We are Nico and Marlies Wobben and in February 2008 we moved from the Netherlands to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada! Nico is an RN at the General Hospital and I (Marlies) work from home, as an administrator at Canada Life and for my own web design business Feel The Fire. And we have 7 cats!
The Cypress Hills rise up about 600m above the prairie, with lodgepole pine trees and a.o. deer, elk, moose and cougars. A good destination for our last trip of this year!
Monday September 21
Nico came out of nightshift this day, so he still had to sleep for half a day before we could head out to Cypress Hills. We hoped to get there before dark, but we also had to pick up my bike at the bike shop and get gas before we could hit the highway. Around 6 we were getting close to Swift Current and we decided to stop there for the night. We rolled into the Trail Campground there, a nice campground right next to the town. As it was my birthday, I had been looking forward to a nice dinner at the resort on Cypress Hills, but I had to settle for a nearby Houston Pizza 😉
Tuesday September 22
We had a nice and relaxed night, and after a chat with the lady (Wies) in the campground office, who moved here from Holland in ’54, we went for groceries in town and then continued our trip to the Centre Block of Cypress Hills. Only two campgrounds were still open and we picked a nice spot on the Rainbow Campground. The weather was gorgeous, we just relaxed there and barbecued. Then we got a visit by a very curious buck deer. He came over to our site, dared to come close and sniffed Tess (almost nose to nose) and startled when she hissed at him 😉 He walked around the cats and towards Nico by the picnic table. Then he looked at the cats again and figured he’d better get out of here 🙂 We weren’t sure if he was just curious or trying to intimidate us (as it’s rutting season), it was probably a mix of both 😉
Wednesday September 23
What a great place to wake up. Not only is it a nice campsite and is the weather great, but the pine trees also smell so good. In the afternoon we went for a little bike ride in the park. We went to the small lake (Loch Leven) and biked around it, then went to the visitor centre and the restaurant at the Cypress Hills Resort Inn. We went in for coffee, but ended up having supper already 🙂 Nice people, nice building, nice food!
Thursday September 24
A very lazy day today, the only acitivity today was a short hike over the Woodland Trail from our campground to the resort (and back), and Nico’s firewood chopping 😉
Friday September 25
We had breakfast at the resort and felt like going for a drive (the Centre Block Auto Tour). Of course we wanted to see wildlife and we knew our chances were much smaller during the day than in the evening, but we didn’t want to wait. It was a very scenic drive, at first over a bumpy gravel/cobblestone road past the boy scout’s camp, then a paved part past two truly spectacular viewpoints and the rest was over pretty good gravel roads over the fescue prairie on top of the Cypress Hills plateau. Those viewpoints were Lookout Point and Bald Butte, where you have stunning views over the prairie to the north. You can see Maple Creek and even a bit of the Great Sand Hills that are 100 km to the north! From Bald Butte you can also see the Gap (the valley between the Centre and West Blocks) and the West Block itself.
At the end of our drive we went to the Highland Trail and hiked around the ponds in that little valley there. No moose to be seen, but gorgeous scenery with the fall colours.
On the campground we started a fire and cooked on there for a change. We decided to winterize the motorhome after this trip, so this was the last camping evening for this season!
Saturday September 26
We could’ve stayed one more night, but decided to leave today, so we’d have some time at home too, before we had to work on Monday again. We left at 9.15am, grabbed a coffee at Caroline’s in Maple Creek (but we both didn’t like our coffees much) and I made some sandwiches once we were on the highway again. After another brief stop in Swift Current (for gas and better coffees ;)) we kept going until we got home around 3. After cleaning and winterizing the motorhome, we’ll be hibernating for the winter and regularly looking at the pictures of all the great trips we have made this first season!!
One of the many campgrounds in the Centre Block, in a gorgeous forest setting. Rainbow was the last one with services to be open after the main season, it was 1-1.5 km away from the core area. We picked a full service site as they seemed a bit more level than most other spots. Despite the extra services in the park being closed (grocery store, cafe, food etc) we still had to pay the full rate of $26 (normal provincial rate). We didn’t have to pay park entrance anymore (but we had a year pass anyway). The only extra service in the park that was still open (besides the visitor centre) was the Cypress Hills Resort Inn with its (good) restaurant. We did not check out the small toilet buildings on the campground, only the service centre (with toilets and showers) that was very nice and very clean! Beautiful park, just a bit too hilly to bike much.
