Day Eighteen: Up the Mountain!

Today was the first day of our backpacking adventure! We woke up to rain drizzling and started getting ready to leave the site. Two Jack’s was okay but I doubt we will be back. A bit to out of the way and no showers. We headed into town to pick up some last minute groceries, get some ice, and make sure our cooler was free of perishables while we were gone. We ate our taco salad leftovers in the parking lot for lunch nad then headed to the base of Taylor Lake trailhead to start packing our backpacks full of everything we would need!

We headed up the mountain at about 2. The trail was 6.3 km with a 3,000 ft. gain. I complained much more than I should have. My pack was heavier than usual and the incline really did us in. Shouldn’t have brought the night creme. When we made it to the top it started raining, and we quickly (after taking a victory picture) found coverage to wait in until we could pick out site to set up camp.

We found the least squishy place to set up our tent, and took shelter from the rain that came back through. We ended up taking a little nap and then Jake headed out to fish. I, on the other hand, stayed in and made tea while reading. It was lovely. This lake is like glass and the mountains are just incredible. It felt like our own little sanctuary. When he got back we made dinner. Vegan rissoto! For backpacking food the ingredients were actually really good. It began raining again so we headed in. Both of us were incredibly sore so sleeping wasn’t the easiest. However the peace of where we were definitely helped.

Day Seventeen: Tourist Mistakes and Happy Endings

We woke up slow. The days here are so long it’s easy to stay up until midnight or later and feel like it’s only 9 or 10. Our plan for the day was to visit Lake Louise and Moraine. We made shakes to have on the way and were hyped up on this new coffee we bought. Or at least I was. So much singing and anticipation to see the views we had been dreaming of. To our surprise we of course were very late and the overflow parking for the shuttle to either lake would be a 2 or 3 hour wait. Oops. We adjusted our plans and decided to make the most of our day by visiting a park nearby until about 8 tonight when we would try again and hope for the best. Jake and I aren’t much for waiting or large crowds so this was going to be interesting. We continued up the highway and pulled off onto the Iceland parkway in Jasper national park. I was still a little bitter from the change of plans but it didn’t last too long because hello there is SO much to see. We looked at the map and decided to hike back into Glacier Lake. We made it to the red chairs overlooking the old fur trade route and had our pb and J’s and then continued on our way in the wrong direction. Oops again. By the time we turned around and found the correct route we just decided to head back and check out a few more places on the way out.

Jake was interested in seeing a free campsite we had found online. After some off-road driving we found it and were quickly filled with regret in booking the other site. This was much closer to the places we wanted to see and FREE. Ah well, next time. Afterwards we stopped by Mistaya Canyon and then pulled off into a campground by Waterfowl lake. Jake fished while I read and did yoga. Then I made us dinner. Beef burritos and taco salad. Way too much, but it worked out well! We saved the leftovers for lunch the following day. After we ate, we headed up to give these lakes another try. Having everything we need in the truck really makes things easy to make things up as we go. Especially when things don’t go as planned, which is mostly always.

Grass fed beef with taco seasoning, avocado, bell pepper, Mexican rice and a taco salad mix with cilantro

We drove through the village of Lake Louise and followed the signs to what we thought was the lake itself. We found ourselves in a long line of cars and weren’t sure if we had made the right decision or not. It was about 8:30 and we could hardly keep our eyes open. As we pulled into the parking lot the heavens opened up and there were PLENTY of spots. Hallelujah! To top it off we had actually driven to Moraine Lake instead. Oops again! This day. We climbed up to the view point and it was almost as if this entire trip had led to this moment. The water was even more blue than we could have imagined. It was truly unreal. The timing of the evening couldn’t have been more perfect either. The skies were turning purple, people were leaving, and we just sat. Staring at each detail and taking in every moment, laughing about how the seven peaks seemed like seven old and noble men. I have feeling we’ll be coming back here for our anniversary someday. We didn’t make it back to camp until midnight. We were exhausted but entirely full. Our plans to see Lake Louise were set aside for now. That was all we really needed in the end.

