Day 1 – Winnipeg to Thunder Bay

 

Well, today was our first day heading into new territory.  Despite the 1000 km we’d already travelled to get to Winnipeg, it didn’t really feel like we were doing anything different until we set out from there.  (We do that Winnipeg trip at least once or twice a year to visit family.)  The day started early and with a bang!  Literally.  A bang. 

Let me just say, that is never the sound you want to hear coming from your vehicle when you’re about to hitch up the trailer and head out on a 10,000 km journey.  As I clutched my ear (it was LOUD!), Dale ran to check what had happened.  The passenger side rear air suspension had blown a seal.  We actually had the same/similar thing happen to the driver’s side one about a month earlier, and so we already knew the whole part would need to be replaced.  In the meantime, Dale pulled the fuse for the air suspension system and we attempted to hook up and level the trailer using just our regular/built-in suspension.  The whole thing left us frazzled, but we did manage to pull away only about an hour later than we’d originally hoped.  Forgetting to unplug the trailer from the house first.  I know!  Rookie mistake!  It was one of those moments where you can’t believe you’ve done something so dumb!  Okay, but then we were off for real.  And so was our sway bar ratchet tool which we’d left sitting on top of the battery box.  All I can say is thank God Erick and Sherri were following behind us and noticed it fall to the ground about a block outside of town.  They were able to honk and wave us down.

 

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Almost ready to go!

 

About 2 hours into our 800 km drive I decided to text Sherri and ask where they were.  This was the gist of our texting conversation:

Me: Where are you guys now?

S: We’re at the campground already waiting for you.  Where are you?

Me: Well, we’re already at tomorrow’s campground.

S: Oh, that’s nice.  We’re on the east coast Ferry.

Me: Newfoundland?  Been there, done that.

S: Well, we’re winterizing our trailer.  What a great trip.  So many memories.

Me: I’ve already forgotten most of it.

 

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Yep, it’s a bit blurry.  Dale was not in the mood to pull over when we’d barely begun as it was.  Longitudinal center of Canada!
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There IS an English sign too, but I just missed it.  You get the point.

 

Our first stop was going to be just to the north of Kenora, Ontario for gas.  The first bit of highway as we crossed into Ontario was single lane each direction, with not much of a shoulder.  Every so often there would be small spaces off the side of the road that you could pull over onto if needed….but they tended to jump out of nowhere, and we never felt like we had enough notice if we really did need to stop.  This is where the next bit of ‘drama’ came in.  Dale had already drunk 2 travel mugs of coffee.  I think you can imagine where this is headed!  By the time we were seeing signs for the Kenora area he was already practically crying and it was all he could do to stay focussed on the road.  Our map app finally directed us into the gas station we’d been aiming for and he burst from the car, only to realize that they were closed (it was Sunday)!  Thankfully we tow a bathroom behind us, and in a pinch were able to use it.  Sherri later told us they were in a similar “we need to stop NOW” situation!  With a clearer head, Dale was able to navigate the narrower streets of downtown Kenora to find a gas station that was actually open.  This took us on a bit of a detour, as we’d originally planned to skirt around the town – not actually drive through it.  I’ve heard before that Kenora is a popular summer/camping destination, and I can totally see why.  The scenery in the area is beautiful (rock hills, lush trees/greenery, and glimpses of lakes/water).  The downtown seemed lively and full of things to see and do.

Gassed up, and ready to go, we headed on.  We caught up with the Herrera’s at a gas station/rest stop in Vermillion Bay, Ontario.

 

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Kids posing all together.
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The ‘Twinnebagos’ together again!

 Here we stopped for a late lunch (from the kitchens we also towed behind us – yeah for saving money!)  Sherri led the kids in a run back and forth across the open space, and I’m pretty sure I spied them all doing jumping jacks too (sorry, no pics!)

Then it was more hours in the car.  And after that, a few more.  But THEN: no wait, it was more driving.  At one point I’m pretty sure we passed through time and space.  Okay, maybe just time.  We crossed over from the Central Time Zone into the Eastern Time Zone.  We made one final stop for gas in Kakabeka Falls.  Hearing this name always makes us think of our friends (and previous pastor), Derek and Jodi-lee; as he would refer to how he grew up there.  The name kind of sticks in your mind; it’s one of those words that’s just fun to say!

From there it was only about 20 minutes to our campground.  We stayed in the Thunder Bay area at the Fort William Historical Park.  There are a number of activities and things to do here (tour the fort, check out the observatory, etc.), but we arrived after hours and on a Sunday when everything was already closed.

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We couldn’t even find staff to help us with our campsites.  In the end, we’d already paid ahead and we managed to figure out where our ‘sites’ were  (it was a big open field with small markers placed in the grass), so we just parked and got out our supper!

 

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Parked and ready to eat!
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Life skills!  barbeque those burgers!
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Early morning fog is still rising off the river, as the sun is about to peek over the trees.  A beautiful morning, ready for ‘Day 2’……

 

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