Well this weekend was interesting. Of course it started with Mark getting hurt at football on Friday night. Hard blow to the lower back and really hurt his kidney. Weird thing with this is that it can way worse so the doctor gave us a list of what to watch out for.
So instead of getting up insanely early and heading north to Prince Albert National Park, we let him get more sleep while we loaded up the Focus.
He stumbled out of the house, into the Ford Escape, turned on the heat on the front seat, grabbed a blanket and went back to sleep. He was in a lot of pain. The good news is the heated seats made a lot of difference.
By the time we got up, the Park Cafe had a line of people outside the door. After a quick vote, we went to Humpty’s and ordered some Splash Omelettes for Wendy, Mark and myself and a M&M pancake for Oliver. They made the mistake of ordering pierogis as a side and regretted it, you always order the pan fries. You know that means they all took some of my pan fries.
The plan was to head up Highway 42 to Alveena and then cut across to the Battle of Fish Creek (and the cool looking Fish Creek Church) and then 28 kms up to Batoche.
Two days of constant rain had turned our roads to slop. I decided to take the Fish Creek road and see what it was like. I went a kilometer and even with the AWD of the Ford Escape, I turned back to the highway. We went into Alveena and realized the same thing. The top couple of inches of road was waterlogged and moving. If I had to get through, I could have but it wasn’t worth risking it.
So we drove to the Watrous intersection backtracked and went to Batoche. It was closed. For fall, it closes on the weekends which makes no sense to me at all. That would useful to have on the front of your website but it’s the Government of Canada, I should have known better.
So we crossed the river, headed north on Highway 11 and got into Prince Albert and then Waskesiu.
We had booked a lodge at Waskesiu but then a week later they called back and said, “oh, we were overbooked”. In other words they got a longer booking and we got bounced. There is a big fun run up there this weekend and we quickly found out all of the other accommodations were booked. So we booked an oTENTik which kind of a hybrid tent and cabin. At first the cost seemed way to high for what I was getting but when we got there, it was nicer than what we would have had at the hotel.
Let’s chat about the oTENTiks for a second.
The first thing is that you need to stay in one. They can sleep 6 really comfortably. You bring your own sleeping bags and pillows and inside they had a platform with four single mattresses along the bottom and a double mattress up top.
There is a table with four chairs and a small bench to toss your bags. Parks Canada also gives you a LED lantern for a light when you check in. It looks cool but kicks out almost no light. We had head lamps and are glad we had them.
The structure is half tent and half cabin. The floor is raised, has laminate flooring, but the roof is a plastic canvas tarp. You can also lock the door. We didn’t need it but there was a propane heater.
There is also a metal bear cache out front for your food. I’ll be honest, it was the only thing I didn’t like but maybe I am a little over sensitive after the wolf incident this summer. I wish it and the barbecue was further way from the oTENTik. It seemed to close.
Finally there is a picnic table that is screened in alongside a fire pit. It is a great setup and I’d rather stay in one of these then some of the cabin’s that are at Waskesiu.
After unpacking, we drove from Beaver Glen campground to downtown Waskesiu. On the way there, we saw a large herd of these guys just chilling out while the males acted aggressive (the rut has begun).
These were taken with Wendy’s Olympus OM-D E-M10 II and her 75-300mm lens (which is a equivalent of a 150-600mm lens). We were a long ways away as I am not sure how Ford Escapes handle being rammed by giant elk.
From there we did some shopping in downtown Waskesiu. Oliver was choked then entire time. He knew Mark was hurt so he was constantly challenging Mark to races which he was sure he could win. While he was right, Mark was too hurt to even walk easily so there were no races.
We did go into a high end boutique that was blowing everything out from 50-80% off and Mark did find an Oakley hat that he liked. I found a great looking shirt that was still $200 on sale. So I passed.
From there, we went to Pete’s Terrace and ordered the Volcano Pizza to share. You can order it in terms of heat from 1-5. We had a two which was hot enough. They did bring us a side of #5 and my mouth still burns. Actually it hit all of us except Oliver who just said, “I don’t do spicy”. Wise kid.
Here is the thing about Pete’s Terrace. The pizza is good and affordable which means in the summer, EVERYONE IN WASKESIU and NORTHERN SASKATCHWAN eats there which means long waits because the restaurant is packed, the deck is packed, the non-licensed sidewalk area is packed. In the fall, it’s just kind of normally busy and the services is really fast. So the summer of last night was great pizza, great service and I still shouldn’t have tried the #5 hot sauce.
