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”.

A short winter camping trip

Short Winter Camping header

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to Waskesiu

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

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

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

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

Narrows road
Winter or summer the 18 km drive into the Narrows is beautiful with always lots of wildlife including bears.

Narrows map
Our favorite camping and canoeing spot in Prince Albert National Park

Narrows Marina
Business is just a little slow right now.

Otter Sign at Narrows marina
Sorry we missed seeing these playful little northern creatures.

Elk Ridge Sign
Elk Ridge resort – A must stop on any trip just off the Waskesiu Hwy.

Elk Ridge Lodge 2
It may be a few more weeks before conferences are replaced by golfers.

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

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

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

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

Rowan’s Ravine Provincial Park

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

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

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

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

1 Rowans Ravine park entrance
From the Park entrance everything is well maintained and groomed.

2 Pretty drive Rowan's Ravine
A pretty drive into the campsites.

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

3 Rowan's Ravine campground
Large clean well maintained campsites, 300 of them.

4 Trees hand planted
All of the trees in the park were hand planted turning prairie into a green oasis.

5 Well sheltered marina
A well sheltered marina, boat launch and marine fuel.

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

8 Rowan Ravine marina
Wide view of the marina featuring all the gear you need for fishing.

6 Rowan's Ravine boat launch
A very busy boat launch during peak summer times.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas wish

merry Christmas take 2
Charlotte and Gerry

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

2
Winter, time to keep the home fire burning.

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

Skating
Pike Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Crackling fire
A crackling fire is warmer in frosty weather.

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

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

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

Elk Island National Park

“We will return to canoe and visit the bison”

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

Continue reading Elk Island National Park