camping killarney!


i gotta say this was one of our most successful camping trips ever. 

killarney provincial park is a stunning place in northern ontario. we camped there for 3 nights and 4 days, but we could have stayed longer!

this was the view we saw when we first arrived on our site.

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it felt as though we had found perfection. the ultimate camping spot with the kids!

 

lion received a fishing rod for his birthday, which he loves. and, bear made one of his own so the kids fished from the rock for what felt like hours! they never did catch anything, but they sure did keep at it.

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the weather was hot during the day, but the nights were cool. this meant we filled our days with hikes and swimming AND ICE CREAM!

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we hiked the granite ridge trail, which was so fun. we started low in the forest and then started to climb up the rock. the trail meandered through the woods, over rock, passed a funny old rusted car, all the way up to the summit where the views were breathtaking. we snacked on our food and nibbled on the blueberries growing in their bushes.

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we visited the old town of killarney, which has a wee population of 500. there isn’t much there, a few stores, a marina and of course… ICE CREAM! but, it was nice to visit.

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check out the new tent we bought! it’s from MEC and is the 4 person wanderer. it’s perfect for the 4 of us!

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we rented a canoe for a day. it was DH’s favourite day of the trip. we packed a lunch and headed out on george lake. we paddled so different spots, stopping to explore, picnic and rest. we must have done about 3 km’s. nothing intense, but it sure was fun and by the time we returned my arms were quite tired. we had been paddling into the wind for a lot of the day!

killarney collage

i adore camping with my family. now that the kids are old enough to do more for themselves (like walk to the s*itters) and because they don’t require constant entertainment and supervision from us, we all get a chance to relax. DH and i enjoyed ourselves immensely, and we really had a great time as a family without it feeling like forced quality time.

in the evenings we all snuggled up in our own sleeping bags and listened as DH read to us from his kobo. he had downloaded some kids chapter books on to it, which were perfect for all of us to enjoy. it also made bedtime easier for us. our 7 year old bear often has a hard time falling asleep, which if DH and i were sitting outside the tent would find very frustrating, but because we were all relaxed together, tired and listening to the story, we all nodded off one by one.

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we have two more weekend camping trips to enjoy this summer!

the kids are thrilled. so am i!

xo, mama lola

ottawa, our last summer hurrah!

the last week of august is always a bit of a weird week, summer is coming to a  fast end and the anticipation for school to start is thick in the air. to fill our summer to the max, we decided to drive to ottawa for one last summer hurrah!

 

we drove passed toronto and stopped in on some family for lunch and a swim. then we continued until kingston to visit more family. we stayed the night with my sister-in-law, her mister and my sweet wee niece. they have three chickens in their backyard who our boys were quite taken with. oh, lily, robin and blackie, such a lovely feathered trio!

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there was a super awesome splash pad in kingston!

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splash pad

from kingston we drove to the sandbanks for one last night of summer camping! along the way the kids both fell asleep in the car, and they both slept through a ferry ride! we drove through the picturesque town of picton en route to the sandpbanks provincial park.

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ferry to picton

the day had been hot, so our plan was to find our campsite, get changed into our bathing suits and go hang-out at the beach! but, things didn’t quite go as expected… when we arrived at the beach there were these huge, dark storm clouds sitting in the distance. the wind was picking up, but we all braved the weather and went for a swim anyway. it felt like we were swimming in the ocean! the waves were big and stormy as we bounced in them, and then they would continue on crashing onto the shore. we did get cold quickly so we headed back to camp!

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camp cooking

the next day, we tried the beach again. we packed up our campsite, put on our swimming gear, the sun was bright, but again, as soon as we arrived things took a turn. the wind picked up and the warm sun got hidden behind big cloud masses.

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the kids refused to go swimming, instead they opted to bury dear hubby in the sand, but first giving him a nice set of breasts!

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playing in the sand

so, we decided to leave the sandbanks and just drive to ottawa.

 

in ottawa we stayed at the beautiful delta. we looked pretty rough around the edges as we arrived via the underground parking into the sparkly and clean hotel lobby.

delta ottawa

we washed off the sandbanks camping grub and slept well in our comfy beds! the next day we were off to the canadian museum of history, where we explored the children’s museum with great enthusiasm. the kids were given adorable passports, which enabled us to travel from country to country experiencing all sorts of cultural activities!