For this short weekend we decided to stay close to home and go to the Buffalo Pound Provincial Park above Moose Jaw. For pictures of the south eastern part of the park (incl. the bison herd), see the pictures of the family visit. We camped on the Maple Vale campground and just stayed there, we didn’t even bike. It was busier than we thought it would be (season kind of ends with last week’s Labour day), but it was fun as we got to chat with other campers quite a bit, esp. our neighbour Gord. We camped by a dried up creek where we saw a least chipmunk several times. The campground is close to the lake and lies in the coulees, very pretty. Most of these electric sites on grassy terrain with some trees are pretty spaceous. On Saturday night we had a fire until after midnight, heard the coyotes yepping and howling and enjoyed the company of Gord and his wife Lorraine. On Sunday we spent some time in the park near the campground, where we sat by the lake and made pics, before heading back home again.
grassy sites with some trees, and bushes all around. Beautifully located in the coulees, the sites are fairly open, but very spaceous. At the end of the campground there is a non-serviced section with some smaller but more private sites. The Service Centre has washrooms and showers, but seemed in need of some updates and cleaning. The small toilet buildings were closed for the season. We had a shoulder season rate of $18 for electricity (normally $22). There’s a store close-by that was supposed to be closed for the season, but still opened up in the weekend to get rid of some stock.
All year ‘everybody’ kept telling us that we should go up north to Waskesiu. So finally we did! It’s about 6 hrs for us with the motorhome, plus we stopped at the Highway 16 Jct for gas and to stretch our legs, and we very briefly visited Caroline in Prince Albert. Close to 8pm we arrived in Waskesiu, just before dusk. We immediately fell in love. People kept saying how beautiful it is up here, but nobody said it was THIS beautiful! Even the campground for long trailers that seemed like a parking lot on Google Earth with only few trees is gorgeous! Some parts are very open, but we picked a spot between huge pine trees and bordering trees and bushes. At dusk we walked to the lake, just in time for some past-sunset pics. Stunning colours!!! We walked to town along the lakeside trail in front of gorgeous cabins, watching carefully for wildlife (elk and black bears frequent the area) to avoid surprise encounters. We visited the grocery store and walked back over the main road. We had to cross a big part of the Trailer Park campground to our spot, and it was inevitable to walk through some dark areas. We kept talking to let possible wildlife know we were there, but still we almost literally bumped into an elk in that darkest part!! She was only a few meters away when I spotted her on the left side of the path, so I startled and backed away behind a picnic table on the right side. But she wasn’t bothered by us, so she kept grazing and we walked around her to go to our own motorhome without any more surprises. Not the smartest move to walk around after dark, but it was worth the hike after 6 hrs of driving 🙂
Thursday August 27th
Partly cloudy and not as warm as it was supposed to be, but still nice to bike to town after breakfast. We again took the trail in front of the beachfront cabins (wow…) and had a latte at the Beach House. In the afternoon we chilled at the campsite. We were allowed to move to a more forested part of the campground that you could only reserve for RVs up to 27′, if we’d see a place we’d think we’d fit in. It was a beautiful part, and we should fit in several of those spots, but we’re happy at the more open part too (more to see I guess), so we’re staying put. In the bushes by our motorhome I already spotted a deer today!
For supper we went to the Asian Station in town, where we also saw deer and afterwards we went to the golf course. We were only in a small corner of it, but there we saw deer and elk together (both moms with their offspring). We kept our distance in passing around them, but at some point the small deer both came towards where we were and passed us very close by. Just amazing. We left the golf course again to get an ice cream and watch the sunset on the breaker by the beach! After that we went back to the campground and watched a movie.
Friday August 28th
We walked to the store by the cabin park on the main road for some fresh rolls for breakfast and hung out at the campsite, where we saw deer walk by again. Later in the afternoon we decided to go for a drive. We took the route along the north side of the lake, the Kingsmere Road. A well maintained gravel road where you can often see wildlife, but we didn’t see any (maybe because it was the middle of the day). Still a beautiful drive though! We stopped by the Waskesiu River, the Waskesiu Marina and the Hanging Heart Marina.
At night we had a meal in town and biked to the golf course again afterwards. This time we found the elk herd including the bull! Leaving the golf course we caught the gorgeous colours just after sunset – I don’t think I’ve ever seen them as beautiful as in Waskesiu!
Saturday August 29th
In the morning we had deer walking by, again! We also were entertained by playing squirrels again, so there was no shortage of wildlife. Even wildlife that you don’t want: mosquitoes. We had to spray generously and every two hours to prevent being attacked by tons of those critters. I even sprayed the cats a few times, didn’t want them to get lots of mosquito bites in the face or something either.
