This past weekend, we hosted another set of couchsurfers. We love Couchsurfing, although people unfamiliar with this mode of travelling probably think we’re nuts. In its simplest terms, couchsurfing means staying with locals when you travel to different places. But it’s so much more than that. Couchsurfing has allowed us to travel the world while staying put, to forge friendships with people who we’d never have met otherwise, to open our minds to the great wide world and to continue to live out our “what goes around comes around” philosophy.
Roughly 16 years ago, I met my husband at the University of Western Ontario’s swing dance club, Swing Kids. Roughly two years before that, way back in 1999, my brother had dragged me to a swing dancing event at Chicago’s Willowbrook Ballroom (well, sort of Chicago. Close enough). I reluctantly went, sure that 1930’s dancing would be extremely boring. In my defense, I was 17 at the time, and knew absolutely nothing about swing dancing. Well, to my surprise, it was great fun, and I was hooked right away. How could you not be, when you got to take a lesson to learn how to dance and then got to dance with pretty much everyone – and to a live band, no less!
I can’t believe I’ve finally finished writing all of the journal posts for our cycling adventure – it only took me 7 months after the trip! But now that I’ve had a chance to look back at this great experience with my little family, I thought it’d be a good time to share the good, the bad, and the ugly about our adventure with young children. Spoiler: there really wasn’t much bad or ugly about it 🙂
Without further ado, here’s the good stuff about our cycle adventure with three kids 6 and under. I think these pros would apply to most adventures with young kids.
So eons ago, I had promised I’d write a post about what we carried with us on our cycle tour. I did talk about our gear, as well as the camping stuff we brought along, but I never did write that post about what exactly was in those saddle bags. Well, better late than never, I say!
After a restful sleep on a real bed in Woodstock, we headed out to our final destination. We hit a bit of rain, but it was light enough not to be bothersome.
We noticed that we passed the part of Woodstock that had some restaurants, but it wasn’t even 11:00 a.m. yet, so we decided to keep pedalling. We were out of food at this point, so that may have been an unwise decision. At the same time, it opened the door for one of the amazing experiences of this trip.
We enjoyed our ride from Brantford to Woodstock.
On the way, we stopped at a farm and asked the young guy who was working on the yard if we could stop and eat lunch on his front lawn. He said yes, and we were able to enjoy a nice meal under a gorgeous weeping willow—that’s my favourite tree, so this was really nice. We were able to use the facilities as well, which was great.
After our lovely time in Hamilton, we headed out to Brantford via the Hamilton-Brantford Rail-Trail.
It was a gorgeous trail, and we got to see some horses during a portion of it. The kids also made friends with a little caterpillar that hung out on daddy’s vest for a while, then on K-girl’s arm.
In Hamilton, we stayed with a lovely family who has lots of experience cycle touring. They are the Pedal Powered Family, and they’re always ready to receive visitors. It was so wonderful to experience such amazing generosity, and I learned a wonderful lesson during my time with this family.
They have two children, and our kids were ecstatic to have playmates again. They also had a pretty cool tree-house bed that the kids got to sleep in.
After a relaxing time of recovery in Toronto, we headed out to Mississauga. We got to see some nice things in Toronto, including the wavy boardwalk I mentioned in another blog post, as well as this cool bridge. I love bridges, and methinks perhaps one day I’ll do a bridge-themed trip, where I get to go see all the cool bridges all over the world…. Mmm another item for my bucket list.
After a relaxing time at Uncle Neil and Aunt Cindy’s house, we headed out to Toronto. Because we had decided to sleep in downtown Toronto, it wasn’t possible to get a host there—at least not one capable of accommodating a family of 5 cycle tourists carrying a bunch of gear. So I bid on a hotel in downtown Toronto, as I usually do when I need to stay at hotels. I usually use Priceline for this. We got a pretty nice hotel with a pool and a little kitchenette, which was awesome. I unwittingly booked it in pride village, so Katia was pretty happy, since she was really into rainbows this summer.