A Passage to Niagara

When we plotted our route east we planned to duck south of Lake Erie. The more direct route — along the north shore of Lake Erie — involved going into Canada, and the kids’ passports were expired.

About two weeks before we left Washburn we mentioned something about that to our friend Mark and he said the you don’t need a passport for kids in Canada, just a birth certificate would do. A little investigation proved him right, and so we altered our plans to go along the north shore of Lake Erie, through Ontario and then back into the states in Niagara.

We crossed into Canada just outside of Detroit (which seems like a fine city, not the smoldering apocalyptic thing you see in the media). We don’t have international service on our phones so we promptly lost all navigation and communication. Which was fine. It’s Canada, what could go wrong?

I must confess that most of what I know about Canada comes from watching Strange Brew, Kids in the Hall, and listening to Rush. When I saw a man coming out of the McDonald’s at the border wearing a Rush t-shirt I took it as a sign everything was going to be okay.

We headed south, sticking to smaller roads along the shoreline for most of the day, communicating with hand gestures at stop signs. Once the smaller road… just stopped and we had to cut up to the interstate (interprovince?), but otherwise it was a nice drive through rural Ontario, which seems like it might actually be full of small farms still.

I follow a Canadian farmer on the interwebs and she is always suggesting that people get to know their local farmers (as a way to know where your food, especially meat, is coming from), which in the United States… in most places there aren’t that many farm stands and one does not just drive up to random farms and ask if you can buy something. I’ve always found this bit of advice confounding, but driving through Ontario I suddenly saw what she was thinking of, nearly every farm we drove past had a stand and someone manning it. It would be easy to get to know your local farmer. If you were local. We are not.

It seemed like a long day for some reason, though we only went about 140 miles. It was well into the afternoon before we pulled into Long Point Provincial Park, which sits out on a long peninsula that sticks out into Lake Erie, a bit like the opposite of the Keweenaw.

We managed to get a campsite for the night, and since it was a beautiful day, temperatures in the 70s, we headed down to the beach.

The water was warm in the shallows, not just by Lake Superior standards, but actually, like, warm. When you waded out deeper you could find the colder thermal layers and it was possible to stand there with your feet turning to blocks of ice while the rest of you was fine. So long as you stuck to the shallow areas though, which had been warmed by days of sunshine, it was like playing in bath water. We hadn’t spent that much time at the beach since we left Florida in May.

After dinner we went back down to watch the sunset over the lake, one of the nice things about being on the east side of a great lake — you get to see the sunset over the water.

That night we decided we should pause and stay a few days in Canada, enjoy the warm weather and beach time. I put some Rush on the stereo, took off work, and, the next morning, went up and booked our site for two more nights. Canada.


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