Danielson Provincial Park

Leaving Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and heading south we arrived at Danielson Provincial Park, it was early in the season just after the long weekend in May and we liked what we found. On the way down just north of the Danielson Provincial Park is the Gardner Dam, the world’s largest earth-filled dam creating Lake Diefenbaker on which the park is situated. We stopped at the Gardner Dam Visitor Centre for lunch, it features a beach and picnic area, no camping or overnight stays.

Gardner power station.
Gardner power station on Lake Diefenbaker.
Gardner power station located at the north end of Lake Diefenbaker.
Gardner power station located at the north end of Lake Diefenbaker.
The spillway that releases water down the South Saskatchewan river.
The spillway that releases water down the South Saskatchewan river.
At the spillway one can see just how low the water level is down, but at this writing they are rising.
At the spillway one can see just how low the water level is down, but at this writing they are rising.

Danielson has three camping loops, with, I would guess 300 sites plus and overflow area. Most sites are well treed and have power and water. The sewer dumps are new and very functional. The campsites can handle both small rigs and larger units in all loops. We found the sites well groomed and a very clean campgrounds. As it was early and we did not require power we opted to stay in the overflow area just off the lake. There are approximately 12 sites with fire pits and washroom with flush toilets. Potable water and a great view of the lake with sandy beach cost $20 per night. Regular spots run $33 with 15/30 amp power.

Overflow camping along the lake.
Overflow camping along the lake.
Breakfast at the overflow  site .
Breakfast at the overflow site .
A quiet peaceful evening all alone watching the evening sky change.
A quiet peaceful evening all alone watching the evening sky change.
The sky did change many times that evening.
The sky did change many times that evening.

The lake was very low when we were there but as I write this blog the lake is starting to rise due to the rains and mountain run off finally starting in BC. There is an excellent paved boat launch which gets you onto Lake Diefenbaker, a huge lake with good fishing and water sports as described in my former article on Elbow.

When we were there the dock and boat launch were a great distance from water.
When we were there the dock and boat launch were a great distance from water.
Lots of beach even at the deep end of the buoys.
Lots of beach even at the deep end of the buoys.
A lot of water required but on its way.
A lot of water required but on its way.

Danielson is home to two major hiking and biking trails one being the Trans Canada Trail and the other the Prairie View Nature Trail. The latter forms a loop which starts and returns to the park. We hiked a section of the Trans Canada Trail which follows the shoreline of Lake Diefenbaker.

Miles of shoreline to hike and explore.
Miles of shoreline to hike and explore.
more of the shoreline at low water.
More of the shoreline at low water.
Making the best of even low water did not dissuade this person or fishermen along the shore.
Making the best of even low water did not dissuade this person or fishermen along the shore.

The Beach Side Pavilion is a small confectionary and burger/fries take out restaurant. The Pavilion is located right off the beach area that has lots of sandy shore line. Again we were there when the water was very low but can see it features a great swimming area and day picnic area as well. We hiked a long way along the expanded shoreline due to low water and could see the high dunes of sand pushed up when the lake is full and rough.

A large lake attracts large boats.
A large lake attracts large boats.
Char looks so tiny.
Char looks so tiny.
complete with a spare on top.
Complete with a spare on top.
Out the backdoor.
Out the backdoor.
We love where our Northern Lite can take us.
We love where our Northern Lite can take us.
A common prairie visitor.
A common prairie visitor.
Picture perfect!
Picture perfect!!
Where we can drive it we can park it.
Where we can drive it we can park it.

Danielson is open all year round with camping available from the May long weekend to Labour Day. Danielson is located at 51.25167* N.long -106.8692*W and is accessible by good paved highway suitable for all size rigs.

the well kept groomed trails.
The well kept groomed trails.

We did a little side trip to the Coldwell Recreation Site which was not open yet so we hiked in and found a small secluded group of about 30 non power small sites. These sites are well treed and with turns that any RV over 20 feet should not attempt as posted outside the camp area. Non potable water is available and did not see a dump site. The sites are available on a first come first serve basis. We were told some long weekends the campsites are full. The area also features tables and firepits for day use picnics. It’s a neat little rustic campground located in the South Saskatchewan River Valley and not really all that close to water. The rustic, away from it all, kinda appeals to our style of camping for a few days…perhaps we will when it’s open some day.

Land of the living skies.
Land of the living skies.

We found Danielson a great park to camp in and enjoy a big lake, we visited our southern parks in early and off season so have no idea what booking a site might entail during summer season, best check. In my humble opinion we need more sites that are first come and not reservable it’s hard to plan any length of stay when most sites are booked weekends only and you have no place to go…no Walmarts in the area. Or a least making sure booked sites are actually occupied and if not used a no charge cancellation policy if cancelled well in advance…just saying.

We have never stayed at the the other provincial park located on Lake Diefenbaker so we pushed on to Douglas Provincial Park, our impressions of that in my next posting. This trip, due to the fuel costs, we decided to take the back roads slow down and enjoy the trip the bonus was we saw lots of great country, I could look around while driving as we met very few vehicles and we got great gas mileage as compared to the major highways. Lesson learned: Enjoy the journey as the destination will arrive quickly enough. We all should have a destination in mind, but we are truly blessed when we can enjoy the beauty in getting there.

Right now we are back at the cabin saving our pennies so we can afford some fuel to hopefully get us to Dawson City in the Yukon starting beginning of July. While away our cabin will be well cared for by a dear friend. We will bring you along on that trip as well. Since fuel is so expensive we will be looking to doing a lot of boondocking and not staying at five star campgrounds regularly. This should be a learning experience. I told a friend we may have to eat road kill and pick pop bottles along the way he said as long as the road kill is fresh we should be OK. According to my trusty partner that will NOT happen I will be getting a job along the way… and she is emailing my resume to businesses along the Alaska highway.

down thr road to Douglas Provincial Park.
Down the road to Douglas Provincial Park.

Thanks to those who subscribe it saves me from always having to post to Facebook and Instagram as it notifies you automatically when I do post. It also gives me more incentive to keep taking, editing and sharing our travels in this beautiful country. Not all campgrounds are created equal so will keep you posted on that as well.

Take care thanks to those who tuned in may the wind always be on you back…. watch for us studiowest.ca in our Northern Lite as we hope to meet you down the road….Charlotte and Gerry

Lake Diefenbaker…Elbow

Lake Diefenbaker 2022….just add water. It’s been a number of years since visiting the lake community of Elbow, Saskatchewan situated on Lake Diefenbaker. I really don’t know where to start, the lack of water in Lake Diefenbaker or the building boom in Elbow. OK positives first, for years, 10 to be exact, the rodeo committee in Elbow hired Charlotte and myself to photograph their rodeo events for them. At the time we were professionally doing rodeo photography and being at many different events always found Elbow our favourite rodeo. I know we were paid to say that….not really, Kevin Volmar and his crew were the best we have ever worked with and treated us good year after year, we also like the small community of Elbow. Fast forward several years and we found we were in for a surprise.

Mainstreet Elbow features the cabin of yesteryear
Mainstreet Elbow features the cabin of yesteryear a little contrast to the new developments.

I hardly recognized the community when driving in, new cabins/homes, new streets numbering in the dozens where there were none before and empty stores now with tourist/lake business in most spaces. RV parks expanded into streets and avenues in several locations. Pulling over on main street I talked to an elderly gentleman who lives in town, I asked him if they found gold in the area that created all the growth to which he answered “no Covid did”. Since 2019 I would say the town has doubled in size, and some say Covid hurt the economy….well not in Elbow. If one is going to work from home why not the lake, it appears this is the case.

For those not familiar with Elbow it’s situated halfway between Regina and Saskatoon on Highway 19. Elbow got its name from a bend in the south Saskatchewan River that reassembled an elbow. Elbow is now situated on Lake Diefenbaker and features a first class marina, golf course, miles of beaches and the sailing club. The lake is 225 km long with 800 km of shoreline so very attractive to larger boats and sailboats. I’m told fishing is excellent. Danielson Provincial Park and Douglas Provincial Park are also located on the lake. The lake was created when the river was dammed up for the Gardner River Power Plant. This trip Charlotte and I visited and stayed at both Provincial Parks which I will feature in the next blogs.

Monument at the Elbow Marina overlooking Lake Diefenbaker
Monument at the Elbow Marina overlooking Lake Diefenbaker.
Twin Monument's made from the sacred rock
Twin Monuments made from the sacred rock on Lake Diefenbaker at Elbow Marina.

As mentioned the Marina is home to probably the biggest number of sailboats for sure on the prairies. Charlotte and I were lucky enough to visit with the owners of the Elbow Harbour Marina, Trish and Jake. Although early in the season they said the lake was the lowest it has been in 20 years. People familiar with Lake Diefenbaker know the levels vary over the season and count on the spring runoff from the mountains to refresh the lake levels every year. Well this year its appears runoff is later than normal and the lake is lower than normal. Boats that normally are going in are still on shore. One gentleman who we met and lives on his cabin cruiser in the summer and some of the other boaters remain optimistic it’s only a matter of time and the lake will rise. The lake has been known to vary by approximately 20 feet so it has a lot of water needed.

