Highway 11 posed some interesting challenges to say the least. As it was not the Trans Canada, it was a little narrower than Highway 17, not a big deal we can manage that. Turns out it is the major trucking route from Nipigon to North Bay (found that out in Kenora thanks to Uncle David) All that aside it is not that bad, all the truckers are very courteous and we can work with it.
Narrower roads mean smaller shoulders most of the time. Again nothing we can’t handle, just means some maneuvering with the motorhome, hanging back then leapfrogging ahead.
The lack of places and roadside pullouts was an interesting challenge as turning this unit in a small area is not an easy task, backing up is virtually impossible without wrecking anything due to the two swivel points on the car dolly. This has made for some interesting situations that I have had to come to the rescue. When Mom or Kristie get into a ‘Situation’ all I hear is “Jimmy can you fix it?”
The challenge was trying to end our days at a location that was conducive to turning around the next morning so that we could start where we left off, which we managed to do without too much issue. But when you don’t know where the next opportunity is you sometimes don’t pass one up when you are there (making some shorter and some longer days). When we have to back track to a campground, the issue becomes turning around to go back, the next morning is easy to drive straight up. Then again when we have to go forward at night then track back in the morning we have to make sure that we end at a good turn around as well.
Then we get into the issue of it being remote and not many towns in between, which has its issues due to the lack of campgrounds out this way as it is not a major tourist route or destination. After staying at a few roadside rest areas and having a bear come visit one night sniffing around the motorhome, we try to travel to the next campground even if it is a 45 minute drive! Just to have power for the air conditioning as the motorhome is like a sauna when left in the heat for a while, which makes it difficult to sleep and also wakes up and activates the mosquitoes who sneaked in during the day.
We had the pleasure of being a part of the Canada Day celebration in a little town called Geraldton ON, which was on July 2nd not the 1st due to the parade being canceled from the rain. It was a lot of fun and there was tons of support out for the parade. The kids ran out of Canada flag tattoos and pencils after a couple of blocks and we bought about a hundred of each!
We were warned about the bugs up on this northern route by some family that lived in the area. I thought to myself, how bad could it really be…the mosquitoes couldn’t be any worse than we were used to at home or experienced in the bush when hiking, and they weren’t that bad, they were relentless but a little bug spray (and Vicks behind the ears) kept them at bay. What we had not experienced up to this point was the little flies that look like a sand fly or a bigger version of a fruit fly, they were horrendous and vicious. After settling down one night, Mom came in and the back of her neck and ears were just covered in blood from all the bites she received from these little pests, which caused us to break out the head nets. Turns out the bug spray we brought with us from home doesn’t work on these little bugs and we had to switch to the local concoction ‘Great Outdoors by Watkins’. This combined with head nets reduced the attacks significantly! And my bug net will be a staple in my back country pack from now on.
It was great to see some family in Hearst that I hadn’t seen in years and catch up. There were not to many hills in the area which was really nice for walking but the scenery was the same for the last few weeks being all swamp and bush. It felt like groundhog day for me for a few weeks.
A few days later we were in Moonbeam where Dad was born and raised for the first few years of his life and we seen and had to get pictures with the Spaceship!
We camped for a few nights at Remi Lake which was a place that I remembered Dad talking about. It was a beautiful lake and the sunsets were stunning! Turns out there is a Lefebvre road on the other side of the lake and the lady that owns the campground is a cousin of Dad’s, which was ironic and cool!
We turned back south at Driftwood towards Timmins, the last place Dad lived prior to heading out west. We were in dense forest still and will be for some time but all is well and things are rolling along quite nicely.
Timmins has been an Incredible welcome. The local newspaper picked up our story, interestingly enough the reporter who wrote the story for the Daily Herald Tribune in Grande Prairie when we left was the same reporter who picked up the story in Timmins as he had relocated there a while back.
I had one of the town councillors reach out to me and offered me the opportunity to come and address town council on Tuesday night prior to us walking through town Wednesday. I didn’t realize it at the time until after but town council meetings were televised and live to town. All of the media were there and I was introduced to them as well, which was great to put a face to the name. Kristie and the kids were having dinner at a fellow Co-operators Advisors house and watched the whole thing on T.V. Sebastian also lined up a shoe donation for me with one of the local Orthotics clinics that he knew, so now I am rolling in new balance shoes for a change from my Asics which have been great so far.
The next day we went back to our starting point and headed into town with a plan of meeting up with a bunch of people and media this morning. There was a HUGE crowd that turned out to walk with us through town. There was representation from two local radios, and a couple radio jockeys who walked with us though town, Rick (one of the town councillors) walked with us for a long ways, Sebastian, his wife and daughter walked with us for a good distance, we had a Police escort through town and also had the Fire department walk and roll along with us. The fire department gave us a donation and some hats as well. The kids had the opportunity to ride in the fire truck for a few minutes until they of course got a call and they had to take the kids out and take off in a hurry. Because the kids were rushed to get into the fire truck the boys didn’t have their shoes on and had to walk up to the motor home in sock feet for a half a block, which was comical. So far the biggest and best reception that we have had along with the biggest day for donations was Timmins. Thank you to all of you in Timmins and your generosity!
The Lefebvre Foundation was created in memory of Simon Lefebvre, who died of cancer in 2016. The Foundation’s goal is to raise endowment funds to help society become and live cancer free through the effective use of awareness, education, support and treatment for the physical and mental health and well-being of all those who are affected by cancer.
The Can-Survive Walk is a 5,716-kilometre walk being completed by Simon’s son, Jimmy Lefebvre and his family. The Lefebvre’s will walk 7.2 million steps from Grande Prairie, Alberta to Saint Louis, Prince Edward Island between May 1 and August 31, 2018.
To support the Can-Survive Walk, visit our Donations page. Donations both big and small will go towards the L Foundation’s endowment fund. Thanks in advance for your support! To date, over $28,500 has been raised to eradicate this dreadful illness. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, over 80,000 people in Canada died from the disease in 2017.