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May 23 - Cold Lake AB 265 kms from home

Odometer reading before we start – 34,489. We are very happy to be back on the road again. We hit the road about 11:30 am and had perfect travelling weather. Warm, overcast, light traffic, and everything in Seven works again.

We saw a deer beside the road near Redwater and got stuck behind a line painting truck for 15 minutes but otherwise the trip here was uneventful. I checked in at the security desk and we parked where they directed us. Level enough that the jacks could cope so we are snug, level, and solid.

There are two dogs roaming around the parking lot of the casino – gas station/c-store – hotel complex where we are ‘camped’. One is very friendly and outgoing, and the other is shy. They are clean and look healthy although the brown one is blind in his left eye. Hopefully they will find their way home.

I sent Tiff, Rodney & Tricia a text and even though they are getting ready to move at the end of the month, they came by for a visit. They even brought coffees and Timbits. We had a good visit until Tricia’s bedtime; it is a school night.

May 24 - Lloydminster SK 431 kms from home

We got up around 9am and I spotted the two dogs still hanging out at the gas station. I hope they haven’t been abandoned and just belong to someone who works there as there are no houses nearby. On Tiff’s recommendation, I went to see the local museum. They had exhibits covering the RCAF base, local homesteader stuff, oil & gas exploration and First Nations. Lots of walking but well done. I spent about 90 minutes touring the place.

I returned to the casino, hooked up Toad and away we went. Our goal was the new Gold Horse casino on the Saskatchewan side of Lloydminster. The trip itself was good because we saw a black bear and a deer although the deer was dead beside the road. Deadlife instead of wildlife? There was the usual paving work slowing things down, but we really didn’t care. We only covered about 170 kms today.

We stopped for gas at Canadian Tire to get the last of Alberta’s good prices. “Only” $1.19 per litre plus we get 5 cents in Can Tire ‘money’ per litre reducing the effective price to $1.14. I hate to say it, but that’s probably the cheapest we will see until we get back to the Edmonton area in September.

The casino welcomes overnighters and have slot machines that Tess likes. Perfect! I played blackjack at the gaming pit and won enough to pay for all the beer I drank. That’s great. A hailstorm with lots of lightening and thunder hit while we were inside, and the metal roof of the casino made it sound like we were inside a drum! As soon as it stopped, I went to visit Camper and he was very nervous and happy to see me. Poor little guy.

A short drive, another free night and a friendly casino. Today was a good day.

May 25 - Battleford SK, 573 kms from home

I looked at the map this morning after a good breakfast and the next casino is in North Battleford. We stayed overnight there on our way home from the dealer in Saskatoon where we purchased Seven. I remember they have an overnight lot in the back and I don’t have a chip so we’ll stop in briefly then try for Dakota Dunes south of Saskatoon for tonight.

Well, that was the plan.  We were on the road for about 2 hours and saw another dead deer but no other critters. And since we are going across Saskatchewan, there was little else to see. We did have a decent stretch of brand new pavement but that was the highlight of the trip today.

We went in to get my chip and they have a $5 blackjack table with a friendly bunch of local farmers. We decided to stay overnight in the back 40 and I registered at security. I played for cards 90 minutes and made $4 before going out to check on Camper. He was happy to see me as always and we cuddled, and he went out to pee before I went back in to play some more. There was a restaurant in the casino but we decided to eat at ‘home’ and go play again after dinner. We went for a short drive around town and it feels the same as it always has, kind of like a small Prince George from the 1970s: the railway near downtown, old brick buildings just a couple of stories tall and little foot or vehicle traffic once off the highway.

I was happy at the $5 blackjack table until they decided to raise the minimum bet to $10 and refused to let me be grandfathered at $5 so I cashed in and left the table. Too bad. I was up $2.50 after a couple of hours of playing. Since Tess wasn’t ready to go, of course, I put a $20 into a couple of slots and won about $100 on each so I am even for the trip. Very unlike me. Tess is losing this trip which is also unusual for her.

We packed it in for the night after I watched the Toronto Raptors basketball team beat Milwaukee 4 games to 2 to advance to the NBA final series for the first time in team history. There are still too many whistles and other stoppages in play for me to become a real fan, but it is fun to cheer on a Canadian team in an American league.

May 26 - Saskatoon SK, 742 kms from home

Up at the crack of 9:30 am and the other RV (a 45’ Prevost conversion towing a fancy Jeep) and the semi that shared the parking lot with us were both gone. We slept well considering the racket from the highway, trains and casino parking lot traffic. We plan to travel a little longer today, perhaps 175 kms to the casino near Saskatoon so hitting the road early is not necessary.

Back on the road heading for Saskatoon along Hwy 16 we had a short, uneventful drive. A few dead critters on the road but nothing alive and Tess says only live ones count. The GPS brought us through Saskatoon, then south to the nice, new Dakota Dunes casino. Like the other casinos in Saskatchewan, it is modern and new with slots, tables and group electronic tables.

I got my chip and played $5 blackjack on the group machine. It is quiet in the afternoon, so it was just me and the dealer and he took my $50 stake pretty quickly. Oh well, next time for sure! Tess lost too but stayed within budget. This is our favourite casino so far in Sask.

The parking lot is paved, well lit and, at least where we parked, level. They even have 15 amp plug-ins to use. We’ll rest up for the night and hit the road for Yorkton tomorrow. It is about 4 hours away and the last city before we hit Manitoba.

May 27 - Yorkton SK, 1,098 kms from home

We were on the road around 10 am, early for us. This was our longest drive of the journey, so far. There is an awful lot of nothing driving across Saskatchewan. Tess did see a pretty red fox and we saw a large flock of pelicans and another flock of a different large white bird. Swans perhaps. There was the usual assortment of geese, ducks, red winged blackbirds and so on. There were a couple of dead marmot or badger type animals too. Hard to tell exactly what when they are squished and we are doing 90 kph.

We caught a rock in the driver’s side windshield, so I’ll get that fixed on our way out of town tomorrow. Once we were level, plugged in, and had the slides out, I went to lock the car. The battery is dead again. I don’t know why – I didn’t plug in the braking system, turned off the radio and HVAC so there shouldn’t be any draw. I pulled the fuse out of the charging line from Seven which obviously isn’t working anyway. I’ll deal with it when we are in Winnipeg for a few days.

