Updated: Sep 10
At long last, the bridge has been laid. It isn’t perfect. Seems rather rickety for having just been under construction, a few boards are still missing, but I can cross! Financing has not come in, but there has been progress. A few more forms have been filled out, and now I must wait . . . again. However, I can finally move forward instead of just sitting in this little village with the things I’ve ordered collecting in mounds around me. This means the real journey can now begin!
Full steam ahead!
Packing up was a bit of a headache. The back of the carriage is not huge, so fitting everything is a little bit of puzzle work. I hate puzzles, just throwing that out there. Thankfully, my father squashed everything in neatly and with just enough room for him, my mother, and myself. Plus snacks. What’s a trek across country without food?
(Picture on the left is the seating room available to me, and the picture on the right is my dad figuring out the puzzle of stuff)
Day 1 – Destination: Thunder Bay, Ontario
This first day of journeying took roughly 8.5 hours. My legs get slightly stiff from sitting for so long, and my back gets tired. Alas. Age creeps up on the best of adventurers. Thank goodness for pit-stops and the opportunity to stretch out.
Our most noteworthy stop was at Kakabeka Falls. Let me just throw out there that I love nature. Any chance I can get to admire some phenomenon of nature I will take, if possible. Though we didn’t stay long, it certainly was beautiful. You wouldn’t want to see the falls too close though. They would likely be the last thing you ever saw. The potential of death isn’t because of how large or high they are, but because it’s all rock. If you survive, you’ll be broken, let’s put it that way.
We didn’t get that close.
(Kakabeka Falls is displayed on the left in all their rocky glory. To the right is me enjoying being in their presence.)
(Enjoy this short clip of the falls)
The roaring of the falls. The scent of pine and birch. The annoying yapping of the little dog of another group of tourists (not featured in the video).
Well, it was almost perfect.
Our lodgings are clean. Good. There’s a restaurant in the same parking lot. Even better. Now it’s time to relax and take it easy. Tomorrow is a new day!
Random moment from the day. We were talking about the excessive number of lakes in Manitoba, and how Grand Beach is known for having some of the best beaches in the world. It’s so close, and yet I’ve never been. Go figure.
Anyway, we were talking about how there aren’t any sharks to worry about if you want to go swimming (because my dad is funny about sharks). “Maybe there’s a sharktopus,” I said, laughing at the memory of that terrible movie. If you haven't seen it before, don't worry. You're not missing much. They come up with so many kinds of shark and other animal combos. I have an idea for a shark/buffalo combo. But then I had the most fabulous terrible movie idea. Shark Ruffalo! A movie starring Mark Ruffalo as himself, who gets bitten by a shark and becomes a shark monster hybrid terror! He could go around killing everyone, as is typical in those low-budget comedy/horror films, and they eventually have to blow him up in order to stop him!
Yeah . . . so, that’s what long hours in a vehicle will get you. *insert awkward laughter here
Day 2 – Destination: Wawa, Ontario
This second day took roughly 5 hours of travel time. It was spread out, however, as several pit-stops were made along the way. We were blessed with sun in the morning, but rain attempted to ruin our afternoon. Unfortunately for the weather, I happen to enjoy a little bit of rain. I would have stayed out longer, but we’ll get to that shortly.
The first of our short treks off the main drag was a lovely (though short) hike at Ouimet Canyon. The canyon had a great view. If it weren’t for the guard rails, I probably would have gotten as close to the edge as possible. Unfortunately, the ground is unstable so going off-trail is not permitted. Boo. So boring.
(To the left, Ouimet Canyon)
(Me smiling but inwardly wishing I had a dragon on which to soar through the canyon to view it up close and personal)
Our second stop, a mere stone’s throw from the first, was Eagle Canyon. This had a longer, steeper hike complete with suspension bridges and a zip line. Sadly, the zip line was closed. I wouldn’t have been able to afford it, but still. It would have been awesome.
The walk itself took hardly any time at all, but we walked at a leisurely pace to once again enjoy the nature around us. The suspension bridges had excellent views of the canyon and the river flowing along its bottom. For those with a fear of heights, probably not the best place for you. The wind funnels through the centre of the canyon, so that’s where it’s ill-advised to take pictures, unless you’re okay to risk your phone getting blown out of your hand. If you use an actual camera, it’s probably safer.
Heading down an awkwardly designed staircase which made normal walking impossible, we came to where we could walk along the river and once again soak in the beauty of nature.