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canadian museum of history
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canadian museum of history

canadian museum of history

we lunched at the byward market, strolled passed the parliament buildings, the boys got their hair cut at a fancy downtown barber, and we enjoyed our days to the max. but, even though it was all lovely we decided cut our mini-road trip short, as we were feeling pretty burnt out. our summer had been  busy and fun, but we all needed some extra time at home before kicking off another school year!

byward market ottawa

we really love ottawa. it’s a great place to visit with kids, with a dynamic downtown that is walkable even for littler feet. there are lots of yummy restaurants and the byward market is so great at meal times! in the above picture we all had something different to eat from all sorts of worldly places!

 

but, we were so glad to get home!

i got all of laundry done, groceries for the following week and a few good sleeps before having to set the alarm for our early school day mornings! bah!

 

i have a back-to-school-starting-school post in the pipeline! this new life of two kids in school has been a big transition in our family, and somehow i have less time to blog…

 

xo, mama lola

camping killbear.

 

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this summer has been jam packed with camping. one of our trips to the woods was with an old friend from high school and her two lovely girls. we had booked the camp site weeks prior and a few days before our trip did some simple meal planning. then the night before our departure, while dear hubby was driving our van to run a few errands for me, white smoke emerged from the steering column of the van!!! in the morning the mechanic took hard look at the problem, replaced a few wires, but was unable to give a definite reason as to what had caused the smoke. my friend and i weren’t even sure that i could drive the three hours needed to get to our campground.

 

long story short, we got the ok from the mechanic so the kids and i hit the road, a few hours behind schedule, but at least we were on our way!

 

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about an hour into our drive we hit rain. and when i say rain, i mean torential downpour where the wipers are swishing away at full blast! we stopped off the main highway to pee and load up on timbits! the rain eased up so we got back in the van and kept heading north. the drive was easy, luckly, which meant we arrived quickly at killbear.

 

killbear provincial park.

we set up camp.

got dinner under way.

started a fire.

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it was cold and damp, with rainy drizzly bits moving over us constantly. luckily my friend is a super outdoorsy woman with incredible skills when it came to setting up tarps and tying knots. when she was climbing around on picnic tables trying to create good rain cover for us, i got to hold the baby! our youngest camper wasn’t even a year, but she had her mum’s outdoorsy skills. she rarely complained and was happy taste test all kinds of natural goodies she found on the ground!

 

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when the rain eased up we walked down to a tiny beach. we climbed the large rock taking in the spectacular views. the air was cool, but regardless the kids decided they wanted to dip their toes into the water. next thing you know, they are all almost naked going in waist deep to play! we were so close to our camp site that us mum’s weren’t worried and just let them play!

 

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these two could be twins! they were born about a month apart back in 2010!

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yes, that is baby M wearing a down snowsuit in august. the air was that raw!

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friday was our departure day and it turned out to be a gorgeous summers day. the sun was out in full blast, the blue sky was bright and the temperature rose up quickly! we took the morning to pack up and then headed to the beach!

 

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then we found some more rock to explore on. the views were breath taking and quite reminiscent of my homeland, finland.

 

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the kids did so great on this trip! even though so much of it was cold and rainy they never complained. instead they rode their bikes a lot, played all sorts of games in the woods and the three bigger kids got along super well!

 

here are my instagram pics from the trip! make sure you’re following me there… CLICK HERE!

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killbear also had an awesome visitors centre that we checked out. very interactive with educational activity sheets for kids to fill out. great especially as it was so cold and rainy…. and finally, NO BEAR SIGHTINGS!!! the van was fine letting us get home safe and sound!!!

 

i know school has started and i will share pictures from those days soon! i just want to share pics from our trip to ottawa, which will happen soon:ish i hope! beginning of september is an exhausting time for all of us!!!

xo, mama lola

july camping week: part 2

 

this is part two of our family camping trip from july (read part one HERE)! yes, i am late in sharing, but i have taken conscious time away from this space to vacation and enjoy summer with my family.

