Monthly Archives: August 2012

Made it Coast to Coast!

We left Calgary and headed towards the Rockies. We finished the short drive to Banff before all the campgrounds filled up. It was beautiful and hot so we took advantage by doing lots of biking for the two days we were there. Some more technical bike trails too, which Dave thrived at and I mostly walked. We also managed a soak in the Banff Hot Springs before heading on to Lake Louise.

Heading into the great views of the Rockies

Christine checking out the cliff top view

Enjoying marshmallows around the fire in Banff

Dave checking out the technical bike trails around Banff

Heading out for dinner in Banff town

After our refreshing soak at the hot springs

In Lake Louise we went to see our friends Shauna and Julian, who hooked us up in the village with their driveway for the night. While they were working we hopped on our bikes and slowly climbed steadily up to Lake Louise. It was teeming with tourists. The walk around the lake was lovely. We luckily had perfect timing on our return before the huge hail balls started! We took shelter in the Chateau Lake Louise but saw that many others weren’t so lucky.

Ginger on the way to Lake Louise

In the Rockies

Biking around Lake Louise

At Lake Louise

Torrential hail at Lake Louise

We waited out the storm and then had to get back down the hill, flying through all the new mud and puddles. It was messy business with dirt everywhere, eyes and mouth included. Thank goodness we had a nice warm shower waiting and got cleaned up and even had the luxury of a washing machine for our disgusting clothes. A special thanks to Shauna and Julian for being great hosts!

A happy muddy Christine

A happy muddy Dave

The new trend in Canada – mud tanning!

Dave and Julian

We started for the mountains and what we thought would be our biggest climb – over Roger’s Pass. Ginger Lee did great, though we did have to pull over to let the ol’ girl cool down! We made it, a new province and another hour gained. We spent the night at Illecillewaet Campground in the National Park and even managed to do a nice hike up the valley, the Great Glacier.

Christine climbing on the great glacier hike

The great glacier hike from Rogers pass

Another shorter driving day took us to Kamloops where we stayed at Dave’s friends, Kerri and Tyler’s driveway. Dave’s Australian friend H was visiting them too. We were treated to a delicious mexican feast with a few beers too. This lead to some intense competition on the Wii, with Christine proving her Canadian heritage by kicking Dave’s arse on the ski jumping and canoeing. The next morning was a slow start, but much enjoyed with home made pancakes. We all packed into their car and headed to Sun Peaks Mountain and got the ski lift up to the top and then did a hike to the ‘Top of the World’.

Hiking at Sun Peaks ski field

At the top of the world! Higher than Everest Base Camp which was only 5000m…

The beautiful village at Sun Peaks

We got Ginger back on the road late in the day and eventually made it to Pemberton. It was a short distance, but long drive with lots of switchbacks and high ascents followed by huge descents. A total of 1300m climbed followed by a very quick 1300m drop. We had to pull off at one point to cool Ginger off, but she happily kept going with no problem.

We made it to the Pacific Ocean on Thursday! We took the Sea to Sky highway into Vancouver and out to Maple Ridge where we dropped off the van at my friend Krista’s house before we got dropped off downtown. We are currently in Vancouver hanging out with Dave’s friends as we had planned. We’ve had a great couple of days of eating and drinking and seeing the sights around town and wandering the streets of Vancouver.

A great dinner with friends in Vancouver

Pub Jenga! Great fun!

Tree huggin’ in Stanley Park

Great view over Vancouver

Unfortunately tomorrow it’s back to the van and we will resume our life on the road.

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A little van on the prairie

After the truck stop in Sault Ste Marie, we headed to Pakaskwa National Park on the north coast of Lake Superior.  A good night with marshmallows on the fire.

We started out early Friday with a quick walk along the coasts peninsulas and beaches, then continued to drive around the top of Lake Superior to Thunder Bay.

On our morning walk

Geese on Lake Superior

The timber strewn beaches at Pakaskwa National Park

Christine having a ‘Lonely Planet’ moment

 Christine has started a new habit of running off in the morning, and hoping that I will stop when I drive by.  She’s been lucky so far…
A quick stop at the Terry Fox Memorial on the way.