The GPS brought us to the Painted Hand Casino in Yorkton. I checked in at the desk and the staff are friendly like all the Sask. Indian casinos. They recommended Speedy Glass for the windshield and wished us luck in the casino.

May 28 - Wawanesa MB, 1,439 kms from home

The day started out with a dead Toad battery again. I checked the alternator output and it is 14.5v so it looks like the battery itself has gone bad. The dealer where we bought Toad installed the new battery so it is only 18 months or so old. Since the selling dealer actually bought the battery, I have my doubts that the NAPA warranty will be honoured but we’ll see.

We finally made it to Manitoba! I’ve driven Edmonton to Winnipeg non-stop I don’t know how many times, but this trip took 6 days just to get to Brandon! I wanted to see the Canadian Artillery Museum at Shilo so we turned south just east of Brandon.

It was interesting and well done. I even got to see some medals of the type issued to some of my family members in the Royal Madras Artillery all those years ago.

The worker at the museum recommended the Wawanesa Municipal campground so that’s where we headed. Along the way I saw a sign for the Criddle/Vane homestead museum which I want to see as well.

Wawanesa is a very pretty and tidy town and everyone waved to us as we puttered about town. There is one bank (no ATM) and a grocery store along with a couple of restaurants, a post office, an outdoor water park beside the campground and ball diamonds, an arena and a curling rink. Everything a small town needs. There are even 2 TV channels!

We decided to stay two nights as we have been on the road every day. We took full hookups for $35 per night so we can have long, hot showers and run the A/C since it will hit 30 tomorrow. We had a nice fire, the first of the season, before heading in at 10:00pm.

May 29 - Wawanesa MB, 1,439 kms from home

I was up early – 8 am! I had my two coffees and raisin toast and it tired me out so I had a nap in the recliner and Camper woke me up when he jumped down from my lap at around 10 am. Toad started right up so it looks like there is something drawing the battery down when the ignition is turned to unlock the steering wheel but nothing else is supposed to be drawing power. I’ll install a battery disconnect in Winnipeg. In the meantime, I’ll disconnect the positive terminal while towing. We picked up some cash at the bank at groceries at the food store then went exploring.

We checked out the Criddle/Vane museum in town but it is closed, and we would have to track down the custodian and ask her to open it for us so we decided not to bother her. We did go to the homestead site which is only 20 km or so up the road. There isn’t much left there – a couple of old buildings and foundations, an unmarked cemetery and a functioning well.

Our next stop was the Sand Hills casino in Carberry, It is in the middle of nowhere and other than a tour bus of old folks, there were only a few people there. We joined the players club and Tess got a free birthday lunch and we each got $10 in free slots play. I played $5 blackjack and got my chip. I lost $20 at the table and should have quit there but I couldn’t sit in the bar and drink until Tess was ready to go because we are not camped in the parking lot. Instead, I played a variety of slots until my money was all gone. Tess made a bit so she is happy to have more $ in her casino budget.

We picked up a Brandon tourism booklet and it includes a 2 cents per litre off coupon for Co-op gas which is the brand of station here in Wawanesa. Every little bit helps when I am losing at the casino. We returned home around 7 pm to a very happy Camper. It is hot and there is a smoke haze in the air, probably from the fires in northern Alberta. Tomorrow’s goal in Winnipeg.

May 30 - Winnipeg MB, 1,685 kms from home

We got gas at the Wawanesa Co-op and saved over $4 with our coupon. We turned east on Hwy 2, called the Redcoat Trail because this was the route established by the NWMP as they pushed westward. The road is in good condition although the shoulders are unpaved so I took a little more care than usual.

Traffic was light and we stopped for lunch in Holland, MB. They had a windmill beside the highway so I took a photo for the roadside attractions album.

We skirted Winnipeg and the GPS brought us right to Birds Hill Prov Park. It hasn’t changed since we were here last in 2011. Paved roads, level sites, power (in our site) and we got in without a reservation. We are actually parallel to the road but have a nice firepit area in the brush for privacy and peace and quiet. There are no other sites through the bush so it feels very cozy.

I registered for 3 nights as there are people to visit and things to do in Winnipeg.

May 31 - Winnipeg MB, 1,685 kms from home

Winnipeg is an interesting city. Lots of historical buildings up to 150 years old, two rivers that meet downtown, and lots of First Nations and immigrant influences. There are even 2 Jollibee fried chicken restaurants to serve the Filipino community. The arterial roadways are efficient (except for the usual construction) and there is a ring road, so it is easy to get around.

We went downtown to see the Canadian Human Rights Museum. This has only been open for about 2 years and is in an interesting building, full of symbolism. The first floor was primarily about Nelson Mandella. There were displays on the Holocaust, various religious sects (although it didn’t go into detail about their abuses of human rights), and significant space was devoted to Canada’s own sorry track record of treating non-whites. There is even an observation tower at the top that provides a great view of the city.

We went to visit Jojo & Nheng, Tess’ nephew and his family. It has been a few years since we saw them and it was good to catch up. He is a Journeyman Millwright at the Winnipeg Free Press and she is a seamstress at a high-end winter clothing manufacturer. Their kids are growing like weeds and are doing well in school. They had enough excellent food to feed an army and we left with a care package for the road.

As I was typing this about 9:30 am Saturday morning while Tess and Camper are still asleep, I heard an unusual bird song. I looked out the window and spotted the source – a gopher! I had no idea they made any sound other than “squish” when being run over, but there he was singing and munching dandelion leaves. Huh!

June 1 - Winnipeg MB, 1,685 kms from home

Another nice day weather-wise. That one day of 30 was enough. We went into the city and hit Wal-Mart for supplies, then we finished off the visiting family duties with a very pleasant visit with Aileen for a couple of hours. Then she took us to Jollibees for a late lunch.

We decided to finish off our Winnipeg stay with a trip to see the huge fish tank at the Regent Casino. They have the place under construction and instead of a large, expensive to maintain fish tank, they have installed more slots. The layout is still confusing although the tropical island décor is nice. They have an entertainment venue and a hotel so it is a busy place.

We returned home about 10:30 to watch a little TV and cuddle Camper. We are back on the road tomorrow and should get into our 4th Province, Ontario.

June 2 - Dryden ON, 2,066 kms from home

We left our campsite and joined the short line to dump the grey water tank and top up the fresh water. The GPS lead us east and then south to join the TCH avoiding the city completely. We soon came upon a sign that said we were at the east-west geographic centre of Canada but there was no room to stop to take a photo.

