A short winter camping trip

Short Winter Camping header

We love our wee cabin at the lake! But we do have cabin fever and who can blame us, 175 days of below zero temperatures. This time last year our lake was wide open and a neighbour’s boat in and we were having morning coffee on the deck.

The few good days we had allowed me to complete the modifications to our truck camper. A new enclosed front generator and modified rear storage allows us to haul our 16 ft. Sea Eagle kayak behind the passenger seat of our truck. Not that we have need for it now…but just in case winter decides to give up this year.

A funeral for a dear friend in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan was all we needed to get motivated. As long as we were heading north to our favourite part of the province we would take the Northern Lite and continue north for some winter camping. Yes even Charlotte was ready! I had spent some time in our camper this winter at Agribition so knew the four-season camper could handle the low temps. We would have to rely on our solar panel and two six volt batteries for all our power. The camper and stock solar panel and batteries came through with flying colours, our batteries never dropping below 12.2 volts.

Unfortunately our favourite northern campsites did not come through as well. If we thought we had lots of snow back here at Pike Lake, it was nothing compared to Anglin Lake, Waskesiu Lake and north.

Spruce RiverThe roads were great and plowed out in Great Herron Provincial Park as were the roads in Prince Albert National Park. We could get to the campground entrances but the campgrounds still had two to three feet of snow throughout. We stopped at Spruce River, Anglin Lake and then north to the Narrows north of Waskesiu townsite in Prince Albert National Park. We had hoped to see the otters playing, obviously they also were not in the playing mood.

Welcome to Waskesiu

Downtown Waskesiu
Still loads of snow line the streets and sidewalks of Waskesiu townsite

The townsite usually very busy with people was quiet and snow piled everywhere. The main beach house had a five to six foot drift blocking the entrance, we sure need some warmer weather for the May long weekend.

Canada Geese
Ok I know we are early…but I did find you a pretty spot for a dip.

We did however find open water on the Waskesiu River. Here we watched some confused Canada Geese arguing over whose fault it was they arrived back to this. Our journey north ended at the Hanging Heart Lakes where the marina road remained unplowed.

Narrows road
Winter or summer the 18 km drive into the Narrows is beautiful with always lots of wildlife including bears.
Narrows map
Our favorite camping and canoeing spot in Prince Albert National Park
Narrows Marina
Business is just a little slow right now.
Otter Sign at Narrows marina
Sorry we missed seeing these playful little northern creatures.
Elk Ridge Sign
Elk Ridge resort – A must stop on any trip just off the Waskesiu Hwy.
Elk Ridge Lodge 2
It may be a few more weeks before conferences are replaced by golfers.

We totally enjoyed our province’s north again seeing a different beauty one does not experience in the summer months. The north is a great place to snowshoe, cross country ski and hike and enjoy the beauty of the green spruce against the stark white snow. As beautiful as it is it’s time winter to get lost and allow us a short but beautiful summer.

Short on campgrounds we were lucky enough to be able to camp at my cousin’s place at Northside, Sk. on Hwy. 2. June runs a great go-to-destination antique store, Northside Antiques and Collectibles, which also is home to the Black Spruce Art Gallery. Check the menu for more on this in a future article and photos.

Back at the cabin and another snowfall….perhaps this will be the last! For us our travels are starting again and we hope to see you “Down the Road”

We hope you subscribe and come back often….Charlotte and Gerry

Rowan’s Ravine Provincial Park

Rowans Ravine headerIn June of 2017 Charlotte and I had the opportunity to camp at Rowan’s Ravine Provincial Park. We were on a photography job for a client that would have us travel from Weyburn, Saskatchewan through the south of the province west to near the Alberta border. The job required close to 18 locations to be photographed, so we loaded the camper leaving a few days early to camp on the shores of Last Mountain Lake. We have travelled extensively through Saskatchewan doing photography jobs, rodeo events, and with our western magazine Pure Country always camping. For some reason we never got to camp on one of southern Saskatchewan’s longest lakes. We decided on Rowan’s Ravine Provincial campground as it was on the eastern side of the lake near where our work week would start.