The beautiful monument to Terry Fox

We then spent the night at CracknSack Provincial Park and a quick bike ride and walk along the river gorge and waterfalls before bed.

CracknSack Falls (or something like that??)

After picking Christine up from the side of the road again, we headed for the Manitoba border, with plans to stay at Whiteshell Provincial Park, which is right at the border.  This was also the day that we passed the half way mark, and would now be closer to Vancouver than Halifax! Unfortunately this was a Saturday night and all the park campgrounds were full.  Knowing we still had a lot of ground to cover, we decided to keep on driving towards our next destination:  Riding Mountain National Park.
Unfortunately again, it was further than we thought, and took a lot longer than we’d hoped.  Especially as our GPS decided that a route through downtown Winnipeg would be the quickest way (???).
So a discrete stop outside of a Tim Hortons to steal their wifi, and we had a truck stop lined up to spend the night for free.  This was to be a Petro Canada in a small town enroute, which we found with no problems.  When we woke the next morning we realised that we had somehow parked in a CO-OP, and not the Petro Canada.   So we very quietly and sheepishly packed up and moved on, as we were probably not meant to be camping there at all…
An early check in at Riding Mountain Park, followed by a few hours of napping.  We did get a bit more adventurous with Ging’s stove, and cooked up a fantastic Indian chicken curry with rice.  Very nice!
The next day we moved to another, more isolated camp within Riding Mountain, which included a drive through the Bison enclosure. Those things are massive, and hairy!!!
We tried to do a 20km ‘easy’ bike ride around Lake Audy, but found the trail super rough and churned up by horses as well as being a mosquito breeding ground.  We turned around and went home after only a couple of kilometres.  Nothing to be done but drink beer and wine by the roaring fire instead 🙂

Ginger camped at Lake Audy

Sunset over Lake Audy

Tuesday morning we headed out early as we had another big driving day planned.  We drove all day (800km) to the Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan.  Another province plus another time zone!  Christine’s brother-in-law, Roger, had described the prairies to Dave as “de-press-ing”.   We’re not sure we agree.  And for sure Ginger is lovin them, with not a hill in sight!
At the park we were greeted by deer, prairie dogs and more bison on the way into the park.  Also very happy and surprised to find a brand new campground with electrical sites.  We had planned for ‘primitive’ so were very ‘happy campers’ with this.  We had a very windy night, with the van being blown about all night, but managed a good sleep regardless.

Our little van on the Prairie

The welcoming deer

Dave and a toque – it was cold!

Wednesday we decided to put our cold weather gear on and check out the grasslands by following an 11km route. This turned out to be a random wander through the grass, occassionally bumping into the yellow trail markers.  Still fun though!

The old homesteads on the Grasslands

In rattlesnake country – thankfully this was just your common friendly type of viper.

Bison herds on the prairies

Dave found some missing parts

Out on the plains

Wednesday night turned out to be our coldest yet, with the temperature dropping to around -4C overnight.  For some reason our furnace decided to keep switching on and off during the night as well, so neither of us actually slept very much.
On Thursday we drove through to Calgary and had a great BBQ with monster Alberta steaks at Christine’s cousin Paul and wife Shelley’s house.  We also had our first night in a real bed since leaving Halifax. Thank you Paul and Shelley!!!

Another province down!

Next… to Banff.

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Crossing Ontario

On Saturday we got to Quebec City and got in at the handy KOA campground, so still haven’t had to try out the Walmart car park. The KOA was quite a huge place, crammed with a full house of all different types of campers. A lot different to the more ‘au natural’ national and provincial campgrounds we’re used to. But it did the job and we went into the city by shuttle bus on Sunday. A very hot 31C but felt like 39C with the humidity. We wandered around and saw all the big sights like the Citadel, Chateau Frontenac and the old city. Lots going on and the city was a buzz with people. A very nice day, albeit sweaty! Quebec City certainly felt like being in a foreign city, especially with everyone speaking French.

Our first view of Quebec city

Looking for those darn Frenchies!!

Chateau Frontenac

Off duty by the looks of it…

Christine in the old city

On Monday we had our biggest driving day yet. We drove close to 700km and made it all the way to Algonquin National Park in Ontario. So yet another province under our belt – four in one week! It was a long day but not too painful, with minimal hills and our audiobook (Hunger Games) to help keep us alert.

