“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” –Miriam Adeney
On the Labour Day long weekend in September, Dan and I packed up the truck, hooked on a trailer and pulled out of the driveway for a three week trip that would take us across four provinces in Canada. This would be the longest period of time that we’d been away from the farm, and I was a little bit nervous to say the least.
I had scoured online ads and Facebook groups looking for a “Farm Sitter” for months before the trip. I was being very selective on who was going to be taking care of our critters while we were away! A local girl in highschool came out for an interview, and then once again to do a run through practice. I had made up signs in the feed shed with instructions on feeding, how much and who got what food. We left emergency contact numbers and names, and also had some close friends who popped in on occasion just to double check all was well on the farm. With the animals in good hands, it was time to hit the road!
The first leg of our journey was taking us to Manitoba, where we would be making a weeks stop for Dan’s family reunion on his mother’s side. A pit stop for the evening was made in Saskatoon where we met up with Dan’s brothers for the rest of the trek. The next day it was on to Falcon Lake, which lies on the border between Manitoba and Ontario.
We arrived at Falcon Lake in the mid afternoon, giving us day light and time to unpack the truck and make ourselves at home in our cozy little cabin. We were right on the lake, with our own dock in the water, hot tub on the deck and wood burning stove. Each family had a designated cabin to stay in, and a main lodge where group dinners and family events were to be held. After unpacking, throwing a couple lines into the water off the deck, Dan catching his first and only fish of the week, it was time to head to the Lodge and meet all of Dan’s Aunts and Uncles I had heard so much about.
It was a busy, fun filled week, getting to know Dan’s family and spending time playing games, canoeing the lake, hiking the trails and eating way too much good food! Each night dinner was prepared by one of the families and it was never disappointing. Mornings came with fresh scones or cinnamon buns always, and a whole morning was designated to making pies! I think I probably gained back any weight I had managed to lose leading up to this point.
One quiet evening, Dan and I snuck away from the group to enjoy some time to ourselves down by the water as the sun set. I had a feeling it was going to be special evening. Seeing the Northern Lights has always been a dream of mine. I have seen bits and pieces in the sky here and there, but that night sitting by the lakeside was magical. It began with wisps in the air. I was wishing we would see them, and just like that they started to dance across the skies in brilliant greens. The still, black lake was the perfect reflection of their brilliance. It’s a night I won’t forget.
After a week at the cabin, it was time to be hitting the road, this time, heading East to Ontario. We were off to spend the next couple of weeks with my family at my Mom and Dad’s.
First order of business when arriving was finding Dan some sweet corn to indulge in. Was he in for a treat! Then it was off to my favourite little farm for a visit, Mapleton Organics. We had fun wandering around looking at all the critters and indulging in some unique flavoured ice creams. Dan tried the Dandelion and I, as usual, the Lavender.
We spent an afternoon at a new local brewery that had recently opened in Blyth, called Cowbell Brewing Co. It was a self guided tour through the brewery followed by lunch, and a couple flights of beer for tasting. Right up our alley!
Our next adventure took us to Niagara-on-the-Lake. While it’s a little busy, the quaint, historic town and beautiful homes make it so worth the visit. Not to mention all the wonderful little wineries along the way! We made a stop at Rosewood for some honey mead tastings, a stop at my favourite, Caroline Cellar, where the Plum wine is always a must and had lunch at the most beautiful historic old barn. The Cesar served here was basically a meal in itself! A stop at the local cheese store was also on the agenda, for their famous Guernsey cheese curds. We made a pit stop for fruit on the way out of town, bushels of peaches and pears for canning! Then it was on to Niagara Falls!
While Niagara Falls is mostly a huge tourist trap, Dan had never been before and it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. So we made a stop and lucked out with a fairly calm day for tourists. We meandered along, taking in the views, seeing the Maid of the Mist below and finished with a drive up Cliffton Hills on the way out of town.
After some day trips here and there, it was nice too just to hang around the house with family. Mom and I got creative with our #eggvignette, playing around with the farm fresh eggs we had brought with us and all the beautiful fall leaves. We spent an evening over at my brother Kenzie’s new house, staying up until all hours of the night around the fire with him and his girlfriend Alexis. Mom and Dad threw us a lovely “Wedding BBQ”, and we got to spend the day catching up with my Aunts and Uncles, Cousins and Grandma. Mom and I even found the time between it all to preserve and can 25 jars of peaches and pears that we had brought back from Niagara!
We made sure to take Dad out for a day of fishing, and while we may not have caught any big “lunkers”, we didn’t come home skunked. Tiny little basses was all that was biting that day. But spending the time by the lake watching the sail boats roll in and walking along the river banks was refreshing.
Like always, time flies when you’re having fun, and before we knew it, it was time to be packing up the trailer and heading back West. We took a couple of extra days to drive back so that we could make some pit stops along the way. We made several stops along the shores of Lake Superior, walked along the beaches and dipped our toes in the water. We made sure to stop in Wawa and snap a selfie with the giant Canada Goose.
Our last stop in Ontario was to a sheep farm we had passed on the way through the first time. We purchased a sheep skin rug from the shop along with a gorgeous wool sweater, and paid the extra $4 to tour the farm. Weren’t we in for a treat! Baby donkeys, Emu’s and Elk! The farm tour may have been my favourite part!
In the town of White River, Manitoba, we stopped to see the monument for Winnie the Pooh. It was here in this small town in Manitoba, that the beloved childhood story began when a hunter rescued an orphan bear cub. The bear cub was sold to an army soldier who kept her until he was deployed on mission. The bear, named Winnie after the soldiers hometown of Winnipeg, was placed in the care of the London Zoo. It was here at the zoo the author A. A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin fell in love with the bear, starting his beloved children’s book Winnie the Pooh. It was an important stop for me, and even though it was pouring rain, we tracked down the statue for a picture. I always loved Winnie the Pooh as a child, and my Dad has called me Pooh Bear since I can remember, even to this day!
Our last stop on the journey may have just been my favourite of the whole trip (sorry family!). Dan and I spent the night in his childhood home town of Gimli, Manitoba. We stayed at the resort his mom had once worked at, visited Tergesen’s, the gift shop that he had so many memories of as a child and walked along the pier taking in all the sail boats. We skipped across to the next town of Sandy Hook and drove by Dan’s childhood home, his old school and Winnipeg Beach. It was such a special day to spend seeing all of his memories from childhood. We stopped at the local coffee bar for drinks, and then it was back onto the highway for the final leg of our journey home.
The last day of driving was spent with one goal in mind, getting home! And what a beautiful sight it was pulling the truck into our driveway that day. While we had so much fun with our families, exploring each others home towns and making our own adventures along the way, we had been away for too long. Pulling into the drive, being greeted by smiling, wiggly dogs, roosters crowing, pigs snorting, and donkeys braying really just made it all sink it, we were home!