 

after surviving the bumps mac gregor point threw our way, we headed up to the bruce peninsula all the way to tobermory. there we were camping at a national camp ground called cyprus lake. we were excited, as we had heard wonderful things about this destination.

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remember how we had had issues with rain a few days earlier at our previous site at mac gregor point? so to combat fears, dear hubby climbed a few trees to attach the world largest tarp and try to protect the tent from flooding.

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our site surrounded by stunning tall trees. it was a large site perfect for the kids to ride their bikes around, it had a private forests all around where the kids busied themselves with all kinds of games. one thing this camp ground was strict about was keeping your site clean of foods and things that might attract wild animals. there were black bears around, and other animals like raccoons can cause real havoc to campers.

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we had fires each night, mostly for cooking things like baked potatoes and jiffy pop! but, having stories by the fire is never a bad thing either! our kids love camping, but sometimes bear struggles with finding space to be alone. he needs it to recharge his batteries.

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we hiked along a beautiful trail from our campsite to the famous grotto. the view was spectacular! it looked like we were on the mediterranean sea in greece somewhere!

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and then we woke up to rain. and, not nice summer rain that is refreshing and makes the forest smell amazing… no, no this was torrential and cold! luckily, i am married to a man who is not phased by these kinds of surprises, instead of getting upset, he just rolls into action! he backed up the van close to the tent, dragged a picnic table under the worlds largest tarp and started cooking breakfast for us as if it was any ol’morning! how awesome is he?!

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on our last day in tobemory we had to make it count after being rained out! so we took a super speedy boat ride to flower pot island. on the way there we checked out a few shipwrecks in the sparkling clear water. the boys of course thought it was all pretty darn cool!

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then we were off…. woohooo!!!! we all love being on boats and feeling the wind in our hair!

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we saw a snake quickly dash across the trail we were on.

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this was definitely a trying trip for us, mostly cause by the rain and the fact that i had strep, which meant i was tired. but, we saw lots of beautiful things and got to spend that oh-so-important quality time together as a family. being together just the four of us is necessary for us; we all yearn to be together and as the kids get older it’s going to be hard to always have that time.but, i’m hoping if we make these summer traditions now, they’ll become things we all look forward to!

 

well, here’s hoping anyhow!

hope you have been enjoying your summer! soon i’ll be sharing about our experiences at camp neekaunis, a family camp the boys and i attended. plus, some other summer adventures we’ve been fortunate enough to do!

xo, mama lola

july camping week: part 1.

as soon as school let out, we packed up the van and went camping. it was fun, but quite stressful as well. we had a lot pretty big bumps along the way, starting with me getting strep throat on our very first night. bah! but, after spending a couple of hours in the ER i got a script for the antibiotics and was good to go from there!

i took a lotof photo’s and i have tried to only choose my top-TOP faves and ones that best tell the story of our adventure! we stayed in two camp grounds, so i’m dividing the pics up according geography. i’m hoping it’ll be easier to see the pics…

[part one] : MAC GREGOR POINT!

we love camping here. the provincial camp grounds are right on the shores of lake huron, there is a small beach and this year the water was freezing, because of the extra cold winter that brought enormous snow levels! i stood in the water for 3 seconds which was enough time to cause excruciating pain in my ankles and feet!

the amenities are great, but our bear was reluctant to use the outhouse style loo’s, but the camp sites are awesome and the bike trails are super fun and the board walks are lovely!we actually had a trail go right by our camp site, allowing the kids to go running and biking on their own a little. it was kinda perfect! plus, their visitors centre is amazing and our kids love it!

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it was super hot and humid… so hot in fact that someone’s ice cream melted faster than they could keep up with it! the heat brought with it torrential rains, a dinner in town and the purchase of the world’s biggest tarp! there are no pictures, because things were chaotic and wet… and, um… tense during those hours!

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a typical camping breakfast made by my lovely husband. coffee pressed in my coleman brand french press, an egg sunny side up with smoked gouda all on a finnish rye bread! perfection, i tell ya!

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we hung-out a lot. the boys rode their bikes, we painted water colours together and complained about the bugs. oh-my-gosh the bugs were intense and not just the mosquitoes, but the deer flies and regular house flies were swarming us! never have i camped where house flies are a problem!

