A Family Adventure... to the Cottage.
A journal entry for each day... with pictures.
The pictures are all 320x240, and if you click'em, it opens up an 800x600.
Day 1: Saturday, July 28, 2007
The trip away began ... somewhere last night when it dawned us that it was 4:00 in the morning, and we were still packing and messing around.
The goal is a week at a family oriented "cottage resort" and then a couple of days in Toronto to check out Ontario Place, the Zoo and go up the CN Tower – and stay in a nice hotel ... which is always loads nicer if you stay there after hanging in a cottage for week.
So we divvy up the packing jobs and I get "food" while Zee does all the kids stuff, clothes and "stuff" (i.e. pack your own linens...). Well, we were into so many projects this week... me crazy at work, suz just wrapping up her work before her "summer off", and I go and work all night on Thursday in the basement with a buddy doing the electrical for the "giant basement project".
So... yeah, 4:00 in the morning and all’s well.
Our plan to leave at 10:00 was a goner before we even went to bed. My plan to pack light and not use the "car topper"? Out the window too... The cold, dry and frozen food alone, was two coolers and a big ol’tupper-ware bin, and that pretty much dominated the trunk. Yeah, I stood at the trunk of the car with all our duffle bags and back packs and ... decided to put the car topper on. :)
We got on the road at noon.
Lunch at 1:00, and a cottage by 4:00.
Buckhorn Lake in the "Kawarthas" (part of Ontario). This place is all about the "activities". It’s not all that, when you get to looking at things... the cottage is pretty basic and the bathroom is silly, but that’s the diva-hotel-guy in me talking. In truth... I don’t care. The coffee maker works, the fridge works, I can flush, and ... we’re good.
It’s midnight and I’m going to crash... so tired I can hardly believe it... We had fun with "peddle boats", then a row boat, pretending to know how to fish, and a big spaghetti dinner. Oh, and dig this next bit...
After dinner Geo asks me to take him out in the row boat (little 12 footer that can take a motor) to fish. While we sit at the dock untangling lines and changing from one shiny lure to another shiny lure (note: I have no clue... I can fish "mechanically" because I know how the parts fit together but ... other than that, I have no clue.) So "neighbor cottage dudes" with the serious kick-ass-fishing-family-fun-mastercraft-b
Neighbors are sorted, casting with bait and bobbers and hoping to catch something. We row out for a bit, drop out "weight" (anchor) and cast... Geo casts the actual rod and I cast the toy rod. Presto. I catch a 2 lb large-mouth bass on the first cast. Seriously, about 14 inches long. (No, not huge, but what do I know... I was excited and mortified...) In the end, I didn’t want to learn to gut-a-fish tonight, so we snapped pictures and put it back. "fly and be free". When we caught it, I was all yelling and tripping ... and sound carries over water. So no surprise for anyone at the dock when we came back with our big fish. :)
It’s bed time now... there was a bon-fire at the beach... some "sparklers" at our dock and now it’s sleeping daddy time. See ya in the morning...
Day 2: Sunday, July 29, 2007
Well... the night was a bit of a blur, waking up and changing beds to accommodate the warming-up of a freezing Edward, to give up on finding space in between Suz and a very sleeping Geo. You know how you have the trippy dreams when you sleep "late" or go-back-to-sleep? Yeah, well I had a real humdinger... all about being set-up as a fall guy for some big US government conspiracy thing on my next business trip to Washington. It was freaky... but basically, just another orange-pant dream.*
When we finally got going, the day was quite the blur. Geo and I went fishing first thing (well, after a breakfast of muffins and strawberries at the dock.) Again with the "catch a big fish on the first cast" thing... this time a yellow perch... a little under a foot long. I actually cleaned this fish ... I’ve never done this before... There is this special "shack" on the cottage property call the "fish cleaning room"... in I go with Ed – who wanted to watch – and a big sharp knife. The fish is still squirming in my hands as I cut "down along the spot below the gill till I hit bone, then turn the blade and cut back towards it’s tail". I produced two weenie little fillets ... grossed myself out rather significantly with the fish guts... and then we fried them (the fillets) up in salt and butter. Very yummy. I snagged a boat with a 8 hp motor on it for the afternoon and we zoomed around on a tour of the lake... scared Ed with the wave bouncing (wake from much bigger boats) and then off on another fishing adventure with Geo. Both the wide-mouth-bass and the perch were quickly separated from the hooks that caught them... the bass literally fell off the hook and the perch was one-quick-"unhook". This afternoon, it was a different story... Stupid fish kept swallowing the lures or getting them hooked massively deep in their mouths. I cannot express to you how icky it is to hold a squirmy fish and cut a lure out of it’s throat. (gah!).
