Day 32 – Sunday, July 26 – Back Home

I made it back home.

Sudbury to Home

The weather was warm in the morning but it quickly reached 31 C (88F) and stayed there for most of the day.

I packed up early and I left the campsite shortly after 7 am. As I drove the 80 km to Sudbury, the noise from my wheel bearing was painfully loud so I decided that I would need to see if there was an Auto shop available to replace it. Sudbury has a population of 160,000 people so I assumed there would be a shop open for service, if not, I would possibly stay overnight and have it repaired in the morning. I stopped at a Tim Hortons and while eating a breakfast sandwich and drinking a large cup of coffee, I found a ” Canadian Tire ” auto shop on the internet, that was open at 9 am. I called them and they informed me that they could check and replace the wheel bearing but it would be on a first-come, first-serve basis, so I immediately drove to the shop and arrived there at 9:30.

By 1:30 pm, I was back on the road with a new front right wheel bearing and an oil change, but the whining noise was gone. It was a pleasure to be driving again.

I decided to check out Manitoulin Island and drive to the ferry landing, since I had never been that way before. Manitoulin Island is Canadian lake island in Lake Huron. It is the largest freshwater lake island in the world. To get to the ferry on Highway 6, there is a single lane swing bridge that has to be crossed.

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The island has a lot of open space and the trees aren’t as large or plentiful as on the mainland but it is a very nice place to visit.

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I was planning to check out the ferry schedule to see when I could get on and determine my options. I arrived at the ferry loading dock, shortly after 4 pm and when I approached the attendant, he guided me into the waiting line for ” standby ” and I decided to see what would happen. He told me that I would have to be back by 4:45 pm and they would let me know if I could get on the 6 pm ride. I got out of the car and since it was hot out, I went to a cafe and bought an ice cream cone. When I got back, I was informed that I would be able to take the 6 pm ride to Tobermory, so I paid my $61.45 and got in line with the other cars.

The ferry from Tobermory soon arrived.

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There were 5 lines of motorcycles, bicycles, cars, trucks, campers and motorhomes waiting to get on the ferry.

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We were all packed neatly inside on 2 decks.

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No one is allowed in their vehicles during the ride, however, they have nice facilities in the upper decks for sitting, walking around, shopping ( of course ), eating and drinking.

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The 50 km ride took about 2 hours and from the time I arrived at the ferry loading dock until I left the ferry at 8 pm took 4 hours. I decided to take the 4 hour drive home and sleep in my own bed. The traffic was busy leaving the ship, because there is only one road leaving Tobermory and most of the people were heading back towards Toronto.

I finally arrived at home, shortly after midnight.

So, after 16900 km, 1580 litres of gas (9.4 l/100 km or 25 mpg), $5000 in expenses (for gas {$2000}, accommodations, food, car maintenance {$1000} and entrance fees), 1 replaced tire, 1 repaired tire, 2 oil changes, a new wheel bearing and after visiting with many wonderful people, making new friends, seeing a lot of wonderful sights and experiencing a lot of different adventures, I am back home to my own bed, bath and kitchen. The most I paid for gas was $1.50/litre in Eagle Plains, YT and I averaged $1.26/liter. Most of my lodging was in campsites where I paid between $12 and $44 per night.

I want to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions.

A big thanks for the hospitality shown to me by Gordon & Maria Martens, Pat McKenna, Tim & Shannon ( and of course the boys, Warren and Kevin ) and Rob & Barb Bronson.

I also want to thank my neighbour, Bill Kovacs, for looking after my house and my yard, my brother for checking the house and feeding my cat and my sister for watering my plants.