About a half hour east of Winnipeg the farms disappeared and there was poplar and black spruce woods. About another half hour down the road we started to see granite rocks which quickly turned into granite everything with patches of trees. Then the lakes started. Every bend in the road showed us a new lake. Many had cottages around them. These are not like prairie lakes – they look deep with steep rocky shorelines.

About a half hour west of Dryden we stopped at Blue Lake Prov Park campground. Lots of sites, beside a pretty lake and some sites have power. An unserviced site is $36.45 and if we disconnect the car, it costs an additional $12.50 for an extra vehicle charge. For an unserviced overnight stop!  I don’t think so.

We carried on to Dryden intending to stay in the RV park across the street from Walmart because they treated us so well when we broke down on our 2005 trip. Nope. It is gone, replaced by a motel. We asked at Walmart and they said even though there is a by-law against it, we were welcome to stay overnight. That saves us $50 which almost covers the difference is gas prices between here and home for one fill up. There is another RV parked in front of us, coincidentally also from Alberta.

We hope to make Thunder Bay tomorrow.

June 3 - Thunder Bay ON, 2,418 kms from home

The drive today was typical – nothing too exciting. Still lots of granite poking out of the ground and mixed Aspen and Spruce trees. There was little farmland, mostly because there isn’t enough room between the lakes and rocks to clear enough land to farm.

We stopped for lunch at the time zone change which is in the middle of nowhere instead of the border between Ontario and Manitoba as I expected.

We turned out to be smart by gassing up in Dryden. In Thunder Bay gas is 22 cents per litre more at $1.469. The campground host said it will get more expensive as we go east. Campgrounds too! Good thing Seven gets 8-9 mpg (30 litres/100kms) instead of the 5-6 that Thirsty got. Even though these prices are in the budget, it still hurts to put $250 in a tank that is still on third full. We can see Lake Superior and have only filled up 4 times, so I suppose it isn’t all that bad.

We made it to Thunder Bay as planned. Trowbridge Municipal Campground isn’t open yet, so we had to find another place to sleep. We drove by Wal-Mart and the lot is full of cars and really has no room for RVers. The same would be true for the casino as it was a small parking lot. A few minutes east of town is a KOA so that’s where we went. It is $55 per night but the sites are level, there is some grass, and full services including internet in the office area. So here we are for 2 nights.

I did some planning for fuel stops as we are taking the northern route on Hwy 11 across Ontario, to North Bay. It we fuel up here, we can reach cheap(er) gas prices starting in North Bay with only one additional fill-up. The GasBuddy app is my friend – I found local gas for $1.22. Woo hoo!

After a BBQ dinner, it started to rain so we decided to just stay in tonight. We are at the fringe of one TV channel so we watched something pre-recorded that I brought with us. Even better with no commercials. We went to sleep listening to the rain patter on the roof which always seems to lull us to into a deep sleep.

 June 4 - Thunder Bay ON, 2,418 kms from home

I got up around 8am feeling full of beans and Tess finally woke up at 11:30! Camper didn’t come out from under the covers until noon!

We went exploring around the city. Thunder Bay is actually several cities and towns that have grown over the years to make it difficult to tell where the borders are. The area population is well over 100,000 so it feels like any other Canadian port city. The age and architecture of the buildings reminded us of Prince Rupert, BC.

After roaming around we went to the casino. It is pretty big with 450 slots and a bunch of table games. I already have a chip from here so I just looked for a friendly machine. I found one and spent the time waiting for Tess while playing various flavours of video poker. It took me over 3 hours to lose $40 and to my surprise, I enjoyed myself. Tess won a couple of hundred so she’s happy too.

I decided on pizza for late dinner and since there was a Little Caesars sort of on the way home, we headed there. It was closed. Since I had my taste buds set on one of their deep dish pizzas, we went to the other one in the area. It looked relatively close by on the GPS map but it turned out to be a 15 minute drive in the opposite direction. But it was very tasty. I ate two slices on the way home.

There is relatively cheap gas to be had down near the US border on one of the Reserves (well past the pizza place) but I think we would burn fuel more travelling there and back than we would save at the lower price. I’ll top off Seven’s tank at Petro-Canada or Canadian Tire in north-east TB before heading out along Hwy 11 east. GasBuddy says gas is expensive at $1.44 until Cochrane where it drops to $1.31. We can make that 729kms on one tank. I think. Cheaper gas starts in North Bay so the budget will be fine.

Back on the road tomorrow.

June 5 - Hearst ON, 2,896 kms from home

The day started off fine: we got up, had breakfast, packed everything and refilled the fresh water and dumped the tanks. The plan was to go to Can Tire to fuel up since they offer a decent discount. We couldn’t fit in the outside pump, so we went to Superstore. Again, a decent discount. Their canopy Is only 11” high and we would not fit. Next it was Husky and success! We fuelled up but the propane guy is off sick today. I figured no big deal; I’ll find some on the road.

We headed east on Hwy 11 and stopped at several small towns trying to buy propane with no luck. One was broken and the others sold exchange 20 Lb. tanks only. We finally found some in Geraldton which is an hour from anything. Only $1 per litre which is a bargain. Full fuel, propane, water, and empty tanks so we are set for a few days at least.

As we made our way east, the landscape changed. It went from granite and lots of lakes to a little granite, lots of muskeg and fewer lakes. There are lots of dead spruce and pine trees and lots of the poplar don’t look very health either. This highway is in very good condition with gentle curves and hills and little traffic. Transport trucks outnumber cars and pickups by a factor of at least ten. We saw only two RVs in the nearly 500 kms we covered today: one travel trailer and one truck camper. We saw a momma black bear with one little cub and two what looked to be yearlings who will be on their own for the first time. Both were running away from the highway so hopefully they will grow up.

We started looking for a spot to stay about 5:30. There was one RV park but there were no warning signs and I couldn’t slow from 90kph safely in time to pull in. We continued on for another nearly 2 hours when we spotted a suitable spot to boondock. It turns out to be a snowmobile staging area, but the important thing is that it is solid and level and we are 30 metres off the highway.

By 9:00 traffic was very light so I’m hoping it will be a quiet night and that the semi parked at the end will be quiet when he leaves in a few hours.

