The Welcoming Wilderness of the West


So we’ve finally turned the nose of the car north, towards what’s become one of the destinations in this journey… the Yukon.  But it’s more about the journey, isn’t that what they say?  So, let’s journey to the beautiful rolling farmer’s fields and the wide and sweeping lands of the country surrounding Camrose in central Alberta, just below Edmonton.

(But first… a big shout-out to the Calgarian cousins… we missed you this time, but we’ll be back!  We’ll be baaaaaaaackkkk!)


And onto Pretty Hill, who’s name certainly fit it’s surrounding beauty, but was actually named for Chief Pretty of the local historical indigenous chief.  The wonderful Verlyn and Mardell from the Olson side of the family welcomed us with open arms!  And we were so very fortunate to spend some time with their sons, Hans, Eric, and Eric’s wonderful family.  Alas, we’re trading spots as Polkaroos with Laura – next time!


In the meantime, the kids had a great time playing together.


The zip line was a big hit!  This is the same one that Eric, Hans and Laura played on as kids.  Only one of our kids ate grass instead of running to a stop, and only once. 😉  JB brushed it off and went right back on it again.



Here’s a great shot of the first cousins, twice removed (we think that’s what it’s called!).


And Mardell showed us her skills as a cow whisperer – after she calls them, the entire herd of cattle literally run to her and stand still watching her.  Unbelievable!  C tried it out herself the following morning as we were leaving the next day… and it worked (although maybe just with this well-trained herd)!



These grandparents know what they’re doing!  Cleanup time!


It was a great night filled with catching up with family, DPR watching the trains coming for miles and going for miles, watching an incredible thunderstorm light up the wide-open night sky through the large living room windows, talking about the truth and reconciliation process and the incredible friend that Mardell made through a chance meeting, and learning what bark biting is – google it!  What a unique art form, that Mardell’s friend was taught by her mother to stay away from the fire as a kid.  Beautiful!


Sidenote: Check out Hans’ latest documentary which he edited about Canada’s “Sixties Scoop” impact on one particular indigenous family – touching, sweet and heartbreaking all at once.  Very relevant.  One goal of this trip that has come into focus for us is to learn more, from G and C’s perspective, and introduce our children to various Indigenous cultures during this trip.  This movie was definitely an inspiration.  Check out the trailer here.  I think it’s playing again at the Bell TIFF lightbox in Toronto this Saturday, Nov 11th at 1:00 pm, in case anyone is interested in joining us!

Enjoying fresh asparagus plucked from their wonderful garden.

As a really cool treat, we got a chance to have Norwegian lefse on the dishes of G’s great grandparents, Lynd and Lena.  This Norse treat is like a thin potato flat bread with butter and sugar in it – no complaints here!  I think sometimes it can be served with smoked fish.  Whoops – look down… you’re drooling. 😉

Can you spot the two sets of eyes hunting the last two pieces on the plate?


There’s something to be said about small gestures having a huge significance when it comes to remembering ancestors.  This was one of those wonderful gestures.  Thanks to Mardell and Verlyn for including us in it!


At this point in the trip, G and C started doing some soul-searching about the pace of the trip so far. It’s been pretty steady moving, with hardly any 4time to relax or enjoy a place for any real amount of time.  We were originally planning to drive from Toronto to the Yukon, and then down to San Jose, California to visit C’s brother and family down there.  And then race back in time to Kingston by mid-August for C’s big family reunion.  But when you zoom out on google maps to look at the distances covered on this trip, you realize that this is a huge isosceles triangle of North America!  (sorry – we’re geeks).  It also means we’ll need to keep up the current pace of near-daily hard core 6-7 hour driving days interspersed with a few 2-3-day stays.  The truth is, we’re just not enjoying this pace as much as we had hoped, what with the daily pop-up and take-down, and daily long drives.  It’s feeling awfully rushed.  So, the Olsons were great people to bounce ideas off of how to slow it down, which routes to take and so on.  The wheels have just started to turn on how to change things, but we’re not sure just yet.