As in the words of Bonnie Mohr, which I saw hanging on Gordon and Maria’s house in Grunthal:

‘Life is not a race – but indeed a journey. Be Honest. Work Hard. Be Choosy. Say ‘thank you’, and ‘great job’ to someone each day. Go to church, take time for prayer. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh. Let your handshake mean more than pen and paper. Love your life and what you’ve been given, it is not accidental ~ search for your purpose and do it as best you can. Dreaming does matter. It allows you to become that which you inspire to be. Laugh often. Appreciate the little things in life and enjoy them. Some of the best things really are free. Do not worry, less wrinkles are more becoming. Forgive, it frees the soul. Take time for yourself ~ Plan for longevity. Recognize the special people you’ve been blessed to know. Live for today, enjoy the moment.

http://www.bonniemohr.com/store/living-life.html

Day 31 – Saturday, July 25 (Thunder Bay to Sudbury)

Thunder Bay to Sudbury

It was 20 C (68F) when I left Thunder Bay and the temperature reached 28 C (82F) by the time I reached the outskirts of Sudbury.

I left Thunder Bay at 8 am because I didn’t know what was in store for me as I continued my travels. I was still contemplating my route as I travelled down highway 17 and I approached the turn for highway 11 which goes northeast from Thunder Bay to Kapuskasing, Cochrane, Timmins and Sudbury. I considered my options, while listening to the low hum of my wheel bearing. Would it last until I got home? The northeast route is a little longer but not by much. When I finally reached highway 11, I turned onto it and my choice was made.

Highway 11 is slightly less travelled than highway 17 but it is in relatively good shape. I was surprised at how many small towns there were on this route, particularly near the east end. There were plenty of opportunities to stop for food or gas.

Lake Nipigon, which is a very large lake is next to the intersection of Highway 17 and Highway 11.

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One of the first towns, I encountered was Beardmore and what intrigued me about this town was the statue of a snowman with a fishing pole.

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I drove through Longlac, Hearst, Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls until I finally stopped in Timmins, for a bite to eat and to decide where I would spend the night. I checked the internet and it appeared that there were some provincial parks on my way to Sudbury, so I decided to continue driving until I found a campsite. It was almost 300 km to Sudbury and it was already 7 pm when I left Timmins, but I was hoping that I could find a campsite near Timmins.

Along the way I saw something running about 10 feet from the road. I thought it was a wolf at first because of the long hair but as I got closer I noticed it was a black bear. As soon as I got close, the bear darted into the woods so I wasn’t able to get a picture.

The hum of the wheel bearing was much louder than it had been before and I was getting difficult to hear anything else, but I continued to drive southward until I finally found a provincial park , about 90 km north of Sudbury, where I stopped for the night and acquired a campsite.

Day 30 – Friday, July 24 ( Thunder Bay )

It was a cool, cloudy, overcast day that slowly gave way to some sunshine. The day started out at 17 C (63F), with a little bit of rain, but it warmed up to 26 C (79F) by the afternoon.

I stayed in the Thunder Bay area for the day and went to Hoitos Restaurant, for breakfast, the one I went to when I first came to Thunder Bay. I was told that the restaurant had financial difficulties, until a Finnish investor helped them out. They have excellent ratings and when I went there at 9 am, there was a lineup at the door, which never ended the whole time that I was there. I saw people coming in to the restaurant when I got there and there was still a lineup to get in, when I left. No one had to wait long, perhaps a few minutes at the most, but, as people were seated, more people came in.

After breakfast I took a drive to Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, which has a waterfall on the Kaministiquia River, located beside the village of Kakabeka Falls in the municipality of Oliver Paipoonge, Ontario, 30 km west of the city of Thunder Bay.. Several people had recommended that I see the falls and since I had a some time, I went to see them. It is a very nice park area and I would plan to stay in one the campsites if I come this way again.

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I hiked along a couple of the trails until I came to ” Little Falls ” and then hiked back to the entrance.

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Later that afternoon, I went to the Metropolitan Moose Beanery and Cafe in the village of Kakabeka Falls.

Metropolitan Cafe

This is also highly recommended cafe and I can see why. Although it is a very small, intimate cafe, which is family owned and operated, the food and service were both excellent. Most of the food is home-made.

Tomorrow I will continue my trip and I won’t know for sure which direction I will be taking until I reach the “fork in the road”.

