First call was to my friend Kim who offered her couch in a great spot. She lives in one of my fave Toronto 'hoods Yonge and Eglinton. This was a a huge relief and blessing for without her offer, I am not sure I could’ve made this move on such short notice. Second call was to my oldest daughter, did she want a house? If she wanted, she could stay in it for a few months for reduced rent, then I would gift them the down payment to buy the house. Only condition was they had to keep some of my stuff in one of the bedrooms until I could send movers, whenever I got settled in Ontario.
Next... OMG get rid of everything!!! And so it began, giving away furniture, lamps, loads and loads of stuff to the dump. Thankfully I am a major thrifter so very little of what I own is expensive. I either got it given or bought it on kijiji. I move too much to have anything worth anything.... It’s actually very freeing to not own much. That said, I seem to own enough books and records to start my own store!... I was too happy to give most of my stuff away or at bargain prices.... some of it unfortunately went to the dump. What I did want to keep was put off to a corner in a bedroom of the house for later pick up – bound for my house in Atikokan aka the Princess Cabin when I could make it happen.
Then there was the important stuff. I had to get everything that a girl might need for the next while in to a Chevrolet Spark. It‘s the smallest car ever.. My boyfriend offered to keep my dog Presley until I could get settled. He also offered to come with me for the road trip. By October 10th, we were in the car and on our way! What does a girl like me consider an absolute must? I had one suitcase full of clothes, a small bag of shoes, my records, a record player and of course my camping gear!!! Good enough...
R O A D T R I P !!!
One thing about this trip was that it was fall. I wasn’t expecting any of what was about to come, but I enjoyed every moment. I am not a fan of concrete plans. I prefer outlines.
Stephan and I were in the Spark early morning on October 10th with a first destination goal of Moosomin Saskatchewan. My friend Lori used to live in a place called Vegreville Alberta. I am not sure anymore how I met her except I do recall a curling bonspiel in a place called Bruce. In any case, a friendship had developed. She’s always been super hospitable and fun to hang out with. She ended up eventually moving to Moosomin which lies on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. This turned out great because I get to stop in to visit with my friend and get a sleep over on my way through to Ontario, which has happened a fair bit over the last few years! It’s become one of my regular pit stops for many journeys. We enjoyed the visit and the fall colours of the prairies a taste of what was to come.
Lori sent us off on Sunday morning with a couple Contigo mugs of great coffee and full bellies! Our next stop wasn’t too far, it was a place I had been dying to check out over the years and finally had the chance.. RUSHING RIVER (near Kenora ON).
You have to know that I have grown less and less a fan of Provincial Park campgrounds. I am now so used to having very minimalist, quiet, nature and most often being beside water. That said, come shoulder season, some campgrounds are pretty decent due to less people! Rushing River was beautiful this time of year. The campground was like a ghost town. P E R F E CT! We found a little walk in site, meaning you park your car then have to walk in a bit (your car isn’t right on top of you). Our walk in site offered a beautiful view over the water sitting on a rock face. Funny story, when we were packing in Alberta, I told Stephan we better put the bug spray in the bag. He kind of looked at me puzzled. I said you know it’s Ontario, you just never know! Sure enough here we were October 11th facing an encore blackfly season. It wasn’t bad, but enough that I was glad we had bug spray. We enjoyed an evening around the fire and/or sitting on the rocks with craft beers from Lake of the Woods brewery in our hands. Forgotten Lake Blueberrry Ale anyone? It was my favourite!
This is where we get to experience our first doozie of a rain storm of the trip. There we were sitting peacefully at the picnic table, when I look up and I yell to the tent NOW!! In that 10 seconds between the picnic table and the tent no word of a lie, we got drenched, that’s how fast the water came and dumped on us. So in to the tent we went...
We enjoyed sleeping through quite the thunderstorm. Neither of us are really bothered by them. My tent has been a champ through all of them. We stayed warm and dry, enjoyed an early night, and the sounds and fresh smells that is a storm.
We woke up early the next morning, packed up camp, then realized we better find a mask. This was at the start of some new Covid rules. In Alberta we didn’t need a mask yet but in Ontario it would be mandatory if we wanted to go in to stores etc. We stopped at a hotel near Sioux Narrows where they kindly made us some coffee and sold us a mask! If you have never driven through there (Hwy 71) it’s really something!!! I might write someday about another camping trip in this area at Caliper Lake. Also another outlier for me. It’s one of my all time favourite car camping sites in Ontario. Although I must say Rushing River didn’t disappoint and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again, if a spot at Caliper isn’t an option! We would also stop to check out one of Quetico’s entry points, thinking about the next year’s plan!
Our next stop would be my friend Bonnie’s. She’s also been a regular stop on my many adventures. We have many years of friendship throughout mostly our high school years and onwards. Always been one of my besties! Her place is always a warm welcome too, in the rail town of Schreiber Ontario. Terrace Bay it’s neigbhouring community on the very northern tip of Lake Superior is one of my many hometowns. I lived there for six years or so. Going to high school included bus rides to Schreiber’s LSHS campus. This is one of my old stomping grounds. Getting to stop in to see Bonnie is always the best fix for the soul. There is no friends quite like friends you grew up with.
