Dipping our toes – Northern Ontario


We dipped our toes into RV travel as we set out from Athens, ON to Serpent River ON.  Along the way we dropped off the trailer, and stayed at a gem of a campground on the French River.  This journey took 3 days, June 1-3 and 734 km.

Athens to Serpent River

June 1 – Athens, ON to  Huntsville, ON

We departed our friend’s place in Athens, ON, the sight of the Izzy pit stop and detail shop over the last week. It was roughly 10 am as we punched our destination of Huntsville, ON into the GPS and chuckled at the suggested time of arrival. Our 25ft. cube on wheels rarely touches the needle to the posted limit. We decided to take the back road route through the small town of Calabogie towards Algonquin Provincial Park, a route neither of us had been on before but figured was the most direct path. In retrospect it may not have been the best way to go with an RV and trailer as it turned out toIMG_9116_fix be quite hilly and twisty turny. We stopped into a funky watering hole in Calabogie for lunch called the Red Neck Bistro, spitting distance from the local brewery. It is probably a very happening place in town but it was pretty quiet this particular Friday afternoon. We lapped up a noon time coffee and split the tastiest portobello burger ever, chased with a side of poutine! Admittedly, we’ve been over indulging in the cheesy gravy goodness since returning to Canada. Having had our fill, we continued along the windy route and were met with some extremely steep slopes testing out torque on the upside and brakes on the downgrade. Back onto a more beaten path, our route connected with HWY 60 in the quaint town of Wilma. We’ve driven past these hills plenty of times on route from Montreal to Hunstville, but now have had the white knuckle pleasure of seeing where they lead. We stopped to fill up Izzy’s diesel keg and empty our personal holding tanks in Barry’s Bay but after returning to the RV we appeared to be one cat light in the passenger department. Beau had left his drivers side window open while fueling up and we’d removed the screens while driving as they seem to hinder airflow as well as shake and rattle our brains to mush. Monty had made a fast break for it while our backs were turned! But luckily only made it a few yards to a grassy area with an out building and stood out like a pumpkin in a fairway. Diane scooped him up and climbed back into the RV , we’ll be taking note of the window positions hence forth. We arrived in Huntsville around 5pm, not our quickest driving day but with a 25′ RV and 10′ trailer we weren’t going anywhere in a hurry. We stopped at Canadian Tire while passing through town and purchased a hitch mounted bike rack to happily replace the 3000 lbs of luggage currently in tow. Finally arriving at the cottage we dumped the DSC02741_fixtrailer in her final resting place and dropped a sigh of relief which had been building up since we left Georgia!! With the trailer now unhitched, Izzy was finally free from her heavy burden!! We maneuvered her into a quasi level spot in the driveway hooked up some power and absorbed the stunningly beautiful view of Ontario lake country. Inside the cottage we turned on the water cracked a cold one and made ourselves some dinner. We made a huge vegetable medley to satisfy our weary travelers bellies then and had leftovers for meals to come. We grabbed a drink and headed down to the dock for a bit to take in the view of the sun setting across the still lake. While the day was warm the night brought a chill to the air. We bundled up with a blanket for our best free Boondock in the RV to date.

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June 2 – Huntsville to French River, ON

