Last Sunday, May 16th, was my Ontario road trip "lift-off" day. I left Randy and home behind and I'm on the road to see what Ontario has to offer a frugal RVer.
Since Sunday morning I've driven over 600 miles but I'm really not that far from home yet. The extra miles went to shunpiking - poking into some of the nooks and crannies of each area. And I've learned a lot - not all of it related to what I set out to find; I've probably learned as much about myself as I have about traveling.
For one thing, I'm finally ready to publish this first Ontario road trip blog entry. I know a few people are waiting anxiously to find out how the trip - my first solo venture - is going. The truth is - for the first few days I didn't feel like saying much. Two days ago I was almost crying - the whole thing wasn't going so well.
But now I'm ready to talk about it. After 3 days on the road, despite all the preparations and route planing, I felt as though my wheels were spinning. I had to re-evaluate what I'm doing here - what is the purpose of this Ontario road trip? I've left my love, Randy, who would have loved to be with me, behind because he can't get away right now. I'm on this journey to discover, rediscover and confirm with my own eyes some of the neat places and things that are free and cheap in Ontario - potential material for a frugal travel guide. These reasons seemed sound on the drawing board but now, doing it - and alone - is quite a different story.
On some level I knew it would be.
One thing that helped ground me is the book I'm reading - Entering The Castle by Caroline Myss. (Thanks Julie!). Through this book, I'm working on humility and came to realize that I can be empowered by being humble. You see, I don't have all the answers, I don't have to pretend I do or seem like I do. I am certainly not now (and may never be), the expert on frugal RV travel in Ontario. But it's okay. It humbles me but also empowers me - in that it gives me permission just to "be." And permission to let the trip just unfold. I'll learn what I learn, write about it, and see if anyone is interested in what I have to share. That's it, that's all.
It dawned on me that my other four Frugal Shunpiker's ebook guides were created from trips Randy and I took for our own pleasure. We didn't devise a route that we figured I could write a guide for. The route we took decided the route the guides would follow. That formula worked so it stands to reason it's the way I should be looking at this Ontario road trip too.
My route, since Sunday, has taken me along some of the most beautiful parts of the Niagara Escarpment from Orangeville to Collingwood and along the bottom of Georgian Bay's beaches. I hit Muskoka Cottage Country in time for the first long weekend of the summer.
On the way I've hiked some beautiful trails, discovered a well-hidden secret - a gorgeous waterfalls with three distinct levels of falls. It's such a secret there's not even a real trail leading to it. I had to really persist to find it since no one I asked, even other hikers in the close proximity knew of this falls. I only knew because I'd seen it mentioned in a book about the Escarpment. Not only does this falls exist but it is only a ten-minute hike from the road. Here's a photo - If you think you know the name or location, send me your best guess.
After 7 nights away I've only spent money on a campsite once and I haven't had to resort to a Wal-mart parking lot yet! Of course, boondocking is much trickier to find on an Ontario road trip than in the southwestern states that we're used to traveling through. It requires a lot more work. I actually have to "walk the talk" and follow my own advice: drive the back roads, find the likely spots, ask the locals, get permission and have a "plan B."
So far, I've managed not to have to resort to my plan B yet, or as I've come to call it, my Walmart Insurance Policy. For instance, yesterday I found a great free spot to park and sleep overnight by the waters of Georgian Bay, with these words from the municipal bylaw officer: "I can't actually give permission but I can tell you that no one will bother you there - you can read between the lines". In Ontario, that's about as good as it gets.
Altough I've only stayed at one, I've been checking out a lot of provincial parks and private campgrounds and, even though we're into the first long weekend of the summer, they all have sites still available. So don't let lack of a reservation keep you from getting out there and seeing Ontario.
I'll leave you with a few snaps I took this week that I hope will somehow tell the story of the first leg of my Ontario road trip - where I've been and some of what I've seen. I'm hoping to be able to post this some time this weekend - as of tonight, (Saturday) I can't access wi-fi and I'm not sure if it's me, my laptop, or a problem with the connection.