Lakeshore Harbor Marina Elbow early May 22
Lakeshore Harbor Marina Elbow early May 22.
Lake Diefenbaker just add water
Lake Diefenbaker – just add water.
Early in the season and low water the many slips and docking system awaits completion
Early in the season and low water the many slips and docking system awaits completion.
The Marina now stocks RV parts for us land yacht types
The Marina now stocks RV parts for us land yacht types.

By the way for you RV types the Marina is not just for marine types, it’s also set up for those who travel and live in our land yachts. They have a very good stock of RV parts as well so if in need of parts near Elbow check them out the prices are good as well.

Northern Lite with our little boat.
Just dreaming I would probably be over my GVWR anyway.
This fine craft is more in my budget
This fine craft is more in my budget.
My Land yacht parked next to its sea worthy cousins
My land yacht parked next to its sea worthy cousins.
Got to add this to my ever expanding bucket list
Got to add this to my ever expanding bucket list. Looks like it might fly.
Sailboats of every make and model await launch.
Waiting patiently to be launched
Waiting patiently to be launched, summer home to many.
Majestic what else can be said
Majestic, what else can be said.
come June this will look like the starting line of the Daytona 500
Come June this will look like the starting line of the Daytona 500.
A quiet breakfast overlooking the Marina and Lake Diefenbaker
A quiet breakfast overlooking the Marina and Lake Diefenbaker .
The color on the dock poles gives you an indication just how low the water is
The colour on the dock poles gives you an indication just how low the water is.
Just liked this image
Just liked this image.
For sure the beauty of this marina is unlike anything else in Saskatchewan
For sure the beauty of this marina is unlike anything else in Saskatchewan.
For sure the beauty of this marina is unlike anything else in Saskatchewan
For sure the beauty of this marina is unlike anything else in Saskatchewan.
Always well groomed and kept when it greens up for summer very beautiful
Always well groomed and kept when it greens up for summer, very beautiful.
Harbor patrol
Harbor patrol.

This makes me wonder if the Northern Lite will float they say they are built like a boat... so peaceful
This makes me wonder if the Northern Lite will float. They say they are built like a boat… so peaceful.
Getting ready for launch takes a lot of prep work
Getting ready for launch takes a lot of prep work.
No shortage of beach this early in the season
No shortage of beach this early in the season.
A new friend and his companion spend their summer living on this cruiser, at home on the water
A new friend and his companion spend their summer living on this cruiser, at home on the water.
Also at home at the marina these Purple Martins prefer condo life
Also at home at the marina these Purple Martins prefer condo life.
The "Martins" condo's
The “Martins” condos .

Signs signs everywhere mark the hiking trails
Signs signs everywhere mark the hiking trails.
For the hiker no shortage of trails here starting at Tuffs Bay
For the hiker no shortage of trails here starting at Tufts Bay.

Just a little on Lake Diefenbaker and the boom community of Elbow, worth a trip to check it out just north of Number 1 highway and south of the Yellow Head highway. Highway 19 is in great shape and a nice drive from Elbow to Saskatoon right by the door of the Whitecap Casino.

Until next post on our visit to two provincial parks, take time to enjoy the beauty around us, drive safe and with these fuel prices may the wind always be on your back. Thanks to those who have taken the plunge and subscribed it gives this old guy something to write about and share some images.

Hope to see you down the road….studiowest.ca

Charlotte and Gerry

Cowboy Up! Bronc riding school

Front row seat in my Northern Lite camper easy commute to work
Front row seat in my Northern Lite camper it was an easy commute to work as the annual Bronc riding school began its 3rd day.

I’m taking a chance using the word cowboy up in the title, as there were several young cowgirls also ready to learn what it takes to stay on the back of a horse that has been trained to put you in the dirt. But Cowboy up will have to do cause I hate to use cow person, it just looses something.

I had the privilege to once again attending if memory serves me right the 12th annual rough stock school for saddle bronc and bareback riders held each year at the Bill Gommersal Arena in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. The school was established to help young cowboys and cowgirls get started competing in the saddle bronc and bareback riding events at the many rodeos across the province. Who best to teach but those champions who competed and are now retired from the sport.

Retired professional rodeo clown Lee Bellows is kinda a fixture around these parts in the rodeo arenas. He along with a team of professional retired riders and the best pick up men in the country volunteer their time to spend training those who want to ride and compete in the rodeo arena. Francis Rodeo Stock and Bar H Ranch and Rodeo bring a select number of appropriate horses to the school. Knowing their horses they select the horses that are safe for beginners with enough get up and buck to make it a challenge.

Going down the road and what it takes told by some rodeo legends' via video
Going down the road and what it takes told by some rodeo legends via video.

There was a time in my life Charlotte and I spent every weekend in our truck camper at a rodeo, photographing the contestants. We were lucky to be hired by the Elbow Rodeo committee for 10 years to supply them prints for their sponsors and they treated us well. I was telling the now retired champions that I had probably more photographs of them than their mothers, they never bought many. Dwayne Detchon in his trade mark pink shirt was one of them, he said on the road he was lucky to have enough money for gas and entry money and I was charging too much. Such is the life of a cowboy going down the road entry fees and fuel and these days that fuel bill will be high.

Cowboy knowledge
Cowboy knowledge shared by seasoned rodeo pro’s during ground school. L-R Don Gillespie, Lee Sinclair, Ross Smith and Dwayne Detchon.

I’m not going to duplicate a lot of information regarding the school if possible as it is pretty much the same as a previous post I did in 2017 (For the Love of Rodeo) if you want to look it up in the menu. This year’s team included organizers Lee Bellows, Don Gillespie, an honou,rable mention to Kelly Brice not there due to an injury and the team of Lee Sinclair (saddle bronc), Ross Smith (bareback) Wade Rempel, Luke Ellingston, Dwight Dokken, Dwayne Detchon, Shaun Myron, Steve Glen, Dick Hutchinson, Howard Campbell, Gary Giofu and I may have missed a few. I mention them because the recognition and admiration of the students is pretty much all they will get for their efforts. Volunteers who love the sport and are willing to cowboy up and teach others the sport. Lee said it best it takes the whole village to run this event.

When Wade Rempel one of the best pick up men in the business speaks one should listen up he has saved many from injuries and wrecks over the years.
When Wade Rempel, one of the best pick up men in the business, speaks one should listen up, he has saved many from injuries and wrecks over the years.

For those who are not aware Rodeo is one of the only sports the cowboy and cowgirl contestants pay the winners salary. You don’t place you just donated to the winners money. Some rodeo committees that host the rodeos will throw in some extra money or prize buckles to attract the best contestants, but primarily winnings are paid by the contestants. Learning to ride and win is important for entries fees and fuel money to get down the road to the next rodeo. No other sport I know of is like this can you imagine the effort of hockey players if they only got paid when they won and had to pay to play. I admire and have nothing but respect for those who put in the hours training and travelling to compete in an original western sport of rodeo. As fans in the stands we have no idea of what it takes to be a competitor, we just see the entertainment value and that’s good too, us who watch, help the committees put on the event and all win.

Life lessons
A few life lessons also shared from those who have been down the road on what it takes to be successful.

As many of my blog followers probably are not familiar with the sport of rodeo I for one hear all the negative media about the livestock. Well if that media would actually get to know what they are talking about they would find rodeo stock and contestants’ horses are so important to the success of their sport and industry they are well fed and cared for. These animals from bulls to barrel racing horses are trained to do what they are expected of them and cost a lot of money so are not neglected. No different than sled dogs or competition dogs. I watched Wade Rempel after a full day of rescuing students from the horses to keep them safe well after supper hour feed and water his horses first before joining the boys for supper and visit. I have seen this constantly as we usually camped with the competitors at these events, animals fed and watered first. When your income comes from driving truck you look after that truck….well these folks are no different.

Back to cowboy up and the school I will share some of my images, I have to admit I stood in pouring rain photographing many a rodeo performance when it was a business, I did not spend a lot of time in the rain Saturday as I am down to only one camera so images of action are limited. Teresa Bellows, one of the best rodeo photographers around will have many good images on Lee Bellows Facebook page you can check out some of the action there as well.

