Thursday, 19 September 2013

Northern Ontario to Calgary

August 30, 2013   Blog #5  

We have just downloaded John’s pictures of Pukaskwa. Here are a couple of more shots of the Beach trail, the trail around the lake, Bimose Kinoomagewnan and the Coastal Trail.
Beach Trail

Beach Trail

Bimose Kinoomagewan Trail

A Difficult Climb on the Coastal Trail

Suspension bridge over White River

Chigamiwinigum Falls - Upstream from the Bridge
The Coastal Trail -a Different View

As we drove through the rest of Northern Ontario, our hunch proved to be right- This is the year of the Bridge in Ontario- They were working on every bridge, small and large, that we had to cross. Most of them had ‘flag-persons’-[to be politically correct] at either end of the bridge. A couple of times we encountered stop lights, which were fine as long as there were people waiting at each end, but annoying when the only line-up was our way, westbound. At one long bridge, we had a ‘pace car’ and were limited to 15km/h.
Following the "Pace Car"

Through more spectacular scenery, and road cuts.

One of the rectangular cotter pins on the hitch was bent at Pukaskwa, so when we reached Dryden we tried to get another one. We couldn’t get an exact replacement, but found a thicker regular one, at an auto parts store, that works just fine. 

My water pillow had sprung a leak, so we tried to get another one. No luck, but the saleslady at the Shoppers Healthcare, located one in Kenora. The only difficulty was they closed at 5, and were not open on the weekend. We didn’t think we were going to get there in time, and neither of us had any cell coverage at all. However just before 5, we got coverage on the outskirts of Kenora, called and they waited for us. I can now get a good night’s sleep again!

It was only 5:30, so we decided not to drive back through downtown Kenora to the Walmart, but to drive into Manitoba. The owner of the Shopper’s recommended Whiteshell Provincial Park. It had 5 separate campgrounds, so we thought we’d get a site. There were 2 separate entrances to the park. Each was like a little village with several restaurants, stores, bars, gas station, parks and wandering deer.
Unfortunately, being Friday night, there were no spots at any of the campgrounds. So we drove on to Prawda, and stayed at a delightful small campground, Pine Tree Campground. Finally, at 9pm we dined on Smoked salmon and wine.

The next day, we were up and on our way by 10:30- fairly early for us! The highway right through Manitoba was divided, usually by 75 to 100 feet of trees. AND, there was no construction on bridges!

We stayed at the Turtle Crossing Campground just south of the TransCanada hwy of  Hwy 10 in Brandon. This was one of the sites for the Canada Summer Games in 1997. The present owner bought the campground in 2008, and just got everything set up and painted, when Assiniboine River flood waters in 2011 rose 8 to 10 feet over the campground, then settled at 4-41/2 feet for 4 months. Several tracts of trees were destroyed, and grey rings were left on the bottom 4 feet of all the other trees. Much of the damage has been repaired and cleaned up, and the campground is slowly being renewed and rebuilt. The owner is also building house trailers, available for sale or seasonal use. To avoid further flooding, homes, offices and equipment storage are all on 8 foot stilts, and huge dykes and levees are being built.

Many areas of Southern Manitoba are really as Prairie-like as Saskatchewan is reputed to be - flat, flat, flat.

There are huge fields of wheat and soy, and even a few ‘donkey’ oil rigs near the highway.

Saskatchewan has very large fields, not completely flat, but gently rolling.
West of Moosamin, there are tall stately Wind Turbines, slowly turning. They are well spaced, but cover about 10km.

We took a break from moving each day, and stayed at Moose Mountain Provincial Park for 2 days. This is a large Park with a store, mini-golf, a golf course, a beautiful beach, artists cabins, hiking trails and lots of families with kids. It also had a most unusual Visitors Centre, built as a make-work project about 1931. 
Visitors' Centre

Artist-in-Resident Cabin

Map with hiking Trails
 Unfortunately it also had masses of mosquitoes! We even had to abandon a hike the evening before we left. John had 8 to 10 mosquitoes on his back the whole time.Our trailer site was on a curve and became the official “skidding to a stop” corner for the children! 

Next it was on to Regina to stay with John’s cousin for almost a week. We didn’t unhitch the trailer, just levelled it and parked it in front of the house. This was fun family-time. We drove out to Regina Beach, drove to the town of Lumsden, and visited Mackenzie Art Gallery. One morning we went to breakfast at Henry’s. If you are ever in Regina, this is a ‘must’. The food is excellent, but there are also several levels of unique shopping – gifts, infants and children’s wear, women’s clothes and an art gallery. 

Before moving on to Calgary, we headed to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it in one day, so we decided to Walmart camp  at Swift Current. Just as we were leaving, an unusual big rig pulled in next to us. It had been shipped from Holland, belonging to a family who were travelling across North America and home-schooling their 2 small boys.

At Cypress Hills, the Camping/RVing sites are on the Saskatchewan side, so this is where we headed. This corner of Saskatchewan seems to be an anomaly. The Hills rise about a thousand feet above the surrounding prairies leading to cooler climate, increased rainfall and mainly lodgepole pine forest.  Parts of the Hills were sufficiently high in elevation to escape glaciation during the last ice age.
We got there in time to spend the evening at the Observatory where two very knowledgeable rangers told us the stories about, and showed us many of the constellations, and interesting stars and planets, using two powerful telescopes. The next day we went to the look-outs, walked two trails and then went for a swim in the pool. Looking across the plains of the Prairies from the highest spot in Canade beteen the Rockies and Labrador was amazing.
View from the First Lookout across the Plains

Lake in front of the Visitors' Centre

Lodgepole Pine Forest

Thursday we headed to Calgary to stay with our son and help with our two smallest grandchildren. We spent the first week reacquainting ourselves with the children. Unfortunately, our plans to continue are on hold for a while. Our Daughter-in-Law’s mother passed away suddenly, so we are staying until things are sorted out.

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