When you’ve left as many times as we have, you learn that home isn’t the land, air, or water. Definitely not bricks and mortar. Home is a smile, a hug, a long conversation at the end of the day, a week, or even a month. Home is a beating heart. For this reason, I know that even though I don’t live there anymore, returning to South Africa, Germany, and now Toronto, is a homecoming. We come home to the people we love, not the place.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the kind of wisdom I possessed on a cold and wet Sunday morning, after a night of restlessness, as we set out of Toronto. We’ve had to say goodbye too many times for this departure to be a joyous one. Let’s just say emotions were high, and there was a lot of sniffling for the first two hours of our journey.
It’s difficult to stay sad when faced with the breathtaking beauty of Canada though. I snapped so many photos that I had a difficult time choosing just a few to share with you. The original plan was to drive half the distance every day, then explore the place where we stopped for lunch. This didn’t go as planned. We were desperate enough to get there–hopefully the last faraway place we’ll live–that we didn’t mind driving a little longer than planned. For this reason, all of the photos were taken from inside a moving vehicle. Let’s pretend we planned it this way, to give you that sense of journeying too.
Here’s how it went down.
Day One: Toronto, Ontario, to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Roughly 702km.
Day Two: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Roughly 700km.
Day Three: Thunder Bay, Ontario, to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Roughly 702km. We entered a new time zone during this trip.
Day Four: Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Regina, Saskatchewan. Roughly 574km.
Day Five: Regina, Saskatchewan, to Calgary, Alberta. Roughly 760km. We entered a new time zone here too, and spent a week in Calgary before DST ended and we shifted back yet another hour.
We took the Trans Canada Highway and stayed in Canada for the journey. Cutting through the United States would have been quicker, but we don’t yet have visitors’ visas to enter the USA.
I don’t think any of us appreciated the enormity that is Canada until we crossed a great big chunk of it. You can tell by the breakdown that it took us two and a half days just to get out of Ontario–a province as big as my home country.
During this trip, we drove through every kind of weather except hail. At some points, the temperature dropped as low as -7 degrees Celcius, but it also went as high as 18.
We saw rolling hills and valleys–so many that it seemed there could be no end to them. Lake Superior, big enough to be a freshwater ocean in the middle of a landmass. The person who named Superior certainly picked the right word. Then, areas where you couldn’t throw a pebble without hitting a river or lake. Forests so vast that the scent of pine hung in the car long after we’d passed through. And then, the Prairies–flat and treeless as far as the eye can see.
As we closed in on Calgary, the road began to rise and fall again, and there, way in the distance, the slight silhouette of mountains. We knew we’d see the Rockies from Calgary, everyone had told us. What we didn’t know was how clearly we’d see the mountains, how close they truly are. But more on this and the wonders of Calgary in another post.
For now, here are some of the photos.
Until next time.