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2017 – A Year in Travel with the Wandering Wagars

2017 was an epic year for family travel. We ventured from the far north of Canada to the far south of Argentina. And with bucket list family destinations like Machu Picchu and the Northern Lights, we can’t wait to see what 2018 has to offer!

What a year! It seems that with each passing year, our lives get a little crazier. Our travels get a little wilder and at times we are barely hanging on by our fingertips. I’m writing this as I wrap up some photography contracts and try to finish packing for our final adventure for 2017. On December 26 we’ll be flying to the Philippines through Shanghai, China. And we’ve barely packed! I can’t even imagine how we’re going to fit two family Christmas celebrations in two different cities on the 24th and the 25th. But we’re the Wagars, and we never rest!

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Canada 150 sign in front of the CN tower in Toronto Ontario

One of my favourite things to do at the end of the year is our annual recap post. Looking back at all the adventures we had since we started the Wandering Wagars website back in 2015 is so much fun. And our year-in-travel articles are in all honesty, more about my satisfaction than giving all of you awesome people great travel inspiration. But if you want, you can swing by our articles for 2015 and 2016 and see what craziness the four of us have been up to in the past.

Our 2017 Travel Log

January Light Festivals

2017 started out with a blur of festive lights. We packed the kids in the car and made one of our many trips down to New York City to visit family. Along the way, we stopped in Niagara Falls to experience the Winter Light Festival. And we took our time on our drive home. It was a great opportunity to experience some of the amazing waterfalls of Upstate New York in their winter glory.

Niagara Falls Floral Showhouse lit up for the Winter Festival of Lights on during winter in Niagara Falls Ontario

Shortly after our return from New York, we made our way to Kingston, Ontario for the beautiful Lumina Borealis light festival. It was a great way to kick off our 2017 adventures. This fun and interactive light and sound exhibit in the famous Fort Henry was a wonderful way to shake off the winter blues.

People looking at an Iceberg art installation a great place for exploring when visiting Lumina Borealis with kids in Fort Henry during Lumina Borealis Kingston

The following weekend Christina and I had a rare date night at the Toronto Lightfest in the famous Distillery District. It was a beautiful night of art, music, and drinks that helped us start the year off in style.

A woman in a red Canada Goose Jacket looks down an alley under a web of green light at the Toronto LightFest in the Distillery District
Checking out the web of lights that cross over the main alley

February Big Birthdays and How North Can You Go?

In February we made our annual trip to Ottawa for the fun and exciting Winterlude festival. We always join family and friends there for a weekend of outdoor shenanigans. This event always happens on my birthday, and this year it was a big one! It’s hard to believe 40 years have passed by already.

Enjoying a day out at the Winterlude Festival in Ottawa, Ontario
Enjoying a day out at the Winterlude Festival in Ottawa, Ontario

But that wasn’t it for February. For some reason, we thought it would be a great idea to head even further north than Ottawa. Way up to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. We were lucky enough to have my Mom join us for the fun. And what a trip it was! Dog sledding, Kite-flying, Northern Lights, amazing food, and cool artwork. Who knew that Yellowknife had so much to offer in the dead of winter?

Family dog sledding on frozen lake is one of our top winter activities to do in Yellowknife with kids.

March Science and Skating

March in Canada is when the sun starts to shine a little brighter and the end of winter is close. It’s also when we celebrate both C and Christina’s birthdays! And the weather was just right for getting outside and experiencing all the awesome outdoor activities at our doorstep. Our first stop was at Arrowhead Provincial Park where we skated along the incredible outdoor skating trail and went hiking along the beautiful river.

Boys at Arrowhead Provincial Park during Winter

We also worked on a campaign with the Ontario Science Centre and to help show off the OSC’s new exhibit. What a great way to get our brains in gear for the warmer weather! It was super cool learning about motion in nature. And it got the boys thinking about how we move.

Two young boys walk through a tunnel of screen at the Ontario Science Centre Bio Mechanics Exhibit

April Sunshine and New Friends

April had us experiencing quite a few new things. C had to undergo some dental surgery thanks to a fall during a game of tag with his brother. But we still had time to visit Campbellford, Ontario to hike through the conservation area.

Watchihng the Waterfalls at the Campbellford Conservation Area

We also explored more of nearby Hamilton, Ontario, home to amazing waterfalls, and some incredible history dating back to the war of 1812.

