We were prepared for a long day of travel from Sleeping Giant to Blue Lake Provincial Park so we were on the road before 7am. Fortunately for us, the wildlife was on the move too! We saw a couple deer while brushing our teeth. Within our first 10 minutes on the road, Paigey achieved a lifelong dream of seeing a moose in the wild. Although I must say, she did misidentify it at first as a bird. Then I suggested it was a deer. As the jeep got closer, it started running down the road and voila a baby moose. Even the kids in the back got to see it, so check that one off the list!
We had some time to check out Kakabeka Falls on the west side of Thunder Bay. I remembered being terrified at walking the bridge that used to cross the falls. It was one of those metal see-thru bridges and the terror is seared into my memory (I’m terrified of heights). Fortunately, 30 years later it wasn’t that scary as there are robust planks that make the crossing seem like any normal bridge crossing. The kids were upset I wasn’t super scared. We did a quick hike, found some hares and watched the cascading falls.
To set some context, you first need to know that I try to walk 5km each morning before the kids wake up. So there I was, walking outside the steel mill in Sault Ste Marie at 6am when a Jeep rolls to a stop alongside me. The window rolls down and a woman leans out and yells: ”Hey was that you taking over the gym this morning?”. I momentarily blank but then clue in and admit that yes, it was me. She then apologizes for her son being such a jerk and kicking me out of the gym. I shrug my shoulders and tell her he will be a great Pokemon champion. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, you obviously don’t play Pokemon Go.
Anyways we left the relatives early in the morning having received a download of the key lookouts on the drive ahead of us. We said our goodbyes and were on our way with the bikes tightly secured. Our first stop was Chippewa falls where the kids got to hike and use the washroom. This was going to be one of those days with multiple washroom stops. We then stopped a further down the highway to eat some world-famous apple fritters at the Voyageurs’ Lodge near Batchwana Bay. There is an entire rack full of individual fritters waiting for people to grab. There must have been 100+ sitting there and we watched a procession of cars stop to pick a couple up. For the first time in our lives, Paige and I did the sensible thing and bought one and shared it. We ignored the sign that said there was no tax charged if you purchased six. We only needed the one, they were ginormous.
A thousand days of planning and somehow I am left scrambling the day before. We were making good progress but then our youngest got sick the other day and that threw a wrench into things. We are just happy she had wrapped up the last of her play dates and birthday parties this past weekend. So for the last couple of days, she’s been staying at home watching me attempt to fit a ridiculous amount of gear into a finite space. That and watching TV. I think she knows TV will be hard to come by and is getting all the viewing she can right now.
Anyways, we’ve crossed off a bunch of loose ends this last week.
Storage – We rented a small locker to store the items our renters probably don’t need or want to see. It is pretty much full now. One final run to today and then I will padlock it and see it again in a year. I am embarrassed to say it, but I would not be upset if 75% of the stuff were to disappear.
A week ago, we loaded up the vehicle and did a trial run to see how prepared we were for the cross-Canada leg of our trip. We had not had the chance to “field test” some of our gear and wanted to try it out during a three-day camping trip at a nearby provincial park.
I borrowed my dad’s Jeep, installed the roof carrier and attached the bikes onto the back. I struggled with the roof carrier as it took me a while to figure out that I was blocking the locking mechanisms which was preventing it from closing. Once I figured that out, I spent a couple hours loading up the vehicle to determine the best packing configuration. I had two main goals: I wanted to have an unobstructed view out the rear window and the kids needed to have an unencumbered ride (i.e. nothing at their feet or beside them). We managed to achieve both of those goals. In the future, I’m hoping I can do better than two hours.
Since the itinerary has been discussed recently I thought of giving an update on some of the other progress we have made. The other day Paige and I were remarking that we still have some things to take care of but it feels like a lot of the “heavy-lifting” is done.
Getting the Jeep Ready – We got roof rails installed (my dad actually did it) and we bought a second-hand Thule cargo carrier for the roof. We also have car seat organizers for the kid’s stuff. We just need to put new tires on the vehicle, get it serviced and she is ready to go. We are actually outfitting the Jeep for a trial camping run this weekend with all the gear.
Bikes for the Road Trip – We replaced the stolen adult bikes with second-hand bikes and got them serviced. We purchased bike locks and have confirmed that the children’s helmets fit. Now we just have to get Julie off training wheels.
This is our projected itinerary for the second part of our cross-Canada journey. It picks up where Part 1 left off. The purpose of this leg is to get us down the west coast to Vancouver. There’s some decent mileage to cover but a far more relaxed atmosphere once we get to Vancouver Island. But getting there is half the fun right?
So as the days get closer, the excitement and nervousness builds. We are making progress as we have knocked a bunch of things off the list. All our vaccinations are wrapped up and paid for. We replaced the bikes that were “stolen”. We applied for new credit cards and opened a new bank account. And we have had fun conversations with friends and family about our plans. Recently a friend of mine told me: “You are supposed to be planning a trip around the world, when are you going to tell me something exciting about it”. So I’ve taken her advice and unlike previous posts about logistics, this one is focused solely on the journey. That is to say, no talk about budgeting, insurance or money, just places and things to look forward to.
We have started getting some of our ducks in a row for our cross-Canada leg of the trip. The first concrete decision is we’ve made the choice not to bring our electric car. This was a tough one as I was pretty confident we could have made the route work from a charging/mileage standpoint. In the end, it was the cargo space that led us to this decision. It is just too small and will not hold the gear we plan on bringing. Essentially we want the kids to have some comfort and we don’t want stuff piled on the children as we drive a few thousand kilometres. We haven’t yet made a decision as to what we will do with the car but I will either have to sell it, loan it out or take it off the road. That is a decision for another day.
In a previous post, I shared that we are only able to spend ninety consecutive days in Europe due to visa limitations. Our original plan of four months in Europe needs to be scaled back to three. That means we are going to allocate an extra month to our travel through North America. After a few weeks of pouring over maps of Canada and the United States, we have selected a “stretch” destination for the family. We should try and fit the Yukon into our dream trip. More specifically Kluane National Park.
Last year we became a ONE car family. The reasons were threefold. First, I was not working. Second, we moved to a house that was within shouting distance of the subway. Finally, our second car had a major malfunction that we decided not to get fixed. Giving up that second car was a blessing in disguise.
We had always thought we would end up getting a new car when I went back to work. It would be that new car that we would drive across Canada in two years time. Now we do not see that happening. The question now is if our current car can handle the task.