Amazing 2019 Summer Road Trip from British Columbia to Ontario

2007 Pontiac Vibe “Good Vibes”
North Vancouver, BC to Thunder Bay, ON

Stats:

7 DaysJuly 16th – July 22nd 2018 – ~3286 km traveled

  • Gas: $345.43
  • Repairs: $100.00
  • Food: $87.56
  • Lodging (tent): $131.91

Total Cost: $664.90 CAD

Average: $95.00 with ~470km traveled per day

Day 1: North Vancouver to Shuswap Lake Provincial Park

504 KM – 6.5 hour scenic mountain drive

Driving through British Columbia is something that stuns me every time I do it; the natural spectacle that we enjoy here in Canada is mind blowing to say the least. Along the drive, I made sure to stop as much as I could, in order to soak up the last of the BC vibes and amazing sights.

After a long drive of weaving through mountains and counting a seemingly infinite number of rental campers, I made it to Shuswap Lake Provincial Park. Sadly the park was full, so I had to tent in their overflow lot, I wasn’t complaining though. I was very tired after a long day of driving, and oddly enough I had the majority of the space to myself. Bonus.

~8 hours on the road – 504km

Lodging cost: $32.00 for 1 night of tenting

Overflow Camping, Shuswap Lake Provincial Park

Day 2: Shuswap Lake Provincial Park (BC) to Obed Lake Campground (AB)

Decided to head north to Jasper and enjoy a different scenic views of the mountains

The next morning, I woke up to a little bit of rain, but was eager to get back on the road. Not knowing what trials lay ahead later that day…

Driving along the highway 5 was fantastic, having picturesque jaw dropping views throughout the day.

Jasper National Park – Highway Rest stop

Things took a turn for the worst later in the day when google maps decided it wanted to send me a long an old logging road that had the worst potholes imaginable. The rattling of the vehicle, combined with the fact It was loaded down with a few hundred pounds of worldly possessions. Led to a catastrophic failure of the rusted out exhaust system.

As I was coming into Hinton, Alberta to get some well needed fuel (running on empty). Pulling into the parking lot I heard a solid *Pop* and the engine noise increased 5x its normal levels. Crawling underneath, I saw the culprit.

The back half of the exhaust had disconnected from the front. Right at the flange
You can obviously see why the engine was so noisy, the exhaust broke in two! The flange was severely rusted. no doubt the logging road was its last straw

So here I was, in Hinton, AB at 5pm contemplating what to do next. I looked up a few autobody shops nearby. All had closed at 4pm. Thinking I would have to wait until morning, I drove my loud vehicle to the local campground, turning heads for miles.

When I pulled into a campsite that looked like it would do, my neighbour who had a loud generator running next to his RV walked over.

He said “Hey, just wanted to let you know we’ll be running the generator until midnight. Just wanted to let you know before you settled in.” I didn’t really care, I was a little deflated after having the car break down. I just wanted to sleep and didn’t mind throwing in some ear plugs.

I said “hey, yeah no worries. That’s what earplugs are for. I’m only here for the night as I have to get my car looked at tomorrow. The exhaust pipe broke in half 30 minutes ago, I’m driving across Canada. Do you know which auto repair shop is the best in town for me to check out?”

He asks if he can take a look underneath, just as his daughter walks over. Him and his daughter checked out the underside. He then told me he’s actually a hobby mechanic and has a garage a few minutes around the corner. It being 7pm now, I was astounded at what I was hearing.

He said “Yeah, follow me and we’ll weld it back together for you, and you can be on your way.” He walked over to his RV and told his wife to save him a steak, he’ll be home a bit later for dinner.

I honestly had a little bit of stranger danger thoughts come right into my head, but decided to take the risk as this man and his daughter were giving me great vibes and just being the friendliest of people.

We drove over to his shop, which literally was right down the road. He had a full welding setup, and explained to me that he rented the garage to hold all his toys as he pointed over to his ATVs and boat in the back of the shop.

Over the course of an hour or so, with his daughter as his assistant passing him tools. This good Samaritan welded back together my exhaust system.

After finishing the first weld, we ran the engine and it sounded a lot better. You could hear that there were holes in there, but honestly I only needed to be able to get the rest of the way home to Ontario.

After thanking them so much for their work and help:
Me: “How much do I owe you?”

Him: “However much its worth to you friend”

I gave him all the cash I had on me. Which was a measily $100. I wished I could have given him more, as I knew a regular shop would charge me over a thousand and replace the exhaust system.. but he seemed satisfied with the amount.

After I said my goodbyes and the left the shop. Just around the corner… what are the odds…. I heard another large “POP”, and the engine sound increased again, even louder then the first time…. I pulled over to the side, and just as I did. My good samaritan pulled up beside me in his truck. I explained what happened, he motioned for me to follow.

We went back to his shop, I felt bad about it, as it seemed everything was falling apart. Crawling underneath, we could see what happened. A totally different part of the exhaust system, close to the front of the vehicle had disconnected at the resonator.

