At the end of June to the first part of July, we were touring around southern Ontario! With me on maternity leave, and Matt getting some decent vacation time at his current job, we wanted to take the opportunity to pack up M and A and visit all of the grandparents and family members we haven’t seen in awhile — especially those who had yet to meet A.
We decided to drive, which I was dreading, but flying, renting a car, renting car seats… it was going to be chaotic either way, so I’d rather have less expensive chaos. I packed very, very lightly and we managed to cram everyone and everything into my teeny Focus. Like we did when we went on vacation with baby M, we broke the travel up into more manageable days.
This is old hat to us, though it was A’s first time in the car for that long, since he was born and we had to bring him back from Winnipeg. We left when Matt got home from work, drove into the dark, and A screamed for a good hour at the end. We stayed at the Victoria Inn, which we arrived at around 11 p.m. I kept the kids quiet as we got into our room — a poolside room I’d selected, so M and Matt could get out to the pool in the morning we left without a hassle — but Matt accidentally knocked into the conjoining door to the next room, jostling it slightly with his backside. And then a male voice snarled from the other side, “SHUT THE F*CK UP AND LET US SLEEP!”
Matt looked at me. I looked at Matt. We looked at the door. I wasn’t sure if he was going to go after the door or call the front desk — he picked up the phone and told them we needed a room with “someone less grumpy” on the other side. So they moved us upstairs where there were no neighbours (even though my kids were STILL being quiet). While we waited for the front desk to bring us our new keys, I planted myself in front of said door and narrated loudly to M about how we were leaving for a new room because the person in the room next door was a very angry person with no manners. Because f*ck you, dude.
The next day: Sault Ste. Marie is a reasonable drive from Thunder Bay, given that we end up adding about four hours to each long haul trip for nursing breaks, leg stretches, eating, bathroom breaks, etc. When we woke up in Thunder Bay I sent Matt and M down to the pool, packed up a bunch of our stuff, and brought it out to the car along with A. It was pouring rain but I wanted Persians! So I drove around the corner to the Persian Man bakery and that’s what I brought back for breakfast. Once we hauled M out of the pool and got everyone dry and dressed we set out on the highway, with nothing but rain in the forecast.
The whole journey was wet and foggy. We stopped in a few places, notably Schrieber where M tried to use a playground slide and got soaked, Bruce Mines to buy some things at a Mennonite farmers market, and White River for a stretch and some photos with Winnie the Pooh. We saw the brand new Wawa goose, had dinner in Marathon, and got into the Soo after dark, checking in to the Algoma Water Tower Inn. And then we all passed out.
Manitoulin is a short jaunt from the Soo so we actually had time to be leisurely! We got up in the morning, ate our discounted hotel breakfast at the onsite restaurant (it was good; A made a huge mess; we left a huge tip to try to make up for it), and headed to the pool. The Algoma has a great pool setup — a small children’s wading pool, an indoor hot tub, an outdoor hot tub, and a decently heated indoor pool, too. M had a blast going from pool to pool, while A experienced a swimming pool for the first time, much to his delight.
We checked out at the last possible moment and drove to the mall, because thankfully, this was yet another trip that coincided with my ring inspection schedule. Matt went clothes shopping while A, M and I had my ring checked, then went for ice cream at Laura Secord. One of M’s bucket list things for this trip was to try all different kinds of ice cream, and this was stop number one! I also introduced her to the concept of a dollar store, which blew her three-year-old mind.
With errand running out of the way, we hit the road, expecting to be on the island by dinner. We didn’t stop much — Espanola for fudge, and Little Current for Farhquar’s ice cream once we crossed over onto the island. We pulled up to Matt’s aunt’s house where M had a blast meeting all of the animals on their hobby farm — geese, quail, chickens, a goat, horses, you name it — and we had a delicious meal before settling in at their A-frame cottage on Lake Kagawong.
We were slow to rise in the morning, with Matt cooking up a classic bacon and eggs breakfast before we finally roused ourselves enough to get into the car and head to Mindemoya for a farmers market and for M to check out the playground and Canada Day festivities. The playground there was lovely, and there were bouncy castles so she was basically in heaven. It was hard to pull her away, but we had plans to go to a powwow in Sheguiandah.
At Sheguiandah, we toured around all of the various food vendors, picking up bannock tacos — they call bannock ‘scones’ there! — and chili and all kinds of other good stuff. The dancing was phenomenal, too. Eventually we had to leave because the kids were getting rangy and I knew I needed to pick up warmer clothes back at the cottage before we spent the evening on the beach at Providence Bay. I tried to GPS our way back to the cottage, which was… not a good idea.
Long story short we went in the right direction, but the road we went on, although it technically could’ve got us there, slowly turned into a dirt path, then a rock path, then a mud pit. When we passed people on a four wheeler who kind of giggled at us, we knew we were into some bad territory for a compact car — and then we found the SERIOUS mud pit. So we turned around and went back out the exact way we came, luckily managing to make it through all the obstacles we’d navigated on the way in. We rerouted ourselves onto the properly paved, maintained road to the cottage, quickly snagged our stuff and drove to Matt’s other aunt and uncle’s house.
There, we sat down (ish… thanks kids!) to a lovely dinner, after taking M over to the Providence Bay playground and beach. As soon as dinner was over she wanted to go back, so following some kid wrangling I took her back to the boardwalk. We snuck in another round of ice cream, then played at the playground (which is very nice) until Matt and the rest of the family arrived to get settled in to watch fireworks. We walked the length of the boardwalk first, then came back to the beach and found a spot as the sky darkened. It was a good show, and especially interesting because you could see the fireworks from other communities around the island, from a distance.
When the fireworks were over everyone walked back up to the house — while most of them headed home, we took Matt’s aunt and uncle up on the offer to warm up in their hot tub on the deck, with a glass of wine. M was not super into being in water she couldn’t swim in, so we eventually got out and headed inside, where we chatted until the wee hours. But, we had a boat to catch the next day, so we eventually rolled out back to the cottage.
Next: Manitoulin to Orangeville to Darien Lake!