Where I’ve Stayed

I haven’t given too many details on the campgrounds in which I’ve stayed because I don’t think it’s wise to give too much information on exactly where I am at the time of posting, so consider this a bit of a catch up edition. 🙂

So, my first campground was the Ottawa Municipal Campground in Ottawa, Ontario.

I maintain that the OMC is Ottawa’s best kept secret. The park feels like it’s deep in nature, but it’s just minutes from the Queensway and from shopping centres in Nepean and Kanata while being about ten minutes from downtown (as long as it’s not rush hour!). Staff is friendly, rules are lax, there’s wi-fi at the laundromat, and the electricity and water are good.

I found this campground using Google.

My second campground was Stillwater RV Park in Nipigon, Ontario.

For the night that I stayed, this place was fantastic. It had 30A pull-thrus, good water, a cheap laundromat, and wi-fi. Even though it’s located right on the highway, the sites are removed enough from it to be quiet. But I’d hate to stay here in the high season as the sites are packed very closely together. Thankfully, the place was practically empty when I stayed.

I found this campground in an old Trailer Life directory the POs left me.

My third campground was Shady Oaks RV Resort & Campground in Sidney, Manitoba.

This was a really nice campground, if you like being in the middle of nowhere (60km to the nearest grocery store!). I had a beautiful spot overlooking the Manitoba prairie and shaded by oak trees that rained acorns the whole time I was there! Water quality wasn’t very good here (too much iron), but I wasn’t drinking it, so I didn’t mind. The staff was very friendly. There was wi-fi, but it wasn’t free, and this new service needed a lot of tweaking.

I found this campground by driving down the Transcanada highway and following the signs advertising a park offering full 30A hookups and wi-fi.

Then, I moved on to the Dyer Straits Campground and Cabins (great name!) in Whitecity, Saskatchewan.

I adored this campground. Even though it’s right on the Transcanada and just twelve kilometres from all the shops and services, it feels like you’re in a natural setting. It’s quiet and the owners are friendly and laid back. The water here had the same problem as that at Shady Oaks, but, otherwise, the services were good. Wi-fi isn’t available at all the sites, but the owners are okay with laptop owners coming up to their house after dinner and stretching out on their lawn chairs.

I knew that I wanted to stay in the Whitecity area and was looking at another campground found in my Saskatchewan Official Campgrounds Guide, but Dyer Straits was cheaper.

Next, I stayed at the Gordon Howe Campground in Saskatoon.

This campground is very well located. It feels private and rustic, but is close to downtown and several Saskatoon attractions. I found that there were a lot of rules and I was disappointed to learn that you can only dump during the week! That said, staff was friendly, laundry was cheap (and change for it was given with a smile), and the wi-fi was free (even though they had a service interruption most of the time I was there!). Water pressure at this park is very high, so you need a regulator. They warn you about this several times.

I had planned to stay at another campground right on highway 16 west of Saskatoon, but didn’t have specific directions to get there. So, upon arriving in Saskatoon, I followed little brown signs showing a trailer until I got to what looked like a dead end as I wound up at a sports arena parking lot. Just before deciding to cut my losses and try again to find the other park, I saw rigs off in the distance behind trees and realised that the road forked out to the left to the campground entrance. I’m glad things worked out this way as this campground was a much better choice for my purposes than would have been one several kilometres out of town.

Which brings me to here, the Rainbow Campground in Edmonton.

Meh. This campground was obviously my best choice for Edmonton, but it’s ludicrously expensive for 15A service with no water! And you have to pay 10.50$ per day for internet access! The gates close at 11PM sharp, so this isn’t the place to stay if you want to experience Edmonton’s nightlife. That said, it’s fairly conveniently located and fairly quiet. I’m right at the entrance and in front of the men’s washrooms, positioned here because I have a toad. They only allow one motorized vehicle per site, so I have to park my toad somewhere else. This is the only site where there is a ‘somewhere else’ close by: right across the way in front of the men’s washrooms. 🙂 I do find that getting here is a bit of a pain. My GPS is of absolutely no use and being ‘off Whitemud Drive’ is of only limited use. Depending on where you enter and exit Whitemud Drive, it runs north/south or east/west! So, I always have a hard time figuring out which direction to go to get home.

I found this campground in the Official Alberta Campgrounds guide, and decided on it with a bit of research done in Lloydminster on a limited internet connection.