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we saw this turtle one evening. it was minding it’s own business, toodeling along when we came along and disturbed him.

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one evening we drove up the coast and went to the shores of lake huron and enjoyed a sunset just the four of us. it was absolutely stunning. we had had a rough afternoon, as our bear had fallen off his bike landing hard on his belly. the shard rock and tree roots left a huge dent in my guy!

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after the sun set it was still steaming hot, especially in our tent, so we removed the world’s biggest tarp and the tent fly to try and get some air in. i lay there listening to my family snore away, as i stared up at the sky filled with stars. it was such a beautiful moment with my family, even if they didn’t know it!

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on july 1st, CANADA DAY we switched camp sites and headed a little further north to tobermory and cyprus lake.

part two will have pictures from there, which will include more fun with the world’s largest tarp, a boat ride and more!

 

xo, mama lola

the final leg of our summer road trip!

i realize summer is a distant memory at this point, but i just wanted to share some photo’s from the last leg of our trip.

to read about the first part go HERE.
to read about the second part go HERE.
to read about the third part go HERE.

so, after a quick play at a park and a picnic lunch it was time to head to manitoulin island from sault saint marie.

with the pedal to the metal within speed limit restrictions, of course, we drove down and east along the trans-canada highway. it was an easy drive without any traffic problems. we arrived at the bridge leading on to the island. and, we had to wait. the bridge swings open once an hour to allow boats through.

we arrived in the town of little current, and scrambled to find accommodations. eventually we found a hotel looking over the harbour, which was fine, but the bar downstairs had a band playing till the wee hours of the morning! the kids and dear hubby slept through the cover bands renditions of sweet child o’mine among other 80’s hits!

we walked down to the marina checked out the boats and ate ice cream, cuz that’s what you do in the summer, right?

manitoulin island hosts a large pow wow each summer. it was a hot day, but we enjoyed the performances and dancing fully. look at these awesome headdresses and regalia worn by people from various nations and tribes.



we savoured time with our friends, friends who came all the way from germany! the kids played and played and laughed and laughed. we roasted marshmallows, drank some boozy drinks, chatted about kids, world politics and everything in between! we camped with them at a funny little private trailer park for a couple of nights. 



this is how i will remember manitoulin island. bright blue skies, rolling fields and peace.


we found a fun flea market.


we found a wonderful, tiny museum on a rainy afternoon.



before leaving the island, we found a funny little beach and went for one last road trip swim. we explored the reeds and enjoyed a picnic lunch.


and then the finale… the chi-chee! the chi cheemaun was the perfect way to end our epic summer road trip! the chi cheemaun is a ferry that goes from manitoulin island to the tip of the bruce peninsula and docks in owen sound. it’s about a two hour trip each way. we arrived early for the ferry; first we parked the van to line up for the ferry, then we went walking around the area, exploring a lighthouse, having lunch and just savouring the last hours of our trip together.


i was feeling quite nostalgic on our last day of traveling. returning home, meant dear hubby would return back to work, it meant that summer was that much closer to ending and it meant a return to some kind of routine. 
even though the trip had been super fun, it had been exhausting and stressful, as well. the four of us had been together the entire time, which again, was wonderful, but also exhausting.


road tripping is a great way to connect to a place, a province, a country and with your family. after experiencing our first full year of school as a family, and after feeling all those hours of separation take a toll on us, a summer road trip was a great way for us to re-connect. i felt the bond between all of my guys deepen; dear hubby and i had some of those great conversations you only have in the car. the kids played together so well (most of the time) and i saw their relationship grow tremendously. and, it was so wonderful to witness the kids spend all that uninterrupted time with their dad. we all benefited greatly from this trip.

now that we are in full swing with school and work, and rigid schedule they bring, i can really appreciate the importance of that family time we enjoyed this summer. 


now, we are already planning for our next destination!

xo, mama lola

more road trip shenanigans; heading back south!

this is part three of out epic summer road trip!

we left thunder bay proper in the peeing rain, and headed to the sleeping giant provincial park where we hoped to camp for a few nights. on our way we stopped at ouimet canyon as per a recommendation from a friend. we layered up and headed to the canyon.