In the afternoon we biked around on the campsites (Trailer Park, and Beaver Glen which is way deeper into the forest) and into town. Time for some last pics and then a BBQ at our site. And again, sigh, we had deer walking by! The cats were very intrigued by them 😉
Sunday August 30th
We took the beautiful scenic highway out of the national park again (didn’t spot any wildlife though) and continued our way back home on the highway 2. We visited Astrid’s family in Wakaw and had a very relaxing break there. The rest of the drive back home seemed very long, we had supper at the 16 Jct. and around 8pm we finally arrived home. A long drive… but well worth it!
Pull through sites (27’+ can only reserve this campground) on grass, partly very open en partly with huge pine trees. The least natural campground (Beaver Glen is in a fairly dense forest), but still gorgeous and closest to town. There is also a part though, that’s more forested and the sites (little bays) are smaller and more private. Surrounded by bushes and trees, and cabins and trees (everywhere you look in town, there are many trees…). Frequented by deer and occasionally elk and black bears. We had a full hook up for $34 and a NP parks pass is needed. The Service Centre was modern enough and clean, great! I think it’s about 1 km to town, with shops, few restaurants, hotels etc. One of 2 national parks in SK, and the most beautiful SK park we’ve seen!!
After the last update we spent some time in Jasper, bought some native art at the Our Native Land store next to the laundry place. We always buy something there, but it’s tough to choose from so much great stuff. We ended up spending a bit more and took two things home, a limited print from Sue Coleman and a small shield with leather, a medicine bag, arrows and feathers attached. Back at the campground we had to change to an unserviced spot (when we made our reservations there was no electric site available anymore for this one night, and the campsite was completely full). It was a beautiful spot away from the Icefields Parkway, in a mixed spruce and birch forest. The others came to our spot to BBQ. Unfortunately we got some thundershowers (we sat underneath the awning), but an elk herd passed by our site which of course made up for the weather 🙂 No big bull among them, but still impressive animals.
Sunday, July 19
The mother of all days, as Nico calls it. On the agenda for today: the Maligne Lake Road incl. the Maligne Canyon, Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake itself. We drove to the Sixth Bridge of the canyon, where Ton and his family left their motorhome, then we took them to the beginning of the trail where the restaurant is. They hiked the trail through the canyon back to their own motorhome and joined us again after that. In the meantime we (dad, Amalia, Nico and I) walked to the First Bridge and had lunch in the restaurant. We all continued on the scenic Maligne Lake Road, slowly and watching for wildlife. We stopped at Medicine Lake to enjoy the views over the fairly full lake (which was fuller than we every saw it in the fall) as well as some deer that were right by the parking lot. At the end of the road we spent some time at Maligne Lake and Ton and Rita invited us all for supper at the restaurant there, because both their birthdays were coming up, (they had only lunch dishes, but enough to fill the stomach with :)). After the meal a little wolverine was trying to eat a plastic bag outside, near a BBQ, so Ton distracted the wolverine so Nico could get rid of that plastic. We moved to the 2nd parking lot and spent some time there, because we wanted to drive back at dusk. Just when I wanted to go inside the motor home again, a deer showed up close by and we stayed to watch it and make pics, from only a few meters away. So cute!
Around 8.30 we decided to drive back, although it wasn’t getting dark yet (it would be light until past 10, but we didn’t want to be back that late). We didn’t see any animals for a long time, and we felt a bit disappointed, until we at least saw an elk along the road. At the last part we hoped to maybe see a coyote or something, and we got our hopes up when we saw a car had stopped at the side of the road. Then we saw what they saw… a black bear close to the road!! Yeehaw, finally!! But that wasn’t all. When we got close to Jasper again, we saw cars along the 16 where we’ve seen bighorn sheep before. This time they were high up on the cliffs, we saw a male with the actual big horns, females and some little ones! And at the exit to Jasper we saw an elk herd crossing the street. Wow, so many animals at the end of the trip! And that is why Nico calls this day the mother of all days 🙂
Monday, July 20
It was time to temporarily say goodbye to Rita, Ton, Martijn and Sander. They continued to B.C. with their motorhome and we turned around to drive back to Regina (in 3 days). We left around 11 and stopped at the Athabasca Falls (never seen the falls this ferocious!!) as we had skipped them on our way up. We didn’t stop elsewhere on the Icefields Parkway until Saskatchewan Crossing where we had lunch again. We continued to about 10 km east of Canmore, where we stayed one night on the Bow Valley Campground in the Bow Valley Provincial Park. Beautifully located in the forest on the slopes of the Bow River, but I had hoped for slightly cleaner washrooms (the whole in the ground things and not very clean) or free showers if you already pay $34 a night for an electric site (w/water). Maybe we are spoiled with the excellent provincial campgrounds in Saskatchewan (they charge a park fee which Alberta doesn’t, but only $22 a night and they typically have better washrooms/showers).
