Will and Christine’s Monster Road Trip: August

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The surf area known as Lawrencetown

 

 

We’ve just put our 5th tank of diesel in the truck since BC.  The driving we are doing here on “the eastern shore” is less than 10 km – from campground to surf spot to surf spot to surf spot – so not enough time to warm the engine and/or purge the veggie before shut down.

 

 

 

Good news from the Outer Banks:

Waterman’s Estates has sustained only minor damage and the highway should be repaired in a week so surf comp is still ON.

 

Not sure how easy it will be to find veggie oil uncontaminated by water after the flooding on the eastern seaboard but hopefully we can leave some of our buckets with a restaurant on the Outer Banks so they can fill them in the 2/3 weeks we will be there.

People in Nova Scotia are SO friendly!!!! Nearly everyone we have met on our trip has been welcoming and friendly but so far, NS is taking the cake.

 

We head up to Porter’s Lake Provincial Campground (the ONLY campground for miles around) at 8:30 pm to find out…it is closed.  No reason given and quite a number of RV’s parked outside its gates….but we don’t have our RV anymore.  I call the campground office and there is no indication that it is closed or why it might be closed on their answering machine.  Sitting there in the gloom we wonder what to do next…… thankfully some local people out for a hike take pity on us and show us to their waterfront camping/cottage spot across the road from their house so we have a spot to make dinner and rest our heads for the night.  Thank you so much to Barb and her husband!!!!

 

The next day we book into the campground (they were closed due to potential high winds from Irene) and then go look at the surf!!!!  Conditions are less windy but still quite large – Will scores some sweet rides at a place close to West Lawrencetown and then we both get in the water later in the evening at a different (friendlier) spot.  (But the mosquitoes swarming around us make evening surfing less than appealing!)

 

While we are checking around the various spots, we meet some locals and find that many of them have close ties to BC and the island.  Everyone is quite friendly and I find that the surf culture is much more relaxed – not so “short board” driven as home.  A very chatty local, Buck, wants to know if we know Nohan Cohen and I have to admit that I sent him to the principal’s office a few times but that he’s grown into a decent adult.  While hanging out at the main Lawrencetown Beach we witness evidence of the power of hurricane powered surf.  Buck’s buddies, Chris and Andrew, and the beach lifeguards have to make 2 separate rescues out of the rip in under an hour.  One was a surfer sucked out past his ability level but the other saved two lives as 2 preteens got caught in the rip and were noticed by Chris and Andrew just as they were on the edge of drowning (their parents didn’t notice anything was wrong until after a lifeguard went out to help Chris and Andrew bring them in).  We left shortly after – one family leaves with their just-rescued children and another family takes their exact place – we had had enough drama for one day!

 

We miss Darren Wednesday morning – he’s quite the dawn patroller and we’re NOT.  The wind shifts off-shore late in the afternoon so Will takes a crack at a more serious break.  Tougher to get into the line-up – not too many rides to share – but Will gets a few rides when it boils down to him and 3 others.  Unfortunately, he makes it look easy so another 10 surfers pile into the water and paddle out to the line-up. (or, more likely, they were all off work and hitting the only good spot left)

 

The forecast is for the wave height to really drop off tomorrow but the swell period to double – not sure what happens here but we’ll check it out before we have to be out of the campground at 1 pm.  Then we’re off for Cape Breton and our ferry reservation to Newfoundland on Saturday.  Apparently there is another hurricane brewing in the Atlantic so we’ll want to get over the far side to catch some of that swell!  There is also Wi-Fi on the ferry so I’ll be able to get ALL my NS photos updated on FB.

 

Moncton NB to Lawrencetown NS

 

Bug report:

New Brunswick noticeable bugs and flies

 

Nova Scotia: the mosquitoes are driving us NUTS!!!  The locals assure us this isn’t normal but they had 2 weeks of rain at the beginning of August, this year.

Irene may not be a hurricane any more but it is WINDY!!!!!

 

Driving through Moncton was a little challenging as some neighbourhoods did not have power and it was 4-way stop procedure at all non-functioning lights.  We get downtown to the tidal bore viewing area and a discussion ensues about whether or not we’ve missed it as the river is brown and flowing very rapidly upstream (or so I think).  Turns out we’ve missed it by 15 minutes – the time I got off the internet the night before was wrong.  However, it terms of moving water it is very fascinating – we’ve had our experiences with tidal rivers that change direction with the tide but nothing so violent as this!  I’ve now got a brochure with the official times for the Truro Bore and we’ll make an effort to drop in before we go (Jetstream parts, anyone?).

 

Off to Nova Scotia in a gale!  Now I am thankful we don’t have the trailer as the truck weaves against a front-side crosswind that must be around 80 km/hr.  We learn to be very careful of the B-train tractor trailers after watching one (that had just passed us) swerve across both lanes of traffic in a particularly strong gust of wind.  At the Nova Scotia border we stop and find out that the cockpit covers have come loose off our sea kayaks but luckily nothing flew out – Beta’s “throne” on the back seat gets a little higher with the addition of lifejackets and spray skirts.  The info center lady tells me “it is usually windy here, but not usually THIS windy”.  Beta gets out of the truck, then immediately wants back in as the snapping flags freak her out.

 

We are glad to leave the main highway near Halifax and head off on our surf adventure.  We head for the farthest out beach listed in our surf guide – Martinique – and it takes us winding down little roads with tantalising glimpses of far-off waves and wind swept rivers.  We get there to find out the beach is officially closed (due to the hurricane) but, as the tide is dropping, everyone has gone down to the waves, anyways.   Nostalgia hits us right away as we get to the sandy beach – once again Dan Fraser is going to think we haven’t left the west coast as my pictures will show a place very similar to Wick Beach at home.  (The ocean is just on the wrong side!  Hahaha!)  Lunch and a big walk are in store as there may be (crazy) people in the water here but no surfing – very large, very windy and very rippy.

 

We head off towards Lawrencetown and see fabulous point breaks everywhere we look.  We are in the process of pulling off the road (rather than driving off the road) and very fortuitously run into a local getting ready to go down to the break – Will goes over to talk to him and it turns out he surfs on a waveski!!!!  His name is Darren and he admits not many folks sit down to surf around here but is kind enough to let us watch him catch some waves and gives us a heads up on what to expect.  We hope to surf with him on Wednesday when he is off work again.    Near sunset we head down to “Lawrencetown Beach” and check out the heavy, blown-out messy conditions.  Maybe tomorrow when the wind dies off?  Looks like a nasty day at Cox Bay, right now.

