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!

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

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

 

Until we reached our destination… the beautiful Kananaskis region!

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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:

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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.

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The trail and river behind our campsite.

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Our setup:

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

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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! 🙂

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Spider dogs!

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

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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