June 6 - Iroquois Falls ON, 3,220 kms from home

Today was just going to be a driving day; another leg in the long trek across northern Ontario. We have been seeing Watch For Moose signs for days on end and today we finally saw our first Ontario moose. He was probably only a year old and looked very unsure of himself. The motorhome scared him enough so he turned around and went back into the bush.

In the afternoon we saw a small car towing a U-Haul trailer that had hit a moose. The driver may have escaped unharmed as there was no damage to the car except the top half of the windshield was gone and the roof was bashed in. There was no sign of the moose. I saw another mama black bear and a cub and Tess saw three turkeys so it was quite the day for critters.

This highway is excellent as mentioned. The only fault I find is the shoulders. They are about a half lane wide and gravel. Happily we haven’t needed them but it could get exciting if I do. We had good travelling weather with mostly cloudy skies. After 3 or 4 hours on the road we started to look for a place to spend the night. We decided to get a proper RV site and stay someplace 2 nights. The first place we tried didn’t have any power sites but the second one had two. We picked the one across the road from the lake and paid for two nights. Friendly staff, on a pretty little lake, with lots of seasonal campers. They even have a restaurant open on the weekend. And great Wi-Fi is included with the power and water.

We might even stay 3 nights.

June 7 - Iriquois Falls ON 3,220 kms from home

We woke up to the view of the lake and the promise of another pleasant day. And that’s what we got. Since we are away from any major attractions or touristy spots, we decided to go and explore the nearby town, about 10 minutes away.

It looks like it was built so Abitibi could take advantage of the river for electricity generation. There are lots of little “company town” type houses, a small museum including a cute little worm drive steam locomotive, a couple of banks, hardware stores and so on. There may have been a waterfall but I suspect it was more like a rapids. We couldn’t get close enough to check it out although it looks like there is still a power station there. The mill looked to be quite large at one point but is now being demolished.

While in town I bought a Torx bit to repair the TV antenna handle that came off in my hand yesterday. Tess hit the grocery store for supplies. She put those supplies to good use making chicken wings which we ate by the fire and she fired up her as yet unused crock pot with beef stew which will be ready tomorrow.

We had a nice fire and watched the weekend campers arrive. I was expecting the usual gong show of inexperienced RVers and was disappointed. Everyone knew exactly what they were doing, even backing in 30+ foot long trailers easily. There are lots of kids and dogs and happy sounds.

I went across the street to visit with a couple of guys and spend a very pleasant hour swapping stories. As is often the case, they want to eventually do the touring in an RV thing like we do. They were interested in following our trip so if you are reading this guys, hello!

We will be back on the road tomorrow. A fellow camper said North Bay Walmart welcomes overnighters so that’s the plan for now.

June 8 - North Bay ON 3,559 kms from home

We got ourselves mobile at the usual time – 11ish. We dumped tanks, connected toad and waved good-bye to the kids as we pulled out. Back on highway 11E, we transitioned from granite and lakes to lush farmland, back to granite and lakes and finally to generally evergreen forest as we neared North Bay.

The sign said there are 50,000 people here, but it feels bigger than that. I bet it is 75,000 in the trading area. It looks like the big industry is mining service and support. We passed a number of mines today on the way here. Other than a squashed crow, the only critter of note was probably an immature Cooper’s Hawk. I checked him off in my bird book. We also saw an OPP Ford Explorer nab a speeding Altima but that’s really not a wildlife sighting as they are both domestic! The steady stream of transport trucks continued, of course, but we saw more other traffic including RVs and motorcycles.

Ontario drivers puzzle me with their reluctance to pass. I am holding the speed limit at 90kph so absolutely everyone catches up with us. The semis will pass when they have at least 1 km of clear road and I have signalled I’m aware they are passing. Cars and pickups (even Dodge RAM half tons!) wait more or less patiently until there is an uphill passing lane and then they zoom by. Oh well, as long as they are patient and safe.

The GPS brought us right to the large parking lot outside Walmart and the attached Northgate Mall. It is Saturday, but Walmart is still open until 11:00 so we won’t have a quiet parking lot until late. There were 8 RVs parked here overnight. The generator won’t bother anyone so we’ll be able to keep cool. It is hot at 26C so we will put a few hours on it today.  

Tomorrow we head towards Ottawa.

June 9 - Ottawa ON 3,602 kms from home

We were the second to last RV to leave this morning. Back on the highway we again saw transitions in the landscape from rocks to lakes, to farmland, to forest. At a rest stop for lunch I asked someone about the dying trees. She said it was some kind of fungus. Last year it was caterpillars eating the deciduous trees so it is tough to be a tree in Ontario.

Here we are back in Camp Hither Hills about 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa, the same place we stayed 14 years ago. The campground is unchanged although we are in a different section with more room than last time. The drive here was uneventful. As we got closer to Ottawa, traffic got heavier and the highway went from one lane each way to four and the speed limit went from 90 to 100 and everyone still drove the same 10 kph over the limit. I kept our speed down to 90 where I could without impeding traffic. I like the better mileage we get poking along.

The GPS brought us right to the campground although there was about 10 kms of rough under-construction or desperately needs resurfacing road. Being Sunday, there is no rush hour traffic to contend with, so it was stress free. We got settled in and met our neighbours from Oregon who are on their way to Montreal and Quebec City before heading back towards home. We still have a slow water leak from the city water connection in the wet bay so I will replace it tomorrow.

The horse racing track here is also the casino and I already have a token. We went anyway, of course, to find that it is now the Ottawa Hard Rock casino. A new name means new chips so I bought one and made $20 at the tables. I made another $20 on a poker machine but didn’t quit while I was ahead and put it back in the machine and ended the evening even. Tess couldn’t find a machine that liked her so we left after a couple of hours.

June 10 - Ottawa ON 3,602 kms from home

We woke up looking forward to a cooler day; 30 is just too hot, especially with the 96% humidity my phone says we have. After Camper had his walk we set off. First stop was a local RV dealer for some cupboard door struts and a new water valve. Next we were off to the museum.

There are a lot of those here in Ottawa and we chose one we had not visited before. The Canadian Museum of Nature is in an imposing century old stone building that has been renovated and updated in recent years. Four stories plus the basement had exhibits. Half of each floor was dedicated to one topic such as vulcanology, oceans, etc. It was all pretty standard fare. There was a small butterfly exhibit too but the one we saw in Victoria was much better.

