Family Roadtrip to Explore Northern Ontario

We were determined not to let the pandemic take away our summer tradition – the family roadtrip.

In August, we always take two weeks off to visit the hubby’s parents in New Brunswick, two provinces East of Ontario, and add a detour. This year, we hoped to visit New Hamsphire.

It goes without saying the pandemic kiboshed those plans.

So we took the opportunity to explore our province – which had recently reached Stage 3 of 3 of its reopening plans – to head north to Thunder Bay and explore detours along the way and back.

In my 30+ years living in Canada, this is my first time exploring my province in this depth.

For context, Thunder Bay is a 15-hour drive from our home – longer than to visit two provinces to the East!

We planned activities that allow us to keep to ourselves – provincial parks, hikes and swimming.

We left bright and early on Saturday and divided the drive over two days.

“We’re going on an adventure!” T said excitedly as we drove off from our driveway.

Day 1, we took a detour at Sudbury – five hours from home – and took a photo at the Big Nickel.

Then we drove another three hours north to Sault Ste Marie, our pit stop for the night.

We left the motel bright and early the next day. We had a seven-hour drive to Thunder Bay but we wanted to make a few detours.

The highlight of this day was stopping by in Wawa. There, we went off the highway and drove down a dirt road for 10 minutes until we hit Sandy Beach.

We then walked down a boardwalk that led to a narrow path with tall wild grass on either sides that led to this beautiful white sanded beach.

Would you believe we had this slice of heaven on Earth all to ourselves?!

Well, except for the first few minutes when a cute guy, with his three friends, took off his clothes down to his boxer briefs and ran into the water. The hubby and I were like, “What the hell is going on?” Good thing T wasn’t off to the side drowning, because we were a little distracted!

But soon, the guys left and my family had this gorgeous beach all to ourselves for the next hour!

T ran up and down the beach with full abandon, while the hubby walked around and I was lost in a daze soaking in the wonderful view, inhaling the fresh air and feeling the soft sand on my feet.

It was a chilly and cloudy day – 16 degrees. But the sun soon emerged. T and I decided to brave the icy water and changed to our swim clothes – we didn’t need a change room because no one was around! – and swam. The cold water woke me right up!

We then sat on a log and opened up a tube of Pringles and a bottle of Coke and shared it.

T built a few sandcastles – destroying them along the way – and then explored the empty beach some more.

We were sad to leave but we had to get on our way as we had another five hours to drive to Thunder Bay.

Near our car, the hubby found wild blueberries growing. So naturally, we had to have some. And I lived to blog about it, so they must really have been blueberries!

We had hoped to get to our motel by 7 pm but ended up arriving closer to 10 as we took a few more unplanned detours.

It has always been my wish for T to develop a love of adventure, to see the world and to be able to step outside of his comfort zone.

Our summer roadtrips – now year 5 – is one way to cultivate that spirit. I am so thankful we are able to continue that tradition this year, despite all the darkness and uncertainty in the world. I feel immense gratitude for the gift of these precious moments – especially the look of joy in T’s face and the sound of his pure glee.

I hope you enjoy the next few days of our adventures with us. The fun has just begun!

32 thoughts on “Family Roadtrip to Explore Northern Ontario

    1. Thanks Serena. This trip took place in the first pandemic summer in August 2020 and it truly saved our sanity and allowed us to discover a part of the province we’ve never seen before. A true blessing in disguiseB

  1. Definitely a fun and enjoyable Summer road trip . Thanks for sharing your province and the beach . To have it all to yourselves , yes, heaven! As for the nude swimmers, hmm, sounds like bakers beach San Francisco here. Oh well, life is short not to try something we haven’t done before. My son’s on line class begins Wednesday. We might do one last family beach day just to celebrate the last day of Summer. Take care & regards . ☀️

    1. It’s been a great summer roadtrip to explore our province. One of the unexpected positive from this pandemic is staying local. It is indeed nice if you ever are interested in exploring Canada! It was just one swimmer, btw, and he wasn’t nude. 😂. I take it Bakers Beach is not a bakery? 🤣

      Best wishes to your son on Wednesday. That seems kinda early to me. Does he finish school earlier then? Either way, hope you get to enjoy another family day outdoors!

      1. Bakers beach is the nude beach in SF but it’s actually a mix of nudist and tourist and beach lovers . Shocking is not a word in SF, it’s freedom and individualism. Take care. Thanks 🙏

      2. Thank you! My hubby and I went to San Fran in 2011, with his parents, and we loved it. I still remember we took them to Castro Street and the first person we saw was buck named, except with a sailor hat on his head. Jokes aside, what a truly beautiful part of the world that you live in. Thanks for continuing to share it with us!

  2. When I read about places like Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie –

    I think of the woman who taught me through Childcraft [set of encyclopaedias] who French-Canadians were through story and myth – that is Natalie Savage Carlson.

    What a treasure to have this beach all on your own. [Wawa and Sandy Bay]

    And, yes, how very very north is that bit of Ontario.

    Glad you explored this Province for the first time in your thirty + years in Canada.

    Those blueberries! So delightful!

    Joy and glee and adventure. That is what I would wish for T and for you.

    I had wondered if T were a Pringlearian [this dietary preference is from the works of Irish Kenneth Hall – look for “The universe and everything].

    1. Thank you for visiting, Adelaide. We were quite blessed with this trip and journey. Thanks for introducing me to the word Pringlearian!

  3. What a wonderful detour! You couldn’t have planned it any better. OK am I crazy or did you say it was 16 degrees? You were just seeing if we were paying attention right? hahahaha

    1. Hahaha, now there’s a thought. But yah, it really was 16 degrees. 🙂 It was a combo of we’re being more north and the day was cloudy. Maybe that’s why the beach was empty! Haha.

    2. I just realized you might’ve thought 16 Fahrenheit… to be clear, I meant 16 degrees Celsius (what we use in Canada). 😂 I’m crazy but not that crazy?!

  4. Looked lovely to me! And pic of T on the shoreline with you aaahhh… if ours were there, they would have piled in, whatever the temperature and fully clothed! Lol

    Hopefully you will get the full 2,weeks next year, but this year is sure to leave many happy memories Ab.

    Now you can say you’ve seen the world’s largest nickel! That’s a memory to treasure 😃

    1. Thanks Andi! The beach was truly a wonderful find.

      This year’s unexpected vacation proves that everything in life works out as it should. I would never have thought about exploring Ontario if it weren’t for the pandemic conditions.

      You’ll be off on your family vacation soon. Look forward to your updates!

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