Cranberry Portage, Manitoba

Cranberry Portage sign
Cranberry Portage boasts a lot of history.

Monday May 28th we left Iskwasum campground still on our trek to Flin Flon following Highway 10 along the edge of the park. The next community is Cranberry Portage,  a small resort community on the shores of Lake Athapapuskow,  a very large lake.  Athapap, as the locals call it which is much easier to pronounce, as it turns out, has more than its share of history.

Cranberry Portage Lake Athapapuskow
Lake Athapapuskow is a very large lake. Bakers Narrows Provincial Park, near Flin Flon, is also located on this lake.
Cranberry Portage deep water
Deep clear water home to some great fishing in the many bays.

 It was an important part of the pre-European contact trade routes of the Cree and Assiniboine peoples. Long before the fur trade with the Bay and during the fur trade, this location was used as a campsite and portage between Grassy River, at the head of a number of well-used routes from Hudson Bay, and Lake Athapapuskow, which connected to the Saskatchewan River system. Once on the Saskatchewan, routes were open through the prairies to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Archaeological digs on Lake Athapapuskow revealed pottery, arrowheads, and other artifacts which were at least 2,500 years old and indicated regular habitation by the “Shield Archaic Culture”, who hunted caribou in the area as far back as 7,000 years ago. They were eventually supplanted by the Woodland Cree who were nomadic hunters in this region. The site of Cranberry Portage has been an important portage route linking the Grass River and Saskatchewan River watersheds for at least 2,000 years.

Cranberry Portage route
The portage route of the early Cree settlers and fur traders.
Cranberry Portage lunch spot
A great lunch stop.

This was a great place for us to stop and have lunch and we hoped to check out the art gallery and local stores. May is early in most northern communities that rely on tourists so most were closed. This is a good reason to come back for another visit. There is at least one small private campground in the community.

Cranberry Portage float planes
Float planes are a popular travel alternative to boats.
Cranberry Portage campground
There is a small campground located just off the main beach area.

I just love the history of the fur traders and the early Cree settlers in the northern communities.  Just after my love for the untouched beauty of the forest and lakes, many just the way God created them and we have not changed or destroyed.

I hope my writings bring a little of the history and information on the beautiful areas we visit in this country, and not get all of the history so you visit for yourselves.  We are just fortunate enough to be able to travel and enjoy the simple beauty we see in the people we meet and the land we occupy. Our travel foot print is very small; we love the luxury of our truck camper. The camper is small and we can park just about anywhere and the 4 wheel drive is also nice. We love arriving at clean campgrounds that show little if not anything of the people who just left it. I cannot believe people who camp and leave their garbage in fire pits and scattered through the trees. People, your tin bean cans do not burn…the garbage bins are just a few steps from you …use them!  These people must have had their mom or someone following them around picking up after them… grow up, if your mom is not there to pick up after you please do it yourself. Park people have much better things to do then play mom to you.

There I got my rant out of the way, please leave your campground like you were never there, and report those who are destroying the beauty.

Lunch over we headed out towards Flin Flon, we planned on staying at the very popular Bakers Narrows Provincial Park. For how long…as long as it takes.  Well as it turns out we have a lot to say about this beautiful campground and the rocky area of Fin Flon. Now we are “in the Canadian Shield”, stay tuned for a lot of photos.

Until my next post, we hope to someday meet you “Down the Road”.  For those interested in our travels a subscription which is free will get you a notification when a new post is put up. We enjoy reading others experiences and spots to visit and would like to share the beauty we find. Charlotte and Gerry..the RV Cowboy

Grass River – Part 2

Grass River
The beautiful Grass River.

Saturday, May 26, a cool morning approximately 18 Celsius, we had set up our screen tent on Friday so had a slow start cooking breakfast in the tent and sitting around the fire with that first cup of coffee. Amazing how much better coffee tastes with smoke in your eyes. Note we found Manitoba provincial campgrounds have the worse firewood we have ever encountered. It was like they had dug it out of some slough and was tough to get burning and very smoky. We blamed it first on this campground but later discovered all parks must have the same supplier of firewood…but hey it was free. I think Manitoba Parks are gearing up to start charging for firewood or at least a fire permit to burn similar to the National Parks. I’m told firewood is one of the parks’ biggest expenses.

camp kitchen
Our simple camp kitchen in the screen tent.