Day Sixteen: Arriving in Banff

We left the campsite rather quickly, as we were excited to get to Banff. We were in such awe driving in that we could hardly contain ourselves. Just a lot of “wows” Giant mountains peeked through the clouds that looks like space ships and it seemed like every lake we passed was crystal clear. We drove through the downtown area, picked up some groceries and soup for lunch in the park. I can’t wait to go back and check out the Christmas store! We might move here.
We left town to check out our campsite and see the area a bit more. The views only became more and more beautiful. We passed by lake Minnewanka on the way to Two Jack’s Main campground where we would be staying. More “wows” There wasn’t much as the campground, including no showers. It’s a good thing we love each other. We made shakes for a second lunch and headed to a hike through the canyon by the lake where we met the sweetest couple from Montreal.We headed back to town so I could get a few hours of work done and have my weekly Arbonne meeting. Jake did the laundry while I was working. He’s the BEST. When I was finished we headed back to the lake so he could do some evening fishing. I called family and enjoyed my new favorite beer while he did. This is taking work life balance to a whole new level if you ask me. We stopped to watch the sunset on the way back to camp. No matter where you are in this place, every view is just incredible. When we got back I made pesto pasta with Chicken. I tried to take a picture but Jake’s response was a hard no. He doesn’t feel I need to capture every meal. I disagree. #compromise

Day Fifteen: Tune ups and Ghostlands

We woke up at the campsite and took our time getting ready for the day. Enjoyed some coffee and oatmeal and showered. We love this place! Highly recommend. Today our plan was to find this free campsite on Forestry trunk rd right outside of Banff to stay in for the night. On the way there, we would be passing through Calgary, so we decided to stop for a tune up on the truck. Walmart was the only place open so that worked! On our way to our surprise campsite later that afternoon it started to rain, and we began to see the incredible views awaiting us in Banff.

When we arrived at our campsite I felt a strange presence. There was definitely something to these “ghost lands” as they call them. Nevertheless the spot was beautiful (and free) so we began setting up. We took a short walk around the forest and saw a huge skunk. We could tell right away that this was a different kind of wilderness than we had experienced so far.

When we got back to camp we had a simple dinner of soup by the fire. Jake fished ghost river nearby but didn’t have any luck. It started to rain again so we hopped into bed with our tea and actually watched a movie we had recorded on Netflix. Is that bad juju? Not sure but I didn’t sleep. A very Erie night it was in ghost lands!

Day Fourteen: Hidden Gem in the Hills

We woke up around 8 and had bananas and coffee before packing up and heading out for another 6 hours of driving. I made shakes for second breakfast. The province of Saskatchewan is mostly farmlands and prairies, so I focused on getting some of my work with Arbonne done in the car while listening to more Joe Rogan podcasts. Beautiful skies made up for the lack of scenery as well as having each other.

We stopped in Swift Current for groceries. Their town slogan read, “Life the way it should be” The older homes and neighborhoods reminded us of Grand Junction. As we were veggie wraps for lunch in the parking lot, a guy came over to talk to us about the truck. He loved it! It was so sweet.

We had about an hour and a half before getting to Cyprus Hills Campground. The campground looked like a good location but could only tell so much about the site online. To our surprise, it was truly a hidden Oasis amongst the prairie lands. Not to mention it was massive. It felt like the supermall of campgrounds. Our site was all the way up and in the back, and it couldn’t have been better. We had an open site with lots of light that kept us warm, and there was hardly anyone around. We changed as soon as we got there and went on a walk to explore the grounds and move a bit. It was a lovely walk filled with good and much needed conversation. We had been so on top of each other we really hadn’t gotten a chance to decompress and breathe like this for a minute. It felt so good. Having each other to lean on during this journey has taught us so much already. Both about ourselves and our relationship. There will always be kinks, but there will always be a deep love to come back to as well. At the end of the walk we came up to a snack bar that we were hoping had beer. It didn’t, but after I asked the checkout counter guy, a kid with the BIGGEST grin and squinty popped his head out and said “I could sell you some in the back alley later if you’d like eh?” It was the way he said it that just made us laugh so much. We shared a mango milkshake instead and then headed back up to our campsite.

When we got back, Jake started dinner and I re-organized everything. My favorite thing to do. The setting for dinner that night was as if a fog had been lifted. The deep conversation we had, funny encounter, delicious food, wine, and golden hour made for a memorable evening. After dinner we cleaned up and drove down to the lake to fish. I caught up on some reading and writing while sitting in awe of the view. This night. We made our way back to camp , made small fire, and finished our wine. The field behind us lit up from the thunder storm rolling in. It was unreal. We went to bed soon after, listening to the rain.

