The final week of our vacation was spent in Peterborough and the Ottawa Valley — we took the scenic route to our first destination, via Bobcaygeon.
The whole reason Matt took vacation time was his grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration, scheduled for an August weekend in Peterborough. We decided if we were going to head south we may as well see everyone, which is how the two week plan took shape, but the birthday party was our main reason for leaving town and we were really excited to see so many family members in one place! The relatives started pouring in a few days before the party, us included.
Between meeting and spending time with people, we explored Peterborough a bit — or, rather, Matt showed off more of his hometown to me and M. We visited a neat park, Rogers Cove, which features an awesome splash pad that I’m sure M would love to explore when she’s a bit older. This time she was content with the baby swing, waving at geese, and a look at one of the lift locks.
The party itself was a lot of fun, even though the rain refused to go away. We enjoyed awesome food, hilarious stories and jokes, music and dancing and all of that good stuff. M conked out in the evening but we were able to stay outside a bit longer once we got her into the pack n’ play. The next day we met with some friends at the Peterborough Zoo — I think Peterborough has some of the best playgrounds I’ve ever seen. The one at the zoo is gigantic and looks like a ridiculous amount of fun.
We were sad to leave, that Monday, but had to get on the road for our next and final destination. We stopped for a quick visit with friends in Belleville (hi Michelle and Isaac!) then made our way onto Highway 41 to head up to Round Lake, where my dad spends summers and most of my paternal family resides. Taking Highway 41 was kind of fun because it’s my old stomping grounds so I got to point things out to Matt along the way. This was the part where M had an awful fever, though, so we didn’t do much stopping aside from dinner at a chip stand and grabbing butter tarts.
Poor M was still not feeling well the next day, but perked up a bit when she met my cousin’s toddler daughter. They played a lot over the next few days! We split our time between the lake and my cousin’s home in Pembroke. We had a delicious dinner one night at the Nook Creperie, and of course, had to have an ice cream cone at Brum’s Dairy. Matt did a bit of fishing on the lake, I was able to catch up with people I haven’t seen in ages, and we had a good time, especially when M started to feel better.
We decided to leave ourselves plenty of time to get home, fearing a late night/early morning return followed by Matt heading back to work that Monday. So, on Friday morning we pulled out of Pembroke, with plans to overnight in Sault Ste. Marie again, then do the extra-long trip straight home on Saturday. For the record: the worst drivers I have ever encountered were ruling the roads all the way past North Bay.
Lunch was at Casey’s in Sudbury, which was nothing special but I highly recommend not putting the actual address in your iPhone’s GPS system because you will drive all over the damn city. We stayed over again at the Comfort Suites in the Sault, where we had basic takeout Boston Pizza so we’d have time to visit the saltwater pool. M loved it this time!
The next day we set out with surprisingly warm, sunny weather for travel. We stopped at Agawa Bay again, but didn’t spend as much time there because we had a really, really long drive ahead.
In Wawa, we dropped into Young’s General Store where they have interesting souvenirs and amazingly good fudge. We were looking for a good gift for our catsitters, and fudge won (plus a few bars for us!). We had a relatively uneventful drive all the way into Nipigon, where we were planning to stop for dinner. The Nipigon Drive In has best poutine I’ve eaten in Ontario, hands down. They have classic poutine with real curds and poutine sauce or ridiculous culinary experiments depending on your mood. Mine had bacon and onions and mushrooms in it!
We were supposed to fuel up in Nipigon because we had looked ahead and determined it had the cheapest gas prices in the region. With all the rush of dinner we entirely forgot and didn’t realize until we had all of seven kilometres worth of gas left showing on the gauge, with 30 kilometres back to Nipigon and 20 more to go before we hit another station. I dug out our roadside assistance card while Matt watched the gauge tick down to zero — and then we kept going. We rolled into a station outside of Shuniah, amazingly, and thankfully. I guess it’s not a road trip for us if we don’t do something stupid…
In Thunder Bay, we made a quick stop at the Target, got coffee, then drove on home. We made decent time for the big chunk of road we bit off, and M was so sleepy that she went down without a fuss (though she did perk up to play with the cats as soon as we came in). We were all pretty exhausted the next day but by Monday things felt normal again.
I’m really happy we had the opportunity to visit family and friends! Although flying is faster, road trips seem like more fun to me, and the drive is part of the experience.