Sweet Home Manitoba

I am presently in nowheresville, Manitoba, somewhere between Winnipeg and Brandon (closer to the latter), taking a much needed break. It has been a long, long journey from Nipigon to here. Now, it’s time to slow down and spend a couple of days at various strategic locations.

So, last you heard from me, I was about a 100 klicks shy of Thunder Bay. There isn’t really anything of note between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg, so I decided to do a short haul to Thunder Bay to recharge my batteries, then undertake the very long haul to the Winnipeg area, from where I could slow down.

Since I was in no hurry on Tuesday, I decided to follow the signs promising Canada’s longest suspended bridge. The road there was a bit scary in a motorhome, but the signs said that there were RV sites at the end of the road, so I took a chance taking Miranda down there and it turned out fine. I wound up on the bottom of gorgeous Eagle Canyon where a path took me up to the first of two suspension bridges.

I couldn’t cross them. I have a touch of acrophobia and these bridges were too much for me. I made it a quarter of the way across the shorter bridge before I started to see red. I don’t let my fear of heights stop me from living and I challenge it regularly, so I go easy on myself at times like these. I took some pictures, then followed the path down to the river at the bottom of the canyon, enjoying a brisk hike around a lake before returning to Miranda. It was a fantastic forty minute detour and well worth the 18$ access fee that is easily explained by the impeccable installation.

































Eagle Canyon campground 2

Eagle Canyon campground

Eagle Canyon chimpmunk

Eagle Canyon river from up

Eagle Canyon rock face 2

Eagle Canyon rock face

funny bathroom sign


stairs down

suspended bridge

bridge rules


In Thunder Bay, I picked up two items that would make my life easier. The first is a coffee press. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover these fantastic devices. I don’t think I could go back to drip coffee!

The second item is a speaker dock for my iPod. This enables me to now have music or podcasts on the road. Radio stations have been far between and satellite radio is as huge a monthly expense as would be satellite internet! I can also listen to music in the evening without having to start up the iMac or use headphones. I went into FutureShop not really knowing what it was I was looking for and the clerk figured it out in two seconds flat. Ah, it’s so lovely to be able to have something to listen to other than the cats meowing. 🙂

I slept amazingly well in Thunder Bay, waking up refreshed and relaxed. It was cold in the rig (13 degrees) and it was great to get up around 6 to use the bathroom and be able to turn on the generator to get the furnace going, crawl back under the blankets, and just doze with the kitties for a half hour until the temperature inside rose to a comfortable 16.5 degrees!

Speaking of cold mornings, the temperature fell to zero the night I was in Nipigon. According to Environment Canada, that’s the worst sort of night I can expect in the Okanagan Valley. If that’s the case, I have nothing to fear this winter.

So, I was bright eyed and bushy tailed in Thunder Bay and decided to head back east for a minute to the Terry Fox memorial, which I’d skipped the day before.











One of the reasons I felt I could do an almost 800km day, as I was ‘gaining’ an hour.

Tabitha spends our driving time in the overcab bunk, staring out the window. Neelix, however, likes to be right in the midst of the action (he is SO CUTE!).

Just outside of Kenora, I stopped at the Dixie Lake rest area.



I stood in that spot three years ago almost to the day, overcome with emotion. Back then, I had left Winnipeg about two hours before, knowing that from that moment on, my life was about to take a very different path. These first steps back onto the Canadian Shield cemented my decision for me. The next time I would go through that way would be heading west, hauling all my possessions and aiming for a new life in Winnipeg. I gave myself a deadline: March 2009. And then I went to work making this dream a reality. That dream died the first week of this past May, leaving room for an dream so much grander that I couldn’t have even fathomed it that September day in 2005. But, I did accomplish part of that initial plan, and six months early to boot. I felt almost like a traitor to Winnipeg today when I drove by her without stopping, hauling all my worldly possessions and zooming west, as though I was thumbing my nose at her and being ungrateful for all that she gave me these past three years. But I visited her in April and I remain convinced that she will one day be home to me. So, goodbye, but not farewell. I’ll be back this way again.

