelph, Ontario

After breakfast we said goodbye to Rich, planning to see him again this fall, and got on the 401 for the madhouse of Toronto. We were hoping to get to Christina's place in Embrun for supper. We stopped for a few treats at the Big Apple in Colborne, halfway between Toronto and Kingston, a favorite stopover for everyone driving the 401 east or west. Anything apple can be found here from the famous pies to apple cider but get there early to avoid the bus crowd. We finally got to Embrun a little later than planned but Christina had kept supper warm for us. We spent the next day with her and Damien who, since we had last seen him a month ago, was close to walking. We went to the nearby park where I had him in stitches on the swing, amazed how much of a little daredevil he was on the slides. Reluctantly we had to say goodbye and by noon were back on the road, this time the 417 to Montreal, our next planned stop before getting home.

Damien, Embrun, Ontario

We stayed two nights with Fernanda and the kids because on Saturday Phil dropped me and Amy off at the Atrium le 1000 downtown for one of her friend's birthday parties. We were there for over two hours and I think Amy was on the ice for almost the whole time, except for coming off for pizza and cake. She grows more confident on her skates each time she laces them up and hopefully William will take to it as much as she does. I took her home on the metro which she loves, riding in one of the cities new trains. The next morning we went out to a breakfast place Phil had discovered before packing up one last time for home. The peak of the fall colours were past when we pulled into our driveway but it was still pretty and we were welcomed with sunny skies which had been the norm since we had left 30 days ago. We had done 11,857 kilometers (7367 miles) without any incidents, close calls or problems with the truck and except for the $2400 diesel fuel bill the trip would have been a bargain. We were very pleased to see none of he house plants had succumbed while we were away and, except for the grass which needed cutting, nothing looked out of place. It was nice to be back and to be able to sleep in our big bed again, look out over the hills and put my feet up but winter was around the corner and we still had lots to do before the cold and snow descended for the next five months. Welcome home indeed!   gws 

Amy and friends, Atrium le 1000, Montreal

breakfast Sunday morning

See you in another month Grandpapa!

leaving Montreal

La Patrie, almost home

home !

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Road-trip September 8 - October 8, 2017 (Day 23 - 26)

Saskatchewan is probably a nice place but I couldn't live there. I need to see mountains or hills or woods, not tomorrow's weather looming on the distant horizon. I suppose the northern part of the province up their near the rugged Canadian Shield with the coniferous forests, rivers and lakes would be appealing if it wasn't so darn cold. But when you are driving on the Trans Canada you only think of how far you still have before Regina, and then suddenly you're through it and counting down the kilometers till you hit the Manitoba border. We did almost 700 klicks that day and the sun was setting when we approached Brandon, looking for the Bry-Mar campground. And what a treat it was after such a long haul. The owner was probably the nicest person we had encountered on our trip and made us as welcome as if we were staying the night in his own home. 

somewhere between Swift Current and Moosejaw

Reed Lake, Saskatchewan

Bry-Mar RV Park, Brandon, Manitoba

 If you look at a map of Manitoba you'll note that all roads seem to lead to Winnipeg. I'm not sure why. The next day, Sunday, the 1st of October, as we approached the outskirts of the city, we decided to look for a garage that might be open where we could get a much needed oil change. The truck had given us no problems and I wanted it to stay that way. We were just past the change oil date and still had 3000 kilometers to go so I thought it prudent to get it done at the first opportunity. We were lucky to find a Mr. Lube open and we were back on the road by lunchtime. As we crossed into Ontario later that afternoon the rain that had been threatening for the past hour began and continued all the way to Dryden, our stop for the night. The campground, the Northwestern Tent and trailer Park, was run by a Swiss couple, friendly and forever apologizing for the bad weather. It was actually only one of four days of rain we encountered on the whole trip.

downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba

The Northwestern Tent and Trailer Park, Dryden, Ontario

Happily the weather improved the next morning as we made our way towards Thunder Bay and Lake Superior, stopping to view the Sleeping Giant in the distance before heading north to Nipigon where the highway split, the northern section going to Hearst, Kapuskasing and Kirkland Lake, our road going east to Sault Ste Marie where we come full circle. We crossed over the Nipigon Bridge, still being repaired after last winters failuree when, through a combination of design and installation deficiencies of several key components, the steel decking of the bridge lifted almost two feet. This caused up to 1300 trucks to detour through the US each day till it was fixed, effectively breaking our only link between east and west Canada. We were waved through and like any of the numerous other highway construction sites we encountered on this trip there seemed to be more chiefs than Indians and I wondered if anything was actually being done.

the Sleeping Giant, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Nipigon Bridge, Nipigon, Ontario
We continued on through some pretty rugged country, following the northern shoreline of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world, until the town of Marathon. We found a campground (Neys Adventures) that obviously catered to the rough and tumble crowd (hunters, fishers and the like) who didn't mind a bit of dirt and dilapidation. It was mostly deserted but just off the highway (we had passed it 20 kilometres back thinking their was something better available in Marathon). So finding nothing there open (I should have guessed when all the Provincial Parks we had passed all day were closed for the season) we had to retrace our steps back another 20 klicks and hope the reviews were not as awful as they sounded. It was not to be. The washrooms, smelling of mold and God knows what else, were in need of a major cleaning and upgrading but I took the plunge and showered as best as I could without physically coming into contact with anything. Marie smartly declined. 

