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September 5, 2019

Camper

Here is the more or less monthly news

update about us and our corner of the

world.

We were on the road in our RV from May 23 to August 31 so all the news is about the trip.


August 13 - 31, 2019

This sixth and last trip update comes to you from home!


You can read the May 23 - June 6 log here.

You can read the June 7 - 26 log here.

You can read the June 27 - July 20 log here.

You can read the July 21 - August 2 log here.

You can read the August 3 - 13 log here.


Here are the final numbers for the trip:



Type to you again next month.

Greg, Tess & Camper

August 13, 2019 Ottawa, Ontario 8,736 kms travelled

We had a busy day today at the casino. No, not all day but for several hours. While Tess was inside in the early afternoon, Camper and I went for a walk and then I spent time on the computer getting the next installment of our travelogue ready for uploading. There is no WiFi here so for now, it is just sitting on my computer waiting to be uploaded to the server.

I also worked out our route across Ontario over the next few days and programmed the GPS so we won’t get lost.

In the casino, Tess heard her name called out on the PA system so she went to see what they wanted. She had been randomly selected as a participant in their “wind tunnel” machine. It is basically a big balloon filled with free play coupons in various denominations blown around by a big fan. She had 30 seconds to grab as many as she could. She wound up with $136 in free slot play. It isn’t exchangeable for cash – she had to play it. Tess is good at that and soon turned it into $180 in wins which she could, and did, cash.

Today was 2 for 1 dinner buffet and she also had enough comps earned to get a free meal so we both ate salmon, beef, ribs, and more until we couldn’t move. For free. The food was excellent; the best non-seafood buffet we have had on this trip.

My improved luck continues. It took me almost 3 hours to lose my $40 budget. I actually had fun in a casino which is rare for me. Back on the road tomorrow.


August 14, 2019 Huntsville, Ontario 9,096 kms travelled

Last night was our 30th free night this trip. That’s about $1,200 saved which covers over a third of our total fuel cost to this point. While we really miss Provincial Parks, the woods, campfires and so on, that’s not what this trip is all about.

After gassing up in Ottawa, we headed north on Hwy 17 to Renfrew. There we turned west on Hwy 60 which took us through Algonquin Provincial Park. This is a big park with lots of lakes, trails, campgrounds, and things to see and do. Since Ontario Provincial Parks are so stupidly expensive at $50 per night for an unserviced site, on top of the park access fee, we drove along admiring the scenery.

There  are watch for moose signs every 10 kms so of course, we didn’t see one. I did see squashed raccoons and skunks but ‘deadlife’ doesn’t count. Hwy is an excellent road although the speed limit is only 80 kph. I had to speed a little to get the transmission into top gear and save some gas but 85-90 kph seemed to be the speed where everyone was happy so we didn’t hold up traffic for a change.

We found Walmart right where the GPS said it would be and we settled in. There are a half dozen semis and a couple of other RVs so we feel right at home overnighting here.


August 15, 2019 Sudbury, Ontario 9,324 kms travelled

We continued our slow westward trek today. Hwy 3 brought us to Hwy 400, a typical divided highway; that is, no significant corners, excellent pavement and paved shoulders. I can maintain my “economy” speed of 90 kph and not hold up traffic. The amount of water here in northern Ontario continues to impress. Every corner seems to show us a new lake or river. There are few beaches as this is the Canadian Shield and there is bedrock everywhere.

The volume of rock blasted out and removed to make way for the highways is incredible. The granite rocks are different colours with veins of other colours running through them. Very pretty, especially in the blast areas that have only been exposed to the weather for a relatively few years.

In 2005 we stayed at Carol Campground in Sudbury so we pulled in there again. No reservations as always, and they put us in a level pull through site on the waterfront. The access road, a small playground, and the beach is all there is between us and the lake. Nice! Especially with power, water, sewer, and WiFi for $40. Oh, and it is sunny and warm. Ahhh!

The day before yesterday the return spring on the toilet broke and when we arrived here I called the RV place recommended by the office and he said he can have the part there tomorrow afternoon. That’s good service and at $60 to fix the toilet, a bargain. I will repair the broken throne room ceiling vent too since I am going to be in fix-it mode.

