Saturday, 31 August 2013

To Pukaskwa National Park!

August 14, 2013 Blog #4
After leaving Bell’s Point Beach in Sault Ste. Marie, we decided to shop and found a wonderful supermarket, Pino’s. We stocked up on fresh veggies and fresh meat, and left for the next leg of our journey, Starbucks’ latte in hand.
Here is how to park in a Mall. We only took up 6 spaces at Pino’s, but needed 12 here!

About 6:30 we pulled into White Lake Provincial Park. We had planned to go all the way to Pukaskwa, but no sites were available until the next day. White Lake is a wilderness Park, very rugged and treed. We had phoned ahead for a reservation, but decided not to fill the fresh water tank, [we had an eighth of a tank],  until we reached the Provincial Park. As John was registering, the Ranger told him that there was a “boil water” advisory in the Park. Luckily we were staying only 1 night. We were VERY careful with water. But we learned that when we book, or call ahead, we need to check the potable water situation, AND always travel with at least a half tank of fresh water!

White Lake:

Alona Bay

 The landscape of the northern highway fascinated me- firs to the road, and rock cuts

Pukaskwa is a beautiful Wilderness Park. We have a site which was easy to back into, has a levelled, framed pea gravel driveway and a levelled, framed sandy bed [for a tent if we had one] behind the RV. We unhitched, and stored the hitch.

It was great to stay put for a few days, not have to get up, get ready to travel, and take off. Wifi is available at the Visitors’ Centre, so we have made it a point to come here each day. It works well, as long as the weather is clear! One day when it rained, we puttered around reorganizing the trailer, and doing some cleaning, then decided to spend a large portion of the afternoon at the Visitors’ Centre. However, wifi was spotty until it started to clear up, so we talked to other people who were doing the same thing and to Greg, who managed the Visitors’ Centre. 
Hattie's Cove from the Visitors'Centre:
We went on at least one hike a day. Our first was on a Mushroom Hike with the “Artist in Residence”, Alexis. We found, and learned about more than a dozen different kinds of mushrooms. At the end we climbed a large flat glacier-striated rock to pick blueberries! Later we drove around Marathon and out to the Boat Launch- beside large flat rocks, characteristic of the area.
One day, there was a bit of drama, as we watched a Hercules circle the area for an hour or so, then saw the OPP and a diver who had parachuted in. We learned a couple of days later that a canoe had overturned at the mouth of the White River in the Park.
We hiked around an interior lake- up and over rocks, steps cut into or built on the side of a hill, and through lush underbrush. I got almost ½ way around, then came to a smooth rock ridge looming high above the lake that we had to walk along as part of the trail. I took one look and then several more. Between a ‘wonky’ knee and a dislike of heights, I decided that it wasn’t for me!  So, I doubled back and John finished the circuit. I walked the Beaches trails, and John walked part of the Coastal Hiking trail. It was beautiful, but very rugged and difficult in places.
Thank goodness for our little ceramic space heater. The nights and mornings were really cool. One night we even left it on all night!
We met many really interesting people; Greg, who would like to travel in an Airstream as we are doing, a couple who had hiked in Baffin Island, Newfoundland and the arctic, and 2 fellows who had the cabs of ‘big rigs’ modified to tow their fifth wheels. Both got tired of buying trucks every few years. They pick up these off warranty [which is 800,000 km], have them modified and then classed as RV’s [as they have beds, refrigs, cupboards], with a disclaimer on the side saying ”RV not for Hire”. These rigs will go at least another 800,000 km., so no more buying trucks. When we asked how they were on the hills, Kevin replied, “In these there are no hills.”

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Ottawa and Highway 17 West

August 8, 2013 
My goal of writing one entry per week has changed to one entry per stop! Time flies! I think this will be our new mantra. It is already August!
We are now really travelling WEST!

While in Montreal, we had many visitors come to oohhh and aahhh over our new home. It really did fit into the driveway. We visited for a couple of weeks with Montreal friends, John’s Mum, and got several chores done for her around the property.

Then we moved on to Ottawa to the Municipal Campground on Corkstown Rd in Nepean. If you ever stop in Ottawa to camp, this is a wonderful find! It is a lovely, mainly treed, well maintained campground, and even has a shuttle bus to the City 3 times a week, [although the public transport is quite close and uses an express bus lane on the major highway, #417]. 
 Looking through the Airstream out the back Bedroom window- just trees!

Checking the internet at various camps is interesting. This one was by the comfort station! 

We spent some time visiting with John’s cousin and his family, and did some sightseeing in Ottawa. The Governor General’s house, Rideau Hall, is beautiful, with about 72 acres of rolling lawns, trees and gardens. Many of the trees have been planted by visiting dignitaries to Ottawa. The Byward Market area is another “must see”. You can wander along the streets lined with booths of fresh fruits and vegetables, beautiful jewelry, plants, clothes, and stores ranging from beautiful reclaimed teak furniture, fish markets, souvenir stores and restaurants of every kind, most with outdoor patios. Nearby are the locks, 8 in all, and the canal.

We spent the next 3 days travelling West along Hwy #17!  The first day was a beautiful, sunny day for travel! A lot of driving and not a lot of stopping! Our first stop, 280 km later, was Mattawa, where we stayed in Sid Turcotte Campground. Sid Turcotte, on the banks of the Mattawa River, is a smaller campground with a mix of sites for trailers and tents, and 3 cottages. There are also quite a few seasonal sites.

The second day began with some light rain just as we were leaving, which very quickly became a downpour. Watching the spray from the back tires pelt the stone-guards of the trailer and wrap itself around the trailer, gave us a visual on the aerodynamic shape of the trailer. The rain didn’t last long but was torrential for a while! We were surprised to see much of the area between North Bay and Sudbury, as far as Verner, was wide open, flat fertile fields, with acres of hay, some baled and some waiting to be cut. Past Verner, we were back into a mixture of small deciduous trees, and lots of fir trees, smaller, less fertile farms, and rock cuts. The road just west of Espanola was flooded about 10 inches deep for about 100 yards. The water came up over the wheels of the car ahead of us. We decided to push on to Sault Ste. Marie to try ‘Casino Camping’. Until John discovered that the casino was in the centre of downtown! We then decided to stop in Bell’s Point Beach, on land owned by the Bell family for 200 years! Once again, our Airstream was the object of much attention. We should start charging for conducted tours! We could finance our new lifestyle!

When we opened the trailer door, there was a bit of water by the Airstream mat. When I picked the mat up, the back was soaking – a leak somewhere?, we asked ourselves, but no other mats or the floor were wet??? Later, it suddenly ‘hit me’, the water we went through had come under the door. Later we discovered that the “trunk” of the trailer also some water in it.
 However, we soon dried out, and set off the next day in sunshine once more!