A Travellerspoint blog

August 2022

Cascade Falls and Two Jack Lake

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It was a warm and sunny day so we opted for a shorter (but steep) hike and an afternoon at a lakeside enjoying the kayak. We have already passed by Cascade Falls already several times which is huge from the distance. There is a steep climb to it, just about 700m long but it elevates 155m.


On the higher end you can refresh yourself with tge ice cold water and enjoy the view far far into the distance.


Exactly what we have done until we were too hot on the sunshine.


On our descent we have met a couple with two kids and they were originally from Gyula, Hungary (already born in Canada). After a quick chat we said goodbye in Hungarian (Sziasztok, jó utat!) and drove to Two Jack Lake. Enroute we have stopped at a boat control station as the 48 hours dry time has not passed yet since our unfogattable Lake Louise kayaking. If needed there you can hot-wash the boat before entering a new lake. The inspector decided we don't have to wash the kayak as it was clean and dry so they issued a permit.


Echo is a real city dog and he prefers sitting on a bench instead if the rocks and stones.


The kids enjoyed kayaking with us in turns and they played with the little guy on the shore, a groundhog. It had a huge castle with over ten exit holes and was appearing in a different one each time the kids went too close.


On our drive back to the campsite we have seen several deers, three of them crossing the road just in front of us.

Posted by divatmotoros 12:10 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

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After the climb to Tunnel Mountain yesterday we wanted to do shorter and easier hikes today. We started the morning in Johnston Canyon just 20 minutes from our campsite which has two sections. The lower falls is accessible on a narrow but well built walkway. The upper falls is a more challenging hike with some stairs and steeper inclines. How do we know? We use the Alltrails app which is a good way to filter trails based on distance from your base, length and elevation profile.


The Canyon way quite crowded but very interesting to see and our kids enjoyed a lot. Echo was less excited with the big depth next to us and the noise of the water flowing downwards but he kept walking with us regardless. Afterwards we decided to give a try to the beautiful lakes of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Parking is almost impossible at these locations during the day. We red about hikers going there at 2-3am in the morning to enjoy sunrise and the parking lots filling up by 3am. So it is a gamble during the day and there is no place to wait for an empty spot. If the parking lot is full you need to keep driving, turn around and leave. You can take a prebooked shuttle which fills up weeks ahead too but that was not an option for us with the trolley and the dog. So we took a chance. On our way we stopped at the iconic Morant's Curve (google it for beautiful train photos, we had no luck with an oncoming train but the scenery was still beautiful).


It was 2pm when we got to Lake Louise and it was a dense row of cars heading to the lakes. First intersection: Moraine Lake. A big flashing sign said: "Parking Full" so we kept driving towards Lake Louise. After about 10kms we reached the parking of Lake Louise and everyone in front of us was sent back. Except the car right in front of us and then us. We were waved into the parking lot by the attendandts and right after us it was closed again. YES! Got lucky, it seems that two cars left just at the right time to let us in!

We stopped the car and decided to take the kayak with us too so I unmounted it from the roof. It is free to use your own equipment at these lakes but there are very strict rules to prevent contamination of lakes. You need to clean and dry your boat and leave 48 hours drytime between lakes. Next to the lakeside there is a box and you need to fill a form and drop it into the box. We did so and we launched the kayak into the water. The views are stunning and the mobile photography (or my limited skills) still can not nearly express the beauty of this place.


All of us had a go on the water except Akos and Echo but they were playing peacefully on the shore until we enjoyed the lake It had an unreal turquise blue color and very cold water but our retina was hardly believing what we saw. Lake Louise is at an altitude of 1600m and has a max depth of 70 meters. Why so blue? Fine rock dust, produced by massive glaciers rubbing against bedrock, stays suspended in the water, reflecting light and creating the turquoise colours. The color is changing and the climate change has an impact on it too!