Day Thirteen: Fields of Yellow Flowers

We had a slower morning at the campsite. As much as we wanted to stay longer, we were determined to get to Banff by Monday, and didn’t want to travel too far in one day. Our morning consisted of yoga, a shower, and coffee. We did some nail care as we drank our coffee at the table and it was pretty adorable. I made our shakes for breakfast and we finished packing up. We listened to some music but were quiet for a lot of this drive. I think the moving around everyday had caught up with us that day. Other than the gleaming fields of yellow flowers there wasn’t much to see on this stretch. Just farm lands and open prairies. We stopped at a place called Clear Water market about 2 hours out for chili and a Reuben. It was a lovely stopping point.

Around 7, we pulled over at a campground called MeadowLark. We didn’t love that it was right by the highway, but it was only $15 for the night with showers so we did it. We did a 20 minute workout to move and stretch, and then made dinner. I used the “meat” we bought the day before, quinoa, and all of the veggies to make bowls and a wrap for Jake. After dinner we had tumeric ginger tea and Jake played guitar while I caught up on some writing. 7 hours of traveling tomorrow! We’ll see where we end up.

Quinoa, veggie meat cooked with seasoning, avocado, peppers, and sprouts.

Day Twelve: Omens and Blue Lake

We woke up to the buzzing of mosquitoes early this morning. Realizing that having coffee and breakfast here would not be enjoyable, we basically just hopped in the cab and left. We didn’t even make the bed because we knew we’d get to do laundry later that day. Yippee! We stopped for gas nearby and decided to have breakfast at the hotel restaurant connected to the gas station. It was called “Drifters” so we thought the name made sense also. When we sat down Jake noticed on the map behind me a compass identical to the one on the drawer of the truck. Omen! Our breakfast was delicious, our waitress was the nicest (of course) and soon we were on the road again.

Another beautiful day with stunning views! We feel so blessed. We stopped at Safeway to pick up some groceries and then over to Walmart so Jake could pick up a new watch because his had broken. I found the best “burgers” that looked like they would last two meals and would be yum! If they make something like these 1/2 vegan burgers in the US someone please tell me. I made shakes for us in the parking lot and then we hopped back in the car to head to Willows Campground…or so we thought.

About an hour away from our destination we stopped at a Fort Gift Shop and BBQ because I couldn’t hold it. So happy we did! Jake ended up talking with an older man who filled us in on the fishing and wildlife around the area, as well as other traveling tips. I picked up a few things (of course) I just can’t resist homemade organic goods! Natural bug repelling lotion, a citronella and cedar candle, and a mala bracelet made by the woman I was speaking with. They insisted we visit Blue Lake right up the road, and we decided to check it out. We were greeted at the park by such enthusiasm from our new friend Grant, that we ended up staying and having the best evening. We showered, did laundry, and made a 4th of July inspired dinner of cheese burgers, potato salad and chips and dip. After dinner, we took out the canoe to watch the sunset and fish. They certainly call Blue Lake for reason, this campground is 100% worth visiting . We came back to the campsite, folded all of the clothes, and then made the bed. We hopped in to read and enjoy the fire from afar. Clean sheets felt so good.

Heavens Door ~ Unedited

Day Eleven: Bound West

We have campsites booked in Banff for Monday. At this point we were about 31 hours away and it was Wednesday. So we made a plan to drive about 5 or 6 hours each day, stopping next at another free campsite, and then splurging at a campground to do laundry and take a (real) shower. We started off the day with fancy chocolate almond butter oatmeal, and then did 15 minutes of yoga on the beach. We left the site at about 9:30 and had about 6 and a half hours of driving to our next site in Terrace Bay.

Oatmeal, almond butter, dark chocolate, honey, cinnamon

The drive was STUNNING. The further we drove, the more mountains we saw and the bigger and more dense the forest became. About every 2 minutes there were lake pools on either side of the highway, and fields full of yellow and purple wildflowers. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It made it difficult not to pull over every 30 minutes. First world problems, I know. We pulled over to a picnic spot by a river, there are so many here! It’s lovely. Jake fished for about an hour while I made veggie sandwiches and read by the river. We probably spent too long here but it was beautiful.

