A huge HELLO to all of you! We kindly thank you for patiently awaiting the delivery of our next blog :) As expected it has taken us some time to transition and find a flow as individuals and a family. I am happy to report our journey thus far has been amazing! We are 14 days in and we've traveled over 3000km, seen some beautiful country and connected with some very special people.
Here are some highlights thus far;
Our first night was spent on the breath taking shores of Lake Superior, where we explored the Agawa pictographs and frolicked in the surprisingly warm waters of Bath Tub Island. A coastal trail hike was the perfect kick off to our journey, having grown up in the area the tranquility and ease felt next to the waters of the great Lake Superior was soul cleansing. We all thoroughly enjoyed it! We met Aaron the next morning, he shared his story of losing his wife this past year in a hospice in Southern Ontario, he expressed his gratitude for the service provided there. He was headed to Dryden to visit an old high school friend Carl and agreed that without social media he likely wouldn't have made that reconnection and was very much looking forward to reuniting in person, reconfirming the importance of presence. The same morning Doug met and introduced us to Francois and Mary Ann, they expressed much support and were a pleasure to exchange stories with.
We were equally surprised as the journey continued towards Terrace Bay, what a gorgeous town! We stayed at a free camping spot at Terrace Bay beach with a falls view right outside our door! We continued to hike and explore the beautiful surroundings as well as Aguasabon Falls and Gorge. We were delighted to come up on a gentleman fishing the next morning just as he was reeling in a nice size walleye right on the beach, we chatted briefly and later coined him "Michigan Grandpa" as he referred to himself as Grandpa when encouraging the kids to take a picture with his catch. All of the locals we met in this area were super helpful and friendly. If you are an outdoor enthusiast of any kind, this area is for you! From fishing, hiking, kayaking and beach lounging this area has it all! We also met Tyler a local entrepreneur with amazing vision and courage, he and his wife Britney as well as their son Brooks own and operate a local gym, Motivnation Health & Fitness, that also has a brand new laundry facility. We enjoyed chatting while doing our wash, Tyler’s tenacity and positivity was infectious!
Thunder Bay delighted us with Kakabeka Falls, the well maintained grounds, walk ways and stairs made exploring this mini Niagara a breeze! We also enjoyed Terry Fox memorial, surrounded by teaching moments and inspiring courage! His humble undertaking was a true example of strength, an admirable Canadian through and through.
Next was Kenora and our wonderful friends Marne, Jay, Brynn and Briar. We were totally spoiled with "Lake of the Woods Surf and Turf" a combo of local game and fresh water fish. The bacon wrapped deer tips were mouthwatering and paired nicely with a truly Canadian Caesar! Next was fried Walleye fresh caught by Mr. Brynn! Our bellies and hearts were filled on night one and continued to over flow the following 2 days! We enjoyed the water front in Kenora and couldn't miss an opportunity to get up close for a photo op in front of Husky the Musky. From checking out local shops, introducing them to washer toss and watching the kids enjoy each other’s company it couldn't have been any more perfect, even in the imperfect moments of, kids being kids!
A short drive to Winnipeg landed us at the Assinsiboine Zoo, a very well kempt and spacious place with majestic views of polar bears. Teeg and Huds were thrilled to spend their afternoon learning, exploring and playing throughout the park. We stayed in Portage la Prairie that evening and the next day, the kids enjoyed nerf gun wars, scooter riding and swimming with other camp kids. We are truly lucky to have such amazing boys, they make friends with ease and adapt well to new experiences. We're proud and impressed at how well they have embraced this journey.
A later than expected arrival to Regina and a supply refuel made for the perfect opportunity to try our hand at "Urban Boondocking" and we spent the night with many other likeminded campers in the Walmart parking lot! Teegan will still tell you ... and the cashier at the local Best Buy that this was one of our best camping spots yet! The Saskatchewan Science Centre and Wascana Lake park were our next exploring locations. The indoor and outdoor exhibits of the Science Centre were amazing and we were totally in our element in the featured Rock n' Roll exhibit! The well-manicured and equipped Wascana Lake park was the perfect spot for a picnic lunch, followed by a brief tour of downtown rounded out the day perfectly!
Following our taste of city camping we decided to get back to our rustic style and found a perfect by donation campsite in the small settlement of Radisson, SK. The “Joe Tutt” campground offered well-manicured, level, turnouts in a picturesque setting just minutes from the highway. The boys enjoyed blowing of some steam playing dodge ball as this setting provided ample room for play. Huds was over the moon when they decided to run to get a good look at a passing train approximately one hundred cars long blazing through the prairies. The cool, windy evening deterred us from lighting a campfire so we decided to start the generator so the boys could play some video games, a rare treat on this journey that provided an hour of entertainment before they drifted off to sleep anticipating the days next adventure.
Elk Island National Park just outside of Edmonton Alberta was a truly unexpected treat! Despite the damp and chilly weather we decided to hit up the Tawayik Lake trail on a search for birds eye view of the wild bison. The grasslands made for a safari like experience and our hiked turned up a lot of proof that they traveled the trail we were on frequently, many poop and resting spot sittings were seen and we got about 400 yards away from a large herd. Following an approximately 8-10km round trip to and from the herd our tired legged explorers felt victorious and we were treated with an up close and personal view with a few grazing bison on the side of the road on our way to our camp site at Astotin Lake campground in the national park. We enjoyed a drizzly campfire that evening and had difficulty with wet wood, quickly remedied by a fellow camper and their kind offer of dry wood had our fire snapping in minutes! Doug paid it forward when he noted other strugglers on the next lot. The next morning Doug was doing dishes outside Murtle and couldn't help but come through with the condiment they had forgotten to bring, we chatted briefly and offered our card and to our delight they became followers on our Instagram page and later coined us the "syrup rescuers" Thanks for the sweet shout out! We appreciate it!
West Edmonton Mall was a sensory over load! So much to see and do! We enjoyed viewing dancing and figure skating on the main stage and the NHL sized hockey arena respectively, as well as the Sea Life Aquarium, Teegan was delighted to "finally get to see penguins" and Hudson left in tears because he was too small to ride the largest roller coaster the mall had to offer, he's such a thrill seeker and can't wait "to grow up big enough" to catch a ride next time!
Our journey continues west and our next stop was in High Prairie, AB at our friends Jenn and Ty and their sweet kiddos Kingston and Peyton. We arrived in the midst of a get together with some of their local friends and enjoyed chatting and sharing stories, a super supportive crowd and a pleasure to meet! Jenn and Mel have been lifelong best friends and despite the miles and years the connection instantly sparked! The instant welcome left us all feeling totally at home! We spent a rainy, lazy Sunday reminiscing over coffee while inhaling the intoxicating smell of chicken roasting in the oven and folding laundry while the kids played perfectly in the next room. They enjoyed super mario challenges and later some puddle and trampoline jumping as well as an up close look and interactive exploration of Ty's work truck, a true cops and robbers experience complete with sirens and flashing lights! The next day we enjoyed Hilliard Lake Provincial Park, and despite the moms thinking it might be too chilly for a swim the boys insisted on “getting their knickers wet." Many laughs were shared and our hearts continued to swell! A yummy dinner of chili and bannock was well received and a campfire rounded out our perfect stay! We truly admire Jenn and Ty's strength, courage and compassion, it certainly shows in their beautiful children and their challenging yet fulfilling careers.
Next stop Dawson Creek, B.C. we've been very much looking forward to this visit with Mel's Aunt, Uncle and cousins family.
We're well, we're happy, our hearts and minds are open, we're truly enjoying this journey. Stay Tuned!
Mel, Doug, Teeg and Huds xo