We left Mississauga with my parents in the back seat of the car joining us for the final leg east of our trip. With 4 of us in the car and the bulk of our camping gear now sitting in the basement at my sister's place, we followed the highway 401 tradition of hitting up an On Route for some food on our drive from Toronto to Ottawa. After dropping my parents off at a friend's place, Chris and I continued on to our final province of the trip: Quebec. We spent a few nights on the lake visiting with Chris's parents. We then returned to Ottawa where Chris's dad spent the day with us building a custom sized toiletries holder to fit in the only available free space we had left in the car.
It was now time to start our journey home! We started the drive home on Sunday, September 15, leaving Ottawa and heading to Mississauga. The next morning, we woke up early and crossed into the States at the Windsor/Detroit border, then drove through 4 states over the next 12 hours before spending the night in the car at a rest stop along the I-90 just before Madison, Wisconsin. I wish we had a bit more time to cover this leg of the trip. Earlier in the day we had stopped at the Warren Dunes State Park along Lake Michigan in Michigan and it was just beautiful. I would have loved to spend the day along the white sand beaches, but instead we only stayed long enough to dip our toes in the water.
The next morning we stopped at the Cheese Castle for some mandatory Wisconsin cheese, then drove through Minnesota, finding a beautiful spot along at the Byre Lake Rec Area in South Dakota to stop for the night. I particularly liked this camping spot as there were only a few other vehicles there, the air felt warm, and the lake was a great place for a morning swim.
The next day was spent mostly driving through South Dakota, starting the day at an all-American diner (yay for a great diner breakfast!), then stopping to visit Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore. Mount Rushmore was pretty much as advertised - 4 presidents' heads carved into a rock face. As we were on our walk back down the hill to the car, the sky changed colour and the wind picked up. The trees started swaying aggressively and branches started to fall. We picked up our speed hoping to get back to the car before the unexpected storm hit. We were about 2 minutes away from the car when the rain started to pour down on us. By the time we reached the car we were soaked. It had been a long time since we were last in such a heavy rain fall with almost no prior warning!
That night was spent in a very questionable rest area in Douglas, Wyoming. Though I didn't feel very comfortable there, there were still some good parts including free hot showers and meeting someone driving an Earth Roamer. The next day we continued to drive through Wyoming. The air pressure on our front driver side tire was a bit low so we stopped to fill it up along the way.
Wyoming was beautiful. As we were driving through the state on our way to Yellowstone admiring the American antelopes and the red rock formations, I asked Chris if he thought Yellowstone was going to be as beautiful as where we were. He said he didn't know. So instead of continuing towards Yellowstone, we took a left hand turn off the highway, drove about 30 minutes down a dirt road, and came to an open area along a small lake with sweeping views of the rock formations. We loved it so much we spent 2 nights along the lake, seeing only a handful of other people while we were there.
On the morning of our departure from the lake, we packed up the car as usual, but as we turned on the car, the low tire pressure indicator came on again. This time the tire was almost flat! Fortunately Chris keeps a tire inflator in the trunk so we were able to fill up the tire enough to get us to the local town of Dubois. We were lucky enough to find a gas station and tire repair shop right in town that could fix our tire in the next hour. The lady working the desk at the gas station recommended a breakfast spot nearby, so we went there while waiting to get the tire fixed.
I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I love a good diner breakfast, especially when it's in a small town. And this one did not let me down! The restaurant was filled with locals and I got a yummy eggs and toast breakfast. We loved the coffee mugs there so much we ended up buying one as a souvenir.
After the mechanic removed a small nail from our tire and patched it up, we were back on the road again! The road to Yellowstone took us through a mountain pass. As the Pilot is a new vehicle for us and it was still summer, we hadn't yet gotten around to putting proper all-weather, mud, and snow rated tires on the car. However mountain roads are unpredictable, and though I was wearing cut off shorts and flip flops, we soon found ourselves driving through 0 degree temperatures and falling snow. Fortunately, we were able to make it to Yellowstone without a major incident.
Yellowstone was beautiful!! Though much more crowded than our little spot on the lake, I loved all the geysers. We arrived just as Old Faithful was ready to go and watched the steam shoot out from the earth. Then we walked around and saw dozens, if not hundreds of other geysers and hot pools. I particularly liked the pools surrounded in white with crystal blue water. I found out later that those were the hottest pools with the colours being formed from chemical reactions.
Driving through the park let us see even more geysers with steam coming up everywhere! And so many bison and other wildlife to look at!
Our drive out of Yellowstone took us through yet another mountain pass. Once again I was the one driving and took us through even more snow. At least this time I wasn't wearing my flip flops and shorts! We stopped for the night at the Palisades Rec Area located right on a river in Montana. The area was beautiful, with rock formations everywhere, though I was a bit nervous it would snow so much that night that we wouldn't be able to drive out in the morning.
After waking up the next day to see that the snow on the ground was minimal, and enjoying a hot tea by the river, we got back on the road. We left the cold and snow behind and by the next night, we were in 25 degree weather and I was able to put my flip flops back on. That night we spent at an eclectic private campground on Downs Lake, just west of Spokane Washington. From there it was a straight drive home through Seattle on a route we know reasonably well.
|Total kilometers covered||11,328|
|Total cost of gas||$1,173|
|Average cost of gas||$1.08/l|
|Total cost of accommodations||$195 (thank you free rest areas and free campgrounds!)|
|Total cost of park passes, tourist attractions, tire repair, chipped window repair||$398|
|Total cost of tolls||$25 (all paid in the Chicago area)|
|Total trip cost||$1,792 (not including food as we'd buy that anyways)|
|24-Aug||White Lake BC||$0.00|
|25-Aug||Friend's house in Calgary||$0.00|
|26-Aug||Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. Deer Hollow campground, site 3||$30.00|
|27-Aug||Wakamo River Campground in Moose Jaw, site 89||$30.00|
|28-Aug||Delta Beach Campground, Portage La Prairie Manitoba||$17.50|
|29-Aug||Highway 17 rest stop||$0.00|
|30-Aug||Lake Superior Provincial Park, Agawa Bay Campground, site 215||$42.28|
|31-Aug||Little Current Marina Parking Lot on Manitoulin Island||$0.00|
|1-Sep||South Bay Resort, tent #2 on Manitoulin Island||$31.36|
|2-Sep||Parents' condo in Mississauga||$0.00|
|3-Sep||Parents' condo in Mississauga||$0.00|
|4-Sep||Parents' condo in Mississauga||$0.00|
|5-Sep||Parents' condo in Mississauga||$0.00|
|6-Sep||Parents' condo in Mississauga||$0.00|
|7-Sep||Friend's house in Kitchener||$0.00|
|8-Sep||Parents' condo in Mississauga||$0.00|
|12-Sep||Parents' in Carleton Place||$0.00|
|13-Sep||Parents' in Carleton Place||$0.00|
|14-Sep||Parents' condo in Mississauga||$0.00|
|15-Sep||Rest area along I-90 in Wisconsin||$0.00|
|16-Sep||Byre Lake Rec Area, South Dakota||$0.00|
|17-Sep||City Park in Douglas Wyoming||$0.00|
|18-Sep||Public camping area (Ring Lake) on lake outside Dubois Wyoming||$0.00|
|19-Sep||Public camping area (Ring Lake) on lake outside Dubois Wyoming||$0.00|
|20-Sep||Palisades Rec Area, Montana||$16.62|
|21-Sep||Downs Lake just west of Spokane||$27.70|