Back tracking a couple weeks to make sure I share some photos of our relocation trip across Canada in July. I thought I would have been able to blog every night on the road, but I was totally over estimating my night time energy level. Most days I only managed to get a quick Facebook update published.

Map of Canada showing our route.
We did it in 10 days, 8294 km!

Here’s a recap:

Day 1: Our departure was delayed while we waited for the plumbers to winterize our house, appliances, well, and water system. Just in case the house doesn’t sell before the winter, we wanted to be make sure we won’t have any unexpected troubles!

After they were finished, I literally mopped my way out, and we were off!

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Truck is packed, we’re ready to go!
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I’m going to miss this deck that Jeff built the most.

We made it into Quebec the first night, and was kept awake by a extraordinarily friendly Sally (our cat) who kept waking us up and meowing in our face all night, and Monty who barks at every strange noise while in hotel rooms.

Day 2: We were up early and hustled our way to Ontario.

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Road trip!
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Bass Pro Shops pit stop!

We spent the night in Kitchener, Ontario, to my sister Julie’s house. Julie is caring for Sally for now, because our government housing contract, here in Dawson City, only allows for one pet ?  My Mom, Dad, Dad’s wife Patti-Jo, and my Uncle Paul all came over for pizza and cold beer in Julie’s apartment while we worked on getting Sally used to her new digs.

Day 3: I tried to choke back the tears saying good-bye to Sally. It is so hard to take care of an animal since it was a baby and then suddenly have to say good-bye.

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Uh oh!

As fate would have it, I got another hour to spend with her after our truck wouldn’t start! Jeff got to ride in the tow truck (free, thanks to our credit card’s roadside assistance program). Turns out some sort of important wire was rotted off under the truck. Really couldn’t have happened at a better place along the way!

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Julie gave Monty a new toy that he adores!

Soon enough we were on our way, saying goodbye to my family, and Sally, and headed northwards through Ontario.

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Sometimes Monty slept, but he usually kept his head between us and not on his own seat. He just always wants to be part of the action!

We made it up to Sudbury, Ontario to finish up Day 3.

Day 4: 

5:30am. Already on the road, left Sudbury, Ontario, heading to the Sault. Aiming to get to at least Thunder Bay today. Only 10C this morning with a beautiful fog hanging over the marshes.

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Iron Bridge, Ontario pit stop.
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Gorgeous morning.

So many parts of this trip through Ontario are full of memories. We made it to Sault Ste. Marie were we lived for 6 or so years, and first met ?

It was so appropriate that we got stopped by the train, which happened so many times when we lived there. You wait for it to go one way. Then it stops, and then reverses. ?

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Train in Sault Ste. Marie.

The next stop after the Sault was the Canadian Carver in Pancake Bay. LOVE this place – I could spend hours here, and have!

I had to visit my weather prognosticating rock.

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Pancake Bay Weather Station

And browse the stores.

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Jeff got some smoked fish to snack on, and I was too full of memories and stories to buy a thing.

Finally as we got into Lake Superior Provincial Park we hit some road side picnic stops. Why can’t they have these across the country!?!?!?! Just give me an outhouse and some grass for the dog. Stop complicating things.

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Newer outhouses at Old Woman Bay.

The Old Woman Bay outhouses have been updated to composting toilets that really cut back on the smell.

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Monty wanted to swim in Lake Superior so bad, but we didn’t really want to travel with a wet sandy dog, so he didn’t win this one.IMG_5339

I miss Northern Ontario so much. I want to hug it. I love it all, out houses, lakes, trees, I saw two bull moose, and a bear. I love you Canadian Shield. And why can’t the entire Trans Canada have picnic stops and outhouses. Nothing better!

We made it all the way to Thunder Bay, Ontario. I had so many things I wanted to see, people I wanted to get together with, but we were so completely exhausted, we tried a new Chinese place (well new since I lived there) and fell fast asleep. I’ll be back Thunder Bay!

Day 5:

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The Nutella truck was parked outside our hotel room in Thunder Bay!
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I’ve really missed all the trains!

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English River picnic stop.

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Great view from our pit stop.

The drive from Thunder Bay west to Winnipeg is full of so many memories of my various forestry jobs of day gone by. It has been years, but I suddenly felt intimately connected to these forests again. I know their smell, the sounds of my saw, the feel of the planting shovel in my hand, the sponginess of the sphagnum when jumping from lump to lump, the look of the little spruce buds when they swell and  flush in the spring, the smear of the jack pine pitch on my skin, and the smell of diesel exhaust in the morning.

