Every year I encounter a problem during the first week of July: I have to listen to the loud booming of fireworks. I’m not sure why, but I’ve hated the sounds that fireworks make since I was a kid and now will do whatever it takes to avoid them. One year when I was still in high school, my dad suggested that we go up north to Canada for a couple of days to avoid the mayhem on the 4th of July. And so a tradition was born.
During the past 10 years, I have been outside of the country for the 4th of July more often than I have been in it. So far, Independence days abroad have been spent in Spain, China, and Stratford and Toronto, Canada. Don’t get me wrong– I do not dislike the States nor do I have anything against the holiday– I just prefer to not have my heart beating out of my chest for an entire evening every year.
This year, I really wanted to go to Mexico City and found great flights for $250 through Aeromexico, but didn’t prepare enough to follow through with that plan. The next best place? Back to Ontario! This time Leamington, East of Windsor, was the destination. The drive was only about 4 hours from home, so we left work early and arrived in time for dinner.
To save money (and because I enjoy being outdoors), I booked a campsite online in Wheatley Provincial Park, about a 20 minute drive from Point Pelee National Park and Leamington. We arrived on the first night with enough time to grab a bite to eat and set up camp before sunset.
Point Pelee (pictured above) is part of a national park and is known for being the southernmost point of mainland Canada. Our first full day in Canada was spent at the point (which used to be much more of a point than it is now), the park’s marsh boardwalk, and Northern Beach. Because it is Canada’s 150th anniversary, all national parks offer free admission through the end of 2017, so it was full of visitors from all over the world. After leaving the park, we explored the Leamington Marina, grabbed a bite to eat, then retired early with the hopes of getting a decent night of sleep before the next day’s early activities.
On day two, we packed up the tent early in the morning and headed into the Leamington Marina to hop on the ferry to Pelee Island, which lies directly between Ontario and Ohio and can be reached from both places by ferry. The trip out to the island was about an hour and a half, and when we arrived on the island, we realized that it would be difficult for us to fill the 3.5 hours we had to spend before the ferry back to Leamington.
Pelee Island is a great place for biking and offers a peaceful environment for its visitors, but little for adventure-seekers. We walked about a half of a mile north of the harbor and then turned around and walked about a half of a mile south of it, stopping to rest in the island’s winery and spending the remaining hours meeting other visitors (mostly talking about dogs).
The ferry back to Leamington seemed to last twice as long as the trip out to the island because the sun had fully risen and was beating down on my already-sunned skin. When we finally arrived at the harbor, I was very ready to spend the 4 hour drive basking in the luxury that was the car’s air conditioning.
Even though it was a short trip, it checked the boxes of being affordable, interesting, and international. If you have a passport and live close to the northern border of the States, go on a quick road trip and take advantage of the free park admission before the end of the year!