the scientists and other experts aren’t actually sure how this amazing canyon was made; there are several hypothesis out there, but nothing is completely agreed upon. it is stunning, breathtaking and frightening! we were so high up looking down at the canyon floor, and i had to remind myself a million times we were safe up on the look-out platform.

the rain finally tapered off just as we arrived at our camp site on the sleeping giant. we were right by the water, which entertained the kids for hours!

apparently the sleeping giant peninsula is highly populated with, um, skunks! we found this out the first night we were there. just as dusk was settling in, i decided to head to the bathroom one last time. as i arrived i thought i saw something out of the corner of y eye and so i shone my flashlight at the shaking grass and to my horror a skunk looked right back at me! i ran! i ran and giggled nervously to myself. i arrived at camp to tell dear hubby my funny story, but then to my horror, again, i saw another skunk… ON OUR CAMPSITE! my nervous giggle returned as i tried to keep my flashlight directed at the skunk. the skunk who was sniffing around under our picnic table and the slowly made its way towards our tent! AAAHHH!!! the kids were fast asleep in the tent, completely oblivious to the stinky dangers creeping around outside. my imagination was running wild with all of the possible ways a skunk could spray a person, their car and belongings, and the unimaginable outcome of this horrifying meeting. then, more skunks arrived. they were sniffing around at our campsite, our neighbours and all over. apparently, that’s the norm there!!!! how did we not know this?!?!

anyhow, after about 30 minutes of following the skunks with my flashlight and giggling nervously, dear hubby decided we needed to just get in our tent and go to sleep. clearly the skunks were used to people and not scared of us, and unlikely to spray us. i thought he was mad, but also right. so, that’s what we did! i lay there wide awake for a while listening to my family sleep soundly, half expecting to be sprayed by critters outside.

we survived the sleeping giant without ever being sprayed by the skunks! woohoo, what a relief!

after a two nights of skunks, a day at the beach, several deer sightings it was time to head south again on the trans-canada highway. we still had a long trip ahead of us and we were excited for more adventures.

our next stop was neys provincial park. this was by far my favourite beach. it was stunning with the driftwood, rock, grass and trees. the kids played and played, but it was too cold for a real swim! we enjoyed a beautiful evening at our campsite, it was calm and quiet. dear hubby checked the weather report and to our dismay heavy rain and thunderstorms were coming our way. so, we packed up as much as we could, got some clothes ready for the following day, and hoped we at least would have a dry night.

the next morning i woke up suddenly to rumbling thunder in the distance. i elbowed dear hubby awake and we got to work. we quickly changed the kids and ourselves into slightly warmer clothes, plonked the boys into the car and raced to pack up our sleeping bags and tent before the rain started. just as we were shoving the last things into the car the downpour came. it was only 7am and we hadn’t had breakfast. so, we decided to drive to the closets town, which was marathon, to see what we could find to eat.

we found a hilarious place called robin’s. it looked like it was stuck in time, like 1975! the orange and brown decor was overwhelming so early in the morning, but we were happy to eat something warm in a dry place!

the weather continued to be wet and cold. we drove in the downpour trying to come with a plan. we stopped in wawa for lunch and a pee. the kids were feeling the long drive, so we needed to stop for a while. the day was still early, so we decided to drive straight to sault saint marie, stay in a hotel and then drive to manitoulin island the following day. i am surprised how well the kids managed on this leg of the drive. because the weather was wet, we couldn’t just stop and have a quick game of tag at a rest area.

eventually, we found an awesome hotel in the soo, with comfy beds, a nice restaurant and a POOL! it was a great way to end the day letting off some steam, playing in the pool, especially since it was still raining really hard outside!

the following morning was bright and sunny!
we headed straight to manitoulin island! more pictures and stories from the final leg of our trip coming up soon!


xo, mama lola

heading further north: from pancake bay to wawa and beyond!

our road trip continued up along the trans-canada heading north from pancake bay to wawa and then to marathon. 



in wawa we stopped at the famous young’s general store and saw henrietta the moose. we had a photo opp with the big goose as well!


