When I lived in France, I spent my time showing travellers (mostly Americans) the best that France had to offer. I knew every corner of the country and passed days and sometimes months in remote villages that even some Parisians hadn't even heard of. I knew the country well enough to guide in it. However, despite previous and sporadic travel in Canada, my knowledge and experience in my own country was limited, at best. To my credit though, Canada is much bigger than France, there's no high speed train that cuts across our country in 3 hours, and most importantly, no one has ever paid me to learn the ins and outs of our great country like in my guiding days in France. But after doing this "Canada Trip, as the girls call it," I no longer feel like one of those Parisians who doesn't know their own country. It took me 42 years on this Earth, 6 years away in another country, 10 years back from those travels, and a global pandemic to get out there and learn my own geography and culture...truly and more fully. And, although I have but only scratched the surface in Canada, I feel so much closer to my fellow Canadians today. I feel like I know much more about about this country, and am certain, that we live in one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world.
The last week of our adventure was spent with light travel, day trips, and most importantly, recovering. I'm not sure if its my age, the time zones plus daylight savings time combined, or just the length and type of our travel, but this last week I was exhausted and depleted. Exhausted from the road, exhausted from the constant stimulation of new places, and exhaustion from the food and drink that came with visiting family, and eating out that was inevitable. I hit Andrew's parent's house pretty hard. I may have even fallen asleep before 9pm on a few nights.
Thankfully, we had the immense pleasure of parking our trailer and sleeping indoors with family. Although the weather was so warm and we could have stayed in the trailer, it would have been such a pain in the rear to undo our winterization just for a few days. Andrew and I got a much needed night out between adults in Prince Edward County. It had been 3 months of sharing a 21 foot space with our children, so within the first 72 hours of grandparents, we split, and headed to Picton just the two of us. I was flooded with memories of my guiding days. We rented some bikes and rode about 50 kms between villages to taste wine and snap pictures of the landscape. Just like old days.
The last week passed fast....but the entire trip passed fast for that matter! When it was time to head home, we needed about a day to empty and clean our trailer and pack our truck. Thankfully, we were able to leave our trailer in Colborne to be stored for the winter. But, this means that all of our things, plus the things we collected along the way, had to fit into our small truck bed on the way home for the last 6 hours of driving. If downsizing our life to fit in our trailer was a challenge in August, then squeezing all those belongings into our truck for the last stretch of road was a SUPER challenge! It took some maneuvering and creativity, but we made it happen.
We are now back in Windsor from a great adventure, awaiting access to our home. Nothing is more weird than not being able to enter your own home but we have just a few days to go. One thing is for certain, this isn't the end of our journey. We'll call it a pause for Christmas to recharge our batteries and plan for Part 2. We have every intention of experiencing an Eastern version of the "Canada Trip" in the Spring...and who knows...maybe we'll make it up to the real North someday.
Some of the less obvious take aways from this trip....We got REAL and invaluable time with our kids and could actually witness their growth and learning about the world firsthand rather than by telling us things over dinner. We watched them learn to read, and taught them that we can do hard things like hiking long uphills even when our bodies are tired, or driving long stretches to far away places. They learned that THINGS are cool, but EXPERIENCES are way cooler. We all learned together that although this country is large and distance can be great, friends and family can always be near no matter where we are. We all learned that even though the world may never be the same, and the pandemic is scary and confusing, mother nature has the power to heal the soul, and the warm faces of family and friends are worth their weight in gold after months of isolation.
Thank you sincerely to every person who became part of our journey. Whether we shared a laugh or a meal, whether you shared your washing machine or some directions, or even if you simply shared your interest in reading about our adventures in this blog, we are grateful to you for being with us. Believe it or not, you are a big a part of our trip memories. We are eternally grateful for this time, this country, my family, my health, and the opportunity 2020 has presented us.
11424 kms, 38 Canadian towns/cities/parks, dozens of friends and family, and countless memories.
More to come in Spring 2021