Waterfalls in Hamilton Ontario

But our favourite trip of April was to Manchester, Vermont, where we had a chance to spend Easter at the storied Wilburton Inn where the owners made us feel like a part of the family. We also got to take a tour of Hildene, the famous Lincoln family home.

Families sits on the grand staircase going out into the backyard of the Wilburton Inn.

May Spring Fun

May finally brought the warm weather and flowers to our neighbourhood. It was a great chance to get out and explore the local cherry blossoms.

Cherry Blossoms in Brampton Ontario

We also got to shake off the dust on our bikes and head to Island Lakes Conservation Area in Orangeville, Ontario for some hiking and biking.

Biking at Island Lake Conservation Area in Orangeville Ontario

But the big hit for May was our 2 week trip to Peru. We explored Lima, went sandboarding in Huacachina, hiked around Machu Picchu, and saw the Andean Condors in Colca Canyon. What an adventure! You can check out all of our Peru experiences here.

Taking in the majesty of Machu Picchu Peru with kids on a 14 day Peru itinerary

June Sauble Fun

A good portion of June was spent recovering from our experience in Peru. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have time for some fun! We made our annual family trip up to our favourite Ontario beach, Sauble Beach. We had some fun in the sand and waterfalls and ate way too much ice cream.

We also had great fun watching both the boys perform at their spring concerts. They know how to own the stage!

Boy tries to write in the sand during sunset at Sauble Beach.

July Camping and a Harry Potter Wedding

July was blessed with the absolutely amazing weather. And with July 1st being Canada’s 150th Birthday, there was no better place to celebrate than in Canada’s Capital, Ottawa.

Kevin Wagar and D at the Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa Ontario

While we were in the Ottawa Valley, we took the time to partake in one of our favourite activities, caving, at nearby Bonnechere Caves. We also got to spend a few nights camping at Bonnechere Provincial Park.

Exploring Bonnechere Caves in Eganville Ontario

The following weekend we made our way towards Long Island New York to join Christina’s cousin Stephanie for her wedding. On the way, we decided to stop and camp for a few days at Letchworth State Park and spend some time rafting the Letchworth River and exploring some of the incredible waterfalls of Upstate New York.

Middle Falls and a Rainbow in Letchworth State Park in New York State

We took our time exploring Long Island. Including a stop at the Long Island Children’s Museum for some play and learn time. But the real treat was the wedding. The couple was glowing. But that might have been due to the magical potions being used. After all, it was a Harry Potter wedding!

Wandering Wagars in their Harry Potter costumes

August Camping, Road Trips, and More Camping

August is when the back-to-school panic starts to set in. We were confronted with how little time was left before we would be saddled with hockey practice, swimming lessons, school hours and homework. So we figured we would make the most of the last month before the madness began.

We started August with a trip to Silent Lake Provincial Park near Peterborough, Ontario. We spent a few nights camping and swimming.

Canoeing at Silent Lake Provincial Park in Ontario

With C still in school, I took D to meet some of his cousins for some fun in downtown Toronto. We visited the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium. We kept falling behind the group as D just couldn’t take his eyes off of all the colorful fish. I think D is going to LOVE snorkeling in the Philippines!

Boy watching fish at Ripleys Aquarium in Toronto Ontario

Later that month the boys both took part in the Shufelt Kids Triathlon in Peterborough, Ontario. This amazing event is run entirely by volunteers who look to inspire active lifestyles in children. Both the kids did amazing and D took home second place in the boys 3 and under division.

Boy rides bike during Shufelt Kids Triathlon in Peterborough Ontario

If that wasn’t enough, we decided that we would pack ourselves into our car and head out on a 12 day Northern Ontario road trip. We drove to Georgian Bay Islands National Park. Our trip started out with some luxury in one of their beautiful lakeside cabins.

Stone Chair in Georgian Bay Islands National Park in Ontario

After a few days exploring, we made our way further north to Lake Superior National Park and spent two days camping and hiking along the water.

Boys throwing stones in the water at Lake-Superior Provincial Park in Ontario

Then we completed the 1,100 km one-way trip to Pukaskwa National Park. This beautiful place completely defied our expectations and it deserves far more fame than it has.

A young boy on a hike stands next to a pool of water at Lake Superior National Park in Ontario

After our time in Pukaskwa, we began making our way south again, hampered only by a stop in Wawa to replace a dead car battery. But we were on a roll, so we drove to Manitoulin Island to experience some stargazing at Gordon’s Park dark sky preserve and capture some of the other features that make Manitoulin Island so amazing.

