Continuing on from our North Bay trip, we got up Sunday morning, packed into the car, and got on the road.
First stop, South Bay Provincial Park (traditional territories of Michif Piyii, and Anishinabewaki). Or so we thought. Normally I do a more thorough check of our destinations, but didn’t this time. And when we plugged the park into our GPS, it dutifully took us into the woods as close as possible to the park, but South Bay is actually a “non-operational park,” with access via water. Generally, non-operational parks mean that the site has no facilities or is not staffed, but you can still visit (or camp responsibly) if you’d like to. Even my usual go to source of park information – the park management plan – didn’t give me much information about the park, but we turned around, and zoomed onward to Restoule.
Restoule Provincial Park (traditional territories of the Anishinabewaki) is a much more well known park in Ontario, and is fully serviced with day use areas, as well as camping. We went for a short hike around the Rangers Point Trail. It’s a relatively short loop (less than a kilometer), but the views of Stormy Lake are beautiful and since we were there after the rain, there were plenty of fun mushrooms to see.
The other great thing about the Rangers Point Trail is that it has two little picnic areas off to the side of the trails, and it’s just a dreamy spot to relax. If we had had more time, it would have been so dreamy to spend a few hours there enjoying the atmosphere.
Restoule also has a couple of beaches, but we didn’t even look at them in our haste, so we’ll have to visit them properly another time. If we find ourselves back at Restoule, besides visiting Putts Beach, I’m hoping to hike the Fire Tower Trail next time – it’s a 4km trail that covers a lot of what Restoule offers – mature forests, rocky ridges, boardwalks, a climb, and a view.
After a pit stop at the Park Store for a Restoule for our Parks Passport, we got back on the road towards Mikisew Provincial Park. (which has nothing to do with the Mikisew Cree in Alberta and the NWT, but I don’t know why it was named such beyond being changed from Eagle Lake Provincial Park in 1960, because there are a bunch of eagle lakes in Ontario and they didn’t want people to be confused.)
In my search for vegan food options, I managed to find a vegan food truck called Crystal Moon Cafe off of Highway 124 in Artisan Village attached to a crystal store called Crystal Caves. It was delightfully unexpected, and low key. The Chef doesn’t advertise it as a vegan food truck, and prefers to just offer what she offers in a more subtle way, which I can appreciate, and it was the perfect stopping point for all of us. There were ample picnic tables outside, with lots of room for our small human to run around, and for us to relax and stretch out a bit.
I managed to snap a photo of my tikka masala tacos before eating them, and the grilled cheese on sourdough was a favourite of our small human (and JC too.) We also tried the love potion smoothie and a herbal peach tea lemonade, and both were hits! The artisan village there also has art and a skateboard shop from what I could see.
We kept going Mikisew Provincial Park, but as we drove in, there was a quick but steady downpour. It’s located on the edge of Eagle Lake in Machar Township, and is home to a bunch of campsites and a few beaches, and hiking trails. We didn’t see much beyond a small trail and a very rainy beach, but it served as a very natural and comfortable break in driving with room to run.
Before we had a kid, I don’t think we considered breaks as much – I remember several lovely road trips (especially our big north American one) where we’d drive for 4-5 hours and then get out, or most of my cross-country greyhound trips that involved sitting on a bus for 2-3 days. But now we have to get out of the car every few hours, because if we don’t there is a definite and noticeable restlessness from the backseat. Sometimes we forget and are loudly reminded, and ultimately it’s a healthier way to travel – more breaks and more moving our limbs is generally a good thing. So thanks small human, you’ve helped us make positive travel changes, even if it means we can’t go as far in one trip.
This dedication to breaks was one of the reasons we found ourselves at a small playground on the Eagle Lake narrows (which I’d say is excellent for the under 6 crowd.) We’d still have a few more hours to go before we got home, but it was nice to take a break to play (us adults caught up on our Pokemon.)
Until next time!