So after another brief one night stay (we would have loved to stay longer with the wonderful Olsons at their wonderful home), we were off – northward bound. DSC_0941_edited-1

We’ll be passing through Edmonton (sorry Aunt C & Uncle D!  Next time!) and off to northern BC on a diagonal up to the Yukon!  Drive on!



Kananaskis Country and Major Fail #2

…aaaaaannnnd we’re back!  Sorry for the non-communiqué… life got busy, Wifi got rare and I got waaaay behind in the posts.  So it’s back to the future time!

So imagine that Canada Day has just happened, you’ve had a lovely long weekend and found a way to celebrate Canada’s big 1-5-0, and the Rolling Olsens are in Fernie, BC.  Aaaaaannnnd action!…

After a tasty breakfast (don’t tell the kids that the granola and yogurt breakfast is healthy! They loved it!) and a farewell to family, we hit the road.  From Fernie, BC, we were backtracking east out of the sharp tall mountains with the goal to end up in the Kananaskis region between Banff and Calgary.  On F& P’s recommendation, we took a beautiful scenic route along the flat plains just east of the Rockies.

It was beautiful!



The mountains sneak off into the distance, and the beautiful wide plains are covered in ranches and crops.



“Home on the Range” comes to mind.  Where the elk and the dall sheep roam…


Until we reached our destination… the beautiful Kananaskis region!


Now I could go on with just how beautiful this area is… but I think I need to explain the title of this blog… our second major trailer fail.

Texas gates.  These will forever have an importance for us.  What are theyDSC_0669_edited-1?  Well the first thing to note is that we passed a sign warning “CAUTION: CATTLE AT LARGE”.  That seemed amusing, that it needed to be a sign.  Then we started crossing sections of roads that had Texas gates across them.  They are a section of road with a series of bars set across it to prevent cattle from crossing from one field to another via the roads.  They are well signed, and for the record, I made it across the first two without a problem. 😉



Then it happened.  We crossed one particularly well-spaced Texas gate and heard a noise you hope to never hear while pulling a tent trailer… a bang followed by the sound of metal scraping on pavement.  Not knowing what the damage was, we pulled over as fast as possible.  The mini-cones from all those years of ultimate and soccer finally came in handy!  This is what we found:


That’s right… we actually dropped the trailer.  It landed on the small plastic castor wheel, which, as expected, was not meant to handle high speeds of any sort, and was totally and ultimately annihilated.

Then the safety chains dragged the trailer with us until we pulled over.  Looks like the only damage to the car was a little bump on the bumper from the hitch.  We got off surprisingly easy on this one.  The likely root cause is that we hadn’t engaged the trailer hitch on the ball hitch receiver properly – that it was just sitting on top of it somehow and bumped off with the Texas gate challenge.  Again… we live and we learn!!  And this could have ended so much worse, so we were very fortunate that it failed in the best possible way.

We were able to jack up the trailer and get it back on the hitch receiver without an issue.  And so off we continued, feeling a little more humble about this whole towing thing.  Towing seems to be a science, whereas reversing a trailer seems to be an art.  I think we’re getting better at both. 😉

The beautiful Bow Valley Provincial Park helped to sweep the previous adventure from our minds.


The trail and river behind our campsite.


Our setup:


The kids being goofs.  They’ve been pretty good on all of these long drives!  Marshmellows for them tonight!


We were fortunate to have a visitor come out and join us for dinner!  The brilliant and gorgeous Heather!  It was so lovely to catch up, have some laughs and see another friendly face!  She even brought us food for dinner!  Yup – gotta love good friends! 🙂


Spider dogs!


And then there’s E-man who is growing up more everyday.


It sounds like the Kananaskis region has a lot to offer.  The playground of Calgarians, we’ve heard it called.  I think we could have spent a lot more time exploring and hiking.  But after a quick night’s stay, we were off again as we started trekking our way to our main goal on this trip… the Yukon.  So we’re off to Camrose, AB!

Happy Canada Day Fernie-Style!

Did I mention how awesome family is?  Apparently, the line must have been down between Winnipeg and Fernie as the warnings had not gotten through yet.  C’s wonderful Aunt and Uncle in Fernie put our horde up for the Canada Day weekend.  And what a warm welcome we got!


