What do you do to mark the occasion of your 20th wedding anniversary when life seems to have upended all your previously used methods of planning and going? With Covid and family caregiver responsibilities hovering over us since 2020, leaving calendars riddled with only intermittent short periods of time freed up for escaping, the window for taking a trip, and even for planning to do so, seemed to close almost before it was opened.
In the years leading up to our 20th anniversary, we’d imagined we’d plan a trip to some exotic place we’d never been before, probably in Europe, but before we knew it there was no time to do so, and post-Covid travel was chaotic and expensive. Instead, we got creative and found what we decided would be the next best thing – still somewhere we’d never been before, but somewhere we could drive and somewhere that “felt” a little European. Voila, Oh Canada! Turns out it wasn’t the next best thing, but rather, THE best thing because we had a wonderful time together. We recalled our wedding vows where we pledged to each other to “make my home in your heart from this day forward.” That vow works for vacations too. Vacation isn’t really a place; it’s the fun of being together.
When we decided on Canada, at first we zeroed in on Quebec. We’d read and heard many times that if you can’t get to France, try a trip to Quebec, particularly Quebec City. We chose that as the place to be on our anniversary. Then we began filling in other places we’d like to see on this trip. Dan had never seen Niagara Falls, so that’s where we decided we’d launch our tour. From there we headed northwest to the edge of Lake Huron. We’d seen a photo of the shores there that compared it to something you might see in Croatia. Next we headed over to Canada’s capital, Ottawa, for some Britishness. Then on to Quebec where we ventured beyond the Frenchness of Montreal and Quebec City to Saguenay Fjord northeast of Quebec City for an area that would inspire thoughts of Norway’s fjords. We even found other delights along the way that transported us elsewhere, like the chimney cake we found at the Budapest Bakeshop in Niagara-On-The-Lake, views of the Laurentian Mountains that reminded us of the Scottish Highlands, and the interiors of more than one basilica named “Notre Dame” that could have been sitting in about any continental European village. Yet, it was all Canada. So over ten days and about 3,300 miles driven, we had quite “The Grand Tour.”