A good turn out at this years school with 27 young men and women
A good turn out at this year’s school with 27 young men and women.
Not just for the guys several young ladies also showed they could get the job done on the back of the rough stock.
Not just for the guys several young ladies also showed they could get the job done on the back of the rough stock.
Instructor Lee Sinclair takes to the practice bronc to demonstrate riding form
Instructor Lee Sinclair takes to the practice bronc to demonstrate riding form.
A lot to learn and practice makes perfect
A lot to learn and practice makes perfect starting with the basics.
A saddle bronc rig'n
A saddle bronc rigging.
A bareback rig'n
A bareback rigging.
Basics, basics and more basics
Basics, basics and more basics.
Lee Bellows board room table and story swapping area
Lee Bellows’ board room table and story swapping area.
Ground school on how to leave your ride to the safety of the pick up riders
Ground school on how to leave your ride to the safety of the pick up riders after making a successful ride.
Tuck and roll demonstrated by Lee Sinclair and Ross Smith
Tuck and roll demonstrated by Lee Sinclair and Ross Smith.
In the chute training and getting a good start out is a big part of your success
In the chute training and getting a good start out is a big part of your success.
For some this will be their first time on and others it may be a refresher as they wait for the chutes to be loaded.
For some this will be their first time on and others it may be a refresher as they wait for the chutes to be loaded.
Bareback student sticks tight on one of Francis Rodeo's broncs.
Bareback student sticks tight on one of Francis Rodeo’s broncs.
Even after a good ride one still has to get off a horse that is not ready to quit. Just the way he was taught in school a great safe dismount.
Even after a good ride one still has to get off a horse that is not ready to quit. Just the way he was taught in school a great safe dismount.
Making it look easy on his way to an 8 second ride
Making it look easy on his way to an 8 second ride
Day three and riders show the more practice the better the ride.
Day three and riders show the more practice the better the ride.
Learning some of the basics pays of for this saddle bronc rider
Learning some of the basics pays off for this saddle bronc rider
getting some good air right out of the chute
Getting some good air right out of the chute
Parting company
Saturday it rained but did not stop the students getting on the practice horses.
These well trained horses just love to get rid of those who attempt to ride them and many times are the winners
These well trained horses just love to get rid of those who attempt to ride them and many times are the winners.
You can always spot the amateurs they have the biggest lenses
You can always spot the amateurs they have the biggest lenses. I’m just jealous these two get great shots.
Now how did they say to hit an roll during ground school
Now how did they say to hit and roll during ground school? This rider gets an early dismount.
This young lady looks like she may be in trouble but managed to safely get down to try again.
This young lady looks like she may be in trouble but managed to safely get down to try again.
OK now the roll we were taught
OK now the roll we were taught to clear the hooves.
Looks good so far
Looks good so far.
OK I did not see this coming appears the photographer is a little rusty
OK I did not see this coming appears the photographer is a little rusty.
Like the riders the photographer needs a little practice this is better than the previous one
Like the riders the photographer needs a little practice this is better than the previous one.
This saddle bronc wins as he practices a dismount
This saddle bronc wins as he practices a dismoun.t
Just feeling the rush
Just feeling the rush can you imagine the power this bronc will put out to see you in the dust.
Got perfect form on the horse not so much on the rider
Got perfect form on the horse not so much on the rider my limited knowledge of the sport I think his feet are not in the right spot for spurring.
In the pouring rain I'm sure the saddle was a little slippery
In the pouring rain I’m sure the saddle was a little slippery.
How many more seconds do I have to be here?
How many more seconds do I have to be here?

I am old school in my photography coming from photographing rodeo on film where you cannot afford to let the motor drive run at 20 frames per second. I still find it a challenge to run on single frame and try to time the shot right, bonus less time editing now on the computer however fewer images to choose from. These are a few images of tomorrow’s rodeo champions getting a good start.

Can you believe it after two days of this these young students just kept getting back on. Despite, I’m sure, some pretty sore muscles this group paid their entry and were going to get there money worth. The contractor brought a lot of horses and they did not stop till they bucked them all. Great pre-season training not only for the human contestants but the horses as well. It was great to see old friends again doing what they love and when they are too brittle to compete but help the young carry on the tradition of riding broncs in the great sport of rodeo.

Just one of the many interesting places our truck camper takes us, in my next post I will share my trip to Moose Jaw stopping to check a RV for sale for my brother-in-law and staying and visiting two provincial parks on the way. Hint of the post I took the roads less travelled drove 90 km/hour or approximately 60 miles per hour and got great mileage compared to driving 100 and over…so just slow down and you will support our gas companies and government taxes less. I’m learning it’s not the destination, the beauty is in the journey to that destination and slow and steady gets you there, you can enjoy both.

Until next post subscribe if you want to be notified when new content is posted or just keep checking back, were on the road again and hope to meet you some where down the road. Thanks for your interest it gives me incentive to keep shooting and sharing…. as always I appreciate your comments…Gerry and Charlotte. Charlotte my editor in chief and partner would make a good government redactor.

Living small and have it all

Yes we can be living small and have it all. At least all we really need to be well fed and comfortable. Those of us who have spent a lot of time living in a RV will understand and agree. We are trying to tax climate change to save the planet, ban fuel burning vehicles in favor of electric. I have yet to figure how mining for the minerals required for batteries and the production of electric cars is more environmentally friendly. How do we dispose of a billion spent batteries and how do we produce enough power when we all drive power hungry vehicles and live in power intensive homes.

Our tiny home on the road
Our tiny home on wheels.
Our tiny stationary home
Our tiny stationary home at the lake.
Small and comfortable
Small and comfortable the cabin we call home more than enough space for the two of us and still too much stuff.

As we love to travel and stay in our small RV (a truck camper), we totally appreciate the beauty of our natural environment and its diversity and definitely want to protect it. What it really boils down to is are we more interested in saving the economy or the planet, if so we would not have to reinvent the auto industry. All we have to do is live small with less “stuff” and eliminate 50% of our landfills.

I recently needed a micro data chip for a camera, it is approximately 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch and came in a plastic cocoon with a 8 inch by 5 inch brightly printed cardboard wrapper. Of course it was shipped protected in plastic bubble wrap and a paper envelope. That was just one of probably a billion world wide sold that day so the resources used to produce the excess packaging 99% of the item ended in the landfill.

Our home on wheels takes us to some interesting places like Flin Flon, Manitoba.
Next stop BC Canada
Next stop BC Canada. love the front yard view and met a good neighbour.
A roof top view of Bakers Narrows
A roof top view of Bakers Narrows in northern Manitoba.

I needed that item and it added value to my life, but I am also guilty of purchasing a lot of “stuff” to make myself feel better for working so hard for something that did not add any value to my life. We all need stuff however it comes at a cost when you figure the work hours required to obtain that stuff. Stuff that is either a status symbol or desire to fill our huge home and 4 car garage with toys and appliances. If you actually get the time to enjoy and use them to add value to your life that’s great. Most however will spend their day at work to pay for it.

This would make a great camper truck for off road, Hinton Alberta
This would make a great camper truck for off road, Hinton Alberta.
Good morning, a little sleep in the eye
Good morning, a little sleep in the eye.
Checking us out
Checking us out.
Sharing her front yard a reminder to camp responsibly
Sharing her front yard a reminder to camp responsibly.
Checking out the tourists in the tin canoe
Checking out the tourists in the tin canoe.
This one decides to leave as it was kinda shy as it was kinda shy
This one decides to leave as it was kinda shy, those pelicans are beautiful in flight.

Unfortunately we are not wired that way more and bigger is better at least the marketing people want us to think that. Our landfills are filled with products and packaging that created tons of carbon a lot more than the vehicles being blamed. Excess consumer consumption is killing the planet, we cannot even keep up production in a “Me To” drive to have it all. I’m not saying do without, we all need stuff, however if we really want to get on the save the planet bandwagon perhaps just more of what we really need and will add value to our lives. The new mantra should be “save a landfill” the planet will look after itself.

Time to enjoy adds value to our lives
Time to enjoy adds value to our lives.
Enjoying the sunrises and sunsets each day
Enjoying the sunrises and sunsets each day.
One can smell the fresh air and enjoy the quiet beauty
One can smell the fresh air and enjoy the quiet beauty.
Experiencing another new front yard
Experiencing another new front yard in northern Manitoba.
Pisew Falls Manitoba
Pisew Falls Manitoba a reminder of the power of nature.

There are a few who really work at “saving the planet” by living small. Leonardo what’s his name is not one of them, either are our governments, how could you ask people to spend less on junk. No they love our taxes collected on the Chinese “stuff” and overpriced vehicles we purchase. Large homes the bigger the better as taxes are dependent on dollars spent and size of home. It’s a great way to keep people enslaved to producing taxable revenue, buy more pay more. Want more work more.

Nature is so fragile lets keep it clear from litter to enjoy for all
Nature is so fragile let’s keep it clear from litter to enjoy for all.
Help keep out "stuff" out of the lakes and rivers
Help keep out “stuff” out of the lakes and rivers.

My doctor once asked me are you living to eat or you eating to live. I think he was saying eat what is good for improving your life, not the junk that is going to shorten it even if it tastes better. There are more who are starting to live full time in a RV or tiny home, these days 1000 square feet is considered tiny. People have often looked down on these individuals who have chosen to live with less and just what adds value to their lives. Municipalities have discouraged tiny homes as they do not add to the tax revenues as a 3,000 square foot home would, for two or three people, why? I ask.