It was time to head back home so we started our drive and when passing by the intersection to Moraine Lake the car in front of us started to signal to turn towards the lake despite the road blocks. The attendant at the closure opened the gate and let them turn in, so we tried as well and we were let in too! It was about 5:30pm and we got lucky the second time so we drove up to Moraine Lake and had a quick look at it. I now undestand those who get up at 1am and spend the rest of the morning in their cars waiting for sunrise.


The evening was a bit busy after getting back to the campsite. We had to empty our black and grey tanks and fill our freshwater tank what took about an hour altogether (packing, slide in, attach to car, drive 5 mins to dump station, dump, drive back, detach, level, slide out, smile!)
We can not be more grateful to our friends for lending us the kayak, it was an unforgettable day!

Posted by divatmotoros 13:03 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Banff and Tunnel Mountain

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We have arrived to one of the most awaited section of our trip: the Rockies and specifically Banff. Not as if we are much into crowded, touristic places but we have a special bond with mountains. Our favourite trips in the past were the ones in Austria into the Alps, we even spent an unforgettable Christmas there. So we were very excited! All the campsites were fully booked months ago in the area but we managed to get sites for 6 days in Tunnel Mountain, Banff with one small compromise: after the first two days we had to move to another site within the camp for every other night.


As we came from Cochrane (not too far away) we got to the campsite at 1pm. We have seen a large elk on our way and the weather was nice to us: it was raining during our drive and we even passed through a large storm with heavy rain but right after our arrival it stopped raining. So the setup of the trailer was a dry excersise this time. After setting up the camper we went to a teaser drive to a lookout at Surprise Corner Viewpoint overlooking the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and the scenic bend of the Bow River.


After the lookout we drove uphill to Mt Norquay Lookout and on our first scenic stop we bumped into a wedding photo session. It nicely complemented the beautiful scenery.


Afterwards we still felt ready for a short walk. So we drove to the free public parking at the bus station in Banff and walked along the river. Echo got unusually excited at one point and after about 50 meters of struggling with the dog we have noticed the reason for his odd excitement: two deers approaching. They were walking literally on the pathway and they were staring at Echo but not afraid at all, even walking closer and closer to us. What a welcome!


In the evening it got cold (being 10 C and I know, most locals still walked in t-shirts and flip-flops but we needed 3 layers AND the raincoat to save us from freezing.) The heater in the trailer was on for the night.


The next day we started around 10:30 and walked straight from the campsite towards Tunnel Mountain. First we took the trail running paralell the Tunnel Mountain Road then turned left to Tunnel Mountain Drive and after about 2 kms we arrived to the trail leading to the summit. It was about 2 kms from here uphill with an elevation of 222m (from 1470 to 1692m) but the kids did all right. I was carrying Akos and Zsuzsa was carrying an equally heavy backpack with raincoats, water and sandwiches. The view was getting better and better and at the top it was very very beautiful. You can see the whole of Banff and the Bow river several times all different directions.


These pictures are far from the real beauty your eyes can see.


After hiking back to our camper we had a good rest and late lunch (hot dogs). Then we drove to Lake Minnewanka (15 mins from the campsite). The day use area was quite full of people and at least 3-4 photosessions were running in paralell. Echo got quite excited again but we haven't spotted any wildlife, we assume they come to the area to pick up picknick leftovers in the evenings and their smell was too interesting for our dog.


The evening campfire was closing off our day full of adventure.


Posted by divatmotoros 11:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Bow Riversedge campground, Cochrane

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We stopped for 3 nights at Cochrane before we headed to Banff.


The nice riverside campground was a good spot for relaxing, running (2nd time in August, not a very intense training programme...) and dog walking. There were lots of dogs on the off-leash riverside. We met two ridgebacks with a local lady and there was another old ridgeback in the campsite so hard to tell it is a rare breed! (No photos of the other ridgies unfortunately).


The kids enjoyed their scooters on the paved roads of the campsite and we did a large stockup at Costco.


I also had to replace our kitchen faucet as it started to leak heavily at the bottom of it. Despite the measuring I bought a faucet which was 2 cms too high so had to go back to the shop and replace to a smaller unit. Finally it worked out fine, another update to the maintenance post.
We made a nice steak and using open fire we cooked traditional eggplant cream. Yummie!!


