Category Archives: Camping

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Rushing River Ontario Provincial Park

Rushing River is arguably the loveliest and most popular of the many lovely and popular provincial parks in Ontario. I say that because for many local families camping and going to Rushing River are synonymous. Due to this, you simply can’t get in during summer without a reservation. The location is what makes the place so special. Dogtooth Lake is a lovely lake with deep clear cool water, perfect for water skiing, or tubing. Where the lake narrows and empties, it creates a river that goes over many small rapids and past many deep pools as it eventually finds its way to Lake of the Woods. Beyond that the water will enter the drainage system to Lake Winnipeg and from there to the Hudson Bay and the arctic ocean going north.

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My grandson Luke with part of the first rapids in the background at Rushing River. (Picture by Anne Marquez-Hunstad)

In several places small beaches with fine sand have formed in calm spots, perfect for a toddler to splash in, especially in late afternoon after the sun has warmed the otherwise briskly cool water in the little bay. There are also natural wild places which challenge the strongest swimmer with water reportedly 25 feet or more deep, sheer cliffs of 5 metres that you can run and jump off into very deep water and giant rock islands you can swim to and then crawl up and sit in the sun to warm up or use as diving towers. It’s also a perfect place to launch a canoe or kayak. Inflatables are practically required here. Big red booms crossing the top of the rapids in the swimming area keep the inflatables and their passengers on the proper side of the rapids.

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Dick and my son Alan and Luke and Noah help haul the canoe and the inflatables from the beach back to our campsite.

The river does indeed rush. It also gurgles, splashes, tinkles, roars and thunders depending on where you stand. The lake is set in granite rock of the Canadian shield and there is little in the way of soil. Scrubby pines and spruce cling to sheer drops and granite faces. Extensive woods on both sides mean abundant wildlife, especially birds and game fish. While out walking the dogs near the water’s edge I saw a trout that must have been four or five pounds lounging in a shallow pool. This is a place where when they say put your food away because of bears, they are not kidding.

 

The park encircles the area where the lake narrows and the includes the first two sets of rapids. The individual lots range from huge grassy pull-throughs to tiny little spots on granite where you can barely fit a two man tent. There are four campgrounds and they also vary. Two are right near the rapids and have showers and flush toilets, playgrounds, and all amenities. Two of the campgrounds are further away from the rapids wrapping around the lake. Lots of the roads are paved and there are steep hills and flat areas making it perfect for my 11 year old grandson to go biking with his BMX type trick bike. There are several trails to walk, from the easiest flat type a toddler or someone in a wheelchair can manage to long demanding trails of several kilometres. One day when my husband and I felt the need for a time out from the delightful constant demands of the children, we took the lower rapids trail which is partly stairs and wooden paths but it still a very wild and demanding to walk. Since it was late summer, hints of fall colour were already present. The wildflowers were spectacular and we saw a beaver munching in a pool. Dick did take a spill and got all muddy but he was unhurt. We traveled with one son, his wife and their two sons and one other grandson. We also made one afternoon trip into the city of Kenora which is about a half an hour away and is right on Lake of the Woods. Kenora has fancy hotels and lodges if camping is not your schtick.

We had such a wonderful time we want to go again every year and get the rest of the family to come as well.

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Visiting with the grandchildren means endless rounds of ball chasing, wrestling, lots of delicious normally off limits dropped (and occasionally snatched) food like hot dogs and bacon strips and marshmallows. Fred also loves swimming and at Rushing River there were lots of places he could swim without worrying about gators or sharks even though the official beaches are off limits to dogs. On our way home after the trip, Fred checks the air and sighs a big sigh. He had a wonderful time but we all arrived home simultaneously exhausted and refreshed.

 

Uncle Sam’s Revenge

Snow A favorite topic of American weather forecasters is assorted names applied to weather from Canada. They include “cold arctic air from Canada” (like Alaska isn’t up there too), the Manitoba Mauler, and the Alberta Clipper. Well Uncle Sam occasionally delivers his own wallop to get even and like most things Uncle Sam does, it is go big or go home. The Colorado Low is a perfect example. Here it is lovely May weather in Manitoba and the trees are blooming and the grass is green and the birds are singing happily and preparing their nests. Little goslings faithfully follow mother goose. And then along comes Uncle Sam with his Colorado low to remind us all why Winnipeg is often referred to as “Winterpeg”. So the incoming Colorado low brought us two days of bitter cold, high winds, power outages, road closures, travel advisories, and 10-15cm of heavy wet snow, freezing rain, ice pellets and general misery for man and beast and plant. (That’s 4-6 inches of snow for you Americans who threw out the English King 200+ years ago but insist on keeping his silly measurements system the rest of us discarded decades ago.) My birthday is Tuesday and my granddaughter has hers a few days later so it has become a kind of family tradition to celebrate the Victoria Day weekend with a family picnic and joint birthday party. I cancelled for this year. This is very disappointing for me but inevitable. At least we had a get together with almost all of us for Mother’s Day. I guess Uncle Sam wants to make sure we don’t give up our plans for spending the winters in the southern USA. Snowball

Hubby Dearest prepares to throw a May snowball.