Neys Adventures and Black Bear Outfitters Campground, Marathon, Ontario

It was a fairly nice morning when we left the campground, driving back to Marathon and inland away from the lake for an hour or so until we came to Lake Superior Provincial Park, stopping near the beach at Old Woman Bay. It felt like we were by the ocean, the waves crashing on the sandy shore as we let Ben run while Marie and I enjoyed the fresh wind coming off the dark blue water. Then one more stop for lunch by the lake and we were through Sault Ste Marie and back on the route we had taken going west, following the North Channel of Lake Huron now to Sudbury and overnighting again at Carol Campsite, where we had stayed over three weeks ago. Tomorrow we were going to detour south and follow Georgian Bay to Barrie, then through the countryside and back roads to Guelph. We were looking forward to our first visit with Richard in his new digs there.   gws

Old Woman Bay, Lake Superior, Ontario

pee and lunch break, Lake Superior

Carol Campsite, Sudbury, Ontario

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Road-trip September 8 - October 8, 2017 (Day 20 - 22)

lane 29, Departure Bay, Nanaimo, BC

After waving goodbye to Bruce we were almost immediately at the terminal in Departure Bay. We bought our return passage to Vancouver and pulled into our lane for boarding the 0830 ferry, the sun just coming up over the mainland. We were the first ones there so I was pretty confident we would get on. It was a quiet crossing and we arrived in West Vancouver at 1030 where we met up with Lara and Jesse one last time to say goodbye. I sure am going to miss my two little grandkids..Then we were on our way east towards Chilliwack, Hope and the Alberta border. We had decided to drive through the southern part of the province and avoid the Rocky Mountains as it was getting into the snowy season on the high elevations and I had no wish to camp in below zero temperatures. It was a beautiful day and the traffic pretty light as we followed the winding Crowsnest Highway skirting the US border through the Okanagan Valley to Osoyoos and Oliver where we stopped for the night. It was a very comfortable 26 degrees when we arrived and set up. It was the first time we had been to Oliver and the area and we were both amazed at the plethora of wineries here. It was called the Wine capital of Canada for good reason as almost 40% of BC's vineyard acreage is planted here. Marie and I agreed we could live here quite happily.

arriving West Vancouver

me and Joshua saying goodbye, one last time

lunch stop near Hope BC

on the Crowsnest Highway along the Similkameen River, Manning Provincial Park, BC

fresh Okanagan fruit

Lake Osoyoos, BC

Desert Gem RV Resort, Oliver, BC

Crowsnest Highway, BC
  British Columbia seemed to go on forever when we got back on the road the next day and continued our journey towards the Kootenays and our next stop. We didn't make much time as highway 3 went up and down and off in all directions as it followed the mountain passes and avoided the high elevations. The scenery was amazing though and we stopped often to take pictures. Cranbrook was our last stop in BC and we found a quiet campground, the Mount Baker RV Park. Mount Baker, off in the distance, is not to be confused with the active volcano located in the cascades of Washington state. 

Wigress Lake, BC

Christina Lake, BC

Castlegar, BC

driving through Creston, BC

Then back on the road next morning, stopping off in Sparwood to see the world's biggest truck, the Titan 33-19, 22 feet high, weighing 1,220,000 pounds with a 16 cylinder, 3300 hp engine built in 1974. Bruce and Kirsten had told us about it, had taken pictures of themselves beside it so we did the same, amazed at the size of it. A half hour later we crossed into Alberta and headed towards Lethbridge, then onto Medicine Hat where we stopped for fuel. Here we got onto the Trans Canada east and were soon motoring into Saskatchewan, heading toward the small town of Gull Lake where we planned to stop for the night. It was a typical prairie town, surrounded by farms, oil derricks and ranches and the horizon stretched on forever. The campground was almost deserted and very peaceful until later in the evening when we were joined by two other campers who set up so close to us we decided to move to a quieter location. We had another long day of the prairies head of us before we reached Ontario... gws

Kootenay River and Mount Broadwood

Mt Fernie, Fernie, BC

world's largest truck, Sparwood, BC
somewhere in Alberta, on highway 3 to Medicine Hat

Gull Lake Campsite, Gull Lake, Saskatchewan