We registered until Monday at Iskwasum, cleaned the camper,  had  lunch and decided we would head to Snow Lake. Snow Lake is approximately  80 kms northwest on Highway 39 then onto #395 and goes to the end of the road. Snow Lake is a mining town situated on the shores of the lake; the mine produces gold, zinc and copper. Topped up the diesel  at $1.91/litre and groceries were a little expensive so picked up only what was necessary. On the way to Snow Lake we passed Wekusko Falls Provincial Park situated on the Grass River system, a beautiful place with some fantastic rapids and falls. It looked like a great campground facility so we would have to return to check it out and stay a while. Returning back on Highway 39 we passed Reed Lake Mine. We  were told the mine produces some of the world’s finest purest copper. That may explain the large number of trucks we saw  coming and going. For some reason mining has become somewhat less viable, probably because of the environmental  standards and, only in Canada,  gender equality.  Reed Lake we were told was scheduled for closure as for many northern mines in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Wekusko Falls
Wekusko Falls Provincial Park
Wekusko Falls
Wekusko Falls
Road side to Snow Lake.
Along the highway to Snow Lake.
Snow Lake
Along the highway to Snow Lake.

The sun was coming out as we arrived back at our campground at Iskwasum, spent the evening reading around the campfire and looking forward to airing up the Sea Eagle and checking out the Grass River.

Sunday May 27th, Woke up to a great sunshiny day,  started our daily routine, reading and coffee around the fire, breakfast and kitchen clean up, always a very slow start. We aired up the kayak and although the winds were gusty we headed out anyway…the sun was shining and the river calling how could we not go. The Sea Eagle we found,  was extremely stable in the waves and handled much better than expected. We travelled up stream to Iskwasum Lake, a beautiful trip. Since Charlotte and I have canoed all of our lives we were having a hard time adjusting to the kayak paddles soaking ourselves and making a lot of splashing noise. We had left our canoe paddles at home, so we decided we would borrow a couple from the store and try them out.

Grass River towards Loucks Lake
Paddling along the beautiful Grass River towards Loucks Lake.
Grass River
Beautiful sunset seen from Grass River.

That evening the winds had not died but we felt comfortable in the Sea Eagle in the waves so we decided to go down stream to Loucks Lake. The canoe paddles were for us, they worked great, were quiet and we stayed dry.  From here on in our Sea Eagle is a kayak/canoe. This craft is fantastic in waves and very stable, its low profile in the wind makes for less side push. We did however find it a little harder paddle than our hard side canoe, that is the only downside, but it is better in rough water.

Getting back to camp we deflated the Eagle and rolled it up, packing it behind the passenger seat of the Dodge. We enjoyed a great supper of tossed salad and chicken breasts done over the (smoky) fire. After taking down the screen tent we enjoyed reading and a tea around the fire.

We had a great day slowly paddling along,  spotting an Eagle and taking a short hike to an abandoned Rangers cabin. We have no idea what the temperature is or the weather is going to be like tomorrow as we have no service and can get Arctic radio only occasionally and fuzzy reception. We love it and hope all is well in the world out there as it sure is great in our world. Not sure where we will end up tomorrow as we leave Iskwasum for who knows where, but heading north up Highway 10 towards Flin Flon.

Sea Eagle on Grass River
Finally getting the Sea Eagle onto the Grass River.
Eagle
An eagle from the kayak is a little fuzzy due to rough water.
Rangers cabin at Iskwasum
A short hike into the ranger cabin at Iskwasum, no one home.
Butterfly along Grass River
Benefits of paddling slowly along the shoreline you see all the the beauty.
Shoreline beauty
Enjoying the shoreline beauty.

Until tomorrow, hope to see you “Down the Road”….Charlotte and Gerry, the RV Cowboy.

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Grass River Provincial Park

Iskwasum campground sign
Home for a lot of the summer – our return to spot.

May 25th– Grass River Provincial Park is just south of Cranberry Portage, Manitoba and east on Highway 39.  We had noticed several campgrounds on the map so arriving early in the day we decided to check them all out planning to stay at one overnight. None of these campgrounds have power, sewer hook-ups or water connections. All have clean washrooms, and solar gravity-fed showers and sewer dumps. Non-potable water is available.

