This summer is sure to be a full one for us. Our first summer as a family of four, the house is busier in general, but this is also the first year in the past four that we won’t be undertaking any major home-renovation projects (we live in a 100-year old heritage home that has thus far required a fair amount of work). This leaves us time to set out on some adventures! Before our weekends and months fill up with other social obligations, we figured we would set in place a few of the trips we would like to undertake. Here they are…
We’re doing it! In June, 2011 we will bike away from our home in Ontario, Canada on a year long, 20,000km journey meandering around North and Central America. Oh — and we be doing it as a family with our 2 toddlers, Eden and Harper!
Now why on earth would we choose to ride our bikes for a whole year, lugging over a hundred pounds of children, bikes and gear through all sorts of weather and over all types of terrain? Why don’t we just go go on a cruise or go to Disney World like a regular family? Well, for starters, we love our bikes, and we love slow travel. Bicycle touring allows us to experience the landscape and communities we pass through on a very personal level — in a way we’ve never been able to achieve traveling by any other method.
This is the first in a series of 5 posts about our family vacation to the wilderness of Algonquin from July 4-11, 2009.
This trip is a first for us: canoe camping in Ontario’s Algonquin park! We were all really excited for the change from biking, our usual form of camping transportation, but we weren’t really quite sure how to prepare for this trip, especially since Heidi was six months pregnant with our second child. The equipment required (besides the canoe, which we would be renting) is remarkably similar to that which we already had for biking and backpacking, so beyond picking up a few drybags for keeping our gear from getting wet, our pre-trip prep was mainly reading about canoeing and portaging techniques, as well as trying to imagine just how difficult carrying a canoe over a portage would be!
Nine days away from work. A two-night stay booked (with huge discount) at a resort hotel 200km from home. One 16 month old daughter. Sounds like a pretty normal holiday — except that this was going to be our first family bicycle touring vacation!
A looping tour of southern Ontario, starting and ending from our home in Hamilton was our original intention. We could lengthen or shorten the loop as we felt necessary, adjusting our cycling mileage — and with the hotel stay in the middle of the trip we would have a nice break. However, the weather forecast the day before our departure called for LOTS of rain around Hamilton. So we brainstormed of ways we could avoid the bad weather and still make our hotel stay, finally arriving on the idea of taking a train up to Sudbury, Ontario, where there was better weather predicted, and biking back from there. Sudbury to Hamilton (via the Bruce Penninsula) is about 650km — a bit more of a challenge distance-wise than we originally intended, and with no option to shorten the route once we started. We thought maybe we were crazy to change things up so suddenly seeing as this was our first big trip with the three of us, but we decided to go for it.
The following is the account of our adventure!