It was "kids pizza on the beach" night, so that was the kids dinner... and we had bbq steaks at the cottage. Good eating, very busy day and another night spent talking to other cottagers by a big camp fire near the "main beach". Oh, and I spent a bunch of time trying to deal pro-actively with the fact that I never get any sun on my back or chest, which are both so blindingly white that I can signal aircrafts overhead by taking off my shirt. The result is – of course – a big red zone across my back. D’oh. (and I used all kinds of sunblock... but apparently not enough spf!!). We watched BB on the tele in our cottage, and I’ll see if the resort "wifi" is actually working tomorrow.
It’s late now... 12:30 ... (and that’s like, early at home... but I can hardly keep my eyes open). It will soon be time to fall into bed and snore like a dinosaur. J
* Orange-pant dreams started with this evil dream I would have forever ago about coming to my senses at school and finding I was wearing bright orange parachute-material pants... usually dreaming it to force myself to wake up, usually in shock and horror about the orange pants.
Day 3: Monday, July 30
Sleeping in at the cottage is grand... but, when you get right down to it, I kinda suck at sleeping in. I used to have that down in spades, but no more. I wake up at 30 minute intervals starting at 6:30, and if I stay in bed past 10:00 - ahhhhhhhh! – I spend the day with a sore back, but... sleeping in till till, say, 9:00... that’s absolutely wonderful – and that’s what I’m doing every day at the cottage. Today was a blast. No question. We had a pancake breakfast, toured out to a farmers market – that was very weenie – then hit a "food-land" found the bits and pieces we neglected to pack into our over-packed-car. I managed to scare the crap out of suz on the way out of town, on the twisty-turny road, looking away for an instant... and almost – but – not – quite – driving into an oncoming car. Breaks that screech, unthinking reaction with the wheel spin, gas pedal after the wheel spin, and we were golden, but it took a few moments of sitting there... stopped... to scoop life back up and put it back in our hearts.
So, home from the store, we set about getting sorted to go "tubing" and water skiing. Geo has never done this before and it’s been years and years - a lot of "years and years" - since I’ve water skied. There’s a nice boat and a couple of young guys that take cottagers out – who sign up and pay – on runs across and around the lake. Geo had a trip like no other, hanging on to the big inner-tube-like-thing for dear life. I am remarkably knock kneed on water-skis (likely on snow skies too, but then there’s big giant ski boots and snow pants to hide it), so I recall learning to drop a ski and go on just the one. After a bell-ringing dive into the water on my first attempt with the "drop a ski" thing... I managed to stay up and spend then next 15 minutes alternating between rapt joy pulling with one hand and holding the other out and reaching for the water... leaning wwwway over and a death grip as I imagined the total wipe-out cutting across the wakes of other boats. Geo was in the boat taking pictures of his fingers – and me, occasionally, and he was mightily impressed with his dad... :D I think he want’s to try wake-boarding today.
The afternoon filled up with playing on the beach, fishing... lots of fishing... and making a dinner of burgers, fries and wicked delicious fresh tomatoes. Oh, Geo, Ed and two other young lads spent hours out on a peddle boat with fishing rods... :) They caught a few foot long bass, but mostly "blue fish" (I’m thinking that’s what they’re called... kinda like a sun fish, with a lot of bright yellow, and bigger). I had a very enjoyable, solitary fishing excursion after dinner and grossed myself out several times removing fish I figured were too small to fillet and eat from my line...
Sitting in an adirondack chair at the beach... watching little tiny kids run back and forth along the decks, fishing boats sneaking out of the bay or slinking back in, and all the mommies and daddies relaxing with their books, magazines, laptops and drinks... it felt like it all could have been a scene captured in 8mm black and white film straight out of the fifties – well, except for the laptops.
The night carried on with a camp fire, some conversations, Harry Potter reading with the boys and then totally passing out like a rock. Oh, and somewhere in there, I was able to catch an address from the wifi at the resort and post the BB update. I was quite pleased.