Next stop is Banff!!

Posted by divatmotoros 10:48 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Drumheller Dinos at Badland

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Before we left the beautiful offgrid weekend at Burnstick Lake with the help of my friend we changed the old spare wheel of our trailer to the newly bought tire. After installing the wheel we noticed an unusual movement so I decided to have it checked. I called two RV services without luck as they were booked ahead until 2-3 weeks. The third option was Bucars RV where they assured they can check and if needed fix our bearings. The bearings needed a repack and greasing anyway so we dropped of the trailer and decided to drive to Drumheller for a day trip.

The Drumheller portion of the Red Deer River valley, often referred to as Dinosaur Valley, has an approximate width of 2 kilometres and an approximate length of 28 kilometres. It is called badland, which are a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded. Arriving to the valley is almost an extraterrestrial experience. You are driving on a "normal" countryside road with sunflowers and wheat on the sides when suddenly you arrive to a deep and wide valley where it looks like the earth cracked wide open.


Then we drove to the Tourist Information booth which is a giant dinosaurus. Quite possibly the largest in the world... :)


With our limited time on hand (we had to get back to pick up the trailer between 17:00 and 18:00) we decided to check the Royal Tyrell Museum. Although our kids are not much into dinos they enjoyed the dino skeletons and fossils. The museum is definetely worth visiting and you can easily spend even more days in Drumheller and its area. The views are also stunning with clearly visible geological layers.


On the streets of Drumheller we have seen several other dinos.


Then it was time to go and we got back to Bucars just on time to pick up the trailer (another update to the maintenance post). In the evening we were pampered by a real Hungarian "húsleves" by our friends, Évi and Gyuri. They are so caring and great hosts offering us all kinds of help. Gyuri even offered to lend me his kayak for our next leg: Banff and the Rockies!


We have received lots of maps and good advise from Évi, a big box of Hungarian books for Ábel (half of which is already read by him). We also agreed to spend another weekend together around Jasper so really exciting times ahead!

Posted by divatmotoros 02:08 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Calgary Downtown and Sam Livingstone Fish Hatchery

Bow Habitat Station

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Today was rainy and the forecast promised a few hours free of rain midday so we looked for an indoor activity. We picked a small aquarium next to the Bow River in East Calgary and visited the Sam Livingstone Fish Hatchery and Bow Habitat Station.


There are two stories in the building and at the lower there are several aquariums with the different fish of Alberta. Even our one year old kid was very happy and cheered loudly the slowly moving fish. Abels favourite was the huge fish with buttons and we learnt together the inner and outer parts of fish in English.


Then on the upper level there are lots of interesting displays of how water could be saved and many interactive exhibits about the environment protection and the animals of Alberta. We could even see the large tanks with 7 months old trouts which are raised at the hatchery. Later they will be transported by large tankers to lakes.


After visiting the hatchery we went outside and the rain stopped so we had a nice picnic lunch. Afterwards we walked on the pathways to the river where we found a nicely built rowing section with fast currents.


Several people trained there in kayaks and even surfing was possible on a large standing wave. While we were freezing in long sleeves locals wete sitting IN the water, which was quite cold. Abel was checking the neighbouring wildlife.


We drve to downtown to have a feel of Calgary which seems the most vibrant city of Canada for now. Lots of people moving in, businesses growing and in general you can feel the energy. St Johns was the opposite in feelings, although we liked it but that city seemed mote in a downward trend.

We have seen the bull in front of the Stock Exchange building.


Then we visited the huge human head called The Wonderland Sculpture in front of the highridr building The Bow.


