From Alberta to the East Coast

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by thedopplereffect, Jul 8, 2021.

  1. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    Hello everyone,

    I am leaving Central Alberta on Monday, July 12 to make my way across Canada and out to the East Coast. I'll be riding my 2012 Kawasaki Versys 650. This is my first time doing a trip like this, and I couldn't be more excited! I'm looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful, expansive country that I call home, and meeting all kinds of people along the way.

    At the moment I don't have a definitive end date, but the plan is to head across Canada to the Atlantic provinces and then jump across the border to meander my way back to Alberta through the Northern States. I'm going to do my best to see as much as I can, without making it too hectic and rushed for myself.

    There's a bit more prep for me to do, but then the departure day is approaching fast. I'm hoping to try update every day or two, but I will have to see how sustainable that pace ends up being. Thanks for coming along for the ride! 20210626_164129.jpg
    #1
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  2. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    #2
  3. marco polo

    marco polo Long timer

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    How do you plan to get into the U.S., given the border is closed to all but essential travel, and a bike trip clearly doesn't qualify as essential? Are you expecting the Canada-U.S. border to reopen, before your return journey?
    #3
  4. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

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    Good luck on the trek, but there are still bans on the border and there are still restrictions in Atlantic Canada for those outside the Atlantic Canadian bubble. You'll want to complete this form for a chance to get to NS. You may have to isolate for 14 days.

    https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/travel/#self-declaration
    #4
  5. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    Those are definitely valid concerns. I suppose I am counting on the border to the states opening up again before my return trip. It sounds like things are trending in that direction, so I'm being very optimistic. The same goes for the Atlantic provinces as well. I've gotten my vaccine shots and I'm expecting to do a bunch of paperwork and COVID tests to cross borders. Blind faith and a very flexible schedule is what's keeping the trip going ahead at this point.
    #5
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  6. marco polo

    marco polo Long timer

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    A s of right now, those individuals who qualify to cross the land border from Canada into the U.S., are not required to get a Covid test, either before crossing, or after entry into the U.S. However, even fully vaccinated individuals, who also qualify to cross the land border from the U.S. into Canada, must present the results of a recognized Covid test (taken within 72 hours of crossing) at the time of crossing (must be negative result, of course). If you haven't crossed the land border, from the U.S. into Canada, in some time, be aware that you must complete -- and submit in advance -- all pertinent details by using the ArriveCan App (there are Apple and Android versions you can download onto your phone). Among other things, you'll have to provide name, DOB, cell phone number etc., details of your travel document(s) (passport number, for example), the location of the border crossing you plan to use, and your estimated time of arrival there, address where you'll be staying, electronic version of your Covid vaccination record (upload a photo of your vaccine record card to the ArriveCan App, for example). As a fully-vaccinated individual, and after presenting your negative Covid test results, you are no longer required to quarantine upon entry into Canada. However, you will be required to have a second Covid test upon entry, and there are only sixteen land border crossings where you can do this (at crossings, other than those sixteen, there were provisions for you to get a test kit that you self-administer, and have picked up by courier. You'll have to check to see if that's still available) You must also have a quarantine plan worked out in advance of crossing - and convince the border officer that what you say is legitimate - before you will be allowed entry. If the results of that second Covid test come back positive, you will be required to quarantine, hence the reason you have to convince the border officer that you have a plan, in such an eventuality.

    That's a fair outline of what's required right now, but the requirements keep evolving. Nobody knows what measures will be in place, when you try to cross the Canada-U.S. border, so I'd recommend you keep on top of this. For re-entry into Canada, you should consult CBSA's website frequently (I would not rely on media reports to cover all the details). I'd also download the ArriveCan app now, as you will have to use that for re-entry into Canada, no matter what other requirements change in the coming weeks.

    https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/covid-vaccinated-travellers-entering-canada
    #6
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  7. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    A little more bike prep over the last couple days! I did an oil change, checked coolant condition, and bled brakes, just to make sure that fluids were good to go to start off with. Then I also changed out the back rubber, something I've never done before! Definitely took some time and effort but it'll be good to have fresh rubber in the back as well. I was even able to rig up a little balance stand with a couple sawhorses. Unfortunately, when I went to go buy adhesive rim weights the parts store only carried a box of 480, so I should have enough to last me a few more balances :lol3
    20210710_190742.jpg
    The old tire was pretty squared off. Not too many twisty roads handy to Central Alberta I guess. I'm still running the Shinko Trail Masters, front and back.

