Thursday, August 31 – Day 3
The morning greeted us with filtered sunshine under hazy skies and a cool 13-degrees in Vegreville, Alberta’s Walmart.
We enjoyed a quiet night in the parking lot. Sometimes Walmarts, as well as other free camping spots, can be noisy. They are often an overnight destination for semis as well as RVers.
Ralph was up early detaching his truck from his trailer, he wanted to arrive at Canadian Tire as the doors opened to have his hitch adjusted. Fortunately, the adjustment was completed quickly.
He returned to camp in time for breakfast, re-hitch his trailer and ready for our 9 am departure. His rig is now sitting level, an unlevel rig can cause extra strain on the truck and trailer.
Our plan this morning is a stop at Vegreville’s most famous attraction, the Pysanka, a giant Easter Egg. The largest in the world and a symbol of fertility.
Giant Easter Egg, Vegreville, Alberta
I’m not sure how a giant Easter Egg becomes a fertility symbol?…….Easter Eggs bring chocolate to mind……. oh and the Easter Bunny……….wow…… I solved the mystery……..you know what is said about rabbits.
We continued on to Saskatchewan, crossing into Central Time Zone and losing another hour. I’m sure at some point losing time will take its toll on the group.
Our next stop is Lloydminster, to refuel. It’s unclear if Lloydminster belongs to Alberta or Saskatchewan. It’s on the border, in fact, half the town is in Mountain Time and the other half is in Central Time……..go figure. I’m sure this presents all kinds of issues.
We found an Esso card lock station with easy access, I pulled into the station, Ralph followed. As I refueled I noticed one of my rear duallys looked different than its partner. A closer look found it was flat, great, a brand-new truck, three days into the trip and already a problem.
Good thing my truck has duallys otherwise I would need to change the tire at the gas station.
I checked the GPS for a tire shop and clicked go, off we went.
Kal-Tire was only a couple blocks away, fortunately, it wasn’t busy, a service tech removed the tire from the rim, it was toast, the side walls had disintegrated. What now?
Lynda and I discussed what to do, during our discussion I remembered a tire warranty included in the truck manuals. Hopefully, we will get a new tire at no cost, that’s warranties are for ……..right?
I’ll need to find a GM dealer for a replacement tire. The Kal-tire staff were helpful installing my spare free of charge and supplying directions to the local GM dealer.
The Chevy dealer is a couple of kilometers away. Ralph and Lois followed us into the parking lot. Our rigs took up much of the lot, I was not concerned.
I chased down the service manager and showed him the tire. He immediately agreed to replace it, what a relief. He asked me to wait while he checked on a replacement.
He returned informing me there was no matching tire in Lloydminster, Alberta or Saskatchewan, a Toyo tire was the only the same size available.
My truck tires are Michelin, a different brand of tire didn’t sit well, but what choice do I have? Why would General Motors sell a vehicle with odd size tires,…… frustrating?
By the time a tire was found, delivered and mounted, we’d lost three hours of traveling time, another full driving day is ahead of us.
Reservations at an RV park south of Kenora, Ontario have been confirmed, so we will try to keep the schedule for now.
When planning our trip, I allowed a couple of hours a day for lunch and rest stops so 4 to 5 hours of driving time usually becomes 6 to 8 hours. Today’s events will extend our day far beyond the plan. I hope Ralph and Lois aren’t miffed.
Our trip is 7 months long, chances are my rig will not be the only one causing delays.
Our destination this afternoon is Walmart in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The Walmart store is located in the center of town just off highway 16. A Walmart close to the highway is our usual choice. It’s no fun driving a 60-ft. long rig against city traffic.
We arrived at a packed Walmart around 5:30, not bad considering our delays in Lloydminster.
Our wide turn into the parking lot blocked the entrance. Surprisingly the other drivers exiting the parking lot were considerate moving out of our way allowing enough room for us to enter.
Once off the street, we managed to maneuver our way into a less crowded corner of the lot, close to a busy intersection. Lynda and I exchanged glances I knew what she was thinking a busy intersection means noise which equals a poor night’s sleep.
Ralph and Lois were of the same opinion. Ralph and I decided to walk around the area and look for a better overnight location. If we cannot find a better spot, this busy area will do.
After checking out the adjacent parking lots, we found an area behind Walmart, deserted and quiet.
The spot was perfect, Henry and Allyson arrive tonight with their 5th wheel, if we stayed in the front lot there may not be enough room for our three rigs.