(Here are a couple pictures of Eagle Canyon. To the left, you get a view from below, while on the right is the view from below.)
The third of our stops was Rainbow Falls, which is also when the rain began. It has a longer hike, which we regrettably were unable to partake of. There are, however, many enjoyable off-trail paths to explore along the falls. Scrambling over the rocks would have been much more enjoyable on a hotter day, in which case I would have dipped my feet in the waters, but alas.
I ended up having a different sort of adventure, which is another one I quite enjoy when meandering through a forest.
(Rainbow Falls from a couple different angles)
Despite our hike being cut short, it was an enjoyable time. Perhaps someday I will return to explore further.
The last of our stops was the shortest. Aguasabon Falls. This was a short walk down to view a waterfall and gorge, essentially.
(Unfortunately, there was no better view of these falls...at least none that we were allowed access to)
I will note that at all of these places, my first thought is always…
Someone find me a dragon!
It truly would be epic to soar through the canyons and over the vast forested expanses of the Canadian Shield.
Day 3 – Destination: Sault Ste Marie
Travel time, roughly 2 hours. I know, not so far, right?
The first stop on this third day of adventuring took us to Magpie Falls. The Falls themselves were quite lovely, but my favourite part was wandering the nearby forest. As my dad put it, “It looks like you’d find orcs in there!” So, naturally, I wanted to go find them.
But, I did find more mushrooms!
(Featured in the top left is the entrance to the trail that made us think of orcs. The image in the top right is the falls themselves. And, of course, the last two images are of glorious mushrooms.)
(As a spot of fun, I made this nonsense video just for the entertainment value. Just me being, well, me. If it puts a smile on your face, I'll be overjoyed.)
Our second pit-stop brought us to another, longer hike at Old Woman Bay. It had been guesstimated to take 2-3 hours, and we decided to see how far we’d get.
This trail transported me to a land of fantasy and fairy tales. The moss, the mushrooms, the trees, the rocks, the babbling brooks. It was all fantastically magical. And, it being on a rather misty day, there clung to all around us an air of mystery. Unfortunately, this mysterious air was also powerfully humid.
As we wound our way up the mountainside, fighting against the urge to turn back (though, to be honest, I really wanted to go the whole way), I could feel my flesh turn clammy from the mugginess. When we came to moments were the trees opened to the sky above, a cool, fresh breeze washed away the despair.
At the lookout points, we were given excellent views of the mist. We were supposed to be able to see Lake Superior, but the clouds hung low and thick.
It was probably withing our last 15 minutes when the weather took a turn for the worst. Rain fell. Hard. Thunder also could be heard rumbling all around us. Water ran down my face and into my eyes, blurring my vision. Everything got drenched. Except my phone. I had enough layers of protection over to keep it mostly dry. The rest of me ended up looking like I’d just arrived at Bree with the hobbits. I was positively dripping.
Now, you might be thinking, “Oh no! That’s terrible!” Perhaps. I mean, my shoes squelching certainly wasn’t ideal. Having to wring out my jacket was also unfortunate. But aside from that, it turned out to be a perfect adventure. I gathered pictures of some glorious mushrooms, got to wander through the magical misty mountains, and experienced a downpour of blockbuster worthy proportions.
(The top right image is that of the most beautiful foliage of the forest covering the peak we climbed. Top right is the misty view, followed by more mushrooms. obviously. At the bottom right is me slightly dried off after the deluge. It is not easy towelling oneself down whilst seated in a vehicle that is crammed with other things.)
Once we’d finished our rather soggy hike, we grabbed our beach towels and dove quickly into the vehicle out of the continuing rain. Removing my river-filled shoes felt amazing. Stuffing my gob with food felt even better.
I must be part hobbit. I'm either looking for mushrooms or eating.
We then carried on, feeling rather adventured-out. Even so, once the rain ceased and the sun poked its face out, we stopped at a beach area at Lake Superior to dip our already wet toes in the water.
(The waves were lovely, though they made it difficult for rock collecting. I felt like a bird walking around on the beach with my head down searching, I had fun at least.)
And thus, our glorious day third day of adventuring came to its end. We curled up in our motel, and that was good enough for me.
Day 4 – Destination: Peterborough!
Roughly 7.5 hours of driving to get to this most eagerly anticipated reunions with my best friend.
