Road trips rank among my favorite way to travel. Don’t get me wrong, I love planes and trains too, but there’s an excitement in a road trip that’s not always there with other forms of travel; maybe it’s those opportunities to create the journey as you’re taking it. Recently, I got to travel across Canada from Toronto to Calgary to help #BringBackWildhood on a road trip with GoRVing Canada. The purpose was to get back to those summer trips we used to have as kids. Making the trip even better was a luxurious new RV to get us there: the Leisure Vans Wonder.
For me, the highlights of traveling with an RV included being able to use the bathroom while we were driving – I drink a lot of water – and being able to keep food and drinks cold all day. We even had ice cream along with us for the trip, and there’s nothing like being able to pop open a cold beer at the end of the day. But those perks were just the icing on the cake, there was so much I loved about this #BringBackWildhood road trip. In just six days, we crossed Canada stopping wherever we pleased along the way. The sights were beautiful and I got to know a side of Canada I had never seen before.
Brendan and I left the Toronto area relatively early, but had a slow start, as we had lots of supplies to pick up for the adventure, including plenty of snacks and a variety of beer, wine, and cider. Our first of many pit stops was in Orilla – where I had my first vegetarian poutine of the trip at Brewery Bay Food Co. – and then we made it as far as Parry Sound. There, we found a last minute camp spot at the KOA. This was probably our most luxurious night of the trip, as we had water and electric hook ups. We built a fire, had s’mores with the vegan marshmallows I packed with me, and watched the Milky Way from the moon roof in the Wonder with cider in hand.
On our second day, we explored Parry Sound and were dazzled by views of Lake Superior the entire day as we drove. The lake was everywhere we looked, and it made the drive exceptionally beautiful. Having swam in Lake Michigan while in Chicago a few years back, I knew I wanted to at least dip my toes in. We stopped at Old Woman’s Bay in Lake Superior Provincial Park in the afternoon and I got that chance. It was chilly as it lapped up onto the shore, but as always was worth it.
After some beach time, we headed to Wawa to check out their famous goose statue and found a place in town for dinner. It was one of the worst meals I’ve ever had, but we had plenty of snacks and beers in our fridge and ice cream in our freezer so things could have been worse. With nowhere to sleep and campsites full for Canada’s long weekend, we got to a camping site late and found an abandoned spot to park it for the night. Even though we were in a luxury van, I’ll admit I was nervous. As a city girl, this was out of my comfort zone, but I pretended the outside didn’t exist and relaxed in the comfort of the Wonder with a beer in hand. There’s no better way to #BringBackWildhood than to be fully immersed in it and a bit out of your comfort zone.
After surviving the night, I was a bit dramatic I’ll admit, our third day found us still trucking along through Ontario with lots of scenic stops on the journey. First, we found our way to Aguasabon Falls & Gorge. It was a small waterfall, but the views of Lake Superior made the pit stop worth it. Then, we headed to the Terry Fox Scenic Memorial. I had never heard of Terry Fox, but learning about his journey across Canada with one leg was one of the most touching and inspirational stories I’ve ever heard. We ended the afternoon at one more waterfall, and it was the most impressive of the trip: Kakabeka Falls.
That evening we found an available camping spot at Sandbar Provincial Park and parked our Wonder. While we didn’t have water or electric hookups, it was nice to be in a beautiful location. There were woods behind our camping spot that led to water. It was the perfect spot to end our day, and I even built my first campfire, although it was only moderately successful. Either way, it was my way of making a contribution to #BringBackWildhood on this trip.
Early the next morning we checked out the lake at the campsite and decided to head out early, making our way to Kenora. We grabbed lunch at Lake of the Woods Brewing Company and bought a few beers for that night. Then, we finally made our way out of Ontario and into Manioba.
We didn’t have a lot of time in Manitoba, but we made the most of it. Winnipeg was the major stop in the province and it was there that we headed to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The architecture of the building was beautiful and there were plenty of lessons to be learned. As a teacher, I spent a lot of time on human rights, especially before teaching about the Holocaust and other genocides around the world. It’s a place I would have loved to have taken my classes.
After the museum, we felt it was important to fill up on some food before hiting the road again, so we found Smoke’s Poutinerie. I’ve been to Smoke’s in Toronto, and I knew they had a variety of options for vegetarians, which was exciting. I opted for the veggie nacho and it was everything I could have dreamed of. After a pit stop at Tim Horton’s for an iced cap and my newest obsession: vanilla dip donuts, we were back on the road towards Saskatchewan.
Based on location, I was a bit worried about our time in Saskatchewan. I knew way ahead of time, it was going to be flat and remind me of the middle of the United States and my journey across country last September. Adding to things, we didn’t enter the province until late at night, and it was buggy, I mean really buggy. There were several hilarious moments like being attacked by bugs as we tried to take photos by the welcome sign or when we thought it was raining as we were driving, but we were really just hitting mosquitoes as we drove. My introduction to the province was a rough one, especially since we couldn’t find camping and wound up staying at a truck stop. But the next day, the province took me by surprise, and I saw it’s beauty.
Sure, it was flat, but we pulled off to take pictures and fly Brendan’s drone, and there was something peaceful and calming about the stillness. It wasn’t something I could stay immersed in for long periods of time, but it was beautiful in it’s own way – a way I previously hadn’t realized.
It was sad to finally enter Alberta because it meant our trip was slowly coming to an end. We headed for Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, which is right near Brendan’s uncle’s farm. We went for a hike among the hoodoos and even managed to see a rattlesnake. Then, we made our way to the farm where we had our first shower since the first night. If #BringBackWildhood was all about getting a bit dirty and back to our natural selves, we were playing along quite well. But that’s usually half the fun of traveling for me, getting a bit dirtier than you’d be at home and not caring at all.
We then spent the night on the farm, and even though we were in the Wonder, we were surrounded by some coyotes that night. Between them and the cows moaning, I had a real #BringBackWildhood experience, more than I’ve had in a while at least.
On our last day of the road trip, we found ourselves at Waterton National Park. This was probably my favorite day of the trip, as I finally got to be in the mountains. Plus, we saw four bears, including two bear cubs. I’ve always wanted to see bears in the wild and on our very first day in the parks, we saw four! We also got to see some bison and prairie dogs, which are my favorite.
Then, we made our way to Calgary on the Cowboy Trail. Unfortunately, it was a bit more crowded with traffic than usual since it was the end of a long weekend. But, we managed to spot one more waterfall to add to our running theme to the trip, and it was another good one: Lundbrek Falls.
Eventually, we made our way to Calgary and spent the night in Ghost Lake before returning the Wonder and officially ending our adventure to #BringBackWildhood. It was one of the best trips I’ve taken and partially because of how convenient it was to travel by RV. We never once had to worry about accommodations and if we got tired mid-day, we could pull out the bed and take a nap. Compared to last year’s road trip across country, this one was a piece of cake. I felt well-rested each day and ready for the next adventure, and that’s exactly how travel should be.
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Special thanks to GoRVing Canada for sponsoring our #BringBackWildhood trip across Canada. As always, all views and opinions are my own.