Living in a RV has given me a sense of freedom from the stuff that ties us down in life. We are not full time but spend months traveling and camping, as we downsized you guessed it to a small tiny cabin 800 square feet and love it. I have been able to retire without a huge bank account and spend less on taxes, heating, cooling, unnecessary furnishings and no payments. We have learned and are still learning to purchase stuff that is needed for our comforts and that add value to our lives and leave the rest. Now we can spend way more time on the road in a truck camper we really paid too much for, but it has added much value and freedom and we have the time to enjoy it.

Natures amazing beauty
Natures amazing beauty highlighting many varieties of mushrooms.
Smoke in the air from forest fires
Don’t forget to take the time to watch the sunset it’s free.

In our tiny homes and RV’s we learn not to waste water, power and propane, we are very careful to pack items that will be used and needed only due to space as well. It’s OK if people feel sorry for us living small, but for us the less in the backpack the lighter the load. I have said it before the bigger the fire the more wood needed to chop. So the next time someone tells you they live in their RV or tiny home by choice thank them for doing their part in “living small and saving the planet”. If we were really serious about saving the planet and not the economy more would walk the talk. I realize not everyone can or is willing to live in a RV or tiny home, but perhaps we could consider adding less to the landfills and conserve our natural resources.

Gardner Dam Saskatchewan
Gardner Dam Saskatchewan.
Lakeshore Stampede
Our truck camper took us down the road to many rodeos as a rodeo photographer.

These are my options and have not been peer reviewed yet so take them for what they are worth. Catch my next book how to retire on a whim and a prayer. If you are new to the site check out previous posts they are probably more entertaining. Your subscription is appreciated and thanks to all those who have given me that thumbs up it keeps me thinking and a reason for taking them photographs.

The photographs chosen are for your viewing and illustrates the beauty we are free to enjoy as we travel. Nature is fragile let’s look after it for our future generations to enjoy. Looking forward to meeting up with some real cowboys for a reunion at their annual bucking bronc school in early May…stay tuned.

As usual your comments are welcome on this or any other post….gerry RVcowboy and my trusted partner Charlotte. Hope to see you down the road look for studiowest.ca on the camper and truck and say Hi. Remember live small and have it all..

An amazing 57 years of RV camping

GEP10092
Reflections on many years of poking the fire with a stick all is good.

As I sit quietly at home planning our BIG trip this spring I thought of the amazing years I have enjoyed camping. Fifty seven in total and many different RV’s so I guess one can say I have a little experience.

Over those years many things have changed the camping experience, just about everything has become super-sized, from camper trailers, boats, motors and all the rest of the toys. Big power is required for RV’s and cell coverage is a must and generators disrupt the quiet of nature. Another change I have witnessed is the lack of respect for our environment, grassy areas being chewed up in campgrounds, backing and parking on new tree growth, damaging existing trees, leaving washrooms filthy and trash left behind in firepits, the lakes and the bush.

Tree damage
This is not necessary to enjoy nature, this tree will die.
Campground trash
Campground trash left by two young people quite capable of carrying it 50 steps to the trash bin. This has to stop.

These are the disturbing changes caused by only a few but unfortunately becoming more common. The positive side of this is that many are good stewards of our land and are enjoying nature to the fullest with their family and friends and still poking that campfire with a stick. At 72 I’m praying I get many more years of experiencing this great country and its beauty, heck now retired we’re just getting started.

My first experience camping was in an army tent with only a tarp for the floor, a bag of oranges, one package of hot dogs and a package of hot dog buns. Amazingly I did not quit camping after that as it poured rain all night and I woke in the middle of a huge puddle. As I was inexperienced at camping in bear country I left my food out on the picnic table and awoke to having only one orange left with claw marks in it. That bear had ate dogs, buns and the plastic bags they were in. It’s a good thing I was sleeping during the visit or I probably would have added to the puddle in my tent. I gave up tents eventually when the mere sight of my tent up drew rain clouds overhead. There was a drought in the province at that time as well, I was thinking a good side hustle would be to charge farmers to camp on there land. Almost guaranteed rain.

20210618_120638
Lunch break at Mackay Lake and some chill time to reflect on the beauty around us.

The best memories Charlotte and I have had is camping with our four children in a soft top tent trailer. A trip from Calgary, Alberta to Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan with an old Volvo pulling that tent trailer and six bikes piled on top. We now wonder what the poor campers around us thought when they seen us pull up and let four children who have been travelling for seven hours loose in the campground. And even more to their dismay when they found out we were there for two weeks. Yep that old tent trailer served us well and created some of our best memories until someone needed it more than we did and took it.

Norm, Kathy, Mike and Barb
Some of the best people we have ever met was on the road in a campground somewhere, just plain good folks.

Well after that old tent trailer went away we borrowed my parents’ heavy old Scamper trailer or something like that. Single axle and their tow car, a big old Mercury Parkland with a huge V8. Well with the children loaded we left Saskatoon for our favorite spot Prince Albert National Park stopping every 40 miles to fill up that beast. I think it had a funnel for a carburetor. At today’s prices we would have only gotten 40 miles.

The story gets better, you just cannot make this stuff up. Before we got to Prince Albert we started getting headaches and could smell gas in the car so we opened all the windows wide and got to Prince Albert with wind blowing everywhere inside the car and quite chilly. The exhaust pipe had left us and was about two feet short of the back bumper of the car and we just about did ourselves in with carbon monoxide. In a hurry with four children to get to the lake we had the shop just put on a straight pipe out the back of the old Merc and it was clear sailing from there on, a little noisy and fish tailing down the highway, but fresh air in the cab. We never towed that trailer again.

Bear CHP_1437
This fellow reminded us we were just visitors and to keep it down.

Some of the best people we have met and have become friends with we have met on the road. It’s a lifestyle we just cannot shake, we gotta see what’s just down the road. Over the years we have done just that in a pull behind 16 foot Big Foot, many different truck campers from eight foot to 12 foot and a 35 foot fifth wheel. Some were better than others but we enjoyed them all. After the pull behind campers, truck campers appeared to suit our style and we had a number of different ones, until a jack failed and we just about laid that camper on its side and would have if I had not put a block under it. As far as Charlotte was concerned that was it for hydraulic jacks and truck campers.

We figured bigger must be better as we took to the road for a year publishing our magazine Pure Country. We could incorporate an office into our 35 foot fifth wheel and it would be home as well. The first time out we arrived at a campground and not being familiar with it failed to notice a sign that said tents only. I got a lot of stares and was real proud of my big rig until we realized the spots were small and we were big. Figured later the reason for those stares. Well that old diesel pulled that 35 feet right down to a treed in dead end, you should have seen the face on that poor girl in a tent when we pulled down the road where she was camped at the end of.

I really thought I would have to get that trailer airlifted out of there, but after 3/4 of an hour and a 96 point turn we got it back on the road out. I was impressed with the turning of the fifth wheel but have never missed a sign again. We had traded a Kodiak truck camper for that monster, the Kodiak which is not made any more was one of the best truck campers we have had. If you find one check them out, very well made and all fiberglass similar to Big Foot and our Northern Lite. We would probably still have that camper today however I made the mistake lots of people make with truck campers….too much camper not enough truck and it was always swaying and just too hard to drive comfortably.

Prince Albert National Park
Winter or summer and all year long it’s all good in our Northern Lite.

We can argue trucks, camper types till all the cows leave home, but over the years we have found simple is just plain better. We are back to our truck camper. Some say they are small and for those who want to square dance in the kitchen they are. For us it works. Our truck camper has everything in it our cabin back home has including a hot shower (our cabin back home is small as well). We travel to enjoy the outdoors, yes we do like our comfortable bed and our own washroom as well, but we live outdoors most of the time.

Camping in Calgary
Our home is where we park it and with the TC that is just about anywhere country or city.

Yes there was a time when we needed half a day to set up camp, screen tents, BBQ’s, outdoor kitchens, rugs, loungers and sit around the fire chairs. We now see big units that have to be unhitched, leveled two different ways, generators hooked up, power cords strung 75 feet of lights strung out around multiple out buildings. I know I am old but it tires me out just watching and this was only for a weekend.

One day Char and I sat and watched a young lady and her dog set up next to us in a small camper van. She backed in, shut off the van pulled out her awning, small outdoor rug and her chair. Camp was set up about ten minutes and proceeded to enjoy the view and her book. Later she pulled out a inflatable kayak and went for a paddle and appeared to be enjoying her surroundings. When it was time to leave she dusted off her rug folded the chair deflated the kayak packed it in the camper and left, timed her ten minutes again.

We looked at each other after watching this and said WOW we thought we were simple. Since then we have downsized even more and are enjoying that extra time in our surroundings, canoeing, hiking and just sitting poking that fire with a stick.

Cypress Hills Provincial Park campsite
Just sitting enjoying poking the fire with a stick.

