North America

East, South, West, North – 18,068km through Canada and USA (Week 1)



The following post relates to Week 1 of mine and Adela’s road trip from Jasper in theRocky Mountains across Canada into America and back toVancouver covering a total of 18,068 km in just 7 weeks.

We brought a Dodge Caravan for £1600.00 with 230,000 km on the clock off mates of ours who had converted the back into a double bed with storage underneath for our snowboards and other impractical travel items.  I was able to just lie down entirely flat with my feet touching the back windows and my squished head against the back of the front seats.  For once I was glad I was not six foot tall.  Our plan was to drive from Jasper in Alberta, across Canada to the furtherest East Coast point in Nova Scotia before heading down to New York and back across to San Francisco and up to Vancouver.  The only planning was that we had roughly £100 per day for expenses, a week booked inNew Yorkin a few weeks time and a flight onthe 22nd October 2010out ofVancouvertoLondon.  So onthe 4th September 2010we headed off…

Day 1 – 04/09/2010 – After gorging ourselves to the max at the breakfast buffet at my bosses family restaurant we were off.  Adela was upset to be leaving and I was very apprehensive about money, the distance and the car breaking down.  Considering the car already had 230,000 km on it and I had already changed the front brake pads after they were rubbing metal on metal and wearing down the rotors I was worried that anything could go wrong, even just metres down the road.  Our first planned stop was Banff and the usual 4 hour drive took over 7 hours as we marvelled at the beauty of this great Country stopping at Sunwapta Falls, another random waterfall where Adela fell on her butt (hilarious), the Colombian Ice Fields, Peyto Lake and Lake Louise before coming to a halt for our first night at the Tunnel Mountain Village RV park.  The highlight of the day, even with the bus loads of tourists had to be PeytoLakewith its pristine blue colours from the glaciers melting.

KM travelled = 321 km.

Spending = $28 (campground), $13 (medication, we had the flu), $10 (dinner) = $51 total.

Day 2 – 05/09/2010 –  saw us meet up with our Jasper flatmates, James and Kylie, for a hearty McD’s brekky in Banff before goodbyes all around.  We headed down the road to Drumheller and took in the worlds largest Dinosaur sculpture and Royal Tyrrell Museum.  Along the way we tracked down some hoodoo’s (rock formations) with every other stupid tourist doing a great job of wandering all over them and wrecking these thousands of years old natural structures.  I can’t decide whether its a good thing that these sorts of features are not roped off, as it allows you to see them up close and personal, but also allows idiots the chance to ruin them.  However, we managed to find a free camp site next to theRed Deer riverwhich always helps the pennies and cooked up a mean feed.

KM travelled = 421 km.

Spending = $15 (brekky), $10 (internet), $53 (petrol), $20 (museum), $64 (car accessories), $26 (more food!) = $188 total.

Day 3 – 06/09/2010 – We spent the next morning Mountain Biking around the Dinosaur Provincial Park in the Canadian Badlands where hundreds of bones have been found over the past century.  There were some amazing rock formations and existing bone yards that you can explore at your leisure.  Finally, managed to navigate our way along some extremely remote country roads passing one or two cars every hour before reaching a friends place, Tanner, in Cabri, Saskatchewan.  The town has only 500 people and as far as the eye can see (and further) lay the very flat farms of wheat, peas and canola.  A highlight of any trips is meeting the locals and it was a great night spent with some great hosts who treated us like family.  Our only regret was that we could not stick around for longer for the beautiful home cooked roast and deserts.

KM travelled = 482 km.

Spending = $2 (shower for Adela), $32 (petrol) = $34 total.

Day 4 – 07/09/2010 – Another hearty breakfast and another goodbye seemed to be the theme of our trip as we left Cabri to make up some time across the Saskatchewan and Manitoba provinces.  I was sure glad that we ended up choosing a comfortable car to do this trip because today was the first of a few long 10 hour days of driving over the next few weeks.  Not all that exciting and were lucky that Adela stumbled upon a cute camp ground on the edge of a lake at Delta Beach.  With no open reception we just had to leave $5 under the mat of the shed on site when we left the next morning and hope they got it.

KM travelled = 810 km.

Spending = $12 (present for Tanner’s family), $51 (petrol), $15 (food), $5 (camping) = $83 total.

Day 5 – 08/09/2010 – ADELA’S BIRTHDAY!!!  And it was scorching hot.  Unfortunately for Adela we were still making up time so we spent another fun day driving from9.40am to9.30pm with stops for food, gas (twice) and photos as we drove into a new time zone in Ontario.  Some neat lakes, including Falcon Lake for lunch, along the route before we checked into Kakabeka Falls camp ground which again had no one on site apart from us (stoked – freebie).

KM travelled = 821 km.

Spending = $60 (petrol), $8 (food), $40 (petrol again) = $108 total.

Day 6 – 09/09/2010 – Since we had arrived in the pitch black we could only hear the waterfall not see it until this morning.  And what a great sight to wake up to.  The falls dropped away 40m into a deep ravine winding its way below us.  Very cool.  Breakfast was enjoyed at the Terry Fox Memorial lookout, who in 1980, with cancer and one leg amputated attempted to run across Canada to raise money and awareness for Cancer research.  Unfortunately he had to withdraw once the cancer became to great for him to overcome but his foundation is now holds the largest one-day fundraiser each year.  He put our efforts in a car to shame.

Although the Trans-Canadian highway can be boring, this section was dotted with beautiful lakes around every bend with holiday cottages built on rocky islands in the middle only accessible by row boats.  We kept wishing we had more time to explore.  Lake Superior on the other hand is a totally different scale with no shoreline visible on the other side in the far distance.  A great drive along it with hundreds of bays and inlets.  Adela’s favourite was Katherine Cove with a beautiful stretch of sand and views out to all the little islands dotted along the shoreline.  I still wish I had a swim even though it was freezing.  My favourite was seeing the Ojibwe rock paintings inAgawaBay.  Of course, being in North America and not New Zealand there were signs everywhere advising it was very dangerous and slippery and caution should be taken with non-slip shoes… so we headed down in our jandals.  An American couple couldn’t believe it and were telling us to watch out the entire time.  Finally stopped for the night at Pancake Bay Provincial Park and managed to get out on our bikes for a couple of hours to stretch the legs.

KM travelled = 682 km.

Spending = $63 (petrol), $16 (food), $37 (campground) = $116 total.

Day 7 – 10/09/2010 – An unusually leisurely morning for us with driving start of 10am.  This meant we had time to explore Pancake Bay some more and stroll along the beach just enjoying the sunshine and warm weather.  Unfortunately the tranquility was interrupted by the fact we had to head to Toronto, which was still 8 hours drive away and had nowhere lined up to sleep.  We did find one good stop along the way (see picture below).  However, one of the great things about large corporations is that they can basically do whatever they like and Walmart was no exception.  Throughout North America they actually allow you to park your campervan (or in our case, tight squeeze for two) in their car parks overnight.  The only downside being that you don’t have any toilets or facilities until they open again bright and early which Adela was not so keen on!  If you do use their car park, please return the favour by buying some food or items from their store so that fellow travellers can continue to use this service.

KM travelled = 747 km.

Spending = $55 (petrol), $6 (McFlurry’s for a late birthday present for Adela), $30 (food) = $91 total

Week 1 Total KM Travelled = 4,284 km!  

Week 1 Total Weekly Spend = $671 (Yay below budget)

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