    Attached Files:

    #7
  8. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    What kind of mileage did you have on that rear tire. Also; I am in south western Ontario near London; which is probably not on your route planning radar. If you find you are anywhere west of Toronto in Ontario and need advice or help or anything else; don't hesitate to call or message me. Land line is (519)-773-3406. Hope your trip lives up to any expectations you have. I rode to N.B. and PEI in 2017. First time east since the early 80's. Went specifically to see the Confederation bridge to PEI as it didn't exist the last time I rode out. Your thought of getting a motel as a base and touring from it on PEI is probably a good thing to do. PEI is not large but there is a lot to see when touring the quiet, scenic 2 lane roads all over the island. I recommend that you take the Wood Islands ferry to PEI and the Confederation Bridge back to N.B. as they only charge you to leave the island and the bridge is a bit cheaper than the ferry; but both ways should be experienced. Also, if your interests happen to include anything to do with trains, the not to be missed "Exporail" Canadian Railroad Museum is in Delson Qc. on the south shore of the St. Lawrence at Montreal. I spent a very enjoyable day seeing this museum. Have fun on your trip and I will be following along.

    PEI 269.jpg

    PEI 728.jpg
    #8
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  9. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    I don't actually know how many kms are on the old tire. It was mounted when I bought the bike last year and I've put about 3000 kms on it. From what I've seen other folks in forums say, they can run 8 to 12 thousand kms.

    I'll definitely keep you in mind! At this point I really don't have a concrete plan for getting through Ontario so I might end up coming your way. Bridges and trains are also almost endlessly fascinating, so I will keep that in mind as well.
    #9
  10. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    I have edited my post and added a bit plus 2 pics. Have a great trip.
    #10
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  11. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    20210712_173040.jpg
    The Royal Tyrrell Museum from up on the hill across from it.
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    Just past Drumheller, when I was contemplating turning around for gas...
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    This should realy be the first picture but I'm not sure how to change the order. An overlook with a beautiful view of the Red Deer river valley. The road on the right hand side is the one that leads down into Drumheller.
    20210712_221612.jpg
    The reservoir beside Carolside Campground. The light house is perhaps a little bit unecessary but it does make for nice photos!


    July 12: Departure Day

    I think I might have romanticized the first day a little more than I should have. I spent this last weekend with my family and a few friends so the morning of the 12th I spent alone getting the last of my things put together. Then at about 11 am I walked out of my door, locking it behind me just as I have done hundreds of times, except this time I wouldn’t be walking back through it for some time.

    I rode down to Drumheller and spent the afternoon in the Royal Tyrrell Museum learning a little about natural history. Even though it's close to home, it's probably been ten years or so since I was there, so it was good to go through things again as an adult. Just an endless amount of facts and details. All the exhibits give the scientific name for the bone fragments or whatever else they have on display, but as a non-paleontologist it's just a bunch of mumbo jumbo unfortunately. It’s one of those things that’s fascinating at a distance, overwhelming from arm’s length, and fascinating once again up close. Kind of, the-more-you-know-the-more-you-don’t-know sort of thing.

    After spending three or four hours walking through the museum I stopped for supper at a place called O’Shea’s. It’s an Irish themed restaurant that serves an excellent burger.

    Then I was on the run to a campground I found using Overlander. I made my way down through the valley, South-East of Drumheller and I probably would have run out of fuel shortly after getting to the campground, but fortunately, I stopped at Dorothy. It’s not much aside from a community hall and a handful of houses and I was turned back to Drumheller by a man along the side of the road. He warned me that the next services were another 175 kms down the road. At least I learned that lesson early.

    I rolled into the Carolside campground as the sun was setting. I set up my camp in the dying light, went for a little walk down by the water, and then called it a night.

    342 kms


    July 13: Saskatchewan

    I was woken early this morning by a combination of bright morning sunshine and a sparrow stuck in the vestibule of my tent. Evidently the mosquitoes trapped in there were a little too tempting.

