Saturday, September 2 – Day 5
The 7 am departure time was a shocker, Lynda and I were lucky to be ready the alarm didn’t work, a cheap battery-operated gem.
We woke at 6:45, what a rush, Lynda made coffee and a wrap of peanut butter and banana while I readied the trailer.
The walkie-talkie broke the morning silence, just as I got in the truck. A cheerful voice bid good morning and asked if we were ready for the day. “Bugger off”, I thought to myself as Lynda hopped in the truck and grabbed the radio from my hand, exclaiming in an equally cheerful voice, “yes we’re ready”.
Really,….. she didn’t look ready, looked like she’d been dragged through a knothole backwards, clothes and hair in disarray, who is this woman, and what have you done with my well-groomed wife?
The sun crested the distant hills as we left the campground, Lynda and I trying to wake from the early morning craziness.
We descended the hills of Riding Mountain National Park and soon we were back on flat prairie highway, still no steep hills.
Early morning departures have been the plan for the first week or so, get across the four western Canadian Provinces as quickly possible. The group had no interest in seeing more than highway scenery.
Since leaving Batoche, Saskatchewan, our direction has been southeast on highway 16, a good single lane highway with light traffic.
The landscape is dominated by farmland, hay fields, wheat and straw fields, potash mines, grain elevators, and monster tractors pulling block long cultivators.
A beautiful morning drive until I noticed a strange noise coming from the rear of my truck, I radioed Henry and Ralph I needed to stop. I pulled to the roadside.
Another tire issue– one of the rear driver’s side duallys is flat. I cannot believe it another flat tire, I’ve had more flat tires in the last few days than in the last twenty years of driving.
A quick pow wow and we decided to continue to the next town to find a tire repair shop. Portage La Prairie was the closest town. Our navigation system found another Kal Tire.
The tire shop has a huge lot with drive-through bays. A quick check at the office and I pulled my truck into a bay without unhooking the trailer. No other customers ahead of me.
I guess hitting the road early has its advantages.
The tire tech removed the tire, the inside dually had blown. Henry, Ralph and I hovered over the tire, a gaping hole in the sidewall.
It seemed the tech at the Kal Tire in Lloydminster neglected to reattach the valve extension. It got stuck in between the tires causing the tire to blow.
This Kal-tire store didn’t have a tire the right size. A storewide system search found one tire several hundred kilometers away. The tire technician installed my spare, after a $23 charge we continued our route.
I took the phone number of the next Kal-tire store, the one with the proper size tire. I phoned once we got closer, no luck they close at noon, five minutes from now, I assume the Labour Day long weekend was the culprit.
Talk about frustrated, we bought a new truck to eliminate vehicle issues, we’ve had more issues than the rest of the group’s older trucks.
I phoned the dealership where I bought the truck and spoke to our salesman, Glen. I explained my predicament, trying to stay calm and not explode, Glen offered to help and contact the GM dealers and tire shops along our route to see if he could find a tire to match the size on my truck.
In the meantime, I activated my assistant, co-pilot, cook, and wife, Lynda to research tire shops along the way for a tire the correct size.
Henry chirped over the radio, time to refuel our thirsty trucks, we pulled off the highway at the outskirts of Winnipeg.
Our preferred fuel stop is an Esso card lock, by the name of ‘Key to the Highway’, Ralph and I have one.
We receive up to10 cents off per liter. The card is valid at most Esso stations and many truck stops such as Loves, Pilot and Flying J.
Before we left home, Lynda printed out the locations of the ‘Key to the Highway’ card locks along our route. There happened to be one just off the highway in Winnipeg.
I entered the address into the truck navigation system. It took us a mile or so off the highway.
What a fiasco, the Esso station was small and almost impossible to get into with our long rigs. Ralph managed to get to a diesel pump after circling the station.
Henry saw the problem and pulled into a fuel station across the road.
I have the longest rig, no way would it fit. Lynda and I continued back to the highway continuing our route hoping for a truck stop.
A couple of kilometers further an Esso truck stop ‘Key to the Highway’. Lynda texted the others our location so we could catch them as the drove by.
Once we joined the group chatter over the radio and an executive decision, “do not enter a town for fuel, refuel at larger stations along the highway”.
Once refueled we continued along the highway towards Kenora, Ontario and our destination for two nights Tomahawk RV Resort.
The bright side, a beautiful sunny day and spectacular scenery as we cross from Manitoba into Ontario.
Back to the tire issue.
Lynda phoned several tire stores and finally found the right size at a Canadian Tire store in Kenora, Ontario. Unfortunately, no staff available to install the tire, the long weekend again.
Shortly after Lynda hung up, Glen called back with the same information, thanks to him.
We arrived in Kenora and heavy traffic around 4 pm. A movie shoot was in progress, several main streets were blocked off. It makes no sense to me…..why block streets off during a busy long weekend? Film during the week?
After almost running over someone’s grandma, she expressing displeasure over the incident with grandpa’s gestures and language, we made it through the pretty little town.
Kenora is a summer resort town on the shores of Lake of the Woods, a huge lake with thousands of islands.
We stopped at the Canadian Tire in Kenora and bought the Cooper brand tire.
As it stands I have a spare tire that requires mounting on the rim. I hope we can make it through the long weekend without another flat. Fingers crossed.
We arrived at Tomahawk RV Resort near Sioux Narrows, Ontario on Lake of the Woods around 5 pm.
A night for celebration, we’re halfway across Canada, on schedule, the weather is fantastic, and we have a full day off…..hurray.
Sunday, September 3 – Day 6
Showers off and on through the night, what happened to our perfect weather, I guess I jinked it, showers continued through the day, our day off?
The weather didn’t dampen our spirits we rented a pontoon party boat for the afternoon and off we sailed. Hopefully, the showers will hold off.
Lake of the Woods is a huge body of water and rumored to be one of the best fishing lakes in Ontario. We brought our fishing rods to try our luck.
Even though the weather was not ideal it was great to be on the water a nice break. Fishing wasn’t fantastic, but we managed three small bass, too small to keep.
As the afternoon wore on the rain picked up and the temperature dropped, several of the party boat passengers needed to pee, time to head back.
The clouds parted as a campfire sprang from the $12 bundle of wood we purchased the previous night. We are sparing no expense on this trip normally I would spend no more than $10.
The group enjoyed a pleasant evening around the campfire, the small bundle of wood was enough.
We leave in the morning for Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Superior the largest of the great lakes.
Tomorrow is the first leg of a 4-day 2000-kilometer drive across Ontario, the last push before we begin exploring eastern cities.
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