Day 6 July 11 The Yellowhead

Leaving in the morning rainI was so happy that we kayaked in the afternoon yesterday, because by late evening the sky was dark and the clouds were thick with heavy rain.  All night long the rain sang on the roof of the rig but by morning it had slowed to a gentle drip.  By the time we hooked up the Tracker, the rain had stopped, even though the air was still misty.  Today we are traveling the Yellowhead Highway, 16, the route that connects Prince Rupert on the BC coast to Edmonton, Alberta, by way of Prince George. When I was in Prince George in 1973, the road was fairly new, and one day we drove east a bit to just say we had been on it.  I remember lots of snow and ice, and trees, and boring. 

foggy misty morning on the Yellowhead Highway at mile pg119That certainly wasn’t the case today as we traveled west on the Yellowhead.  Fraser Lake to the north of the highway was still shrouded in dark clouds as we passed, but by the time we reached the Lakes District the sun was trying to shine on us.  We stopped at a rest area called Tintagel Cairn, with an interesting stone in the center of the cairn that was from Tintagel Castle in England, supposedly the birthplace of King Arthur.  The sign at the rest stop had maps of what is called the Lakes District.  These lakes are huge, long crevasses in the glaciated landscape, much like the Finger Lakes of New York, but exponentially bigger.  Many of the roads leading to these huge lakes are rough gravel and not advised for RV’s. 

Yellowhead Day 6_562With the cloudy day ahead, we read the Milepost and thought that a visit to the charming little town of Smithers might be fun in addition to a planned visit to the New Hazelton area.  Both towns have excellent visitor centers, a great resource that we try to use often when traveling. The highway was great, smooth and wide, and very little traffic on this Monday morning.  Arriving in Smithers before noon, we found the visitor center and parked across the street, picked up a map of the town, and walked toward Main Street.

Yellowhead Day 6_574Smithers is an interesting mix of tourist town, ski town, mountain bike town, and First Nations town.  There was definitely an interesting mix of people on the streets, and there were a good number of fancy outdoor outfitter shops.  I stepped into one and emerged with a nifty Pelican waterproof case with foam inserts that is made for kayakers and cameras.  Even if it goes in, it floats, and there is some kind of weird pressure release valve that will keep the camera from getting Twin Fallscrushed by the weight of the water.  I don’t expect to be in that kind of water, but am still tickled that I can now take the good camera and telephoto lens out on the lake with a bit less trepidation.

mean angry gorgeous plantWe walked around Smithers for an hour or so and enjoyed a latte and tea from a corner kiosk that tasted wonderful.  In the Milepost we read about Twin Falls, a must see in the Smithers Area and the visitor center provided a nice local map to the Twin Falls Road. As we started up the trail, the sun started to emerge, and glimpses of the snow covered mountains all around Smithers peeked through the clouds.  The hike to the falls was just fifteen minutes or so of incline to the viewing platform, but we decided to go on to the base of the falls. Beautiful.

Yellowhead Day 6_629As we drove back down to town, the sun was out all the way and the mountains west of town took my breath away.  We stopped at an RV wash just north of the main intersection to get the road grime off the Tracker before going back to the visitor center.  There is a free dump, free WiFi, and good water all available and easily accessible.  Since we planned to boondock for the next 2 or 3 days, it was important to start fresh with enough water and clean tanks.  In no time at all, my photos were uploaded and the blog pages that I wrote the previous day were posted.  Sure wish my internet at home was that fast!

Yellowhead Day 6_666Continuing north on Highway 16, we followed the raging Bulkley River past the native village of Moricetown where the native people took advantage of the narrow canyon to trap salmon. Our route continued north and west to “The Hazeltons”, three Yellowhead Day 6_683communities that are centered around Old Hazelton. Situated at the confluence of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers, Hazelton grew up as a major transportation and navigation center, and a wintering place for miners and prospectors from the daunting Interior.  We crossed the suspension bridge that spans the Bulkley River high above a magnificent canyon, surrounded by craggy, snowcapped mountains.  There is much to see in Old Town Hazelton, but it was getting late in the day and it was time to move on. We stopped in at the local tribal store and filled up for a mere 1.24 per liter, 4.57 per gallon C$  still not sure what the US exchange is right now, but it is somewhere between 4 and 6 percent higher. I bought a half gallon of milk, a bag of chips, and two Haagen Daz bars and it cost me 15.80.  I didn’t get a receipt so I have no clue what particular bit of that package was outrageously priced.

