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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 that’s 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. As we were touring Wawanesa I saw another museum with a sign referencing the family so I’ll also check that out tomorrow.


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, arena and 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 & Neng, 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 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 defiled 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. In Hearst, we decided to gas up at Can Tire to get the 5 cents per litre in CT money. They had a promotion for a new CT gas station only credit card offering 10 cents per litre off plus the regular 5 cents per litre in CT money. That was an easy decision so I signed on the dotted line and save $16.70 plus got $8.35 in CT money. And the cards are linked so future purchases will discount the pump price by 5 cents plus give 5 cents in CT money. I really didn’t want another credit card to keep track of but this is too good to pass up.


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, one 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.


6 June 2019

This first update comes to you from the very nice Cameron's Beach Campground near Iroquois Falls, Ontario. Friendly staff, competitive pricing (for Ontario), and right on a clean northern Ontario lake.

You can see our planned routes here.

Type to you next soon from the road.

Greg, Tess & Camper