Some time in high school, I was presented with a mixtape that included the Five Iron Frenzy song “Oh, Canada”, and I have basically used that song ever since to get very hyped about going back to my home country. Not that I need much assistance getting hyped about anything, much less Canada, but basically as soon as I cross the border, I’m frothing at the mouth for Timbits, Roots apparel, polite apologies, and Coffee Crisps.
Montréal has been on my bucket list for years, and for one reason or another, I just hadn’t made it there yet. I reached out to my cousin Emilie who lives there with her husband Jose and their 3 kids, and they were willing to let me stay with them, as well as spend some time touring around with me. (Thanks so much!)
I had some excellent opportunities to practice my French, walked until my feet got blisters, and then biked along the Lachine Canal.
I had a morning of catching up with old friends from childhood and college (I need to get better at remembering to take selfies with people when we meet up), then I picked up a rental car and headed to the Bruce Peninsula with my friend Diana. (Shout out to my cousin Kathy who met up with us in Owen Sound for dinner, where we also forgot to take a selfie. Jeez.)
Northern Ontario summers at the cottage are pretty high up there on my list of favorite things. We found a really nice cabin on Miller Lake, just outside of the parks and Tobermory. We spent the first day hiking the Bruce Trail near Cypress Lake, followed by ice cream in town in Tobermory and a ferry to the shipwrecks and Flowerpot Island. Lake Huron, despite the Carribean Blue colour, was only 45F/7C. I waded up to my bum before the icy waters drove sharp pains up my shins and sent me skittering back to shore.
The next day, we headed to Lion’s Head for another 11 miles on the Bruce Trail, more resplendent views of Lake Huron, a trip to Grieg’s Caves, and a Nanaimo Bar from the bustling metropolis of downtown Lion’s Head. Our only regret: being too muddy and smelly to stay for the line dancing party at the Rotary Club.
Sunday was a whirlwind trip back to Toronto and then up to Bobcaygeon to visit my Mom, Laurie, and catch up. We got to spend the better part of a day together, but then I started coming down with flu-like symptoms. In an attempt not to infect everyone, I headed back to Toronto alone to sweat out what ailed me, meaning foregoing the rest of the time I had planned to spend with them and a trip to see my Grandpa.
I thought I knew the definition of panic, but I truly did not comprehend it until stuck in rush hour Toronto traffic in a rental car when white hot flu symptoms urgently strike. I averted two crises, but barely.
And just like that, my whirlwind week in Canada came to an end. I’ll spend the better part of the next few days waiting on trains and sitting on trains. Sometime tomorrow, I will get to Chicago to meet up with more friends on a long layover en-route to New Orleans.