Tuesday, July 21
We intended to drive to Maple Creek, but as we left before 9, we figured we could at least make it to Swift Current. But once we were on the prairie, where driving is like a 1000 times more relaxing than in the mountains, we made so much progress and Nico was feeling so fit, that we ended up driving all the way home!! We arrived in Regina before 9pm – 840 km on one day 🙂
So now it’s Friday and we’re relaxing at home with dad and Amalia. They’ve been troopers camping in the motorhome, but are glad to sleep in a decent bed again. Nico is working nightshift this weekend, but will be off again next week (I will work mornings), so we can make some daytrips and see more stuff in Regina then. Next week Saturday my brother and his family will join us here in Regina for their last few days in Canada. To be continued!
And this weekend both Ton and Rita are celebrating their birthdays, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY to them!!!
Finally an update! We didn’t have a chance to look for internet until today, so here are our adventures and a few pictures of the past few days!
Monday, July 13th
After breakfast at the hotel, we went grocery shopping at the Superstore and then Ton could get his motorhome at Canadream. The instructions and paperwork took over an hour, while some of us were waiting in our motorhome in the pouring rain. Around 4 we left for Banff, and luckily it cleared up a little bit along the way, although we still had some rain every now and then. The mountains were partly in the clouds, hopefully we can see more tomorrow. At the Tunnel Mountain campground we cooked and had supper together.
Tuesday, July 14th
It was still raining today, although it also cleared up from time to time. We had breakfast all together in a shelter on the campground, that was great! It has two huge picnic tables that fit 8 people each, and a wood stove in the middle. After breakfast we took the bus from the campground to the centre of Banff for some walking around, shopping and a coffee. Back at the campground we prepared a BBQ. Rain or shine (both actually, and a huge rainbow), we headed to the shelter again with everything and had a great time again!
Wednesday, July 15th
After breakfast we left our sites to visit some Banff attractions, as the weather had finally cleared up! We walked the marshland trail by the Cave and Basin site (the sulphur springs that were the origin of Banff), went up in the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain (very busy of course after the rainy days) where we had a spectacular view over Banff and the surrounding valleys and we had lunch there. From Banff we took the Bow Valley Parkway to Lake Louise, and we stopped at Johnston Canyon (Ton, Rita and the boys went to walk to the upper falls, the rest of us stayed in and near the giftshop/restaurant building). On the Parkway we saw a deer, Rita also saw a coyote. At Lake Louise Village we went shopping and settled in at the campground along the river (and the railway and the highway).
Thursday, July 16th
First of all, happy birthday to our friend Anneke (Sanders – there are so many Anneke’s)! We didn’t mail, but we did think of her!
Today we started early and first visited Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. Everybody loved the lakes and their colours! We went back to the 1 to Yoho Park to look at the spiral tunnels (no train unfortunately) where the trains make loops (through tunnels in the mountains) to overcome the steep rise or decline of mountain. We continued to Emerald Lake to enjoy more wonderful colours and scenery, Ton’s family hiked around the lake, we left a bit earlier to go back to the campground. Finally some time for relaxation at the campsite. After barbecueing all together Nico and I strolled along the river and over the campsite for a bit.
Friday, July 17th
Another early rise, to take the Icefields Parkway to Jasper. We stopped at Bow Lake, Peyto Lake (took the road up hill so dad could go see it too), had lunch at the Saskatchewan Crossing and visited the Icefield Centre by the Athabasca Glacier (I got a migraine so stayed in the motorhome to sleep). A little further Amalia saw a bear!! We stopped and turned, Ton was back in time to see him go up the hill, but by the time Nico and I got there, he was gone 🙁 A bit later we did all see some mountain goats along the road! Beautiful animals that we hadn’t seen yet! My migraine was getting a bit better after all that adrenaline 😉 We stopped at the Sunwapta Falls and skipped the rest, for we were all tired and wanted to go to the campsite (after getting groceries in Jasper). It was a fantastic scenic drive, and dad and Amalia had the time of their lives. While travelling they alway sit at the dining table, enjoying the views from there 🙂
In the evening, Amalia had a little adventure on the campground, when she got lost after visiting the washrooms. The campground is made of loops, so you’ll easily lose your sense of direction. She asked a family in perfect English for help, and they even brought her back 🙂
Saturday, July 18
Finally a slow day. We’re at our favourite laundry/internet/coffee place in Jasper, finally time for this update! We’ll have 2 more nights here, before we part with Ton’s family until they come to Regina later on (we will drive back to Regina in 3 days from there).
