I have to say, given this has taken over 6 months, I have forgotten a lot of the details of our trip.
I know a lot of people who look forward to their honeymoon – more than they look forward to their wedding. In some cases I am sure their honeymoon was the highlight of the two events. For us, I am not sure there will ever be a trip or experience that rivals that of our wedding.
Our wedding was initially going to be spread over multiple days, venues and ceremonies, to have the more traditional Indian experience and to have a different ceremony or blessing in each city. We wanted to make each part of the trip that little bit more special than just another city on the tour. We changed that to accommodate family and friends who were thinking they could only come on the wedding day. They did not want to tour India with us… but they did want to be at our wedding. We were asked by a few people which one would be the “real wedding” as that is the one they would try to get to. Some people were able to come to the wedding, others ended up on tour with us and sadly there were a few who wanted to come that couldn’t make it at all.
For us, the whole trip is blended in to the wedding. Though it was meant to be a wedding & then honeymoon. The hotels ramped up as the trip went. We quickly decided that we would need an actual honeymoon, one without our parents accompanying us. This decision came around the same time we changed our wedding itinerary from multi day to single day.
Having said that, I did ask my mum if she wanted to come to Canada with us as she has wanted to go for a while. Kindly mum refused, no matter how much I insisted. There isn’t a person I can think of that wouldn’t love Canada if they went, and I know that for sure now having been myself. I told her on our return that she missed out. There was a lot of driving so really, she may have hated a road trip with us. We will never know.
About the day 8 mark, given that we have constantly crossed time zones and spent hours and hours on flights, we felt like we had been away for close to a month. Hawaii and food poisoning seemed like a life time ago. It doesn’t feel like Hawaii was part of this holiday and boy oh boy Whistler is already a distant memory.
At that time while driving along a random highway – probably through the prairies – I can remember thinking that it was easy to recall the wedding and all the silly little things we did on the day, being fools, the heat, photos, elephant, dancing, sitting, waiting, but I have no idea what happened yesterday. It was an odd feeling. We hadn’t actually been away from home for weeks. We had only been in Canada a couple of nights but it already felt like one of the longest holidays we have ever had.
Enough ramblings back to the honeymoon and we are sitting at approximately 8 days from our Sydney departure:
We are up and off driving after the complimentary breakfast of juice, coffee, pastries, bacon and eggs. It was actually a decent breakfast for the price of the room and it was quick and easy making it very time efficient for us. We aren’t up early and that is a little disappointing because we really want to spend a lot of time in the lakes today but having an almost grab and go breakfast helped make up some of our lost time.
We drive out of town and are almost instantly captivated. Had I written this post in the car (I can’t – I get motion sick) I would recount in detail every twist and turn, the beauty and surprise of the ever changing yet mostly the same scenery. Hours and hours of seemingly unwavering beauty. Every bridge led to a spectacular view of a lake, river or stream. Every turn heralded a new and wonderful surprise, be it a cute town or an unobstructed view or a lone fishing shack. There were industrial sights and some logging trucks. I don’t know if you would love it as much if you lived there but how could you not. This drive is still one of the highlights of our trip. If only we had days or weeks to just take every road, stop in every town, see every sight and do every activity.
British Columbia and the drive from Whistler to Banff has some serious competition now. That drive had been the highlight, up until now. With every passing moment we fell more in love and awe of these amazing lakes, villages, towns. I can’t give you a blow-by-blow recount but I can say – you need to go. If you ever have the chance, do it! If someone you know has a lake house – go there.