My advice is when it comes to camping don’t overthink it, it’s not all the rig and gear you get to display, it’s really about the experience, memories and the places visited. Some of the best times we ever had was in that old three hundred dollar soft top ten trailer and just an open fire to cook on with a tarp in case it rained. The best part is… it was all paid for the camper, car and bikes not new or fancy but we had as much fun as anyone and no stress. It took us 55 years to get our first new camper and newer truck and yes it’s paid for, our gift to each other as we love to travel. But starting out we had a blast with the little or whatever we had so do with what you have and enjoy. Trust me sometimes the lack of stuff makes for some great memories.

This is not my usual post but as one can tell I’m searching for something to share as are may YouTuber’s when they are not on the road. I’m a blogger as I hate spending hours editing video so for those of you who do not mind reading I enjoy sharing some thoughts and photographs.

We are not on the road this winter as we are planning, planning being the operative word, a very extensive year of travel. Our camper is unloaded and the truck getting all it needs before we head out. As well with gas prices not dropping we have to save on the old budget where we can so our winter camping got nixed. So if all the stars align and if it’s meant to be we will be taking a few short shake down trips north this spring in preparation for the “Big One”. As most nomads know there has to be a plan B and C and that will work as well if it has to be.

Yep I really am that old….Gerry.

I hope you have enjoyed our Blog as it is great to be able to share images and thoughts with those interested. We are not going to bombard our subscribers with hot deals on “stuff” so that will NOT happen. When you subscribe it shows your interest and we appreciate that, what I would like to see is those numbers increase, I have a few quality RV dealers and suppliers I would like to share links to at the bottom of my blog. If this helps you connect with reputable people in the industry and products then it will be beneficial to us all and non invasive. Your choice to click or not click. So your free subscription helps my numbers and your email will only be used to notify when we do a new post, it will save you checking when nothing new is being uploaded. That’s it upfront….take care and we hope to see you down the road.

PS: I have learned a lot from the youtube and blog nomad community and would like to share the links of those who have helped us as well. Also some of the apps for travel and campgrounds, dump stations etc. Please feel free to comment or ask questions here on this or anything….Gerry

Boondocking camp kitchen

Keeping it simple
Keeping it simple and multi purpose boondocking table.

Boondocking usually comes with its own challenges, you pay nothing to stay you get no services in return, simple and fair. We have spent time boondocking in both winter and summer; in the summer the area we were in had nothing and in the winter the area had picnic tables under three feet of snow. Sometimes the tables are rather debatable if you want to go near them let alone cook on them.

works great in the winter when picnic tables are buried in the snow
Kitchen works great in the winter when picnic tables are buried in the snow or boondocking.
Great cooking surface
Great cooking surface for a quick stop or when no table is available.

If you have been following our blog you know I like to think of myself as a photographer. Well I have a camera which is always with me, a monopod and also a tripod, so I guess I might look like a photographer. Having said that, these images are really bad as I took them in a hurry just to get the job done and I do not retouch photographs after I take them.

One of the downsides to a truck camper is the lack of storage so everything we take should either be used a lot or have multiple purposes and take as little room as possible. We tend to be like most people and need a lot of “stuff” in our lives so always pack more than we need. We cook outside of our camper as much as possible either over an open fire or with our portable stove. Packing a fold up table took extra room and weight, I needed a flat table top and came up with an idea to hook it to the camper back step and utilize my tripod or monopod (which is always with us) to add the support needed. Using the camera quick connect/disconnect attachments made the job easy and storage easy.

Mono pod or tripod quick release system
Monopod or tripod quick release system.
Quick release available at most photography stores
Quick release available at most photography stores.
More then one use monopod
More than one use of the monopod.

The connection to the camper back step can be done several ways. I had some gate latch clips lying around, these I attached to the truck and used two corner brackets fastened under the table to fit into the brackets. this made the setup very stable. When you live in the country you use what you have or it’s a drive to the city.

Hook on the back step
Hook on the back step.
Hooks to the back step of the Northern lite landingg
Hooks to the back step of the Northern Lite landing.
Hook brackets on table
Hook brackets on table one on each side.
Very secure table top even more secure when using my tripod
Very secure table top even more secure when using my tripod.

This is a very quick set up for boondocking either in a pull off parking lot or way off the grid in the bush and packs away easy.

Tray storage
Tray storage in the Northern Lite.

Although the set up off the back step is partially under the rear awning, it was necessary occasionally to move under our side awning in the rain or to get out of the wind or sun. I added the second quick release plate to the other bottom of my table top so I could use the monopod and tripod as legs to make it self standing and stable.

With the mono pod and tripod the top can be free standing and adjusted to any height
With the monopod and tripod the top can be free standing and adjusted to any height.
Quick release for storage and the tripod and mono pod can be used for what they were designed for...photography
Quick release for storage and the tripod and monopod can be used for what they were designed for…photography.

The nice thing about this is it can be adjusted easily for height depending on what you are using it for, cooking or eating at or just to put “stuff” on. Boondocking sites do not come with coffee tables or side tables and sometimes its nice to have something we can set a coffee on. Using my tripod and another quick release plate (yes I have lots of them as we used to have a studio) I made a small side table that works great and stores flat out of the way. Checkers anyone?

My side table/game table
My side table/game table works well utilizing my under utilized tripod.
A great very sturdy coffee table
A great, very sturdy, coffee table.

Being a professional photographer I know the weekend hobby photographer has way more photo equipment than I do, most people may have at least one of these stored in the RV so why not make it multi purpose. The top was shelving from Home Depot with a little wood burning.

I have had comments on my suitcase kitchen so I will share what I have done to make life simpler. I’m told that most inventors were very lazy people now I do not think I am the first to come up with this idea, but as one gets older one becomes smarter (or lazy as you please) and steps do matter.

Basic cooking supplies, stove and tools
Basic cooking supplies, stove and tools.
Has saved many trips into the Northern Lite camper
Has saved many trips up and down the steps into the Northern Lite camper.

As mentioned before we like to cook outside a lot and as anyone who lives in a truck camper or just camping, those back steps can get to you if you make a lot of trips up and down. I made this case to include the many things I found myself needing to acquire from the camper while cooking. It includes my Jetboil stove, canister of propane, tinfoil, oven gloves, tablecloth, paper towel, grill brush, cast iron pan, cooking oil and favorite spices. Also the utensils commonly used while cooking, knives etc. This set up can be put on a picnic table or just about anywhere and has saved me many steps in and out of the camper. Especially in winter with boots full of snow and cold air every time one opened the door.

Making less steps into the camper
Making less steps into the camper.
Compact camp kitchen
Compact camp kitchen.
Ready to store behind the passenger seat
Ready to store behind the passenger seat.

It’s easy to pack away and tucked away behind the passenger seat in the truck cab and as we spend a lot of time in bear country this eliminates the invitation for them to join us by sitting out broadcasting food smells. In other areas it’s out of sight from two legged bears.

Hope my poor images explain this better than I did and perhaps inspires some thought on how you can make storage space and life in the outdoor kitchen a little easier and enjoyable. My idea was taken from the old cowboy chuckwagon cooks.

As always glad to have you to share ideas and travels with, I have left my personal face book page as well as Instagram as they were getting too political and opinionated…so you will not find political comments on this blog. We’re going to concentrate on the beauty of nature, the RV lifestyle, truck camping and just enjoying making life simpler and more enjoyable. Politics….well them political types will just have to figure it out on their own.

Since then I started another Facebook account that allows me to follow truck camping and RV groups only as I learn a lot from these groups. All my posts will now be on this blog and not Facebook so when I post those subscribers who are interested will be notified by email of the post and I will not bother those not interested with unwanted posts.

Thanks for all the new subscribers who joined on last week, it makes one want to keep telling stories and taking photographs. Some day we hope to meet you and hear your stories if you truck camp or RV, you must have a few. As always I appreciate your comments and questions.

I’m going to have to hit the road here pretty darn soon as I’m not sure what my next blog may be…. I’m not selling anything so don’t be afraid to subscribe it will only notify you when there is a new post, like, share whatever and we hope to “see you down the road”.

Baldy Lake: Narrow Hills Revisited

This time we took our camping trailer and 17 foot Grumman canoe
This time we took our camping trailer and 17 foot Grumman canoe.
The beautiful Baldy lake taken by Studio West
The still calm Baldy Lake in the Narrow Hills.

Baldy Lake, in the Narrow Hills Provincial Park, just had to be revisited once again. A very small campground with only six sites along the shoreline is a very popular campground for a reason. When we arrived we really assumed it was a first come self register site, not so as it turns out. With another truck camper and a Class C the only occupants, we chose a site and set up camp for the evening. Quiet and beautiful. The next morning sitting around the fire with our coffee we got to meet the neighbour’s dog (cannot remember its name) anyway that lead to a conversation with his master in the truck camper next to us. We were informed that the self registration we could not find did not exist at Baldy Lake and it was on line only.