Here we go!It was with some internal excitement that I saw the sign at the junction of the Highway 16 and Highway 37. The Stewart-Cassiar Highway seemed to me to truly be the epitome of wild British Columbia, and we were there at last. Our original plans were to go to Meziadin Provincial Park, about 97 miles north of the junction, and then earlier this morning we decided that we would rather boondock somewhere along the highway.  It was getting close to 7:30 and around mile 50 we started looking in earnest for a place to stop.  We found a small lake, with three campsites, and dropped down into a mosquito infested hole that already had a crusty camper and a crusty dude settling in, and decided that we wanted to be out somewhere alone, not smashed in close to someone else. It was tight in there, so we had to unhook to get back out, and after a few moments of traveling companion backing conversation, we managed to get back on the road. You all know those conversations, and we don’t usually have them, so it was funny when it was over.

first boondock site of the tripboondock on the CassiarWe actually saw two young bears, but even going 50 mph, we had no way to stop to see them, or nowhere to pull off, so it was just a quick sighting and they were gone. Within a couple miles we found another pull off, this time it was just off the road and no one else was around. The sun was still high in the sky, even close to 8 pm, and we lowered the jacks, put out the slide, and in no time at all had our supper on the trays.  Mo went to bed while once more I tried to manage the 200 photos that I took today, and I gave up without writing a word about the day’s travels.  I know that I have to write every day, because it is so very hard to regenerate all we have seen a day later.  The only way I can keep track is with a review of the Milepost and my photos.  I started marking photo sites in the Milepost since my camera doesn’t have GPS capability.  I actually thought about trying to shoot an iPhone shot at each site to get coordinates, but decided that was just plain stupid.  Red pen in the Milepost is working fine.

the Cassiar Highway at mile 52 or so at ten pmI stayed awake until after ten, watching the sun set on the mountains around us and listening to the silence.  An occasional truck would go past, but as the night wore on, I never heard a thing and slept wonderfully.  I think it may have been the quietest, darkest night we have spent on the road.  Perfect.ten pm at the boondock site

Miles driven today from point 7 to point 12 about 275

Road Conditions: 2 lane perfect all the way

yellowhead

I took a LOT of photos today, including some gorgeous wildflowers at our boondock site, the link is here

 TOMORROW: THE CASSIAR HIGHWAY!

Day 5 July 10 The Cariboo Highway to the Yellowhead

And no, it isn’t spelled “caribou” as in the animal.

Cariboo Day 5_518 In the late afternoon shadows on Fraser Lake, we were serenaded by the haunting call of the north, the loon.  I have heard their singular cries often on NatGeo specials, listened as some nature photographer captured the essence of wild northern lakes, but it is the first time I have seen a loon up close on the water.  I couldn’t believe how big he was, and how very loud.  He let us get within a few hundred feet while his mate stayed much father away from us.  I didn’t see any little ones, but with the racket dad was making to draw us away from mom,  I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were out there.

Fraser Lak Day 5_530The water was smooth when we launched, but turned rough and windy, so I was glad that I hadn’t brought the good camera.  For now, the point and shoot is all I will take with me in the kayak unless I can be assured all is glassy smooth.  When I heard the loon, I thought I could maybe get a video with sound, and snapped on the baby camera only to get the dreaded message, “Battery Exhausted”.  Sigh.  I had just put in the new battery before we went out in the boats, but with the power shifts and inverter on/off kind of thing, it somehow wasn’t fully charged.  Yeah, I know, always carry a spare, and I did, in the motorhome.  So no photo of the loon couple.

Cariboo Day 5_509It just started raining a bit ago, and the skies are heavy and dark.  We are settled in quietly at Beaumont Provincial Park on Fraser Lake, about 86 miles west of Prince George on the Cariboo Day 5_510Yellowhead Highway.  We landed about 2:30, with plenty of time to take Abby for a swim and then go for a kayak on the lake before supper.  I thought we might be entering the wilderness when we headed west from PG, but not so much. Evidently this string of lakes along the Yellowhead are popular with the local weekend RVing crowd, since there was a long line of rigs returning east on this Sunday afternoon.  Lucky for us it was Sunday, since the park was almost empty and once again our no-reservation plan is working.  Camping here along the lake is 16 Canadian dollars, for a spot and no hookups, but it is lovely.