We traveled east into the park reaching Gyles Campground on Simonhouse Lake, a very large lake. Gyles has over 50 campsites and is very popular because of the beach area for swimming and is very family friendly. Further up the road we came to Iskwasum campground situated on the wide part of the Grass River, again around 50 sites with the same services as mentioned. Here there is no power, no cell coverage so not popular with the connected crowd. If your cell is grown to your hand this is not the place for you. The beauty of these campgrounds are there are no reservations so if you find a nice spot it’s yours for as long as you pay the tab, not having to leave Thursday because someone booked it for Friday and Saturday on line. Iskwasum is popular with fishermen during the month of June; we are told that is the only time the campground is full.

Travelling further east we reached Reed Lake Campground, similar to the others and popular for the swimming area, more family friendly as it is situated on Reed Lake, a very large lake.

Reed Lake
Reed Lake, “Home of the Big Northern”.
Reed Lake Grass River Provincial Park
Reed Lake is large and can get very rough.

Our choice was Iskwasum campground.  Pulling up to register we found a sign saying cash or cheque only. Wow cheques! With no power even to the office; yep cash works best, your phone app is no good here. This has got to be the place for us. We loved the campground, very quiet, surrounded by pine and very large rocks. Campsites are private, washrooms are clean, has the solar shower and beautiful river access, what more could you ask for. We are staying here for a while, as it turns out this is now one of our go to spots anytime but June.

Iskwasum solar shower
On those warmer days, enjoy the solar shower.

Perhaps we will get our blow-up kayak/canoe inflated and check out the river. The river connects Iskwasum Lake up stream and to the east down river Loucks Lake. The Grass River is part of the historic fur trader route and one can canoe over 400 miles on the historic route. Lots of history in the area we were looking forward to learning more about.

Grass River canoe route sign
Grass River is part of the historic fur trade route.

That day it was rainy and overcast so we decided to hike in approximately 3.5 kms to Karst Spring and Falls. You can tell we are on the edge of the Precambrian Shield as evidenced by the very large rocks, some the size of our cabin and larger. The hike was worth it.  The fast moving stream appeared to come from under a large rock to the falls and into the river. We noticed a lot of fish in the stream, bear buffet I thought, and then it hit me we may be on the menu as well. Good thing we had bear bells with us. The trail was a loop from the campground and returning with access also to Highway 39 we found out. On the way back I noticed, with amusement, a sign on the ground saying Highway 39, continuing on we did come to the highway a long way from the campground. When we realized it was the wrong trail, turning to start back we noticed a large sign, BEWARE OF BEARS. No problem, the bear spray was in the camper but we had our bear bells!

Karst spring trail
Lots of large rocks to hike over.
Karst Spring trail
The Karst Spring and Falls trail.
Karst trail in Iskwasum campground
Beautiful undergrowth and marshy areas along the Karst trail.
Stream to Grass River
Stream on its way to the Grass River.
Karst spring trail
Karst Spring
Bear buffet.
Karst Spring trail
The fast moving falls seen from the Karst Spring trail.
Falls leading into Grass River
The fast moving falls entering the Grass River.

That night we turned on the furnace in the camper as it hit freezing, our “Igloo” was very warm and cozy. The Northern Lite is four-season rated with heated tanks.

Iskwasum campsite
Home safe in the “Igloo”.

Until tomorrow…good night and hope to see you “Down the Road”

Travel plans change

I’m writing this Feb 16th, 2019 it’s a beautiful snowy day here at our cabin on Pike Lake, only minus 17 today as we are relieved of several weeks of minus 39 with high minus 40 wind chills…balmy.

It was May 25th, 2018 when we traveled north on Highway 10 until we reached Highway 39 just south of Cranberry Portage, MB. We were just planning on overnighting at a campground and moving on to Flin Flon. We planned on heading towards home,  first meeting up with our nieces and friends who were fishing at Jan Lake, just off the Hanson Lake highway. From there we would start our trip to Dawson City Yukon; this is where we had planned on joining up with other truck campers that were leaving Aug 12th for Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories.

Well it’s a good thing when one has no set firm plans. Little did we know we would fall in love with northern Manitoba.  Although we have traveled just about every highway in Saskatchewan, north of Prince Albert in the pine forests is where we felt at home. A lot of people who have traveled Saskatchewan never leaving the boring Trans-Canada highway have missed the beauty of a very diverse province, “The Big Muddy” area south of the TC through the hills of the Grasslands, areas like Wood Mountain, (best rodeo in the west), through Mankota ranch country and Cyprus Hills and of course the famous Sand Dunes all in the southern part of the province.