Arkabutla Lake Army Corp of Engineer Campsite

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These pink flowers were in bloom everywhere. They were also full of happy bees. It was the spring migration eruption and the campground was full of chickadees, blue birds, red headed woodpeckers, cardinals, Carolina chickadees, warblers and so many other birds I couldn’t keep track.

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The Lake is nice and big, bigger than Forklund but it was too far to haul the canoe without unhitching so we just took a long walk to the boat ramp and looked out.SAM_5360 SAM_5361 SAM_5362

We saw a lot of wildlife (including a black widow spider and a rattlesnake) but only this poor deceased shell of an armadillo was still long enough to photograph.

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Safe in Black River WS

We awoke in Bertha, dressed got on our way and started the truck only to discover the gas tank was empty. We had somehow been relieved of a half a tank of gas overnight. No leaked gas on the ground and so we reported it to the local police. The very nice officer said Bertha has been having issues with attempted break-ins over the last few days and this fits a pattern. He was very upset and apologized profusely.

We picked up a tiny window alarm at Walmart that sets off a 120db siren if the wind is opened and we are going to rig it so it goes off if someone opens our little gas door. That should fix the parasite issue. We also stopped at a wonderful Amish/Old Order Mennonite country store and walked out with $50 full of old style pickles and preserves. Yum!

We then rolled by a nice little country town Goodyear and got the tire that was so bald it had gotten dangerous replaced. Somehow that didn’t get done before we left. With exchange it ended up being the same price as back in Canada. Then we drive north around Mineapolis through some very pretty country and got safely into Wisconsin. We are currently nestled into an empty spot in a Flying J between two other RVers as we plan on being on our way early in the morning. We have only done this once before but it was another 24 miles to the State Park and it was dark and I was beat. Lots of RVers stay at Flying J truck stops for quick overnights. I’ll write about the experience tomorrow. Next stop Milwaukee to visit my SL job boss and friend. This should be our last day of driving until 8:00pm. The rest of the trip is slower and has open campgrounds all the way along.

Update: The overnight at the Flying J was just fine. We took the advice we had heard from other bloggers and parked our RV next to other RVs and away from the big trucks. We also put our rig off the main entrance and exit. The result was not too bad for noise. We actually slept well. Mostly it felt very safe. It was weird because so many people were coming and going and yet I think that was why I felt safe. We had RVers on both sides. The truck drivers were all polite and the staff at the Flying J were friendly and professional. With so many people coming and going I think something like someone trying to siphon off our gas tank would be noticed by someone. The other bonus over a state park was we had really great internet. We saved the $22 fee for the electric only site at the State Park we had planned on staying at. We did pay the $10 dump fee Flying J charges and we filled up with gas before we left. That’s how they make their money I guess. So on the one hand a state park and more cost poor or no internet and frankly, this time of year, possibly the only ones around and an unsafe feeling with a pretty view and then Flying J with no view, lots of truck noises and safety. Savings $12 net. After getting to Madison WI we paused our trip to stop at camping world. I positively drooled over a camper that is the same size as ours but had a four foot slider and the size difference was amazing. The layout was also wonderful. The bedroom had a real door! We also renewed our Good Sam membership card because this gives us the dump fee at Flying J for $3 and saves us $7. We would only need to stay overnight at a Flying J and dump four times over the course of a year for it to pay for the membership plus we do occasionally shop at Camping World and that means a 10% discount. We will be doing the Flying J boon docking again. Who needs a fancy view when you arrive after dark and leave as fast as you can in the morning?

Quiet Days in Rapid City Manitoba

Someone forgot to turn off September. I sure hope they don’t notice and turn it back on. The weather for October continues to be far warmer than October is supposed to be. I have some hopes that the third brutal winter in a row everyone has been forecasting might not happen after all. We have been spending the days writing up a storm with Chapter 3 of our joint book closing fast on a final form. Dick is working on my first draft of Chapter 4 now. Chapter 5 & 6 are in first draft and also await his touch. We have had to do a fair bit of review and consultation on the function of the protein septin and its role in the cytoskeleton and other fascinating stuff. I always find it amusing when Dick’s lack of basic biological training shows because it is the one area I can occasionally outshine him. Like all self taught experts he occasionally displays little holes in his background which I appreciate finding. I am almost always the student and he the senior mentor otherwise.

I have also gotten a lot more writing done on my very loosely biographical novel. (I say that because it started out as biographical but the characters are taking off in their own directions as characters so often do.) We had hoped to get the canoe in the water today, but those strong south winds bringing us such lovely warmth mean canoeing is not possible. Maybe tomorrow. Instead, for our exercise today we walked the local town trail to lookout hill. This is a typical small prairie town complete with typical prairie whimsy in the form of cowboy boots and skates pinned to a power pole on a village street with nothing there but an open field. This is a really pretty place and very nice to stay in. I saw a river otter from my window last night! At $90/week, it’s also $150/week less than the one Winnipeg campground that is still open and here there is not a whiff of the ubiquitous pig farm stench. Well worth it even if this campground doesn’t have cable.

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The view from Lookout Hill Down to Rapid City Manitoba

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Prairie whimsy.

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The town has several very old historical buildings such as this one.

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View looking up the valley with a large marsh on the left and the local golf course on the right. Rapid City has a fabulous golf course. I hate golf but the greenery is nice. The Canada Geese like the golf course too.