Today was my turn to drive, and we actually got out of Clinton at 7:30 this morning, knowing we had a long driving day planned.  I am sure there are sights to be seen along the Cariboo Highway, 97 north, the Gold Road as they call it, but we still are pushing to get north.  I think now we are north enough to move a bit more slowly.  The 335 miles that we logged today covered long straight miles of gorgeous road, much of it newly developed 4 lane highway, smooth as silk and no traffic at all. I am sure we are leaving all that silky road behind us before long, so I appreciated it a lot today.

Cariboo Day 5_487I lived in Prince George for a few months in 1973, and drove there in a very old car with my 4 babies on a long winter night in January. That is another long story that probably will never get told, but I couldn’t help comparing that drive to the one today in utter luxury. In those days I think the road must have been wilder and more terrifying, the wilderness was everywhere.  My first taste of wilderness today was the sound of that loon. 

Cariboo Day 5_500But this morning the sun was shining when we left Clinton.  The one stop that drew us in was the Heritage Display at 108 Mile House. the information center and museum were still closed, but we did enjoy walking around the grounds and admiring the beautiful log buildings that have been so lovingly restored. The “houses” along the Cariboo Highway were developed during the gold rush and gave the weary miners safety, shelter, a bed and some food along the way north.  Still called 100 Mile House, 133 Mile House, 150 Mile House, I’m glad they didn’t try to change the house to something or other Meter House!

Cariboo Day 5_492Since I was driving today, there are fewer photos, and the few times I really wanted to stop for some shots of the flooding Fraser River there absolutely wasn’t a single place to pull off.  The Fraser is a magnificent river, draining the Fraser Plateau all the way to the Pacific Ocean, with a rich and wild history from the fur trappers to the present day.  It was chocolate brown and angry today, filled to the banks from all the recent flooding in the northern part of BC, and carrying all sorts of logs and debris torn from the riverbanks.  It was exciting just to see it.

We crossed the Quesnel River and the drove beside the Fraser through the cute little town of Quesnel.  I remember when I lived in Prince George that I wished we could live in Quesnel.  I had no desire to try to see anything in Prince George.  My memories there weren’t especially good, and the town has quadrupled in size since those days.  I was happy to just drive on the outskirts, hook up to Highway 16 and skip the whole thing.  This is a trip about going north, about wilderness where we can find it, about silence and solitude and big landscapes, not about towns.

Cariboo Day 5_513The rain has stopped, Mo is reading while I write, and I am wondering how long the evening will stay light.  Even with the dark overhanging clouds, I don’t expect darkness to fall anytime soon.  We are glad for the light darkening shades that we have throughout the MoHo, and I think they will come in handy as we continue north.

Cariboo Day 5_522 I don’t have an internet connection tonight, so can’t spend a lot of time looking up things like weather, sunset and sunrise times, or reading blogs and my only job is to write this piece and then drop into bed and try to remember what I was last reading on the Kindle.  Actually, the Kindle remembers for me, good thing, since there are a lot of books that I loaded up before taking off on this journey and I haven’t had a moment to pick it up since we started.

Tomorrow: Smithers and on to the Cassiar Highway

clinton to fraser lakeMiles traveled today: 335

The rest of the photos for this day are linked here

Day 4 July 9 Into the British Columbia desert!

South BC Day 4_371Somehow I never knew that there was a huge part of south central British Columbia that is arid sage country.  The southern part of the Okanogan Valley only receives about 12 inches of rain a year, and the shrub/grassland community is referred to as Canada’s “pocket desert”. It is a beautiful region, filled with wildlife, wine, rivers, and wildflowers, and I would love to come back and spend some extended time exploring.  Today, however, we have other goals.  We are saving most of the exploring for the northern parts of the province, for the Yukon, and for Alaska. 

out the back window at Osoyoos Municipal Park on the Okanogan RiverWe were up early with the light, and were on the road by 8:30 or so after a lovely walk with Abby along the beautiful Lake Osoyoos. We didn’t bother hooking up right away, since the gas station was right at the entrance of the park.  We filled the MoHo again, at 3.79 per gallon and 123 bucks, but it was only half full, not empty.  Sure am glad we aren’t filling an empty tank!  I guess it all works out in the end anyway.  A quick hook up right there in the gas station was easy since no one was coming in behind us, and we were off for our entry into Canada.

