This was our road trip experience when we moved from Toronto to Calgary. We took 6 days, with 2 camps on the way and 3 motel nights. The best part of the drive here was along Lake Superior Provincial Park. The scenery was just spectacular.
I also included our road trip experience here from Calgary back to Toronto. This trip was assumed to be harsh. We drove 12hrs on the 1st day, 14hrs on the 2nd day and 16hrs on the 3rd.
DAY 1 - October 28, 2003. Toronto to Marathon, ON.
We planned to leave Toronto at 5am but it ended up at 7am. Leaving an apartment completely empty wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. We only have a small sedan and we didn't think we had too much to take with us, but we were wrong. After a couple hours of organizing our stuff in the car, i had it packed to the roof. Earlier, we planned to take a friend along with us. It was a good thing he had plans that week. Otherwise he would have ended tied-up to the bumper, catching bugs along the way.
Before we reached Marathon, ON, we already got a first taste of the snow. It got colder and it was not pleasant at all. Our first night was supposed to be a camp at Pukaskwa National Park. After a sudden snowfall and an 11hr drive, we just decided to eat our pride and sleep comfortably instead. We spent our 1st night at Pic Motel in Marathon. It was $60 for 2 people, it was well maintained and included a fridge. I did not look forward to leaving Ontario. We were just beginning to enjoy the outdoor life; we camped a lot. Mostly near The Great Lakes of Ontario Provincial Parks.
DAY 2 - October 29, 2003. Marathon to Quetico Provincial Park, ON.
It was a nice day, all right. We were both well rested and ready to do more driving. Unfortunately we were stopped by an accident. A truck went down the ditch and a bulldozer had to pull it back to the road. We waited 45 mins before we could resume driving. But it's all right, we were grateful it wasn't us. On our first rest stop, we went to Rainbow Falls Provincial Park. It was dead quiet. Nobody wanted to enjoy the park at all. It was only -8 degrees, -- what's wrong with people? ;) . We took our second rest stop at the Terry Fox Monument in Thunderbay, ON. It was raining. I complained that I don't like rain. I'd rather have snow than rain. Then, it snowed as soon as we started driving. I didn't mean I wanted it to snow, I just... .
DAY 3 - October 30, 2003. Quetico Provincial Park, ON to West Hawk Lake, MB.
It took us three days to finally leave Ontario and say hello to Manitoba. There was not a lot of snow but it sure was cold. Our heater just didn't do it anymore.
Now, this is a record breaker. We camped at West Hawk Lake of Whiteshell Provincial Park in Manitoba for our 3rd Night. Minus 12C overnight. Thank heavens for all our layers, thermal clothes, sheets, comforters, blankets and sleeping bags. Otherwise, we would have died in our 3 season tent. It was already dark when we entered the park. We circled around the campground to find a "decent" spot, but many campsites were already occupied by deers. The deers were very calm, very friendly, and very much used to human contact. We woke up with a lot of them walking around, close to our tent and to some day-users' cars. A gentleman arrived in his camper and parked close to our tent. He must have felt bad about our tenting-in-the-cold situation so he invited us in for some hot drinks. What a nice fella. We took a walk around the campground, followed some hiking trails, and then realized we weren't that crazy after all, tenting in cold weather. We saw scuba divers in the nearly frozen lake. Nuts!
DAY 4 - October 31, 2003. Roads to Winnipeg, MB.
Hwy 17 changes to Hwy 1 after Ontario and for someone who has been driving in Ontario for a long time, a MAX 110km/hr limit on highways becomes really exciting. The downside to the fast prairie drive is lack of road attraction. (Yawn). There was nothing around the road to see at all. Nothing to see, nothing to say.
We spent our 4th night at the town of Elkhorn, just about 20km east of the Saskachewan/Manitoba border. The town has a population of... I don't know, one? The hotel is called Elkhorn Motor Hotel. It cost us $40 for two people, very nice and clean. The hotel also has a restaurant and a bar with live bands playing on some nights. Don't worry about the loud music, the bar is well sound-proofed. This small town has Esso gas station, CIBC bank, ice cream parlour, restaurant and a grocery store. It's pretty well equipped with amenities considering, it only has a population of... did I say one?
DAY 5 - November 1, 2003. Saskatchewan.