In winter, it would be a wonderland but also the roads and access would be more difficult. We were there in summer and it was the epitome of summer. It is the summer days you dream of in winter. The summertime feeling you get when you watch 80’s and 90’s movies or tv shows featuring summer vacations. The days aren’t too hot but hot enough for a swim or cool down. The nights are long but pleasant, bugs don’t bite (actually they do but not when you are romanticising your childhood and they rarely bite in movies!) and if you need just a slight bit more daylight to enjoy whatever activity it is you want to do until midnight – it is there, ready and waiting. It felt like summer. Like a summer I have never had in Australia and yet it felt like what the word summertime means and as it turns out definitely like what the words summer and summertime mean to me. I guess I have watched too many American movies and tv shows. Working on the summer camp in New Hampshire may have altered my idea of summer, I was living a movie. I was still relatively young myself, even though I was staff I felt like I was a kid. A kid with a schedule, a kid with responsibilities, a kid whose only measure of success for the season was how much fun you had. Pretty sure that is the same as every camper, staff and campers are basically the same and in some cases there was hardly any difference in age. Camp felt like summer. Driving around Lake Superior I feel like I am not only in summer but I am in the best movie version of summer.
I read a tourist sign wrong, I like what it says and say we should stop. We passed the same sign again closer to the entrance and I realised my mistake. The sign didn’t say (great spot for) photographs, it actually said pictographs. There was a picture of what looked like a thylacine, my favourite animal, so we decided we should still stop.
This was the single most spectacular part of the holiday. Photos cannot do justice to the divinity that is this spot.
It happened to be the Agawa Rock Pictographs that we had stopped to see.
It was signed well in advance but the sign doesn’t indicate just how impressive it is. I don’t know what else a sign can do but for something we almost decided to drive past and now has us wanting to buy a house on the lake I feel there must be a way for a sign to be a bit more emphatic in it’s delivery. Maybe people research so they know to keep an eye out. Possibly there were other signs along the way that we paid no attention to because we hadn’t researched and didn’t know what they were on about. We did stop and it was worth it.
It is a bit of a treacherous path. Kids will be ok, though they do need to slow down a little. A lot of rock, rubble and slippery spots. My nan would be ok to a point but TW’s nan would have no chance. I don’t know if you can get close enough to enjoy it by boat, maybe on days when people aren’t swimming by you can sneak up but that would be the only way for some people to get to enjoy it. I am sure there are plenty of other wheelchair friendly/accessible spots along the lake with similar views, just not with the pictographs. We have less able friends so I always think about access when we do something we love. I am always disappointed when I feel like they would miss out.
We did get a bit hot and sweaty on the walk and 400m seemed like a marathon after days in the car. At this point we wondered if it was worth seeing and should we just go back to the car, surely there wasn’t anything actually impressive ahead. What could it be. Some more lush forrest and some water with a picture on a rock? Honestly, how good can something like that be?
We did push through. It wasn’t far, it was a lot of jumping down rocks and trying not to slide and fall over but, it wasn’t far. What we were met with at the shorefront alone, was worth it. There were a few more rocky cliffs to scramble across but we made it to the pictographs.
A rope helps swimmers back in and another aids walkers along the cliff edge.
We toyed with the idea of going for a swim and thought better of it. Having done nothing but eat since the wedding we weren’t confident we could pull ourselves out of the water with the rope. The water was probably a little cold for us to fully enjoy it anyway (or so we tell ourselves). The day was hot, we found it a bit humid after our well air-conditioned drive, we were sweating so it was tempting.
The walk back to the car seemed to be never ending, we had to stop multiple times. It was mostly uphill, which you may have guessed after all the jumping down rocks we had to do to get to the shore front. It was uphill on sliding rocky rubble with an onslaught of oncoming families. It was slow going, mostly from our lack of fitness but partly because kids kept running and jumping – this mean they were sliding rocks in to our faces. It was unavoidable at times based on the vertical climb we were facing them with their feet at eye level, any step they took would result in us covered. Other times it was from a little bit of over excitement and the bouncing and bounding the kids did in that excitement.
We made it back to the car and decided that our return was the right time to read the info booth. Nothing like doing things backwards.
Back on the road we have been mildly aware that we are running out of petrol. The car now says we have enough left in the tank to get us 5km past the next large town of Sault Ste. Marie. The service centres are just small local petrol/gas stations and they have generally been appearing just after we have gone around slow traffic, so we did not stop. Now it is a little bit desperate, we do not know what is ahead and the car estimate of 5km more than the city is away doesn’t fill me with confidence. I proclaim that the next small town we go past or the next petrol station we see – we have to stop! I don’t care who we have passed or how long it took us to manage to overtake, we will stop. I start googling to see if there is petrol stations nearby and also what towns lie between us and Sault Ste. Mario because I don’t easily get any results on the highway so I think we will have to pull off the highway and head in to one to the towns.