South BC Day 4_352The border is barely five miles north of Oroville, and we were ready for our crossing, with passports, registrations, animal health certificates, and rehearsed answers.  Where are we going? “Fort Richardson, near Anchorage, Alaska”. The customs officer was a tiny woman with a serious face.  No silly comments, Sue, just keep your mouth shut and don’t offer anything.  Let Mo do the talking.  Fine.  Of course, it was as simple for us as most folks, with a few questions, and not a single comment about the country of origin of our animal food, no questions about wasp spray (yes we carry it instead of pepper spray), and no questions about food except what produce we had.  At that point I piped up with “Five pounds of potatoes, some onions, a bag of carrots, and 2 bags of packaged coleslaw”.  Somehow that answer seemed to satisfy all her other questions and she said, “OK, go on”.

Highway 3 west from OsoyoosOsoyoos is right at the border and has an excellent information center.  We pulled in immediately, and the guides there were really helpful, insisting that we should drive all the way north on 97.  I looked again at our map, and thought, “no, that isn’t the plan” and we turned west on Highway 3 toward Princeton.  It was a great drive, leading us through the beautiful, fertile valley of the Similkameen River, lush and filled with orchards and organic farms, wineries and fruit stands.  We stopped so I could add some good produce to my limited supply for crossing the border and I got some ripe, soft, very red tomatoes, and fresh crisp pickle cukes that were perfect for our supper salad.

stopping for the wildflower photosWe stopped to take photos of the wildflowers, and the roads were in excellent condition for most of the day.  We circumvented Kamloops and the major part of the Okanogan Valley with this route, but also skipped a lot of traffic and Similkameen  Valley organic farmscongestion that we got a little taste of as we passed through Merritt.  I turned off my phone since I don’t want to pay the huge fees for a data plan, so couldn’t use the gas buddy app to figure out where we would get the cheapest gas.  We filled up again in Merritt, and figuring in the exchange of 1.04, and 3.75 liters per US gallon, it cost a whopping  $5.34 per gallon and $156.52 to fill the half full tank one more time.  We laughed and said that maybe we need to sit a day or two so our daily cost can drop a bit! I am using a Capital One credit card while in Canada since, as advertised on TV,  they really don’t charge that exchange fee that some other cards do. I also called them before traveling so hopefully I won’t get denied at the pumps. So far so good.

South BC Day 4_457Emerging from Highway 8, which was perfectly fine to travel, to TransCanada 1, we followed along the huge and very full Thompson River.  The mountains seemed so much like the dry parts of Montana that I was really surprised, and then we would round a curve and there were deeply eroded badlands that looked ever so much like landscapes I have seen in Wyoming or Utah.  Once we were on Highway 97 however, the landscape started to change, with pines showing up, and then suddenly we were back in lush green fir country, and we arrived at the small town of Clinton, BC.

South BC Day 4_459The Gold Trail RV Park here seems to be a popular stop, and it was our choice because we wanted full hookups before we continue north to the Provincial Parks.  It also has our CampClub USA discount, and even on a Saturday night, there was an opening for us. As I mentioned earlier, we decided to travel as much as possible without reservations, and so far it is working.  Gold Trail Park has an interesting vibe, maybe you could call it “down home”?  The owner in “interesting”, and very friendly, and he joked with us a lot while showing us to our site.  Full hookups, and surprisingly level, for $17. Canadian.  (I did use the ATM and my no fee debit card to get some Canadian cash back at the visitor center).  For another 3 bucks in Canadian change I have darn fast WiFi to actually upload photos and catch up on blog posting! 

South BC Day 4_475There is a big bbq buffet  here every night, fairly cheap at 9.95, but Mo and I didn’t really want an all you can eat thing, and decided instead to grill some Alaska cod from the freezer accompanied by the yummy salad from the Similkameen Valley.  (Now I have to go to the internet to look up how to pronounce that name, since who has a clue which syllable get’s the emphasis!) OK, I can’t believe I never knew this, but if you type in “pronounce Similkameen” into the google search bar you will get this. Love it!

