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My Annual Family Trip To Canada
Every year, my family and I travel to Bob's Lake near Westport, Ontario, Canada. There are anywhere from 20-30 of us that go. We go up there to relax, fish, and spend time together. The fishing isn't that great at the time that we go, which is Memorial Day weekend, but nonetheless, we still have a great time together. Here's our annual trip to Canada from start to finish.
The reason we go to the same place every year is because my grandpa started going up there with my parents in 1987. My mom was actually pregnant with me at the time, so I guess you could say I was "there" too. It was my mom, dad, and grandpa in a cabin and all they did was fish the entire time. Back then, my grandpa being the guy he is, believed that it wasn't worth it to purchase a motor for the rented boat, but to instead use the trolling motor that they brought along. Now for those of you who don't know what a trolling motor is, it's something that you put on a boat if you want to turn it or just move it a little ways or go slow out on the water. It's not something you use to get from place to place. However, my grandpa is a stubborn old dutch man who you listen to and don't argue with, so they used a trolling motor. I guess this is why my mom will no longer go on the boats with us! Now though, we all rent motors and boats and are able to get around a little faster. But that is when it all began, back in 1987 when my mom and dad went up with my grandpa.
With so many people that go along now, we need to plan ahead in order to have enough food and drinks for our stay. We usually do this on Easter, depending on when Easter falls. The list is made and divided among the families for what they should bring to contribute. I guess I should mention that I have a very large family (35 on my dad's side and 38 on my mom's side) and that we are all very tight knit and get along great, otherwise this would not work.
My grandpa likes to think that he should get the majority of the food, and plus he liked to go shopping, so he usually goes the day before we leave to get the meat and eggs and everything so they are fresh.
We leave on a Thursday night and come home Sunday night. It's almost silly that we go for such a short time, but it's a tradition and it's just what we do! On Thursday, my mom and I usually work a half day, or take the whole day off to pack. Because my parents have a truck with a cap on it, they always take the most. We take all of the food and drinks, plus the clothing of 5 people and the fishing gear of 4. My mom and I pack the truck because if someone else did it, I don't think they'd get everything to fit like we do! The truck is packed around 3:30 or 4:00 so we can go get showers, eat a little something and head out.
I don't ride with my parents, instead, I drive my grandpa, grandma, aunt, and cousin, and of course my boyfriend is with me. I drive all of us in a van without cruise control which really stinks! I like traveling with my grandpa though, because he tells us stories, literally, the whole way there. Once the truck is packed and I'm ready to go, my boyfriend and I go down and help my grandpa pack and load everything. Around 6:00, my cousin and her family come, aunt her family come, and my other aunt and family come. We have anywhere from 6-8 vehicles in our caravan and we set out!
We always stop inside the NY border for a bathroom break, and for my gram to get out and move around. She lost her leg 4 years ago due to diabetes, so it's good for her to get up. Then we are on our way until we stop again in Watertown, NY for gas. This is our last stop until we arrive at the cabins. We always pray we make it through customs without a hitch, and hope that one of our vehicles isn't their random search vehicle, and then we move through Canada all the way to the cabins. We get there anywhere from 1 a.m. on, depending on traffic, length of stops and time at the border, and what time we left. We do most of the unpacking then, so the food can be gotten to when we get up later. Then we go to sleep!
We usually get up around 7 or 8 that first morning, have some breakfast and then go buy our licenses. The girls (minus me) do not buy a license because they don't fish. I'm the only girl who goes out and fishes, so I need one. Then we load our equipment onto the boat, pack a lunch for out there, and head out! One of the best parts of the day, and of the trip, is lunchtime at the "old cabin." At 12:00 noon each day, all 5 or so boats head to the same spot: The Old Cabin. We all eat lunch here together and just talk. The reason we go here is it's because it's where my grandpa used to come up and go fishing before he changed places in 1987. So it has meaning to him, and he gets to tell us stories about fishing "back then." The cabin is still there, however it's not used anymore and is locked up. We usually stay there about an hour, the head back out to fish some more.
Around 4, we all head in, depending on what you're catching, and clean the fish. Of course there's some teasing going on back and forth, but it's a good time. Then we eat supper, relax a little and take a shower, and then go out for evening fishing. It stays light until about 8:30 or 9 when we are up there, so we stay until dark and then come in. We usually go to one cabin after evening fishing, talking, playing games, and drinking beer until we're ready for bed. Then we wake up and do it all over again the next day!
While we're gone, the kids and girls stay back. The kids bring toys along to play in the dirt, and they also bring games to play. There are 6 kids that are there together, all of which are my cousins, and they all play great together. Sometimes, the girls go into "town," which is Westport to go shopping and get a meal and some ice cream. It gives them something to do while we're gone. They also sometimes make the hour long drive to Kingston for some different shopping and sight seeing. If they don't travel, they all stay back and read or listen to the radio, or just watch and play with the kids. The kids have a blast!
When Sunday rolls around, we don't do the evening fishing. Instead, we eat, pack up, and head home. It bums me out when we leave because we do have such a great time up there, despite the not so great fishing. We usually get home around midnight that night, and go right to bed. We still aren't finished though, because the next day brings unpacking, wash, and the making of fish cakes! My grandpa, me, my boyfriend, dad, and brother all save our northern pike that we catch. They are very bony fish, and aren't very fun to eat. What my grandpa, boyfriend, and I do is cook the fish meat, grind it up in a grinder (breaking all of the bones), add bread crumbs and spices, and mold them together in what looks like a crab cake, but it's a fish cake! They're really great to eat, plus we get to keep those pike we catch!
When we go to Canada it's a great time with family. Unfortunately, just 4 months ago, my gram passed away, meaning that our previous trip to Canada was her last. Gram loved Canada and seeing everyone together and happy up there. She looked forward to going each year, and always reminded me that I had to drive her up there and she liked that. I'm glad that the people that went, including myself, were able to experience her last visit up there together. Next year will be hard going up, especially because she won't be sitting in the back seat when i'm driving, but we know she'll be there with us anyhow.
I encourage all of you reading out there to spend time with your family, as much as you can, because you never know what life's going to throw at you. Go and make memories now so you can enjoy the thoughts of them later. Start a tradition! Keep it going for years and years to come. You'll be very glad you did. I promise!