While in Quebec City we finalized our intended arrival date in Grand Marais, Michigan, based to a large extant on our anticipated participation in various markets in the region. This gave us seven full days between Quebec and Grand Marais, arriving on the eighth. Our route from PEI to Quebec had entailed relatively short, three hour driving runs each travel day. If we maintained that rate it would take four legs to reach our destination, which meant short stays in pretty much all of them. So we elected to push a little harder, extend our driving time to five hours for a couple of days, and thus have only three legs to reach Grand Marais, which would translate to a couple of three day stops plus a one nighter.
PKM is not pleased with the extended travel hours.
One of the things I have not really discussed, and part of why we were willing to extend our travel days, is how easy we found the driving in Canada. Through five provinces we enjoyed good roads (with a few notable exceptions,) but what really made it easy was the low traffic density. Even passing near major cities like Montreal and Ottawa was a far cry from the challenge of driving near or through major US cities. And except for a bit of confusion due to unfamiliar traffic signs, driving Loki around in downtown Quebec City was a breeze.
Our latest Walmart site. This one was particularly nice, we were able to put out two of the slides without impeding any other parking spots.
Despite this I was happy to take a few extra miles and minutes to go south around Montreal rather than through it as our initial Google Maps route suggested. It was easy as pie, and shortly afterwards we entered Ontario. Continuing our monthly budget damage control efforts, we stayed in another Walmart lot a bit short of Ottawa for the night, where Rosemarie discovered her second favorite Canadian store, Bulk Barn.
Imagine the dry goods bulk bins at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, but times ten. An entire large store with row after row of everything imaginable in bulk. Dog treats? An entire section. Something chocolate covered? They have you covered with a full row. Quinoa? Which type and with which seasonings? We limited our purchases since we would be crossing the border soon and I wasn’t sure of the rules for bulk items not in commercial packaging, but I don’t think Rosemarie will ever forgive me for not making one final run to Bulk Barn before we left Canada.
The next morning we made another five hour run to the north shore of Lake Nipissing and Panorama Camp. Reviews for several of the parks in this region reported tight to very tight spaces, whereas Panorama Camp had water front, spacious sites on grass, as long as you could deal with 2-Way service, which we prefer for the cheaper price. This is a true mom and pop campground, owned and run by Chris and Bonnie. We were fortunate in our timing: we had a three day stay during the work week, which meant nearly an entire row to ourselves. With a Canadian three day weekend looming they were absolutely full starting the day of our departure.
If you are looking for a peaceful respite on the shore of a large lake and don’t care about having a town of any size nearby, this is the place for you. About the only catch is that all but three of the shore front 2-Way sites are 15 amp vice 30, so be sure and ask the electrical load if you reserve here. A couple miles down the road is Lavigne, which has exactly one small combined grocery/liquor/deli store, and they don’t take credit cards. 25 minutes away is Sturgeon Falls, which is big enough to boast a couple of fast food joints and a Dollarama.
We did what the place called for: relaxed and continued planning for our impending one month stay in the Upper Peninsula. And everything went great until the day of our departure. Oh, did I mention that our automatic stairs, non-functional for most of the last year, suddenly started working again upon our arrival at Panorama Camp? Well they did, extending and retracting through multiple cycles as we checked in, maneuvered to our spot, and set up.
Slides in, levels up, services disconnected, stairs stubbornly still extended.
Upon departure, however, they would not retract a single inch, and no manner of jiggering with the switches and ground wires, or trying to “assist” the electric motor with some kicking would solve it. After my efforts failed, I sought help from the locals, and sure enough one of them had a brother with experience in trailer mechanics. He found a connection point I didn’t know about, pulled it loose, reconnected it and bam, the stairs retracted. Apparently this entire year the only thing wrong with them was a dirty connector behind the motor controller.
Next stop: The United States of America.