3000km, 13 Days and 5 Activations: Double the Activation Fun!

Sadly, after only two nights in Sleeping Giant it was necessary to start the long journey home. We would like to have stayed longer but there is a lot of competition for campsites in Ontario Parks these days. And besides, I had a mission to accomplish – I wanted to have another crack at activating Pancake Bay Provincial Park!

But Pancake Bay was two days drive away. We didn’t want to rush the journey because the route down the eastern shore of Lake Superior is one of the most beautiful drives in all of Canada. The drive took us first back to Neys where we spent a couple of nights resting and enjoying the scenery. From Neys we followed the TransCanada Highway (the southerly route along Highway 17) up and down steep, winding hills, stopping at the town of White River.

Winnie the Pooh
White River is the home of “Winnie the Pooh”, Winnie is a character in the childrens book by A.A. Milne but was based on a real, orphaned bear cub adopted by a Canadian soldier from Winnipeg (hence the name Winnie) in White River and later donated to the zoo in London, England during World War I. Ontario is home to an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 black bears.

The giant Canada Goose at Wawa Ontario

A Giant Canada Goose
We made a refuelling stop in Wawa – famous for the giant Canada Goose statue alongside the main street through town then, a few kilometers south of Wawa, we entered Lake Superior Provincial Park. Words just can’t describe the natural beauty of this park. The TransCanada Highway cuts right through the park and passes incredible scenery like Old Woman Bay.

Spectacular Views
After leaving the park the highway continues to amaze with scenery like Alona Bay and the long, steep descent into Montreal River Harbour. Then the highway reaches lower terrain and very soon we arrived at Pancake Bay. I have a love/hate relationship with Pancake Bay Provincial Park. It is a long narrow park right alongside the highway which brings traffic noise 24 hours per day. For some reason the designers of the park built the trailer water fill station at the extreme far end of the park. That makes it a long slow, bumpy drive through the narrow internal park roads – with a speed limit of 20km/h!

Success At Last!
As soon as we were settled in our beachfront campsite (sounds good but it was a sloping site and required careful setup to get our trailer level) I pulled out my ham gear and setup in the Day Use area of the park which was quieter than the campground. The weather was unusually hot and the Sun was beating down on the picnic table I had chosen for my third activation attempt at this park. In fact it was so hot that my phone started shutting down! Lady Luck was with me this trip and I made a quick activation on 20m; again using 50 watts into my homebrew vertical antenna mounted on a ski pole stuck into the sand.

Success at last at Pancake Bay Provincial Park north of Sault Ste Marie

And Again!
I was elated; I had at last beaten the Pancake Bay jinx! Then an idea sprung into my mind. Another POTA eligible park was just 10km down the road. So we set off for Batchawana Bay (VE-0147) just south along the Lake Superior shore. The momentum of activation succeess continued and another activation was in the log in short order.

Batchawana Bay Provincial Park near Sault Ste Marie

But a New Problem!
Our second stay of the trip at Pancake Bay was just a single night and whatever witchcraft was at play there hadn’t finished with us yet. As we packed up the trailer and hitched up I noticed a warning light in the truck. We had low pressure in one of our tires. I re-inflated the tire to the correct pressure and started our journey south while carefully monitoring the tire pressure along the way. It seemed to be holding but we had a long journey that day and the weather wasn’t so good. Rain was in the forecast and, sure enough, it started to pour down before we reached Sault Ste Marie. Our destination was 450km away at Grundy Lake Provincial Park south of Sudbury. Bad weather and a slow leak from a tire while towing a trailer – bad news!

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