It was a chilly night in the RV but we layered like pros. Oatmeal has become our go to for breakfast while on the road as it’s quick, easy and filling. It was a morning of disorderly organization as we shuffled bins, boxes and bags between the trailer, cottage and RV in a cabbage, goat, wolf style of chaos. In a dance of confusion, Beau reassembled the bikes he had frustratingly dismantled the day prior to fit them in the trailer, assembled the bike rack per the Asian detailed instructions, and hitched the whole enchilada to Izzy’s rump. IMG_9142_fixWe finished cleaning up our dishes, had showers before setting out on the road a several tons lighter than we had arrived. We stopped off briefly at Walmart for a few supplies and got some diesel. It wasn’t till around 3pm that we actually left Huntsville. We headed west to Parry Sound enjoying cute cottage towns and cruising the quiet country roads. We were hungry for lunch so once we reached Parry Sound Diane found us a park to stop in. The GPS had failed to account for the skyline of Izzy as our hearts skipped a few beats under a low bridge. We heard the clanking of our antenna but came out unscathed. That proved 10’6” is the is the low of our limbo! But let’s shoot for 10’7 from here. The park we’d risked our scalps for left something to be desired but fortunately there was another one just up the street on the river. We made burritos with our left over vegetable medley and had a little walk through the park while attempting the onerous task of walking a cat. It was a totally embarrassing and pointless task, we would have had better luck pushing the RV uphill, while we flailed, pointed and pleaded with the furball he simply flopped and peered up at us in disgust. We were searching for a place to camp tonight and decided to give Flat Rapids Campground a try. Unfortunately no one was picking up the phone at the camp ground but we were willing to give it a go anyway. About an hour north of Parry Sound we turned onto a dirt road that led to the camp ground. As we drove along the road we saw a dark shape up ahead, it turned out to be a bear crossing the road! As we turned down the camp ground road Beau had to dip dive duck and dodge the RV around the low hanging branches and gaping pot holes. We pulled into the campground looking for the office and a guy came out to speak with us. He asked if we had a reservation and obviously we did not since no one was answering the phone. He said he had one site available and he’d take us over there. He hopped on his golf cart and led the the way to our campsite. IMG_9183_fixWe weren’t sure what to expect having no reservation and being surrounded by not so mobile homes and trailers but he showed us to a perfectly level site right next to the French River! We could not believe our luck! It was $35 cash for the night and another 5 bucks for fire wood. Temporarily inconvenienced by a truck parked on our campsite, we parked and took some pictures of the areas and let Monty out to roam free. We tried him on the leash again but he was having none it. His typical stop, flop and roll maneuver; so we let him roam free. Once the owners of the truck returned from fishing we settled Izzy in her spot for the night and got the power and water hooked up. The campground is located directly on the French River with several boat docks available to residents. Most of the campground seemed to be permanent RVs left there year round, many had big decks built on to them and rooms added on. It would take a lot for one of these trailers to move anywhere. The bugs were horrible at dusk and drove us inside for our dinner. Fortunately, they eased up after the sun went down but they made catching a sunset photo very difficult. We stoked a nice campfire and kicked back in some Muskoka chairs that night enjoying he peace and quiet of the river at our doorstep.

June 3 – French River to Serpent River, ON

It was a chilly sleep last night as we cozied up under some extra blankets. The cat, not comfortable enough in his own fur, spent the night squished between our faces purring into Diane’s ear and tail lashing Beau a mouth full of furballs. The unexpected early June cold snap convinced us an electric heater might be a quality addition to the RV’s tickle trunk though one night too late. Fortunately the morning’s skies beautiful as we enjoyed breakfast and a coffee in the sunshine on a rock next to the river. Beau did a little more droning while Diane took some photos of the glass like river and iconic trees sprouting from the Canadian shield rock. We got packed up and then bumped on down the gravel road back to the highway. Continuing north towards Sudbury, we made a quick pit stop for our heater and a few other items we felt would make the road life smoother. Upon returning to Izzy, we were unsettled that there was no cat waiting impatiently for escape. The windows were closed but he wasn’t in his usual nests, turns out he had slithered under the couch! Well at least he was out of the way. We made some lunch, got some gas and checked the transmission fluid. We have been having a few sporadic downshifts occurring during the drive so after some googling, we cycled the shifter a few times and pulled some fuses momentarily. We continued west on the highway as the skies turned dark and gray with the occasional sprinkle. We decided to stop at an RV park in Serpent River for the night as we were making good time to reach the Sault by tomorrow. The park had nothing on last night’s pot of gold but did come standard with highway noise and tattered neighbors. We got the RV set up and broke out the leveling blocks for the first time. The RV swayed port to starboard as we experimented with the lego blocks of imprecision but finally we were level enough to stop caring. The highlight of the night was an awesome pasta dish we spiked with a mountain of leftover veggies, not a looker by any means but a pure pleaser to the taste buds. We took a little walk down to the river after dinner until it started to spit, then pour from above but we booked it back before getting too wet. It was perfect timing for a test of our new heater to keep things toasty warm and dry inside.

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Diane Dee

Diane is a lover of all things travel. She and her young family wanted to explore North America from the comfort of their own home so they bought an RV. After fully rehabbing a 1994 Safari Trek, they set out to explore both Canada and the USA.

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