Have you ever been to a place that when you first arrive, you aren’t really that excited or impressed, but by the time you leave, you have had a really good time? That’s how I would describe the experience at Manitoulin Island. This is the largest island (that sits in a freshwater lake) in the world, and I believe it. The place is huge, and it would take weeks to explore everything. We didn’t see it all, but we drove around quite a bit and a lot of it was quite beautiful.
Rewinding a bit, we left pretty early in the morning from our campsite at Brown Lee. It was kind of overcast and VERY cool, but we were starting to accept that this is just part of being in Canada. The drive to Manitoulin Island was absolutely beautiful, with lots of spruce and evergreen trees, gorgeous rivers with rapids and waterfalls, as well as some small mountains. Crossing onto the island is kind of interesting, because you do so on a one-lane swinging bridge. The bridge can rotate to allow ships to pass through, and the single lane means you wait for oncoming traffic quite often. It’s pretty crazy that the only way to drive onto this massive island which is full of towns (and presumably tourists during the high season) is a one lane bridge.
We finally arrived at our campsite, named “Batman’s Campground” which the boys got a kick out of. Our site was directly on the water, so close in fact that when we sat in Marty and looked out the window all you could see is the bay. We are on Lake Huron at this point, and it is just as clear and blue as the other Great Lakes. We settled in and explored the campground, which has a lot of activities to keep you busy. The boys particularly liked the air hockey table.
The next day we woke up, had a nice big breakfast, then got in the car to explore. We ended up down at South Baymouth, which sits at the southern end of the island. The kids played on the playground (which has one of the best views a playground could have) and we explored some really cool hiking trails that took us out to the lake and provided us with 180 degree views of crystal clear water. Afterwards it was a lunch of fish and chips and the boys enjoyed watching the ferry arrive and unload. We looked into taking the ferry when we left because it shortens the drive to Toronto significantly, however it would be well over $300 to put Marty and the car on it, and that was a bit too steep.
After lunch we started driving all around the island while the boys slept in their car seats. Living here is not for everyone, unless you love isolation. Many of the homes and farms are miles apart and the overall population is much smaller than a typical town in the States. There is a beauty to the island though, from the massive wind turbines that harness the stiff winds that constantly blow across the landscape to the small towns with the quaint storefronts. Little Current is one of those towns, and though it didn’t take long to explore it had some really neat shops and was situated right on the water.
Finally, we found ourselves back at Marty where I grilled up some steaks and we dined out by the water, at least for a little bit before the stiff wind and 50 degree temps took us back inside. I caught up on some classwork using the somewhat slow wifi and we updated the boys’ iPads in preparation for a long day of driving the following day. It was time to head towards Toronto!