 

Off to find a campsite at Porter’s Lake to call home for a few days!

 

Salmon Beach to Moncton

 

 

“What does Greco mean when used on a restaurant sign?”

 

 

 

 

 

Moncton hotel shower: amazing!

Hot, tons of pressure & room to shave my legs – beats out Grand Beach, Manitoba.

 

And yes, we are aware of the irony of leaving our RV behind to save approx. $500 in ferry fees and then we stay in a hotel … we’ll be watching costs carefully!  However, no one, not us or folks back home, would have got any sleep last night had we been camping (RV or tent!).

 

 

Yesterday’s drive down the New Brunswick coast was a bit anti-climactic.  No one tells us that we are completely nuts to be heading into the teeth of Irene but it is clear on their faces!

 

We drove from Salmon Beach (we miss our RV already – Beta especially as she is sharing the back seat with LOTS of stuff) to Miramichi via the scenic “Acadian Route”’ which winds along the coast through tiny towns, all sporting their Acadian pride for all to see with Acadian stars & flags and all kinds of things painted like the Acadian flag – lobster traps, hydro poles, benches, mini lighthouses and mail posts.  Very pretty!  The “heart” of Acadia is Caraquet, which is very near the mouth of Chaleur Bay, and English signage was few and far between.

 

From Miramichi, where it started to rain in earnest, we decided to cut in on the inland by-pass to Moncton, not knowing how bad the weather would get and not knowing the road deemed it a safer route.  However, about halfway along, the rain cut out and it wasn’t too windy so at Bouctouche we went back to the coastal Acadian route – much more scenic and interesting – much like the difference in our own in-land highway and the coast route (but our roads are not so rutted!!!).

 

Views of the open ocean, wave swept and starting to form interesting surf features, as well as large rivers heading into estuaries met us at every turn – I can imagine that on the last weekend of the summer and no hurricane on the way there is usually all kind of craft in and on the water; we saw many boats of all kinds pulled up on people’s lawns.

In Moncton we decided to hotel rather than camp, it makes no sense to soak all of our camping gear on the first night out, so we headed over to the Magnetic Hill area.  Will was all mysterious about it – but it turns out to be a specific road that when you park in a specific spot and put your car in neutral, you roll backwards – up hill!  We did it twice before there was a line up.  (apparently it is an optical illusion, not actual magnetism)

 

Late we walked over to a nearby McDonalds, and assuming that the storm was on its way we bundled up in west coast winter storm fashion.  Sure, a storm was on its way but it must have been more than 20o C outside!!!  No fleece/rain coat/extra socks/boots needed!!!!!  We went to sleep Sunday night thinking that it was certainly no worse than a winter storm at home where we were – the news certainly showed many areas very hard hit by Irene including the highway to get out to Cape Hattaras (where the surf competition will be held (?) in a month!)

 

However, Monday morning we discover the power has been out most of the night and I nearly got blown away taking Beta out for her morning walk – she nearly dislocated my shoulder wanting to chase the madly blowing leaves all over the place!!!

 

We’re off to see if the Moncton tidal bore will do its thing this morning and then it is off to Lawrencetown, NS to spot some big waves!!!

Acadian lobster trap

 

An Acadian house – this is much nicer than the picture I took!

Salmon Beach, NB

 

 

“That is so cool!”

- displaying our west coast non-farming roots as the trailer bails (jelly rolls) hay behind our campsite and then loads it on a trailer.

 

 

It takes a long time to sort through 83 emails when everyone on the west coast needs to chat on FB about the upcoming hurricane…good to know we are in everyone’s thoughts.  J

The day started with an invite to go mackerel fishing with Dave (Carey’s Dad, otherwise known as “Sweetheart”)  Will was babysitting the centrifuge so I took up the invite to go with Dave, Dave and Toni - maker of last night’s awesome cheesecake!  Mackerel fishing is very exciting – you have 4 hooks on your line and you jig Pacific Ocean-style (jig means a different kind of fishing on the Atlantic Ocean) until they “hit”.  Either mackerel are biting or they are not, so it is just a matter of finding the right spot!  Toni managed to get all 4 in the boat at one time, both Daves had 4 on the line but lost one (or two) on the way into the boat.  I lost my line early on and had to get new rig (so maybe I had 4 and lost them?) but no matter, I caught the largest one of the morning – 4 or 5 lbs.

 

My superstitious nature is in full swing as the fateful words “my, this is going smooth” were uttered near the veggie oil set-up…. a new heating element for the centrifuge and a whole roll of shop towels later… we are currently brewing batch #2 with #3 waiting in the truck.  We are watching the sky a little anxiously as some rain is forecasted for this evening…but we really want to get this done so we can head off to Lawrencetown NS and possibly catch some swell off Hurricane Irene…..

 

We are really appreciating the hospitality of Carey’s folks – the trailer freezer has 12 mackerel in it and they have graciously said that we can leave the trailer with them while we explore the Maritimes before heading down to North Carolina. 

 

We’re currently finishing up batch #3 next to a big blueberry field and Will has spent some serious time picking berries for us and the Gillis’.  Tomorrow we leave the trailer behind and head off to NS, through the left-overs of Hurricane Irene.  Maybe we won’t tent Sunday night but get a hotel room!     I cooked my mackerel tonight  - boiled with a little vinegar as per Sharon’s instructions – and may try to grill some filets over a fire.  (Mackerel is a soft, greasy fish so baking is not recommended.)  Anyone who sees Bobby in the next little bit is welcome to pick his brains on other ways to cook it….I only have small pots with me.

Atlantic Ocean Sunset – Baie des Chaleurs

Salmon Beach, NB

 

 

 

Lobster are sold already cooked – not live like crab at home….

Gillis Cove is awesome!!!

Woke up to sunshine pouring in through the curtains – look out and there is the Atlantic Ocean spread out before us!  Beta dragged me down to the beach for a swim – yesterday wasn’t a very exciting day for her.