For the big summer trip we’re going to the Rockies again, because this time, my family is flying in to visit us, and to see a bit more of Canada!!! We are taking my dad and his gf in our motorhome, my brother and his family rented their own motorhome. We’ll tell you all about it in our next updates!! 🙂
Friday, July 10th
The night before we decided to leave on Friday instead of Saturday. We wanted to drive all the way to Medicine Hat (5 hrs driving time) and took a break appr. in the middle, in Swift Current, where we had an early supper at Humpty’s. As usual we enjoyed the prairie sceneries and saw a coyote, antilopes, some bird of prey, a bison with a little one and a gazillion cows and a gazillion gophers 😉 In Medicine Hat we parked on the empty (except for all the RVs haha) parkinglot of a former Wal-Mart store, where we figured out what we wanted to do on Saturday and Sunday. We want to go to Drumheller on Saturday and hopefully we can find a campsite there for the next night.
Saturday, July 11th
On our way to Drumheller I phoned the campground close to downtown and we were lucky to get one of the last spots available. After a 3 hour ride through the most flat and empty prairie you can possibly imagine, and the last part up to Drumheller through rolling hills, we fell silent when we entered the Drumheller Valley. Wow! Those badlands looked way more impressive than we had expected! Bigger and more picturesque! We turned right to drive a few km to the hoodoos, then turned around to drive to Drumheller and then follow the North Dinosaur Trail through the valley of badlands to the Horsethief Canyon Viewpoint (aaaaahhhhhhh!!!). Then we turned around again to go back to Drumheller, but on the way we stopped at the Royal Tyrrell Museum with the dinosaur skeletons and much more. If you have an RV you have to go straight to the overflow parking, but there is no such sign in the beginning, so we cruised a very full parking lot before even finding the overflow parking with a RV section. The museum was very impressive, many interpretive things and of course many fossils and skeletons, esp. of dinosaurs. At 4 we were back in Drumheller at the campsite where we parked in a pull through site with power and water, facing a hill. There is no privacy, but the campground is close to downtown, so we could walk there to see the “World’s Biggest Dinosaur” of 26m high. Nico climbed the stairs inside to look over the valley from the dino’s mouth 🙂 We walked through the town a bit, but there wasn’t much going on. On our way back we had supper in a Greek restaurant, mmmmm moussaka!
Sunday, July 12th
After a quick breakfast in Drumheller took the 9 to Calgary, passed the city on the east side to go to Okotoks, where we visited fellow Dutch emigrants Richard and Jacky and their sons. After a few hours we drove a bit more west to Black Diamond to visit Rob, Anneke and their little Ryan, another Dutch family. We had a lot of fun with both families (thanks for having us!!), but around 4 we had to leave to be at the Travelodge in time to welcome our family who flew in from Amsterdam. My 90-year-old dad and his girlfriend Amalia, my brother Ton, sister-in-law Rita and their sons Martijn and Sander. It was a great reunion after 16 months! We had supper in the restaurant and showed the motorhome to a few of them, before they all went to bed (we were staying overnight in the parking lot).
Finally it’s time to return to Greenwater Lake Provincial Park. We went there 2 weeks after we moved to Canada – still winter so we were there in the snow and -30. We were excited to see what it would look like in the summer! After almost 4 hours (and a half hour break in Wynyard) we arrived in the park that is already part of the boreal forest. The main road looked like we expected, but the part near the beach and marina looked very different with all the trees being green now, wow!
We had made reservations, but couldn’t get the same spot for 4 days. We could only get 2 nights without services and then 2 with electricity. But for tonight they’ve been able to give us an electric site after all, on the Hilltop Campground (#39). Very private and almost level spot, but it looked kinda new with the sandy ‘walls’ as if it had just been dug out of the hill. Later on the park officer told us they had been working on some of these sites, because they used to be bi-level with stairs and for safety reasons they had to change them all to one level. There were some Canada Day celebrations in the park (ending with a trivia fire somewhere), but we didn’t do much anymore… nap-bike-bbq-dvd-bed.
Thursday was just a gorgeous day. Sunny, warm enough, but not too hot. We had to move to our next spot, so after breakfast we left our little dugout and parked near the marina, to spend a few hours at the beautiful marina and the beach. Back at the motorhome we sat in the grass with our cats, enjoying a slushie delight (some soft ice in the middle and at the bottom of a slushie, which is sort of like crushed water ice – perfect combination!). Can life get any better? After some shopping at the park store, we went to the campground office at 2pm. We asked again if there was any chance an electric site had become available, and again we were lucky! She was able to swap some bookings so that we could go to this site (#62) and stay there for the remaining 3 nights. Woo! And what a beautiful spot it was! No dugout 😉 The cats were entertained by bugs, squirrels and ground squirrels (similar to ‘our’ gophers) and we just relaxed for a while. After failing at making a fire again, we barbecued and went for a bike ride to the Fisherman’s Cove (resort just outside of the park) and along the lake by some lakeside houses and cabins, and stayed on the beach for an hour until the sun set.
