This trip was planned around visiting family in Winnipeg, but we also discovered some new parks along the way. We had decided to take the ferry from Tobermory to South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island instead of doing the long drive around Georgian Bay, but we could only get a booking for the 5 pm crossing. The ferry was only running at 30% capacity, so it was easy to socially distance while on board and the crossing was very picturesque. The only downside was that it was basically dark when we reached our campsite at Chutes PP for the first night. The next day we had a 560 km drive along Lake Superior to White Lake PP (between Wawa and Marathon) which we had not visited before. The campground was about 4 km off the Trans Canada Highway and unfortunately the ranger had left early for the day. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue as we had booked our campsite but when we got to the site a family was already camping there! They didn’t know which campsite they had booked and there was no cell coverage in the park, so they had to return to the entrance to sort things out. This meant we waited 1.5 hours for them to determine where they were supposed to be and to move sites. By the time it was sorted out we had run out of time to do any of the hiking trails in the park;-(
The next day was a 502 km drive from White Lake PP to Quetico PP, so basically heading west through Nipigon and Thunder Bay. In Nipigon we stopped to see the bridge lookout tower and went to a downtown park by the water to have lunch. Just before reaching Quetico we crossed into the Central time zone and reached the hotter weather. When we booked Quetico they only had non-electric sites available online but when we checked in Sharon asked and they had 1 electric site available right along the water as long as you had 75’ of electric cord. We were very glad to pay the $10 up charge so we could have A/C that night and it became even more important when smoke from the 10 forest fires in the park shifted into the campground. We could see the wall of smoke coming in as we swam in the lake, and it started to get harder to breath. By morning the vehicle was completely covered with ash. Luckily, they did not have to evacuate the campground while we were there.
Our last driving day to Winnipeg was the longest at 601 km and we took a new road for us which was highway 622 that goes north from Atikokan and eventually joins back up with the Trans Canada. We liked this road as it was scenic and had very little traffic on it except for logging trucks heading the opposite way. Once in Winnipeg we did a variety of things with family and here are a few pictures.
We had planned a 3 day get away to Hecla Island PP where Sharon and I would stay at the campground and Edie, Brian, and Susan would stay at the lodge. On the Saturday before the Tuesday departure the campground contacted us and indicated that they had closed the full campground for the rest of the season due to issues with the pipes into the septic system! We contacted the lodge and they indicated that we could boondock our RV in one of their parking lots. This turned out even better than staying in the campground as we had an electrical connection, we were far closer to the lodge, and there was a nuisance bear that was patrolling the path between the campground and the lodge. On the Tuesday night we had a great dinner at the lodge, followed by a tour around the facilities and then we saw the bear just across the bridge from where we had eaten dinner!
On the Wednesday Sharon, Brian, and I decided to do an MTB ride along the West Quarry trail near the campground. It was a wide relatively easy trail with stops to see the marsh area, a shipwreck, and the buildings where the West Quarry used to be. After finishing the out and back trail we decided to ride through the campground to see where we would have been camped and then onto Sunset Beach, the Gull Harbour Observation Tower, and the marina. On the way back to the lodge I stopped to check the map and didn’t realize the Black Bear was approaching because he wanted to take the trail to the lodge! The total ride was 20 km by the time we got back. Sharon had an appointment at the Lodge’s spa, and I went for a swim in the pool. That evening we drove to the marina to have a very nice dinner at the Lighthouse Restaurant.
On the way back to Winnipeg we stopped in Gimli to see the General Store built in 1898 and check out the Lake Winnipeg water temperature. Then we stopped in Winnipeg Beach for lunch at a great diner that had fun signs on the walls. In Selkirk there was the Marine Museum of Manitoba and then in Lockport we stopped at Skinner’s for Ice Cream.
Over the next week back in Winnipeg we had more family visiting and tried out several restaurants. Manitoba had implemented a new rule whereby you had to show your double vaccination record to enter a restaurant and it was surprising how much safer this made you feel. We visited the Santa Ana Pizzeria and Bistro Dansk which was followed by a show outside when a 21-year-old girl decided to climb a construction tower and the fire and rescue crew had to talk her down, she was charged with mischief over $5,000.