When we were walking up to the building, I noticed a woman lying in a crosswalk surrounded by several people. I alerted Tess who went to help, of course. It turned out that the victim had a Medical Alert bracelet indicating she was epileptic, so Tess knew what was needed. A couple of bicycle police officers soon arrived and by the time the ambulance came, the victim was recovering, standing and talking to emergency people. She should be fine.

We asked the GPS to take us to an Edo Japan restaurant and we wound up at a shopping mall. Not sure if there is an EDO there or nearby but there was a food court and Tess found a Japanese place there so she was happy. And I’m always happy to eat at A&W. On the way, I started paying attention to gas prices and liked what I saw. Prices around $1.12 per litre are welcome and we’ll fill up Seven and Toad before we continue.

Once rush hour traffic had passed, we headed across the Ottawa River to Gatineau and the Casino du Lac-Leamy. On the way we had to do a U-turn, or at least go around the block. We wound up going through the CSIS campus. Great, now we are going to be followed by the spooks!

We spent a couple of hours at the casino and we both had a good time. We came out to rain and cooler temperatures, just as the weather people predicted. We’ll sleep well tonight.  

June 11 - Ottawa ON 3,602 kms from home

We had a great breakfast and then settled into a domestic day. Laundry, replacing that pesky water valve, planning our next leg and so on. It took an hour and another trip to the RV parts supply place but the drip is fixed. At least for now. And we have clean clothes.

Gas prices here are very volatile, changing every couple of hours by a penny or 5. I filled the car up at 2:00pm and by 3:30 the price had dropped 2 cents. I will fill up Seven before we leave town tomorrow and then we’ll be good until New Brunswick, I think.

With all the chores done I took Tess to the local casino and Camper and I stayed home. After walkies, we settled down to read and snack. I talked to some of the neighbours. A 45’ Prevost bus conversion pulled into the next stall. It sure makes our rig look puny and cheap!

We are back on the road tomorrow so I programmed the GPS to avoid Montreal and we are all set.

June 12 - Pierreville QC 3,962 kms from home

We left Ottawa at our usual time and stopped to fuel up at a reasonable $1.149. I knew we needed to go east, it was just a matter of choosing to go north or south until we hit a major eastbound road which would eventually lead us to 417. I chose north and away we went.

Within a block the GPS had sorted out where we were and where I had to turn east. But. The road it wanted me to turn east on was closed. Of course, it was the last east bound road before the airport and of course, it wanted me to do a U-turn to back down the closed road. Stupid GPS.

We did the scenic drive around Ottawa for a while and, no thanks to the GPS, I found 417 east and we were set. The roads around Ottawa are in very rough shape – potholes, cracks and ruts. The highways are good, though. I wonder if there is a correlation between where the politicians have to drive and the condition of the road.

We crossed the Quebec border and immediately noticed the lack of highway maintenance. There are lots of construction barricades but no people of machinery working that we could see in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. The horrible road felt like the Yukon did 30 years ago. The speed limit is generally 100 kph but it was too rough for me to go that fast. The streets in the towns are no better. I don’t know why the locals put up with their vehicles being shaken to bits.  

I picked a campground at random because it was relatively close but was away from the highway and beside the river. The campground guide was generous in giving it 4 stars but the sites are large and level with full hookups and a pool. The owner sent us in to find a site we like and asked me to come register after dinner which I tried to do but he was busy.

There are lots of maple trees along with some birch near the river so it must be very pretty in the fall. We had a quiet evening in and planned our explorations for tomorrow.

June 13 - Pierreville QC 3,962 kms from home

We slept well with cool temperature, a breeze and lots of humidity. By 11:30ish we had our act together enough to head out exploring.

First was Nicolet to see the Snow Goose stopover then the boardwalk at “Parc ecolologique de l’Anse du Port”. There was extensive flooding around here about 3 weeks ago and the water has not completely receded. The goose stopover was partially submerged and didn’t have any geese. The boardwalk itself was high and dry but the surrounding wetlands was under a metre of water.

We spoke to a knowledgeable young lady who said the water had receded over a metre and a half. Water inundating the area is a normal spring event, just not to the depth of this year. I thought I had found a new bird but comparing the photo I took to my bird book, it turned out to be a White-breasted nuthatch which I first recorded in Sherwood Park AB in 2006. Pretty though.

There was a quay I thought might be worth visiting but the nearest parking was 200 metres away and Tess didn’t have decent walking shoes. Instead, we went into Trios Rivieres, on the north bank of the St Lawrence. It is a 3 km or so long bridge across the river. Steep approaches to the main arch and 4 lanes wide. Pretty bridge with a great view from the top.

We stopped at the local IGA for groceries and Tess found lobster on sale, so she bought a 3 pounder. She even remembered to buy me croissants as a treat. She was anxious to get back home to eat her prize so we returned a little earlier than we would have otherwise but there really isn’t anything special to see or do in the area. Once home, I spent a few minutes planning our trip to and stay in Quebec City and then vegged out for the evening. Tess ate her entire lobster plus a big tray of mussels!

It will be a short drive tomorrow and we will stay there for a full week as there is lots to explore in the area.

June 14 - Saint Augustin de Desmaures QC 4,133 kms from home

We hit the road at a reasonable 11:30 am or so. I stopped in at the office to pay our fees and away we went. For tonight I selected Camping Juneau near Quebec City because it was the closest 4 star campground to the city. The GPS brought us back through Trois-Rivieres and then east on Hwy 40. This is an excellent highway. I am getting more comfortable with road signs in French; a glance tells me now if I need to try and read one. French uses several words where it would be one in English. I just look for construction warnings or the exit number.

We made a quick stop at an IGA and Tess stocked up on cheap ($6.99/lb) fresh cooked lobsters. I’m sure she will eat one a day from now on. It was a short drive today and the campground had a spot for us, so I paid for 8 nights of full services. They charge the pretty standard $40 per night plus 14.5% taxes.

It was overcast when I went into the office and pouring rain when I came out 5 minutes later. We drove down the hill to our site about 50 metres from the lake and the skies really opened up. Lightning too with very loud crashes of thunder.

We just waited it out parked in the road with Toad still attached. It was all over in 10 minutes or so and I dropped Toad and got parked in our site. I plugged into power but the water and sewer can wait until things are drier.

We stayed home and relaxed for the day. Between rain showers I took Camper for a walk and chatted with some neighbours. I noticed the squirrels here are grey, not the black we saw in Ontario. Or the brown we have at home. On the way, we also saw some good-sized brown rodents. About 10 lbs I’d guess with fur covered medium length tails. We saw a few squashed raccoons too.