Posted by divatmotoros 10:39 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Burnstick Lake - Toyhauler weekend

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We do not need any better amusement park than a toyhauler and our trailer parked far away from civilisation in the forest, good friends, good food and good mood! It was all happening last weekend when we followed the recommendation of our long friends from Budapest now linving and camping in Canada. We agreed to meet at their favourite place at Burnstick Lake and I was very excited to see them again. We arrived a bit earlier and there were wild horses on the agreed spot in the forest. See them behind Echo:


Later those walked away peacefully and we heard a lot of wolfs howling in the distance later in the evening. They took their huge dog with them and the two dogs were playing almost all time of the weekend. They enjoyed it a lot and Echo was sleeping for two days after the weekend!


It was also more than 8 years that I was last riding a motorbike so the quad he took seemed like a good compromise. It was surprisingly hard to keep that beast on the trail especially when the trail was inclined to the side or was muddy. I was ending once sideways in a big puddle and had to struggle backwards for minutes to get back on track. Much harder than it seems on rough roads! My friends 14 years old daugter was speeding and sliding with the squad like a superstar, I was not able to master it during this weekend. I still had a lot of fun! I also tried the dirtbikes (a smaller one and a large KTM as well) and that was scary as hell too! I was always riding on concrete before so doing 60-70 kmh on a dirt road was frightening! These bikes are capable of much more than I did and it was also proven by my friend and his 12 year old son who was zig-zagging on the dirt roads with the smaller (but very powerful) dirtbike.


In the evenings we cooked traditional Canadian (BBQ) and Hungarian food (lecsó) and listened to our joint favourite music (hungarian alternative bands like Kispál és a Borz, Quimby and Császári Pillanatművek)


The weather was nice to us and we used the kayaks and floaties as well, not only the kids enjoyed the real summer activities. The lake was also surprisingly pleasant, not too cold.


Posted by divatmotoros 04:12 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Springhill RV Park&Storage - BBQ and car maintenance

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After the fantastic (and mosqiuto-less which is a wonder in itself in Canada!) Cypress Hills we finally got close to Calgary to see our old and new friends! First of all a family from Hungary who I met more than ten years ago, when we both were avid motorbikers. He had the big Honda Varadero and I was riding a Honda VFR800, good fun times! Now we finally meet again as they moved to Calgary several years ago. The other meeting was agreed during this trip as the editors of the Hungarian podcast "Kanadabanda" interviewed me earlier. We agreed to meet once in Calgary so it was time for that meeting as well!

So we decided to first meet at our trailer in the Springhill RV Park and make a nice BBQ, we had chicken, pork and stake on the menu. Everyone brought something and we and our kids were all spoiled with welcome gifts! Thank you, thank you, thank you!


After the BBQ it was also time to do some maintenance work on the car which seemed easier in a large town like Calgary. I checked two car repair shops, one of them was Canadian Tire and the other one a Midas. Both are big chains but somewhat more affordable than a Ford dealership. The spark plugs and the oil/filter was replaced and I updated the technical/maintenance post with this work.

Ready to roll to a nice offgrid camping weekend with our biker friends who took a toyhauler loaded with bikes, quad and kayaks! See you at Burnstick Lake!

Posted by divatmotoros 04:27 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Technical details and maintenance

If you wonder what are the technical specs of our trailer and what kind of maintenance work is necessary during our trip then this post is for you!

We travel in a white Ford Expedition (2016) and a Salem DBK27 by Forest River (2018). Why I chose this rig? I was thinking a lot about 5th wheelers which are much stable at higher speeds but there is no trunk space for the dog. We also wanted the possibility to easily do excursions or daytrips with the car so a motorhome was excluded for this reason. So we took the car + trailer option. Then I chose the trailer with a big enough size for a bunkbed for the two larger kids, a large enough living room for the baby cot (hence the slideout) and a separate bedroom for us. So I found this layout which is big enough even on a rainy day to survive inside with 3 kids and a dog. The gas grill at the back and the outside kitchen sink comes handy too.

Then I was looking for a towing vehicle with the right specs and the Ford Expedition was shining in this respect with the factory tow package as an extra. 1 out of 10 cars had that feature which includes a larger cooler for the engine, an extra oil cooler for the transmission and the right wiring and controls for the electronic brakes of the trailer.