Day 4: Tuesday, July 31
So, today was one of the "spa days"... which means the front room in the resort-owner’s house converts to a massage parlor (bwahahaha). Facials, hot wax, deep massage, foot treatments ... I signed up for an hour long massage and zee was down for a facial. Meanwhile Geo was signed up for a shot at wakeboarding. But let’s back up a bit. I woke up early and instead of going back to bed to have more orange-pant dreams, I made coffee and a pack of those Pillsbury "smack the package on the counter to open it" things of cinnamon buns, and took a walk... all before 8:30. Everybody else is still sawing away in dreamland. When they got up, it was off to "water-mania" on the beach for Ed straight away. This involved a truck-load of kids, a shallow kiddy beach, water balloons, races, and a "facilitator" that knows exactly how to let the kids go mental and still have fun. Geo was into some fishing, and getting his freak on for the wakeboarding thing. It was all quite tenuous in the planning because we couldn’t be sure who was going to be beside him on the dock... depending if my massage finished before his turn came up behind the boat. As it turned out he was with zee and he made some valiant efforts, hurt his wrist, made it up – briefly, and tossed in the towel when he was worn out for trying. He’ll try water skiing next, I think. I wanna go water skiing again too, but that will likely involve more body-slamming into the water at high speeds – again.
We had some chicken on the bbq with fresh taters and a salad... for dinner and managed to get a giant water-fight at the beach, more fishing, bonfires, weenie roasts, and marshmallows, all before big brother came on the tv back in the cottage. For four years in a row, we’ve managed to be on holiday when this show is on. The boys never watch it at home, but they make great sport out of watching it on vacation – and, of course, there’s me, sitting there taking notes.
After another hour of reading Harry... we’re in chapter 8, btw... the boys are off to bed and we’re down to the dock to chit chat under the waning gibbous moon. It’s late now... and ... the glands in my neck have been sore as heck all day (I only mention that in case I’m talking about having contracted some horrendous illness in a couple of days – Edit: vanished the next day
)... anyways, late! Time for bed.
Day 5: Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Up with the early light... sipping coffee, watching various boats pull away from different docks... "soldiers of the rod" bringing another day of war to the world of fish. I entertained the notion of rowing out a bit and casting for a while... but I made a bagel with cream-cheese instead. Today was hot... tomorrow is supposed to be hotter still. This is a nice spot to spend a hot day... sitting in a comfy chair, in the shade of a hundred year old tree, watching your kids play at a beach or make adventures out of every turn. I swam a few times... just to cool off, sat in the shade writing a Big Brother update and sat near a wifi booster at the lodge to snatch an address and post it. Another lazy day that tired us all out. Oh, and we went to this restaurant in Buckhorn that folks have been raving about... "Cody’s Inn" has this grand history in this part of Ontario, sitting on top of a big rock beside the locks that join up an inland waterway. No longer an actual "inn" they now dedicate their many rooms to semi formal dining and serving up so-called Canadian and Chinese food. Lovely lovely place... and air conditioned as well. The food? Totally blew. Live and learn.
Tonight was a brief fishing excursion with no great accomplishment but calming and enjoyable and then kids at a camp fire... kids at the cottage with sparklers, and then kids curled up listening to more Harry Potter. It’s tomorrow now and today’s mix of food, sun and fun ... has left me completely spent. (Austin Powers moment.)
Day 6: Thursday, August 2, 2007
We do this kinda musical beds thing in the wee hours, as a kind of start to our day: Geo gets up around four and comes into our little bed, and by around six I’m floating, so I wake up and squeeze out of the bed and deal, then, instead of re-inserting myself between the two sprawling sleepers, I crash in Geo’s bed. At eight-thirty or so I get up and make coffee, and have a shower, meanwhile Ed has woken up and crawled in beside suz, and after another half hour or so, Geo gets up... then it’s hours before the last two wake up, unless we bribe them with coffee and a beach, although, left to his own devices... Ed would likely sleep till noon.
So today began pretty much like that except I managed to crash again after the shower for another hour. Today was hot. We hung out at the beach, fished off the pier, Ed won first-prize in an organized kids game that netted him an all expenses paid trip to the club house ice-cream counter (big smile), lots of swimming... Oh, and Suz took her turn at waterskiing today! She did great, had a nice spill near the end but got an extra "go round" out of the deal and she loved every moment. As was the case with my ski-moment, she hasn’t water-skied for a dozen years. In the late afternoon, the sky threatened with the first break in a week of totally perfect weather. There were thunder rumbles, and even two or three minutes of actual rain. The rain had no chance, what with all the heat... it was gone as it touched the ground. Never-the-less, the threat of weather drove everyone in-doors for a bit so we hauled out Mille-Bornes ... and ended up with the game half played, suz and I both passed out on beds and the kids partially comatose in front of the tv. Being lazy in the sun... totally wears you out. :)
We all woke up refreshed and dinner was all about bbq’ed souvlaki, jasmine rice and some fresh veggies from the local market.