June 15 - Saint Augustin de Desmaures QC 4,133 kms from home

I was up and having my coffee at the usual 9:00am and the sky was still grey and wet. Lots of people arrived yesterday evening for the weekend so I expect there will be more activity around the campground today. Since it is going to rain on and off today, I decided we would tour Ile d’Orleans. It is a good sized island in the St. Lawrence that has lots of Acadian history.

I am going to a big 1,300 vehicle car show tomorrow so we thought Tess could go to the local casino while I went and drooled over the cars. The casino isn’t called a casino but the “Fleur de Lis Entertainment Centre” and it is a storefront in a shopping centre. Eventually we found it, saved the location in the GPS, and headed for Ile d’Orleans.

We crossed an old 2 lane suspension bridge to get across the St. Lawrence and took the circle route around the entire island. It is very quaint with little century old houses a metre from the road to almost mansions on many acres of nicely manicured grounds. We stopped at a roadside café and bought some local treats and at a diner where Tess bought a lobster roll and fries for $23. The fries were nothing special and the lobster roll was also ok but not worth the money. But at least she can say she had a lobster roll in Quebec.

On the way home we stopped in at the casino and Tess spent 20 minutes getting a feel for the place. She said she doesn’t feel “it” and doesn’t want to go back. If the rain stops and I go to the car show tomorrow, I’ll go alone and she and Camper can spend the day around the campground.

It started raining when we were on the island and continued all the way home and didn’t let up all evening.

June 16 - Saint Augustin de Desmaures QC 4,133 kms from home

Happy fathers day to me! Traditionally, I have usually gone to a car show with Mark (and with my Dad in years long gone by) and Isla but of course, not this year since we are over 4,000 kms from them. But I still went to a car show. It was billed as 1,300 cars but I think that was very optimistic given it was pouring rain yesterday and was cloudy and cool today.

Mark and Isla phoned to wish me the best; it was good to hear from them. I spent several hours checking out the cars and vendors. The grounds were overlooking the Ile d’Orleans suspension bridge over the St Lawrence river. I managed to see everything before my back and hip got too sore.

I caught the shuttle back to my car and got home around 3:00. A quick trip to IGA for more lobster and crab legs for me and we had the fixins for dinner. I fired up the BBQ for the steaks and burgers while Tess did the crab and lobster inside. We made complete piggies of ourselves then had a fire, watched a little TV and bed.

June 17 - Saint Augustin de Desmaures QC 4,133 kms from home

Once we got ourselves awake and ready to go, we headed for old Quebec. It is quick and easy to get to since we don’t travel during rush our and we parked in a lot beside the marina, a few blocks to the east of the old town. Camper was happy to be on a walk but he had no idea we would be wandering around for 5 hours!

We looked at the boats, watched the Quebec-Levis ferries, saw fishermen, and just enjoyed the walk. We were in the shadow of the beautiful Chateau Frontenac Hotel which was visible atop the hill from everywhere. The area close to the water is relatively flat and we wandered along the cobblestone streets enjoying the buskers and the oldest buildings in North America.

We ate lunch at a sidewalk café where Camper was welcome and even served a dish of water, The building housing the small café was built in 1648 making it the second oldest in the city. The foundation has been re-cemented over the centuries, but the stones are original. It is sitting on exposed bedrock which seeps water constantly. There is a small drainage ditch between the floor and the bedrock that carries the water away. Our server gave me a tour. The place is small with room only for the bar/kitchen and a row of tables. The low ceiling is made of logs supported by rough cut timbers.

We started the climb up to the hotel level but all of us were too tired to make it. Instead, while Camper and I were resting on the sidewalk, Tess went into the caramel popcorn store and bought a big bag. That was our usual routine; Tess went into the stores and Camper and I waited outside and countless people came up to us and asked to pat him because they missed their own dogs.

Eventually we decided to head home. It was a long walk back to the car and Tess even managed to find a garage sale on the way. We drove home along the waterfront, crossing under the old Quebec Bridge and the new Pierre Laporte Bridge. I remember thinking about the poor condition of the original bridge as we drove across it 14 years ago hoping it wouldn’t pick that moment to collapse. The new one is a 1 km long traditional style suspension bridge. We’ll drive across it in a few days when we continue our trip.

We got home and rested from a busy day. A nice fire while listening to the birds and the kids.  

June 18 - Saint Augustin de Desmaures QC 4,133 kms from home

A short entry today because we didn’t do much. Tess wanted to go shopping so Camper and I dropped her off and set out in search of a Honda dealer who could supply me with the unlock code for Toad’s radio. It took a while but I got it so we went back home to go for a walk then rest and read.

Tess texted around 6:30 and we brought her home to a quiet evening in front of the TV. There will be more excitement tomorrow.

June 19 - Saint Augustin de Desmaures QC 4,133 kms from home

More excitement today? Wrong! We did go to IGA so Tess could buy more lobster since they are still on sale for $6 each and then into the dollar store to buy a whirligig to brighten up our campsite. I spent a few hours working on the family tree and that’s it for the day.  

June 20 - Saint Augustin de Desmaures QC 4,133 kms from home

It was chilly and rained all day. Since the last thing we want to do here is see the Chateau Frontenac Hotel and grounds, we didn’t go. In fact, other than visiting the office to see if I could get a refund to leave a day early (no) and to walk Camper, we didn’t set foot outside. The office suggested we go along the north shore of the river then cross from Baie Comeau to the south shore on the ferry. I checked the fares on the ferry website and the crossing will run about $300 so I think not.

Forecast for tomorrow is sunshine so hopefully we can go back to the city then.

June 21 - Saint Augustin de Desmaures QC 4,133 kms from home

Today is our 30th day of the trip, the first day of summer and our last day here in Quebec City and the weather was perfect. We left Camper at home and found a parkade about 3 blocks from the Chateau Frontenac. The parkade is in a concert venue which, like the rest of this part of the city, is a cool old building made of stone and brick. It is beside a fortification wall under restoration that runs for blocks.

We made our way to the hotel, gawking like the tourists we are. We ate crepes from a street vendor, watched the buskers perform and toured the hotel. The staff were literally rolling out the red carpet at the main entrance. Not for us, of course.

