I love camping. I love road trips. And I got to experience the best of both worlds for two weeks straight with the best travel companion a girl could ask for. This trip encompassed all the fond memories I have of driving to Vancouver most summers as a kid, and was my first real road trip as an adult. I had never been to the East coast before this and had no idea what to expect, our excuse for visiting NYC was to see a music festival there and Toronto was all about visiting my boyfriend’s brother and his lovely fiancé.
We started out stateside and drove through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania before arriving in New York. We did the drive in three and a half days and only had to stay in a hotel one night because of rain. Our first campsite was just past Minneapolis and was reminiscent of an old summer camp that had seen better days. We knocked on the office door and were greeted by a portly older man with a lazy eye who escorted us to our site in his golf cart. We seemed to be the only people in the park even though there were seemingly abandoned RV’s and trailers scattered about. That combined with a drizzling rain and some ghost stories I managed to spook myself pretty substantially. But with daybreak came the revealing of a cheery campground littered with whimsical lawn ornaments, beautiful old trees and a path down to little creek that flowed out into glassy lake.
Our second night of camping was by far my favourite. We made our way past Chicago (which we drove through during rush-hour traffic jams) to a state park at the bottom tip of lake Michigan. The campground was a lot more lively and we got to set up the tent in the midst of our neighbours belting out cover songs around their campfire. Once we were fed and showered we ventured out for a flashlight walk to the beach. We climbed up on a lifeguard chair and watched the waves come in until we noticed a firework show erupting across the lake, it was pretty magical. If we had more time I would’ve liked to stay at that campground for at least a few nights, but we had to get back on the open road.
The next day was all rain and I felt pretty defeated checking into a Comfort Inn that night. But two out of three nights with decent weather is better than none!
On the way back to Winnipeg we had a little hiccup with my work schedule, which left us with only two days to drive 23 hours. The drive through Ontario was much more tedious than we had experienced stateside. The speed limit was 90 km/h and the bulk of the driving was on a winding two lane highway with “Watch out for Moose” signs the entire way. I felt pretty bad because I had a pretty hard time with the driving on the way home, leaving the majority of it up to Neal. The provincial park we stayed in was pretty lacklustre compared to our other experiences. It was expensive, cold and the mosquitoes where out in full force (after-which I convinced myself I had contracted West Nile disease, but quickly dispelled the notion after a quick google symptom search). Not to mention the tap water onsite was undrinkable, which didn’t become a problem until we tried to buy a bottle of water from a drink machine in the morning and found out that the power had gone out in the campground. We made the best of out last night of camping but after that whole experience we both started craving a hot shower and a sleep in our own beds.
This entire trip was an exercise in juxtaposition as we spent half our time sleeping on the ground and cooking over a campfire, and the rest was spent in two of the biggest cities I’ve ever been in. But more on that over the next few days!