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Sauble Beach, Ontario

We had a friend ask this week if we’re planning on updating the blog again… you bet! Here we are. We didn’t realize how quickly the days have been slipping away lately. So on this rainy Saturday afternoon, with the weekend’s chores and running around finished, it seemed like a great time to sit and catch up.

You would think with an extra month at home, we’d be getting restless, but we’re actually feeling like we have so much more to do and need more time! For starters, we’ve been helping a friend with an awesome tourism project that’s going to be a hit when it’s released. While I’ve been doing behind the scenes web work, Trevor’s been out trekking all over Bruce County taking photos, hiking and exploring the project’s road trip routes.

Looking out over Isthmus Bay, Lion's Head on the Bruce Peninsula

Looking out over Isthmus Bay, Lion’s Head on the Bruce Peninsula. Photo: Trevor Schwandt

A relative abundance of warm, sunny days (especially compared to the summer Southwestern Ontario was having right before we got back) has meant short road trips to Sauble Beach, Southampton, Wiarton, Meaford and out to our trailer in Massie with the kids whenever work lets me get away.

One night, when I was feeling particularly brave, the youngest was able to bring friends out to the trailer overnight. I left them to their own devices to binge eat chips, stay up too late and tell fart jokes while I spent the night in the SUV and tested out our new inflatable backseat bed.

Summer fun at the trailer

Boys of summer… Hidden Acres Campground near Massie has a swimming hole perfect for cooling off on lazy summer afternoons.

Backseat bed, you ask? Yes, we’ve decided to stay in Canada for a while, to be close to the kids and our own healthcare system. With that goal in mind, Trevor started browsing places for rent in various provinces and came across a few housesitting opportunities. For the month of September, we’re babysitting a rescued basset hound in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley. How fun is that!?

August 21st, we’ll set out on a cross-Canada road trip to British Columbia (we couldn’t leave until after Summerfolk, of course). Spending a few months on the road in your own vehicle requires an entirely different set of gear than a couple of months in Nicaragua. This past week, we’ve been back and forth between the trailer and our storage unit finding things, reorganizing, packing and sorting and all of that fun stuff.

In a perfect world, we probably would have driven our class C motorhome, The Beast, out west. Unfortunately, Beast had about $700 worth of work done this spring and still doesn’t seem to feel like going too far (judging by the way it stalls at every single stop sign… sigh). Lacking both the patience and a bottomless bank account to keep throwing money into it, we parked The Beast in a seasonal spot and moved on to Plan B.

The Beast - cross-Canada road trip - Seeking Sanity

The Beast: 11,000 pounds of silicone filler and kickass. 

And what does Plan B entail? Well, we ordered a few multi-purpose items from Amazon, the biggest being a tent that fits over the open back door of the SUV. Since we have this seasonal campsite now, the tent provides extra sleeping space for the kids and friends.

We tried setting it up a few times and can make camp in under 10 minutes, so it’s pretty great for hitting the road to cross Canada. Having an access to the back of the truck means we don’t have to unpack every single thing, every time we make camp.

Backroadz Napier SUV Tent Green

The obligatory testing of the tent set-up before hitting the road. Ready… set… assemble! Nice work, team. Now do it again.

I was just too lazy to set it up the night the boys were all out, so I thought I’d try out the new backseat bed. We ordered this for nights we don’t feel like setting up camp at all… for example, if it’s getting late but raining out. Or if we haven’t been making good time for some reason and need to keep moving fast. Or if we can’t find a campsite and end up sleeping in a Walmart parking lot. I hope that isn’t going to happen, but you just never know.

For an air mattress, it was surprisingly comfortable! We have a moonroof over the two backseats, and it happened to be an excellent night for stargazing. This particular campground has no electricity and is a dark sky reserve, so the night skies are spectacular when the weather cooperates. The mosquitoes, though… they might pick you up and carry you away, if you aren’t careful. The opportunity to enjoy the starscape from the comfort of the car with the windows up was pretty great.

Backseat bedThe inflatable bed came with an inexpensive little electric pump that’s powered off the cigarette lighter in the car, which blew up the mattress in under 5 minutes. Now, I was perfectly comfortable using it solo, but have my doubts about Trevor and I using it together. By morning, I could feel that quite a bit of air had let out in the night. It *might* be wide enough for us both to squish in there, but we’d really be pushing its weight limit.

Even if it’s only used in emergencies, it makes me feel better to know we have it in case we can’t find a good place to actually camp for the night. The kids used it at the drive-in movies one night too and loved it, so it’ll get used one way or another.

We’re trying not to feel rushed and stressed again, but summer in Canada always just feels so short. As far as the stress of a deadline for arrival in BC, we’ve given ourselves more than enough time; we’ll leave Ontario on the 21st and plan to be in the Okanagan Valley by the 29th.  We’ll spend a few days in Winnipeg around the 24th, and then Trevor will take over driving as we head across the prairies.

We’re armed with our Mi-Fi for mobile internet, a device I’ve actually had for several years but only ever used occasionally. It operates off cell signal, so we’ll see how it holds up as a solution for mobile internet on an extended road trip. This is the perfect chance to give it a workout, as I’ll be virtually participating in a fundraising writing event from the road! More on that soon…

The road to Neyaashiinigmiing

The road to Neyaashiinigmiing, Bruce Peninsula on Georgian Bay.

Over the next week, we plan to keep exploring and enjoying Grey Bruce, as we have every summer over the last decade (actually, in this whole journey of rediscovering our place in the world, that’s one thing we hope doesn’t change). Trevor still has a few road trip routes to check out, and I keep pretty busy between MEDIAau marketing contracts, ghostwriting, and being the online arm of Grey Bruce MOSAIC.

Monday, we’ll head to Tobermory with the kids for a day of overstimulation and eating too many sweets, before catching the Chi-Cheemaun dinner cruise to Manitoulin. We’ll stay onboard this time, though; there’s a Stargazer Cruise on the return 10pm sailing! This is almost a shameful admission considering how much traveling we do, but I’ve never actually been on the Chi-Cheemaun. Trevor and the boys decided they can’t let that embarrassment stand, so off we go.

(P.S. I’m feeling about 95% better and whatever had been plaguing me since mid-June is taking a hike! Thanks for messages & calls.)

How’s your summer going? What’s still on your “must-do” list? Comments below.

Miranda Miller

Miranda Miller

Canadian writer and photographer Miranda Miller is currently chasing sunshine and happiness in Central America. The owner of MEDIAau content marketing agency, she writes for travel brands and destination marketing campaigns.

You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram.

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