Moose Jaw
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, home of the famous Snow Birds.
Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park
Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park in the beautiful Qu’Appelle Valley.
Narrows PANP
The Narrows in Prince Albert National Park.
South shore of Kingsmere Lake
South shore Kingsmere Lake, Prince Albert National Park.
Churchill River in Saskatchewan
The Churchill River, north of La Ronge, Saskatchewan.
Float plane at Otter Lake
The float planes of northern Saskatchewan, necessary transportation to communities and great fishing.

Well, the further north one goes the beauty changes to pine forest, lakes and rock in the Shield area around La Ronge. Saskatchewan I’m proud to say has it all….but wait if you love rock and pine forest with lakes full of fish everywhere and great roads, probably because there is few of them, we discovered a new north, one we could not leave in a hurry. Flin Flon area is like B.C. without the hassle of mountain roads, lots of traffic and Albertans riding up you bumper and passing on solid lines… yes beautiful but if you have to travel through at sonic speeds one sees nothing. You probably got it by now…we did not leave Manitoba all summer. Coming up in the next  posts photographs of the parks and lakes of northern Manitoba. Hope to see you “Down the Road”, Charlotte and Gerry, the RV Cowboy. Free subscription if you like will let you be notified when I get around to posting again…cheers.

Clearwater Provincial Park

Leaving The Pas and heading to Flin Flon, Manitoba, we noticed two provincial parks just off Highway 10, Clearwater Provincial Park and Grass River Provincial Park. As we were not in a  hurry to get anywhere and needing a spot to stay the night we decided on the first park Clearwater just 20 kms from The Pas.

Clearwater
Atikameg Lake, Clearwater Provincial Park, just north of The Pas, Manitoba.

A beautiful drive in on excellent highway we ended up at 25 Mile Campground for the night. Early in May and a cool rainy Thursday we found the campground empty so had our choice of spots. We picked one overlooking Atikameg Lake which in Cree means “White Fish”, but it is mostly referred to as Clearwater Lake. The lake takes up almost half of the 593-square-kilometer park, is spring fed and lives up to its name as the water is pure and clear.  We were told you could see to a depth of 33 feet or 10 meters. The lake is 120 feet deep in places and is home to lake trout in the cold waters.

We wandered down to the lake finding the area, although quite rocky, the lake was pure sand and not a weed to be found…on a great day perfect for swimming. We were not even tempted to go in for a dip, however while we sat and watched three cars pull up, kids bailing out everywhere and heading into the cold waters on that cool rainy day. Either age has made us smarter…or perhaps we are a couple of wimps.

Clearwater
Shoreline in places can be quite rocky.
Clearwater
Sandy beach with no rocks or weeds and pure water, great place to go swimming.
Clearwater
Clearwater
Clearwater
Just “hanging”. Retirement is tiring!
Clearwater
Clearwater
Clearwater

We headed instead to Sam’s Snack Shack where we had noticed activity…their fries are the best! The couple who own the place live there most of the year and were very friendly and helpful. The park we were told is mostly lake and boreal forest and boasts a collection of deep crevices known as “The Caves”.  These were formed when massive rocks were split from the cliffs along the shoreline. These caves are very cool and may have snow in them in July.  A short self-guided trail on the south shore will take you past the caves.

Clearwater
A very popular eating spot with great food and fries.
Clearwater
Local beach cleanup manager can be bribed with fries.

Also referred to as Pioneer Campground, the one we called 25 Mile Campground, has approximately 27 electric-only serviced sites, all with lake views. We found very modern shower and flush washrooms, all kept very clean, change houses, volleyball courts and picnic areas. For some reason, maybe due partly to the weather or knowing we would probably be back for more exploring of the area, we took very few photos.

Clearwater
Modern washrooms, shower rooms and picnic areas all very clean.
Clearwater
27 campsites overlooking the lake.
Clearwater

Standing under our awning in the drizzle cooking our humble fare we would refer to as “supper”, I noticed car after car arrive and pick up food at Sam’s Snack Shop. Pretty much the only traffic in the area that day…I’m getting to thinking that we should have checked out the menu at “Sam’s” a little closer.

Down the road towards Highway 10 there is another campground, Campers Cove, which is a little more commercialized, one can rent Yurts which can each sleep up to six people. There are 70 serviced campsites and eight basic tenting sites. I think due to it being closer to The Pas and the services, this is the busiest of the campgrounds, we however prefer the “not so popular” ones. Either way Clearwater Provincial Park is worth a visit. Next stop Grass River Provincial Park. We hope to see you “Down the Road”…Charlotte and Gerry, the RV Cowboy.