This was great as we had no cell coverage so it would mean a approximately a 20 kms drive each way to register. They also informed us when they registered only one campsite was left at Baldy Lake and that was not the one we were in, it was at the far end. We were happy the ghosts of campsite number two did not mind us sharing their spot and stayed quiet and out of site. Actually the four days we were there we never did see them to thank them.

Ideal campsites along the lake
You cannot get much better campsites along the lake than these, this was campground number two.

Now although the Baldy Lake campground was occupied by only our neighbours and ourselves as the class C had left because the site was booked for the next day, we were alone but afraid everyone was going to show up and we would be out of a spot, so we headed as fast as we could 20 kms down the gravel road to the Provincial Park Office. Yep the neighbour was right we did share a spot last night the park attendant told us and only site six was left…we took it for 3 days as it was booked after that.

Site six for 3 days
Site six for 3 days.

We were extremely happy as we had to share the campground for the next three days with only our truck camping neigbours and a nice older gentleman with his pull behind trailer. We saw no sign of a packed campground. I am sure others would have enjoyed it if the government site did not say they were all booked. Please people if you book and cannot make it please unbook so others can enjoy our government owned parks….such a waste of beauty.

The ghost is photographing  our campsite good thing its r egistered
The ghost is photographing our campsite good thing it’s registered .

We struggle with pulling a trailer with our canoe or just pack our Sea Eagle kayak. We really prefer the canoe and we can take extra “stuff” in the trailer. With the Sea Eagle behind the driver’s seat and my travel box on the back hitch we can travel much more freely and better fuel economy. Do we need the extra “stuff”, not really we got it so we pack it. It’s all about the canoe. Over the years we have definitely decided less and the more simplistic the better. So when we head out for our year travel it will be without the trailer.

Its great to be able to leave the canoe on the shore in your campsite
Its great to be able to leave the canoe on the shore in your campsite.
Charlotte in the Grumman canoe
Life is better in a canoe.

Our cabin is on a small lake so we voted the canoe remains there when travelling any distance. I showed Charlotte the roads and lakes I had visited during my first visit (well almost some I did not want to attempt with the trailer). The trailer followed with no problem, but it’s just another thing to look after, more tires on the ground and fuel is not cheap.

I think the Gem Lakes require we bring our canoe for one trip early in the spring they are beautiful. These lakes are probably our favorite in the Narrow Hills, but there is no RV camping, backpacking tent sites only which is perfect in the beautiful quiet setting of the lakes…no generators. Made for tents but something my partner says she is past that.

The beauty and color of the Gem Lakes
The beauty and colour of the Gem Lakes.
Another view of Jade Lake
Another view of Jade Lake.
The Gem Lakes hike very worthwhile anytime of the year
The Gem Lakes hike is very worthwhile anytime of the year.
All variety of mushroom's
All variety of mushrooms.

We did some hiking at Baldy Lake but really enjoyed our time in the canoe and watching the sunrise and sunsets all from our campsite around the fire and visiting with some great neighbours and “dog”. I will share some images of our memories and time there, hope you enjoy.

The beauty of Northern Saskatchewan
The beauty of northern Saskatchewan even if the road is a little washboard.
Northern sunsets while camping at Baldy Lake in the Narrow Hills
Northern sunset while camping at Baldy Lake in the Narrow Hills.
The beauty of the setting sun
The beauty of the setting sun produces the most vivid colours.
An evening of fishing in the beautiful north
Our neighbours and fellow truck campers spending a quiet evening fishing.
Picture perfect
Picture perfect no complaints here except the fish were not biting.
That canoe is getting to close got to leave
That canoe is getting too close, got to leave.
This Eagle felt we were too close for his comfort
This Eagle felt we were too close for his comfort.
A Grey Jay
A Grey Jay came to visit and play hide and seek.
The close of a perfect day at Bagwa Lake
The close of a perfect day at Baldy Lake.
Just chilling around the fire
Just chilling around the fire.
Amazing beauty of nature
Until morning.
Its getting dark and still no fish
It’s getting dark and still no fish, our truck camper neighbours.
Northern Lite Truck camper
One day I will get that shot that makes Truck Camper magazine.
The sky is on fire
The sky is on fire.
A light through the trees
A light through the trees as the sun goes down.
Breakfast time surrounded by the beauty and quiet of nature
Breakfast time surrounded by the beauty and quiet of nature.
Coffee time
I really love my Jetboil stove great simmer and good high heat.
Coffee time!
My suitcase camp kitchen really saves a lot of steps in and out of the truck camper and rides behind the passenger seat in our truck when not in use.
Map of the Narrow Hills Provincial Park in Northern Saskatchewan
Map of the Narrow Hills Provincial Park in Northern Saskatchewan.
Baldy Lake
Last parting views of Baldy Lake.
We are so blessed to be able to enjoy the natural beauty around us. Let’s preserve that and not destroy it for others. Leave your campsite clean and fire pits are not garbage bins.

That’s it for now. As many of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram I am no longer there. To distance myself from many political opinions on social media and to refrain from giving mine to those who have not asked for it, it’s best I stay off. I love sharing images and telling stories on my blog and I can spend much more time on it. As always I will be happy to give my opinion if asked and if I ask would love to hear yours. When I run across an image I want to share and some thoughts it will appear here to those who subscribe. We are planning on hitting the road for a year as we have found someone to keep tabs on our cabin while we are away. So far plan A is northern Manitoba in the spring and early summer then heading to Northwest Territories, Yukon and Alaska if time allows. As the weather turns Arizona and beyond is calling….that’s plan A.

If you can handle more of this please subscribe you will be notified when new posts are up and your emails will not be shared and let those you know who may be interested where to find us….

We really hope to meet you down the road. Who knows where we are going to show up watch for the camper and western hat….take care stay safe and may the wind always be in your back…..Gerry and Charlotte

Discovering the Narrow Hills

A solo trip in the Northern Lite

Discovering the Narrow Hills in a solo trip that would test the Northern Lite and my trusty Ford F350. It was late July and Charlotte took a road trip to the mountains with our daughter so I was left to fend on my own. Not a problem I have a home on wheels so no sitting and sulking around the cabin. This was my chance to do some off roading, a solo trip where Char was not there to keep me out of the ruts and in check.

A northern lite truck camper stop for lunch
A quick stop in a gravel pit to make some lunch at a very quiet spot.

RVing in Saskatchewan in July if you do not have a reservation in a campground you are probably out of luck. As it happens that suited me just fine as they were too crowded and noisy. So time to check out the north down some untravelled roads. I took Highway 55 east from Prince Albert towards Nipawin turning off heading north on 106 commonly referred to as the Hanson Lake Highway. This highway is the only route to Flin Flon, Manitoba and many northern fishing lakes in Saskatchewan along the way. At one time it was just a dirt trail and a challenge. Our version of the Dempster highway. It now is paved and very easy to travel in most areas.

Travelling through the Narrow Hills Provincial Park, the main campgrounds at Lower Fishing Lake were of course booked solid. I travelled through the Park heading north and turned on a gravel highway 165 that headed west to La Ronge. After just about shaking the truck and camper to pieces on the washboard road I pulled over and let about 30 lbs of air out of my tires. This worked great to take the shake, rattle and roll out of the camper as I could not travel fast to begin with. Why rush I had no place to go and a week to get there.

The further you go the more remote
The further you go the more remote and no cell coverage a BIG bonus for those of us who seek peace and quiet.

My proposed destination was to find Piprell Lake recreation site somewhere back in the hills and down this road. I travelled until the day was getting on close to 7:30 pm. Finally I saw another gravel road on my left and figured I would take it as it should lead me in the direction I had to go to get back to the main road I had passed. I really at this point had no idea where I was but no problem I was at home wherever I chose to stop.

Someone was on my side as the road ended at Piprell Lake at least that what the sign said. Some will hate me for this but I was not impressed as I drove through the campsites. When you get that feeling it’s best to sometimes just leave. I cannot say what made me feel that way except perhaps the condition of the grounds and people looking at me like I had just landed.

I was tired from a long day of driving slowly over rough roads and hungry. I just wanted a place to crash and have supper. Leaving there I headed down a trail hoping to find a spot in the bush to pull over and spend the night. The road was just about unpassable but I was determined to go on. I met a fellow coming on a quad and asked him where it led to and he said pretty much nowhere and very few spots I could even turn around, suggesting I back out. He had just come the way I was going so I believed him. He informed me a ways down the road they had just plowed in to Lost Echo Lake and there was a campground that might have a spot but could not be sure.

The last camp spot at Lost Echo Lake
The last camp spot at Lost Echo Lake. The road here is an un-serviced forest road not recommended for larger RVs.

Taking his directions I headed east at this point. I decided I was done driving and took the first right trail heading into the bush. I would find a spot for the night on this forest road somewhere. After about 10 kms of rough trail I was getting less selective on where I would stay when a young couple in a car pulled up, I stopped to ask them what was up the road. I was informed they had just left a camp spot at Lost Echo Lake and if I continued it was the only spot left of the six sites. There were no signs but just take the next left for approximately 10km.