It was also so nice to park the car and the trailer for a few days after such a long trek!  And what a view to greet us in the morning!DSC_0379.JPG

The bikes came in handy, as P & F led our group into town.  We met up with C’s cousin and her family who also live in Fernie.  And we headed down to the local celebrations.

It was also great to see C’s cousin and her family!



This kid is done.



A taught JB how to get to checkmate within four moves.  These kids are pros!


Uncle F in action.DSC_0377.JPGDSC_0376.JPGIMG_4916.JPG

DPR (I figured out I was spelling the acronym for Dread Pirate Roberts incorrectly) is looking for golf balls.DSC_0389.JPG

Kids to play with, toys AND a giant basement training centre playground??!  The kids were in heaven!

There’s a legend about the ghost rider which can apparently be seen in this mountain formation.  Can you spot the rider?  We’ll have to get the story again from the fam when we see them next month.


Breakfast with our fabulous hosts!  What a view!  And the mountains aren’t bad either!DSC_0440.JPG

Aunt P leading the pack…DSC_0464.JPGIMG_4912.JPG

We took a bikeride to downtown Fernie.  What a pretty town it is.  Lots of nice shops and restaurants.DSC_0466.JPGDSC_0467.JPG

What’s more exciting than learning how to make smoothies over and over?  Apparently, nothing.DSC_0470.JPG

Then we got a lift up to the top of the mountain to go for a hike!DSC_0474.JPGDSC_0484.JPGDSC_0486.JPG

There’s quite the culture of very fast and very extreme mountain biking going on at the hill during the summer.  These people go FAST!  We chose to leave our bikes at home… this time.  Dutch bikes with seven gears and no shocks are maybe not the right equipment. 😉  (What do they say about a poor person who blames their tools?)

E said that it was just a little hike…DSC_0490.JPG

DPR was determined to hike like everyone else.  And just to kick it up a notch, he started weight training at the same time!DSC_0491.JPGDSC_0499.JPG

There were gorgeous wildflowers along the trail.  Apparently they’ll be even more spectacular in a month.


Fossil hunting!DSC_0503.JPGDSC_0502.JPG

Half the team did another hikeDSC_0511.JPGDSC_0509.JPGDSC_0510.JPG

And they were rewarded… with a snowball fight!DSC_0516.JPGDSC_0527.JPG

Wait… are we missing someone?DSC_0535.JPGDSC_0542.JPG

And on to a nearby stream for a secret cache of clay!DSC_0552DSC_0550.JPGDSC_0554.JPG

And off to E and J’s house for an awesome BBQ, catching up and, for the kids, playing.  (What you can’t see is the sprinkler underneath the trampoline which kept them busy for hours).


On our last morning, thanks to Aunt P, E-man went through a hair transformation!IMG_8324.JPG


The Long Haul

Now for one of our longest treks – from Regina, Saskatchewan to Fernie, BC (Sorry Alberta! We’ll catch you in a bit!).  We got up early and still, painstakingly, only left the house at 8:30 AM.  (Sigh!  Life with three kids!)  Still, we were on the road.

But long trips call for many bathroom breaks.  And while looking for one in an emergency, we were really lucky to stumble upon the Chaplin Nature Centre.


Literally in the middle of farmland and a small community in Saskatchewan, there is this awesome little centre focused on the surrounding salt-water lakes area and how it plays its role as a huge all-you-can-eat buffet for migrating birds.


Needless to say, the budding Earth Rangers loved it!




And Ethan picked up a very long stuffed snake while there.DSC_0277.JPG

More gorgeous Prairie views.


The newer style of grain elevators filling up trains that went on for miles.


This one is for Uncle A…


And this one…


In addition to bathroom breaks, there must be a lunch break as well.  The union here is pretty established, and we wouldn’t want to rock the boat…

…so we picked a random little town to stop at for a picnic lunch.  We happened to stop into the tiny village of Tompkins, SK.  This is one of those tiny towns that you are instantly curious about!