Sea Eagle inflatable kayak

Sea Eagle

As most of our regular readers know, Charlotte and I are truck camper RV’ers and love the freedom of being able to go just about anywhere with our small four-wheel RV. We can park wherever we can park the truck and camp in friends’ driveways when visiting. No packing suitcases, for us we take our home with us.

We enjoy canoeing which has always required we pull either our Jeep with the canoe on top or our recent build of a small camper utility trailer. We never forget our trip the beautiful Elk Island National Park near Edmonton, Alberta when we decided to leave the canoe at home. Not knowing what the park was like, it was to be a quick check it out trip. Upon arriving we discovered a beautiful lake full of small islands on which any form of motor boat was banned…wow our style of lake and no way to get out on the water.

Sitting there looking out over the lake we realized it would be a hiking weekend, that was OK as well but the lake kept calling. A small Toyota car pulled up and an older couple got out and unloaded a bundle from their trunk, approximately 10 minutes later they were hauling a full 14 foot kayak to the lake. Interrupting their paddle for a few minutes as we checked out the craft, it was not cheap plastic like the corner store dinghy but very well constructed and durable. They loved it and always used it to get on the water, finding it very durable as well as stable. I cannot remember the brand name but it was enough to get us doing some research on inflatable boats.

After months of looking at many different options from various piece-together kayaks to inflatables we decided the inflatable would suit us the best. We decided on the Sea Eagle. The company builds many different styles of inflatable kayaks, canoes to fishing boats and paddle boards. An established company we checked out customer reviews and found they really stood behind their product…good to know. Still not totally risking paddling out on a cold northern lake in a plastic boat I remained skeptical. What sold me was I found a video where they drove a Jeep over an inflated Fast Track Kayak.

We decided on a 16 foot Sea Eagle 465FT Fast Track kayak. This was not a cheap model but felt we would take the chance and order it on line from Sea Eagle, something at our age were not accustomed to doing. It was painful to wait wondering what type of craft would really arrive and checked the delivery tracking number daily. Of course being Canadian we lost on the exchange and there was extra shipping costs but if it was what the company and others said it would be, it would be worth the price.

Sea Eagle in cabin

It finally arrived.  It was only -35 celsius outside, our lake was frozen over and another three months to break up. We just had to set it up all 16 ft. of it in our small cabin. It came complete with a foot pump; we opted out being kinda cheap on the electric pump, paddles, inflatable seats and a patch kit. Timing our first set up, it took us approximately 20 minutes, not bad for just out of the box; we sat in it, kicked it and were impressed – it was more than we had thought. How would it paddle? Would it replace our canoe?

Sea Eagle on Grass River

Last summer we traveled with only the Sea Eagle and have to say we loved it. Easy to set up and take down and we stored it behind the passenger seat in our Ram truck along with the pump, paddles, life jackets etc. I made a set of wheels out of plumbing pipe to haul it from campsite to water, as this is not a really light unit, approximately 65 lbs. Our 16 foot Swift canoe is lighter at 45 lbs., so the wheels came in handy as it was not as easy to throw over the shoulder and carry. The solid blow up floor in the kayak gave us a very secure feeling; we could even stand up in it. It was incredibly stable even in large waves. At no time have we ever felt concerned, even went places where we would never have gone with the canoe. The low profile was good in the wind, it paddled very well, tracked well, however it was a tougher paddle than our 16 foot canoe. I would give that up for the stability. We landed it on rocks and find it very tough. As we are canoeists, we scrapped the kayak paddles for our canoe paddles which we find quieter and easier for us and works and handles very well this way.

Sea Eagle fully inflated
Sea Eagle before inflation
Sea Eagle folded
Sea Eagle on wheels
Sea Eagle on wheels 2
Sea Eagle on wheels 3
Sea Eagle
Sea Eagle on shore

Will it replace our canoe…well I picked up a Lund stern back aluminum 16 foot canoe and added a small 3 hp. Honda motor which we can paddle or motor for days when we stray a distance from camp and need to get off the lake or home quickly. No it will not, but we never go anywhere without our Sea Eagle and we will always be able to get out on the water even when it’s rough and when we don’t want a tow behind.

Stern back Lund canoe

We consider it one of our better investments.  I’m not just pushing Sea Eagle, there are lots of brands and prices out there, but the idea of an inflatable for the sake of travel should not be overlooked.