 

Dave and Evan were out and about, Evan is such a going concern, now.  Running everywhere (mostly downhill, towards the water, so Dave has to grab him and take him “uphill” to do it again), making all kinds of pre-word sounds and fluttering his eyelashes endearingly as he eats (eats, not spatters) all kinds of food.

 

Sharon and Dave, Carey’s folks, have been extremely welcoming and the centrifuge is in a little shed, working on the first of hopefully 3 batches of oil to get us max’d out and ready to travel the Maritimes.

 

The highlight of the day was food – Carey took me for New Brunswick poutine (curds!) and then there was lobster dinner – the whole lobster – shown how to eat by the experts.  First lobster for both Will and I – very yummy!!!!  This was enjoyed with another Maritime staple – fiddleheads – also yummy!  (We like our dark green veggies around here!)  This was followed with homemade cheesecake from one of the cottage clients – oh, bliss!  We now have the lowdown on what seafood is best where for the rest of journey, as well (PEI mussels) and I can see that time on my bike will be necessary to fit in my surf kayak later!

 

Tomorrow is Dave and Carey’s last day in New Brunswick before heading west and home.  I’m trying to get all nostalgic about the start of school that I’m going to miss (Diane and Carlo have new carpets in their classrooms!) but I think it is a measure of how burnt-out I am from last year that other than my empty bank account, I’m not ready to go back yet.  I know Drew & Jen are hard at work already with our new secretary and my challenging miss, getting her new routines established before the start of school; trying to ensure a smooth start.

Voyager Provincial Park to Salmon Beach, NB

(Salmon Beach is scant km east of Bathurst)

 

 

Bilingual road signage:

Ontario & New Brunswick

 

Monolingual road signage: Quebec

 

 

 

Only English word spotted in Quebec: camping

(I guess most travellers would be Anglophones so it is good marketing?)

 

 

 

News we’d missed on the road:

 

Hurricane in Caribbean (yah –surf!)

 

Tornado in southern Ontario

 

Death of Jack Layton

 

 

 

 

Local wisdom about moose: can’t be seen at night as their eyes do not reflect like deer – yikes!

 

We woke to scattered showers and a shy blue sky peeking out from the clouds.  In the daylight, we discovered that Voyager Provincial Park is huge – over 400 sites – and many of them sit, waiting for occupancy only on the weekend – I guess that is what happens to a park within an hour’s drive of 2 major cities (Ottawa and Montreal).

 

We tried to get on the road in a timely fashion in order to get through Montreal early, but the traffic wasn’t as heavy as we thought it might be – we’re lucky it wasn’t a week later with kids going back to school, I think.  There were police all over the place, catching speeders, too!

 

Navigating in Montreal was a little challenging – lots of traffic, lots of exits, lots of construction zones and no English anywhere.  Luckily, we made it off the island although we ended going through a tunnel and not over a bridge as our BCAA map told us to do.  Out of Montreal, we picked up a very strong tailwind (40 knots?) and sailed onto Quebec City, where we got out at a rest stop and could barely stand! 

 

The countryside is very pretty – strips of farms coming up from the St. Lawrence interrupted by stone outcroppings.  You can feel the press of centuries of European occupation here very easily!

 

After Quebec City, Will did a count of km and decided that we could make Salmon Beach in NB, so tailwind pushing us forward we headed up, with peaks at the St. Lawrence Seaway becoming more and more common.   Our 4 lane divided highway abruptly ended in a construction zone, and because we were considered a truck, we ended up on the scenic route for the last 50 km up the Gaspe Peninsula before cutting across to New Brunswick. (cars got to go back up to the “new” bypass) This was fine because it provided very beautiful views of the St. Lawrence as well as little hamlet/villages.  Every hamlet/village has a beautiful church with spire (or spires) all looking very freshly built or very well maintained.  All the houses we saw also appeared to be newly sided/painted/washed – every yard meticulously maintained.   (Carey says you know you are in Quebec ‘cause it looks “fancy”.) We did not see a chip truck for Quebec poutine, though!  We thought we saw one, pulled over to have a look, and it was ice cream!!!  L 

 

We were impressed with the wind waves in the St. Lawrence – at one point we could see a full-sized coast guard boat out on the water, appearing as small as a child’s toy and we could see the whitecaps that surrounded it!  Wild water indeed!  The smell of salt/low tide made us feel at home and one little campground by the water with islands all around may have had us stop but it was soooooo windy!!!

 

We were close to running out of veg oil, so decided to cut across towards New Brunswick, but a trip around the Gaspe Peninsula may be a very good reason to come back to this area in years ahead – very lovely!!!

 

We got very confused in New Brunswick trying to get to Bathurst – as we’ve come across the country it seems each province gives less and less warning of a major intersection.  We’re zooming along and I think I see a sign point to Bathurst out of the corner of my eye as we cross an intersection – sure enough when we pull a u-turn farther down the road – it is the one road to get to Bathurst rather than going back around the Gaspe Peninsula!!!

 

Further confusion trying to find a McDonalds in Bathurst so I could get my info for Carey’s folks – in the dark all exits seem quite confusing and then we find out we’ve crossed over a time zone and it is midnight, not 11 as we thought!  Strange that the Gaspe Peninsula, which is farther east than New Brunswick, is behind them time-wise – not ahead!  Between the very helpful instructions on the Gillis Cove website and a Tim Horton’s worker we’re told how to find their place and that “it’s a long driveway, you’ll find somewhere to sleep”.  So, off we go, find the driveway, head down it and all of a sudden we’re at the cottages!!!!  Quickly turn off the (noisy) engine and go to sleep!  A very long day!! (The sound of waves breaking on the beach lulled us very quickly!)

 

 

Sturgeon Falls to Voyager Provincial Park

(10 km from Ontario/Quebec border)

 

 

“Oh, that looks like something out of Independence Day!” – upon viewing the leading edge of a thunder/lightning storm front.

 

 

“Hey, check out that lake!”  “That’s not a lake, it’s the Ottawa River.”

 “Guess we know why it has a wave called Bus-eater on it!” (such a BIG river)

Over the last couple of days, we have been quite happy with the company of vehicles also sporting a variety of kayaks, canoes and car toppers.  The Boogie still gets “looks” but they are more like “hum, wonder where they are taking that!?!?”