At first, it just seemed empty, with one small main street, some nicely kept homes, a post office, a cute small fenced in museum of sorts, and a lovely big playground. The awesome park met the union stewards’ approval (and it just so happened to be built on the centennial of Confederation, so it was nice to be here roughly 50 years later).


The kids amused themselves well.



For washroom breaks, we ran into the local restaurant.  Although the place did have a little eau de farm wafting in the air, it was authentic as this place was the real deal and served the ranch hand crowd every day.  According to the nice lady who owns it, the majority of that crowd prefers to come in for a home-cooked breakfast, so this restaurant does brisk business with 70 to 100 people passing through her doors before 10 AM.  We seem to have caught the town on a quiet day since there was a fair on in the next local town and all the regulars were there.  The owner was happy to catch her breath though and this partially explains the ghost-town-like feel we got upon driving into the town.  JB and G played Hallelujah as a duet on the piano available in the entrance.

The homemade pies we took to go from the restaurant were deeee-licious!  We mailed a few postcards and chatted up the post office lady, who (you guessed it!) was also lovely and friendly and loved living in the town.  Good ole googlemaphone helped fill in some blanks to let us know that the town’s claim to fame is that there was a man who could predict the weather based on examining pig spleens!  He was such a unique soul, that he made it onto late night American TV and a character on CBC’s Corner Gas was named after him.  All in all, it was a lovely stop and brief snapshot of this wonderful working cattle town.

But the day is getting on now and we’re kicking it through Alberta.  The views are still gorgeous and the highway goes through all these little bustling towns along the way.  So you have to keep an eye out for when the speed limits change.  Which C happened to miss one as she passed a shiny new RCMP car.  The very nice officer was very forgiving though (as he reduced her ticket substantially) and talkative (as he had plenty of suggestions for us on our trip to the Yukon).  So a bit of a bruise, but it could have been worse!  Off we go again!

And then, all of a sudden, there will hills sneaking into the horizon…


… And then there were foothills in the distance…


… And then, we were into the mountains!

And finally… with three sleeping kids in the back, we pulled into our destination in the dark with wonderful familiar faces to greet us and cold beer waiting for us!  And THAT was a long haul that we were certainly glad to be finished!  ZZzzzzzzzz…

Kids’ Blog – Saskatchewan Science Centre

A review on the Saskatchewan Science Centre, in E-man’s view.

I saw dinosaur at the museum and it had spikes at the back.  It wasn’t real.


It was a very long bike ride there.


He was talking about outer space.  And he launched a rocket and it came back.  He launched it with fire.  The green ballon they lit it and the green balloon blasted!  It was like “BWAGHGHGHGH”!!!!


 (Julia tried to make the sound and said “I can’t make that sound.  I’m too old for it”).

Next Stop… Regina!

We said farewell to Riding Mountain National Park and Manitoba and travelled through the heart of the prairies.  Something went wrong with google maps as we certainly took the less travelled roads.  It was still gorgeous (maybe even more so).


C’s first three-point turn with the trailer when we realized we had missed a turn.


Wes taking care to share sunglasses with his favourite stuffie, Fox.


This time, we decided to take a two day respite from all the camping and pop-up tent setup and take down.  Catch up on a bit of laundry, have some overdue baths, and check out the Honda dealer and RV stores for some parts (we are one part shy of have working brakes on the trailer, which may come in handy in those little hills called the Rockies) We also wanted to work in some site-seeing in the lovely city of Regina.  So we booked an Airbnb, and how lovely it was to stretch out and relax!

Now both G and I have been to Regina separately, and I really like this town!  Gorgeous

The fam actually split up with G and JB having some daddy-daughter time together (learning to play catch as it was!).  DRP, E-man and I grabbed our bikes and headed for … the flats (as opposed to the hills).  The downtown homes are gorgeous and the beautiful canopy of old elm and ash trees providing welcome shade on the streets as we go by.  It was a hot day!


Now this 20-minute bike ride turns out to be a 2 hour bike ride, as it does with kids.  Complete with a stop at the cool Canada Games Wascana Lake park (had it not been so windy, it would have been cool to rent a canoe to paddle on the lake).  Wes was thrilled with his digger (and loathe to part with it!).