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The sun burning off the fog as we headed towards Dryden, Ontario.
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I love you Northwestern Ontario.

We met Jeff’s friend Ray and his wife Kelli in Dryden, Ontario for coffee mid-morning, and hit the Walmart to restock our cooler and snack cache.

Before too long we left Ontario and drove into Manitoba.

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Goodbye Ontario, until we meet again!

We stopped in Winnipeg at Cabela’s and the IKEA. I’ve never tackled an IKEA on my own before. It took me a little too long to find the pieces I needed for my new desk. I’m such an IKEA newb. I chose the BEKANT sit/stand desk. (It has a super awesome electronic height adjuster.)

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IKEA self-service furniture pick-up.

We made it to Russell, Manitoba on Day 5, just shy of Saskatchewan. The Russell Inn had an outdoor concert that we were wary of, because we just wanted to sleep, but they gave us a bigger, newer room in a quieter area AND gave Monty his own treat bag!

Day 6: It was a rainy start, but we had a great breakfast at the Inn before hitting the road. I caved for the homemade waffle and fresh strawberries!

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Jeff at breakfast.

Soon enough the rain cleared so we could see the beautiful prairies and views in Saskatchewan.

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There is so much canola growing this year. DSC_0010

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The flax fields and the water ponds were the same colour! They kept playing tricks with our eyes!DSC_0027

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I love the clouds on the prairies.

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Before too long, oil silos started appearing on the landscape.

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Jeff’s Saskatchewan snack – “Cowboy’s Caviar” – Cowboy’s Original Jerky
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Whitecourt Alberta!

Day 6 is ending in Whitecourt, Alberta. Lots of flooding around the Quill Lakes in Saskatchewan, but the grass seems crispy dry here in Whitecourt. Can’t believe I’m in Whitecourt! Saw many hundreds of kilometers of canola growing on the prairies, a few flax fields too all in bloom. Feeling a little cranky and tired tonight, and I didn’t even do the driving. Need to find healthier road food… and my other suitcase with the clean clothes.

Day 7: On Day 7 we finally reached the beginning of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, B.C. DSC_0052

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I had hardly driven at all to this point, just a couple hours around Lake Superior so Jeff could snooze.

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While I was driving, a big rock flew off a truck and smashed our window!!DSC_0072

We drove through the Prophet Lake forest fire that had closed the highway the week earlier. There were still hot spot and smoke and a few flames near the highway.DSC_0076 DSC_0080

Ending day 7 a little early since I don’t think there will be another motel for hours. We’re in Fort Nelson, BC. Drove through the Prophet Lake fire today. Just a few hot spots left. Got a huge rock into our window from a passing truck. Thought we were going to run out of gas without a working pump for hours and hours. But we are getting closer to the Yukon! Hoping to get to Watson Lake tomorrow.

Stopping a little earlier meant we had time to hit a Boston Pizza in Fort Nelson, BC for a beer and pizza.

Day 8: 

A lot of hard working folks here in Fort Nelson who you can tell are a long way from home. There was a guy at breakfast laughing a little too hard at a vacationing little girl’s antics, then I heard him say she was just like his daughter. And an older worker crouched down in the parking lot to hug and play with Monty, and then thanked me with tears in his eyes, because he was missing his dog back home. He got a second Monty hug this morning before we left.

On Day 8 our goal was Watson Lake, Yukon. Right away we were stopped in road construction.

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So much construction. And very few places to stop – but we did find this nice place! The Toad River Lodge. We had a low tire alert so Jeff was able to pump up the tires. When I went inside to pay for gas, the woman at the counter asked if I was Canadian and then gave me two fifty cent coins for my change. She said she just got them, and they were new? I had no idea we were getting a fifty cent coin! Turns out they are a few years ago, and probably not a common currency, so we’re keeping them so we always remember this quirky remote stop.DSC_0087

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More construction.DSC_0090

Turns out they were just cutting the grass and trees along the road.

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Stopped for construction. 0 km/hr.

We saw lots of bison signs and warnings. I remember hearing about these bisons who may have been reintroduced? But live their whole life as happy clams along the roadside.

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We kept our eyes peeled.

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We found one! A bison hanging out in a mud/sand outcrop along the tree line beside the highway.DSC_0106

But further up the road… JACKPOT!  DSC_0110

Look at all the bison!DSC_0112

Monty was FREAKING out with excitement!DSC_0115

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That was a real highlight of the trip!