I haven’t gotten far in to my search when we see what looks like a buzzing service station. We pull in, even if we did have enough to get through to Sault Ste. Marie – I don’t want to risk it. Nothing would be worse than being stuck on the side of the road waiting for rescue because we didn’t plan well and ran out of petrol. Not that we were in an actual rush, it just isn’t appealing and I didn’t want a drama like that on my honeymoon. A spook in the night at the motel in Banff was enough drama for me.
Well, if the drive around the lake felt like summer, this petrol station sealed that feeling. The Agawa Crafts and The Canadian Carver fuel stop. It felt like the start of every summertime road trip movie. They had crackling speakers softly playing radio classics, a market stall with various vendors, a huge bathroom block, a food truck and multiple buildings selling food and souvenirs and an array of teepee’s, carvings and crafts. It looked like everything had been in place since the 80’s or the birth of time, It felt like home, like summer, like it was exactly what you wanted, needed and what it should be plus more. It was well cared for in a non updated way, it was what it was and you either embrace it or you trip over the uneven floors. I loved it. The best part was the complete full service so we could both jump out of the car and wander around. They filled it up, parked it and then returned the keys and you paid for petrol. It was hugely popular but we were watered, rested, shopped and relieved all while our car was being taken care of – refuelled and all the windows cleaned, they even removed the bugs from the wing mirrors and headlights. Most movies that have this kind of scene, lets be honest they are generally horror movies. How many road trip or “summertime gas station refuel stop” movies have ended well?
From here it was a quick hop to the Sault Ste. Marie area and we start to think about where we should stop. If we want to get to Toronto tonight we would be arriving after 2am without stops. That wasn’t too appealing. Google is our friend and we try to find a town that is on the way and affordable. I don’t know how or why but we hastily decide on Sudbury and book the TownePlace Suites by Marriott. It might have been the laundry facilities or the distance between. It was affordable, breakfast was included and it was only a few hours away, which seemed doable unlike Toronto.
With Sudbury booked and night falling, the lake views mostly behind us I settled in to book and plan the last few nights we had in Canada. Distances were far less, affording us time to plan. It appeared that we would now skip Toronto – we weren’t actually ever planning on going to Toronto, we just wanted to see Niagara Falls.
Drive to Sudbury – do our laundry, eat, sleep, get up as early as we could, eat the hotel breakfast.
Drive to Niagara Falls – enjoy it for as long as we like then drive to Ottawa.
Ottawa to Quebec the day after and finally Quebec to Montreal.
Our flight is out of Montreal early in the morning so the night before is really not flexible, I book the hotel with points – Hyatt Regency Montreal. This probably could have been booked weeks ago but it wasn’t. I think about booking the other hotels but feel I need to discuss it more because I want to stay in a hotel that is by far the most expensive hotel we have ever stayed in. We may have stayed in hotels that usually cost more but we got a good rate, this hotel usually costs less but we have left it late and now it is ridiculously expensive but it is our honeymoon and when will we be back in Canada? Moreover when will we be in Canada on our honeymoon again? This one is going to be a battle over the budget so I do not book the other hotels, just the Hyatt with points.
We arrive in Sudbury, the rooms are cozy and spacious. TW orders and then picks up pizza from the other side of the highway for dinner. We do our laundry and sleep. The hotel was great value and breakfast is a small selection but the basics to get the day started. We had only just woken up in time to get the last legs of the breakfast, I am not sure if they had more earlier but out options are all grab and go. Juice and coffee with take away cups if you like and muffins – not english or breakfast muffins, cake muffins. Cereal, again there is the option to take this with you and there had been fruit but it appeared everyone had laid claim to them. We do as the breakfast items suggest – grab and go.
