The way home began with a stop in Watson Lake, Yukon at Sign Post Forest, which is exactly what you would expect: rows upon rows of signs tacked twenty high. Afterward, we went down BC to Liard, which boasts beautiful hot springs in a natural setting in the woods. They were certainly the prettiest we have seen on this trip. They also turned out to be the smelliest, and, as it was in nature, there were no showers for afterward. This isn’t a problem for those going home after the springs, but for two vagabonds living out of a car, it was not pleasant for us. About 400 km south down the Alaskan highway, someone was wise enough to have a shower stand beside his restaurant, charging an arm and a leg per shower, which we happily paid to no longer smell like egg. We completed the Alaskan highway, passing many bison en route, at Dawson Creek and crossed over into Alberta.
We spent the next week national park-hopping, from Grande Cache (where we spotted a cougar), Jasper National Park (our third and final hot springs and my Jasper got to take a photo with Jasper the bear), Lake Louise and Banff. We took the Icefields Parkway south which is so picturesque and serene. When we did arrive in Banff, we rolled the car into the first garage we found, sputtering and grinding. Some not-so-cheap repairs later, and we were on our way again. We stopped briefly in Kananaskis park, but it was too cold and rainy for a hike so we drove on to Calgary, where we both had a dose of culture shock. We had not seen so many lights, cars and people in weeks, and, frankly, it was overwhelming. We stopped for a beer and a burger (both great) and continued east to Medicine Hat, stopping to park overnight under a very starry Saskatchewan sky.
We took the TransCanada highway back for most of the journey, making stops and detours here and there, whenever we saw something we wanted to explore. We visited Regina, spent an afternoon in friendly Minnedosa, Manitoba, and went to the pristine but mosquito-ridden Lake Manitoba shores before stopping to visit a friend in Winnipeg.
I had been to Winnipeg before with work but always in the cooler weather. We really enjoyed the city, walking along the forks, Saint-Boniface, and the old buildings in the financial centre. We stopped for brunch at Stella’s in Osborne Village and picked up cookies by George and then met my friend and her partner for dinner and drinks and stayed over at their lovely home.
We started the final stretch the next morning, stopping for coffee (tea for Jasper) and cinnamon buns at Tall Grass before heading into my home province of Ontario.
We followed the north shore of Lake Superior homeward, popping into Kenora, Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie en route, and stopping at the Terry Fox monument (as well as others), Kakabeka Falls and going for a hike in Sleeping Giant park.
Our plan had been to visit Killarney park for a couple of days, then Manitoulin island and take a ferry to Tobermory, which would be our last stop. However, when we did get to a very rainy Killarney, we realized that you can only enter from the east side and we had overshot the route to Manitoulin by about three or four hours. At this point, Toronto (our final destination) was equally far away. We hemmed and hawed about our options, but were not looking forward to more rainy camping or sleeping in the car, so we decided to save the last two stops for a long weekend in the future, and headed home for our second and final pit stop on our year (or so) of adventure. ❤