It’s a long way across Canada….!
I have fallen so far behind but the journey goes on! We left Dinosaur Provincial Park and headed East. There was a forcast for 20 cm of snow for the area coming in a few days so we hot footed it out of there! The jacks were acting up and we’d called a RV repair place in Swift Current but no one seemed too keen on hydraulics. We figured our next call would be to a large truck or tractor repair given they have a great deal of hydraulics on them as well. In the meantime I got the word out on the DRV facebook page I hadn’t been kicked off of…ha!;)…(with “all the others” that had been kicked off a certain site by a shall we say posterior person who decides he is God…isn’t Facebook fun) asking if anyone had experience with the valves that control the jacks…in the meantime we sailed across the prairies….
We spent the night in Swift Current at the Kinetic Exhibition Park, a fairgrounds with RV hook-ups. The water wasn’t on but we had power and the chance to call around a bit more about the landing jacks and research online as well. Great spot, we were the only ones there save for several Prairie Dogs that Groot and Gamora found fascinating. It would be a busy place at Rodeo time!
It had been a day of long flat roads along the railroad and grain silo after grain silo marked with one town name after another. Medicine Hat, Piapot, Gull Lake and on and on…small lakes and bare trees, waiting for Spring to come! We settled after dieseling up for the next days trip, we contemplated not unhooking but decided to as there seemed to be a few truck/trailer repair places around in case the jacks decided to give up their ghosts;)
One of the wonderful Facebook groups” DRV problems and fixes” we are on had come back with some ideas to try. One fabulous comment with photos about the jacks and valves and an explanation on how to tighten them up as they often slowly worked loose did the trick! Thank you Robert Abbot for your great shot and hints! We tightened the screws with an allen wrench and in the morning the jacks shot up at lightning speed! No repair shop needed and off we headed to Estevan, Saskatchewan!
We passed through Chaplin, where a thriving salt industry happens, word was avoid the town run RV park as you’ll end up covered in salt dust… ( Wikipedia says: Chaplin consists of eight streets, two crescents, and four avenues (including the avenue on the ‘other side of the (train) tracks’) have to love that description(!) and in Moose Jaw we turned and headed SE towards the North Dakota border. Word was coming back that most places in Northern Ontario were still closed, others were flooded out so we decided to take a Southerly route back!
Just before the border is the town of Estevan, which had a lovely town RV park, just opening, we had our choice of spots overlooking the river and were happy the landing jacks once again seemed to be working well. The idea of a long stop to get them looked at was not appealing in any way;)
The next day we headed South to a small no name border crossing just South of the RV park, just fit under their signs and arches to a rather grumpy Customs agent. She was not the friendly type, mostly interested in what we did, before and now and where we were going…with a very stern face, the woman agent wants me to open the trailer. I comply. Looks in the fridge. Wants to know if we are hiding any people in the front…hmm….what you say “Of course not ma’am”…what you want to say “Only a few dead bodies ma’am”…Am I the only one who thinks like this? 😆It makes you wonder, is smuggling people into North Dakota from Saskatchewan in your 5th wheel a problem in this area😉 especially at a two lane border crossing? and who wants to be smuggled OUT of Canada?;) HA! We were happy to move on to a very straight road, the 40, across North Dakota heading for Graham Lake State Park on Devils Lake. I’d called ahead and there were 5 spots with water and power! WATER! YEAH! A long shower!!! Our first water since filling up at Dinosaur Provincial Park with a hose at the office;) On our way down to the park, it was off the beaten path a bit we came across a rather fierce looking fire, always makes me cringe seeing these!
A delightful woman checked us in, take any of the spots you want, 244 empty…just us! Our own private state park, now that is a bonus! We decided to stay a few days to catch our breath! It was a lovely spot. Groot and Gamora approved, complete with a fenced in dog, oops, I mean cat park for them to race around in leashless;)
The ice was just breaking up on Devils Lake in many places, what a haunting sound it makes! In open patches of water Hooded Mergansers were vying for the ladies. I have always wanted to see these striking birds! I’ve had an old wooden decoy of them for years so finally a chance to see them in the flesh! They did not disappoint! At one point a flock of Tundra Swans flew over me. Flocks of North America’s most numerous swans gather on lakes and estuaries or descend out of gray skies. A characteristic whistling in their wings led Meriwether Lewis to call them “whistling swans,” a name still in use. They nest on arctic tundra and visit the U.S. only on migration and in winter. Most have a smudge of yellow at the base of their black bill, but otherwise are pure white. Magical!
A Thirteen Lined Ground Squirrel, the guy with a very long name;) put on quite a show picking up the sunflower seeds the birds tossed about! A cat favourite, always just out of their reach but so much fun to sit and stare down the holes;)
Robins were pulling earthworms from the ground and a half dozen White Throated Sparrows were busy at the feeders.
It looked dormant but everything seemed to be slowly springing to life. The trees were busy with bird song, for a second I thought I’d found an old Baja friend, a Red Naped Sapsucker but turned out to be a Yellow Bellied one hunting for grubs and bugs in the leafless poplar trees!
Groot said they all looked delicious but the squirrels he said looked the tastiest! There were several walking paths around the park, the variety of seed heads and old dried berries were beautiful along the path, I stepped off once, and came back with my legs covered with ticks so didn’t do that again!
We added an extra day we were so enjoying the quiet. A quick trip into Devils Lake the town secured us with provisions as we had started to call ahead to find out what was open for our next few jumps back to Canada.
