This park is as big as some states!

Trip Start Jun 16, 2012
Trip End Jul 28, 2012

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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Friday, July 6, 2012

July 5th – Sault Ste Marie to Algonquin

Time for one of the longest drives of the trip. Halfway across the mighty province of Ontario. First we had to go across the Ambassador Bridge to get to Canada. On the way I loaded the truck and the Jerry Cans with diesel since it is about a dollar more a gallon across the border. We would be in Canada for almost a month. The trip through Canadian customs was very painless as usual – not like "Fortress America." It took a little while to get through the Canadian Soo as I think we hit every traffic light in town. There were no major highways through town but there were a ton of Tim Horton's.

But right outside of town it was beautiful landscapes with rolling hills, quaint farmlands, glacial lakes, and the occasional sighting of Lake Huron. 90% of the route was over two lane roads. About every 30 mins. we would pass through a small town – all of which had a Tim Horton’s (just like our Waffle Houses back south). For lunch we stopped by a roadside park next to a river and did our thing of running the RV on the generator. This marked the halfway point of our almost 500 mile trek. Just after that we got some diesel at what is called a cardlock. This is just a small pump island with no attendant – you just put your card in and start pumping. Of course the sun was shining right on the digital instruction pad so it took forever just to figure out what to do. A nice trucker helped me through it. With about a quarter of the way to go we went through a very narrow two lane road through the forest with all the twists and turns. Motor cycle riders would have loved this. Lots of bumpy roads so I was sure that stuff in the RV was flying all over the place. Back on a main highway about 1 hour outside the park we stopped at a Wal Mart to get a few things. I was really get antsy in the need just to get there, park and relax. But it seemed like we were there forever shopping for a dog harness. We also wanted to get some milk and it was then we discovered the odd fact that Canadians put it in a plastic bag and not in a carton.

Finally we were on our way – a few hours behind my schedule. But since we were far north we had plenty of sunlight left. The road through Algonquin is about 30 miles though this covers only a small portion of this national park sized area. I stopped by the visitors center to get our guide. There are several campgrounds here and ours was about 20 miles away. The park was all rolling forested hills with glacial lakes of all sizes here and there. It is famous for its canoe trails. But since we were only here for two full days we would have to do that another time. Our main aim here was the many short hiking trails along the highway. Our campground was Bog Lake and I went to check in. The people at the desk were not campers so they really could not answer questions about the campground and if my RV was OK for my site. I just brushed them off and continued on down the road. After almost 9 hours of driving I was feeling very worn out – not much energy left so I was hoping this would be an easy place to park the RV. To get water, we had to drive back OUT of the campground and drive a few miles to the dump station which had fresh water. Took about 15 min. to fill the tank up. Then back to the campground. Took about 5 min. of driving in the campground just to get to our area. All the places had cul-de-sac type turnarounds. Where my back-in site was I would have to take one of these loops. Pooja walked around one of these loops and said it was OK to take the RV around – so I did. Big mistake. The trees were too close together on both sides and my RV would never fit without taking a few of them out. However, I was already halfway around when I discovered this. So I was going to have to back out of this narrow road with trees on both sides – and I and the truck had no energy left.

A man camping nearby helped me out. I had to go back and forth several times and it took almost 45 min. to back out and around and into our site. Pooja wanted me to go back to the camp host and get a new sight. I just wanted to park. This was one of the hardest parking jobs ever – but no harm was done to the RV. The truck was smelling so bad. The site had no hook-ups to I had to fetch water back and forth and run the generator. Our site had trees all around us so it was very private which was good for our dogs. They were so well behaved on this long 500 mile day. Needless to say I did not stay up too late.

July 6th – Hiking the park

Most of the trails at the park were of the 1 to 2 mile variety. So the plan was to do three in the morning. Go back to the RV for lunch and relaxing. And then do 3 in the evening. Dogs were allowed on the trails which would make them happy and not be left in the RV all day. The morning went according the plan. We took the trails closest to our campsite. Our morning trails included Lookout trail which was short but had a little steepness to it. However, the payoff was a nice lookout over miles and miles of forests. Big Pines is like the name said – massive pines that were just smaller than Redwoods – biggest pines I had ever seen. They said all of this area use to have big pines but that the loggers took them out. It takes a special mix of the right conditions for a big pine to grow to maturity. Our last trail before lunch was Two Rivers. Back at the RV we had lunch and just chilled for a few hours.

Around 4 we went back out toward the east gate and took in the Logging Museum. It closed early so we only had 5 min. to check out the continents inside – luckily it is a very small place. However, there was a 1.5 mile interpretive trail out back that went over and showed all the aspects of logging like in Algonquin. It was very well done and worth the trip. They had re-created logging cabins, a logging ship, and every aspect of the logging process. Turned out to be a nice evening stroll and educational on top of that. The next trail was just up the road about 5 miles and it was called Spruce Bog. The 1.5 mile trail was half on boardwalk over a bog. I got one of my best pictures on this trail, however the mosquitoes were so bad for Pooh and the dogs that we had to run the last part. We then went to the visitors center, which had closed several hours before so Pooh could use the Wi-Fi. Since using the phone would cost a ton of money in Canada we had to find Wi-Fi spots to get any information. While Pooh did that I drove down the road to solo the last trail – Beaver Pond. Not the easiest of trails and it was a ton of up and down. The small dogs stayed with Pooh and I took the Poncho. It was neat to see the size of these ponds created by the beavers. And at this time in the evening – after 8, but still with plenty of daylight, there were hardly anyone else of the trail. After the trail I went to pick up Pooh and check a few things out myself on the net. It was then back to the RV for dinner and chill for the rest of the evening.

July 7th

This time for the morning hikes we went toward the west gate about 20 miles down the road with the dogs. Our first stop was Whiskey Rapids. Most of the trail was just a hike through the woods. The creek of the namesake trail was not so impressive. However, Poncho decided to check it out. And then so did the small dogs. And soon it was play time for everyone. We threw sticks in the rapids and Poncho would go try to fetch them before they went too far down stream. He ran and ran. So this short trail took a little while to complete with our little play stop. After that we did Hardwoods Lookout which had some very steep parts but nice views – we definitely got a small workout on this one. Our last trail of the morning was Peck Lake. By this time many hikers were on the trails so we had to keep the dogs on the leash for the most part. The trail went around the namesake lake and was very rocky. We chilled out at a few stops to allow the dogs to go into the water. Poncho is OK with it but the small dogs not so much.

We drove back to the RV to get our lunch and chill out for the afternoon. After a few hours I biked part of the old Railroad trail for an hour and a half. Being an old railroad trail it was relatively flat. It passed a few lakes along the way. At the end of the trail I just biked back. When I got back I had to take Pooh to the Visitors Center so she could use the Wi-Fi. After this we just chilled at the RV and had some dinner.
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