Canadian Roadtrip 2019 Part 2

August 29 2019
Stealth Camping in Ontario
Posted by Chris

You can find the first part of our trip HERE.

We ended off the previous evening camping at Delta Beach where we were about to spend a very windy night at the south end of Lake Manitoba. We actually put away our awning out of fear of it ripping and somewhat out of fear of the threatening storm (which never hit) getting it super wet. We couldn't get much sleep because of the shaking car and rattling zippers on our Roadies. I now plan to fix the zippers by wrapping them with some nylon and giving them some more visible, and quieter, pull-tabs.

We moved the car at around 2am but we didn't really find a much quieter spot. In the light of the morning we realized we were still out in the open quite a bit more than we thought in the dark! It was still windy so we moved to another part of the campground a couple of sites down from our original spot. There were a couple of trees there that blocked the wind giving us a chance to make breakfast in relative peace.

It was hard to leave Delta Beach early since it was such a beautiful spot, but we had a goal for the day to get to Ontario - and the weather wasn't cooperating - so we hit the road. Early on in the drive we passed this massive thing being moved on a dirt road. I don't think the picture quite conveys the size.

Our first goal was downtown Winnipeg and the famous Portage & Main and about an hour later we were at the outskirts of the city. Google did a number on us again and took us through some less than amazing parts of Winnipeg. On the way in I started looking up how to check out the sights downtown like the famous P&M intersection. I was a little confused since it didn't seem like there was a good way to check it out, but I found a parking lot on the map in a mall near P&M and we headed there.

As we finally arrived at the intersection in the car it quickly became clear that this was no longer a tourist destination. Large barriers are blocking pedestrian access on the corners and there wasn't a pedestrian to be seen on the sidewalks. We drove around the block and pulled into the parking lot to gather our thoughts, but at this point, between the stressful drive and the odd setup at P&M, we decided Winnipeg just wasn't for us. So we set our sights back on the TransCan heading east. We did see the very cool Museum of Human Rights on the way out of downtown, though.

A couple of hours later as we drove into Ontario we expected a time zone change but it didn't happen right away. We didn't realize that northwestern Ontario was in the Central time zone along with Manitoba. It makes sense, of course, but I don't think we had ever looked closely at a time zone map in that area before. We were barely able to snap a blurry pic of the sign when we finally did cross into Eastern Standard time.

We didn't have a specific target for the night, but we knew that we had to do another 4-5 hours of driving from the border in order to stay on track for our journey. We started scouring Google and the iOverlander app for places we could spend the night. As we started approaching Thunder Bay (which is 7.5 hours from Winnipeg) we found a rest stop along the highway that was listed on iOverlander as a good place to spend the night.

We pulled into the rest stop, checked the signs, and couldn't find anything saying there was no overnight camping. It was actually a beautiful little spot on a lake with the passenger car area separated from the highway by a large area designated for big rigs. Everything was quite wet from the rain during the day, so after setting up the car in "living room mode" we prepared a quick dinner at the back of our car. We ate inside and watched a few episodes of Corner Gas pointing out all the locations we now recognized.

We were the first car there and the only one for several hours which honestly made us a little uncomfortable. There were a couple of big rigs nearby, but somehow that didn't make it better. This was our first real foray into "stealth camping" and I guess we just weren't ready to be completely alone. We were just discussing what we were going to do about it when a pickup pulled in and parked in another area. Soon after another vehicle came in for the night and not long after that we were snoring comfortably away.

We woke up early as the sun hit the car and got packed up and converted to "driving mode" before the rest area got too busy with regular bathroom traffic. We had successfully completed our first night of camping in an unofficial campground! It was a beautiful morning so we took a couple of minutes to contemplate the view and the local ducks before getting back on the highway.

The rest of the way to Thunder Bay went by quickly, and we weren't in the mood to go into town so we made a pit stop on the outskirts. We grabbed some food and a passive dehumidifier for RVs (moisture absorbent crystals in a container to collect water.) The damp/rainy, cool nights have meant we haven't been opening the windows very far and we've noticed condensation collecting on the windows overnight so we're trying some things out to improve the situation. We got back on the road and started driving around Lake Superior.

