After a week of Summer Camp in the city with the girls, we were ready to get back on the road. Our destination was Riding Mountain National Park and arrived in the early evening. Daylight lasts so much longer here, we had plenty of time to set up our site and check out the town of Wasagaming which is actually located within the park boundaries. We were blown away as you could walk to the town from our campsite (about 1km away). And the town itself felt like a mini beach town from home. It was busy yet it didn’t feel overwhelmed like the beach towns back in Ontario. There was a “street” of commercial establishments, a pier, a nice beach and many quaint cottages throughout the town. There were no fences, no garish multi-level dwellings and no garbage anywhere. I guess there must be some sort of park bylaws limiting the type of dwelling that can be built. And there were ice cream parlours!
I still think about the ice cream we had that first night from the Velvet Dip. It was one of those places with a huge line of people out the door so we did the standard ice cream ordering process. Waited in line for 15 minutes. Scanned the the flavours while waiting. Got to the front of the line to order. Completely blanked when prompted for our order. Held up the line as we tried to remember what to order. A vintage performance. In the end, Paigey won the day with a selection of a small, soft-serve, twist ice cream (vanilla & chocolate) dipped in cherry. We at least had the common sense to order smalls because we are familiar that a “small” in most places outside of Toronto is actually more than enough to make you feel sick. Despite this, the kids only got through about 3/4 of theirs so in the end, I got to eat 1.5 cones that day (do the math, it works). Paige ate all of hers. It put us in a good mood and we were excited for the next day when we would have ample time to see what the park had to offer.
The next day, school started again as we had given the kids a hiatus during summer camp. But before school could begin, the kids needed to do an early morning swim and kayak. While Paigey and Izzy paddled around the lake, Julie and I tried to catch some minnows that were in the shallows at the beach. 45 minutes of effort yielded no caught minnows. Paige and Izzy return from the kayak and Paige catches a couple minnows in 5 minutes, showing off her skills.
Now it was time for schoolwork and the kids dove in. Julie and I did some scavenger hunts and activities while Izzy plowed through her assignment. Once finished, Julie actually went up to the Parks Canada ranger and asked some questions about invasive species (specifically the zebra mussel) and an impromptu 30-minute class with the ranger occurred. If nothing else, Julie is becoming a lot less shy as we travel. Paigey and I relaxed on the beach while Parks Canada continued the school lesson that day. As soon as round 2 of school was done, we had to get an afternoon ice cream. This time I won with a cherry cheesecake selection.
Enough re-living ice cream moments! We had had a pretty full day and after our late lunch/early dinner, it was only 5pm. We went on a drive and stumbled across three baby bears and a momma bear on a dirt road on the north side of the lake. As we approached, only the babies were visible and I misidentified them as a bunch of beavers. They were feeding up ahead and didn’t notice us so we stopped the car and watched them. Like the moose, both the kids got to see them. Back at the site we went for a hike but came across some fresh bear scat about 100m in and decided to turn around. Rewarded with that decision as we came across a baby deer almost immediately. We checked out early the next day as we had a big drive to Saskatchewan ahead of us. And as we were leaving the park, we drove past another baby bear and mama bear, this time they were actually in among the campsites. So heed the bear warnings, in the case of Riding Mountain the bears are actually there.
If we had known how much we would have enjoyed it, would have stayed an extra day or two. In the end, Paige voted it the best day of the trip. Saskatchewan, the bar has been set.
By the Numbers:
- Total Kilometres: 3917km
- Depart 16:00 (Winnipeg) – Arrive 19:30 (Riding Mountain National Park)
- Cans of Mosquito Repellant Used: Whatever we had left
- Ice Creams: 2 – One each day – and they were awesome and excessive
- Bazillion Minnows (Paige caught 2, Mike caught none)
- 6 suckers (looked like catfish but kids fishing for them on the pier said “suckers”)
- Lots of deer (including a baby that Izzy got too close to!)
- 6 bears (4 babies, 2 mothers)
Ciao for now