The Route: Nanaimo-PEI-Nanaimo 2012

West to East: Nanaimo, BC to East Bideford, PEI

Day 1, May 31: Nanaimo, BC to Langley, BC

A two-hour ferry ride and an hour of driving. I overnight at my dear friend Debbie’s, while Pai is very graciously put up by Natasha, where Deb’s horse boards.

Day 2, June 1: Langley, BC to Salmon Arm, BC  (444 km)

A rainy, foggy drive up the Coquihalla between Hope and Merritt, and then sunshine the rest of the way to Salmon Arm. We camp at Topline Stables and Show Park. Just over 5 hours of driving time.

Day 3, June 2: Salmon Arm, BC to Canmore, AB (409 km)

A winding, uphill and downhill drive through Rogers Pass and Kicking Horse Pass, down into the  Bow Valley. We have a nice hour-long stop for lunch in Golden. Just over 5 hours of driving.  We camp at the Riding Association property in Canmore.

Day 4, June 3: Canmore

Riding the trails out of Canmore.

Day 5, June 4: Canmore, AB to Taber, AB (377 km)

An easy drive with few hills, except for the excitement of driving a trailer through Calgary. Note to self: avoid Calgary in future – learn to read instructions, and follow Vanessa’s advice to take the road to Bragg Creek. We stop for lunch in tiny Nanton. Vanessa hosts us for the night. Driving time 4 and 1/4 hours of driving time.

Day 6, June 5: Taber, AB to Cypress Hills Park, SK (268 km)

A side-trip of just over an hour off the Trans Canada at Maple Creek down to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. The road to the park is as steep and winding as the sign says; the gravel roads are soft after the rain. The road down into the camp is scary steep. Driving time about 4 and 1/4 hours.

Day 7, June 6: Cypress Hills, SK to Swift Current, SK (190 km)

A short hop to Swift Current for the night. We camp at the fairgrounds, Kinetic Park. Driving time 2 and 1/2 hours.

Day 8, June 7: Swift Current, SK to Fleming, SK (464 km)

Flat prairie driving, and it’s easy to have a lead foot. We lunch under the giant moose in Moose Jaw. We camp at Rick and Beryl’s farm just off the Trans Canada. About 4 and 1/4 hours driving time.

Day 9, June 8: Fleming, SK to Richer, MB (420 km)

Manitoba is flatter than Saskatchewan and Alberta. It’s really, really flat, and the roads are really, really straight. Driving time just under 5 hours.

Day 10, June 9: Richer, MB to Dryden, ON (288 km)

We camp at Artimowich Quarter Horses, technically in Eton-Rugby, just west of Dryden. We lunch at a little roadside picnic area. Driving time about 3 1/2 hours.

Day 11, June 10: Dryden, ON to Thunder Bay, ON (364 km)

We camp at Royal Denver Farms, in Murillo, on the outskirts of Thunder Bay. Driving time 4 1/2 hours.

Day 12, June 11: Thunder Bay, ON to Geraldton, ON (289 km)

Views of the Sleeping Giant, winding roads and beautiful red rock heading out to Nipigon, and lovely views along the shores of Lake Nipigon. Driving time 3 and 1/2 hours. We camp at North Winds Farm. Driving time 3 1/2 hours.

Day 13, June 12: Geraldton, ON to New Liskeard, ON (691 km)

Straight road with nothing but trees, for 300km between Longlac and Hearst. Zero cell service (no Telus, no Rogers). We lunch in the miserable cold and rain in Hearst. Driving time 7 and 1/4 hours. Camped at Connie and Dave’s near Belle Vallée.

Day 14, June 13: New Liskeard, ON to Cornwall, ON (684 km)

Lovely stretch of road between New Liskeard and North Bay. We lunch at a super-terrific spot in Cobden, just east of Petawawa – it is a gorgeous little tidy treed picnic-info-camping area right on the Ottawa River, with water and bathrooms. Took the 416 down to the 401 to avoid Ottawa rush hour traffic; TomTom calculated that it added 11 minutes to the route but I am sure we made that up twice over by avoiding the city traffic. Pai stays at Peter’s and I am at my Dad’s, 10 minutes away. Driving time: 8 hours, 20 minutes.

Days 15-18: Cornwall

Visiting my Dad, riding on Peter’s farm and on the X-country ski trails nearby.

Day 19, June 18: Cornwall, ON to Edmundston, NB (661 km)

Half of the oh-so-familiar drive from Cornwall to PEI. Half hour construction delay at the Lafontaine tunnel in Montreal at 27 degrees C, otherwise, no real hitches. Camped at Riverside Iroquois RV Park. Driving time approximately 7 hrs

Day 20, June 19: Edmundston, NB to East Bideford, PE (617 km)

Stopped for lunch in Fredericton with a fellow soap-maker. Had a big grin on my face as I crossed the hump on the bridge and could see the PEI red mud. Driving time approximately 6 hrs

Total East-West driving time: 71 1/2 hours.