    I made my way up to Oyen, where I met two gentlemen at the gas station, fueling up their Goldwings. They were on their way to Lac La Biche. One of the fellows was named Brian and he told me about a ride called the Three Flags Classic Tour that starts in Mexicali, Baja California and ends in Penticton, British Columbia. I won’t be able to make it this year, but maybe next time!

    And now I’m sitting in a Mcdonald’s in Kindersley, Saskatchewan having some lunch and getting this written up. The goal for today is the Swift Current area.
    #11
  12. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    What a great read! Thanks for taking us along on your ride! Looking forward to the next installment!
    #12
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  13. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    20210713_144535.jpg
    On the road leading south to Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park.
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    Lake Deifenbaker
    20210714_140138.jpg
    My delicious lunch at the Assinbia Bakery
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    The south rim of the Big Muddy Valley
    20210714_163149.jpg 20210714_170602.jpg
    My bike as the lone occupant of the parking lot at the base of Castle Butte. You can just barely see the mouth of the cave at the base of the Butte, right below that especially brown patch of grass.
    20210714_170611.jpg
    The view up the valley to the Northwest, from up on top of the Butte. (On a side note, I'm not sure how to insert the pictures in the body of the text, so you'll have to read on for a little context. Sorry about that...)



    On the road to Swift Current I passed through a little town called Glidden, and from Glidden onwards, the pavement went steeply downhill, and not in a topographical sense. It was a patchwork of repairs, both old and new, with humps and dives and holes and ruts and whoops. I know for a fact that it would have been a miserable drive in a car, but being on a bike actually made it pretty fun! It was engaging riding, having to pick your line and avoid the worst stretches. And with only one tire line (instead of two with a car or a truck) it was actually possible to pick your way through fairly well without needing to go too slow. 150 kms of it was enough but still a lot of fun.


    Along the way, among the vast empty stretches, there were a number of houses that looked to be abandoned. I was tempted to check some of them out, but it was hard to say for sure that they weren't just run down. Many of them looked frozen in time, cars still parked out front, with curtains still hung up behind the windows, but all the paint peeled off the siding, roofs that sagged in a dangerous way, and weeds sprung up in the cracks of the driveway, as if the owner would be back any day to pick up where they left off.


    And speaking of the vast open stretches between the houses, at one point I passed a "Point of Interest" sign. I was ready for a break so I decided to check it out. It turned out to be a bison rubbing stone. When the vast herds of bison were roaming the prairies then they would use boulders like the one I stopped at and rub against them to get rid of their winter coats. Lots of them have been moved to make way for cultivation, but this one was left in place. It's not so hard to imagine the enormous herds roaming through the grasslands when you're rolling through them seemingly endlessly.


    50 or so kms before Swift Current is Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park. It runs on both sides of Lake Diefenbaker and features a few beaches, boat launches and what appears to be a dozen campgrounds.


    I asked the ranger running the ranger station if Lake Diefenbaker offered the premier beach experience for Saskatchewan residents, but she wasn't really sure. She did say that it is one of the most popular provincial parks though, and that certainly showed today.


    After a brief nap and a swim at the day use area, I've signed myself up for a campsite that features a shower! It's only been a couple days, but I'm still looking forward to it.


    I had supper at the golf course restaurant that overlooks the lake. An absolutely beautiful spot. Rolling hills in the distance across the lake, and pelicans flying overhead.


    I had planned to go to Moose Jaw tomorrow to see the tunnels underneath but I neglected to buy my tickets on time, so polled the waitresses at the restaurant for their suggestions of tourist type activities to do in eastern Saskatchewan. Buffalo pound provincial park was suggested to me as a popular spot. That was going to be my next stop until I got back to my campsite. That's where I met Clay and Corinne who are from just south of Swift Current and were up here for a week or so. Clay suggested I check out the Big Muddy Valley, which has some outlaw caves, down near the American border. That sounds like exactly what I'm after so I've got a new plan for tomorrow!

    390 kms



    July 14: Saskatchewan Landing to Big Muddy


    The stereotypical Saskatchewan that people talk about in Alberta is flat and windy with roads that go dead straight. When I was in school I remember hearing a joke that went something like, "Did you hear about the farmer in Saskatchewan whose dog ran away? Poor guy had to watch it go for three days." That's almost the kind of place I was driving through this morning. Still a beautiful scene in its own way.