Day 29 – Thursday, July 23 ( Grunthal to Thunder Bay, ON)

Grunthal to Thunder Bay

The temperature was 21 C (72F) when I got up and it got as high as 28 C (82F).

Gordon and his family actively volunteer to help others whenever they can. In the morning, I went with Gordon as he went to supervise the preparation for the building of a new home. Gordon, together with members of their church, have volunteered to help rebuild the home for a newly emigrated Paraguayan couple, who had recently had a fire in their home, making it inhabitable. The Backhoe didn’t arrive at 8 am, as scheduled, so he got a chain saw and together with the help of his son, John, they cut down a 50 ft tree, that would be in the way. After that we went back to the house for breakfast.

After breakfast, I drove to Steinbach and bought some local honey, before continuing my trip to Ontario.

The past few days I had crossed a couple of time zones and to prepare for them, I changed my clocks to the new time zone before I left, so that I immediately lost an hour in the morning. I crossed the border into Ontario shortly after noon, central time and knowing that there would be a time change close to Thunder Bay, I turned my clocks ahead in anticipation of the lost hour.

I stopped in Kenora for gas and some lunch. Kenora is a beautiful city on the water’s edge in northwestern Ontario. It is surrounded by water and it is a favourite summer getaway for many people.

I’m not much of a shopper, however, on the way from Kenora I stopped at the Egli’s Sheep Farm in Minnitaki and bought a few items. The store is impressive and their products can be purchased online at http://eglifarm.com .

I continued my drive to Thunder Bay and it started to rain a bit as I got near Thunder Bay, so I again opted to find a motel room for the night instead of camping.

I plan to stay an extra night in Thunder Bay and enjoy the area before continuing my trip home.

Day 28 – Wednesday, July 22 ( Swift Current, SK to Grunthal, MB)

Swift Current to Grunthal, MB

The temperature was 21 C ( 72F ) when I got up and got warmer as they day progressed but it didn’t get higher than 29 C (84F). It rained as I approached the Manitoba border but I missed most of the rain that was in the area.

I spent most of the day driving to Winnipeg and then heading south to Grunthal. My wheel bearing continues to more loudly and I can make the pitch of the hum change by adjusting my speed.

The landscape changed from flat prairie land with few trees to being mostly flat with trees surrounding the grain and livestock farms, as I got closer to Manitoba.

I reached Grunthal late in the evening and I stopped there to visit with Gordon and Maria Martens, meet some of there family and get a tour of their farm. I had a very nice time with there and they insisted that I stay the night with them. This was a nice opportunity to get a good nights sleep before heading back to Ontario.

I have several options for coming home after I leave Thunder Bay and I haven’t decided which one I will be taking.
I can take the normal route around the Great Lakes through Sudbury, Parry Sound and Toronto, I can take the long route farther north past Timmons, I can take the short cut through the US or I can take the shortcut across Manitoulin Island, which requires me to take a $90 ferry ride to Tobermory.

Option 1

Option 3

Option 2

I can’t take the US route because I have Manitoba farmer’s sausage with me and from the remaining options, I am leaning towards going to Manitoulin Island and taking the ferry to Tobermory, but the final decision won’t be made until I am actually on the road from Thunder Bay. If you know which way I’m going to go, then you know me better than I do. I like not knowing where I’ll be. It’s much more interesting that way.

Day 27 – Tuesday, July 21 ( Strathmore to Swift Current, SK)

Strathmore to Drumheller

It was a sunny day and the temperature was warm ( 21C, 72F) when I got up and it up to 34 C ( 93F ) when I reached Saskatchewan.

Driving through the Prairies is very different from the Rockies. Everything is so flat and the roads are so straight that I could tie the steering wheel in one position and fall asleep with classical music playing on the radio and the constant hum of my wheel bearing in the background.

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I drove to Drumheller to see the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller. I have been there before but the exhibit was even better with the addition of some of the latest finds. I enjoy seeing the exhibition of the dinosaur bones, most of which were found in the foothills of the Rockies near Alberta and BC.