At any rate, the rest of yesterday leaves me with mixed feelings. After ten years of driving Ontario’s roads, I was pulled over by the O(ntario) P(rovincial) P(olice) for the first time, an hour from the Manitoban border, for going all of seven kilometres over the speed limit. Soon as the cop told me that, I relaxed, realising that he just wanted an excuse to pull over the young chick in the big ass RV. He spent about 10 minutes asking me questions about my rig, where I was from, and where I was going, and then he sent me on my way. Looking back, it was actually pretty funny. I need to get Miranda’s odometre checked, though. According to it, I was doing 94 in a 90 zone, not 97. Okay, speeding is speeding, but who the frell gets pulled over for doing 97 in a 90 zone? LOL!!!

I hit Manitoba soon thereafter and that’s where the day went to hell. I stopped at the tourist information kiosk to get directions to a dump station since I was planning on doing the Walmart thing again and was (am) still having issues with the black tank. I followed the woman’s instructions to the letter. They were wrong. I took the turn she told me to take, on a paved road, and promptly came to a dead end. No way to turn around without making major damage to both the car and Miranda. No way to unhook the car. No cell phone service to call for help. No help to be had on foot for ten kilometres. Result: one crunched RV back bumper (merely cosmetic damage), one crunched front car fender that is causing a noise that makes me suspect I’ll need to take it in for proper fixing, and one very disheartened and exhausted driver who isn’t exactly sure yet how much of that was her fault and isn’t convinced that she made the best decision.

Let’s just say I was in a foul mood (depressed and tired, not angry) when I got to the Walmart in Selkirk. This store was out of my way compared to, say, the one in St-Vital in Winnipeg south, but I was trying to avoid Winnipeg. 🙂 They had never had an RVer stay overnight before! The manager was quick to give me permission.

Back in Nipigon, I had met some semi-timers who RV 6 months of the year, who said that they gave up on doing the Walmart thing because they feel they have to spend at each one, and end up spending more than they would have had they gone to a campground. What I’ve been doing is making a list of the things I actually need and picking things up bit by bit at each store. This way, I have a bag of merchandise to hold up when I ask for permission to stay, but I’m not spending money I wouldn’t have needed to spend. Yesterday, I finally picked up a water pressure regulator, so tonight I’m hooked up to water for the first time (and to sewer also).

So, this morning, I took off in pea soup fog and stopped off at the first RV park advertising wi-fi (not free) and full service 30AMP sites. It’s a nice spot in the middle of nowhere (60 klicks to the nearest grocery store) and motivation to stay home tomorrow and get some things done around the coach.

I got settled in quickly (backing up is so not an issue!), then took off towards Brandon to visit the reptile zoo I’d been hankering to see. The map to get there sucked and the GPS was no help, so I’m really glad I went in the toad. When I arrived, I didn’t know what to think. The outside of the place looked like a dump! But it was open, so I went in, and paid the very reasonable fee of 5$.

The zoo turned out to be amazing and WELL worth the detour!!! I saw pythons and boas and anacondas, Nile crocodiles (the only ones in Canada, apparently), all manners of toads and frogs and turtles, big ass roaches, tarantulas, scorpions, geckos, and lizards, oh my! The owners need to do some major professionalizing of the place (especially when it comes to signage), but I can tell that the animals are very well cared for and that the owners are working on making the place look less amateurish.

Then, I made it to Brandon, where I got gas and groceries, then I headed home feeling absolutely exhausted. I immediately revised my plans for the next few days. I’m staying home tomorrow and will visit Brandon on Saturday (overnighting at the Walmart if I get permission).

Next, I’ll be moving on to the Regina area. I’d like to find a location somewhere between it and Moosejaw to hunker down for four or five nights so I can do day trips with the toad.

I’m a week into my journey and have but three left to go. It’s time to start pacing myself!

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

When last our heroine updated her blog, she was parked at the Canadian Tire in Val D’Or. She has done more than 900km since then… and not all of them have been above ground.

Not much happened on Saturday. I wound up boondocking outside the visitor’s centre at the eastern edge of the city where I was told overnighting was ‘tolerated’, but I’d have to move to pay site or the Walmart for the next night. The only pay site in town was 15$ and that didn’t include hookups or, at least, a view, so guess where I spent my second night in Val D’Or? 🙂

At any rate, the sole purpose of my visit to Val D’Or was to see the gold mine at a complex they call the Cité de l’or. Other than outdoor sports, there isn’t much to see or do in Val D’or. I therefore wouldn’t recommend making a detour there just to see the mine, but if you just happen to be going by, then, please, don’t miss it and pay the 40 bucks for the full tour!