We had never stayed at Beaver Glen campground. I didn’t really like it. Despite having lots of space for camping, I found it really, really noisy which was weird because it wasn’t as packed as Johnston Canyon’s Campground this summer and that was incredibly quiet. Next time we go, it will be to the Narrows campground which I am told is much quieter, in part because of a lack of electrified spots.
Last night we took a slow drive just past dusk and when I say slow, I mean 30 kph slow. Explaining to Ford why there is an elk lodged in the front seat is not a conversation that I wanted to have (okay, it would an hilarious conversation to have but you know what I mean) This is what we saw. Elk sleeping on the shoulder and in the middle of the highway. Right in the middle of the highway. Is it because of the heat or because they are in rut (we never saw it but you could hear what sounded like either moose or elk in rut challenging each other in the distance while out walking). It was really weird to be driving (we were going about 30 kph) and seeing them and not moving. Not that I would ever do this but from their non-reaction, it looked like you could have picked one up and brought it home as a (giant, destructive) pet.
I did discover something last night, the Escape’s headlights go from high beam to low beam automatically which is a feature I have waited for my entire life. It really makes driving at night a lot more pleasant and safer. We didn’t drive that long with them on but from what I can tell, they aren’t confused by yard lights in the distance which is also pretty interesting. They only dim for car lights coming at you. Great technology.
Today Mark was even in worse shape. We were going to go to Mud Creek Flat to see if we could find some black bears but that was cancelled, also the road still sucked. We talked to locals about Highway #263 and they are about to impeach the Minister of Highways over how long it has been under construction. Also they said, “don’t take it after this rain.”
We had planned to hike to LaColle Falls Hydroelectric Dam today but as well but looking at Mark, he needed to head home so we grabbed some food and got him back to Saskatoon.
In talking with Mark, the heated front seat of the Escape made the trip for him. Yes he was on painkillers but he said he felt uncomfortable as soon as the heated seat turned off and felt better as soon as the seat kicked back in. On the way up, you would see it turn off and then a moment later Mark would take up, hit the button and go back to sleep. I am glad it made him that much more comfortable. His condition got a lot worse and we found out it was a lacerated kidney (when he gets hurt, he doesn’t mess around) and the afternoon was spent at Royal University Hospital where he was diagnosed to be messed up but he will heal which is good news.
In the end, it wasn’t the trip I had planed (we are blaming Mark for that) but it relaxing and it was nice to check out the Ford Escape on a trip like this. Here are some thoughts.
- We took 4.5 three season sleeping backs, a medium sized cooler, three camera bags, three tripods, four pillows and some extra blankets. There were also four backpacks in there and we had lots of room in the back. The Escape holds a lot of stuff for weekend trips like this.
- It’s powerful. When I had to pass, the engine didn’t even work up a sweat. It never kicked into a passing gear despite firing us forward. It may be the form of a SUV but it’s soul is a sports car. The EcoBoost engine is one part of the equation but so is the really smooth and always ready to go 6 speed transmission.
- I like the addition spot for your phone/fob on the console. I think it’s new for 2017 and it’s a nice touch.
- For the first time ever, I actually plugged my iPod Nano into the sound system and played music rather than just ESPN Radio. The sound system is amazing. Rich highs and lows. Ford did a great job with this.
- I’ll toss this in with what I didn’t like. I was was flipping through the audio sources and I saw Spotify was playing. Umm, that isn’t cool. I pay data for Spotify and when I sync’d my phone, it didn’t say it would access any online music services or use my phone data without me knowing it. Also I had disabled Android Auto when I plugged in my phone. It wasn’t something I was thrilled with considering all I wanted was to charge my phone.
I get grief every single time that I say that the Ford Escape is my favorite car out there. We are a family of four. We live for weekend trips like this or heading out to the mountains to hike in the summer. We have a dog that is rowdy. This vehicle works so well for us because when Mark was sick, it was big enough for Mark to ride up front and Wendy to be comfortable in the back. It is big enough to hold our gear without thinking too much about it (although if I owned one, I would have a carrying rack up top for camping). I could tow an ultra light tent trailer behind it. Most of all, I really enjoy driving it.
I have been in love with the Ford Escape for years and in 2017 Ford made it better.