We made a quick trip to the bank to deposit the coins we have been accumulating since we left home. I rolled them up yesterday and the total came to $435! That’s nearly 2 tanks of gas. Since Our sewer hose isn’t long enough to reach the pipe in the ground, I stopped at Canadian Tire to buy an extension. Because the gas we bought at Can Tire give us 5 cents per litre in points, I got the $35 hose for free and still have $15 left to spend. Excellent.


August 16, 2019 Sudbury, Ontario 9,324 kms travelled

Water in and around Seven has been my nemesis for years: leaks in the roof openings, water supply hoses and lines (reminder to never forget to install the pressure regulator) and now the throne room. I fixed the leaky toilet sprayer fresh water supply and since the toilet valve return spring broke, the toilet will not hold water. And the hinge on the throne room ceiling vent failed and since the forecast called for rain showers overnight and tomorrow, I had to repair it or risk water coming in through the broken vent.

On the way to pick up the toilet part, we stopped at Walmart for supplies. In the parking lot was a police motorcycle skills competition. Motorcycle Cops from all over Canada and the USA were there. There were hundreds of cones set up in several courses. Wow! These guys have some serious skills. They rode mostly Harleys and had those big bikes scraping the ground on their way through the courses steering from lock to lock at a walking pace. The guys on BMWs could do the course much quicker because of the shorter wheelbase and easier to control throttle. Very cool.

The place where I ordered the toilet spring didn’t get it in. No phone call, just “sorry, it didn’t come in” when I got to the counter. I sat in their parking lot and googled other RV parts places and found one near the casino where I had dropped Tess off earlier in the day. They had nearly the right part on the shelf but when dealing with a toilet, nearly won’t cut it. Since our toilet will no longer hold water (there’s that word again) and the spring and seal kits run over $100, I thought it better to just replace the entire thing. They come in short and tall versions. We need the short version and they only had the tall version. Not my day.

I picked Tess up and we returned home so I could get the vent repaired before the rain. The plan was to re-attach the broken hinge using pop-rivets. Of course, my rivet gun broke. I wound up drilling holes and using sheet metal screws and sealant. In between climbing up and down from the roof, drilling and hammering the bent hinge straight, lots of neighbours came by to chat about our maps and to visit. I finally got finished about 8:30 just as it was getting dark.

Tess made me my favourite dinner of ground beef and rice with fresh corn on the cob as a reward for all my hard work. A little TV then bed.


August 17, 2019 Sudbury, Ontario 9,324 kms travelled

I am still a little annoyed about my tool breaking yesterday so I went to Can Tire to get a replacement. They only had name brand, better-than-I-need riveters so the next stop was Princess Auto. I found what I needed there for under $20. I even managed to get out of there without buying anything else which is rare. Some running around to the dollar store and a grocery store and we were home by mid afternoon.

It was the perfect temperature for a nap, so Camper and I snoozed outside. We went for a couple of walks and visited with the neighbours. About 75% of the sites are seasonal and since it is the weekend, most RVs are occupied so there are always people to talk to.

After dinner we had a nice campfire. There were kids in the playground across the road and lots of people walking their dogs. As always, the map of our travels on the door draws people in to talk. The mosquitos came out in force when it got dark about 9 PM so we went in although we left the door open. One cute little almost 2 year old was still running around with her mom in tow; she was fascinated with our ladybug whirligig and even tried to pat it. I let her meet Camper, but she was leery of me and more interested in the colourful ladybug.

Tonight was supposed to be the peak of the Perseid meteor shower but as usual, I didn’t see any when I took Camper out for his evening walk. I did see several campfires and someone playing a guitar with a group of friends. Nice evening.


August 18, 2019 Sudbury, Ontario 9,324 kms travelled

Tess qualified for a special draw today of $500 or dinner or whatever at the casino by winning a jackpot the other day so I dropped her off there while I went to the movies. I thoroughly enjoyed the latest in the “Fast ‘n’ Furious” series. Lots of cars, explosions and so on; great fun. I picked Tess up but her name wasn’t called so no prize. She still came out even so that’s a good day.

Since we are leaving tomorrow and will likely Walmart it for a day or two as we cross northern Ontario (it is 1,002 kms to Thunder Bay) I had a fire with Camper as Tess stayed smoke-free after her shower inside watching TV. The campground is pretty quiet again as all the seasonal weekenders have gone back home to prepare for work tomorrow. There was only one other campfire going, everyone else was inside by 9pm.