East-West: East Bideford, PE to Nanaimo, BC

Return Trip, Day 1, Sept 3: East Bideford, PE to Edmundston, NB (617 km)

Sadness and last-minute chores delay departure until 11 am. Blow-out eats up some time, and we don’t arrive at Junie and Larry’s until just after 7 pm. Driving time 6 1/4 hours.

Return Trip, Day 2, Sept 4: Edmundston, NB to Cornwall, ON (661 km)

Another tire blow-out keeps things exciting. All of Quebec is under construction. All of it. No delays, though – they do construction right in la belle provence. Montreal at rush hour, however, was a disaster. Two hours to get from one side of the city to the other. Absolutely pissing rain for an hour out of Montreal – worst driving weather on the entire trip. Driving time almost 8 1/2 hours.

Return Trip, Day 3, Sept 5: Cornwall

Hanging out with my Dad.

Return Trip, Day 4, Sept 6: Cornwall, ON to Sudbury, ON (597 km)

We leave with no set destination, but en route Hillsview agrees to take us in. We lunch again at the lovely Cobden picnic area, and take another break overlooking gorgeous Lake Nipissing. Driving time almost 7 hours.

Return Trip, Day 5, Sept 7: Sudbury, ON to Sault Ste Marie, ON (308 km)

En route, I’m constantly on the lookout for somewhere to ride, and constantly coming up dry. Finally hit the ATV trails south of Elliot Lake for a couple of hours.  I camp in my rig at Louise’s, and Pai is stabled at her old barn. Driving time approximately 4 hours.

Return Trip, Day 6, Sept 8: Sault Ste Marie, ON to Terrace Bay, ON (482 km)

A gorgeous drive along the hills and curves of Lake Superior’s lakeshore. We camp at Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, Rossport campground. Driving time about 5 3/4 hours.

Return Trip, Day 7, Sept 9: Terrace Bay, ON to Wabigoon, ON (547 km)

Another gorgeous drive through pink rock and myriad lakes. Driving time 5 1/2 hours.

Return Trip, Day 8, Sept 10: Wabigoon, ON to Wasagaming, MB (648 km)

Ontario: rocks and lakes. Manitoba: flat. Driving time just over 7 1/2 hours.

Return Trip, Day 9, Sept 11: Riding Mountain

Riding the trails at Lake Audy (Grasshopper Valley loop).

Return Trip, Day 10, Sept 12: Wasagaming to Swift Current, SK (638 km)

It’s a big flat land. Driving time just over 7 hours.

Return Trip, Day 11, Sept 13: Swift Current to Taber, AB (323 km)

An afternoon departure after a good morning ride. Driving time 3 1/2 hours.

Return Trip, Day 12, Sept 14: Taber, AB to Sheep River Park, AB (273 km)

All paved roads, even into the park. Driving time 3 1/2 hours.

Return Trip, Day 13, Sept 15: Sheep River

Riding the trails out of the Sandy McNabb equestrian campground.

Return Trip, Day 14, Sept 16 : Sheep River, AB to Salmon Arm, BC (592 km)

Twisty turn-y driving through the mountains. Driving time 6 hours.

Return Trip, Day 15, Sept 17: Salmon Arm, BC to Nanaimo, BC (470 km)

Easy driving down the Coquihalla. Driving time 5 1/2 hours.

Total driving time: 70 hours


Driving the southern TC through Sault Ste Marie instead of the Northern route through Kapuskasing saved an hour of travel for the same point-to-point distance. It is hillier and has more curves, but is far, far less demanding than, say, driving through the mountains in BC. It is more scenic, has better cell service, and has more services in general. The overall driving time was about 2-4 hours slower than driving without a horse, if you exclude my riding detours.

Google Maps almost always over-estimated my driving time, sometimes by well over an hour; I believe Google relies on posted speed limits, which is not how I drive, even with a horse on board. TomTom almost always under-estimated my driving time by 10-20 minutes, which is understandable since TomTom uses the average speed people drive, and I drove somewhat slower than that while hauling.

I spent about $2000 on fuel in each direction, with gas ranging from $1.16 to $1.51 per litre, with an average price of $1.30/L.

I spent about $365 total on accommodations for myself and the steed. Prices ranged from $10 to $54*. That averages out to about $10 per night, or, if you strictly consider places where I wasn’t relying on the kindness of friends, families, and new acquaintances, about $26/night. The most expensive places were provincial park campgrounds. (*The two nights at Riding Mountain upped the average, since I was paying about $32 for myself and $22 for the horse, far, far more than at any other venue. If you exclude Riding Mountain, the average would be $22/night).


3 thoughts on “The Route: Nanaimo-PEI-Nanaimo 2012

  1. I’m confused. Are you riding a horse coast to coast or are you driving a vehicle, towing a horse, and stopping for trail rides along the way?

    • Hi Eric – it’s a road trip from BC to PEI with the gee-gee, so I’m towing my gal and stopping for rides along the route 🙂

  2. Thanks. Either way, it is a trip of a lifetime. I rode my motorcycle to AK many years ago and met a man who was riding his horse from Fairbanks to Seattle. No internet in those days so no way to follow along. I’m looking forward to hearing about your trip. The Maritimes are beautiful, but so is BC!

    Eric (So Cal)

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