Cross Canada Road Trip – Part I
Three days into our road trip and with every passing hour, I feel more and more alive, full and free. I knew we made the right decision to drive (instead of fly) the moment we hit the road.
I have never been a planner when it comes to travel. I would typically just book the plane ticket and the rest would happen when we get there. This trip is no different. We budgeted ten days for the road trip but didn’t book any accommodations along the way. I really wanted to take our time getting from place to place and didn’t want to stick to a schedule and feel rushed.
And because we didn’t book anything, I knew I still had a stab at convincing the hubs to camp. We were warned by friends that it would take us three days to get out of Ontario. I really wanted to take advantage and camp one last time before we left Ontario. Luck for me, the hubs agreed to camping all three days in Ontario!
Day 1: Fairbanks Provincial Park
Distance Travelled: 431 km
GPS Travel Time: 4 hours 21 minutes
Actual Travel Time: 6 hours 13 minutes
First day on the road, my mind was consumed by the fact that I had to say goodbye to my parents. We’ve actually been living with them for the past six weeks because we found a tenant for our house. Being back at home and living in tight quarters with them, I thought I would go insane. But surprisingly, the past six weeks has gotten me to be closer to my mom than I ever had. We had many great chats and it reminded me of many fond childhood memories. While this is great for our relationship, it made saying ‘goodbye’ much much harder.
The drive was pretty calm and uneventful. We left two hours behind schedule but we made good progress and made it to our campsite by dinner time. Daryl, who has been sleeping in a crib since birth, was very excited to find himself confined to a “crib” that also housed his big sis and his mom and dad. Thankfully, both kiddos were fairly tired and went down after about 30 minutes of pillow tossing and cuddling.
The campgrounds were nice and quiet. Given that it is peak season and right before the August Civic long weekend, I was surprised that it wasn’t fully booked. We had neighbours to our left and right but none in front, which was nice. Fairbanks facilities were of the older generation but clean nonetheless.
The grounds were quite pebbly and since we only had one air mattress due to limited cargo space, the hubs had to tough it out with only a throw blanket as his sleeping pad. The temperatures were perfect for outdoor camping and thank goodness for bug lanterns. They worked like magic.
Day 2: White Lakes Provincial Park
Distance Travelled: 627 km
GPS Travel Time: 6 hours 59 minutes
Actual Travel Time: 8 hours 06 minutes
It was a long drive today made worse by the fact that both kids had to take frequent washroom breaks. I thought that apricots would be a healthy road trip snack. It was indeed very well received but it also caused numerous no. 2 episodes (duh!). On one occasion, Daryl’s was so bad it required a total wipe down from head to toe.
Due to the delays, we opted to grab A&W along the way instead of cooking at the campsite. If anyone decides to make this road trip, I recommend against going to this A&W in Marathon, Ontario. The food was way below standard and did not taste fresh. I could taste the staleness in the batter that was used to deep fry the chicken fingers. I guess when a location is this remote, they restock pretty infrequently. Huge shame.
I’ve done this drive in the past when I did a camping trip to Lake Superior during the fall time many many years ago. It was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever experienced. While there were no fall colours this time around, it was still really picturesque to see the elevations of trees and mountains in the far distance and having Lake Superior to our left. Once in a while, an opening would appear amongst the trees and you can see the endless body of water stretch into the distance. It was neat to see small waterfront properties perched along the waters edge.
This park has several beaches, which unfortunately, we did not get to enjoy because of our late arrival. It was after sunset by the time we arrived and we quickly hurried to setup our tent before the rain started to pour. We were welcomed by toads and grasshoppers during my mini venture to the comfort station with Blythe. She totally enjoyed it despite it being pitch black.
The cleanest it can get according to campsite cleanliness. Their facilities were a step up from the previous campgrounds with washroom doors that swing out instead of in (a big pet peeve of mine). I was also pleasantly surprised by how warm the water was in the shower stalls.
Day 3: Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park
Distance Travelled: 381 km
GPS Travel Time: 4 hours 13 minutes
Actual Travel Time: 4 hours 06 minutes
Being a Torontonian, it is rather hard to ‘wow’ us with a waterfall since we are the beholders of Niagara Falls. However, there was always a commercial appeal to Niagara Falls that made it too touristy for my liking. I appreciate that Kakabeka Falls is surrounded by nature, with its body of water running through a valley that continues for miles and eventually flows into Lake Superior. It is breathtaking in a naturally majestic way.
An easy four hour drive and there was no hiking required to get to the attraction point. We did make the mistake of parking at our campsite and walking back towards the entrance of the park to see the waterfall. According to the park staff, the scenic hiking trail that used to connect the campgrounds to the waterfall was shut down due to low usage and therefore, we had to walk on the road without any shade. The walk back was extra brutal due to the incline.
The main attraction of the park is obviously the waterfall. Day users simply park their car at the parking lot and walk a short distance to see the waterfall. There are a few hiking trails that break off from the waterfall, which we did not undertake as we were already quite tired from our hike from the campgrounds to the waterfall. We also stopped along the way at a kid’s playground, a nice surprise for the kiddos.
It was indeed a busy weekend on the campgrounds. Every site surrounding us was occupied. Majority were RV campers and therefore, the comfort stations were still relatively quiet and not highly utilized, which was nice. Since the drive was relatively short, we had several hours to take things slowly. After returning from seeing the waterfall, we set-up our tent and got to making dinner. There was not a cloud to be see in the sky. The evening was nice and calming. It was a lovely way to spend our last night in Ontario before we hit the road tomorrow for Manitoba.
We have now surpassed the farthest point I’ve ever been to within Ontario. Thinking back to my Lake Superior camping trip more than ten years back, I was still single and working an accounting job. My life is so different now in such a fuller way. I am no longer in accounting and now pursuing my dream of running my own businesses. I have my own family now with two kids whom I dedicate my life to. The past ‘me’ seems like a complete stranger. Looking back, I would never have been able to predict my life today.
All this to say, we can’t predict the future and the past is the past (that is neatly stored away and cherished). What matters most is what happens right now in this very moment, spent with the people around me and the experience I am having.
So far, we’ve covered 1,439 km, three gorgeous Ontario camp sites alongside the beautiful Lake Superior, a picturesque waterfall, some inspiring conversations between the hubs and I while driving, and some fond Blythe and Daryl moments. What’s next on the list? Probably a day or two in Winnipeg. We shall see when we get there. There really is no rush 😉