It was pretty slim pickings when it came to RV parks. Most we called didn’t open until Mid May and the rest just never answered our messages! We did get a call back from a park located in the Chippewa National Forrest in Minnesota , Stony Point Resort and Campground, she said they were not officially open but had a spot we could stay! We made our plans to leave early the following day. The sunrise woke me up as a bright red colour flooded into the trailer, it was chilly out, near freezing but I took off down towards the water hoping to capture the brilliant colour covering the Eastern sky! The frigid wind eventually chased me back to the trailer but what a sight it was with the sun illuminating the ice breaking up on the lake!
A nice send off as we left North Dakota for Minnesota, a bit more than 4 hours travel. I could see Mike was itching to get home:) We stayed two days at Stony Point, we drove through some snow flurries on the way so decided against driving into any more bad weather. The lake had a few bits of ice where the Canada Geese were coming to some skidding landings. There were mallards for the cats to watch as well as several pair of Common Mergansers in breeding colour! Spectacular!
The RV park was in the midst of Spring clean up so it was very nice of them to open early for us! The entire town seemed closed for the season still:) It was lovely watching the geese swim about with the beautiful reflections when the wind was quiet. Gamora decided they might be a bit large to tackle;)
The next spot we found when we called the phone was answered by a delightful older woman with German accent. She said they were open and had room and not to worry so we left for Bessemer, Minnesota:) It was another 250 mile hop towards Perth! We arrived later in the day and it didn’t quite turn out as planned. The campground was still soaking wet so we ended up spending the night on the paved road around the campsites and with a loan of a 30amp extension cord we managed to get some power as well for night. The lovely lady and her horde of small friendly dogs welcomed us with a slice of Cherry Cheesecake she’d just made and Mike got to brush the dust off his German vocabulary for a few moments as well. We left early the next morning headed towards Brimley State Park in Michigan, last stop before the Canadian border. Passed a church sign in Michigan…God B___S our troops…seems a few letters had fallen off, or maybe God works in mysterious ways;)
We drove along Lake Superior under gray skies, past the large lakers. It was a 290 mile jump and the cats were none too pleased having not gotten out much between bad weather and nowhere to walk. We were looking forward to Brimley and it’s beautiful views of the lake and quiet away from the road sites. No ranger to check in, in fact, there was no one else there! The ranger told me on the phone that there was a water hydrant by their office, it took a bit of walking around to find it, not in the campground but at their headquarters so we were finally able to fill the tanks for a a long needed shower and then pick out a campsite, only 237 to choose from;) We stopped in the middle after driving around, they were all on grass so we were a bit worried but the ground seemed firm so we pulled in with no problem at all.
Then it proceeded to rain the entire next day…Still, a beautiful spot looking out at Lake Superior. I’d hoped for a trip to the Tahquamenon Falls but in the pouring rain that was out. It did let up later in the day, the laker freighters were waiting to pass through the locks at Sault Saint Marie, anchored quietly. I did a few long exposures, one way to find out how dirty your sensor and lens are;) Groot and Gamora got to walk out on the beach and stare at the ice:) all very fascinating.
It was nice to see the rain was holding off the morning we went to leave, we did our routine, packed up….we made it a few feet before bogging down through the grass into the muck…yikes, 10,000 lbs of truck and 20,000 of trailer, what a difference a rainy day can make:) Luckily the park crew was there with their 1 ton truck, after checking with their boss if it was OK to pull us out they all came over, beats cleaning bathrooms right, hooked a tow strap, I’m sure it was a 5000 lb one! ha! to the truck and we slowly inched our way out onto the paved roads that go between the sites. Lovely guys and a lovely gesture, sorry about the deep ruts we left;)…OFF to Canada, after being rattled a bit by the start to the day:)
That was easy, have to love coming into Canada, “Where are you going? How long? Have a wonderful stay!” Now for some sun PLEASE! It pretty much stayed gloomy. What we had as rain at Brimley, the rest of the region had snow!
The views from the Trans Canada were wonderful. Amish farms and all those things Canadian, Petro Canada and Canadian Tires…sigh:) There was nothing open either West or East of Sudbury so we headed South towards the French River to a small RV park that was open, just, Sportsmans Tent and trailer park. No water and we were a bit worried as it looked grassy but turned out to be gravel so no more getting stuck today! Once a day is enough:) Left in the morning, now Mike was a man on a mission to get to Perth but we stopped in Orilla for the night to go to a grocery store and LCBO. More rain was forcast so we stopped at Hammock Harbour RV park as you are leaving Orilla. It had a spot, high and dry they said…the ruts we left as we were leaving attested to the fact the park was made in a swamp and drained;) A “we will not be back unless desperate” spot. Second one in two days that has half of it’s facilities closed but charges full price…sigh…We were in need of a sunny day. The rain and gloom was weighing heavily upon us, both four and two footed!
After Peterborough it was all familiar. We did get to go through Neil Young’s hometown:) and past a few funny signs but none sweeter than the “town of Perth, population 6000”, for the last 30 years that is what it has been:) Through town, and yes, first person we see every year going through town, Chris, must be preordained, or maybe we are living in the matrix;) and out to the lake…our newly made gravel pad from last Fall was waiting, sewer ready to hook up, now all we needed to do was get into the lake and get the water going….but that my friends, is another story, a very very chilly story;)
Stay tuned amigos, Spring is almost here!