 

Today’s drive took us through “The White Water Region” next to the Ottawa River.  We did not see many white water boats but LOTS of canoes.  This route also skirts the northern end of Alquoquin Park and we silently sent good thoughts to Ted, who we will see in North Carolina in a month!  This is also the Laurentian Hills region, and we spent a lot of time rolling up and down the hills, getting glimpses of the Ottawa River.

 

We also got to drive through another lightning storm – although it was only 6:30pm, it felt like midnight and the rain was as hard as anything Ukee can produce!  Fortunately, Will was in the passenger seat so he got to swing around and watch the strikes to his heart’s content!  I was quite happy to see that we were driving faster than the front and less-grey skies were ahead!  It rained off and on all evening and is still showering this morning.

 

We did pull over at a little Chip Truck (there are at least 2 in every hamlet/town we pass through) and have poutine with “real” curds on it.  Yummy!  Can’t wait to try some in Quebec!  This Chip Truck used peanut oil to fry with; the bored teenager serving us wasn’t too impressed that we run our truck on used restaurant oil.

 

And while we know some folks will be disappointed with us, we did zoom through our nation’s capital around 9 pm at night.  The traffic had been steadily increasing for the last hour so we weren’t sure what to expect but with 5 lanes, everyone spread out quite nicely.  And we did not get hung up at the 3 construction zones where 5 lanes became 2.  I don’t think that we’ll be so lucky going through Montreal!

 

 

Sault Ste. Marie to Sturgeon Falls (20 km west of North Bay)

 

 

“WHAT does that sign mean?”

3rd viewing of caution road sign with a car surrounded by dots.

 

(after a 25 minute search on Google I find out it means that the road is slippery when wet – see what I mean at this link!)

Not a lot of driving yesterday – looking ahead this might be one of our last chances to spin a batch of veggie before we get into the Maritimes so we pulled into Sturgeon Falls (20 km before North Bay) around 7 pm.  Once we started to set up our centrifuge at the first campground, the owner got really upset so we got our money back and left.  The next place didn’t have the power we needed until Sat but I’m sure once we start spinning a batch today (Sat) we’re gonna have the whole neighbourhood out to watch – the owner thinks it is the coolest idea he’s ever heard of!

 

Yesterday’s drive was more how I expected all of Ontario to be – no sooner than the truck/trailer is up to speed (90 km/hr) then we’ve entered another hamlet and the speed goes to 70/60/50.  I’m sure our fuel mileage took a huge dive yesterday!  The terrain was quite varied – farm land, to rolling hills, to industrial (mining) areas.  Saw our first “Caution – horse and buggy” sign AND our first Amish farmer out in his horse and buggy as well as a field of hay “bushelled” rather than bailed or jelly rolled.

 

We were teased by sights of Lake Huron off and on – no places to pull over to look at it, however.  Our campsite is on the shore of Lake Nipissing  - our first campsite was a stone’s throw from the water BUT dogs are not welcome at the swimming beach.  (Beta is fascinated by the fearless chipmunks and raccoon smell and got to swim in Serpent River earlier in the day so not feeling the loss.)  We moved 2 stone’s throw away in order to have enough power to spin a batch of oil.

 

I think that our plan from here to New Brunswick will be to try to plan our urban experiences for late evening or early (for us!) morning.  So far our experience with big cities has been that they have huge bypasses but our BCAA map gets crowded with interchanges and exits after North Bay so I think that delight is over!  For example, the bypass around Greater Sudbury was so extended we only saw high-rises and smelter stacks in the very far distance – it actually seems like a really nice city with tons of green space and lakes – but I’m sure we only saw the very outside suburbs!

 

We’d thought we’d let folks know how lucky they are in the quality of food they eat in Ukee.  Will had an exhausting search in Sturgeon Falls and North Bay finding a place with good oil – not a place that would let him have it but a place with oil suitable for use – no lard, water, bacteria, gross chunkies or anything else.  We’ve never had to turn down oil from any of the sources we’ve used on the west coast, yet.

 

After that, he went for a paddle into an every-increasing wind on Lake Nipissing.  Really wished he had brought his sail for the ride home!   I baby-sat the centerfuge and threw the ball for Beta.  Every time we walk around the campground all the teeny dogs go into rabid barking mode so we’re trying to keep that to a minimum.  (like Fictitious, Beta seems to enjoy getting every dog worked up and “tolls” her tail to the max)

Batchawana Bay Provincial Park to Sault Ste. Marie

 

Our first stay in a KOA campground – owner/operators the Richard’s were wonderful & helpful and we’ve never stayed anywhere SO pet friendly (there is an agility course on the campground!)

 

So, the night before we could tell we were on a big bay and there were red lights flashing in the distance – this morning we wake up to a beautiful sight of a sun filled, sandy beach stretching out all around us.  The red lights, we believe, are from the huge bridge that links the US to Canada across the spot where 4 great lakes meet!   I’m so glad we chose to drive the last 200 km to Sault Ste. Marie in the morning sunshine ‘cause it is pretty!

 

We’re going to brew another batch of veggie oil before we are off – heading to North Bay from here.

 

For more pictures go to AUGUST 1 or AUGUST 2

Morning coffee view of Batchawana Bay

Kakabeka Falls to Batchawana Bay Provinicial Park (aka: Pancake Bay)

 

 

 

More Lakes:

Dad Lake

Mom Lake

Baby Lake

(in honour of the 3 bears?)

 

Most aptly named:

Ripple Lake

(teeny lake with WHITECAPS due to strength of wind)

 

 

Final count on Drumheller veggie oil :

2750 km on 150 gallons veggie and 10 gallons diesel

 

 

Fun in the park:

eating small, wild blueberries by the handful!

Before leaving Kakabeka Falls, we went to see the falls.  They are considered “The Niagara of the North” at 40 m high and quite wide.  The noise!  Niagara must be deafening; we could barely hear each other at this one – not helped by each of us taking turns trying to control Beta who was trying to circumnavigate all the barriers so that she could “go in the water”.  I’ve got a video on a camera to show when we get home – don’t think there is a line to paddle your WW boat over it – but we do know some crazier-than-us folks!

