This past July we went to Canada and enjoyed the summer with my family. They are located in Manitoba, which is a sparsely populated province located in the middle of the country. Manitoba is lots of fun with tons of activities and friendly people in summer. It’s impossible to describe what it’s like in winter. Besides, no one wants to talk about it, and it’s hard to understand through all the layers of wool anyway.
My brother and I grew up with camping parents, and we both came away from these experiences with different thoughts on the subject. He decided that he was an avid camper and outdoors-person, and I decided to stay in places where there were bathrooms under the same roof as me.
He and his family spend a lot of time camping around Canada once the weather warms up, because they believe that summer is the only time you can go outside and have a bit of faith that Mother Nature isn’t trying to kill you.
When my husband and I began planning our trip to Canada, we mentioned to my brother that we would like to go to Toronto to see my husband’s two older children. My brother and sister-in-law were immediately enthusiastic, because they also wanted to DRIVE to Toronto, camping along the way.
Gil and I tried recalling the time where we mentioned our desire to drive for twenty-four hours in the same car as our children. Also, Gil is not familiar with camping, as he grew up in Mexico City and didn’t really do a lot of nature activities as a child. So we would be depending on my own rather sparse camping knowledge. This seemed to make my parents quite concerned when we told them our plans. Apparently I hadn’t been all that helpful or shown much interest as a child when our family camped, and they wondered about their grandchildren’s safety, sleeping in a tent that I had been in charge of pitching.
Thankfully they still had some gear and, once we arrived in Winnipeg, they spent time showing us how to set it all up.
We rented a car and followed my brother and his family through the Canadian Shield from Winnipeg to Toronto on an epic ten day adventure.
Things That Were Challenging:
- Cultural hiccups. For example, my brother, like many Canadian road trippers, likes to keep a strict driving schedule; therefore we ate packed lunches at the side of the road without the benefit of most utensils. Gil, like many Mexican road trippers, likes to stop and eat lunch at a table like a civilized human being. If you have to stand up to eat, it better be beside a big, dripping trompo for tacos de pastor.
- If you are setting up a tent at 11pm and its 10 degrees Celsius, and you are with someone who is setting up his first tent ever, it can be a little disheartening to realize you forgot to bring a flashlight.
- No one can possibly like outhouses. And yet, inexplicably, outhouses continue to be a camping thing.
- Pre-teen kids in cars can be ok because technology lends itself nicely to confined situations. However. Once they are done with road life, they are truly finished in a way that is impossible to ignore.
- Sometimes coffee isn’t readily available and you actually have to DWU to the nearest convenience store (Drive Whilst Uncaffeinated). So dangerous .
So sometimes things were a bit tense. And sometimes we were all tired of listening to the children argue over the position of their legs in the backseat. And a lot of times Gil and I decided that we weren’t Camping Material.
But there were things that were great. And the greatest thing about them was experiencing them through the eyes of Gilberto, a visitor to this beautiful country. We would round the corner of the never ending highway and he would see something for the first time ever, like a lonely lake so glassy the pine trees looked like they were hanging upside down in it. Like a collection of stony inukshuks placed by other travelers marking the way. Like a giant, solitary moose munching quietly in a tree-ringed meadow.
I’d look over at him and watch his eyes, shiny with emotion. I’d forget that I was DWU and I’d remember why my birth country is so great. I’d remind myself that these are moments you experience when you get on the road with a tent and some sandwiches. And I’d promise myself to do it again soon (but next time, with a flashlight).