We’ll fuel up here in Sudbury before we head west to higher gas prices. I’ll top up in the Soo (Sault Ste. Marie) but I don’t think we can make it to Manitoba on one tank from there. We’ll see.


August 19, 2019 Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario 9,647 kms travelled

We woke to sunny skies and another warm day. We gassed up in Sudbury then hit Hwy 17W on our journey home.

We passed through lots of small towns and as we travelled west, the vegetation changed from leafy trees such as maple and birch to pine as we neared the north shore of Lake Superior.

We settled into a shaded spot in the SSM Casino lot. It was pasta night at the casino eatery so we ate at home. I played and lost the $10 they gave me for signing up to be a club member and I went home. Tess stayed and played and whispered to the machines. She came out ahead.

This is just an overnight stop; we saw all the sights last time we were here. The nights are getting chilly and in northern BC, it snowed yesterday just in case we needed a reminder that summer doesn’t last long in Canada. Sigh.

Back on the road tomorrow, the plan is to get to Marathon, Ontario.


August 20, 2019 Marathon, Ontario 10,061 kms travelled

We know that gas is only going to get more expensive and propane harder to find as we go west so we filled up the tank but couldn’t find any place that sold propane. We still have a few days’ supply before the lobster starts to thaw. And I face a firing squad!

We stayed on Hwy 17 TCH because it is the only road that goes west from here. As is usual in Ontario, the major highways are in excellent condition although narrow. There is literally less than a foot between the edge of the fog line and the perhaps 3 feet wide gravel shoulder. There are long distance bicyclists with all their bags and so on trying to stay upright in that narrow strip. If there is large semi or RV traffic in both directions when they pass the cyclist, it is a recipe for a fatality. We were delayed for several hours on our 2005 trip because a cyclist was killed by a semi along this highway. How many deaths will it take to make Ontario pave the shoulders?

We had a half hour delay due to construction. They were busy blasting the granite that is everywhere. The construction crews are experienced as all the small boulders created by the blast are about the same size so they can be scooped up by the track hoes and carted away by dump trucks. The flaggers were excellent at coordinating traffic flow and keeping delays to a minimum.

As the day progressed, the price of gas continued to climb, and propane remained elusive. A fellow at a big propane bottle refilling operation in Wawa told me the go to the White Lake Lodge, “about 6 miles past White Lake”. White Lake was 90 kms west and so right on our way. There was no lodge, only lakes and trees. Oh well, perhaps in Marathon where I had planned to stop for the night.

About 40 kms past the town of White Lake is the actual lake named White Lake. A couple of kms later we found the White Lake Lodge. It isn’t a lodge but a country store and campground. They sell everything including alcohol, lotto, fireworks, and auto propane. The tank holds 60 litres and he put in 54 litres so we only had a couple of days supply left. Since he had the cheapest gas we had seen in a couple of hours and it is only going to cost more later, I topped off the gas tank as well.

We arrived at May’s Gift Shop just west of Marathon, ON around 5:00 and settled in. The woman who owns it isn’t May, she is Rolly. MAY are the initials of her children. She and her husband still provide free overnight RV parking whether you buy anything or not.

We settled in with one other occupied RV and a couple of units being stored there.


August 21, 2019 Thunder Bay, Ontario 10,346 kms travelled

It was cool, quiet, and very dark and we all had a great sleep. In the morning the sun was shining between fluffy clouds and we turned west on Hwy 17 once again. This route goes along the north shore of Lake Superior and is very pretty, rivalling the Cabot Trail in many places. There is a lot of construction underway to rehab bridge decks and to add passing lanes. One of the crews knocked down a live power line so we sat on the highway for 90 minutes while that was repaired. The OPP kept everyone informed while we waited.

We stopped for lunch at a picnic area and walked along the beach. The water is very clear and, at least near shore, fairly warm. A sign said 10% of the world’s fresh water in in Lake Superior. We passed by the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and countless other ships that have sunk in this lake over the centuries.

We didn’t see any critters again today. It is blueberry season and they grow everywhere so I hoped to see a bear or two, but I guess the berries grow up in the hills too which keeps the bears away from the highway.