A vein of gold does not look like what you’d expect as it is black and white. The white is quartz and the black is tourmaline. This is extracted and then processed to get the gold flakes inside. It takes about 5,000 tonnes of ore from this mine to get a single oz of gold.

There was nothing but wilderness around the mine site, so a village had to be built to house all the workers and their families. Imagine a whole neighbourhood of log cabins.

The old mining village is just adorable and is a historic site, so current owners face strict regulations as to how much they can change the houses.

These houses offered excellent accommodation for the miners with running water, heating, telephones, and electricity. Miners were considered rich. They made about 35$ a week while a living wage was about 5$ per week! This is how they could afford such luxuries and pay the rent of 50$ per year for these houses.

Before my tour of the mine, I walked through the village and was accosted by a withered wraith of a man who used to work at the mine! He spent about twenty minutes sharing his life story. I thought it would be a tale of woe, but not at all. He loved his time at the mine, saying that the work was hard, but that conditions were good and safe, and that unlike coal mining it wasn’t that bad for the health as there was no dust. His job was to take core samples that would be analysed to determine which way the mine should be further excavated. When he retired from mining, he used his knowledge to found his own diamond drilling company with more than 150 employees. Meeting him proved to me that there are no accidents in life. I was sure my mine tour was at 1PM, but it was at 1:30. I therefore had time to kill, time enough to make an encounter that completely change how I felt down there, 300ft below the surface….

I really don’t like enclosed spaces, so the hour and a bit we were underground was just enough for me. When we got back into the shuttle for the drive back up, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I can’t imagine spending a whole day in such a place, including a lunch break spent in a room that was literally carved out of the rock face.

elevator cage

elevator cage

indicates at which level is the elevator

indicates at which level is the elevator

elevator cage speed regulator

elevator cage speed regulator



door into the room where the cage is

door into the room where the cage is

drilling cage; miner's liked these because they were safe and cut down on their labour

drilling cage; miner’s liked these because they were safe and cut down on their labour

electrical panel controlling the elevator cage

electrical panel controlling the elevator cage

horrible joke

horrible joke

ladder to the drilling platform

ladder to the drilling platform



me as a miner!

me as a miner!

mining drill that can be driven forward, backward, or sideways

mining drill that can be driven forward, backward, or sideways

outside of the mine

outside of the mine

outside of the mine

outside of the mine

outside of the mine

outside of the mine

99 Perrault (the house where the interior pictures were taken)

99 Perrault (the house where the interior pictures were taken)

miner's cabin

miner’s cabin

luxurious bathroom in the miner's house

luxurious bathroom in the miner’s house

dresser in the miner's house

dresser in the miner’s house

calendar for 1943

calendar for 1943

chamberpot in the miner's house

chamberpot in the miner’s house



newspaper about the FLQ crisis

newspaper about the FLQ crisis

food stamps

food stamps

hats belonging to the wife of a miner

hats belonging to the wife of a miner

ice box in the miner's house

ice box in the miner’s house

this gift shop area was the kids' bedroom in the miner's house

this gift shop area was the kids’ bedroom in the miner’s house

kitchen in the miner's house

kitchen in the miner’s house

kitchen in the miner's house

kitchen in the miner’s house

miner's outfit

miner’s outfit

phone in a miner's house

phone in a miner’s house

radios, adding machine, magazine

radios, adding machine, magazine

wartime ration coupons

wartime ration coupons

rock chute

rock chute

the shuttle we took down into the mine

the shuttle we took down into the mine

ceiling sprayed with concrete for the visitors' safety

ceiling sprayed with concrete for the visitors’ safety

gold vein, the black is tourmaline and the white is quartz

gold vein, the black is tourmaline and the white is quartz

After the tour, I went to pick up Miranda at the Sears where I’d received permission to park her for the day, then we moved to Walmart. The store was closed, so I just set up for the night and treated myself to dinner since I couldn’t get anything working at home. 🙂

Miranda at the Walmart in Val D'Or

Miranda at the Walmart in Val D’Or

Sunday, I pushed off ludicrously early (around 7) and felt my mood change as quickly as did the kilometres beneath me.