The road to the campground left a lot to be desired Hwy. 322 and 220 approximately 25 kms of gravel and a little washboard to say the least. But once getting to the campground we were quite impressed. We love either the very north with the tall spruce trees or the very south with the rolling hills and grasslands and not much for wide open prairie. Rowan’s Ravine was established as a provincial park in 1960 and the trees in this well treed park were hand planted to create an oasis on the open prairie of mostly farm land.

7 Bird preserve at Rowan's Ravine
Canada’s first bird preserve established at the north end of the lake.

The lake itself is a few kms short of 100 kms long and 3 kms wide at its widest point. The area was chosen partly because of a large sandy peninsula, now one of southern Saskatchewan’s largest natural sand beaches. Because of the location the beach is usually always sheltered from the wind.

1 Rowans Ravine park entrance
From the Park entrance everything is well maintained and groomed.
2 Pretty drive Rowan's Ravine
A pretty drive into the campsites.

The campgrounds were very well kept, clean and some very private areas along with more open and group camping areas. Most important all the facilities were very clean and maintained, large modern washrooms and hot showers, laundry facilities etc. Free firewood which is becoming rare, picnic tables, firepits, electric 30 amp service and dump stations to mention a few. The campground has 300 sites, including pull thru and tent sites. We stayed two nights and cost was $30/night with power. Not sure what the provincial park entry was as in Saskatchewan residents who are 65 or older get free passes, and we qualify….Yes!!! Just looked it up a provincial yearly pass is now $65 for all Saskatchewan provincial parks.

3 Rowan's Ravine campground
Large clean well maintained campsites, 300 of them.
4 Trees hand planted
All of the trees in the park were hand planted turning prairie into a green oasis.
5 Well sheltered marina
A well sheltered marina, boat launch and marine fuel.

I think this may be the only Provincial Park I can walk the whole length of the park along a shoreline. If you enjoy hiking, just plain walking, boating and water related activities this park fits the bill. Being as we left our canoe at home (we were on a job) we did an amazing amount of walking. Lots of picnic and day use areas, large modern marina with marine fuel, did I mention great fishing and a neat restaurant featuring its own dock. We are not the norm and choose not to be tied down by pets but for those who do it’s a pet friendly park as well.

8 Rowan Ravine marina
Wide view of the marina featuring all the gear you need for fishing.
6 Rowan's Ravine boat launch
A very busy boat launch during peak summer times.

This Lake I discovered played a huge roll in settling farmers into the area. In the early years for the Cree Indians it was a land of abundance providing all their necessities. Bison by the thousands roamed freely on the shores and plains, other wildlife, birds and fish provided food, clothing and shelter. I’m told that it is estimated 60 million bison roamed North America. In 1869, Issac Crowie, a clerk with the Hudson Bay Co. passed through one of the last remaining herds at the north end of Last Mountain Lake. He wrote they blackened the whole country and they travelled amongst them for several days. By 1879 the great herds were gone from Saskatchewan and by 1884 only a few remained.

In 1887 the Canadian government was urged to protect the large bird populations of nesting and migratory birds. Then it was part of the North West Territories and a bird sanctuary was created at the north end of the lake. With the dwindling fur trade in those days the railway wanted to make sure it put down tracks in settled areas for financial viability. The goal of the railway was to connect the east with British Columbia. Settlers started noticing the area was very fertile for agriculture and the government of Saskatchewan  in the 1890s and 1920s created the homestead act which granted immigrants 160 acres of land if they farmed it for 3 years. This increased the population to nearly a million by 1920.

When the European settlers arrived a small town called Watertown was established near the north end of the lake sometimes referred to as Long Lake. Before the railways it was steamboats that brought supplies and people to the land. The Peterson Land Company ran a steam boat the SS QuAppelle on  Last Mountain Lake to help bring settlers into the area. These boats played a big role for a number of years. Watertown was their northern port and Port Hyman was established at the south end of the lake.