The road to lost Echo Lake
The road to lost Echo Lake as always the best road is at the beginning.
Lost Echo Lake
Lost Echo Lake is at the end of a forest service road and is very rough and approximately 20 km from the main road.
A view of Lost Echo Lake
A view of Lost Echo Lak.e

OK just keep going and it was worth the drive on a road that said travel at your own discretion, not maintained. The spot was there, the last one of six sites, I made supper and crashed for the night. Lost Echo is a smaller lake and the campsite were rough but have potential. With not even a hint of a cell signal I used my Spot X satellite phone to let Char know all was OK. Pushing the wrong button I also let 12 other people in our contact list know that as well. Should read the manual more often.

Campground trash
Campground trash left by two young people quite capable of carrying it 50 steps to the trash bin. This has to stop,

The weather started to change with storm clouds and a bit of rain so I decided to get out while the getting was good. In hindsight I should have stayed but pushed on to explore the area. The Narrow Hills are full of smaller lakes, a few with campgrounds and some just day picnic areas. The country is beautiful but in July as expected the few campgrounds there are were booked, mind you many were empty but booked. I know, as I boondocked in a booked site before leaving the park thanks to those who picked up the tab.

Camp site at Baldy Lake in the Narrow Hills Provincial Park
Camp site at Baldy Lake in the Narrow Hills Provincial Park.
Baldy Lake campsite right on the Lake
Baldy Lake campsite right on the lake.
Stickley Lake
The way to Stickley Lake, careful not for large RVs .

I put that old Ford and the Northern Lite down some roads Charlotte would not have approved of but now I know how far I can go without using the winch. Just a few scratches on the camper windows. Checking out many lakes and forest roads I knew I would be back when it was off season. This is starting to get close to being a novel so I will post some photographs of my trip in the Narrow hills and try to finish this post off.

Baldy Lake sign
Made it to Baldy Lake in the Narrow Hills Provincial Park in northern Saskatchewan.
Baldy Lake campsite right on the Lake
Baldy Lake is actually a lot larger than it looks from the campsite. A photographers dream, I will be back.
Baldy Lake
Another view from the campsite of Baldy Lake. A site we would occupy later when I returned with Charlotte.
Baldy Lake
The view from the campsite at Baldy Lake, I have to return with Charlotte to stay here in the near future.
Fishing or picnics only no camping
Fishing or picnics only no camping.
A rest stop at Summit Lake in the Narrow Hills Provincial Park
A rest stop at Summit Lake in the Narrow Hills, only one there very quiet and peaceful.
Summit Lake Dock
Help from our friends, a popular fishing spot I would think as there is no camping here.
Sharing the wild
Sharing the wild and the peace and quiet we both enjoyed Summit Lake.
Not sure how Big Summit Lake is
Not sure how Big Summit Lake is as this was all I could see from the dock.
Summit Lake welcoming committee
Summit Lake’s welcoming committee.
Finally made it to the Gem Lakes
Finally made it to the Gem Lakes.
A trail along the beautiful Gem Lakes
A trail along the beautiful Gem Lakes in the Narrow Hills, yes I would return, Charlotte has to see this.
A campsite off the Gem Lakes tenting only
A campsite off the Gem Lakes, tenting only on these lakes. Now if I could only get Char to stay in a tent.
Jade Lake
Jade Lake is one of the Gem lakes set in the Narrow Hills, hike in only and no power boats a bonus.
Gem Lake campsite
Gem Lake campsite tenting only but complete with fire wood.
The wild rose
The wild roses seen everywhere are beautiful in the natural surroundings of the Gem Lakes.
Peaceful and quiet
Peaceful and quie,t probably only during the off season times as these lakes are beautiful and waiting to be photographed and hiked.
Another wild beauty
Another native flower, not sure what these are called but wild and beautiful.
Simple beauty in the natural forest
Simple beauty in the natural forest. I do not know my flowers well so remains a no name.
Gem Lakes Clear and peaceful love the reflection
Gem Lakes clear and peaceful, love the reflection.
follow the trail to discover the beauty of the Gem Lakes
Follow the trail to discover the beauty of the Gem Lakes in the Narrow Hills.
The trail to Jade Lake the first of the Gem Lakes
The trail to Jade Lake, the first of the Gem Lakes.
Wild flowers thrive at the Gem Lakes
Wild flowers thrive at the Gem Lakes, this one caught my eye.
Another natural beauty
Another natural beauty painted by pixels in my Olympus camera.
Just could not resist stoping along the roadway and check out these beauty's
I just could not resist stopping along the roadway to check out these beauties.

With the parks booked I decided to slowly travel back towards home, maybe there was a campsite available at the Narrows north of Prince Albert in the Prince Albert National Park. No reservations required first come first served, my kinda campground. If not I know a spot I can boondock for the night. I took highway 120 from the Narrow Hills to Candle Lake, a gravel well-maintained road but in July very washboard. Air down tires really works great at keeping your rig in one piece. I stopped in Candle Lake Provincial Park to air up and on to PANP. A few photos along the way.

McDougal Creek
Lunch at McDougal Creek, now you are in bear country. a pretty rest stop off Highway 106.
Along the road in the Narrow Hills
Along the road in the Narrow Hills.
White Gull Creek the name says it all
White Gull Creek just off Highway 120 north of Candle Lake.
White Gull Creek
White Gull Creek from the highway in Northern Saskatchewan.
White Gull Creek after a short hike from the highway
White Gull Creek after a short hike from the highway.
White Gull Creek after a short hike from the highway
White Gull Creek after a short hike from the highway, beautiful clear water and a quiet forest.

Well this novel should be winding down, yes I made it to the Narrows and it was packed except for one small campsite that most could not fit their condos on wheels into. It was home for three days, but the noise, the generators, the huge boats and people everywhere, this is not camping this is Walmart on steroids. The people across from me must have slept all day as they finally went quiet at 6 am. two days in a row. Another evening I was sitting around the fire and was startled by yelling and screaming and banging of pots and pans. Some inexperienced camper left food on the table outside his camper and a bear thought he was invited for a free lunch. I found out later he had actually filleted fish on his picnic table. When in bear country and you leave food out just be prepared for them to accept your invitation for lunch as many live in this park. Don’t get me wrong I have been to this campground for over 40 years and never have experienced this, it is normally a very quiet respectful and peaceful campground. But then I stay away on long weekend’s and July and August, now I know for sure not to be there. I phoned my son in Calgary and said I would be there for supper the next day. And so it was Calgary…my home parked on the driveway in peace and quiet…. that’s why I like my truck camper it fits anywhere and it’s home.

Camping in Calgary
Home at my son’s residence in Calgary.

Charlotte and I returned to the Narrow Hills and Baldy Lake later in the season, that and a camp kitchen idea coming in future blogs. We may get a chance to test our DC to DC charger for some winter camping which I will share. Thanks for getting through this one. If you got to this point I can probably count on you to sign up and subscribe, it’s the only way I know I got you hooked. I am working on not posting notices on Facebook and Instagram to concentrate on my blog, so if you know someone who might like long winded novels and a bit of RV travel please share. It really helps motivate me to learn this blogging thing. Questions and comments are always welcome.

Take care, be safe and may the wind always be behind you…see you down the road.

Gerry and Charlotte

Amazing beauty of nature

The amazing beauty of nature and the lessons and peace it can bring never cease to amaze me as we travel through the north. With our home on our back, everywhere we stop we feel right at home and with four wheel drive and our Northern Lite that can be just about anywhere we want to be.

Always at home
Always at home

Time Northern Lite kicked in for some gas money or something as I keep raving about our rig, but we do love the freedom it provides. Especially now as we find a whole new group who are trying out the RV lifestyle and are pre-booking just about every campsite possible, some even show up. With the mobility of the truck camper we can get spots a lot of units cannot get to or cannot fit into as we travel. To me retirement is not living by the clock or schedule to have to be somewhere at a certain time, been there done that…no more.

Home is where we park it
Home is where we park it, this time in a nicely groomed campsite complete with table and fire pit.

Besides the truck and camper another must for me is my trusty old 2013 model OMD Olympus digital camera, with one lens. A great little light travel camera. Gone are the days of big bulky cameras, dozens of lenses and filters and gadgets, I’m too old to carry all that stuff which is seldom used. Little is more as I can have my camera with me all the time, the best images I have witnessed is when I do not have my camera with me. The camera helps me focus and see the amazing beauty in nature I would otherwise walk right by and not even stop for a moment.

One of the main reasons for this blog is to be able to share those images with others who can appreciate them. They are far from National Geographic quality images and appear much more beautiful to my eye, but I have captured that moment in time as is. They also allow me months after while trying to catch up on my blog the chance to enjoy them and the memories all over again…bonus.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did photographing them.