    Now I've stopped for lunch and fuel in Assiniboia. I stopped at the Assiniboia Bakery, which has a little deli. The owner is apparently the third generation of his family running this bakery and it’s been in his family for 75 years. My grandfather owned the bakery in my hometown so it felt like there was a little bit of common ground there.


    Then it was onwards to the Big Muddy Valley. I had searched it up on Google maps and had been provided with a waypoint that had caused me to think that this was a certain specific location where there is a concentration of things to see or do in some sort of provincial park. I was mistaken. The Big Muddy Valley is a badlands type area that covers a large chunk of southern Saskatchewan and extends over both the American and Manitoban borders, so I was in a little over my head.


    In my quest to “arrive” at Big Muddy, I had passed through one of its main attractions, the town of Willow Bunch. Willow Bunch is one of Saskatchewan's oldest settlements and was also the home of a guy who was very tall. Nicknamed “The Giant”, he still gets a lot of press in Willow Bunch, though I can’t remember his name.


    After Willow Bunch, there is another town called Coronach, and that’s where I made another mistake. I didn’t stop in Coronach at all but apparently that’s where there are some of the outlaw caves that some of the old west gangs would hide out in when they weren’t rustling cattle or hijacking trains. Alas, I’ll have to catch it on the next trip.


    I stopped in a town called Big Beaver and spoke to the gal at the post office, named Rhonda, and she was the one who broke the news to me that I was already in the Big Muddy Valley. So it was from Big Beaver that I set off to see the crown jewel of Big Muddy, Castle Butte.

    And Castle Butte did not disappoint! Perhaps it’s because I just finished reading about Bill Bryson’s experience in Australia at Uluru, but I loved Castle Butte. It had everything a good tourist attraction should have, stunning vistas, an air mystery, the opportunity to put one’s self in danger, and no lines at all. The Butte was pretty close to Big Beaver, unsurprisingly, but on the 20 minute ride there I think I only saw one other vehicle. It was still strange to see something as cool as that totally deserted though.


    It had a cave on the one side that extended inwards and upwards about 30 to 40 feet in a winding, jagged way. I had a head lamp with me to explore, but I turned it off for a few minutes to see if my eyes would adjust to the darkness and pick up some light filtering through from somewhere. It stayed perfectly dark. After I had waited enough time for a little panic to creep in, I decided that it might be a better idea to climb the butte instead. The view from the top was totally worth it. It was also punishingly hot though, so my time there was short lived.


    After seeing Castle Butte, I took off once again to the East. Highway 18 runs along, 20 odd kms from the American border until it hits highway 6, which goes north all the way to Regina. I went north only until Pangman before breaking off east again to Weyburn. And that’s where I am now, in the River Park Campground, which has both showers and Wifi! What a world we live in.

    550 ish kms
    #13
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  14. snglfin

    snglfin this statement is untrue

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    i’m really enjoying the pace and style of your writing narrative, very compelling! thanks for sharing your trip with us, i’ll be following along - i’m especially interested in how the atlantic provinces are handling visitors. safe travels!

    best regards,

    johnnyg
    #14
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  15. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

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    nice. love the prairies vistas. you gonna stick to Hwy 13? drop down to 18?
    #15
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  16. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2021
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    Location:
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    July 15, 2021

    I started the day off in Weyburn, Saskatchewan and headed southeast, down to Estevan and then east, to skirt the border again. My original destination for the day was going to be Turtle Mountain Provincial Park.

    I was told that I had arrived at Turtle Mountain at just after noon, and I was dismayed. I don't know exactly what I was hoping for, but it was perhaps something a little more imposing. If I hadn't been told it stood above the surrounding prairies, then I don't think I would have known. But, my disappointment aside, Turtle Mountain is an area with a great number of small, shallow lakes, surrounded by forest. It could be best described as "quite nice".

    I had lunch at a spot called the Antler Cafe, part of the Turtle Mountain Resort in Lake Metigoshe, and pondered my disappointment for a while. It really is a nice area. There are some very serene walking trails, good sized lakes for canoeing or swimming, and the people there were very friendly. But there was nothing commanding about the area, nothing with a sense of majesty about it. And I think that the things that make for good sight seeing on a road trip are not always the same things that would make a place nice to live. For an outdoorsy person who loves the lake life, it would be great to live near Turtle Mountain, it just might not be worth driving 1500 kms for.