A railway was eventually built and settlers took over the land. Today walking in the fields one can still find stone rings and cairns from native campsites, a reminder of the tremendous changes that have taken place in the last century. Now large farms spread out over the countryside, and a number of recreational areas developed along the shorelines. On the west side Regina Beach and Lumsden  Beach were established and to the north Sunset Cove and Sundale Resort.

It’s hard to imagine as one looks out over the lake not too long ago paddle wheeler steamships provided the main transportation and supply link for the people in the area to the railhead located in Regina to the south. The boats are smaller, faster and now simply provide recreation for the 1000’s enjoying the park.

This is a great park, not our favourite but worth visiting. Remember when camping please leave the site the way you would like to find it…..happy camping and we hope to see you “down the road”.

Christmas wish

merry Christmas take 2
Charlotte and Gerry

From our little cabin at Pike Lake to your home, we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas!

2
Winter, time to keep the home fire burning.

For most of us Canadian RV folks it’s planning time for next summer’s travels. That is unless you are enjoying a trip south of the 49 to visit our American friends. Quartzsite, Arizona is still a must on our bucket list but not this winter. I have put up enough wood at the cabin so we should be cozy and warm and enjoy our stick and stone home a little. After having spent most of the summer travelling in our truck camper we found it hard to just park it, but look forward to trying some winter trips. Yes in Saskatchewan, Canada! Believe it or not we are going to test out our Northern Lite to the extreme. As I write this it’s only -23c outside. With the right mindset winter can be beautiful not only for photography but sledding, snowshoeing, skiing and skating. A crackling wood fire is even more inviting on a frosty day.

Skating
Pike Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Crackling fire
A crackling fire is warmer in frosty weather.

We have been pleased to get our online Magazine/Blog finally up and we look forward to having fun with it. I will finally be able to share my millions of photos we take of places and events visited instead of hiding the photos on a drive never to be found again. We have to remember when we choose a destination to try and give ourselves enough time as we should enjoy the journey.

Wishing you all the best of health and happiness in 2018. We pray that peace and love may prevail in this changing world and we hope to see you “Down the Road”.

Snowshoeing
Be careful where you walk, others may be following in your tracks.

Elk Island National Park

“We will return to canoe and visit the bison”

I cannot count the number of times Charlotte and I passed by the sign Elk Island National Park commenting we should stop in sometime. Having just returned from our son’s wedding and a week of camping in Calgary, Alberta, we were ready for a northern camping trip.

Continue reading Elk Island National Park

Spruce River Campground

“The haunting echo of the Northern Loon keeps us coming back”.

Charlotte and I discovered this small campground several years ago and have been back a number of times. Spruce River campground is located in the Great Blue Heron Provincial Park 60 kms north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada on the beautiful Anglin Lake. Continue reading Spruce River Campground

Facts to know about full time RVing in Canada

Our Canadian weather is only one factor that makes it a little tougher to be a “full timer” versus a “snowbird”.  But having said that, when there is a will there is a way and the freedom and lifestyle of living full time on the road, if that’s your desire, is worth doing it and the sooner the better while health allows. When we had made our decision we wanted off the ant hill and the cost of maintaining a large home we started downsizing, which I will deal with in another article. It was one garage sale after another.

Continue reading Facts to know about full time RVing in Canada

Memories of an Agribition past and present

It’s been a number of years since I lasted attended Agribition which is held each year in Regina, Saskatchewan. Canadian Western Agribition is the largest livestock show in Canada now in its 47th year and just keeps getting bigger and better. Agribition is truly an international showcase for agricultural products and all types of livestock showcasing to the world the “best of our livestock and agricultural products”. Continue reading Memories of an Agribition past and present

For the love of rodeo

I had the privilege of getting to sit in on an annual rodeo school last May in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and witnessed the passion many have for the sport of rodeo. Many past rodeo stars, contractors and pick up men spent their weekend helping young cowgirls and cowboys get a safe instruction in a rough sport of rodeo, saddle bronc and bareback riding. Continue reading For the love of rodeo