From Gravenhurst we drove through areas of rolling hills, flat land, corn fields and cattle farms.
We entered the Trent Severn Waterway town of Bobcaygeon at noon on a blistering hot day.
The highlight was meeting with one of my dearest friends for lunch. She planned for us to meet at a restaurant opposite a lock.
After eating we strolled beside the last co and watched several pleasure boats pass through. We even chatted with an officer on a police boat in the lock. He allowed me to take a picture but asked I not post it on social media. You’ll have to visit me personally if you want to see it!
After spending a pleasant time wandering up and down the street exploring the quaint shops, I bid a tearful farewell to my friend.
We drove a short distance to Fenelon Falls. There we parked at one end of town and walked to the other end. We went past another lock and saw the falls. They are under a bridge and billed as a mini Niagara Falls. Later we walked over to a stand of trees and had a lovely view of the river.
It was also in Fenelon Falls that we went to Station Gallery, a cooperative of local artisans. There were so many wonderful things here that we would have liked to purchase but traveling in a van gives us very limited space which meant we had to leave them behind. That was probably a good thing for the bank account.
We only touched on a tiny portion of the Trent Severn Waterway and it appears I’ve found another area I’d like to return to.
We were fortunate to be able to spend few days with friends who live in Gravenhurst. Not only did they give us several tours of the area, we got to sleep in a house for the first time since leaving home!
This is cottage country and Lakes abound in the area. It is also part of the rocky Canadian Shield. The combination of lakes and rocks made for some spectacular scenery.
We drove to Bala and saw where the water flows from a lake into Moon River. In Port Carling we wandered by the water with vistas so beautiful I was moved to tears.
In Windermere we strolled through a grand hotel overlooking a lake.
This area is very scenic and we were privileged to visit a few cottages. Even the home of our hosts had a treed area behind and was so close to nature a chipmunk scampered over my foot!
This is another area I’d love to spend more time in.
Parry Sound on Georgian Bay was a lovely place to spend some time. We enjoyed several hours of wandering there. Some by the calm water and others exploring little stores as we walked up and down the streets.
One of the highlights was climbing up the stairs of the lookout and being rewarded with a beautiful view of the bay, dotted with pleasure boats. The lookout was actually an old fire lookout tower. We took several pictures, a few of which I’ll share here.
The scenery started to change as we approached the eastern border of Manitoba. The prairie landscape turned into one with tall trees and lush greenery.
I was filled with excitement to be entering Ontario. We hadn’t driven the far before so it was a new milestone for me.
It was early evening when we drove into Kenora, Ontario. Lake of the Woods welcomed us with its sparkling beauty. Other than the water, the first thing I noticed was how rocky the landscape had become. I marvelled at the difference a few kilometres made. Unfortunately my phone was still being charged so I have no pictures.
Darkness approached so we found a place to park for the night.
Our destination the next day was Thunder Bay. We drove through many little towns but since we had a long day of traveling planned we only stopped in a few to stretch our legs. The colourful rock visible in many areas added interest to our drive.
The time changed during our drive and we arrived in Thunder Bay under overcast and darkening skies. We camped in a truck stop, ate in their restaurant and retired early.
Woke up to low fog and cool temperature. Another long day of driving lay ahead, so we didn’t linger.
I joked with my husband about the superior view we had for a good part of the day. Lake Superior is rugged, beautiful and huge!
Not far outside of Thunder Bay I saw a sign for the Yellow Brick Road. I pointed it out but thought we didn’t have time to follow it and see where it led. My phone was charging so I didn’t even get a picture of the sign and I regret that enough to have written a future blog post on this missed opportunity.
Stopped in Wawa for lunch in the van. Took a picture of the giant goose and the view of Lake Superior from the tourist rest stop. The next stop was Pancake Bay where we explored a set of stores with souvenirs, crafts and intricate wood carvings.
For much of our 500 km journey there were views of the magnificent Lake Superior. It was definitely a scenic drive.
We reached our destination of Sault Ste Marie and splurged on a campsite. A sauna was an unexpected treat here and the shower was most welcome.
In the morning we lingered and enjoyed our surroundings before getting on the road again.