    That idea has sort of underpinned my whole trip so far I would say. Part of the reason that I set out and decided that I wanted to do this was that I feel like I'm at the age where most people are buying their first houses and settling down. And being born and raised in central Alberta, where I still live, I just feel like I'd have a hard time committing to that part of the country when I haven't seen anywhere else. So, in part, this trip has been to scout out other places that it would be nice to live in. But, I'm coming to realize that there's a difference between a place that would be great to live in, and a place that's great to visit. Although I do think that this trip will still serve as a good way to see the parts of the country that I think I would like to live, I just have to remember that when you settle somewhere you get to know it better, and that allows you to appreciate some of the aspects that might be missed by someone just passing through.

    On the road away from Turtle Mountain I stopped briefly in Boissevain, just to mark the occasion.
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    Tommy the Turtle, the Hero of Boissevain.

    That night I camped at Spruce Woods Provincial Park and had an absolutely beautiful site! That whole park is definitely worth the stop, and seemed to be quite popular with the folks from Brandon, Manitoba. It has a campground that sits inside of an oxbow lake off the Assiniboine River. The park also has sand dunes called the Spirit Sands, but the trails there were closed unfortunately, due to the severe risk of wildfires in that area right now. Beautiful campsite though, lots of mature trees, a beach, showers, the whole nine yards.
    20210715_201741.jpg

    I don't know who they pay to name these places though. First Turtle Mountain with no mountain, then Spruce Woods, where I think I only saw about a dozen spruce trees sprinkled among the poplar forest.

    500 ish kms


    July 16, 2021

    This morning I explored a little around the Spruce Woods Provincial Park before hitting the road. There is a lookout at the top of the river valley that gives a good look at all of the meanders and how it's shaping that landscape.
    20210716_094713.jpg

    I stopped for a breakfast burger at Ma's Drive In, about 30 kms west of Winnipeg. It was fantastic to get a bite to eat, and to get out of the wind! There was a stiff wind blowing out of the south east the whole day, and around the Winnipeg area it was punishing. When I finally got onto the Trans Canada Highway I was passed by a Honda Accord and I couldn't help but feel just a little jealous...

    My next stop was in Whitestones Provincial Park at Falcon Lake, which appeared to be where some of the wealthy Winnipeggers stick their lake houses. I went for a swim at a picnic area on the south shore. It was deserted when I got there, but it was about 35 C so I was pretty excited to get in the water. Once I did though, I realized why no one else was swimming in that spot. The shore line was made up of these large slabs of rock that were slanting down into the water. Not too sharply, but enough that I needed to be concerned about my footing on the dry ground. Unfortunately, where the rocks were wet, they were also slimy and slippery... So as soon as my feet were both in the water, I slid down about 15 feet to a little shelf in the rock. Thankfully it wasn't very deep, but I suddenly found myself kind of stuck, ten feet from the shore. The slime would repel my advances to the shoreline whenever I tried to walk myself out of the water. Eventually I was able to rub through the slime in one patch on the rock enough to create a hand and foot hold to get myself out of the water. I walked around the shoreline afterwards and found that a little down the way, someone had drilled a rock climbing anchor into the rock, I'm guessing because they had the same experience I did. All's well that ends well though, it did help me cool down.
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    The picnic area where I went for a swim at Falcon Lake.

    Then shortly after that I crossed the border and found myself in Ontario. The first major stopping point in Ontario is Kenora, which seems to be where the really really wealthy Winnipeggers stick their beach houses. Kenora is a gorgeous little tourist town that reminded me of Canmore, back in Alberta. It sits on the Lake of the Woods on a decent sized harbour. There are marinas galore along the outskirts of the lake. I stopped and walked along the shoreline and then through downtown for a little while before buying an ice cream cone and discovering, to my disdain, that Kenora might be a little rich for my pocketbook. So I hit the road with plans to grab supper somewhere down the line.
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    The harbour and the H.S. Kenora, which offers scenic lake tours.

