North of the Border

Point Pelee National Park
Ontario, Canada
May 24-31

Since we were near the Canadian border the week before Memorial Day, we decided to leave the stress of trying to find an open campsite over the busy, holiday weekend behind and instead spent a week under the Red Maple Leaf flag.

Our campground was near Point Pelee National Park, the southern most point in Canada on the north shore of Lake Erie.  The first few days there were very rainy, so we spent a lot of days playing legos on the camper floor.  We were grateful when the skies finally cleared on Friday, so we were able to venture into the park to do some exploring.

We had some short but severe storms roll through, but then we got to enjoy amazing rainbows from our campsite.

I’ve never spent any time on the shores of the great lakes.  I was amazed how much it felt like looking out at the ocean, but without the tide or the salt water smells.  We sat on the beach for over an hour exploring all of the interesting rocks – reds and oranges, blacks and grays, rubbed unbelievably smooth by years of water massage.

We spent one fun afternoon sifting through all the interesting rocks on the shore of Lake Erie.
Coral enjoying Lake Erie.

My brother Clay joined us in Leamington for Memorial Day weekend.  He was our first house guest that would be staying for more than just one quick kids’ slumber party night.  He slept on the hide-a-bed couch, and I’m pleased to say that it was just fine having an extra adult in our tiny space for 4 days.  (You could ask him his own opinion, though, and maybe it would be different.)  Even though the 4 of us have kindof perfected our dance of daily life in our 281 square feet, we were able to maintain sanity with a guest for a few days without too much effort.  We were also pleasantly surprised by a forecast for many rainy days that turned into several sunny days in a row, so we were able to get out and explore the Point Pelee National Park much more than we originally expected.

Proud of her catch at the Point Pelee National Park visitors center.
Uncle Clay came to visit! We had a blast hiking the marsh loop trail.
Sunny knew what these birds were because of the backpack of educational materials we checked out on the shores of Virginia. Road school for the win!
The wetlands were lovely.
We had a blast meandering around the board walk. We saw several kinds of birds (including some that were loudly protecting nests of eggs on little mud islands in the middle of the marsh), turtles, gar, butterflies, and lots of interesting fish swimming among the lily pads.
The southern tip of Point Pelee is closed to private vehicles, so we rode the park train down to the end of the park.
Brad and Sunny climbing drift wood at the southern-most tip of mainland Canada, Point Pelee National Park.

I really enjoy visiting Canada because it’s just different enough from the US to feel interesting and foreign, but it’s still easy to get around since there’s no language barrier. Clay’s theory is that it’s 98.5% the same as life in the U.S., but it’s the other 1.5% that makes it seem super weird. Shopping for groceries was a mixture of fun and frustrating as I explored the different items and options and brands.  When Clay and I made a quick stop for milk one evening and found that it was only sold in plastic bags, I laughed so hard in the grocery aisle that I nearly embarrassed myself.  When I tried to purchase beer from the province-run store that was reminiscent of a large post office, but I didn’t know to use the large touch screens to search for my selection, the employees laughed & looked at me like I was crazy.  When the campground hosted “family karaoke”, it was just an old guy playing karaoke music too loudly in a giant metal building and just letting the songs play through while everyone in the room was apparently just expected to sing along?  No requests, no microphone…and often he would switch songs mid-way through a tune.  This may have just been a funny old man running karaoke at a campground that had never seen how karaoke is supposed to work, but it was more fun to laugh and say, it’s 98.5% normal, and the rest is just super weird.

Coconut fried perch, poutine, and fish tacos at a memorable dinner out with Clay.
There were several local establishments close enough to walk from our campground where we enjoyed perch (the local fish of choice, fished fresh from the lake) and ice cream. The double decker bus won the cutest exterior award, as well as best poutine.
At the local library, Sunny had a blast playing some USA games, including this state quiz. She only missed a handful of the places we haven’t yet visited.

Uncle Clay headed home on Memorial Day, so when he discovered that he had a flat tire in Detroit, he had to spend the night with friends to have it replaced the next day.   We didn’t take off until Wednesday, so when we discovered that we had a flat tire on Stumbo that morning (after we had prepared everything the night before for our 7+ hour drive to Kentucky, and got up & out early to start our trek) it didn’t cause as much of a delay.  We were lucky that the campground owners also ran an RV sales and service garage next door, so one of the employees came over to help us with a quick change, called ahead for us to a local tire shop that would patch and put it back on for $20 under the table, and then even replaced a back taillight that we realized was broken when we started to pull away.  It was a morning of unexpected issues, but it couldn’t have all been resolved any easier.  Anytime we’ve had issues or questions or needed help in any way, it feels like once people hear about the trip we are on (not that we go around bragging about it, but people often want to know why we are so far from home when they see our Washington plates) that people are really rooting for us, and it feels like they sometimes go out of their way to help us find success.  Even though flat tires and broken tail lights were not a fun way to start our longest driving day to date, it was heartwarming to receive this same type of support from our neighbors north of the border.

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