The boardwalk promenade between the hotel and the lower city has been there since 1884 but it wasn’t until renovations done during our last visit here (when the whole boardwalk area was being renovated) that they excavated and preserved the foundations of the Governor’s Mansion and adjacent buildings located underneath the boardwalk. Some of the excavation is now a very interesting museum. The structures date from the early 1600s.

We saw a lot of interesting old buildings, narrow streets, narrow sidewalks, and great views of the river valley. It was a great afternoon.

We came home to a nice fire and started preparations to leave tomorrow.

June 22 - Riviere du Loup QC 4,349 kms from home

We got under way about 11:00 and ran into heavy traffic right away. It lasted until we got across the river and were able to get off the Hwy 40 freeway onto secondary Hwy 132 which runs along the south shore of the river. Traffic was light and we could poke along at 70 – 90 kph without holding up traffic. There are lots of little towns among the dairy and hay farms.

They all have a church with a tall spire located on high ground near the highway. It seems the spire just gets lost on the horizon and the next one starts to appear. Much like grain elevators on the prairies. It is a very pretty drive. We really didn’t have a plan or goal for today’s drive. We stopped several times to eat or look at the view. We wound up here in Riviere du Loup. Walmart is off the highways and the store closes at 5:00 pm so by 7:00 it was just the RVers here. 24 of us!

We took Toad to explore the town and it is much bigger than we first thought. The two churches dominate the skyline, one on each side of the Riviere du Loup. There is a hospital up on the hill, along with some sort of a government building and some apartments or condos. We found a couple of very nice free camping spots, one near the mouth of a small river and the other at the ferry terminal. For just one night, we’ll stay at chez Walmart.

We’ll continue east on Hwy 132 tomorrow and should get to the first Poissonarie for Tess tomorrow or the next day.

June 23 - Rimouski QC 4,469 kms from home

Before leaving, we went into Walmart to pick up supplies, as did almost every other RVer there. We save money, Walmart gains sales they wouldn’t have otherwise: everyone wins. The arms on the tow bar didn’t lock properly and poor Toad was being jerked and bumped around. A few minutes down the road I found a large unoccupied parking lots and pulled in. It only took 20 minutes to clean and service the tow bar which was full of very fine dust and grime. I’ll do this as part of my spring maintenance from now on.

We stopped for lunch an hour down the road and then continued on. There are Poissonairies regularly now, but none so far have had a place for us to stop. We came around a corner at the south end of Rimouski and there in the distance, up on the bank of the river, was a big, black submarine! Of course, I had to go and see what turned out to be the Pointe au Pere Maritime Museum. The conventional sub was used by the Canadian Navy for 22 years before being retired. Tours are available but I have seen lots of subs so I didn’t bother.

They have two other exhibits which I did go through. The lighthouse is a very interesting design with 123 steps and two ladders to reach the top. I had to stop and rest several times but made it to the top. A guide explained the history and workings. Built in 1905, it used a clockwork system similar to a grandfather clock to rotate the lenses resulting in 4 flashes every 7.5 seconds. The light rotated in a pool of mercury which acted as a bearing and stabilizing table. The keeper had to wind the mechanism every 6 hours to raise the 450 lb weight which kept it rotating. Great view from up there.

The other exhibit was the RMS Empress of Ireland which sank just offshore in 1914 after colliding with a freighter. Some 1,000 people died because the ship sank in only 14 minutes and the safety systems were too slow to respond. This was only 3 years after my paternal grandfather followed the same Liverpool to Quebec route aboard the smaller RMS Victorian. Lucky me.

They have the entire quay devoted to RV parking for the museum, and by implication, overnighting is OK. By nightfall, there were about 25 rigs of all shapes and sizes here. This is our 10th free night so we have saved about $400 so far this trip. We are surrounded by water on 3 sides and are in the shadow of the lighthouse and submarine.

We’ll explore town tomorrow morning by car then carry on eastward.

June 24 - Rimouski QC 4,469 kms from home

Today was St Jean Baptiste National Holiday in Quebec and celebrations here in Rimouski are subdued at best. Other than a few Quebec flags and a small car show, it was like yesterday except nearly everything was closed.

We did find a couple of poissonnaries open and they were exactly what Tess wanted. Lots of fresh seafood at reasonable prices. She bought a bag of stuff at each store and is happy as a clam. In fact, she ate almost an entire 3 ½ lb lobster for dinner. In one sitting. Moans and groans to follow, I’m sure.

We went to see the oldest house in eastern Quebec, dating from 1740 or so. I wasn’t interested in Maison Lamontagne so Camper and I waited outside under a tree while Tess poked around. The interpreters thought it was a much bigger deal than Tess did. They spoke English well but all the signage was in French only so she didn’t stay very long.

We toured around town looking at downtown, the ferry slip and marina, the walking paths and finally stopped in at McDonalds for ice cream cones for $1 each. Then the seafood was calling to her so Tess demanded to be taken home to cook her lobster. Camper and I went for a walk then had a nap while Tess was busy in the kitchen.

The sunsets here are quite pretty with the sun quickly sinking into the river at 8:37 on what is about the longest day of the year, about 2 hours earlier than at home. We are a long way south of home! There are 11 RVs here tonight.

Back on the road tomorrow.

June 25 - Sainte Anne des Monts QC 4,642 kms from home

We continued our eastward trek – we are nearly as far east as we can go and will turn south in a few days. In Rimouski the tourism office recommended we see the Reford Gardens AKA Jardins de Metis. This is another thing I don’t care about so Camper and I stayed in the parking lot while Tess went exploring.

While she was waiting to go in, Camper took off from the RV. It was a couple of hundred metres and out of site to the entrance, but he got there at a dead run looking for Tess. Nice try, dog. I still brought him back to the RV and we had a nap. It was $22 admission which is pretty steep for a bunch of shrubs and flowers. Tess said it was nothing special.

We stopped for lunch at one of the rest areas that every little town has. We saw a large seal on a rock and a new bird – a Common Eider. I got a photo good enough to identify him (and her), but when I tried to get closer, they paddled away.

We are still on Hwy 132 which is getting rougher as we go east. Traffic is light which is good as we are poking along well below the limit. We were looking for the Cap Chat campground we stayed in last trip but couldn’t find it. We picked a spot between a marina and a closed canning plant to boondock then dropped the car and went exploring.