We loved the highways of northern Ontario which are quite beautiful, with dense forests on either side broken up by pretty lakes and the occasional picturesque view as you come over a rise.

About a half hour into our drive we realized that we'd forgotten to get gas during our pit stop! We checked the map and our range and figured we were good to go to Nipigon. Don't worry, this isn't a tale of woe, we were fine. In fact we've consistently gone farther than our reported range as we've done all of this highway driving across the country. The car was reporting average mileage of around 14.2L/100Km when we got it. It was at around 12.8 when we started the trip, and now it's at about 10.5! The car is rated at 9.3 for highway driving, so we're approaching that fast.

As we approached our new refuelling destination just outside of Nipigon, we were amazed by the bright red rock you can find on the northern tip of Lake Superior. This picture shows how it stands out from the surrounding verdant forest, near the aptly named town of Red Rock.

Emilie was driving at this point so I started looking at where our next destination for the night should be. Lake Superior Provincial Park was about 4 hours away from Nipigon, putting it right on track, but it was Friday on a long weekend so we were a little worried about being able to get a spot. We had just gotten into a zone with no cell signal, so we couldn't call ahead. That seems like a good place to end th...[radio static]

Sept 9 2019
Lake Superior, Manitoulin, and Mississauga
Posted by Emilie

Around 5pm on the Friday night of Labour Day long weekend, Chris and I pull into Lake Superior Provincial Park looking for a campsite. We figured the park could either be completely full due to the long weekend, or empty because of its long distances from any major urban center. Turns out it was mostly the former, with only 4 campsites available of the 150 they have in the park. We couldn't get a spot right on the beach, but our site was private and only a few minutes' walk from the water.

[Chris's comment: On the way through Lake Superior Provincial Park I was amused by the signs for some of the trails and what was available on them, like this one, that suggests you can hike, hook-up and mate!]

When we arrived on Friday the winds were strong and the waves were high. We walked along the 3.5 km of beach and watched a beautiful sunset. In the end, we were grateful we couldn't get a spot by the water, due to the wind. Our campsite was sheltered and allowed us to get a good night sleep.

On Saturday morning, the winds had died down and the water was calm. I went for a run along the beach, followed by a swim. It was weird to go into such a large body of water and not emerge sticky from all the ocean salt.

On our drive into the park the day before, we had noticed a hike to the Agawa Rock pictographs. So instead of continuing east on our way out of the park, we re-traced our drive about 7km to find the pictographs trail. We weren't the only ones who decided to check them out as there were dozens of people there! After walking down the trail for about 15 minutes we arrived at a rocky area with a ranger standing there. He gave us a bit of information about the 300-year-old paintings and instructed us to take off our shoes so that we wouldn't slip on our descent down the rocks.

After the adrenaline pumping hike, we were back in the car and heading towards Manitoulin Island, located in Lake Huron and considered the world's largest freshwater island. One of the super cool advantages of our microcamper is being able to stop and setup anywhere, even if it's just for a quick lunch stop!

Our first night on Manitoulin was spent stealth camping in a marine parking lot, right on entry to the island. It was a beautiful, quiet spot on the water. As we were stealth camping, we woke up early the next morning and headed to the Cup and Saucer trail head. The 5km hike showed us some fantastic views of the water and island. We then got back in the car towards South Baymouth in hopes of finding a waterfront campsite for the night. We felt like we were pressing our luck to find such a spot on the Sunday of a long weekend, but when we arrived at the South Bay Campground, we had several good spots to choose from. We soaked up the sun, had lunch at the local pub, and swam in Lake Huron.

By Monday morning, the rain had arrived, so we packed up camp with our next destination being my parents' condo in Mississauga via the Sudbury Nickel. With the long weekend traffic we arrived there just in time for dinner. We spent the week visiting my family, celebrating both my birthday and my niece's, working out in my parents' condo gym, going downtown Toronto, and visiting friends in Kitchener.

Keep reading about the third part of our trip HERE