Our first stop was in the nearby town of Bruce Mines, where we gave into temptation and indulged in fries from one of the many chip trucks we’d seen over the past day or so. While waiting for our order, we visited with a local lady who told us about the trap rock in the area. She also talked about freighters seen in the bay from her home just down the street. We hadn’t realized we were still that close to the water.
Our lunch stop was at Iron Bridge, in the parking lot of a tiny museum and tourist centre. It sure comes in handy to have everything we need with us and not to rely on fixing restaurants.
We saw the huge smoke stacks of Sudbury before we saw the city. It wasn’t the picturesque welcome we’ve received from other destinations.
There were some noisy vehicles around us in our parking lot campground that night. In the morning we drove to see the giant nickel and take some photos. The roads we encountered were very rough which made it an easy decision to leave Sudbury behind us.
In our first ten nights away we spent two camped in the driveways of friends, two in campgrounds and the other six boondocking.
For those unfamiliar with the term, boondocking is camping without services. We had no electrical hookups and the only water was what we had on board. In other words we were self-contained and didn’t require anything extra. On two occasions we plugged in a portable generator for a short time once was to use the air conditioner to cool the van enough to sleep and the other time was to have light to read by and power to charge our phones
On these nights our campgrounds were parking lots, either at a gas station truck stop or department store. We would check online for free RV parking in our destination city. After parking in an area that wouldn’t impede customer traffic we would go into the business and ask permission to spend the night on their property.
To show appreciation we would purchase any supplies we needed from the business allowing us this privilege. We showed respect for their property by being quiet and unobtrusive as well as ensuring the area was left clean and tidy.
I was actually surprised by the number of RV’s that would be in a parking lot overnight. We were never alone and this is an excellent way of stretching our travel dollars. We always had access to clean washrooms and often could also get free wifi. This is definitely the way to travel
We’ve been told about some other good boondocking areas on our journey and look forward to checking them out.
We set out on our journey under a grey, smoke-filled sky. The radio informed us the air quality was affected right through to Manitoba. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like for those in BC, close to the raging forest fires.
Although still smoky, the severity gradually lessened as we headed east.
Our first night was spent in Caronport, SK. My writer friend Sheila cooked us dinner and allowed us to camp in front of her home. The next morning I gave my ‘Fighting Fears’ talk to a small group of women. Sheila graciously booked a hall, provided refreshments and put up posters advertising this event.
Night two was spent in Regina with our Choices friend Allison, who reserved a spot in her driveway for us to camp. Lively conversation and many laughs followed as we attended a market under the stars with her and her daughter Sara. I purchased a Saskatoon berry drink in a container shaped like a lightbulb. The drink was good but the flashing lightbulb was even better! I guess I’m just a kid at heart!
Day three we drove an hour to Fort Qu’Appelle to visit our friends Robert and Aileen. They live on a hill overlooking Mission lake and the view was beautiful. Aileen is an artist who works with glass and offered to create a custom piece for me. I am excited to have one of her one-of-a-kind pieces. We left this peaceful setting with the promise to return when we could spend longer.
After a scenic drive, we stopped at Indian Head for a picnic dinner before heading on to a campground in Grenfell,SK for the night.
The next morning we crossed into Manitoba. Lunch was at the restaurant of a Choices friend in Brandon. A drive through Winnipeg was interesting and disconcerting as the carrier on the back of the van scraped on the uneven, bumpy roads. The night was spent in Portage la Prairie in a Walmart parking lot. More about boondocking in another post!
Sunday morning we attended an inspiring church service. While there we met a friendly couple who gave us their name and phone number in case we pass through this way on our return home.
I had my picture taken in front of the world’s largest CocaCola can and then we drove though Island Park, making some stops for pictures. This city was an unexpected treasure and definitely on our return to list.
On one of our trial runs we decided to camp in the overflow area at the Canadian Gospel Music Celebration. There were a few other campervans scattered throughout the area but none like ours.
Imagaine our surprise when we were led to our designated spot and found two other Pleasure-Ways already set up there.
The owners of all three gathered together, had tours of the other vans and told stories about their travels to find and purchase their vehicle. The interior was slightly different in each one, but one thing was constant. That was the appreciation for their Pleasure-Way and the compact and efficient method of travel it affords.