Mushrooms in the forest
A person really has to learn what mushrooms are edible as there are every type in nature.
A squirrel a common visitor
A squirrel is a common visitor to our campsite.
Amazing beauty of nature
Amazing beauty of nature and light, this says it all.
Amazing Sky
Amazing sky reflected in the water.
Light trees and water a beautiful combination
Light, trees and water are a beautiful combination as the sun sets.
Unique sunsets everyone different
Unique sunsets, everyone different, never to be captured the same, just frozen in time.
Looking away from the sunset
Looking away from the sunset has its own beauty.
Northern sunsets while camping
I have photographed sunsets from this exact spot for over 20 years and do not have one the same.
Northern sunsets while camping
Another favorite evening gathering spot for photographers at the Narrows.
A bull Elk common in Prince Albert National Park
A bull Elk common in Prince Albert National Park allows us to share his home if we leave it clean and the way we found it.
Love these signs
Love these signs. Usually means it going to be a whole less crowded.
Fall is coming to the Spruce River
Fall is coming bringing an amazing beauty to the Spruce River, a stop while leaving PANP.
Smoke in the air from forest fires
Smoke in the air from forest fires adds a unique glow to the sunset.
Hard to tell if this is sky or water
Hard to tell if this is sky or water but it’s actually reflections of a smoky sunset in the water.
Not sure what this fellows name is but has a bit of an injury
Not sure what this fellows name is but has a bit of an injury which is why he allowed us so close in the canoe.
Shorelines home to thousands of birds
Shorelines are home to thousands of birds so let’s keep their home free of garbage, fish line etc.
Just plain peaceful
Just plain peaceful no wonder we sleep so good in the RV.
Northern sunsets while camping
Northern sunsets while camping time well spent on the trail.
Big old birch
Big old birch, love the way the light shows its beauty.
Light and darkness
Light and darkness shorelines divided by the light.
There is a storm coming
There is a storm coming. Not all is sunshine on the road, but the beauty remains.
Another common camp visitor the Grey Jay or Whiskey Jack
Another common camp visitor the Grey Jay or Whiskey Jack looking for handouts. We do wildlife harm by feeding them our junk food.
A forest fire sunset in the north
A forest fire sunset in the north.
Natures amazing beauty
Natures amazing beauty highlighting many varieties of mushrooms.
This spruce Grouse checked us out to see who was making the noise
This spruce grouse checked us out to see who was making the noise while his partner was getting some rest.
The forest floor supports many different forms of plants
The forest floor supports many different forms of plants and food for its inhabitants, we leave it undisturbed.
Light and shadows
Light and shadows is this photographer’s favourite medium.
The forest provides
The forest provides for its’ full time residents with berries and more.
The dying make way for the new
The dying make way for the new growth, just loved this image. The light provided to make it special.
The lake purging itself
The lake purging itself of unwanted material.
Lets take a walk
Let’s take a walk, just slow down and enjoy nature. It settles the soul.
Just plain natural
Just plain natural, no pavement or concrete here.
Sometimes being a tree in the forest is hard
Sometimes being a tree in the forest is hard.
You can see the "quiet"
You can see the “quiet”.
When I grow up
When I grow up I will be big and strong.
Love the light and color
Love the light and colour.
Amazing beauty of nature
Amazing beauty of nature is everywhere if we take the time to look.
A sign of fall on its way
A sign of fall on its way has its own beauty.
Love the color in its natural setting
Love the colour in its natural setting.
I'm a sucker for sunsets
I’m a sucker for sunsets.
The sunset lights the way for an amazing evening hike
The sunset lights the way for an amazing evening hike.
Just the way God planned it to be
Just the way God planned it to be. Glad we preserved it for you and me to enjoy, let’s keep it that way.

If you have made it this far you are probably one who can enjoy the amazing beauty of nature, we just have to take time to notice. As a wanna be photographer I love the light.

In order to spend more time and keep current with this blog I will be posting little or nothing on Facebook or Instagram in the near future. If you like the content please subscribe or sign up for email notices of new postings. Also I would appreciate if you share it with those who are like-minded and may enjoy some feeble writing and images from our travels.

Coming up in my next posts a feature on my camp kitchen, Narrow Hills Provincial Park, my solo trip north to discover not so common lakes and rough trails as well as our final fall camping trip. It appears our trip to Arizona is now off so some winter camping and travelling is in the works. A good chance to give my DC to DC charger a work out. (see post DC to DC charger install).

Hope to see you all down the road. Look for the NL and the western hat….Gerry and Charlotte

Extra truck camper storage

One of the cons of a truck camper is storage and on our Northern Lite outside storage is limited. In a four season camper the fewer openings to the outside the better, so one has to compromise outside accessible storage for insulation, one of the pro’s.

extra storage for truck campers is a plus
Extra storage in a lockable box provides us to take a little extra

We have two RV set ups for traveling. One is when we plan on doing a lot of lake camping and staying in one spot for some time, we take our small 4×8 trailer with our 17 foot Grumman canoe as a tow behind. Or when we are planning a trip that requires extra fuel, water and supplies in areas that don’t offer any services.

The second mode we call our “Free and Easy” way of travel with nothing in tow. This is when we do more travelling and less camping. Our back seat is taken up with our 16 foot Sea Eagle kayak, tools, my camp kitchen, portable 100 watt solar panel, camera equipment and anything else we can fit in. This is our preferred way to travel even while camping as we can pretty much go anywhere our truck can get to and be at home. We also can park just about anywhere to overnight. Mileage is much better as well less carbon tax. This limits what we can take like extra fuel.

In the photos I have been posting on our blog I have had a lot of inquiries about the rear storage box. This has been one of my better ideas, that actually works great, some don’t. I started with a hitch carrier from Princess Auto. Due to the design of my back step on the Northern Lite I had to add a drop receiver under the standard hitch as shown in the photo. This will be different depending on your truck and camper, but in my case hides the storage under my back step.

truck camper storage under the rear bumper
Extra truck camper storage under the rear bumper of our Northern Lite 9.6 still allows the step to work
A drop down hitch receiver was required
A drop down hitch receiver was required. This was bolted under my camper tie down bar and into the truck hitch receiver
A view of my hitch set up
A view of my hitch set up including the chain stabilizers to limit movement of the box

I then built a box to fit inside the carrier 4 feet long 19 inches deep and 14 inches high out of 3/8 inch plywood all in one piece no openings. I then cut the lid at an angle so I could pull it off to the back. Inside I then put a liner 1/2 inch higher than the opening to create a seal when the lid was slid back on. This keeps out 95% of the moisture and dust. I bolted the box to the storage carrier and it works great. The photos will perhaps show it better than I can explain it.

Storage is a bonus for travelling
To keep the box more secure from movement I added some chain with tensioners
The extra storage also allows for me to carry my leveling blocks
The extra storage also allows for me to carry my leveling blocks securely and a great place if they are damp or muddy

I can now carry my levelling blocks on the outside of the box, inside I carry a small 10 lb. propane tank, a small propane fire pit, two 10 litre gas cans, a splitting axe, two outdoor mats, water hoses, grill and anything else that fits. We always travel with way too much stuff and think we are travelling simple. For me the extra fuel and propane is almost a must where we travel…the rest well. Over the years we have found the simpler the better and less stuff to worry about makes for a more enjoyable time. Hence the truck camper, home in the back of a pick up truck.

More stuff to take down the road
Hoses, extra fuel, small propane tank just some of the items fitted into the extra storage space
extra storage on my truck camper build
The inner liner provides a secure fit as well as some sealing against the elements
Back of the storage box cut at an angle
Back of the storage box cut at an angle to allow opening under the step of the camper
Leveling blocks
Cutting the box to 4 feet allowed room for my leveling blocks
Locks on the extra truck camper storage
I built the box then cut the angle for the lid and added some locking closures’ to keep the box closed and secure

Hope this helps those who were inquiring and give others some ideas. Some day I would like to get one of those fancy checker plate well sealed boxes and figure a way to put it on a slide out track so I could get at things from the top easier, but for now this works and that quick prototype I built has been in service for at least five years. Just never got around to building one out of better material.

In my next post the last of our northern travels to Meadow Lake Provincial Park and more photographs. I hate playing catch up on posting so will attempt to post regularly as we go. January 2022 has seen no travel yet but the road is calling, we will either be in Quartzite Arizona in February for a truck camper rally we are registered for or going to our plan B of more winter camping in Canada.

This post pretty much was for our truck camper family, for the rest of you with a different RV than a truck camper…well you just don’t know what your missing out on.

Your signing up or subscribing for my ramblings and photographs I thank you this retirement thing would get real bad if I had no reason to ramble and take photographs. Charlotte appreciates it as well it keeps me busy and out of her hair. So please sign up for notifications on new posts. Questions and comments are welcomed. I also post notices on Instagram under my name gerrypopplewell, no creativity there in coming up with a catchy name but it gets the job done.

Heading home in our Northern Lite from the far north we had not traveled this road and it did not lead home

Charlotte and I look forward to meeting you as we travel down the road.

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