We found our way back to Trowbridge Municipal Campground and settled in for three nights. We got power and water only in a site that was barely big enough but is very nicely treed and on a quiet loop. There are no firepits, the girl said I could take one from another campsite, build a ring of rocks or just use the ground but please don’t burn the place down!

The campsites are not clearly numbered, and the map is little help. The campground is poorly maintained with dirty laundry room, garbage around the sites and low hanging tree branches over the roadways. Clearly, the manager is not a camper.

On the positive side, the interior roads are paved, water tastes good, there are lots of trees, it is peaceful and quiet, and we are only 5 minutes from the city. There are even 3 local over-the-air television stations, so we watched the 11pm news. Same old crap as last month – Canadian Liberal government scandals, Britain’s exit from the European Union, and US President Donald Trump being delusional. Sigh.


August 22, 2019 Thunder Bay, Ontario 10,346 kms travelled

Tess counted her medications and will run out on September 3rd so we have to be back home by then. That’s Labour Day Monday so we’ll need to find a place to stop for the busy long weekend. Disappointing to be sure, but we still will have been on the road for 100 days or so by the time we get back. And camping season isn’t over that long weekend for us, so we will have the opportunity to stock up on trout and walleye. It will give me some time to replace the toilet, install new blinds, and service the generator so it starts on the first try.

Today was a better day for critters. When Camper and I were walking on the campground trails we saw a good sized and very pretty garter snake (camper almost peed on it) and a pileated woodpecker standing in the trail just ahead of us. Pretty bird. We also had a couple of chipmunks visit and a big raven walked through the campsite when he thought nobody was near enough to threaten him.

After dropping Tess off at the casino, Camper and I went for lunch and an ice cream cone at McDonalds. Then we hit the local RV parts places looking for the return spring for the toilet or perhaps even a replacement toilet if the price is right. I did find a toilet, but it was too tall. The clearance bin at that same place had a slinky plug that I needed and a skirt for under the back of the motorhome which will reduce the crud and road debris damage on the car. Total for both items was only $22. I love a good bargain.

We went to pick Tess up around 7pm and she says she has had enough of casinos for a while as she isn’t having fun. We will revise our route home to include less casinos and more fishing. I think straight through to Alberta then stay where we might catch some fish before getting home on September 2nd. Of course, we are still a long way from Alberta – it will take us 2 days to get to Manitoba from here – so we’ll see.


August 23, 2019 Thunder Bay, Ontario 10,346 kms travelled

For our last day in Thunder Bay we did mostly nothing. A trip to town for dollar store supplies, some groceries, and a fast food lunch. We got home in the late afternoon and settled in for a quiet evening. We ate dinner, had a fire, and watched a little TV.

We are literally 5 minutes from Thunder Bay and I expected the place to fill up for the weekend but it didn’t happen. There are perhaps a dozen sites occupied and it is peaceful and quiet. The city is losing money on this place.


August 24, 2019 Whiteshell Prov Park, Manitoba 10,963 kms travelled

It got down to 6C overnight so the furnace came on regularly even though it was set at 62F/16C. I expect we will see more trees turning to fall colours as we leave Ontario. We packed up, dumped tanks, filled up the gas and turned west on Hwy 17 towards the Manitoba border. Or I thought we did. Turns out we were on Hwy 61 South heading to Minnesota but I figured it out before we had gone too far and we got sorted out.

On the way back to Hwy 17 we stopped at Kakabeka Falls, mostly because it is an interesting name. There isn’t much of a falls there and since it is an Ontario Park, they charge to go in - $5.50 plus tax to park for 2 hours. Nope.

So, onward and westward. The trip to Dryden was uneventful. We stopped at a Pizza Hut and got a late lunch and decided to push on to Kenora since it was still early. There is an Entertainment Complex and Bingo Palace. A small casino perhaps? Nope. Just a big smoke-filled bingo hall with a stage at one end. On the bright side, we saw several deer wandering around town.

We thought we would stay at Walmart in Kenora as there were four or five rigs parked there. When I pulled into the lot we saw the no overnight parking sign. It is a town by-law. In the Pizza Hut parking lot another RVer told me they had been kicked out of a Walmart lot after midnight this morning but he didn’t remember the name of the town. I bet it was Kenora. Since the town is RV-unfriendly, we didn’t spend any money in Kenora and we left.