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The website ( http://www.tyrrellmuseum.com ) has a good writeup of the museum and the fossils that have been excavated. The museum is located within the Red Deer River valley in the badlands of east-central Alberta, Canada. The badlands have hoodoos similar to the badlands in the U.S.

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From Drumheller, I drove to Swift Current in Saskatchewan, which is on the Trans Canada Highway. I have several cousins that live in Swift Current and I wanted to stop by and visit with them because I hadn’t seen them for several years. I called the phone number I had for my cousin Peter Braun and his wife Leona, but it was busy so I decided to go to the address I had listed for them. When I got there, the owner said that they didn’t live there but she got the address for them from the phone book. When I arrived at the door, they were surprised to see me and we spend several hours visiting and catching up on the latest news. When Peter’s brother Jake heard I was there, he dropped by for a visit as well. Peter just turned 90 and he has been married to Leona for 66 years. Peter still helps out on his son’s farm. Peter and Leona are very active in the church and are very involved in music ministry. They sing at churches, events and retirement homes. I took the opportunity to take a picture of Peter, Leona and Jake before I left.

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Tomorrow I will try to make it to Winnipeg.

Day 26 – Monday, July 20 ( Golden, BC to Calgary, AB)

Surrey to Golden

The temperature during this part of the trip varied considerably as I drove through the mountains. It was 15 C (59F) when I left Golden and it got as high as 25 C (77F) in some of the low areas within the mountains. It was raining in several locations and there was a thunderstorm in the foothills, just before I reached Calgary,

I woke up at 5:30 am, knowing that it was 6:30 about a half hour’s drive east from Golden. I switched my clocks Mountain Daylight Time, packed up and continued driving east on the Trans Canada Highway to Calgary. For the most part it was a comfortable drive and I enjoyed weaving my way, up and down, through the mountains.

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I was soon in one of the many parks that constitute a large area surrounding Banff and Lake Louise and it wasn’t long before I saw these fellows grazing on the side of the road.

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As I kept driving the road kept going higher in the mountains and the temperature got a little cooler but it never dipped below 11 C (52F). This area near Banff has always been a favourite of mine, as well as many other people. Banff is surrounded by many beautiful park areas.

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I stopped in Canmore for some lunch and then continued on my way. My friend in Calgary had suggested that I go to Kananaskis and as I drove south I saw a sign for Kananaskis Country so I took the exit. I stopped at the information building, got a map and information of about this beautiful park area. I would highly recommend going to this park. It is very large park and I spent several hours driving through it and viewing the sights. This park isn’t as popular as Banff, which makes it more attractive to me. There is a Delta Hotel in the park and there are numerous campsites available. It has a ski resort and many hiking trails. You will generally see wild animals in this area.

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There was a grizzly bear near the hotel, however, the park rangers had encouraged it to leave the area before I got there.

I ventured into one of the side roads and found this beautiful lake which was being used by people to fish and hike around.

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The road through the park is quite high and at one point I had reached 2200 meters (7200 ft) in elevation.

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After several hours of driving, the road left the park and the mountains as I headed through the foothills to Calgary. This side trip was much longer than taking the Trans Canada Highway to Calgary but it was well worth the adventure.

When I got to Calgary I stopped at a Canadian Tire to see if they could look at my wheel bearing but they wouldn’t have time until the following day. Since I didn’t feel too comfortable with this dealership, I decided not to have it checked by them.

I contacted my friends Rob and Barb Bronson and I had a wonderful evening visiting with them. Rob and I were classmates in university and I had the fortune of being in their wedding party when they got married, after we graduated ( yes – I actually graduated… or at least the teachers wanted to get rid of me! ). Obviously, Rob is an engineer…enough said. Barb is a skilled photographer and she showed me some of her work. Many of her photographs are displayed in their home.

It was 10 pm when I continued on my way, so instead of trying to find a campsite after dark, I decided to stay at a hotel in Strathmore, a small town east of Calgary.