The next town east of Cap Chat is Sainte Anne des Monts, I think. It is pretty and while driving around, we found Camping du Rivage. Only $39 for power and water with Wi-Fi, a dump station and laundry. And the site faces the river. The beach is 3 metres from our front bumper. We went back to Cap Chat and brought Seven here.

We’ll stay at least 3 days while we explore the rest of the north shore of the Gaspe Peninsula.

June 26 - Sainte Anne des Monts QC 4,642 kms from home

We hit the road about noon today in Toad, heading east. It took the better part of an hour just to get out of this little town because we had to stop and check out every poissonnarie we came across. Eventually we wound up at one about 40 minutes drive east. Tess says she remembers it from our last trip. Maybe, but she bought more lobsters, snails and other treats.

Once that was done, we turned inland, taking the shortcut to Gaspe which is at the end of the peninsula. This route goes overland, away from the river and ocean. The roads reminded me of the secondary highways to Elkview or Tumbler Ridge in BC. Very scenic. Tess and Camper slept much of the way.

Gaspe is a busy town and I stopped at Tim’s for coffee. There were no poissonnaries on the main drags which surprised me, but we were ready to head home. On the way, in some small bay along the highway, we saw a flock of gannets diving on baitfish. They would soar or hover at 20 or so metres then tuck in their wings and hit the water beak first. Their form is so good they leave hardly any splash. Really interesting to watch but I couldn’t time a photo capture the plunge into the ocean.

Tess decided she wanted to buy the rest of the snails at that last poissonnarie but by the time we got back there, they were closed so we just came home.

After dinner we met our neighbour, David Cross from Greenville, South Carolina. They are touring the Maritimes and perhaps Newfoundland with their grandson. Nice chap. We will chat again if we come across each other over the next month or two.  

We’ll explore around the local town tomorrow and maybe try fishing for striped bass since no licence is needed from the pier according to the touristique guide.

June 27, 2019 Sainte Anne des Monts, QC 4,642 kms fron home

We stayed around town today. We saw the scenic drive along the coast that runs past our campground, the dock where we watched a bunch of people catch hardly anything at all and did some shopping for food and a new toaster since the old one refused to stay down.

We picked up a whole roasted chicken for dinner and ate it with freshly baked garlic bread at home. We turned on a fire and sat on the beach watching people walking their dogs or fishing. A small flock of perhaps 30 gannets were passing by and spotted dinner so they were all diving after them right in front of us. Quite a sight!

It never got really warm today and by 9:00pm it was a chilly 14 degrees, so we came in. I planned our trip tomorrow – buy propane, a splash of fuel then head south on 299 through Gaspesie National Park to about New Richmond QC on the southern edge of the Gaspe.

June 28, 2019 Carleton Sur Mer, QC 4,809 kms from home

We got under way at the usual time and before leaving town we stopped to refill the propane tank and to add a splash of gas to ensure we can reach the Costco store in Moncotn, NB which has the cheapest gas around.

For our last night in La Belle Provence, we picked the municipal campground here in Carleton Sur Mer based on the photo in the Camping Quebec advertisement. The town is on the south shore of the Gaspe maybe 50 kms from the end of the bay where QC and NB meet. It is a postcard place with green hills meeting the ocean at a sandy beach.

There are lots of restaurants, artiste boutiques and the many parks are full of people. Very picturesque and full of tourists like us. Since we don’t have a reservation and just showed up, I was a little surprised that they had a spot for us on the Canada Day long weekend. Only for one night however, so we must be on our way by 11:00am tomorrow morning. We can do that.

June 29, 2019 Bathurst, NB 5,022 kms from home

A new day and at long last, a new province. We also passed the 5,000 km mark for the trip. It was overcast and foggy and I had to use the wipers to clear the tiny droplets that accumulated on the windshield as we poked along Quebec Hwy 132 beside Chaleur Bay. After 45 minutes we turned off and crossed the Restigouche River into New Brunswick.

We followed Hwy 134 along the river, then along the south shore of Chaleur Bay. The first town big enough to have a Tim Hortons is Campbellton. Their Salmon Days festival was on just as it was during our first visit. We found a parking spot a half block away and went onto the fairgrounds. It looks like they still have most of the same rides they had before with a few new ones added.

We didn’t go on any, of course, but did wander the midway and I bought a bag of mini donuts. I chatted with an older gentleman on a powered wheelchair, although it had tracks instead of wheels. Very robust and of course, great traction. He loves it. I want one as a toy!

Back on the road, we stayed on Hwy 132 which wanders through lots of little towns along the coast. Like Quebec, almost all the houses were neat as a pins with well kept yards. As I mentioned before, they don’t usually have a normal (for us) double garage. They just park on the driveway. Must be tough in the winter.

The GPS brought us straight to the Walmart resort. It is smaller than most, but it is in a small town. We are grateful for another “free” night that only cost us $100 or so in supplies, almost all of which we bought in Walmart.

Tomorrow we will explore the Acadian Peninsula in Toad.  

June 30, 2019 Miramichi, NB 5,102 kms from home

From Campbellton to Bathurst was a short, one hour drive down Hwy 132. The road was excellent and traffic was relatively light so our usual 90 kph pace didn’t hold up traffic. The drive itself wasn’t memorable, just another highway through an unremarkable forest. Lots of watch for moose signs but only small animals were pancaked on the road. I’ll bet it is beautiful in the fall, though.

We found Walmart easily enough and set out in Toad to explore the Acadian Peninsula up to Shippigan along Hwy 11. We tried to go for a walk along the 2.1 km boardwalk there, along the seashore marshes. The wind was blowing steadily, and it was just too cold for the way we were dressed so at the half-way point we had had enough and returned to the car.

This highway runs more or less along the coast through Acadian country. There were lots of Acadian flags flying alongside the Maple Leaf for Canada Day tomorrow. And of course, there were Poissonnaries in every little town. We stopped at most of them and bought fresh lobster in Shippigan and fresh crab legs in Pokemouche. Nearly back to Miramichi, we stopped and bought some firewood from a roadside vendor. For $10 we now have more firewood then when we left home.

There’s a Harvey’s Hamburgers just down the street so I grabbed my favourite hamburger and 2nd favourite onion rings to go and brought them home. Camper and I ate them while poor Tess had to make do with more lobster.

Today is day 39 of the trip. That’s the same number of nights out as all of last year. And its still June!

So far this trip: $1,177 in campground fees, 13 free nights, $2,237 in gasoline, $108 in propane.

June, 2019

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