We moved the new spot, Ralph and I prepared our rigs for the night while Lois and Lynda used the opportunity to pick up a few things at Walmart.
Walmart stores allowing overnight parking seem to be on the decline. I’m not sure why, whether it’s the RV parks lobbying the local governments hoping to increase their revenue, or homeless people taking advantage and setting up camp for weeks at a time.
Whatever the reason, Walmart will be the loser, most RVers who overnight in a Walmart parking lot shop and spend money.
We contacted Henry and Allyson and provided directions to our new spot in the back parking lot. They showed up after dinner with several of Henry’s relatives.
The warm evening and the grassy area next to the parking lot provided a picnic-like atmosphere. Perfect for a glass of wine and a visit. Walmart has so much to offer, LOL
By the time the relatives left darkness was on us.
The six of us sat under the Walmart lot lights reviewing our trip to date. It was great to have the group whole again. We filled Henry and Allyson in on my tire issues.
We enjoyed another glass of wine, laughter and our friendship as we discussed the next leg of our tour.
Friday, September 1 – Day 4
An early start this morning, the group was anxious to move on, we pulled out of Walmart shortly after 7 am. A stop to refuel was first on the agenda this sunny morning.
Finally, the smoky haze has left us, it’s been following us since we left home. A bright sunny morning starts a day off perfectly.
We headed to the historic town of Batoche, Saskatchewan on the South Saskatchewan River, 100 kilometers northeast of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
The town of Batoche is Henry’s birthplace and the site of the famous 1885 battle between Canadian Government forces, settlers, Metis, and local native bands.
The Government forces made short work of the rebels, the battle lasted three days.
We visited the battle location and toured the remaining buildings including the church still displaying bullet holes. Fascinating, probably the only battle of note to take place in western Canada.
The combatants, from both sides, were laid to rest at the Batoche cemetery,…..only the dead ones. The cemetery is a beautiful spot overlooking the South Saskatchewan River.
The graveyard has headstones dating back to the early 1800’s. Among them Louis Real the leader of the uprising.
After the battle, he was captured, tried and sentenced to death as a traitor even though he never carried a gun or fired a shot.
The battle marks one of the first times a Gatling Gun was used in Canada. Henry and I later saw the gun on display at the Halifax Citadel.
The town of Batoche and site of the battle is now a National Historic Site.
After our tour of Batoche, we ate lunch in our rigs before continuing the day’s journey. Because of our extended stop, today would be our longest driving day of the trip so far.
We are still 500 kilometers from today’s destination and over 1100 kilometers from Sioux Narrows and the Tomahawk RV Resort our destination the next day.
The farther we drive today the shorter tomorrow’s drive will be,…….. what a brilliant statement……. it would be nice to arrive at the RV resort early in the afternoon, time to get settled before dinner. The group was looking forward to a day off.
From Batoche we headed south to Highway 16 toward the Manitoba border. At Yorkton, Saskatchewan we veered east on Highway 10 crossing into Manitoba and our planned stop at Roblin, Manitoba, Ralph’s birthplace.
Shortly after crossing the border we stopped at Roblin for a picture in front of the town’s welcome sign. This is the first time Ralph has visited Roblin since childhood. A momentous occasion for Ralph and Lois.
Roblin marks the farthest point east Ralph or Lois have ever traveled, they are no doubt excited about the uncharted territory to follow.
After Roblin, we turned south at Dauphin on Highway 10 towards our stop for the night Moon Lake Campground in Riding Mountain National Park.
Riding Mountain National Park is about 100 kilometers north of Brandon, Manitoba, we arrived about an hour before dark.
Climbing the hills into Riding Mountain National Park seemed odd after three days of traveling the flat straight roads of the Canadain prairie provinces. The bread basket of the nation.
As we entered the park flashing signs warned of steep grades ahead. After arriving at the campground I found myself wondering where the steep grades were, we did encounter some gentle hills but nothing I would call steep. Maybe they would appear on our way out of the park.
The forested park was refreshing after miles of flat farmland. Entering the campground brought a quiet peacefulness to us.
By the time we arrived and circled through the campground looking for a campsite large enough for our rigs, twilight was on us. As we maneuvered our rigs into spots too small the quiet peacefulness disappeared only bad language echoed through the forest.
I finished stabilizing the trailer for the night with help from the flickering light of nearby campfires.
Once settled there was no time or energy for anything other than dinner and bed, morning departure time would happen soon enough.
Tomorrow’s destination is Tomahawk RV Resort in Sioux Narrows, Ontario and a much-anticipated rest.
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