 

Small things kept us awake on our drive towards Sault Ste. Marie – catching glimpses of Lake Superior and estimating the wave height, pronunciation of ever-increasing lengthy First Nations Names, lake and river names and wondering what the hold up in traffic was.  The first hold up had us wondering for QUITE a while as we could see 2 OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) escorts and some big, white ( sail/sailboat/whale bone/statue?) thing on a low-bed truck.   When it was finally our turn to go by, it was a blade for a wind turbine.  You don’t think about how BIG those things are until you are trying to get your 45’ of truck/trailer past it and it is way longer and way higher!  We were wondering if we would get to see the other 2 blades but never did.  Our other hold-up was a restored classic car – Will thinks it was a Jaguar – doing a respectable 60-80 km/hr.  However, the speed limit is 90 and most everyone is doing 100 (or more). 

 

You really start to understand that Ontario is BIG and that most people live in the very south – we are driving on one of two main roads in this area of Ontario and we hardly see anyone.  It is about 60 km between communities and the traffic (for the most part) is very light between them – mostly trucks.  The road is 2 lane, with regular 3 lane pull-outs, mostly on the hills (and we climbed some steep ones today – truck did well on veggie as it was quite cool and we had a 25-40 knot tail wind off Lake Superior) and with a pretty smooth surface.

 

At lunch time, we made a stop at Pukaskwa National Park, on Lake Superior.  It had been our plan to paddle on the lake but it was VERY windy and the small sheltered cove did not interest Will in the least.  Trying to find a place to paddle that wouldn’t have us both frustrated led us to the trail system ….. and the beach.  It is amazing that you come 4000 km and find a place as much like home you wonder if you have left at all (minus the salt smell).   The roar of the wind and surf, the root and mud trail, even most of the vegetation was familiar (but standing straight up).  At 3 ½ feet and 4-5 seconds, the surf was pretty dumpy but we’ve seen people try to play in worse at home…we didn’t.  I kept thinking “when the tide goes out, this might clean up really nice”….but it won’t – or will it?  Not sure if the area of water smoothed sand above the regular line is a seiche effect or actual tide.  We spent 3 hours hiking the trails and beaches; feeling very restored and soothed!

 

Pushing on towards Sault Ste. Marie, hoping to make it to “Pancake Bay” – so named as it was the last stop the voyagers made before getting to S.S.M. and usually all they had left was enough flour to make pancakes!  It is also the place where the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in 1975.

 

 

 

Kakabeka Falls

Raleigh Falls Rest Stop to Kakabeka Falls

Raleigh Falls – 20 km west of Ignace, Ont.

Kakabeka Falls – 20 km west of Thunder Bay

 

 

 

All these moose signs and NO moose!?

 

 

 

“Does this smell okay to you?”  “If you have to ask; I’m not smelling it!”

 

 

 

Thank you to Mom who is going to pick up diesel biocide in Port McNeill, Campbell River or Nanaimo and ship to us on the east coast.  Any number of phone calls have panned out here – it is used mostly by salt water diesel (sailboat) engines and we are in “outboard” country!

 

To the Ukee folks: we woke up to Fogust, too!

Welcome to Ontario – land of humidity and construction!

 

Our morning started very quietly at Raleigh Falls and became increasingly busier as we crept in towards Thunder Bay. The freshly resurfaced road turned into construction on the road, and bunched up all the rig traffic on highway.  We amused ourselves by trying to pronounce all the First Nations names of places we passed. (Shabaque, Wabigoon & Dinorwic to name a few)

 

Night driving has more appeal by the mile, for sure.  Last night we had a bright, full moon and only truckers for company.  Every 5 km there is a different sign warning of moose but we didn’t see any moose.  (good at night but disappointing by day)  Will assures me that I’ll see moose in NFLD if not before – and hopefully only in a good way – not crumpled into our hood or rain-dancing on a small car.

 

Kakabeka Falls had the only campground that met all of our veggie oil requirements – 30 and 15 amp power, free showers (hot but not powerful), pet friendly AND WiFi in the Thunder Bay region …. but we had quite the search for veggie oil as a Kakabeka local collects for both his car and house heating!  2 rancid containers later and we’ve finally found a source in Thunder Bay.  Please “Like” Naxos Grille & Bar on Facebook!

 

Going into Thunder Bay was quite interesting.  We’re driving along the “new” 11/17 highway and it is all trees – then we get to a stop light (seemingly in the middle of nowhere) and turn right (following Canadian Tire directions) then 3 km down the road…houses…and an airport…and a strip of gas stations, fast food and grocery stores.  Turns out this is the 301 – which used to be the 11/17, must be a very recent change as even our BCAA map doesn’t show a 301 connector.

 

We’re gonna brew a batch today, go see the Kakabeka Falls and hopefully be on the road Wednesday with a stop in Pukaskwa National Park to paddle on Lake Superior.  We should have enough veggie oil to get past Sault St. Marie – now we are balancing time to brew and getting to New Brunswick in time to see Dave, Carey and Evan before they leave to return to the west coast.

 

We are over halfway there!!!  2089 Km on the truck and we’re still got a bit of the 150 gallons we left Drumheller with! (Just over ¼ tank of diesel burnt)

 

For pictures go HERE and HERE

 

Raleigh Falls

Grand Beach Provincial Park to Raleigh Falls Rest Stop, Ontario

 

 

Conversation while walking down to the beach to get a shot of the sunset/moonrise:

“Ah!  What is she chasing?!?!”  “It’s a toad!”  “Don’t let her chase it into the woods, there are skunks around here!”

 

 

Hwy 11, 12, 59 & 44:

Beware of skunk road-kill!

 

 

Lakes we’ve seen:

Rae Lake

Joyce Lake

 

 

Pickle Lake – is it shaped like a pickle? Coloured like pickles? Was the Homesteader’s wife famous for her pickles?

 

 

Most crossed river so far:

Revelle (4 times in 20 minutes)

 

Most common name:

Beaver Creek

(hum)

 

We had a lovely morning paddling Lake Winnipeg’s Lagoon.  It is a bird and angler’s paradise – we saw so many kinds of birds (pelicans, plovers, cormorants, falcons, ducks….) and surprised some large fish (carp?) in the shallow water.  Will went “rock gardening” Lake Winnipeg-style; paddling through reeds and bushes that would usually be out of the water.  We then did some kayak-sailing back to our launch – best experience so far! (Lina: no sea drogues or lost paddles!)  It is strange being on a fresh-water lake that you do not want to swim or drink out of – in spots the algae is very fine and thin and in others it forms thick mats.  Water visibility was zero – hence being scared by fish!

