We left Ottawa towards the south and slowly the landscape started changing. Driving curvy roads we entered the greener part of Ontario. Left and right we were surprised by beautiful lakes and river systems. Around every bend in the road another gem of a lake popped up. It is strange how these lakes don’t seem to stop amazing us, still when we are driving we find ourselves telling each other “wow look at that” when another lakes shows from around the bend.
When we decided we drove enough for the day we drove into a town called Seeley’s Bay. Passing through that town we found a road that would lead us all the way to a small point reaching into the water like a natural pier. On both sides of this road small houses were build, we would later learn that we arrived in cottage country. People build a second home for weekends and holidays on the river and lakes to enjoy the beautiful nature, these smaller houses they call cottages. Not all of them are small, and some are occupied year around.
We got to the end of the road and struck gold, there was a picnic table right on the crystal clear water and a little walk down a trail that led to a platform to dive from. It was hot that day and we got into the water. The water was warmer than we had experienced up till then. The view was amazing, the first experience of the famous lakes in Ontario was unforgettable and we couldn’t wait to see more.
Still cool from the swim we started making camp when a man with his dogs started to approach. We were surprised when he told us he had 4 VW vans and that he attended the same festival we did about a week before. His name was John and invited us to stay at his driveway just 100 meters up the road. We talked about busses endlessly and he showed us his split window bus from the late 50’s, an amazing looking and running campervan.
The next day John invited us to use his canoe to go for a paddle. We were so excited to get on the water. Even before being on the water for 10 minutes we saw deer right and the lake side, for the locals this is not even worth talking about but for us this was a major happening. We saw fish shooting through the clear water, passed rocky lake sides topped with high trees with here and there a cottage, we loved it! We stayed another night before leaving to Lake Ontario.
On our way to lake Ontario we got in contact with Marty and Alex who invited us to their house on the lake. We met them and their two Dalmatians at the BustFusion festival and we all were excited to see each other again outside the festival. We drove through an area of farm land before pulling off to a gravel road that led to their place. The dogs were there to great us as we drove down their driveway to their house that was only a couple of meters away from the lake. We were so happy to be invited to stay at a spot this beautiful, stunning views and amazing company.
When Alex and Marty came home from work they invited us in their home and made us feel incredibly welcome. After dinner we shared stories and played game’s until way passed our bedtimes. This is how we spend the nights at their place, playing games and having a drink after a day of paddling the lake seeing otters, swans, snake, fish, the big stern, and osprey. Time was flying and before we knew it we spent the bigger part of the week at their place. We felt like we made real friends when we turned off their driveway.
There was a ferry that took us up to a peninsula called Edward, the first boat ride for the van on this side of the ocean. The peninsula had loads of small towns that we passed through, connected by roads through farm fields that were sometimes interrupted by patches of hardwood trees. At the lower side of the peninsula there is the Sandbanks provincial park, we drove into the park to see the dunes and a rare sweet water beach. When we got back to the van a French family had parked next to us in a beautiful VW bay window. They came up from Florida with a minimalistic set-up and 2 beautiful kids. They really inspired us on how people do these trips with way les stuff than we do. After about an hour of storytelling and van watching our ways parted.
Crossing the peninsula for some hours we drove up to a perfectly shabby looking fish and chips place. It was made out of old school busses boarded off with plywood painted in a colourful design that was worn down by the Canadian weather. Just wanting to take some pictures we pulled over and were drawn into the place. The shack was owned by an sweet older Greek couple, and of course we had to eat there before travelling further.
We left the fish and chips place feeling full and happy, pulling up the van it jumped out of second gear. This is something the van did once before when leaving Marty’s and Alex’s driveway that very morning but this time it was more violent. I knew right away this was bad. We drove for a bit in third and fourth gear afraid about what would happen after we slowed down and had to pull up again. Grinding gearbox teeth and a violent swing of the shifter was the only thing second gear was giving us, we were in trouble. It was a 100% clear the gearbox died on us, trying to keep our cool we started to make our plan. We called Marty and Alex to ask if we could come back to take on this challenge that was ahead of us. It feels so good to know good people that you can fall back on in these times, it makes all the difference. We limped back to their place where we were welcomed with open arms and we started to work out a solution.