(Sudbury, Ontario, Canada) Hi 75 Lo 54) -- We didn't have anything planned today. It was a down time day. We're moving back to the U.S. tomorrow and we're still getting caught up on computer stuff. I got the budget done for June. We were very pleased that we're only $269 over for what we planned to spend in Canada. We found out that here in Canada it was cheaper to eat out than to buy groceries, so we've only been to the grocery store twice for staples... eggs, bread, milk and cereal. Fuel is very high, but we planned on $5 a gallon for gas and $6 for diesel. That turned out to be just about right.
Since we didn't go anywhere today I thought I'd do a recap our first trip to Canada, and share some of our thoughts about it. This is mainly for our journal, so long after our life on the road is over we can look back and remember what we did and where we went.
We entered into Ontario, Canada on June 16 to meet with Sandra and Gordon who lives in Smiths Falls. We were so worried about crossing the border, but it ended up being really easy. The border agent just asked us a couple of questions and then passed us through. We were both relieved and from that point on enjoyed everything and everyone we encountered.
We loved Victoria Falls RV Park in Smiths Falls. It's right on the Rideau Canal, with many locks and plenty of walking paths. We found out quickly how friendly everyone is in Canada. Everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful, and that includes customer service in every establishment we went. If we had questions about anything they had an answer or would find someone that did.
We spent a lot of wonderful time with Sandra and Gordon. They took us on many sightseeing trips to the little towns around the area. They are all so different and each has its own history. Most of them are not all that much different from the US, but a lot of them have a very European look to them, and each town was unique. We also saw a lot of old barns that I just love, many more than we see in the U.S. We are so thankful to Sandra and Gordon for showing us around; they are truly special people and dear friends.
We left Smiths Falls on June 30, and almost didn't have a place to go to. It was Canada Day holiday weekend, and most of the campgrounds and RV parks were full. Jim called several places but only found one park that had an opening, so we went to Sid Turcotte RV Park, in Mattawa. Mattawa is a very small logging town about 200 miles from Smiths Falls. For the first time on the road we didn't have any TV, either on our satellite dish or roof antenna. Also, the only wi-fi we had was at the picnic table in front of the office. Also, the only radio we had was in our vehicles. The park was great for those that like the outdoors, but we don't. We learned that we can survive four days without any communication. We don't like it, but at least we didn't didn't kill each other. :)
Our next move was here to Sudbury, Ontario. Carol's Campsite is an open park beside a big lake. It was so much better. We had strong wi-fi, but we had to pay for it through a 3rd party. But it was well worth it. We had good satellite TV, which was very welcome. It took a day to get caught up with all the blogs and emails. A neighbor welcomed us to the park and we had a relaxing time. Sudbury is a bigger town and we went to see The Big Nickel, which is near an active nickel mine.
Prices in general are higher than in the U.S. A 13% tax is added to most of the items, including groceries, eating out, and fuel. Also, everything we buy will end up being about 4% higher due to the currency exchange rate. Our bank also added another fee which we haven't figured out. The good old days of cheap shopping in Canada are over.
The scenery in this part of Ontario is gorgeous! The roads overall are better than in many parts of the US. We had beautiful weather, with most days in the high 70's, and a few humid days. But overall its a lot cooler than the U.S. states this time of year.
We learned a lot about Ontario from the people we talked to. Canadians are a proud and patriotic people, and it seems like everyone flies their national flag. They have issues with their government just as we do in the states. They want the US to succeed because our economy has a major effect on theirs. They have national health care, but the government is straining to pay for it, and taxes are high because of it.
It's amazing to us how much open space there is in Canada. The population of the whole country is less than the population of California. While in Mattawa we thought we'd go across the river to Quebec Province, but there are no roads in that part of the country. When we were in Mattawa we were the farthest from the U.S. we've ever been. Making this trip has given us a lot of confidence in our ability to be on our own far from major cities (and far from RV dealers).
Would we come back? We sure would! We loved the trip and so glad we did it. It's been a great experience. However, we've both decided that we won't be taking the RV to Alaska. Canada is as much "wilderness" as we can handle. As the lady in the park office at Mattawa called us, we're "cement people". We like our cement pads and 50-amp service and nearby Walmarts and Best Buys.
So tomorrow we head west to Sault St. Marie, Michigan. Back home to the U.S.A. Thank you Canadians for letting us experience your wonderful country. God bless Canada!