 

On the road to Ontario – we took the scenic route rather than heading south back to Winnipeg and then east – we took the #11/44 route – unknown to us, the 44 is the original TransCanada Hwy.  (How cool is that?) For 30 km it is a 2 lane track that rivals the Sooke-Renfrew road in smoothness (NOT smooth) but it doesn’t have any hills - and the speed limit is 90 km!!!  (we could only maintain 70 km/hr)  The landscape is beautiful – we start off by the Winnipeg River, wind through farm country then hit beaver habitat – small ponds and stands of real trees!  It took 5 tries to get a good picture of a beaver lodge (and we missed the one with beavers standing on top of the lodge!)

 

We whip back onto the #1 at the Ontario border (where Beta discovers groundhogs – she discovered frogs and toads last night) with a beautifully resurfaced 2 lane highway, with shoulders and pull-out lanes, and the speed limit is 90 km/hr.  Oh the irony!!!  I want to drive 100 km/hr (it is where the truck/trailer combo is most comfortable over 80) and I can’t – 15 minutes ago I could legally do 90 km/hr and I couldn’t!  The differences in provinces must drive truckers crazy!! (All the ones passing us certainly were speeding!)

 

Lina was correct that we’d love northern Ontario – all these lakes and passage ways of water are making our paddling bones ache!  We caught some glimpses of Lake of the Woods that make us want to say to heck with Carey in New Brunswick – let’s go paddling! But so far we are resisting the urge until we get into Thunder Bay and track down some biocide.  Besides which, Will saw an ad with a kayak in surf on Lake Superior… needless to say he’s ready for some adrenalin in his paddling.  (Risk of dump by dog does not count)

 

We’ve stopped by a lake to make dinner (Bobby Lax-style frittata) and the first sound I heard (besides Beta splashing into the water) was a loon!  3 are swimming by right now as I type!!  We’re gonna push on for a couple more hours tonight to get closer to Thunder Bay.

 

For more pictures go HERE

Grand Beach Provincial Park

 

“To veg or not to veg…..that IS the question….”

 

 

On the upside: Vitamin B experiment is WORKING!  There are minimal mosquitoes around (locals say none – but they always come out around Will) and there are few to zero bugs bugging Will!

 

 

Beta holds her own: teeny Cocker Spaniel tries to take her out (completely out of the blue – Beta didn’t even know it was there ‘cause she wanted me to THROW THE BALL) and Beta retaliates by taking a chunk out of its head while it only got a mouthful of fur.   It has to be tough to apologize for the behaviour of your dog when it is the one bleeding!

 

 

Cheeky squirrel teases Beta from the top of the garbage “corral”; I nearly lose an arm!

I’m so glad that I had the BEST shower of this road trip so far last night.  Hot with so much pressure I thought I’d be pounded into the drain!  Come for the beach – stay for the showers! (PS to Pat: the men’s did not have the same water pressure)

 

This morning we thought we had perfected our veggie brewing routine – collect the night before, up early (7ish, and those of you who know Will know that is early) to fill the can, plug the heater in and wait an hour to turn on the circulator (time for coffee and breakfast).  However, the faint smell we smelt last night turned into a rancid stench as it came up to temp.   Not only does the whole thing have to tossed out, now our “dirty” equipment is contaminated.  A combination of water and bacteria can cause veggie oil to “turn” and you should not use it.  Spent the rest of the morning trying to locate biocide and finishing the laundry.  The irony is that diesel biocide is a common application –for saltwater marine – and the only retailer in Canada I can find on the web is: South West Marine (4 convenient locations on Vancouver Island).  If we don’t have any luck in Thunder Bay, my folks may get an emergency request to ship some to Carey’s folks in New Brunswick! 

 

We spent the early afternoon “casing the joint”; we’re camped at East Beach and the day use is at West Beach.  The people!!!!!  The main part of the beach seems as busy as Portugal – so obviously we avoided that part!  The water is at least 3 feet higher than usual – and in a lake with an average depth of 12 feet – that is A LOT.  Lake Winnipeg is Canada’s 4th largest freshwater lake and 10th largest in the world so I’m really surprized at how shallow it is! (no wonder the waves can get so big)  There is a footbridge connecting east and west – usually boats have to be dragged under it (too shallow for motors) and right now the water laps the underside.

 

All the locals we talk to about kayaking the main lake get an identical, pained expression on their faces – the prevailing wind conditions are unpredictable.  So we plan to paddle the lagoon and poke around the marshlands tomorrow morning before heading off to Kenora.  We think we have enough veggie to get us to Thunder Bay – and we do have a lead on biocide there but everything closes early Sat (by 2pm) and reopens on Monday.  We’re sure to find some in the Maritimes but with 3000 km’s to go, that is a lot of diesel.

 

PS to Mom:  Will thinks we are closer to 1300 kms on 75 - 80 gallons of veggie.  He doesn’t do a complete fill of our 40 gallon tank each time because “I won’t let him drive on no bars” (our new pump comes with a fuel gauge).

 

 

 

Channel between east and west

usually only 12 – 15 feet wide and the signs (out in the water) are dry.

 

And yes, it is sunny and warm (but not too hot!) so we won’t be too bummed out about the veggie oil.

 

 

Camp Hughes (aka: where Beta discovers SQUIRRELS) 20 km east of Brandon to Grand Beach

 

 

“Why is the dog on the table?”  “Ha ha, she’s watching 2 squirrels chase each other around the trees.” “She’s gonna rip your arm off when she goes outside.” “I’m not putting her on the leash!”  “She’ll run onto the run highway!”  “Nope, she’s trying to climb the tree the squirrel ran up!”

 

 

 

Local radio report: crop growth and harvest report followed by the stock market value of each crop on the Chicago market.  Different from home – there we report on the tourists!

 

We had a surprisingly restful sleep in a roadside rest area and woke to grey skies. (Apparently it hasn’t rained in Manitoba in a month and NOW it starts?!!?!?)  During breakfast, Beta discovered squirrels (Will was instrumental in this discovery) and spent a merry ½ hour on a 50 ft rope chasing her ball and trying to figure out where the squirrels go (they are QUIET here).