Friday started with more clouds and chillier. But once the sun came out more, it was nice again! We relaxed at the campsite until 3 or so and then biked to the beach. We had a late lunch/early supper at the beach café, where we were entertained by a squirrel and a ground squirrel eating out of people’s hands. We biked to the Fisherman’s Cove (where we stayed the first time) to ask if they’d have the 7pm Riders game on that night (first of the new season). Back at the campsite we napped for a while and missed the first quarter. But hearing the game on our neighbour’s radio made us go still (better to watch than to listen to). We had a great time there! It felt like coming home and the owner still recognized us. 11 Kokanees and a Rider victory (28-24 against the BC Lions) later we returned to the campsite at 11.30pm! We heard we shouldn’t have to worry about bears (too busy on the campsite), but we did see a deer right where we saw a bunch back on the first trip:)
Saturday was a fairly lazy day. We woke up way too early, went to the washrooms at 7am, decided to stay up and have breakfast. Not long after that we went back to bed and slept another 2 hours 😉 We spent the day chilling at the campsite, biking to the beach for a slurpie delight and finally managed to make a fire in the firepit, where we heated up yesterday’s bbq leftovers and made some s’mores the right way. On Sunday we had to go home again, and when we took a break at a gas station near Raymore, we ran into Nico’s co-worker Tracy who he swapped shifts with this week (she had been up north fishing)… what are the odds????
It was really great to come back to Greenwater Lake (and see how pretty it is in the summer) with it being the first place we visited right after we became Canadian residents. Visiting the Fisherman’s Cove again felt like coming home, and we know that Greenwater Lake will always have a special place in our heart (so it will be visited again)!
Beautiful sites in the forest, level, some of the multi-level ones in the hill have been dug out recently to remove the steps and make them safer, but as a result they are not very pretty right now (but the rest of the sites are!!). $17 for non-electric, $22 for electric sites, day/3 days/weekly/transferable annual Provincial Parks pass needed ($50 for 2009). Short walk/bikeride to the beach and marina, beautiful area too with beach cafe, park store (and laundry, arcade, minigolf) and cabins.
Last week Thursday night we left after Nico got home from work. As it would be dark soon, we couldn’t drive all the way to Moose Mountain Provincial Park (Kenosee Lake), our destiny of choice this time, so we spent the night at Dyer Straits, a campground near White City. It was a simple campground, small sites and hardly any privacy, and right at the Trans Canadian Highway, but at least we were away from the city and camping. Unfortunately it rained a bit, so we sat inside. In the middle of the night we woke up from the sudden howling and barking of a bunch of coyotes close by. Exciting (hey we’re city slickers…)! In the morning it was windy but sunny and after having some sandwiches outside, we continued our travel east.
The scenery on the Trans Canadian Highway (the 1) had no surprises, the usual slightly rolling hills, farmland and dugouts. We had to turn south in Whitewood, where we took a lunchbreak at the gas station. Around 2pm we arrived at Moose Mountain. It’s a gorgeous forested area with lots of lakes, a very untypical prairie landscape. But since it’s on an elevated plateau (900m above sealevel) it is cooler and gets more precipitation than the surrounding prairie, hence making forest possible. We stopped at the park store for some groceries (very complete store with groceries, camping stuff and some souvenirs) and ended up at a beautiful spot on Fish Creek Campground (in the forest and very level). As I settled in and stayed with the cats who enjoyed themselves outside, Nico went for a little bike ride along Kenosee Lake south of the campground. At supper time, Nico’s attempts to get a fire going unfortunately failed, the wood would only smoke a lot. Bummed out about that, we didn’t feel like getting the BBQ going either, threw some burgers in a skillet on the stove and had excellent burger sandwiches and salad instead. Later on we walked around on the campground and noticed that they mixed all sorts of sites in the lanes, both in size and shape (most you have to back in, some are more like a bay). I can be brief about the sizes and shapes of the RVs though: huge! Most of them are ginormous fifth wheels or trailers with slide-outs that made our motorhome look small and there were just a few smaller units. At sunset we walked the Lakeview trail to see the sun set over Little Kenosee Lake (NW of the campground). But we couldn’t even get that right, the sun was already gone. Still a nice view though! 😉
After an early night (and good night’s sleep) we woke up fairly early and by 8.30am we were on our bikes riding around in the park. It was going to be a hot day, but this early it was still really nice!! We tried the White Deer Trail into the forest, but that was covered with mulch (wood and bark chips) which made it really hard to bike on and soon it was so muddy we couldn’t continue. We turned around and went back to the main road and to the beach. Gorgeous! At the Kenosee Inn “above” the beach we had a fantastic breakfast (yummy buffet!) with a stunning view over the lake and good music (Led Zeppelin, Rush etc) in the background. Wow!
