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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4 Comments

Filed under General News, Uncategorized

4 responses to “A little van on the prairie

  1. Peter Moore

    Wow! Sounds like you are having a great time. Up into the Rockies next. Dad

  2. Kelly Brown

    Great to see that Ginger is lasting the distance, loving the updates, keep them coming! xxx

  3. Madeleine

    Hey Dave I love your missing parts. and Christine I like your hair blowing in the breeze on the plains. Your adventures are stupendous.

  4. Sarah

    Yikes – snakes! Looks like fun and your pictures are great!

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