By this time the sun is low in the sky and I really want to stop for the night. There should be an RV park or truck stop or something just outside of town, right? Wrong! We had to cross into Manitoba where within a few kms we found a Provincial Park and campground a few kms north of the TCH.

There was a sign on the office door with a list of sites we can use and we settled into one. By now it was fully dark and there are no lights in the park so it was really dark. We got within a half bubble of level and settled down. There was no moon and it is really dark here so the Milky Way was spread across the clear sky. Tess even saw a shooting star.

This is the longest distance by far in one day. The last hour was stressful heading straight into the setting sun with a dirty bug splattered windshield and very poor headlights.  


August 25, 2019 Whiteshell Prov Park, Manitoba 10,963 kms travelled

I registered at the office this morning and as it is Sunday, we pretty much have our pick or sites for tonight. They gave us a waterfront site near the scuba divers’ beach. It is large and level with 30 amp power.

I bought a 3 day Manitoba park pass for $12 and we decided to use the third day at a park near the Sask-atchewan border.

Campground fees are a bargain at only $16 unserviced and $20 for 30 amp power.

Once settled in we got busy with the usual activities of eating, enjoying a fire, visiting with neighbours and so on. This lake is a SCUBA hot spot and there was a class underway for much of the day. There is a small marina and very nice beach with cafes and stores along the access road. It is a very nice spot.

The lake itself was formed by a meteorite impact some bunch of millions of years ago. It is 111 metres deep, looks to be 3 or 4 kms across, and more or less round. The campground has almost 100 sites for tents up to full hookup pull-throughs.

On our after dinner walk we covered the whole campground and we saw a deer grazing at a vacant campsite. She let Tess get within 5 metres or so before she walked away. This is the closest Tess has ever been to a deer in the wild.

Mid afternoon it started to rain so we went inside to take the chill off. We all fell asleep and when we woke up at 5:30 the whole campground had cleared out except for a few tent trailers in our loop. We’ll have a quiet, peaceful night.


August 26, 2019 Minnedosa, Manitoba 11,367 kms travelled

It rained buckets overnight, but the sun was out by the time we were ready to hit the road at 10:30 am. The first stop was Costco in Winnipeg for fuel. It was sure nice to see their ‘reasonable’ gas price of only 99.9 per litre.

Back on the TCH westbound the drive was uneventful. Some construction and rough sections but nothing noteworthy.

I thought we might make it to another Provincial Park not far from the Saskatchewan border, but it was just too far, especially at our slow pace. I didn’t want to fight the sun again, so we started looking for a spot about 5:00. Just west of Minnedosa where Hwy 16 kinks north then back west is a rest area where I have seen semis and RVs parked late at night so that’s where we settled in a short time later.

We’ll get back to Saskatchewan tomorrow.


August 27, 2019 Yorkton, Saskatchewan 11,605 kms travelled

I was up at 8:00 and Tess got up at her usual 10:30. I enjoyed the quiet time to myself; I read, watched the semis and other RVs pull out leaving us alone in the rest area. It had rained overnight and was still overcast but the wind was blowing out of the north-west at 60+ kph. Not just a headwind to increase our fuel consumption by (I’ll bet) 30% but also from the side trying to blow us into oncoming traffic. I kept our speed to 90 kph and managed well enough.

The wind made empty B-train semis look like snakes slithering down the road in an S shape. One truck and camper was going maybe 60 kph and was having a very difficult time. The fully loaded semis had little trouble nor did 5er or travel trailers attached to beefy enough pickup trucks. Still, 238 kms was enough for the day.

We pulled into the Painted Hand Casino and I went to register. They welcomed us back and reminded me that power is available for us to use. Friendly and accommodating staff just as before.

We decide to treat ourselves to a nice dinner of filet mignon with lobster for Tess and crab for me. Besides, there isn’t much other food left in the cupboard. Yum!

I heard from my brother Todd: our Mom is in the Kamloops hospital with dizziness and a possibly heart related issue. Todd isn’t too worried at this point and I trust his judgement. Since tomorrow is her 90th birthday (!), I will call her when we get settled in Saskatoon.


