Today - exactly 4 months ago - we landed in Canada. An entire summer that has become something truly special for me. I think for Georg as well, by the way. Not only did we simply change continents (I can’t help but chuckle at this statement, as the journey here was anything but simple!), but it was also the first time we spent the summer on the road since we gave up our apartment. In previous years, we had always used the ‘summer break’ to renovate our van. But this time, there was no renovation - it was all about traveling, and we made the most of it.
When I think of this summer, I see a lot of sun, nature, and an incredible expanse. I think of the many lovely people we’ve met, who have become a part of our lives, even if only for a short time. But who knows, maybe we’ll meet some of them again? Time will tell.
I find it quite challenging to pick out highlights from such a time, like ’the best cherries,’ because the entire period made the summer perfect just the way it was, and it’s a summer we will remember forever. Nevertheless, there are memories that were particularly special to me, and that’s why I’ve decided to select the top 5. This doesn’t mean that there wasn’t anything beautiful between these highlights. Sometimes, it was a great sunset after a cloudy day, sometimes a delicious root beer (yes, I love it!), or French fries after shopping, or the sound of birds singing while jumping into a freezing lake.
What I’m trying to say before I begin: Highlights are everywhere, and you don’t need bucket lists for big things that ‘you must see once in your lifetime.’ Life is full of beautiful things that we often overlook in our pursuit of the ‘big things.’ What this summer has primarily shown me is exactly that: we can discover more beauty in the little things that surround us almost every day if we learn to see them again!
So, enough chatter. Here are my top 5 from this summer:
Nelly’s swimming lesson
Nelly has never been a fan of getting wet. Swimming was not her thing, and then came our first backcountry trip with the dogs. Four days in Algonquin Provincial Park. Feel free to check out our post: ‘In the Wild’ [Link to your post].
Here, Nelly ’learned to swim,’ although that’s not quite accurate because she could already swim. But here, she went into the water with me for the first time, and we swam. Across the entire lake and back.
Under the eagle’s nest
Another backcountry trip took us through Dogtooth Provincial Park. This park is a bit rudimentary, with few signs and no established campsites. The journey was sometimes quite challenging (lots of headwind), and the uphill portage was a nightmare. This trip earned the nickname ‘The Ride with the Horror Canoe’ from us. However, the morning of the last day more than made up for it. What we hadn’t noticed the night before was the large eagle’s nest under which we had set up our tent.
In the morning, we were awakened by the incredible noise of birds’ cries, and as we crawled out of the tent, one of the bald eagles flew just over our heads. In total, we spent the morning with three bald eagles.
The bald eagle is known as the national bird of the USA, but we didn’t have to wait until we reached the USA to see it. The memory of being so close to these birds and watching them will, I think, stay with us for a long time, as the size of these birds is truly remarkable. It is the second largest bird of prey in North America and has a wingspan of 2.50 meters. That’s quite a bit larger than my 1.60 meters.
Grasslands National Park
Even though this park may seem like little more than a vast steppe, it was interwoven with many wonderful moments for me. We spent the first few days at the campsite and had a magnificent sunset every evening. In my life, I have rarely seen sunsets or sunrises as beautiful as in Manitoba or Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, we had to shorten our backcountry camping due to a lack of water in the park and strict fire bans. However, spending a night in the steppe with a tent and the howling of coyotes is something very special. The whole experience was made even more perfect by Melli, Werner, and Schmiddy, whom we met in the park and traveled with for 1 ½ weeks. Thank you very much for the great time, and hopefully, we’ll meet again!
Seeing the Northern Lights is a dream for many, and many, including myself, think that you can only see them in the winter months. But that’s not true; you can see them in the summer too. In mid-June, there was an elevated occurrence of particularly strong Northern Lights for a few days, which, unfortunately, we missed. While visiting Duck Mountain Provincial Park, we became engrossed in the Northern Lights and installed several apps to monitor them. To our surprise, we were supposed to see them that evening. So, we set our alarm clock and were woken up at 3 o’clock in the morning. What most people don’t know, by the way, is that you don’t usually see the Northern Lights as colorful as they appear in photos. When we stared at the sky that night, the Northern Lights weren’t as colorful as in the pictures here. HOWEVER: What fascinated me the most were the movements. Here, I understood why people used to consider these white, mist-like streaks drifting across the sky as the spirits of their ancestors.
Nature doesn’t reveal itself when you expect it. That’s why there are so few photos of wild animals we’ve seen. We don’t always have the camera ready and spend the entire day rushing around. On this day, however, I would have liked to have had it, because right in the middle of the path from our campsite to the next road, two wolves stood. Just the day before, a local Canadian woman told me that there might be black wolves around here and if we were lucky, we might see them. We didn’t think that luck would come so quickly, and, above all, so easily. The two wolves stood one behind the other and gazed at us, or rather, at our car. We slowly continued down the path while the wolves turned around and ran ahead of us on the trail. Eventually, they disappeared into the bushes. We were somewhat perplexed, but it was one of the most beautiful inconspicuous moments for me.