Enjoy the RV lifestyle and we hope to see you “Down the Road”…Charlotte and Gerry, the RV Cowboy.

Coming soon, a summer in the North, if you like please subscribe. Your feedback is welcome you can contact me at gerry@studiowest.ca

The infamous “Towed Road”


Toad Road
The roadway was really good in spots but encountered some softer areas.

May 23rd. Leaving Nipawin I had decided to show Charlotte Flin Flon in the Canadian Shield northern Manitoba. We had several choices, backtrack to Smeaton on Hwy. 55 and take 106 to Flin Flon or head south and go through Hudson Bay on Hwy. 3 to 10 in Manitoba. We were not in a hurry so time was not that important but the extra miles and fuel would add up on our poverty budget. I noticed Hwy. 55 continued from Nipawin to The Pas, Manitoba but was mainly gravel for approximately 100 kms. Not sure about the condition of the road to travel with an RV I decided to ask one of the locals regarding the condition. That’s when we found out the highway also went by the alias “The Towed Road”.  After several local people acknowledged the road’s existence none had actually used it. Red flags were going up….wait a travelling salesman at our service station stop for fuel, he will know for sure. Not! Again he knew about the road but had never used it. Getting a little frustrated by this time I spotted a person I assumed was a farmer from the area, persistence pays off! He looked at our rig noticing it was 4 wheel drive and said being as it had been a very dry spring he felt the road would be good. “You should be okay with your rig; it gets pretty soft in wet conditions and the bridges can washout in the spring or in heavy rains. The water coming out of those hills, referring to the area known as the Wildcat Hills Provincial Wilderness Park, can be brutal”, he said adding, because it was dry the bridges would be in and we should be alright.

Wildcat Hills Wilderness Area
Red Earth Cree Nation is located in the Wildcat Hills Wilderness Area.

Okay, decision made, this would cut off miles in our trek to Flin Flon. Shortly after Carrot River we hit gravel.  The road was fairly good but had some soft spots, not being in a hurry we decided to take it slow. Slow is good as we really enjoyed the wild rocky country. The only vehicles we met were highway crews working on, replacing or working on the many bridges we crossed. I could see where this would be a tough drive early in the spring as we could see the many deep washouts from flood waters out of the hills. Hwy. 55 turned into 36 and then to 40 after we entered Manitoba and was paved but narrow to The Pas. Amazing we went from wild rocky wilderness into farming land and made it to The Pas where we almost lost our camper on one of the city streets. Go figure we traveled the “Towed Road” with no problem and then almost lost it…The Pas lost its charm for us. It was getting on in the day so we headed to Clearwater Lake Provincial Park just 20 or 30 Kms north of The Pas.

Towed Road
Cuts through the heavy forest show the power in the flood waters.
Towed Road bridges
Many bridges were being worked on or replaced after the spring melt and flooding.
Toad Road washouts
Many washouts show how extreme the flow draining out of the hills could be.

We were glad we traveled the “Towed Road” for the natural beauty but see how it could have gotten its name, caution advised if wet. That’s it for today next Clearwater; hope to see you “Down the Road”….Charlotte and Gerry the RV Cowboy

Nipawin Regional Park..2018


NRP entrance
Welcome to Nipawin and District Regional Park.

May 22rd…left the Narrows in Prince Albert National Park.  We spent a day visiting with my cousin, owner of Northside Antiques and Art Gallery, located just north of Prince Albert. Spending time there is always a great time sharing many memories. Her place is full of antiques to most people, but for me I either have used them or remember my grandparents and parents using them. Not sure what that makes me, perhaps a multi-generational expert would be a better title than antique.

The next morning we left for a photo assignment in Nipawin. Having been there before we booked into the Regional Park just on the outskirts of the town. The park, located on Tobin Lake, is known for great fishing and the home of several large fishing tournaments. Expect to share the campground with those spinning some large fish stories. The marina is very good for launching boats of all sizes and features a small shop and restaurant.

NRP park friendly
Very “for the young of heart friendly”.
NRP playground
For those hot days or cool days lots to do for children.

The campground is very clean with over 121 sites featuring electrical and full hook up. The yearly regional park pass is good for all regional parks in Saskatchewan and was $45. A note if travelling in northern Saskatchewan the majority of participating parks are located south of Prince Albert to the U.S. border.

