Introduction: Ontario Getaway – Travelling Locally in the Age of COVID

“A Place to Stand, a Place to Grow – Ontari-ari-ari-o!”

No, it’s not a bad flashback to Expo 67, it’s just our little Ontario roadtrip of 2020.

As many know, Vince and I usually take a couple of weeks in mid-September to visit some European country or other. This year our destination was to be Belgium but, as with almost all things in life these days thanks to COVID-19, our plans were forcibly jettisoned.

So…. where could we travel this year? Europe is out, South America is out, Asia is out as well, and the U.S. is definitely out! So, what’s left? I know! We’ll travel in our own country and province this year… geez, what a concept!

Vince and I have lived in Toronto for more years than I care to remember, and we – admittedly and abashedly – have rarely (or not at all) visited other parts of Ontario (excluding Niagara Falls, of course). With that in mind, it’s high time we got out of the big city to explore our own province.

We’d heard so many people sing the praises of the Bruce Peninsula and Georgian Bay area, so we figured that that part of the province would make an excellent destination for this trip. Another major motivator for us making this particular trip was to see our very dear friend Carol, who has retired to Orillia for a quieter way of life and to be closer to her family and grandchildren.

For the main Ontario cities/towns we created an agenda bringing us to Orillia, Collingwood, Owen Sound and Tobermory, with day trips to the smaller centres of Huntsville, Meaford and Wiarton (and anywhere else that grabbed our fancy).

Our Wheels For The Trip

A vehicle is kind of a necessity for a road trip, especially when you don’t own one (!), so I started shopping the big rental companies for the best pricing, perks and deals. I settled on Hertz, as they had unlimited kilometers included in most of their rentals, and their rates and vehicle models were quite decent.

We picked up our rental vehicle the day before departure, on Friday, September 11 (a rather ominous date, I know). As there was to be quite a lot of highway driving this trip I wanted a good-sized SUV that would handle the road well (that, and I somehow feel safer in a bigger vehicle). With that in mind, I reserved a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Upon pickup the Grand Cherokee was not available for some reason or other, so Hertz gave us a MASSIVE (to me, anyway) Dodge Durango – aka “the School Bus” – as it became known throughout the trip.

I’m not used to driving really large SUVs – bear in mind I’m used to using Smart cars and little Hyundai models around the city – so it proved some kind of fun piloting that monster out of the tight confines of the B3 level of the Hudson’s Bay Centre at Yonge and Bloor Streets (the School Bus was so big it hit the ceiling of the underground garage when I returned it to Hertz, but that’s another story for another day). When we got it home, we parked the School Bus overnight in our condo’s guest parking so we could get an early start the next morning.

With suitcases packed, Spotify playlists ready, food and munchies within easy reach, we were ready to go.

OK, let’s do this thing…

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