Buying the car as an European was more difficult than I thought. Many US dealers did not want to do business remotely, some of them did not accept wire transfers so I kept searching and talking to several dealers before finally I found a car in Virginia with the factory tow package and the right internal layout. The buying process was simple, getting the tag was more complicated. If you are in Delaware then it can be easily arranged in person at a DMV but the dealership left us stranded in the process, despite their promise to arrange it.

The detailed technical specifications for the trailer (Sally as the kids call her) is available here.
The detailed technical specifications for the car (Fordy as the kids call her) is available here.

Driving the rig is easier than expected. I guess the weight distribution bars help to keep the trailer stable. The car is very powerful, it accelerates like hell even at higher speeds if needed. Well, it has a 3.5L V6 EcoBoost twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve engine with 365 HP so power is not an issue. It feels safe up until 50-55 miles per hour, above that speed some slow swaying occurs. The big trucks passing us create some movements and stronger wind is also impacting us. Most trailers (especially 5th wheels) are passing us doing 65 or 70 miles but I prefer doing less to be on the safer side.

Fuel consumption is normally 18-19 liters per 100 kms on flat roads at 45 miles an hour. Doing 50 miles per hour means 21-22 liters so it is not worth it. Our daily average distance depends more on how much time we stand still. Some days we are passed 3-4 times by the same vehicles and then they stop more often or longer than we do. Hills bring up fuel consumption to 23-25 liters. My guess is that in the Rocky mountains we will see figures near the 30ies.

The list of the maintenance items and work (updated after 9500 kms)
New set of tires for Sally
New batteries for Sally
The main slide's mechanics lubrication
Rubber seals lubrication
Locks lubrication
Right taillights not working, replaced the bulb, then fixed the socket. Now I plan to replace the whole lamp (both taillights) to LED lamps
The main fuse of the inverter gone off (100A), most likely at the bridge breaking the AC
New AC (driver error)
City Water connector ripped off (driver error). The water piping was leaking after this episode but fixing a connector under the bathtub solved the problem
The kitchen hood's fan stopped working, replaced the motor. A painful 58 dollar price for a small 12V motor.
The electric cable of the lighter of the outside grill broke, soldered it in 5 minutes.
The lower side of the awning was very dirty so I washed it. Without a ladder we put the camping table underneeth and in six different positions it worked for the whole awning. Some pain in my shoulders and neck the next day.
The latch fixing the main door in an open position was missing so first we used a rubber band with a hook. In strong winds that was not strong enough so later I bought a metal latch and replaced the broken one.
Flat tire of the trailer, replaced the wheel then bought a new tire
Fordi: new spark plugs and oil/filer change at 145.500km
Sali: when at Burnstick Lake we replaced the old spare wheel with the new tire I bought after the flat tire we noticed that the whole wheel is moving far too much sideways. I started to check youtube videos on how to rebuild bearings on trailers but finally decided to take it to a dealership and have it checked. They checked and greased the bearings and adjusted the brakes, no bearings had to be replaced yet. They said it will be fine till next season. When I told them we are heading to Alaska then we agreed to check it again (and grease the bearings) in October! :) Recommended cycle is 8000 km for this greasing.
Kitchen faucet started to drip at the neck, no way to fix it. Replaced (twice, as the first similar faucet I bought was too tall and did not fit under the kitchen cabinet. Returned to Canadian Tire and bought another one, which fits.)
The door on one of the cabinets got loose and it seems it was broken earlier as the screws holding the door were very loose, was not able to tighten them any more. So I filled the holes with liquid wood and waited a day before reinstalling the door.
The doorhandle on the storage room is not always working, the lock gets stuck in an open position. Lubricated, reinstalled, still no good. Not worth to replace it yet.
Mew propane hoses to connect the tanks (the old ones started to leak, I heard the noise of it. The regulator remained the same but the new hoses were required).
Left rear wheel's bearing broke on Denali Highway, unpaved, 130 miles long road. Replaced the bearing and the whole hub.
Replaced the other three wheel's bearings too, but the hubs and breakes looked fine so kept those on.
Replaced the bathroom's doorhandle, as it fell apart just like the pantry's earlier
Sally (152.000km) full rebuild of the suspension (new axles, new hubs with brakes, new leaf springs
New air filter for Fordi (153.000)
Oil change and tire rotation for Fordy (153.500)
Cleaning of the Throttle Body Control with CRC spray (154.000)
Fordy's water pump gave very worn out noise and we had it replaced (and the belt) at 157494
Sally 2 new tires and an extra rim for spare (2022.12.08. 162.900)
Fordi's right headlamp was way upwards, finally I figured it our how to adjust it. Got waaaay better!
Fresh water tank of Sally sanitized (2022.12.15.)
Roof of Sally resealed (2022.12.16.)
Transmission oil replaced (2023.04.28 168.000km)
Throttle body control replaced (2023.05.02 168.800 km)