NRP camping sites
Over 121 sites, many larger than our “Igloo” required.
NRP hiking trails
Beautiful interesting hiking trails accessible for all.
Suspension bridge
From the suspension bridge the beauty of the north.
Nipawin Regional Park evening
Another beautiful evening though it was an overcast day.
NRP
This sign just about says it all, however there is even more.
NRP park
Park history.
Tobin Lake
Great fishing on Tobin Lake.
NPR
Can’t beat the north for beauty.

We paid $33 CDN for power and water, dump station included. It is a great park for those with children. The playgrounds and spray poo,l along with hanging bridges and walking tails, are some of the best we have seen in our travels. Good news for parents in keeping even the most active from that… “we’re bored when are we going”.  We must admit we like the park even in dreary early May weather. We found lots to do and see. As well there is always shopping just a few kms down the road in the beautiful northern community of Nipawin. This is an area of the province that could use a little more exploring, and we would recommend Nipawin Regional Park as a great home base. Check them out at www.nipawinpark.com  phone (306) 862-3237.  Hope to see you down the road…Charlotte and Gerry the “RV Cowboy”.

Next the famous “Towed Road”

The Narrows

Our summer travels started early in May with a short trip in northern Saskatchewan to the Narrows campground located in the Prince Albert National Park. This has always been one of our favourite campgrounds however, as canoeists we are finding the tubers and boarders are taking over the Narrows. This makes for a lot of over-the-shoulder checks and rough water for fishing.  So going early in the year the campground (no online registration) is first come and a lot of spots are available or mid to late August through September. What use to be our quiet go-to spot that attracted fishermen and those not requiring power and hook-ups now is attracting a new kind of camper.  During the peak season the boats from 20-40 hp now have to share the lake with those 150 hp and greater. Camper outfits are getting bigger and requiring more power meaning more generator use.

The Narrows campground
A little cool but a great start to the new camping season. Parked for a quick get-away in case of fire that was just brought under control (we hoped) in the area.

It was on this trip we were late in May due to a threat of forest fires nearby, the park and the campground was closed. We arrived to meet the fire fighters coming out of the area and stopped one of the vans asking if it was safe to use the campground, they could not provide us with any information. Luckily as we were sitting at the junction to the 18 kms gravel road to the campground a Parks maintenance truck drove up and we were able to find out the campground had just been declared open. It was a rainy cool day so we proceeded with caution finding when we got there we were all on our own. This would not have been a problem under normal circumstances, but with the smell of smoke heavy in the air we were a little concerned. We found a site we could get out of in case of a hurried evacuation.

The weekend remained very cool and rainy, but it was good to be back in the north and the pines. Not long after arriving we spotted another camper which stayed in a different loop in the large campground. Why this made us feel a little more secure…I do not know, now there would be two of us trying to get out in case of a flare-up.

It was on this trip we noticed the Park had gone through and cleared the campsites removing under brush and making two sites into one larger site to accommodate the trend of  40 ft. plus rigs and trailers along with huge boat trailers. The charm we found has not totally disappeared in the campground, but we can see the change is on to take the overflow from the main campsite at Waskesiu.  This I suppose is a positive change for the Park and the new breed of campers and larger boats to enjoy the Narrows. However for us the quiet and the sounds of the loons which used to be the call of the north is disappearing. It’s time for us to find a new place, perhaps further north, where we can find more undisturbed beauty and quiet where the loons are free to nest.

Don’t get me wrong, Prince Albert National Park is a beautiful park offering people miles of hiking trails, canoe routes, town site, remote camping,  luxury camping, hotels, food and shopping. The location is less than 100 kms north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan making this park very accessible.  We are fortunate to have this park in our province. We will still get our fix of the Narrows each year, probably our first camping trip and last trip of the year when it’s not as busy…..and that’s just our idiosyncrasy. Check out the photos and hope to see you “Down the Road.”

Kingsmere River
The beautiful Kingsmere River runs into the northwest end of the Narrows.
Hiking trail
Hiking trail overlooking the Narrows inside the campground
Marina
Marina at the Narrows in Prince Albert National Park.
Marina
The Marina at the Narrows offers boat rentals.
Pelican
The Pelicans share the Narrows along with many varieties of birds and the beautiful Northern Loon.
Wildlife
Wildlife within the Park.
Bear
If you’re lucky you get to have a visitor, beware though they are not domesticated.
Sunset
The sunsets at the Narrows never fail to impress me and we have 100’s of photographs of them.
Sunset
Stunning sunset overlooking the Narrows campground.
Sunset
Another stunning sunset.

