After our last update we started our long and slow journey back to Northern Ontario. We started with a long driving day to cross most of Alberta and get to Dinosaur Provincial Park. But while crossing Calgary we encountered the second most stressful event of our trip when we got a flat tire (crossing rural Saskatchewan on unmarked dirt roads was still the worst). It was on one of the inside back tires of a dually-wheel, so luckily after I assessed what was wrong I was able to safely drive to a nearby parking lot to figure out how to solve this problem.
After calling around for a reliable roadside service for a half hour, I fortunately found a really great company nearby that not only changed our tire but also found us a new spare. Our total delay was about three hours but Danielle was able to do all our groceries within walking distance from where we were stranded while I handled our flat tire. The kids cooperated really well and were happy to finally arrive at the campground and enjoy the dinosaur themed park. It was over 30 degrees during our whole stay at Dinosaur Provincial Park and the only amenity they didn’t have was a beach as it’s located in badlands territory. So we spent most of our time alternating between the playground and the AC cooled RV. We were really happy we got an electric site here.
After Dinosaur Park, we spent the next 4 nights crossing Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We stayed at two nice campgrounds along the way and enjoyed some great weather.
Once back in Ontario we slowed down our travels even more as we wanted to explore Northern Ontario since we didn’t get to stop anywhere on our way west. Our first stop was Anicinabe Park on Lake of the Woods in Kenora. This campground was one of our favourites as it had a beautiful beach and playground side-by-side and so much wildlife. We’ve gotten very used to seeing deer on our trip but once again we had some frequently right on our campsite. At the beach the kids spent hours catching crayfish and minnows. During our day at the beach, we also saw two massive snapping turtles and even witnessed them eat a few crayfish we had caught and released. Caleb and I also put our fishing rod in the water for a few hours and saw many large fish but didn’t catch any.
After Kenora we drove to Thunder Bay and stayed at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park. Here we once again did the same routine. Beach, playground, beach, playground. But we also got to view the enormous Kakabeka Falls.
Leaving Thunder Bay we got our second flat tire in ten days. At this point I had discovered that we had roadside coverage as part of our insurance policy. The representative I spoke to made this second flat tire process so much smoother. He found us a roadside company within 15 minutes and we had our spare tire on within 90 minutes. I then called around to the next town we were going to pass through to find another spare tire that we could pick up on the way. Once again I got lucky and found a friendly shop owner that found us what we needed right away. He even put aside the other vehicles he was working on and put our tire on our rim as soon as we got there and had us on our way within 20 minutes. He even retorqued our tires.
I did lots of reading on flat tires and consulted with the two mechanics I dealt with to see if I was doing something wrong to induce this sudden bad luck. But it appears it was just that, bad luck. My guess is that we put a lot of abuse on these tires when we drove nearly 1000km on dirt roads in Saskatchewan and then the driving in incredible heat from the past 2 weeks might have contributed. I’ll be looking more into this as I’d like to avoid buying $200-300 tires when we travel to the US later this year.
Anyhow, after we had our tire troubles behind us, we headed to the camping spot we were most looking forward to on this leg of the journey, Pukaskwa National Park. This campground doesn’t accept reservations and their 72 campsites are on a first-come-first-serve basis. We had left early to get here but because of our delay, only arrived at around 3pm on the eve of Canada Day so we were scared to miss out. But I guess because of the remoteness of this park, even on what should be one of the busiest weeks of the year, we got to pick pretty much any site we wanted. Pukaskwa is located on the shores of Lake Superior which we learned is the largest freshwater lake in the world as well as the coldest. We spent our time here hiking almost every trail in the park and playing at the beach. Even if the water was too cold to swim much, the kids spent hours collecting dead wood and other cool things on the shore of the ocean-like beach. In Pukaskwa we also officially finished our school year. The kids year-end assignment this week was to do a project on their favorite province and present it to the family. Mia chose Saskatchewan because of prairie dogs and Caleb chose Alberta because of the hoodoos.
The kids also completed their seventh National Parks activity booklet of this trip. At every park, once they completed their booklet of random activities (colouring, quizzes and things to find in the park), they got a dog tag of that park to add to their necklace. It’s a really cool program developed by Parks Canada.
Our last official stop on this trip was at Pancake Bay provincial park. This park once again was recommended to us by many and was conveniently right on the trans-Canada highway near Sault-Ste-Marie. It had a huge beautiful beach on Lake Superior where we spent an entire afternoon.
Over the course of our 45-day western Canada adventure we not only got to visit 7 National Parks but also 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In total we stayed at 19 campgrounds and played at 32 different playgrounds. We are still really enjoying living in our RV which is great news. We look forward to camping around our hometown all summer before heading south in October.