Learn more details, how we prepared for this trip and how we got stuck in Alaska! Read tips on traveling with kids and a dog and enjoy the best (and worst) stories from Montreal to Alaska to Baja California in our ebook!
🇺🇲In English: One Year of Camping - The Guide to Plan Your Escape
🇹🇯In Hungarian: Egy év lakókocsiban - Szökés a szürke hétköznapokból

Posted by divatmotoros 04:46 Archived in Canada Tagged maintenance technical specifications Comments (0)

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Parks

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After leaving Cedar Creek we filled up our pantry again in Regina and I have checked that we can nicely park on 7 normal parking spots if needed. The next 370 km was flat and wide. Views of the prairy made us feel like standing still on the highway.


As we got closer and closer the landscape started to change, hills and forests appeared out of nowhere. We arrived around 6pm to the entrance of the park and were greeted by a cheerful lady. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Parks (CHIP) is located on the border of Saskachewan and Alberta and it was the first interprovincial park in Canada founded in 1951. The Cypress Hills Forest Reserve comprising 18 sections (18 square miles) was established in 1906. History includes a bloody battle which took place when a group of American wolf hunters lost some horses and attacked a nearby camp of Assiniboine in 1873. Afterwards, from 1876 to 1882 Sitting Bull and 3,000-5,000 Lakota Sioux took refuge at Wood Mountain after defeating the U.S Army led by Colonel George Custer in the battle of the Little Big Horn. War was prevented and good relations established by James Walsh of the North West Mounted Police (NWMP).

These days the huge park is much more peaceful and offers something to everyone. Wetlands and lakes for fishing and canoeing, forest trails for biking and hiking and plains for horseraiding or just staring into the distance. We booked one of the newly buildt areas and the facilities are very nice. Sites are fairly large with a fire pit (what we did not use due to the fire ban at the moment). There is quite a big distance between sites so it does not feel crowded at all. It is more crowded in the central area where you can play minigolf, grab a pizza for 35-40 dollars or even buy gas and basic supplies at a small shop or enjoy the pool (indoor as well).


We enjoyed hiking in the shady forest as temperature rose quickly to real hot summer ranges (28-30 in celsius).
We have spotted many squirrels.


The best and bravest 3 of our family went for a horseriding tour on trails while I was babysitting and petsitting.


After the horseriding the pool was the perfect place to be at and we enjoyed the late evening view of the park.


The next morning we first visited the lookout point at 1240m. I was thinking that we are at about 4-500 meters above sea level but we were actually higher than the highest peak of Hungary! The view of the endless prairy was breathtaking and the poor photos made by my phone can not tell the full story of 100km visibility.


Later the morning we hiked on the Lynx trail and we have seen several half chrewed deer legs hung on trees as clear evidence of the carnivores in the area.


On a more peaceful note we also picked and ate a lot of wild blueberrries. Yummie!
Then we played minigolf with the two larger kid. After we have stopped at a golf club they fell in love with the game and my son even hit the "free game" jackpot hole at the last attempt. My girl played very well too, hitting her first birdie!

Posted by divatmotoros 04:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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