On another day we did a road trip to see the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Cooks Creek east of Winnipeg and beside it the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes. Unfortunately, we had to look from the outside of the fence as they are only open to the public certain days of the week. On Saturday the Scandinavian Cultural Centre was having the opening ceremony for their new building mural so we went to see the spectacular mural that an artist Charlie Johnston had done on the outside of the building. After this the city had an open-door event so we visited the Winnipeg Police Museum for a guided tour followed by a visit to the Patent 5 distillery to hear how they made their products (and of course try a sample), and the history of the building.
For the last few days in Winnipeg, we did our virtual Terry Fox ride to the St. Norbert MTB Park and celebrated Sharon and Bob’s birthdays.
As we left Winnipeg to return home, we decided to take a slight detour to New Bothwell to visit the Bothwell Cheese factory outlet. Our favourite cheese right now is their Habanero Monterey Jack Cheese with Cracked Black Pepper, so we wanted to pick up a huge block at a great deal. Of course, we found lots of other products to buy as well so we bought over $120 worth of cheese😉 Our stop for the first night was Rushing River PP in Ontario (268 km day) and there wasn’t a ranger there when we arrived so we drove around and found a great non serviced site (very tricky to back in to) right on the water and settled in with a glass of wine to enjoy the view.
As we left Rushing River, we stopped to see the waterfalls but of course not as much water flowing at this time of year so it wasn’t rushing too hard. We had decided to take the southern route to Quetico PP (378 km) through Fort Frances. We need to remember 2 things the next time we come this direction. First there are no Esso stations along this route (so we can’t get our discount) and we must turn data roaming off on our cell phones. When we had lunch in Fort Frances Sharon’s phone roamed to the US and we got a $2.85 bill, which of course Sharon later got a credit for😉 We had not booked a campsite at Quetico PP so Sharon asked for the rangers best available site, and we got a non serviced site along the river facing west so we got a pretty sunset.
The next day was like a déjà vu for us as we did our usual stops at Kakabeka Falls PP, the Terry Fox memorial, and on to Rainbow Falls PP (357 km) where we had booked an electric site right on the water. We’ve learned on this trip when booking campgrounds in Ontario that we will stop stating our official length of 25’ and instead ask for an 18’ site. The online booking tool assumes if you are 18’ that you are a trailer and therefore need another 20’ for your car. Therefore our 25’ RV easily fits in 18’ campsites. We did get another spectacular Lake Superior sunset at Rainbow Falls that night before the rain started.
The next day we started our 432 km to Pancake Bay PP in heavy fog and in turn had off and on rain for a good portion of the day, which was a shame since this section is such a nice drive normally. We stopped at Old Woman Bay for a walk on the beach and it was very blustery. We had booked an excellent electric site right on the water at Pancake Bay which made it very convenient to take our chairs to the beach to watch another sunset.
Our next day would take us from Pancake Bay PP to Grundy Lake PP (456 km) but before we left, we enjoyed a sunny walk on the beach and learned about Lawren Harris who was one of the lead members of the group of seven who painted a lot around Pancake Bay. When we did this journey last year it was later in September, so the fall colours were in full bloom. This year there were just glimpses of the colour to come. Grundy Lake PP was south of Sudbury, and this was our first stop at this park. Naturally it was extremely busy as we arrived on a Saturday night. After dinner we had a really pretty stroll around the various loops in the campground as the sun was setting. This would be a fantastic park to canoe or kayak on the lakes as they don’t allow any motorized boat traffic.
On our trip from Grundy Lake PP to home (361 km) we first stopped in Barrie to have a great lunch and visit with Wayne, Arlene, cousin Sharon and almost 102-year-old Aunt Lois. Just amazing to see how strong and completely on top of everything that Aunt Lois was!
This trip was 4.5 weeks long and we covered a total of 4,662 km. We had a great time visiting family, seeing new places, going to restaurants again, and staying at two “new for us” Provincial Parks. This was our first blog in about a year so please leave us any comments about how you enjoyed reading about our adventures or things that could make the blog better. We really do appreciate any feedback. Safe Travels wherever your adventures may take you.