 

While still quite flat, more and more “trees” are apparent on the side of the road.  With the rain coming down, you can almost imagine you are back on the island and the clouds have just blocked the view of the mountains.  Also, it doesn’t feel like we are “climbing” – an overwhelming feeling we had yesterday as the horizon just stretched out to the sky.

 

Like yesterday, we’ll be travelling along, mostly alone except for B and C truck “trains” and oversized hay loads, then all of a sudden – TRAFFIC – we’ve come to a town!!!  Portage La Prairie was the most extreme today – as the #1 Hwy is still damaged from last month’s flooding we had to detour through the town.  We missed most Winnipeg traffic as a huge “ring road” took us out and around the urban area (just at the time when Will had a hankering for coffee and I wanted some free WiFi at a McDonalds!)  Having missed the only info center last night in the dark, we just crossed our fingers and kept hoping that the “Grand Beach” signage would continue until we got “there”  (our BCAA map doesn’t have much detail for this area)

 

So we’re set up at Grand Beach Provincial Park – a camp site with 350-odd sites!!!  The biggest campground we’ve ever been in – so far it doesn’t feel very big but we haven’t tried walking to the laundry/shower area yet!  We’re set up with power to run a batch of veggie (1300 km on about 100 gallons of veggie and ¼ tank of diesel used up since Drumheller) and to do some kayaking on Lake Winnipeg.  Like home, there is a campfire ban AND a strict bear-aware program so other than the “absolutely NO dogs on the beach/dunes” we’re pretty happy!

 

More pictures HERE

 

 

Crossing the Assiniboine River at Winnipeg – still in flood mode although it is August!  Saw one KOA campground still flooded out.

Medicine Hat to Camp Hughes Wayside Park (Manitoba)

 

 

 

“Why is there a hill?  Oh, a train goes under us!”

 

 

 

“AH!  What was THAT? EEWWWWWW!”

– quote from driver Christine as a large bird (duck?) commits hari-kari on our roof racks.  Bird gore all over truck and trailer at next pit-stop to wash windows (and kayaks and roof rack and trailer…)

 

 

 

Will’s next occupation: Storm Chaser

The morning was cool and fresh, and I really enjoyed a visit with Pat, a bf from high school that I haven’t seen in FOREVER!  Her 8 month old daughter was adorable and Pat has a very interesting job doing experiments with explosives (Her Master’s thesis is about using water jets to disarm IED’s - a good story to tell kids about sticking with your science electives in high school!)  She also reminded me that next year is our 20th high school reunion year!  Ouch, where does the time go?

 

To my surprise, the rolling hills continued and there is a lot more colour in the flatlands than I expected.    Mostly lots of cows, wheat and hay bales.  We’re trying to figure out what the visibility is – started with a grain elevator 7 km away and the farthest so far is Regina from about 20 km out!!!!

 

About late lunch/early dinner time we saw a big lake with a pull out – yeah, a chance to get kayaks & dog wet in Saskatchewan …. or so we thought.  Reed Lake has an average depth of 75 cm and shore birds thrive in the MOSTLY 15 cm deep, saline water!  The alga was pretty gross, too, so we didn’t go in and we tried to keep our water dog out of the water! (not very successfully, I might add)  Carlo would love this place, it is a big stop for all kinds of migratory birds…we pulled out the binoculars and tried to ID some from the signage posted.  Hard to believe, but we saw pelicans!!!  Beta even got to do some tolling as in one of her (unauthorized) dips in the water to cool down a duck landed right behind her and shadowed her movements!

 

We kept pushing on, finally getting to “flat land” east of Moose Jaw (where we did not see Mack the Moose as the #1 goes right past Moose Jaw – which we did not know) and a veggie refuelling in Regina.  Leaving Regina it was dark, with 3 different storm cells producing lightning displays on all sides of the truck.  I had to drive as Will was having too much fun rubber-necking around.  Certainly, night driving is pretty exciting with Mother Nature putting a show on as far as the eye can see.  I tried to take a movie with my camera….don’t know how successful that was, yet. After the show was mostly over, Will took over the driving and we pushed into Manitoba, just past Brandon.

 

 

 

Drumheller to Medicine Hat

 

 

 

 

Day 4 of the Vitamin B Experiment: may work on mosquitoes but what are all these OTHER bugs that are biting?

Drumheller is COOL and an example of theme-gone-wild.  Dinosaur statues, (Beta has finally learned that they do not need to be growled at.) dinosaur menus, dinosaur-you-name-it, they got it! 

 

I also love Alberta – there’s no surf BUT there are TRUCKS everywhere (we only have a little truck compared to what is around & Will feels it doesn’t have enough bells & whistles on it compared to everyone else), the fuel is cheap (108.9 for diesel…gas would make you islanders cry) and I’ve only paid about $1.00 in 5% GST for all my purchases so far….  but there is no surf.  The looks we get with the Boogie surf kayak out over our windshield and 2 sea kayaks are priceless…obviously folks are thinking “where the heck do they think they’re gonna use THOSE around here?!??!”

 

We spent 2 days “brewing” 2 batches of veggie oil so we are FULL. I put our third tank of diesel in the truck and turned the tripometer to “0” and we’re gonna see how far we can go … hopefully quite far with no mountains to climb!  First some tourist activities in Drumheller……

 

The Tyrell Museum was absolutely amazing.  We spent 4 hours looking/reading everything and could have spent another day going around again as saturation level was quickly reached. (you can use your camera in there but the lighting is very difficult) There were loads of kids there, but it seemed too much as about an hour in we mostly just heard a lot of complaining.  There was a group of kids right near the end that reassured me in the curiosity of children as they were still energetically reading and explaining to their mom all about what they already knew about the dinosaurs and the new facts they were picking up.   The on-going research and discoveries are…..I think that everyone who leaves there, regardless of age, wants to be a palaeontologist when they grow up!!!!

 

We did a drive around the “Dinosaur Trail” and crossed the Red Deer River on a tiny cable-car – then headed down to the Hoodoo’s.  My camera ran out of battery – otherwise there would be many more pictures.  Will was in his element, clambering around all the rounded shapes and peeking into the many crevices.  When it rains, it must be quite the sight with water pouring around all the different channels.