I heard about the Bisons in Buffalo Pound Provincial Park and the lady at the park's gate told me that if you're lucky, you would see lots of them... we weren't. We drove northbound, off the Trans-Canada Hwy after a brief city drive in Regina. The road to the park was such a drag. The 28km drive seemed like a 28hr drive. Nothing to see at all. On the way back to the highway we fell into a parallel wheat-field universe and were not able to get out for an hour, despite getting directions from a humanoid we encountered there.
DAY 6 - November 2, 2003. Alberta.
The weather got really bitter by the time we left the motel. The road was mostly covered with snow, and with blocks of ice in some areas. We also noticed a lot of vehicles that might have slid down the ditch. It was a nasty situation. We were thankful we're still doing fine. Our next stop for this day was at our apartment. I got my map ready, and hoped not to get lost - in case you haven't followed my life story, I get lost pretty easy. I got us to Calgary with no problem though, but finding our apartment was a bit of a challenge. All it takes to get lost is one simple wrong turn. Actually we didn't take a wrong turn, we missed the correct turn. After a couple more "right" turns, we finally reached our destination.
When we were in Toronto, we were busy looking for an apartment in Calgary... via the interweb. We found our pick to be the most qualified since it was cheap and very close to Downtown Calgary. The scary part was, we only saw the picture of the building. What about the apartment? What does it look like? Lucky for us there are still some honest people left in this world. We had a very clean place, very quiet, the price was right, and... nobody in the neighbourhood was younger than 80.
3 Days On The Road - December 19-21, 2005. It has only been 2 years since we've arrived and started a new life in Calgary. Now, we're back on the road again. Our car was fuller than the Calgary trip. Because of this, we got pulled-over in Marathon, Ontario. Apparently, I had no clear view of my surroundings and it was not safe to drive that way. The OPP let me off with a warning for the sake of the holidays. Our 1st day drive seemed to have gone by so fast. We drove past Alberta, ignored Saskatchewan, and stopped at about 20km past the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border. We stayed at Elkhorn Motor Hotel in Manitoba. The rate has gone up to $45 per night. It was still very clean and well maintained. The attendant didn't remember us visiting 2 years ago, but who cares about that... I just want to mention. I got to stop blabbering here now. I give you my wife:
We set out around 7 am local time the next day. The days in mid December are so short, we drove such long hours, and travelling east we were losing an hour each day,-- this all added up to driving many hours in the dark. The weather... we drove through lotsa different weather. But nothing extreme. We took about 3 stops. We ate lunch at Tim's or Humpty's or Wendy's. Really, can't remember which was where. For variety, I cleaned out my files on the laptop, tried to learn how to knit a hat (didn't get very far), put vasoline on my hands and put my socks on my hands to fight the cracks on my knuckles that I acquired in Alberta. Which reminds me. What a difference in air and water quality we felt once we left Alberta! My hands almost healed during the 3 day ride and already in Manitoba I was able to take a bath without bubbles. The second day we started looking for a motel around 6 pm. We stopped just after Thunder Bay, at a place that cost $50. No cable, bathroom was crazy cold (we had to run hot water to warm up the room), and the bathtub was not the quality that encourages long, luxurious baths.
The following morning we again left around 7 am (we couldn't keep track of where the time zones were). We were already in Ontario, but this was the longest day. We hoped to arrive at around 10 pm, but there were slight delays. Like stopping at Walmart in ... Sault Ste. Marie (?). Had lunch at Husky's -scary! More driving, for hours and hours. In the dark, on very winding roads. Driving in the dark, with glimpses of our surroundings in our headlights. Every so often, from among the trees that lined the winding highway, we would see the Christmas light of a hidden house. Small bungalows, surrounded by trees, covered in snow. Dark outside, warm lights on inside. Sometimes we would catch a scene from inside the houses, people sitting in armchairs (I imagined them to be knitting in front of the fireplace), a decorated Christmas tree... We are voluntarily homeless, but that is the life we ultimately seek. I have to check back on these writings in 3 years. Will I have my little house in the forest, with a baby on my lap, sitting by the Christmas tree, after a big family dinner (I should know better than to expect a big family dinner. Dinner for 3 will suffice).
We arrived in Tottenham, Ontario after midnight. We were hoping to come into my parents' house by stealth, but the uphill driveway was icy, and the dogs were awake and barking... There was a bed waiting for us so... Goodnight.