Photo courtesy: E-man

We finally made it to our destination: Saskatchewan Science Centre (again free with our Ontario Science Centre – cheers Auntie S!).

There’s a plan hatching here…


We had a lot of fun in this modest-sized but unique centre.  There was a lot of mining- and farming-centric games and such.


I couldn’t get far from my uranium CANDU bundle past (GE Canada made, no less):


And the kids’ favourite was chasing after the yellow balls that they would dump in a hopper somewhere, to be deposited elsewhere, to be “harvested”/collected to be put on a train to be shipped/sold, each time the yellow balls zipping around overhead in clear tubes.  Best E-man quote of the day: “Farming is hard work!”  No truer words were said, I think.  We were there until closing and then played in the musical playground outside with giant metal sheets for making thunder and geeky engineering playground stuff.  We loved it!  But by this time, DRP, E-man and I are pretty tired, and the weather has definitely turned to a windy, grey, cold and spitting with rain.  So we called in the troops and got bailed out by G and JB who picked us up halfway home.  It was nice to cook some home-cooked meals in a decent kitchen, and we filled up on mac and cheese and cupcakes for dessert.

We didn’t hit it this time, but I’d highly recommend visiting the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, walking about the parks and trails around Wascana Lake, as well as grabbing one of the tours at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building (gorgeous old building with marble everywhere and oozing with history).



But beware the mosquitos!  To this time in my life, the mosquitos in Regina are some of the fastest and stealthiest ones in the country!  You can feel them weigh down on your arm as they land.  So you have to move fast!  Hence the bikes!


A lovely two days in Regina before our next big haul – Fernie, BC!

Riding the Trails on Riding Mountain

First off, can I say just how beautiful the prairies are?  Boring? Bah!!!  Horizons that go on forever, beautiful panoramas of golden and green fields and farms that look well kept but frozen in time.


Watching a baby black bear cross the road as we pull into Riding Mountain National Park was definitely a good sign (depending how you look at it).  Yes, we’re in bear country and we have to be more careful with three kids who love to bathe in peanut butter every morning.  But it also means we’re getting into real nature!  And what an awesome national park to do this in – we are loving Riding Mountain NP!  It’s about a two hour drive northwest of Winnipeg, and it is AMAZING!


The quaint town of Wasagaming (meaning “clear water” in Cree) is located inside the national park, and was originally meant to be a Victorian-era holiday playground.  The Swiss craftsman at the turn of the last century really put their talents to work in the buildings throughout.  Some of the locals admit that the town does get busier in the summer, and that June or the fall are the best (and quietest) time to visit.

We followed our noses to an amazing bakery with some of the tastiest sandwiches to rival some of our favourites back home.


To quote Shrek, Wasagaming is like an onion.  You have this humungous national park with a buffalo compound, or hiking trails looking over the lower plains for miles and miles.




Then you peel that layer off for the campground, with it’s awesome treed sites and paved roads for the kids to rip along on their scooters.


DRP may have sustained a few injuries from his high speed escapades on his scooter trying to keep up (or go faster) than his siblings.  He won’t let those hold him back though!


This town/campground is so picturesque, that even the washrooms/showers and water treatment facilities are beautiful log cabins!

Then you peel that layer off, and then there’s the town of Wasagming, with its quaint bakeries, restaurants, visitor’s info centre looking right out of a fairytale (what an awesome place to work!), ice cream stores, a ton of tiny cabins for visitors, and plenty of shops to meander through.



Then you find the gorgeous parkland with bike paths, mini-putt, tennis courts, gazebos, gardens and soaring trees providing much-needed shady spots to rest.



The final layer is the long sandy beach which occupied the kids for hours!  The water was cold, being June, but it was perfect for sandcastles and the water was extremely shallow in areas where the kids chased millions of minnows about, for hours, literally.




We loved our time here (we finally stayed for 2 nights .  Riding Mountain is definitely one of our highlights!

Riding Mountain NP, in Julia’s eyes.

This was a time where I was getting more into an Earth Ranger.  I saw the animals so I wanted to get a picture.  When I got a picture, I felt so much like a real Earth Ranger, because it looked like it was a real animal but it was made out of nature.  They were bisons.