As we got closer to the Yukon, the sun finally came out.

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We made it to Watson Lake, Yukon!

First stop – the iconic, infamous, Watson Lake Signpost Forest!

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There are about 80,000 signs here! People have left them over the years, personalized with their home town. Some of them are actually road signs “borrowed” from their town, some are license plates taken right off their vehicles, others are professionally made, some others have been made on the spot.

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I knew my Dad had left a sign here years and years ago but I didn’t spot it.

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There are so many signs!

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We headed to Kathy’s Kitchen for dinner and our first Yukon Gold.  Mmmmmmmmm! Great food too, I’d recommend this stop!IMG_5410

We got a motel room at Ram’s Head Inn. Look at all the personality in this room! Turned out to be really comfortable and was a great stay.

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That night Dad looked up the photos he had of when he left the sign in Watson Lake. He sent this photo: IMG_5415

Day 9: Early on day 9, I headed back to the signpost forest to search for Dad’s sign. I figured I’d look for the great big Millville sign above it. Jeff and I split up and started to search.

Ten minutes later, BINGO! I found it!  A little weathered, but I see it!!

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We gassed up the truck and headed north. We found a remote little lodge and stopped for a breakfast.

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I have to say, it is really sad to see how many lodges, motels, and roadside attractions are for sale, closed, abandoned, and forgotten all across Canada. It is a real shame. Do people not drive anymore? Do they bring their own trailer and not need accommodations? Or do people just hit the cities for motels now? Northern Ontario was particularly sad for me. Remember the days when the provincial parks were all booked up and the traffic was awful and you were always stuck behind some putt-putt slow trailer and you’d be dying for a passing lane? Well not this year, there was almost no summer traffic at all ?

It was great to hit Whitehorse! Now we were back on familiar ground, the places we fell in love with when we vacationed here last year!

Since it was still afternoon, we jumped at the chance for a meal at the famous Klondike Rib & Salmon restaurant. It is one of the oldest buildings in the Yukon and was originally just a tent!

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We practically dove into a couple Yukon Golds.IMG_5431

And I had the most amazing Halibut burger. It was seriously so good that Jeff told me twice to tone down the moaning ?IMG_5432

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We got a hotel room for the night and found a supplier of Monty’s dog food. We bought a couple bags to get us through until our next Whitehorse trip. Whitehorse is our closest city now for supplies and shopping. Just a 7 hour drive (one way) from Dawson City!

Whitehorse has some tremendous trails. What a great place to walk a dog! We walked along the river later than evening.IMG_5436

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Day 10: The last day of our drive! Heading north to Dawson City on the Klondike Highway!

I couldn’t not stop at the Braeburn lodge for a cinnamon bun. They are $10 and are a 2-3 day snack they are so huge!

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The Braeburn Lodge is one of the checkpoints on the Yukon Quest dog sled race each winter. Here is this year’s check in board:IMG_5442On day 10 I remembered another road trip lesson. If you leave Jeff alone n the vehicle for two seconds, he switches the GPS to the monster truck with the Australian voice.DSC_0137

Traffic is so scarce in the Yukon you can pull over and pee whenever the need should arise! The truck was a real scatter job of a packing, since we put stuff into the truck as we were done with it, and there really was no order. We also had all the things in the truck the movers wouldn’t take, like jars and jars of spaghetti sauce, booze, firearms, ammunition, my desk I got at IKEA, and mops, brooms, cleaners.

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We stopped at the old Montague Roadhouse. Really neat. I love the historic cabins and roadhouses of the Yukon.

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More construction! There isn’t traditional asphalt pavement up here. It is a tar and chip sort of thing. Once they have the surface re-levelled, they put down a layer of tar and then put a layer of gravel on top, and compress it with a roller.

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No Monty, that is not another bison.IMG_5446

Soon enough, we were in Dawson City and moving into our new home!

Lisa

Lisa (Verkley) Schuyler is a blogger reporting live from her new home in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Often found wearing a hoodie, covered in pet hair, Lisa is a mis-placed forester who now spends her days engineering happiness for WordPress users. Lisa loves nature, animals, and most importantly, her handsome husband Jeff.

3 Replies to “Our drive across Canada

  1. This is the best blog post I have read in a long time – wonderful stuff.

    Glad everything worked out for you all 🙂

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