And that’s it. That’s legit all we did. We drove. The countryside is absolutely gorgeous, which I love. But it does get exhausting sitting in a vehicle endlessly. We stopped twice to fill up the tank and stretch our legs, and each time we discovered some place cheaper just 20 seconds further down the street.
The forces are working against us.
Seriously. All the forces were trying their best to slow us down. Construction, larger vehicles that can’t go faster, lower speed limits than seemed logical. All of it. Even so, we made it to our destination in good timing. My friend joined us at a restaurant for supper, and then it was off to her place where we made quick use of her hospitality to get our still soaked towels and shoes dried.
Day 5 – Relaxing in Peterborough
With all the recent adventuring, we decided to take a slower day. And really, it was quite lovely. Very muchly needed.
As the day boasted a comfortable temperature, we chose outdoor activities of a leisurely sort. The first being a walk around the block, the second being a short jaunt to a nearby fruit stand, and the third being a meander through the Peterborough free zoo.
(The camels were such posers. They really knew how to work their angles. The guy on the right looks like a cross between a turkey and a duck. We named him Friar Durkey Tuck.)
After such thrilling outing type events, we returned to my friend’s place of lodging for pizza, chocolate, and movies. A perfectly relaxed ending to a delightfully tranquil day.
Day 6 – Toronto Zoo
This day began early. I woke up probably before anyone else and enjoyed a few moments to myself. I would have slept longer, but sometimes, when you’re spending 24/7 with people, I just need a solitude break, even if it means waking up an hour earlier to seize it.
Me time is dream time.
When everyone else had joined me in the land of the awake, and breakfast had been consumed, we began our trek to the big city. We did not have too far to go, but I was still having a time trying to remain alert. There was still a part of me that longed to remain asleep.
Arriving safely at our destination, it was time to traipse through the various animal kingdoms present at the Toronto Zoo.
To set the scene, the sun hung high in the sky with nary a cloud in sight. That may have been because of the trees blocking the view of the horizon, but the skies remained bright and blue all day long, nonetheless. This made for a hotter day, but we came prepared with water and sunscreen. Though, to be honest, I may still have burnt. That happens.
We spent long hours admiring the wide variety of glorious creatures we happened to meet. Some are higher up on my favourite list, but I don’t think there were any that I had any particular aversion to. Except perhaps the naked mole rat. That animal is not exactly the cutest…Rufus is a lie!
I personally enjoyed when the animals were close enough to make eye contact with. Some were a bit more on the shy side, sadly.
(The delightfully odd creature to the left is a Red River Hog. We think whoever named it missed out on a perfect naming opportunity because it looks like a goblin. It should have been called a Hog Goblin. Sometimes, I'm a genius! And to the right, of course, are the glorious lions. I wish the male would have shown his face, but they're notoriously lazy so, I guess it's too much to ask.)
(The rhinos were so close to the fence. They're such amazing animals. If they weren't so dangerous, I'd totally want to ride one! The zebras were a bit further away. Thank goodness for zoom, hah! They just look so iconic.)
(For your entertainment, I little it more of my oddness. Do note, this is NOT actually a baby hippo. But it was in the enclosure so I went with it. And that's what happened.)
(Here are just a couple of cute faces. One of the ostriches in the pen had a missing wing. Poor thing seemed to be trying to get past the gate to come to us. Probably just wanted some love. Then another higher ranked ostrich came by, hissing, and shooed her away. I would have given her pets.)
(This penguin to the left looked like he was waiting for friends to come join him. He stood there so long just looking lost. And the owl, well, probably was out partying too late. Let's say that.)
(This giant. Wow. Bears are some of my favourites, not gonna lie. I just want to hug all of them! I won't obviously. I don't have a death wish by mauling. But I would totally have bear friends if that was something probable within society.)
(Caught the tiger stretching and yawing. Pleased with this shot. Such a cutie! How can they be so adorable and so frightening looking at the same time? Gorgeous! And the snakes were also too cute with their twinning moment.)
(This bird to the left appeared to be glaring at everyone who walked into this particular enclosure. The bird to the right is delightfully fat. Fat birds are absolutely my favourite things in life. I could watch birds all day. Does that age me?)
I’m grateful for all the walking around we did on this day. It felt good, though I was certainly exhausted by the end of it.
Thus concludes this portion of my schooling adventure. The jaunt from Steinbach to Ottawa will come to its conclusion, but I’ll tell you about that next time. For now, I need to sleep. I’m sure that will become a regular theme over the next few years.