You can check out the National Park at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/sk/princealbert

Travels from 2018 finally posted

It’s not a New Year’s resolution but it’s time to stop procrastinating. I now have the time as we enjoy life at our small cabin to reflect on a great summer of travel in our RV. We had a great three-month trip through northern Manitoba combined with many short stays at Nipawin Regional Park, the Narrows in Prince Albert National Park, and Spruce River in Great Blue Heron Provincial Park and Zeden Lake campground in Narrow Hills Provincial Park all in northern Saskatchewan. This included a trip to La Ronge to pick up another new-to-us canoe.

Not sure how many days in total we were on the road, as we had no plans when we left except we had a photo assignment to complete in Nipawin. Our plan to possibly head to Dawson City in the Northwest Territories went by the wayside. We were close to Manitoba and I wanted to show Charlotte Flin Flon, heading to Dawson City after was still in the plans at that time. That was until we experienced the Canadian Shield area of northern Manitoba around Flin Flon. This countryside, sparse in people, heavy in spruce forests, lakes with great fishing and canoeing everywhere in between the rock formations, was everything we could ask for. We did not leave for approximately 90 days.

The beauty of northern Manitoba rivals that of British Columbia without the grand prix course through the mountains and people everywhere. I almost hate sharing the beauty we found in case it becomes a Jasper or Banff and the simple natural beauty untouched by man will remain. A close friend of mine Keith agrees with Charlotte and myself, there is just something about the northern forest and the naturalness that calms the soul and is almost a spiritual feeling.

Now I have started I guess I owe it to the readers of Down the Road to share the beauty we found in the upcoming series of articles to be posted.

The greatest feeling of all was the feeling of total freedom, we had no destination, no time frame, no place we needed to be or anything we had to do but to enjoy the people we met and the beauty. For us this was possible, as we are definitely not wealthy, if you consider money as a measure of wealth, but for our desire for a simple life free of a lot of things to tie us down. We love the RV lifestyle, it has taught us to be aware of our surroundings, and conservation of our resources. Many times we are without shore power, and water. As a society we think nothing of leaving on lights, running water endlessly and heating massive areas we do not even use in our homes.

Our truck camper is a luxury we enjoy. In that small space we have everything we need, shower, toilet, oven, stove, big fridge and freezer, a useless TV, queen size bed and even the kitchen table and sink. The freedom of a small unit with 4 wheel drive allows us to go just about anywhere we want and enjoy areas many cannot. Our solar power, two six volt batteries and with some conservation we can do without hookups for weeks. We are totally self-contained and able to park almost anywhere. We have had from a 38 foot fifth wheel to pull behinds and are back to a truck camper.  We have had several and find smaller is better. Perhaps that is why the van campers are becoming very popular.

The beauty of camping off grid is most campgrounds that offer power and services are now taking bookings on line. As regular travelers who may want the option of staying for a week or more in an area we like, we got tired of being booted out on Thursday to make room for a booking on that spot for someone who wants it Friday night and Saturday. Many times the campground is booked solid and you have to move on. It happens all the time in all provincial parks that take on line bookings so we avoid these parks as much as we can because we do not enjoy relocating every 3-4 days. Yes we could book online like everyone else…that is if we knew where we would be, had access to the internet, and even at that, the first thing in spring most popular campgrounds are booked every weekend before May, even if the site, in many cases, is not used. Personally I prefer the old way which we never had any problems with, first come first serve, or at least enforced if you have booked it you use it. We have found too many times it’s just a nice place to store your camper until you may want to use it…..sometimes we just have too much money to spend.

Where I was going with this is, it’s not money that we make that allows us to live this lifestyle but the money we get to keep. We have found freedom with the less we have that we really do not need. Our small cabin is comfortable and everything we need, yes there are times we think we want more, but don’t need it. The money we do not send for taxes, power, heating, insurance and upkeep every month we get to keep while doing without anything. We do not drive exotic vehicles; we find the vintage ones we’ve got that are paid for, get us where we want to go. To sum this up, the more you have the more you need, it’s nice to have a big fire….but it requires a lot of wood to keep it going. At the end of the day were you any warmer than close to a smaller one and enjoyed sitting around that fire rather than constantly cutting wood.

This year we may spend close to 200 days plus on the road, and the above comments may answer the question we get a lot, wow must be nice, how do you do it?

Looking forward to see you “Down the Road”.