For hours we just relaxed at our campsite until we went for another bike ride at 4. We wanted to see what the road further west would be like, but after a short while it turned into a dirt road and only seemed to be the entrance to a network of trails for off-the-road vehicles in the summer or snowmobiles and cross country skiing in the winter. We went to Little Kenosee Lake by the stables and Kenosee Lake close to the campground, then we returned to our site to BBQ and relax again (much needed after the bike ride in the rolling hills!!!).
Sunday morning we couldn’t stop thinking about that breakfast buffet at the Kenosee Inn, so we biked there again! It was windy, but still warm and partly sunny. Perfect ending of this camping trip (we’ll conveniently forget about returning to Regina in rain) 😉
Dyer Straits campground
Private campground near White City, grassy with few bushes and trees, right by the Highway 1, surrounded by farmland. Small sites with picnic table and firepit, toiletbuilding ok but could use some tlc, $18 for electric/water site. Playground, wifi.
Beautiful campgrounds in the forest, perfect level sites with firepit/bbq and picnic tables, situated between Kenosee and Little Kenosee Lakes. Our electric site was $22, day/3 days/weekly/transferable annual Provincial Parks pass needed ($50 for 2009). It’s a few kms back to the beach, Kenosee Inn, mini-golf, and the golf-course and more amenities in the village of Kenosee Lake.
After a beautiful drive through the Qu’Appelle valley and up along the eastern shore of Last Mountain Lake (and having to stop for a passing porcupine) we arrived at the Rowan’s Ravine Provincial Park after 75 minutes. The hilly scenery along the way reminded us of the Dutch province Limburg where we used to live (although it’s rougher), but in the park itself it’s pretty flat. With its paved roads it’s great for biking around (we brought our bikes along this time), while there is a lot of grass and small trees. We got a very nice pull through site with a picnic table and firepit/bbq (there is a huuuuge pile of firewood on the campground you can help yourself to!), only 200m from the lake and maybe 300 to the beach, a bit further to a little (fast food) restaurant and I’m guessing 800m to the marina and its little store.
After we arrived on Thursday night, we visited the campground office with Gandalf, who curiously sniffed the stuffed coyote, badger and owl 😉 After we parked our motorhome on the beautiful and level paved pull through site, we biked around a bit, saw some deer crossing the street right in front of us and watched the sunset on the beach (ok we were just a little bit too late, but it was still very nice) where we saw a heron. We checked out the bathroom buildings and were pleasantly surprised. There is a small bathroom building close by which is already nice, but the pretty new service centre at the end of our loop tops it all! Immaculate and modern toilets and showers (I said I’ll never shower at home again!) as well as a laundry space! Back at the site we lit a fire in the firepit and sat outside with the cats for a while.
Friday was such a nice day. Maybe only 15°C, but mostly sunny and hardly any wind. We spent all day outside, from breakfast, to walking Gandalf, to biking across the campgrounds, the beach and around the marina, to having a coffee at the restaurant, to barbecueing for supper and roasting marshmallows in the fire pit at night. Only downside was that when Nico walked around with Gandalf, the cat panicked when they came close to the water and in his fear he bit Nico because he was holding him by the harness. It left a nasty cut that caused his thumb to swell and hurt quite a bit!
Unfortunately it was cloudy and colder on the Saturday and on top of it, it rained (light) most of the day. We spent most of the day inside, but at least Nico’s thumb was a bit less painful today, so it seemed he didn’t have to go to a doctor with it. Late in the afternoon we finally walked around in the light rain to get some fresh air and decided to have fish and chips at the diner instead of having to bbq. After that we walked around the campgrounds and again between 8 and 9, hoping we’d see the deer again, but no such luck.
Well maintained and well treed campgrounds in a flat area, on the eastern shore of Last Mountain Lake. The electric and non-electric sites have a picnic table and firepit/bbq (free firewood on the campground), $17-$26 (we had electric, pull through for $22), day/3 days/weekly/transferable annual Provincial Parks pass needed ($50 for 2009). Clean and modern washrooms and showers, playgrounds, close to beaches with restaurant, mini-golf, marina with store. No internet, but we did have cell reception from Rogers.