South BC Day 4_478After supper we walked the extent of the town down one side and up the other in the evening light.  Right on the Cariboo Highway, the town actually has an interesting history.  Even though it was Saturday night and the museum was closed, the village has great signs throughout with historic photographs of the enterprises that once occupied the empty blocks taken from the same vantage South BC Day 4_471point.  The villagers have pride in their little community as well, with a town notice for clean up day to get ready for the town flower judges who will pass through later this month.  Summer flowers or not, I can’t quite imagine living here through a long, dreary, icy winter. 

The skies have been brilliantly blue so far throughout our trip, but this evening there are some clouds hovering to the north and the forecast may include rain as we continue.  This evening has been quiet and gorgeous, the vistas are all brand new, the faces and people are all different, even the cars don’t look the same.  I’m definitely on a long-distance road trip at last.

Distance driven today: about 255 miles

map to clinton

The rest of the photos for this day are linked here.

 

September 9 Our day at Niagara Falls

The rest of the photos for this day are linked here>

Niagara (37)Gee, think I look tired here?  LOL  Guess all this fun is hard work! 

This day marked the “big day” of our Northern Tour, the visit to Niagara Falls.  While lovely, dramatic, and a sight not to be missed, I am not so sure that other parts of the trip may qualify as “big days” as well. We knew that getting through Toronto during morning rush hour was something to avoid, so set the alarm for 5am and did everything we could the night before except actually hooking up the Tracker.

Everything went well, quick morning tea in the microwave, pull in the slide, lower the levelers, start the engines, dump the tanks on the way out, and line up for hooking up the towed.  UhOh.  For some unknown reason, the four wheel drive transfer case for the Tracker refused to budge and Mo couldn’t get it into neutral.  We tried everything for a time, but with the clock ticking and traffic vibrating on the nearby 401, we decided to just go.

I drove the MoHo and Mo followed in the Tracker.  Of course, our phones were not turned on, and we hoped to keep track of each other on the highway until we were back in the United States. I must say, Garmin Girl earned every single cent of her price this morning. I negotiated the many “collectors” adjacent to the expressway, together consisting off 10 lanes of traffic, all the way through Toronto.  Even at 6am, the cars were thick, filling every lane and going close to 100km per hour.  I couldn’t see Mo very well in the backup camera since it was still dark, but sometimes she would show up in the side mirror, negotiating a lane change for me.  We traveled through town, through Burlington, following Garmin Girl as if she knew what she was doing, and thank goodness she did!

Niagara_to_WiltonGlen (4)  In just a couple of hours we were in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and found the King Waldorf RV Park on Stanley Road.  Setup was uneventful in the nearly empty park, and are reserved space was expensive but only five miles or so from the falls.  Many of the parks in this area run up to $75.00 a day, so we were happy to pay only $45.00.

What can I say about Niagara that hasn’t already been said.  The falls are truly a world wonder, and much like another world wonder, the Grand Canyon, seem a bit less so viewed from above.  Only after we took the Maid of the Mist tour to the base of the falls did I feel the true majesty of the mighty Niagara River, draining 4 of the 5 Great Lakes over these rocky cliffs. It was a thrilling moment.

Niagara (5)

Niagara (44)

Maid of the Mist was the highlight of visiting Niagara

 

Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side is the more dramatic fall

     

Much of the Niagara experience is a calculated money making endeavor, with ticket times and lines, and people movers, a bit like Disneyland.  The Maid of the Mist, tourist attraction though it may be, is worth every bit of tourism kitsch endured.  We also saw the Niagara Fury Omnifilm, a nice effort, and toured “Behind the Falls’”, which from the Canadian side was a bit of a let down.  The rest of the day we spent walking on our own through the gardens along the canyon walls, admiring the water and watching the “Maids” make their journeys. 

September 8 Toronto

The few somewhat gloomy photos I have for this day are linked here.

Toronto (1)Glen Rouge Campground is owned by the city of Toronto, located in a linear greenbelt parkway called Rouge Park,   dissected by the Rouge River.  The grounds are well maintained, with laundry facilities on site.  These consisted of two washers, one of them broken, and two dryers, one out of service.  With more than a week of laundry collected, I decided to try to find a laundromat where I could actually get the laundry completed in something less than a full day.  Mo decided to go with me so I wouldn’t have to wander off into the city alone, and we set out to find a laundry. 