 

Off to Medicine Hat – leaving a big thunderstorm in our wake.  The most interesting thing to see was the calves gambolling around the pastures (Ew!  That one is pooping!) and then a small herd of antelope.  They were no bigger than our Duck Toller, the same colours, too!  (I’m sure they are much faster than Beta.)  The night at Medicine Hat was quite interesting – Will stayed up to watch an amazing lightning storm move across the sky – at one point he had a 270o view of sheets of lightning flashing across the whole horizon. (I was in bed, sleeping.)  He came to bed, however, when the rain and hail started. (I wasn’t sleeping at this point!!!)

 More pictures are HERE.

 

Yahk Provincial Park to Drumheller, Alberta

 

 

“From majestic mountains to rolling foothills”

 

OR

 

“cows, canola and wheat”

 

 

“try to take the picture between the bug smears on the windshield”

 

 

 

 

“I’m not playing your childhood “horse” game with cows!!!”

 

 

 

 

 

Email of the day:  John and Rose Marie are AMAZING!!!

 

 

Day 2 of the Vitamin B experiment: so far, the mosquitoes are still swarmin

Yah!  The truck started!!!  J  Big day with lots of km’s planned.

 

We thought we had an early start until 20 minutes from camp we crossed into the Mountain Time Zone and lost an hour!!  LOL 

 

Just after Cranbrook, we spent our lunch hour waiting for our turn at the septic dump (paranoid Christine wanted as much weight out of the trailer as possible before the Crowsnest Summit).  Loved being teased by the view of magnificent Rocky Mountains and wondering which ones we were going to drive between….the most incredible ones overlooked Fernie (a SKI town, even in the summer, the architecture of the town makes you look for snow!)

 

Anglers spending their Sunday afternoon fly fishing dotted every bend of the Elk River that we saw….and then we were at Sparwood – the easternmost community in BC.  Irony, I know several people from there – hard to get much further from good ‘ole Ukee!

 

Although we had to do the Crowsnest Summit on diesel, it was a bit of an anti-climactic moment when we got to the top….what, no stop to let the truck cool down?  Cooler air temps, a tail wind and no grade over 6% seem to be the magic ticket to pulling our heavy load.

 

A strong tail wind had us “sail” into Alberta and our first stop was the impressive Frank Slide.  Boulders the size of train cars cover both sides of the highway … and even with a hundred years gone by, there is very little vegetation.  Pictures do not do it justice! 

 

We headed north up to Calgary and Drumheller on the 22 – on the recommendation of Uncle Bill and a nice Albertan family we met earlier at the sani-dump.  Rolling cattle hills, dotted with softwood and hardwood forests, eased our transition out of the mountains.    And thankfully our drive through the outskirts of Calgary – from one major route (the #2) to another (the #1) was quite painless.  We pulled over at a tiny town, Beiseker, to get some groceries and make dinner before pressing onto Drumheller but at 6 pm on a Sunday, there should have been tumbleweed rolling through the town center for all the activity … saw just one person …. in a closed store…for the whole hour and a bit we were there!  Thankfully there is Bisquick and pancakes make a nice dinner.  And the birds came and pecked off all the butterflies that had squashed into our truck grill.

 

We’re settled in Drumheller, at a full-hookup campground (in the overflow, which suits us just fine) and Will is off sourcing veggie oil.  Laundry on the go, computer recharged, emails caught up on…and we’re gonna do the “tourist thing” tomorrow.  Hopefully we can plug the heater/centerfdge into our campground hook-up so we (and everyone else) don’t have to listen to the generator for 8 hours!!!

For more pictures, click HERE.

 

Frank Slide: an up-coming Historica Fair project?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Forks to Yahk Provincial Park

 

 

 

“On the road again…”

 

 

Big thanks to:

1) Wilby’s in Grand Forks for commenting at Wanda’s wedding “you should come and visit us” and then getting our company for almost 2 weeks!!!   Careful what you wish for!  J

 

2) Rae for saying she’d take DT while we’re gone and Pete for going and getting her – and not leaving her on the side of the road part way home (‘cause I know you were tempted to, I’ve been there!)

 

3) a certain mechanic who is nameless in order not to jinx our luck…he’ll get the recognition he deserves when we get out of BC!

 

4) John and Rose Marie who wish we were home…or that they came with us!

One final dip in the Kettle River – warmer, clearer and lower than when we arrived – and we were off to the east.  New veggie pump system seems to be working well, but the truck definitely prefers to climb the big hills using diesel.  Two big summits today – the assent out from Christina Lake and then the “BIG” Salmo/Cresten Kootenay Pass.  That 40 km took us nearly 2 hours!  (1774m elevation and 8% grade the whole way!!!)

 

Many spots remind us of the island – mountain valleys with softwood forests – but many are completely different – such as the Kootenay River valley we spit out on after the Kootenay summit.  Unfortunately, the camera had run out of juice or we would have taken many photos of how strange it seemed to be driving across the wide, flat agricultural area just after climbing forever and forever up a mountain pass!  I certainly have a lot more respect for the trips to university and back that my old roomie April used to do from Elkford!  A good laugh was had when we saw that a Christian Revival camp was happening just a few short km down the road from the Shumballa Music Fest – we’re pretty sure that we know which group is gonna make the most noise!!!  (PS: we have since found out that both are non-alcoholic events…however the music fest encourages other mind-altering substances.)

 

We traveled through quite a few towns – Castlegar, Salmo and Creston – that reek of their pioneer pasts of mining and their current incarnations of pine-beetle wood logging.  Finally saw our first patch of bright red-hued pine beetle trees in the Kootenay Pass – lots of logging happening to try to stop the infestation.

 

We’ve pulled up at Yahk and got the second to last camping spot!  The smell of the Provincial Park take me right back to my childhood summers – wood smoke, dry woods, BBQ dinners and right now I’m listening to a train go by, crackling fires and Will cursing his (uncooperative) siphon hose out of the 60 gallon tank!  lol!

 

We’re changing our travel plans slightly, going to head across the Crowsnest tomorrow, in hopes of reaching the foothills of Alberta sooner, rather than later, so we can run more on veggie and less on diesel.  Uncle Bill recommends the scenery of the 22 in Alberta, which takes us through Okotoks (a place many of our clients come from) before skirting Calgary and into Drumheller.

 

Fingers crossed we’re really on our way!

Kootenay Pass:  Okay, you see where the road goes?  We’re not even halfway….

 

 

NOW, we’re halfway – look how far we have come!!!!

 

 

 

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