This trip was a typical weekend trip, from Friday noon until Sunday afternoon. We chose another regional park, this time even closer to home, Dunnet Regional Park near Avonlea, about 90 km SW of Regina. The park and campground are situated in the beautiful green and forested (with ash and maple trees) valley of the meandering Avonlea creek and close to the Avonlea dam that created Dunnet lake.
The scenery on the way over was fairly typical prairie stuff until we came close to Avonlea (and the 880m high Dirt Hills west of it). You drive through the valley by the golf course, then drive south through the little town of Avonlea (population 450) and back east to access the valley again by the lake and the regional park. The valley was starting to get greener, or at least the smaller bushes had quite some leaves, but the bigger trees not yet. Lots of green grass too, so all in all a huge difference with the (at that time still) barren campground by Manitou Beach two weeks ago. The lots of the campground are situated in that forested area of ash and maple trees, but unfortunately they are too small for bigger units and we got a spot in the office/pool/recreation area facing a ball diamond. At first I was disappointed about that (no other campers near to have some interaction with, open site instead of in the forest), but it turned out to be a quite good spot after all. It’ll probably be noisier later in the summer when the pool’s open, but now it was quiet, right behind us was a picnic area between the trees and by the Avonlea creek and the concession stand was close by for a snack, coffee or iced cappuccino. We had a simple outdoor (septic tank) toilet nearby, but on the last day we found flush toilets in the recreation building next to us 😉 Showers are probably only in the central building on the campground itself, but that was quite far from us (well, I’m guessing around 800m).
Friday was still a bit chilly and windy, but in the sun it was nice enough to stay outside all afternoon anyway. Nico assembled the propane barbecue we bought for the motorhome and we tested it. It’s a table model, but you can also extend the legs. Worked perfect!! After supper and close to sunset we walked to the actual campground just behind the hill we were looking at. What a gorgeous valley! Most of the electric sites (with and without other hookups) were seasonal, and there was a non serviced area even deeper in the woods. In the evening we watched a DVD inside (Nico had bought another 30 dollar player that plays PAL as well, for our European dvds and copies).
Saturday was just a gorgeous day. Probably around 22 degrees, and after breakfast (eggs, sausages and buns and Nico went to get coffee from the concession stand by the office) we had put the awning out and read and did sudoku puzzles in the shade. Awesome! The cats’ leashes were attached to the trashcan handles and we regularly had to set them free from their entanglements (or let them back inside every now and then when they wanted to). Nico took some walks with Tess and Gandalf. For the last walk he literally had to drag Gandalf back ‘home’, that was hilarious (see video)!!
At the concession stand you can get coffee, pop, ice cream etc and lots of snacks, so for lunch we got some fries/poutine and ribs. A bit later we went for a walk to the lake. We took the ‘Nature Trail’ from the picnic area behind us, which started with a little suspension bridge over the creek. The trail was very narrow and sometimes so narrow, close to the creek and sloping, that I had to make steps sideways while holding on to branches to get passed them. Well, that was as adventurous as we get, pfff! After following the creek for a while we ended up by the dam and followed the regular road back to the campground 😉 After an iced cappuccino we went back to the motorhome where I felt something in my shirt. A tick! Oh yeah right… ticks! We had been walking through lots of bushes, so immediately I undressed, found 2 ticks in my shirt and one on the outside of my pants. Luckily nothing on my body. I think I checked everything 2 or 3 more times in the next hours. Brrr. We did get some mosquito bites despite the Off spray, but the bugs didn’t bother me too much anymore back at our site and a new layer of Off. We barbecued and sat outside until 9pm and watched a DVD inside until we went to bed at 11pm. What a perfect day (well except for the bugs)!
Last time we had checked, it was supposed to rain on Sunday, but we woke up to another sunny day. There were a few clouds and it was windy again, but still nice to have breakfast outside. Check out time was 12, so we got home fairly early (it’s only a 75 minutes drive). Backing into its new spot in the back yard went fine this time, as the entrance is clear and level and RV ready now! 🙂
The main campground has fairly small but gorgeous lots in the forested valley, for bigger units there are a few sites near the picnic area close to the recreation/pool/office area. All sites have firepits, thrash cans and picnic tables, water from central taps, $25-$30 (our site near the picnic area had 30 amp power for $25), day pass or seasonal Regional Parks pass needed ($35 for 2009), I think the modern washrooms/showers are free (most WCs are just the not-so-appealing basic septic tank type) but we weren’t in there, pool, concession stand, playground, baseball diamonds, fishing, boat launch, mini-golf, camp kitchen, group facilities, laundry, no internet. Golf course further north in the valley, it’s 7 km to the village of Avonlea (www.avonlea.com) with shops, grocer, restaurant etc.