This is kind of the point where the trip takes on a real glow. You see I have traveled along the Lake Superior route many many times, but I have never traveled it in prime fall colour season. What a heart warming welcome home it felt like. The views on Lake Superior with the big blue sky and the seemingly perfect painting of a brilliantly fiery coloured landscape. It was like nothing I had ever experienced on Lake Superior and maybe I won’t ever again! From Schreiber on to Sault Ste Marie, it was a colour show that was just breathtaking particularly as we got closer to Sault Ste Marie. We were going to make Toronto this day, but.. remember I have my camping gear!
We were hungry but we passed on White River, and it was really getting to food time! Of course I had to make a quick stop in at the entry point for the Fenton-Treeby loop at Lake Superior Provincial Park. Very much sad I didn’t have a canoe on the roof of the car. Oh and there all those side distractions that have me in the clouds. Then it's Oops I’m starving... I know I know we could’ve stopped at A&W, or some other place for lunch but looks like it will be the great outdoors. I had a can of flakes of chicken, and a Lipton Sidekick. So I thought it would be good to set up to cook at a picnic table at Old Woman’s Bay. Backpackers’ chicken and noodle lunch! We got a chance to fill up our water bottles and we had the pleausre of a chipmunk join us for lunch. Even he wanted some lipton noodles, true story! It was a bit chilly but the scenery at Old Woman’s Bay is exotic! If I didn’t tell you we were on the coast of Lake Superior, you might of thought we were somewhere else on an ocean. A beautiful lunch stop on those sandy shores, but we must carry on....
Next we would pass by the Sault and at this point you start to catch glimpses of the beauty of Lake Huron too! Still the colours are just out of this world brilliant. I can’t speak enough about how much of a joy I felt seeing this colour show seemingly welcoming me back home in the most glorious of ways! It’s the small stuff right. Sometimes you are outside and God gives you that glimpse in to the beauty of nature and some of those glimpses can only be caught if you are in the right place at the right time, and we so were!
As we are now getting closer to Sudbury and it’s getting dark, we remember WE HAVE NO BEER for wherever we end up tonight! My boyfriend Stephan frantically starts searching for a Beer store that will be open late enough that we can catch it, and I start focusing on driving so we can get in to Sudbury in time to pick up beer. We lucked out with 5 minutes to spare we got beer. Then the search for hotels begins. Stephan offers up great ideas, and I keep declining them. That‘s too far, that’s too much, that’s a town I don’t like. Then I realize where we are, we are near Killarney! I haven’t yet been but I have owned the maps for years (just waiting on the perfect time). We had discussed maybe doing a quick paddle trip enroute. So my bright idea.... I told Stephan I knew a place to stay called the Back 40 . He would love it, I promise him. You know at this point its pouring rain, and its dark. You know a wet, cold, miserable, autumn kind of night. The only thing I knew of the Back 40 is that I recalled a conversation with this outfitter that had told me they had a place in their backyard for their customers going on a backcountry/paddle trip. So I told Stephan this was a great idea to stay in the Back 40. At this point neither of us knows what a Back 40 is! From Sudbury to Killarney was just over an hour drive. The part to the turn off to Killarney was just highway but once you are on the secondary road in to Killarney it’s a really nice drive, though I wouldn’t find out til morning because at this point we are driving through driving rain to get to a thing called the Back 40. We arrived...
The look on his face!!!! The Back 40 was a big open grassy field and at this particular moment it’s nothing but a grass soup! You know of all my bright ideas this one really took the cake. We could’ve had a nice warm hotel bed, but no I wanted the unknown of the Back 40 in a tent! So as we sit there in the car staring at this wet soupy mess that we have to pitch a tent in, we are cold wet and miserable and it’s dark I look to Stephan and I say “Do you promise you will always love me even when I have bright ideas”. He looks back at me and unequivallly says “NO!” But he pitched the tent anyways with a bit of grumble and some laughter at the situation. We did get some sleep. It was a bit chilly but not horrible. Despite the grass soup our tent was laid on, we stayed dry. And woke to a beautiful morning! Despite the really unwelcoming welcome, as always with my bright ideas, they end up being worth it! We saved $200, and we got to go have breakfast at the Killarney Lodge! The view was as Canadian as it gets! Fall colours, Canadian flag, beautiful blue sparkling waters, docks and boats! My bright idea was awesome disguised as a bad one!
We are at this point only about five hours to Toronto but it’s fall, and the colours are something else. So I have to do it. I always have to do it... I have to take the LONG WAY to Toronto. So we left Killarney bound for Toronto with a detour through Hwy 141. The cottage our family had growing up was on Three Mile Lake just off Hwy 141. It’s my absolute favourite fall drive anywhere! And it didn’t disappoint. I showed Stephan Port Carling and Windermere House. All the usual sights of Muskoka during the fall colour show! Driving under that colour canopy feels like being wrapped in a big warm wool blankie. It was breathtaking and the absolute perfect feeling to come back to. I hadn’t been back here for about 7 years at this point.
Our trip ended eventually in beautiful Toronto! My friend Kim wasn’t home so we parked the car and headed to one of my old time favourite pubs – the Duke of Kent for Stephan’s first beer in Toronto. Quite the difference between the Back 40 and the intersection that is Roehampton and Yonge Street. Trust me every light change there is nearly someone hit! The honking, the people, it's so amusing. What a wonderful feeling to be here, with my ripped up white sweater, my exhaustion, but my warm heart that here I was safe and sound back in Toronto. A beautiful friend to come back to, a traveling companion that puts up with just about anything and a City that makes me smile. I love leaving Toronto, but I love coming home as well!
I will blog more about Killarney and the adventures that would come after....