Hummus, mustard and garlic aoli spread. Avocado, cucumber, tomato, broccoli sprouts. Topped with Italian seasoning and black pepper on Ezekiel bread.

When we arrived to our next campsite it was surprisingly spacious! A big lot with hardly anyone there, probably because it was a bit chilly. We found a nice place to park by a picnic table and Jake started cooking dinner. We ate quickly and then took a walk down the beach. Watching the birds glide together over the water was like a scene out of the Notebook. The sun peeked out and Jake went fishing under the waterfall while I caught up on writing. The bugs were by far the worst at this spot. I’m not sure if it’s because we were close to the water or because we were further into Canada, either way, they were quite annoying. We watched a beaver fish for a while and when I checked the time at 11 it was still completely light out! Oh, Canada. We love you.

Spinach raviolis with sauteed broccoli, tomatoes and Italian seasoning

Day Ten: Fancy Ferry Rides and Back Country Roads

Canadians are just the nicest. We arrived to the ferry dock at 6 in the morning and asked the ticket guy how he was, “Nothing short of amazing!” was his cheerful reply. We’ve made conversation with almost everyone, and they are all genuine and kind. We waited in line to drive aboard the Chicheemaun while drank our shakes and enjoyed our tizzies. It was our first ferry ride and we had no idea what we were doing. Best first experience ever. The ship was massive and nice and felt like an airport. I had no problem taking a little snooze. They had a cafeteria where we ate a (second) breakfast of a true Canadian bacon breakfast sandwich and coffee. It was delicious and we felt like the shakes we had earlier that morning evened out the grease.

We drove off the ferry all fueled up and ready to see what our next free campsite would look like. The beauty of camping for free is that, good or bad, the next destination is always a surprise. The free campsite app has worked out really well so far, but only gives you a location and a little information, so we are really never sure! The back country roads were full of cow fields and open marsh lands. We listened to Chris Stapleton radio the whole way. We stopped for some groceries and filled our cooler with all of the much needed veggies. When we arrived to our next site next to the beach of Lake Huron we decided to make veggie sandwiches and head over the railroad track to the beach. The water was freezing so not much swimming, but we enjoyed spending the late afternoon reading beneath the shaded trees with our fancy mint lemon cucumber water. After lunch we tried out our outdoor shower for the first time and it worked! We left it on top of the truck to heat up in the sun and it was actually so hot we had to fill it with cold water. It’s just a bag with a shower nozzle and it’s been working great to wash dishes as well.

We cooked a healthy dinner and then introduced ourselves to the couple camping in the same lot. They were an older couple from a town near Toronto and were also using the free campsite app on their road trip to a festival in Thunder Bay! They gave us a glass of wine and we chatted for a bit. We ended the night with a sunset walk on the beach, and then hurried to the truck to escape the bugs. We need net suits.

Quinoa, Black beans, seasoning, bell pepper and broccoli.

Day Nine: Canada Day Eh?

First of all, everything you have heard about Canadians being some of the kindest people is entirely true. They are so genuine and helpful and go that extra mile for each person. At least that’s how they all treated us. We got to Tobermory around 9 and went to the ferry office to buy our tickets for the next day. After that we explored the town, did some grocery shopping, and got some information on where to hiking that day. It took us a little while to get going, but we eventually made it to their national park entrance. We were so excited to learn that it was Canada Day! Although when we did get to the national park entrance and found out that the fees were waved due to the holiday and it would be around an hour or so before getting in, we weren’t as excited. We went to another area called Devil’s Monument and hiked the Bruce Trail for a couple of miles. The monument, called stacks, was formed by glacier melt and the rock beach below was very peaceful .

On the way back we pulled over to watch the cows and I took in my favorite smells. There fields filled with yellow flowers everywhere here and it is so wonderful. We stopped to get fish and chips with a side of poutine before getting back into town. We’re all for cooking good meals while traveling, but there are moments when eating local is better, and this was one of them.

I had my Arbonne meeting in town while Jake went fishing, and then we met back up by the coffee shop. These short breaks make us miss each other and I think that’s a good thing. We figured out our camping situation at the new lot close to town where the ferry dock was, and then decided to get a beer to celebrate Canada day. We sat there for a while, and met the sweetest couple from the area. We talked for a couple of hours, and after a couple more beers, they ended up buying our drinks! Canadians are the best.