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Quest for Pickle Lake

October 22, 2022

Oct. 21, 2022

Tuesday P. and I returned from a Canadian adventure in the Hymer, our RV from a modified Dodge van.

We left town the day after I learned I would not be kept as a juror for a case of domestic violence and witness tampering.  I wasn’t interviewed; dismissed after four hours.  A $13 check for my services was waiting at the post office where our mail was being held.

Day 1:  Drove from Billings to Malta, then to Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs RV Park and Resort.  Early October, not many people in the RV Park, even fewer at the beautiful hot springs pools.  The woman in charge showed us how to let ourselves out of the storefront office, because she didn’t want to stay up so late. We saw a murmuration of some kind of little birds at a nearby swamp.

Day 2:  I gobbled up my last three cannabis gummies early that morning because I realized the Canadian Border Officer would ask me if we had any in the car.  Thus I was able to say no.  A good thing, too, because they searched the van with a dog anyhow.  They found the bear spray that I declared we had.  She asked me why I had bear spray!  I patiently explained the use in case of a charging grizzly encounter.

A stranger once gave me his bear spray when he caught me hiking in the Beartooth Wilderness without it.  Yes, this happened to me.  The guy who handed me his bear spray said I could keep it or turn it in at a place called “Silvergate” in Red Lodge. Of course I turned it in. Soon we were in Canada!

We crossed into Canada a few miles north of Opheim, Montana. We took a highway going east.

We found a town called Stauton that first day to camp at a city park.  We called a phone number inside the bathroom that advised us to not clog the toilet, but to plunge the toilet if we should clog it.  Soon Greg came driving up to our Hymer to collect $15 fee for a night of camping and use of the showers.

The shower was simple.  A copper pipe had a shower head soldered on it.  The valve was a simple ball-cock that had two settings: Off and on.  Half the water simply ran across the floor, but it was possible to avoid the river. Nonetheless, it was a warm shower and I appreciated that.

Day 3: We rolled across miles of land with oil pumpjacks around us until we got to Winnipeg, and thence to Birds Hill Provincial Park.  $25/night, and some hiking trails out to a pond with birds and coyotes.  We thought we heard wolves two or three years ago when we stayed a night at the same place, but the ranger said wolves have not been seen there recently.

Day 4:  Oilfields gave way to mixed coniferous and deciduous forest and frequent lakes.  We saw a few deer but no other big game animals.  We saw numerous instances of places where a tree fell against a power line.

We got to Ignace, Manitoba, north on 599 to camp at a trailhead across the highway from Sand Bar Lake.  We drove fifty yards on a sketchy dirt road to a clearing where Spruce Grouse ran and flew out of our way.  In the morning the water for the sink wouldn’t run because some of the hoses must have frozen in the night.  This frightened us until the water began running later as the day warmed. We told our experience to a Fb group of Hymer owners and wannabes. We were quickly reassured nothing bad was apt to happen.

Day 5: Drove from Sand Bar north on highway 599 several hundred kilometers to Pickle Lake, as far north as one can drive on pavement in Manitoba.  We saw helicopter pilots and women in traditional dress.

Pickle Lake proved to be touristy, despite its remote location.  Looks to be populated by Indigenous folk, and we had lunch at a hotel. 

Patty melt and poutine, proved to be too much food.  Remember poutine is french fries with beef gravy and cheese curds.  Deliciousness.

Pickle Lake was our ostensible reason to visit Canada this Fall. Location is everything. I was delighted to see pavement instead of deep mud and not too many of the giant shipping containers emblazoned with words like “Cosco.” I didn’t spy a single 55 gallon drum or pile of old tires, but I saw people crossing the road.

We picked up a young lady hitchhiker, dropped her off with a few bucks and a prayer in Ignace.  We found Davy Lake RV Park.  A beautiful park, great showers, laundromat.

Day 6: made it to Bekakaka Falls campground near Thunder Bay.  Huge campground, somewhat sparsely inhabited, despite it being near Canadian Thanksgiving. We spied a 20-30 adult get-together around a big campfire.

Day 7: Back in the USA, roll down Highway 61 to Duluth, to Todd’s house to help him build some fence. Well, set a couple of fence posts using a “Dingo” with 6” auger, a shovel, a wrecking bar, and 7 sacks of Quickcrete brand cement mix.

Days later: Headed west, camped at the Jamestown RV Park.  Sweet deal for $35. Had the park to ourselves, nearly.

Back in Billings to replace the cover of the air conditioner (probably dislodged when we drove in the Sand Bar trailhead road).

Also, to rent a place to store the Hymer, winterize it, purchase a canvas cover for storage.

One Comment
  1. Kate permalink

    That sounds wonderful. Treasure the moment, eh? Love to you both.

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