Boardwalk in Providence Bay Manitoulin Island. A walk along the boardwalk and beach in Providence Bay is one of the most amazing things to do on Manitoulin Island

We then took the Ms Chi-Cheemaun Ferry across Lake Huron to Tobermory. We took in one of Ontario’s most popular National parks, Bruce Peninsula National Park. And being right on the Peninsula, we also spent a day exploring Flowerpot Island, and the rest of Fathom Five National Marine Park.

Visitors to Bruce Peninsula National Park lounge on the rocks near the Grotto

Exhausted after a 2,500 km road trip, we made our way home. The boys went to their Grandparents for a few days while Christina and I went to work in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was a great chance to experience one of Ontario’s most famous towns. And drink some amazing Canadian wine!

Christina Wagar poses in front of the vineyards in Niagara on the Lake Ontario

September Back-to-School Shenanigans

Still recovering from our epic August, we woke up and started the beginning of our back-to-school routine. Breakfast, pack lunch, get the kids to school, work, pick the kids up from school, make dinner, wash, rinse, repeat. But September is also a time of celebration and learning. D’s birthday is in September and at 4, he was becoming the big boy!

Wagar boys doing that awkward first day of school pose

And we were still celebrating the amazing weather. And we decided that the perfect way to spend our weekends, rather than go out grocery shopping, was to hit the rivers and lakes of Ontario’s Muskoka region on some incredible cruises. We joined Muskoka Steamships for a ride through history in Huntsville. And on to Bracebridge with a Lady Muskoka tour of Millionaire’s row. We also managed to squeeze in a third cruise with Island Queen Cruises. Three ships, all very different and amazing experiences.

Two boys watch a Lake Muskoka Steamship from a dock in Huntsville Ontario

October Fall Festivals

In October the leaves began to turn. And with all the rain we had during the summer, they put on a brilliant show. We relaxed locally through much of the month spending our time at the Terra Cotta Ontario Fall Festival, and the Norwood, Ontario Fall Fair.

Children play at the Terra Cotta Fall Festival in Ontario

We also spent a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend where we went apple picking with my sister and her family. Apple picking has always been one of our favourite fall activities.

Running through a corn maze in Whitby Ontario

Not willing to spend a month without travel though, Christina up and went to  Austin, Texas for a weekend to experience some of the city’s famous food scene!

River cruises in Austin Texas

November Food and Brain Candy

Finally on to November. C and I worked with the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts and the team at Brain Candy Live! We had our first giveaway on our website where two lucky winners had a chance to see Adam Savage of Mythbusters and YouTube star Michael Stevens in their science extravaganza show. It was a riot. C and I are both huge science nerds, so watching these experiments live was a blast. While we weren’t able to take photos during the show, we did snap a few during the pre-show where C and I got to eat some mealworms and crickets!

Dining on mealworms and crickets with the Ontario Science Centre at Brain Candy Live

We also joined Tasty Tours for a unique food and history tour of Toronto’s popular Kensington Market. We had a riot tasting all the unique eats of the neighborhood and learning so much about how this neighborhood has thrived throughout the years.

Serving churros at Pancho's Bakery in Kensington Market Toronto Food tour with Tasty Tours Toronto

We also celebrated Christina’s parents anniversary at the Toronto Filipino restaurant, Tinuno. We were able to eat loads of traditional Filipino dishes. And the best part, you eat with your hands from a communal table covered in banana leaves! The perfect way to prepare for our upcoming trip to the Philippines!

Filipino hand to mouth meal at Tunino restaurant in Toronto Ontario

December – Nothing But Preparation

And that brings us to December! During which we have done NOTHING. We are so busy trying to finalize projects and get ready for our trip to the Philippines. I have been neck-deep in photography assignments, Christina is running around finalizing our travel plans, and the boys are spending each night making sure they are being good enough for Santa.

Kids in Reindeer hats at home

And it’s a weird Christmas for us. Because of when we’re leaving, we haven’t set up a tree or decorated much since we won’t really be home to enjoy it. But on a lighter note, we will be spending New Years on the beautiful beaches of Boracay. And we can’t wait!

Tell us about your year in travel? What were the highlights? Did you suffer any travel fails? Tell us about it!

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