Rolling into Winnipeg and the Prairies

A week into our trip and we said farewell to Ontario, although making several mental notes to our bucket list to come back and explore all that northern Ontario has to offer.  We loved our time there, and will certainly come back to check out the Algoma country to hike, canoe and tour more of it’s beautiful rugged land, including the Ouimet canyon, Potholes Provincial Park, and the quaint towns throughout.  So farewell, Ontario!

And say hello to Manitoba!  The kids started chanting “Winnipeg!  Winnipeg!” that morning (DRP got two out of three syllables correct).  But packing up our site and trailer as well as the large amount of stops for the kids made for a late afternoon arrival.  We haven’t got our routine perfected yet!

You gotta love family.  I mean, who else will hear from you the day before and willingly offer to feed you and let you crash at their place?  It was so good to see all of C’s awesome Winnipeg family, and even get a chance to meet and hold the newest addition to the family!  Apparently, we had so much fun chatting into the wee hours of the morning, that we forgot to take many pictures with everyone.  We’ll blame it on the growler of beer we brought from Kenora and we’ll have to make up for it in August at the big Simons family reunion!  Here’s a glimpse!




On the way out, we did follow our family’s suggestion to check out the Forks – an awesome public space full of restaurants, museums and sites.  At this point, we had gotten off a little slowly from the family headquarters, so had to choose which place to spend a little time with.  The Canadian Museum for Human Rights sounded amazing (and looked cool)…


… but the kids outnumbered us and voted for the Children’s Museum.  Understandable really.



And what an awesome place the Children’s Museum is!  And if you happen to be a member of a Science Centre that’s part of the Canadian Association of Science Centres, then you can get into all of them free or at a discount.  (Thanks to Auntie S for the recommendation!)

Boy did these kids have a blast!



Picture DRP saying “Again!” after each slide.  Yes, that is a psychadelic slide.


The number one hit was the working digger.


But I’ll turn it over to the kids to explain it better.

Winnipeg Children’s Museum, in Julia’s opinion:

“I was playing at the water place, and there’s like this little swirl pool, and when we put a ball in, it would go down and pop out of the hole on the bottom.  The swirl pool would suck it down.  I could hardly get my hand back up out of the swirl pool.”


“In this case, I kept putting balls inside the tubes and they would come out somewhere.  There’s little things you flip to make the balls go to the milk case or elsewhere. The funnest one was to make it go up high by flipping the things back and forth and  would make it go like sideways way up high or to the milk case.  If it went way up high, it would hit you on your head.  But they’re like a little cotton ball so it did not hurt.”


Note how amazing these two have gotten at sharing on this trip.  Brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?



Rushing River – A Blast from G’s Past

So the story goes that G and his family would meet their Calgarian cousins and family at the midpoint between Toronto and Calgary.  Which apparently is still in Ontario.  That would place them here at Rushing River, oh about 35 years ago.  So aside from everything looking like a smaller version of it back then, G says it hadn’t changed much at all.  Which meant it was awesome!

DSC_9927.JPGIt also means… cooking a real breakfast!  Steak and eggs…yummmm.


Finally, we were able to stay in a place for TWO nights in a row!  Even the rainy morning couldn’t stop these kids from being outside and playing!  Afterwards, they were soaked and happy.

We met a lovely family from Winnipeg (it seems a lot of Winnipeggers come out to this park right on the Ontario/Manitoba border).  The RV crowd really do help eachother out, and there’s a lot of lending that goes on, such as when the water hookup is too far away, people share an extra hose and such.  I figure you’re already sharing your personal space being so close to eachother, and they can definitely hear our kids playing outside! 😉

The major thing that stands out for me at Rushing River campground is the awesome swimming area.  There are a few beaches with shallow waters, some gentle rapids to look at, and kayaks for rent to take along “the Path of the Paddle” (recently completed Trans Canada Trail connecting Kenora to Thunder Bay for the adventurous… maybe in 10 years with the kids 😉 ).


These kids are brave – it’s colder than it looks!