I passed this very cool sign mid-morning:

entering the Arctic watershed

entering the Arctic watershed

The weather was (and is) gross, not motivating me to try to find a boondocking spot on Crown land as I’d thought I might, so I decided to make a push for the Walmart in Kapuskasing:

Seeking a Walmart in the wilderness

Seeking a Walmart in the wilderness

(I was just amused that I was driving through the wilderness looking for a Walmart).

I passed some very interesting towns, such as Swastika and Moonbeam, where I had to take a picture:

yes, we're still on Earth (and staying there)

yes, we’re still on Earth (and staying there)

When I got to Kapuskasing (and was done with the whole dumping thing), I went to the Walmart figuring that it would be closed for the evening. Nope, it’s open 7 to 8 seven days a week!!! So, I went in to ask for permission to stay overnight. The manager replied “Of course!” in a very friendly manner. I knew I would have a good night there: I had permission to stay and the OPP had a station literally across the street. Can’t get any safer than that! I wound up sleeping the sleep of the proverbial dead and woke up this morning at 5:30 feeling very odd because I haven’t slept that many hours straight through since I was a teenager!

Today was another big push as there is just about nothing between Kapuskasing and Thunder Bay. I was very glad to find this park. It’s nothing special and not a place where you can set up your hibachi or awning, but it’s perfectly adequate for a one night stopover. Tomorrow, I’m going no further than the Walmart in Thunder Bay! I have this site until noon and I plan to take advantage of that to get caught up on my housekeeping.

If there is one thing I will remember the most about my first days on the road it is that the world is not nearly as hostile a place as some people would try to make me believe. There has been at least one person per day who helped me in a way that might have seemed small to them, but which made me feel like I am not alone on this vast and open road.

Tomorrow is Thunder Bay. Wednesday will be my last night on the Shield. Thursday I’ll hit the Prairies. And then I’ll slow down properly as I’ll be hitting new things.

There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. Good lives, I’m discovering, have no shortage of bad days, but they are measured by the sum of the whole.

I’m impossibly happy, in good spirits, comfortable in my rig, grateful that my cats have taken to this life as well as their mom, and have discovered that it’s easy to be a morning person if your day is going to be filled with adventure.

Electricity Learning Curve

I’m about 100km east of Thunder Bay and treating myself to a night on full hookups with access to wi-fi and a laundromat. Ah, civilization.

I’ve been boondocking since I left Ottawa on Thursday morning and, let me tell you, that has been full of brutal lessons that left me feeling quite disheartened on Saturday evening, but which were learned well enough to allow for a 180 degree mood shift by the following evening.

The most important of these lessons is: MIRANDA’S BATTERY SENSORS CAN’T BE TRUSTED. The sensors claimed right up to Saturday evening (and beyond) that the battery was operating at full operating capacity. When I finally realised that this wasn’t the case, the battery had reached such a low level that I couldn’t even get the generator going. Saturday evening, I had no lights worth mentioning, no hot water, no refrigerator, nothing. It was very cold and damp in the rig and I was miserable. I went to bed really early, got on the road even earlier the next day, go the battery topped up with the driving, and spent the evening boondocking with the generator running, giving me lights, hot water, a refrigerator, HEAT, and the ability to watch a movie. Lesson learned. If you’re not driving that day, run the generator at least an hour.

The second lesson in electricity is that my inverter is my best friend (even though I called it horrible names on Saturday, poor thing!). It lets me know when battery power is too low to run it. If that’s the case, the generator gets run ASAP.

The third lesson in electricity is that I really hate running the generator. It’s very noisy. But it’s not a gas guzzler and it means I get all the comforts of home. I’ll get used to it.

Saturday night, as I laid there in my bunk, snug and warm thanks to flannel PJs and a feather duvet, I listened to a song on my iPod which really put things into perspective for me. It’s called ‘Painting Pictures of Egypt’ and this is the bit that stuck out:

The place I was wasn’t perfect, but I had found a way to live
And it wasn’t milk or honey, but then neither is this.

Yeah, I’d rather be in a well-insulated bus with a million solar panels and a satellite dish for getting online, but, at least, I’m not working 8 to 4 at a desk and going home to the ghetto. This isn’t a vacation or a dream. It’s reality. And reality isn’t perfect. But it sure can be great.

The next post will show that I still had my sense of humour come Sunday!