After our Thursday night ordeal (see previous post), Friday found us driving, driving, driving trying to make it to Lake Winnipeg by night. Turns out the campground we had been seeking the night before, was about another 2km down the road from where we had randomly pulled over. Ahhhh well.
Somewhere during the 13 hours of driving that day we passed in to Maaaanitoba!! Dum da dum! I was very excited to be in a new province and ready for the welcome.
***Look ma! New province!***
*** I guess they didn’t hear I was coming 😦 ***
The drive that Friday was a tough one. We got to Winnipeg around 9pm, but the tricky part was that our campsite was about two hours north of Winnipeg, so we still had quite a bit of driving to do. Happily, we stumbled upon a great radio show that kept us well entertained for a few hours. That show ended just as we started north from Winnipeg, and it got kinda weird after that. The host on the next show that came on had a very quiet, kind of eerily soothing voice. One that makes you feel warily relaxed because they are trying so hard to sound soothing it makes you wonder what their objective REALLY is. The music she played didn’t help either. It was out there. And I was out there in the middle of the Canadian wilds late at night with no lights other than my headlights and the moon, driving on a brain that was overtired from the night before and buzzing from the many miles we had covered that day. It was one of those moments where time and distance lose their meaning because you can’t place yourself in relation to anything else. As I drove the last bit on the dirt path to the campground, I could have been on that road for 10 minutes or an hour, I have no idea. It felt like I was driving straight through the dark with the grass on either side and the dark trees in the distance not getting any closer forever. I wondered if I as just going to drive straight into the lake I knew I was headed towards. It got a little weird.
BUT! I did not drive into the lake. Instead, I drove into the campground which was full of families hanging out and children running around in the late night freedom that comes with camping. It was strange to find this lively remote area so late at night and it gave me the feeling of coming home after being alone for so many hours. One of the kids caught sight of my car and started yelling to his friends “California! California!” I realized what a weird sight I was! Coming into this tiny remote campground at 11pm in my starship car with Cali plates. I looked at the other plates as I drove through and sure enough they were all Manitoba. This was clearly not a destination campground for travelers, but rather a local family retreat. The kids ran after my car the whole way to my campsite and when I got out and said “Hi! Thank you for the welcome!” They stopped abruptly, looked at me like was totally nuts and ran away. Hah!
I set up my tent in the light from my headlights and so happily crawled in with Stella and passed the f*** out.
I love the feeling of waking up somewhere and having no idea what it looks like outside your door. Saturday morning, after a much needed good nights sleep, we awoke to the beauty of Lundar Beach campground on the shores of Lake Manitoba.
***Morning running path***
The Saturday and Sunday on the shores of Lake Manitoba weren’t too eventful. We napped and swam and caught up on some emails via the free wifi at the library in the tiny nearby town of Lundar. There was absolutely no cell service and the break from technology was wonderful.
On Sunday, we hit the road again, rested and happy that the most intense driving was behind us. We could pretty much take our time for the rest of the trip.
I did a little reading about the different routes across Winnipeg (thanks Rough Guide to Canada!) and settled on the northern route. Pro-tip: although Trans-Canada-Hwy-1 is the quickest route across the prairies, the views are pretty much wheat field after wheat field after wheat field….
Yellowhead Route (Hwy-16) has more varied scenery aimed us up towards Riding Mountain National Park and, beyond that, towards Little Manitou Lake (aka the Dead See of Canada). Floating in some salty salty water sounded pretty neat so we headed north!
***Yellowhead Route Scenery***
***Crazy Canadian flavors! (actually delicious though)***
***Baby carrots are the best road trip snack***
***Stella on strike during a Walmart detour (hell no i won’t go). Fun fact – we saw a man wearing real life Canadian tuxedo!***
It was an easy 3.5 hours from Lundar Beach to Riding Mountain National Park, so we took our time and still arrived well before dark. Immediately after you enter Riding Mountain National Park from the south, you run into an adorable summer town on the shores of Clear Lake called Wasagaming. We stopped in at the ranger station for advice about camping (somewhere beautiful and semi-remote) and where to take dogs to swim (pro-tip find a ranger who has a dog and they will give you the real deal about where you can bend those no-off-leash rules) before heading to the local cafe for a smoothie treat, wifi and people watching. We got a taste of Canadian summer lake camping life and especially enjoyed eavesdropping on the super tall blonde teenagers working the smoothie bar and dishing about who was throwing a cabin party later that night omg omg.
After a short break in proper smoothie society, we headed back out into the wilderness. Whirlpool campground was our destination, a “walk-in” campground about a half an hour into the park. This campground was BEAUTIFUL. The perfect serene spot for the night.
We set up camp and set about making a fire to cook dinner. There was a shed full of free wood, but it was all pretty damp. One of my fellow campers saw how I was struggling to get it going, and came and offered me a fire starter! Oh Canadians, so lovely. We chatted and they told me about how they love to travel and their experiences in California and how this was the prettiest campsite in all of Canada. Lucky me 🙂
Stella and I fell asleep that night to the sound of water lapping and the balmy breeze blowing through the trees.
The next morning, after coffee and breakfast of peanut butter bread and strawberries, we decided to explore a little before taking off. We started out on a trail that led away from the campsite, but hadn’t gone more than 10 mins before we realized the breeze was picking up and storm clouds were gathering. We booked it back to the campground and managed to break camp and get all of the stuff into our car just as the rain began to fall. And it was some rain!! I had hoped to take Stella to the spot the ranger recommended for dog swimming, but the rain was coming down in buckets when we pulled up, so no go.
Ah well, we had great destinations in store! We backed our butts up and pointed them towards Saskatchewan (well I guess we pointed our fronts). Next stop was Little Manitou Lake for some serious floating in those salty healing waters.