After cramming more stuff than we needed into our suddenly small feeling minivan, we set off for our Canadian adventure. We put in a ridiculous amount of thought into how to configure the minivan’s seating to accommodate the dog and our stuff. The winning configuration ended up being 1 adult driving (mostly me despite Granada), 1 kid in the front passenger seat, 1 adult in the 2nd row with Murphy (mostly J because let’s face it, I’m a cat person and this dog is his), and 1 kid in the 3rd row in the smaller half of the seats. This worked out fairly well not just for Murphy and the adults but it kept the kid bickering to a minimum since they weren’t sitting next to each other. Yay! I love it when kid bickering is minimized. It’s a win for everyone.
We stopped in New Hampshire on our way to Canada and that broke up the trip nicely. We had a lovely few days visiting friends and it was a great start to our vacation.
The Border Crossing
The drive from NH to Canada was mostly uneventful. Like the true travel nerds we are, we asked for a passport stamp at the Canadian border. I tried to make it sound like it was for the kids, but let’s be real, I wanted one too!
I was a little nervous about the border crossing with Murphy and hoping we had all the right paperwork for him. Sure enough, we had what we needed and were across the border in good time.
The Lake House
When we arrived at the lake house we rented through Airbnb, we were all delighted. It was just perfect and even more charming than the listing. The kids ran right down to the water and took in the view of the lake while J and I unpacked and got Murphy settled. The house was right on the lake with a dock and came with a canoe and paddle boat. We wasted no time in taking the kids out in them. Sunset canoe trips around the lake became a part of our daily routine.
The house was located on Lac Nantel and was an easy 30-minute drive to Mont Tremblant.
How We Spent Our Time
We spent about 10 days at the house on Lac Nantel. We generally try to avoid vacations that have us spending just a few days in one spot before moving on to the next. We like to stay put in one spot and then explore the area at a leisurely pace.
Much to our delight, prior to leaving for our vacation, I found a doggy daycare that was perfectly located – about half-way between our house and Mont Tremblant. It was perfect and they loved Murphy. We ended up leaving him there 3 times while we were out enjoying activities not well-suited for a giant puppy.
I think we did a great job balancing the urge to see and do new things and also just chill out by the lake. We spent 2 days going to the Mont Tremblant Village, 1 day hiking in a regional park, 1 day doing an off-road 4×4 adventure, and another day biking a (very small) stretch of the P’tit train du Nord. The rest of the time was spent canoeing, playing board games (so many rounds of Battleship), and relaxing. The kids swam in the lake despite the drizzle and cooler weather. I did not.
Hiking the Park Val-David Val-Morin
The one thing I really wanted to do was to go on a family hike with Murphy. That turned out to be slightly more difficult than I expected because J twisted his ankle coming down the steps just as we were leaving home and getting on the road for this trip. But he rallied for one hike and it was lovely. We chose to go to a regional park, Park Val-David Val-Morin, as they allow dogs and national parks do not.
It was a great spot for an easy hike with kids and a puppy – none of whom had hiked before. We packed our lunches and set out for an easy hike that would provide some good views. All in all, I think our hike took about 2 hours or so, including the time we stopped to eat our lunch.
After we finished with our hike, we poked around the cute little town of Val David. There were lots of restaurants, a farmer’s market, and cute little shops. Walking around with Murphy garnered us quite a bit of attention. More than 1 person stopped their car (in the middle of the road) to ooh and ahh over Murphy.
Mont Tremblant Village
Much to our delight, Mont Tremblant is not a winter only destination. There was so much to do, one day was not enough. You can purchase an activity card in advance or once you arrive though we did not. In hindsight, I wish we had purchased in advance not only to save 10% but also to avoid the line. The highlights for us were the gondola ride to the top and the mountain luge.
We happened to be there during the period they were hosting the Iron Man so it may have been a little busier than usual but the energy was great.
An Off-Road Adventure
A highlight of our vacation was the 4×4 off-road tour we did through the woods. I was under the mistaken impression that the focus would be the scenery but it turns out that off roading can be can be quite the thrill in and of itself. Never having been off roading, I had no idea.
Going into it, I figured J and I would take turns driving since our guide would be driving his own but I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be driving. J has experience driving off-road vehicles and it made all the difference. He was able to go fast, catch air, and just in general had the skill to make it a super fun ride. Our guide was great and would have been equally prepared had we not had an experienced driver.
“Best Vacation Ever, Mom”
The kids quickly declared this the best vacation I’d ever planned. On the cusp of tween-hood, this felt like a huge compliment since our trip was mostly old-fashioned family fun stuff – board games, swimming in a lake, bike rides, hiking, and canoeing. The best part was that it still felt relaxing to the adults.