August 28, 2019 Whitecap, Saskatchewan 11,973 kms travelled

Tess actually got up before me this morning which is rare. Camper and I woke up at 8:00 and Tess was already making coffee. She has decided she wants to get home sooner rather than later so we now plan to overnight tonight (Wednesday) and maybe Thursday in Saskatoon, then on Thursday or Friday in Lloydminster and from there, arrive home on Friday or Saturday. That will be 99 or 100 days on the road for this big adventure.

We fought a nasty northwesterly headwind all day again today. It felt like 60-80 kph. We burned about 25% more fuel than usual. And I am exhausted – a stomach bug and fighting the steering wheel all day and I am done.

We returned to the Dakota Dunes Casino south of Saskatoon because it is a very nice place. They have a huge parking lot with lots of space for RVs and even supply 15 amp power. Now if they only had WiFi we’d be all set.

Today is my Mom’s 89th birthday. Unfortunately, she is in the Kamloops hospital getting her heart rhythm sorted out. Atrial fibrillation Tess says which is very treatable. She should be home in a few days. Then she can get back to planning her Mexican winter getaway!

My brother Todd and I will go visit her in September, including a few days where we are both there so we can catch up as it has been a while.


August 29, 2019 Whitecap, Saskatchewan 11,973 kms travelled

Today was half cleaning up the RV and half lazing around doing basically nothing. By 1:00 things were clean so Camper and I took a walk, read, watched a little TV and had a siesta. Tess and I went into the casino for dinner and I even played the slots a little because I am a glutton for punishment.

We called my Mom and she sounds chipper like always. They are still sorting out her drugs and dosages so she will be there in hospital for a few more days. She is a little concerned about her trip to Mexico as she has already paid for the flight. I guess it will depend on her health insurance company’s reaction to her current problem. I really hope she will still be able to go.

We got home just after dark and settled in to watch the news, then went to bed. Tomorrow is another travel day; we plan to get to Lloydminster.


August 30, 2019 Lloydminster, Saskatchewan 12,283 kms travelled

Our last stop on this journey and we are both sad to see it end and happy to go home, especially to see Mark and Isla. I’ll have the actual numbers once we get home but 100 days and 12,500 kms is pretty close. The motorhome performed well with no major breakages and only routine maintenance. Fuel prices were about what we had budgeted but campground costs per night were higher. Also higher was the number of free nights we had – 39 in all!

The drive today was routine.  Overcast skies and no wind combined with excellent roads made for a stress-free day. Despite a bunch more warning signs, we still haven’t seen a moose anywhere in the 8 provinces we travelled through. They could be extinct for all we know.

The casino had fish & chips on special, so I ate there. The east side of the parking lot is reserved for RVs but there was only one other unit, a small Class C. I played the electronic blackjack tables and a variety of slot machines and was lucky. I won $1.16 so I’m happy. Tess not so much, so she isn’t happy.

The young lady who drives the shuttle bus mentioned to me that a $20 bill had blown out of her car during the wind storm on the 28th and I should keep an eye out for it when I was walking Camper. I told her if I found it I would split it with her. Surprisingly, I found her $20 plus a $10 bill! I kept my promise and gave her $15 when she and her boyfriend dropped by the RV this evening.

This is a new casino and they are already expanding it. I’m not sure if they are going to add floor space, a hotel, or entertainment facilities, but it will be pretty big for a small city like Lloydminster.


August 31, 2019 Morinville, Alberta 12,572 kms travelled

We are home! We met great people from 5 countries, visited historic sites, saw wildlife and beautiful scenery. Our favourite province to visit is Quebec, the most expensive fuel is in Ontario, the best roads are here at home in Alberta, the worst roads are in Nova Scotia, our most distant leg. The motorhome performed very well needing only routine maintenance, although a few items shook loose on the very rough roads in the Maritimes.

We have mixed emotions about returning home. I want to just keep going, Tess wants to play in her garden until the snow flies. I want to go to Texas or California for the winter, Tess will be happy with a mid-winter cruise somewhere warm. Guess which one we will do. Oh well.

Can’t wait to go out again to stock up on trout for the winter!


Finally! Select photos from our trip are available. Click the Bounder and enjoy.