Just cruising in Ginger Lee

We got a great site in Pog Lake Campground and settled in for a couple of days. The next day we were up reasonably early (too early for Dave!) to get on our bikes and do the Old Railway bike trail.

Our camp at Pog lake

Dave – not an early start fan…

It was a bit overcast with a few sputterings of rain but nothing that stopped us. The trail itself is a converted rail line so not very difficult but we did manage to do about 30+km so our legs are a bit sore. The park contains hundreds of lakes, with interconnecting streams and marshes everywhere! It was quite strange to see canoes passing over the bike trail on peoples heads as they portage from one lake or stream to another! We also had a good day with natures beasts, spotting otter, deer, woodpecker, chipmunks.

Along the old rail trail

One of the Algonquin locals

Christine on the rail trail

We also saw two birds (quail??) on the road yesterday, but unfortunately they are no longer with us…. oops…

We even managed to get in a couple loads of laundry and get some housekeeping done in the van, as well as our usual evening of Spanish lessons and a movie in bed.

Yesterday was a long day. We got packed up and went down the road to do a hike to Booth Rock. It took a couple of hours and had a great view at the top from a cliff.

The view from Booth rock over the lakes in Algonquin Park

The view from Booth rock

We didn’t get on the road until the afternoon and then drove all the way to Sault Ste Marie where we were intending to get a few hours sleep in the local Walmart parking lot. However on our way we checked on the internet and found that it was not on the ‘camper friendly’ list. So plan B was to find a truck stop where you were able to park overnight. We found one right before Sault Ste Marie and made ourselves comfortable in the back parking lot. It was a bit noisy but we managed to get a few hours of sleep.

Our late driving night into an amazing sunset

Ginger with her overnight trucking buddies

On the road early again after a quick coffee and breakfast, and a quick coffee in McDonalds to update the blog!

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Soggy start!

We finally left Halifax! We said our ‘goodbyes’ and hit the road around midday on Tuesday.

Leaving time

All packed and ready to go!

We had an uneventful drive to Fundy National Park in New Brunswick. We settled in to our camp site and had a lovely fire complete with marshmallows and a celebratory bottle of wine.

Christine at the wheel

We woke the next day to rain, rain and more rain. It pretty much rained all day. This gave us time to get more acquainted with the inside of our van, as well as her newly discovered leaks. Nothing too serious but still a nuisance that needs to be fixed.

We’ve also naturally found out what the name of our van is:  “Ginger Lee”. This is her name as well as the style of driving we have to do with her. It also nicely matches the 70’s style red shag carpetting inside 🙂

We did get to see the famous tides of the Bay of Fundy, which can have a height fluctuation of up to 16 metres! Here is a picture of Point Wolf (where we camped) at high tide and then again at low tide.

High tide

Low tide – we went walking down there.

We then headed a tiny bit backwards (i.e. back East), to Shediac, New Brunswick to meet up with my parents (Christines) who were camping at Parlee Beach Provincial Park. We spent the afternoon enjoying the beach and then went out for lobster rolls and a bit of sightseeing. This included seeing the worlds biggest lobster. At night we had a fire with all the fixings.

Ginger crossing a covered bridge in the park

Exploring the great beach in Shediac

The worlds biggest lobster!

Checking out Shediac with the Berrigans

 

Friday was our first big driving day (600km). And “Ginger Lee” did great! A bit slow up a couple of the hills but she always pulled through. We had all the seasons for weather as well, from hot and sunny, to teeming rain and thunder meaning  we were hardly able to see. We also gained another province, as well as gained an extra hour with the time difference.

We had planned to hunker down in Riviere du Loup but the Provincial park there was full (long weekend apparently???) so we carried on and made it to a campground in Saint-Alexandre de Kamouraska.

Tomorrow we are planning to drive in to Quebec City, where we will have a couple of nights and time to explore the town, and hopefully  ride along the river etc. We are hoping to stay at a campground near the city, but don’t have a booking, so may be trying out Walmarts parking lot for the first time!

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