The camp hostess suggested a place a few miles west toward town on Kingston Street, which sounded reasonable, but at the early morning rush hour, Kingston Street was backed up cars in all four lanes punctuated by stop lights.  The fresh, almost antiseptically clean suburbs gave way to seedier neighborhoods and crowded apartment buildings with varying degrees of window coverings that included aluminum foil. Maybe these are the kinds of neighborhoods that actually need laundromats, since most of the fancy townhomes near the area we left behind probably had their own in home laundry facilities. 

About $12.00 Canadian, and four loads later, we emerged with clean bedding and fresh clothes.  Watching all those folks doing laundry reminded me of the days when I did diapers for three babies in laundromats, too poor to own a washer that worked.  Life is good.  Now I only go to laundromats when I am traveling.

Toronto (2) Another supposed amenity of Glen Rouge Campground is the excellent security.  Last night it was severely lacking, however, and somewhere around 2am our next door neighbor hosted two cars full of drunken party goers. They entertained us with raucous conversation, loud music, singing, and falling down sounds until the last car pulled away around seven this morning. When we reported this to the camp hostess, she made some mumblings about security, and I got the impression that maybe the security personnel may have been part of the party. Our other neighbors are just fine, sweet and just conversational enough to be fun but not intrusive, and they love the cat and dog.  We will be leaving tomorrow morning, and I am hoping that the rowdy neighbor is too worn out from last night to keep us up again tonight.

With laundry handled, we took Abby to a doggie day care and once more took the train to town for another day of exploration.  Toronto has so many interesting offerings, but the Royal Ontario Museum called me most, with the exhibition “The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army” in residence, it was something I didn’t want to miss. The ROM, as it is affectionately known here in town, is just a little over a mile north of Union Station on University Street.  It was a great chance to walk more city streets and observe how the demographics and energy of the neighborhoods change throughout the city. 

Toronto_ROM (5) Queen’s Park is at the center of the University of Toronto campus, and has the most amazing collection of huge hardwoods, oaks, maples, and others, that I have ever seen.  In the dark shade of a dreary day, I found it impossible to capture the immensity of these trees in a photograph.  The main building of the University was as imposing as any castle I have seen anywhere, and the cosmopolitan atmosphere was impressive. 

Toronto_ROM (7)We finally found the ROM north of Queen’s Park and entered.  There was an extra fee to see the Terracotta Army, but it was well worth it. After complete immersion into Chinese history of two hundred B.C., we emerged into the rest of the museum.  Much like the Smithsonian, the sheer volume of the exhibits is overwhelming.  I decided that the only way to truly visit a museum of this stature would be slowly, a day at a time for each section.  Since we didn’t have that luxury, we wandered a bit aimlessly through the halls and rooms and stairwells.  Photos weren’t allowed, but mental images include a totem pole from British Columbia spanning all four stories of the building and a domed ceiling tiled with gold and inlay that was as intricate as any we saw in Turkey.

After all that walking and wandering, we were starving, so took advantage of what is known in Toronto as “street meat’”, the hot dog stand. Hot dog is a misnomer for what we ate today, with the juicy succulent meat sliced diagonally and roasted on an open flame right before our eyes.  The condiments included fancy colored peppers and a sweet corn relish among the usual goodies.  We sat on the steps of the ROM and watched people passing by while munching down the best hot dog I ever ate in my entire life.

Toronto_ROM (8) The Museum station of the TTC Subway was right there, and it was a quick, 4.00 jaunt to Union Station just in time to catch the express GOTRAIN to our home station at Rouge Hill.  After two days we were getting to be old hands at finding the stairs, hallways, and platforms of the transit system.

After picking up Abby from her caretakers, we desperately needed some internet time to handle business affairs, and finally found free wireless at the local coffee establishment called Second Cup.  Much like the Starbucks of the old days, they had great coffees, comfy chairs, a fireplace, and free wireless.  Time to catch up on banking and email, and try to get photos up and maybe a blog post or two at least!  By the time we left the place was full of interesting people, talking, computing, drinking and eating; definitely a hoppin’ place to be in the suburbs of Toronto on a Wednesday evening!

We plan to leave by 6 in the morning to drive to Niagara Falls and miss the worst of the Toronto traffic, so the alarm is set for 5.  The rain comes and goes, but it stopped long enough for us to get the bikes and the kayaks loaded up again and get things ready for an early departure tomorrow.