On the road again. Sudbury to Niagara Falls was a bit of a boring drive, we had traffic, road works, probably not enough sleep and were generally irritable all the way to the falls. Luckily for us the 5 hour drive only took 7 hours so our plans to have lunch at the falls added to our agitation. Waking up irritable, getting a basic juice and muffin for breakfast and then driving through road works and traffic for hours made lunch at 2pm seem impossible. There were not too many options for us to stop along the way from the time our lunch time hunger set in (probably 11am) so we had to keep driving and snapping about stupid things, even if we were on the same side, not many nice things were said so we decided it was best if we both stopped talking until we ate.
We arrived, alive, worn-down and hungry but alive. After a parking debacle (no where to park, no where free to park, no where cheap enough to park with my ever so friendly input – just park and pay I don’t care how much it costs how much more time will we waste driving in circles, argh the guy was saying if you tell him your eating there he will let you park there, just say we are eating there stop saying we aren’t jeeez! Pay. I don’t care. Stop the car in the middle of the road, lets just get out and eat.) we decided to go with the valet service offered by The Keg Steakhouse and Bar. The place we decided on for lunch after I googled Niagara Falls lunch + views and it had decent enough reviews for us to give it a try.
Maybe Outback Steak House and the free parking if you ate there was better and a walk down to the falls but this was the place in the gps and we had already done 4 loops of the town so we were eating here now, hell or high water. Valet parking was not difficult or expensive and compared to the rigmarole on the busy streets any amount would have appeared worth it.
We didn’t make a booking but it was outside of traditional lunch hours now so while it was busy it was not full, we were seated on the window and had a great view of the falls. Lunch was amazing, expensive but amazing. Breakfast was more than 7 hours ago, any meal was likely to be good but this was better than a saviour from starvation. It was a great meal even if I had been full. We ordered one of everything we wanted which is our usual and are quite pleased with the results (yes, our wedding bodies were long gone with ordering habits like that but what is life if you don’t enjoy yourself and we sure do).
After lunch, with our car still safely parked we walked down to the Falls Incline Railway that we overlooked during lunch. We arrived just after everybody else arrived and there were some kind of issues with people in front. So after a 45 minute wait and not processing in the queue at all, literally not one single person in front of us had managed to buy their tickets in that time. We decided to go for a walk to the parkland at the end of the street.
We saw animals play and while there were some water views nothing great, back to the car to drive along the front street. After watching a show (altercation… maybe not altercation but heated exchange as a minimum between a valet and one of the car owners in the hotel driveway) our car arrives. We are blocked in for a minute but it gives us time to put the GPS on. It isn’t far but we don’t really understand how to get to the street in front of the falls. Our hangriness (anger from being hungry if you haven’t heard the term hangry before) has now subsided, I offer to drive the car so TW can have a look at the falls, we switch while we wait for the car in front to move out of the way.
The plan is I will park and meet him as I have been before and wasn’t too fussed because the falls are really short. Thunderous but short and we have sat for hours and looked at them while eating lunch (ok maybe an hour – 90 minutes but it was relaxing and felt like a couple hours rest). I am instantly stuck at lights and in traffic and at every cross walk, it is really slow moving, in 10 minutes I move less than 100m.
Finally the light is about to turn green. THWUMP the passenger door aggressively swings open. Dang it, why didn’t I lock the door. I quickly consider my options, can I drop and roll out of the car. The laptop and drone are in the back. A car-jacking was not on my to-do list so this is either disappointing or overachieving. Sigh. I put my hand on the door getting ready to open and run, look over to the passenger door and they are getting in. Keep calm, this is not America they probably don’t have a gun. Then TW’s content little bobbly head falls into the seat with the rest of his happy body and he exclaims he is done we can go.
The light is green, I drive forward, still in traffic we come to a stop and this is when I slap him for scaring the crap out of me. He says he has been trying to call me to say he was on his way back to the car but I was driving so I didn’t pick up the phone and because I am usually the passenger we hadn’t set it up for bluetooth or anything. He saw that I was basically in the same spot so ran to the car, opened the door as I was about to take off so it swung open a little more aggressively than he planned but it was just him so it was all ok.
We swap drivers again as soon as we can, my heart rate eventually settles and we continue on to Ottawa.