And just to make sure we’re not roughing it too much, we drove into Kenora. This is an awesome little town, by the way!  I loved it’s feel – small/medium town with a very active downtown with independent small stores, amazing brewery/pub/bottle store called Lake of the Woods with tasty beers, and they even had a massive beer and BBQ festival happening that weekend.  Highly recommend a visit!


Beautiful wildflowers!


DRP’s favourite breakfast “butter” on “bun” (PB on bread).DSC_9970.JPG

Hello Thunder Bay!

By now, we’re realizing that we’ve been going at a pretty fast pace, with packing up, driving every day and setting up each night.  Needless to say, there was grumbling in the ranks, and we were sensing that a mutiny was forming.  We had planned to drive 6 hours today to Rushing River to stay two nights, oh and get our trailer bumper/hitch repaired in Thunder Bay.  I think it was a wise move to make a compromise with the troops and move things around a little bit.

We switched our plan to have a stop in Thunder Bay (a mere 1.5 hours away) and postponed Rushing River.  TB (appears to be the affectionate short form for this city) is where we met possibly the most practical and wonderful welding shop in all of Thunder Bay.  A very competent gentleman at a custom welding shop (Rudnicki Industrial) stopped as he was heading out for lunch and took a look at our sad and broken trailer bumper and hitch receiver.  With minimal words and obvious expertise in metal working, we determined that the “hitch receiver” was actually someone’s aftermarket custom job of two angle irons welded together, and that there was no way that the thin metal bumper channel could support much weight.  Regardless, John assured us “We can help you out”.  So we left our little big trailer with John and off we went.

For good reason, the school boards really advertise the story of Terry Fox to kids.  So when we saw the Terry Fox Monument to mark where his incredible and ambitious run came to an end, we pulled off to take a look.  I think the kids were impressed with someone they see as a hero.


The lookout was gorgeous as well.  This is where Sleeping Giant PP gets it’s name from, if you can tell from the picture.


I’m sure the Finns out there already knew this, but did YOU know that there are huge Finnish roots in Thunder Bay?  There’s even saunas that you can park and enjoy whenever you feel the need to.  So of course we have to pick a Finnish restaurant, which E-man gave the thumbs up to the Finnish pancakes.  And apparently all the kids approved of C’s soup.


Within an hour, we had a call from John saying the trailer was fixed.  They did a nice job fixing it!  They even cut the slots needed for supporting the beds when it’s open.  Big shout out to John and the folks at Rudnicki’s!


Back to the Future! (Crossing time zones)!  But apparently G is tired as he took the picture from the wrong side of the sign. 😉


Until our arrival in Kakabeka Falls!  And early enough to have a fire.  And fires mean roasted marshmellows in the camping version of Pavlov’s dog theory, obviously.


The campsite was small and basic, but the showers were lovely and warm (compared to a chilly shower in Lake Superior PP)!  And the kids are whipping around the paved roads on their scooters and bikes.  Wesley earns himself a warrior wound or two, but keeps on trying to go as fast as his siblings.

By the time breakfast is finished (of those individual-sized boxes of sugary cereal…mmmm… corn pops!), we’re ready to check out these falls, which the google-ma-phone tells me is the second highest falls in Ontario.  They are gorgeous!




An awesome home baked pizza from CJ’s in this lovely small town, and I would rate a stop at Kakabeka Falls in the top five for sure!  There’s even a nice educational centre in the park that looks to have an active summer program (it was closed while we were there).  So add it to your Ontario bucket list!

Here’s your fun fact for the day:

The Legend of Green Mantle is about an Ojibwe chief who upon hearing news of an imminent attack from the Sioux tribe instructs his daughter, Princess Green Mantle, to devise a plan to protect her people. She enters the Sioux camp along the Kaministiquia River and, pretending to be lost, she bargains with them to spare her life if she will bring them to her father’s camp. Placed at the head of the canoe, she instead leads herself and the Sioux warriors over the falls to their deaths, sparing her tribe from the attack. The legend claims that one can see Green Mantle when looking into the mist of Kakabeka Falls, a monument to the princess that gave her life to save her people.  Wow – what a woman!