After another 30 minutes, the father and daughter team had the exhaust all welded up again. I thanked them immensely. Tearing up as I drove onto the highway. What an incredible experience meeting such kind people who were willing to help me when I needed it the most.

I was able to drive for another hour to my destination at Obed Lake provincial park in Alberta.

I paid $11 for the site and was greeted with this amazing view that evening after having some dinner.

picturesque sunset over Obed Lake
My tent site for the night in Obed Lake Campground, AB

I had one of the best sleeps of my trip that night. Thankful for what I had experienced that day.

Day 3: Obed Lake Campground (AB) to Vermillion Provincial Park (AB)

Obed to Vermillion

Today was a shorter distance day, as I had plans to meetup with my Cousin in Edmonton halfway through the day for lunch.

I was astounded how many herds of cattle I drove past, and how much canola was being grown in the endless fields. The yellow canola plant was all I could see for hours.

Goodbye mountains, hello plains of canola and cow

The car functioned perfectly this day, with the welds holding nicely.

Arriving in Edmonton, I almost got lost navigating the parking lot of the West Edmonton Mall. After having a great lunch and enjoying catching up with my Cousin. I escaped the consumer crowds and got back on the road.

After you live in British Columbia, surrounded by mountains, central Alberta seems a little barren. The drive was pretty dull and uneventful. The welds were still holding nicely on the exhaust system and the car was performing well enough. Sadly there was a decent amount of rain, so stopping along the way wasn’t really an option.

Later that afternoon, actually pretty early, I arrived at Vermillion Provincial Park. Let me tell you, this park is absolutely pristine. I really enjoyed it, having gotten a spot surrounded by nature and away from the crowded areas.

Nothing like a patch of grass to call home for a night

Looked like I had some animal neighbours as well.

Prairie dog hole next to my campsite

The weather was calling for a severe thunderstorm, so I hunkered down and quickly fell asleep.

Day 4: Vermilion Provincial Park (AB) to Crooked Lake Provincial Park (SK)

Vermilion Provincial Park to Crooked Lake Provincial Park

The next morning, I woke up to a wet tent, but was on the road bright and early. I had a longer stretch planned for the day, wanting to make sure I could make it a good distance closer to home.

Passing over the provincial border between Alberta and Saskatchewan, you could see an almost immediate change to the scenery. Endless fields of grain and oil pumping machines scattered around. Tall granary silos every few kilometres.

After being in BC for almost a year, I found the flat terrain a little unnatural. Had to keep myself occupied with some country songs on the radio. Let me tell you, that’s just about the only music you’ll find on the radio as you make your way through SK.

Seems lie an endless road along the Saskatchewan Trans Canada Highway

I ended up going a different route, rather then go through Regina, I decided to take the more northern route and bypass the big city. It was quite an enjoyable route, and I would definitely do it again.

After 7.5 hours of pretty boring driving, I arrived at Crooked Lake Provincial park. I arrived during a wind storm, and had difficulty setting up my tent. The park was also pretty busy, so I didn’t get the best spot.

My site at Crooked Lake Provincial Park

Where I stayed, the sites were very close together and didn’t have any visual privacy, being all out in the open. I had a few people walking through my site in the evening and morning as I was sleeping, as I suppose my site was in a walking area, who knew!?

It was nice to be near the water however, and I was able to watch the sunset that evening.

Crooked Lake Sunset

This day was one of my longer days, so I went to sleep quite early. The next day I’d be travelling through Manitoba and would be making my way back into Ontario.

Day 5: Crooked Lake Provincial Park (SK) to Rushing River Provincial Park (ON)

Crooked Lake Provincial Park to Rushing River Provincial Park
Crooked Lake.
Woke up to some pretty loud neighbors aka birds.

I always find when travelling across Manitoba along the trans canada highway there aren’t alot of interesting places to stop. So I tend to just drive straight through to Ontario. That is what I did this trip.

Also, the weather hit me with a few torrential rain falls, so stopping wasn’t in the books anyways.

As I drove through Manitoba the biome changed from endless fields, to shrubs and bushes, to talk trees over the course of a few hours.

As soon as I hit the border of Manitoba and Ontario. I knew I had arrived home, the biome changed immediately and I was met with large rocks, trees and lakes.

The Canadian Shield on the border of Manitoba and Ontario

I arrived in Rushing River Provincial park and quickly realized how different other provincial parks are in other provinces. The cost! Ontario’s parks are the most expensive in the country. $50 with tax, for an un-serviced tent site. Where I was paying $11-$25 for something similar in BC, and SK.

Rushing River. My overpriced site for the night. Not a lot of grass to setup on

I was happy to be back in Ontario, as it felt like home hearing the birds and seeing the trees and animals I grew up around.

Day 6: Rushing River Provincial Park to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Relaxing after finishing my trip

I seriously recommend that everyone drive across Canada at least once in their lives. The views are stunning, the people are great and the experience is something you’ll remember for a lifetime. Thanks for following along.

matt

Software Developer by trade. Investor and travel junkie.

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