in white river we bought the worst veggie burgers ever from A&W for dinner, although their sweet potato fries were delicious! we stopped at the iconic winnie the pooh statue. the black bear that winne the pooh is based on is oroginally from the forests of white river, onatrio. learn more HERE.  


then we kept driving. we had hoped to camp close to marathon, but then we saw a real black bear on the side of the road sniffing some garbage and i lost my nerve. but, finding a motel in marathon proved to be surprisingly difficult; we declined a smoking room in town and opted for a non-smoking room, but it was at a motel next to the highway. so it goes, you win some, you lose some!

breakfast at the motel.


the next day it was a rainy drive, with essential stops at timmie’s for my double-double coffee’s and pee breaks. the kids were tired and eager to get to the much talked about city of thunder bay! i don’t like driving long stretches in the rain, because it’s not as easy to stop quickly to check out a water fall, or some tiny musuem, or have a quick picnic. you’re stuck in the car or inside restaurants. booo!


just outside of thunder bay we stopped at the terry fox memorial statue. before we arrived dear hubby was explaining to bear why terry fox is an important part of our recent history. explaining cancer, amputation and death to a five year old is tricky stuff, especially when you’re talking about a young man. i was unable to participate in the conversation, as i was quietly crying thinking about terry’s amazing marathon of hope, but mostly i was crying because i was thinking of terry’s courageous mama and the unimaginable pain and pride she must have felt. 

thank you terry.


thunder bay is not a beautiful city. it has a roughness and sullen feel about it’s. the grey, rainy days probably exaggerated these qualities but, my heart has a fondness for good ol’ t-bay. it’s where i met my lovely husband and the city has lots of finnish culture there! as soon as we drove into town our first stop was a restaurant known fondly as the scan. it’s the scandinavian home and they make awesome finnish food there. we had finnish pancakes/ crepes called lettut with finnish style strawberry sauce and whipped cream. it was divine!


the sleeping giant. 


we visited fort william, in the rain. the kids loved it and the rain mostly held off. although it was cool, as you can tell by the toques, jackets, fleeces and turtlenecks we’re all wearing! it was shockingly cold up in t-bay!


these are handmade birch bark canoes!
the tools below were used for tooth extractions. yikes!


while in thunder bay we rented a student townhouse at the local university, instead of staying at a hotel. we had our own four bedroom house, with a living room, kitchen and an outdoor space for two nights. it was perfect for our rainy t-bay visit!


the kids some flowers to press.


we had deer come and visit us. i took this photo through a window.


kakabeka water falls just outside thunder bay.


more pictures to come!
there are more pictures from thunder bay and then manitoulin island!
like i said there are a gazillion of them!

to read about the first leg of our trip go HERE.

xo, mama lola

the first leg of our epic summer road trip!

and so our second annual family summer road trip started with a weekend at the cottage with dear friends. we left home on a stormy friday afternoon and arrived at the cozy cottage where the weather was calm and beautiful. so, we decided to get our bathing suits on and jump in the lake! it was a great way to start the weekend!
our weekend was fun in the sun; we swam, chatted about everything under the sun, sat by the fire, roasted marshmallows, drank various drinks, the kids played and played… it was glorious!


we left the cottage on a hot sunday afternoon and headed north on highway 400. our first stop was french river. it is a beautiful spot, perfect for a picnic and stretching your legs. we did both!

our first night of camping was fine. dear hubby and i were a bit out of sync, but seeing as it was our first night on the road, we allowed ourselves the learning opportunity to figure it all out. it took a lot re-organizing to get things into good order. for example, packing up my camping kitchen, i just tossed things into my bin at home, but here at camp i organized it as now i knew what i needed first when starting a meal. 

we bought the kids their own camping chairs and surprised them at our first campfire. they seriously believed us when we told them the forest fairies brought them! it was so sweet!


our first morning at fairbank provincial park and this is what the crater created lake looked like. kinda unbelievable!


then we hit science north in sudbury! (a shout out to all the sudbury peeps, YO!) man, it was fun, awesome and did i mention fun? if you’re even by the big nickel, hanging out on the rock go check this place out!

this big guy here, was the tallest man alive once-upon-a-time. he too had some issues with his pituitary gland, different from mine, but i felt a bond with this freakish moving robot man!