    My camp for the night was at Sioux Narrows Provincial Park. The site that I was given was right down by the water, looking across a narrow strait to a small island. The scenery was beautiful, but it unfortunately lacked a single square foot of level ground. You win some, you lose some.
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    The wide angle shots really don't show the slope, but oh well. I don't think anyone feels too bad for me anyway :lol3 The island up by the tree on the right hand side is the one that I ended up swimming out to the next morning.

    While setting up my tent and things, a fellow named Karl stopped by to talk bikes for a while. He and his family were camping at Sioux Narrows for the weekend and he rides a DR650. That was one of the bikes I had considered when I was in the market for my Versys, and he had considered a Versys so that was pretty cool! Karl was kind enough to invite me over for spaghetti and watermelon where I met his wife Melissa and their kids as well. They were incredibly generous and ended up offering me to stay in their backyard the next night, down near Fort Frances. It's so good to meet great people like that so far from home. That was another one of the things I was most excited about for this trip so to have it live up to my expectations is truly amazing.

    500 ish kms


    July 17, 2021

    Fort Frances is only about 130 kms away from Sioux Narrows, but after a few long days on the road, I was ready for something a little shorter. With less ground to cover I was in no rush to leave my site in the morning. I slept in until about 9 and then had a leisurely breakfast of granola bars and trail mix. It started to heat up again around 10 so I went for a swim out to the island that was across from my campsite. Definitely a little further than I anticipated but it was good to be in the water and also exert myself a bit. Somehow I had expected riding my bike across the country to be more work…

    Shortly down the road from Sioux Narrows is Nestor Falls. I stopped there for a meal at The Bear’s Den and then went to look at the falls themselves. “The Falls” actually refers to a weir that separates the Lake of the Woods from Kakabikitchiwan Lake. It has been a pretty dry year so there wasn’t too much water coming through. Still a nice little picnic area though.
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    The spillway that forms Nestor Falls.

    After Nestor Falls there wasn’t all that much to stop for before Fort Frances. One thing that I found quite entertaining on the drive down though were the road names. There was no trickery here with names, as there had been in Manitoba. The roads were named for what was quite literally on them. I saw School Road, Church Road, Old Gold Mine Road, Grampa Tolen’s Road, and my personal favorite, Great Great Granddaughter Doreen Road.

    Then, after hitting the Finland corner, it was like a switch had been flipped. Lake country ended, and farm country began. A short time later I was rolling into my home for the night, which happened to be the backyard of Karl and Melissa (thanks again!) and that’s where I’m writing this now. For the remainder of the day I’m planning to go into Fort Frances just to see the sights and maybe grab something to eat, but I don’t expect too much excitement. Just a good sleep later before what’s likely going to be another longer day tomorrow.

    Karl informed me yesterday while we were chatting that it’s almost the same distance from here to Banff as it is to Toronto. It’s mind boggling how big this country really is, and I haven’t even been more than 400 or so kms from the southern border. Crazy!
    #16
  17. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Really enjoying your trip. Waiting for more.
    #17
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  18. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2021
    Oddometer:
    34
    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    In the evening while exploring Fort Frances I made my way out to the furthest point, within a stone's throw of the American border. I decided not to throw any stones though, just in case that could be construed as an act of aggression :lol2
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    The white sign visible on the bridge is the international border.

    July 18, 2021
    It has been very smoky here due to the fires in northern Ontario, and today was no exception. All the smoke makes for very early sunsets and later sunrises, somehow it still seems to get just as hot at midday though...

    I took off this morning through Fort Frances and then east along highway 11. Almost immediately after getting past Fort Frances the road comes up and over this long sweeping bridge that crosses Rainy Lake. The view out across the water with all the little islands and boats speckling the water was a spectacular way to start the drive.
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    One thing I've really loved about this area and all the lakes here is how jaggedly articulating the shorelines are. Most of the lakes in the prairies are in pretty basic oval shapes that don't lend them very much character. The geography here also seems to lend itself really well to forming little islands in the middle of the lakes here, and who doesn't love a mysterious little island, just out of reach?

