By John Lilies & Lana Carbon
July 10th, 2019
[John] Back in 2014, we decided we needed to go on a significant road trip through Ontario. We had planned for it to happen in 2015 but life circumstances intervened and we weren’t able to execute the entire trip. Every year since then, we have tried to make it work but the universe has had other plans. At the end of 2018, I decided I would force the stars to align and I somehow managed to swing two weeks off work for the end of May 2019. I told Lana that we would make this trip happen no matter what it would take, and we immediately began discussing what our trip would look like.
[Lana] This was a trip we had been dying to take, almost since the day we met. Once John had managed to finagle her vacation days in a consecutive manner, we knew this may be our only opportunity.
[John] In an effort to show the universe just how serious we were, we immediately called our relatives in Thunder Bay and told them to expect visitors at the end of May. I hoped that this would cement our commitment to this adventure in a way that would prevent any interruption to the plan. By spring 2019, we had sketched out the different places we wanted to pass through on our route, and began to arrange our accommodations for our two-week adventure.
As our departure date grew near, we began experiencing vacation stress as we realized just how much we had to plan and pack for two weeks on the road.
[Lana] One of the hardest things about packing for this trip and at this specific time of year is that the weather is completely unpredictable. There could be one day when you are safe to go outside in short sleeves and be totally comfortable and the next day you may need your winter jacket, scarf, and a pair of gloves. This meant that we had to pack all of it just as a precaution.
[John] Needless to say, we were increasingly grateful for our little station wagon, Lucy, and her incredible capacity to accommodate life.
We know it has been a while since we have published an article and we are so thankful that you have all stuck with us during our quiet time. We hope you will find it worthwhile as you settle in for a ride through the summer as we share with you our reflections on two weeks of classic Carbon Lilies misadventures.
As per usual, please let us know your thoughts and feelings as you follow along.
And so, with that, let’s hit the road…
[Lana] As The Cars once famously sang, “Let the Good Times Roll!”
Day 1: Toronto to Sault Ste Marie (May 18, 2019), Part 1
[John] Being as this was our Victoria Day long weekend (or May 2-4 as we most commonly refer to it), we knew that traffic could become complicated and, with a long day ahead of us, we decided that a 6:00 a.m. departure time would be best.
[Lana] So frickin’ early!
[John] Yeah… that didn’t happen. I think I probably should have told Lana that we had to leave by 5:00. He never seems to believe me when I point out how easily he loses track of time. But hey, a forty-minute delay isn’t so bad.
[Lana] Hey… I’m getting older now and it takes a while for these old bones to get loosened up so that I can get active. Besides, you want me looking my devilishly handsome self, don’t you?
[John] Does it seriously take you that long to put yourself together? But you are right, old is definitely a good word for you.
[Lana] If I had feelings, that might have hurt.
[John] Aww, my sensitive old man.
[Lana] Anyways… back to the story.
[John] Yeah. Stop distracting me.
We finally pulled out at 6:40 a.m. …
[Lana] My fault apparently…
[John] … and, not wanting to get caught up in long weekend traffic with predictable accidents, we quickly made our way north to escape the city limits and land in cottage country before the day was starting for most people. Bypassing Barrie to quickly get further north; we made our first super fast pit stop in Parry Sound. We decided that because Parry Sound isn’t too far away (by our standards) we would save a proper visit here for a day trip on another weekend.
Not far north of Parry Sound, as we approached Shawanaga First Nation, we saw what we thought was a man-made, beautifully created, life-sized lawn ornament about 20 metres off the highway’s edge to our right. However, as its head turned to watch us pass, I loudly yelled, “Oh my gosh… It’s real! That’s our first moose!”
[Lana] I saw the figure beside the highway but as John said, thinking it was one of those lawn sculptures, I had already let my attention move onward. I didn’t see the head move and nearly gave myself whiplash turning my own head back trying to catch another glimpse of one of these magnificent creatures. I missed out this time and had to hope that this wouldn’t be our one and only sighting on the trip.
[John] One of our main goals on this trip was to visit and document as many roadside attractions as possible. For us, these attractions were large-ish statues or monuments and did not include natural attractions or events. The latter two were certainly welcome and to be enjoyed but the statues/monuments were the fun challenge for us throughout the trip. We had a list of roadside attractions we were specifically looking for and had agreed that we would also stop for the unplanned. Beautiful though it was, “Moosey” did not fit our roadside attraction parameters. However, it was certainly an experience to behold.
The first roadside attraction on our list was an inukshuk in Port Severn. I’m not exactly sure why but for some reason we skipped it. Coming out of Parry Sound, the next attraction on our list was a voyageur canoe in French River. We visited the French River Trading Post, picking up a few treats to support the local economy, and looked around the grounds thinking we would find the canoe right there. We didn’t. The thing about these roadside attractions is that they don’t always come with directions. Knowing that we had to be in Sault Ste Marie that evening, as we didn’t want to be driving after dark, we chose to let go of the voyageur canoe sighting and instead we pushed on to Sudbury.
[Lana] Luckily, for me at least, some of these monuments grab my attention more than others. The first couple probably would have been okay but they weren’t the highlights of the list in my opinion, so I wasn’t too upset that we didn’t see them. Besides, these early ones were close enough that if we missed them, we could simply do a quick run up and look for them again another day. At least we did get to the trading post. I love a good trading post.
[John] Continuing north from French River, approximately 40 kilometres south of Sudbury and just off to the right in a little valley on the side of the highway, moose #2 was happily drinking from the water pooled in the valley. As we passed and looked down, “Moosey” looked up at us and we had a momentary eye-to-eye connection. I even took in the detail of its larger size and the darker, rougher-looking fur along the top of its head, running down its neck and along the middle length of its back. This was a special moment.
[Lana] This one I saw. This one I knew was a real moose. This one made me ecstatic. Just to see wildlife of any kind in their natural habitat is an amazing feeling to me; to see one of the larger, more rare creatures that I normally wouldn’t get the chance to see, is unforgettable. In that moment, I felt incredibly lucky to have such an opportunity.
[John] Riding high from this second sighting (both rare considering the time of day), we excitedly continued to Sudbury for some lunch and an opportunity to top up Lucy’s fuel tank.
With that, we leave you for today to dream about your own adventures and in anticipation of the second half of our first day of this series of misadventures. Rest well lovelies, there is plenty more to come.