then it was time to hit the road. the kids were quiet and sleepy after such a busy morning, which made for easy driving. we did get stuck behind the road painting truck, which was super frustrating and hilarious at the same time!


and then we saw this sign (see below photograph). we passed the english version before i could snap a photo, but here is the french version (canada is billingual).  the sign reads “please do not feed the bears”. then on the brown part “bears are dangerous”. um yeah they are! they have massive claws and teeth, which are not there just for looks! and, here i thought there is no way in hell anyone in their right mind would want to get near an actual bear, never mind feed it. clearly i am naive!


we drove to sault saint marie, arrived after dinner time so the kids were grumpy and had a hard time finding a good place to eat. eventually, we decided to get a room at the motel 8 and get some grocery store sushi, cheeses, baguette and fruit. kids loved it, i loved it, and dear hubby loved. it was easy and delicious!

the next morning we piled into the car and headed for the famous canal locks. we arrived just in time to see an american tourist boat experience the strange wonder of the locks. the boat started out at one water level and then slowly was lowered to another water level. it’s actually super cool, but also scary!


we visited the bush plane museum in the soo. it was very well organized, and even though it’s a small museum, there is a lot to see and do. the boys of course loved it!


after the soo, we headed along the trans-canada highway north to camp at a provincial park.

that was when we discovered the wonder that is pancake bay.


as we set up camp we could hear a deep rhythmic pounding in the distance. so, we walked over the soft, sandy dunes and saw this.
a breathtaking view of sand and water and sky and forest.

dear hubby and i sat and watched as the kids played in the water, becoming more and more soaked as the waves kept crashing into the shore, and as the kids kept running into them. the boys were not bothered at all by the frigid temperatures of lake superior, or the cool wind that was blowing over the lake; they laughed while running and playing! it was perfect.


then, evening came. dear hubby put the kids to bed, i hooped…


and then this happened. wow.


more pictures and tales to come later from our epic road trip!

xo, mama lola

ontario, the beautiful.

my family and i went on an epic road trip this summer. just over two weeks of driving, camping with a few pit stops in m/hotels. i say this trip was epic, because although we drove a similar distance last summer when we drove all the way out east to the maritimes of canada, on this trip we headed north. north to where life is rougher, the temperatures much cooler and for us the trip felt more challenging, mirroring the way of life.


we live in south western ontario, which is mostly farm country, with pockets of lush forest. everything down here is flat. once you’re about 5 hours north of toronto, you start to kind of notice the rock, the rougher landscape, but just after sault saint marie, which is about 8 hours north west of toronto you really, really notice the rock cliffs, the trees fighting to survive and the lush green of the south is long forgotten and replaced with a scragglier, rougher landscape. 


dear hubby and i met 12 years ago in those scraggly forests just outside of thunder bay, while treeplanting. this vacation was really a trip down memory lane and a way for us to re-experience all of those fun new-relationship places we got to know each other at all those years ago! we’ve had a tough year of marriage and life, and even though the kids were with us, this vacation felt like dear hubby and i were reconnecting in all the right ways! so great!



the raw feel of the landscape along lake superior really affected me. i grew up in finland, which has a very similar look and feel, so i was feeling quite nostalgic. the rocky cliffs lining the shores of the great lake are capped with moss, thin spruce trees, the odd birch tree and some berry bushes. you can imagine the freezing cold wind blowing up from the lake, creating incredibly cold conditions. we camped at a few provincial parks along the shores of lake superior and were surprised at the fine sand beaches we found, with awesome crashing waves. felt like we were in the caribbean without the crowds of tourists and palm trees, oh and the salt water!


we truly live in a beautiful province, one that i think most people take for granted. it is so easy to forget to look at the beauty that surrounds us, to acknowledge the wonder that is in our own backyard. i am proud to share the awesome adventures ontario has to offer with my kids; it doesn’t sound like a very exotic place, this good ol’ ontario, but we saw and experienced some awesome things. it isn’t a coincidence that our car license plates here say “yours to discover”!


i have a million pictures to sort and edit, stories to organize in my brain and many details to write down! i will be sharing vacation pics and tales in spurts!
keep checking back!

xo, mama lola
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