    Another thing that I was thinking about on the drive out today was how friendly and helpful all the parks staff and rangers have been. In any of the parks that I've stopped at I had nothing but good experiences with the people working there. I can't imagine those kind of jobs where you're working the front desk of a campground pay all that well so it must just attract people that absolutely love to be out in the wilderness and helping other people to get the most out of their visit. Anyway, I thought it was worth mentioning how wonderful it's been across all four of the provinces I've experienced so far.

    The whole road down past Atikoken and out to Thunder Bay was a joy to ride. Beautiful scenery, big sweeping curves, hardly any traffic, just bliss.
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    A sign I thought made for an interesting landmark and the spot where I took a little snooze and some lunch.

    On the approach to Thunder Bay, highway 11 joins back up with highway 17, which is the main cut across from Lake Superior straight to Kenora. As soon as I was back on that road then I was surrounded by semi's again so I took the 102, almost entirely by accident, up to the north end of Thunder Bay.

    I was standing in an Esso parking lot looking at my map and trying to figure out where I was and where I wanted to go when a truck pulling a couple sea-doos pulled up. The fellow in the back seat and I talked bikes for a little while and then he and the two ladies with him invited me out to the lake with them to sea-doo! This is the kind of trip where I say yes to those kinds of things so I was in! I followed them out to Hawkeye Lake, which is on another beautiful curving road. They had a sandy little beach in mind and we had a great time. I had never ridden a sea-doo before so my first ever ride was on a brand new 1000cc Can-Am Spark Trixx, which I'm told is about as good as it gets! And it rips, that's for sure. I'm not sure if it would be quicker off the line than my bike, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
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    Hawkeye Lake. In the trees off to the right of this picture was a beautiful little rocky stream, trickling it's way through the birch and pine trees. It must be all too common of a sight in this area though because it was littered with beverage containers and other garbage. Unfortunately I didn't have my garbage pickers with me.

    After the sea-dooing they invited me to a BBQ. After picking up some fuel I met them at the address they had given me and started picking up some pretty sketch vibes. I won't go into details but I didn't feel comfortable being there so I ended up heading out.

    Unfortunately it was already pretty late, and they had offered to let me put my tent up in their backyard, so now I didn't have a place to stay either… I went to a restaurant downtown called The Sovereign Room and had a fantastic burger while I weighed my options. I called some of the local campgrounds but I wasn't able to find anywhere with openings. I didn't have any contacts in Thunder Bay, and it was a little late to be calling around too much as well.

    After eating I went around to a few hotels, and after getting told that there was no vacancy at half a dozen or so I learned that they had been evacuating people in close proximity to the forest fires, and Thunder Bay was the destination for those evacuees. So there were likely no rooms available in the city.

    My plan at that point was to sit and wait for a motorcycle to go by and then follow the person until they stopped so I could explain my situation and see if they could help. But luckily when I had been having dinner at The Sovereign, I had talked to the waitress and explained why I was in town. She had offered to show me around the city the next day so she had given me her number. I texted her and explained what was going on and she was gracious enough to offer me her spare room for the night. Thank you Alex! With the kindness of a stranger it went from what was going to be a very long, and potentially miserable night to the most comfortable sleep I've had since the trip began.

    And now I'm sitting in a Tim Hortons typing this up and planning out the things in Thunder Bay that I'd like to make a point of seeing before I head off down the road once again.
    #18
    B10Dave, snglfin, cal08 and 3 others like this.
  19. Cal

    Cal Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,436
    Location:
    Calgary
    how was the border crossing into Manitoba? Were you given a certain amount of time to ride through the province? Thanks for the ride report.
    #19
  20. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,504
    Location:
    north vancouver bc
    Turtle Mountain is at Lake William. it is a glorious area with lotsa history (native, and otherwise - La Verendrye, etc.) a beautiful trail to the top - beware of large cats which were introduced on the N Dakota side. big elusive trout in that lake - browns and rainbows.
    if i'd known you were heading that way (i did ask ...:-)) - i could have set you up with lotsa things to see and do. i was born and raised in that area.
    the Spruce Woods Desert used to allow public access - i started my riding career there circa 1967. the trail to the devil's punchbowl is surreal - with glorious small, twisted oak trees.

    the popular retirement town in that area is Killarney. beautiful lake - nice residents - walleye.

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    #20
    gpfan, pitbull, B10Dave and 2 others like this.