What a ride! A few things have already been knocked off my bucket and travel wish lists.
I have successfully driven out west.
I have seen the Aurora Borealis dance across the night sky in the most beautiful green.
And, I have driven around the Great Lakes on the Trans Canada Highway.
Some things I have learned: Northern Ontario is absolutely gorgeous and driving around Lake Superior was jaw dropping at every turn. The Trans Canada Highway wraps around the lakes and the look out points are stunning. We saw bears, deer and a wolf.
The vastness of Lake Superior is stunning. We passed mini bays and lakes that had never been inhabited by humans. The water stood still and the calmness was so peaceful. I am so glad that we drove through Ontario during daylight so we could really soak in all it's beauty.
Once we hit Thunder Bay we decided to drive through the night. That way we could knock off about 12 hours of our drive while the kids sleep.
We cruised through the plains, passing through Manitoba and hitting Saskatchewan as the sun was coming up. The plains are aptly named as they are just that, plain. The huge plots of golden wheat and hops arebeautiful, but when that is all you see for about 10 hours, it looses its 'awe'. Unlike Ontario where each view of the lake and rocky hills were so different, the plains always tend to look the same.
The kids however enjoyed this part of the drive because they got to see massive machines reaping the crops. There were also many farms filled with cows, sheep and horses.
Driving with toddlers went shockingly well. Each child had an entertainment bag in front of them filled with things to keep them busy.
When packing the bags I took a few things in to consideration:
- I made sure they each had their own of everything (so the dreaded concept of sharing wasn't a problem).
- I also brought two of each toy for the same reason.
- I packed lots of stickers (as they take up a lot of focus and time).
- Each toddler had a few colouring books, and we brought markers by Crayola that only work on specific paper (that way, they weren't able to make much of a mess, snacks are a different story haha).
We stuck them in the back bench seat of the SUV with the bags between them and this system worked like a charm. When they started to get antsy or needed to pee, we made a stop, which was right on schedule with the adults. I was worried we may be stopping every hour, but that wasn't the case at all.
We packed a cooler and food bag as well so that the toddlers could graze (as they do) until we were ready to stop for a full meal. We had a breastfeeding mama in the car as well who, like a trooper, pumped as we drove and fed her 4 month old baby with bottles. This system was amazing. We didn't need to stop to breastfeed every couple hours and beautiful baby Alayna was still able to fill up on momma's milk.
When making stops we took a few things into consideration:
- gross motor options to release energy and get them moving (parks and play places)
- a hotel with a pool
- using our stops to see something special in whatever city we were in (there is something in every one!)
Parks and play places were our saviour. You can knock off lunch and climbing all in one stop. Get the yogurt and apple slices if you want to attempt a healthy route.
We have now made it to our first stop, my brother-in-law Tom's house in Lloyd Minster Saskatchewan/Alberta. Each half the town is in each province, which is kind of cool. What's interesting is that Saskatchewan does not participate in day-light savings time and their drinking ages are different. Sounds like that would make things in this town pretty interesting.
We are spending our first day here staying OUT of the car! We are allowing the kids to have a little taste of normal and relaxation. It is a much welcomed change of pace. We have enjoyed the big backyard and new surroundings.
Last night we stood in the driveway and watched the Aurora dance, glow and grow from small to big. It was everything I imagined it would be. I stood there soaking it all in and appreciating every second that passed. It is such a magical phenomenon. Right now is Aurora season, so we should be seeing it again. I didn't snap any pics myself, but if I see it again I will try to take a picture. Last night, I just wanted to live in the moment, as seeing the Aurora was something I have dreamed about for a very long time.
Many adventures await us as we begin to fine tune the plans for our trip. Monday we head to Banff for 4 days. We will also jaunt over to Lake Louise while we are there. After that we will go on to explore Jasper, AB and the Enchanted forest in BC. So stay tuned!
Here's a pic of me and my new friend Apple, who has been my snuggle/blogging buddy.