And we followed that with another go at the whole "fish-off-the-pier, swim, and relax in adirondacks with other cottages and chat" thing. We had dessert with Big Brother and then headed out to the camp fire for more kids-poking-sticks-in-a-fire, frog catching, and fireside chit chat with strangers we all pretend to know because it’s so easy to be casual here. The end-of-day pattern continues with a reading-Harry-Potter session, the kids-to-bed and then the dock! After the kids are to-bed, we spend a little while sitting under the midnight moon at the end of the dock (just outside our cabin) and chat. This whole place is put under a gag-order as of eleven and the way people go at the early fishing, and play-mania, most of the folks here are likely unconscious shortly there-after. We’re up a bit later... but not much. So our moonlit talks on the dock are utterly solitary in sensation... with little ‘bonking’ noises from tied-up boats. The sky has been clear as a bell every-single-night... so that moon has been beautiful. It (the moon) has been poetically waning as we go through our little family adventure.
And then bed... which is now. Night. :)
Day 7: Friday, August 3, 2007
Our last full day at the cottage. Tomorrow we leave for a three day excursion to Toronto with fancy hotels, the CN Tower and Ontario Place. Today was all about enjoying ourselves (kinda like every other day here). Over the course of the week, you meet your cottage neighbors, and the other families ... and by Friday (today) you’re all one big happy family. The kids have sorted themselves into groups of "likes" and "not so much" friendships and first-timers, like us, are thinking about a return adventure next year. There are a lot of families that have been coming here year after year for like 40 years!!! I can totally see the logic in making a place like this "your cottage", as opposed to paying to own and maintain your own actual cottage. And this one comes ready-made with friends. J Same applies to the whole fishing / sport boat thing. We rented a row boat (inexpensive) for the week and it was docked at our cottage (on the lake) and we rented a motor boat for two diff days to explore the lake and fish in more remote locations. The resort has a speed boat that is used every afternoon to take cottagers tubing, waterskiing or wake-boarding. You sign up and pay for that ("put it on my tab") but again... it’s a whole lot less expensive than owning your own boat, let alone lugging a boat around and maintaining it. Suz and I went waterskiing again today... very choppy water but big big fun. I didn’t dare go slalom – waves and wind – so another knock-kneed waterskiing adventure was had by me. J The boys totally loved being passengers in the speed boat while we did our thing and really weren’t all that interested in learning to water-ski....
Maybe next year.
I wrote up the BB update in a comfy chair in the shade by the beach then Geo and I fished around these unbelievable islands (part of an Indian reserve) for a couple of hours and I got to go fishing as the sun dipped down at the end of the day. We made a huge meal out of almost everything left in the fridge and the evening was all about the camp fire and the awarding of the fishing derby and biggest-this-and-that trophies. We’re all packed and breakfast will be bacon, french-fries and garlic bread (freezer stuff. :D :D). For everything this place lacks in fancy-spancy, it makes up in spades by being such an enormous amount of fun for the kids. We’ve already booked for next year. Night night.
Day 8: Saturday, August 4, 2007
So, the last morning and the week must have caught up with the boys... they were quite immobile in the wee hours... no musical beds. We had to be checked out by 10:00, so we were up at 8:00, and basically cooking up what was left in the fridge for brekki. French-fries, garlic toast, shrimp and cereal was the early morning menu, then, having pretty much packed before we went to bed, it was all about packing stuff in the car and checking directions from the cottage to the hotel in Toronto. Besides the kindly-lady that runs the resort the rest of the staff are college kids... working the water sports, kids activities, front desk, ice-cream counter, etc... and they all become "cleaning staff" on Saturdays making everything ready for the next round of cottagers that check in on Saturdays. I was concerned with avoiding the "through Toronto" traffic – as we were headed to a hotel near the airport, on the far-side of Toronto – so I had a route mapped out that took us across the province above Toronto and down the other side... This put us on some roads that left us quite certain we were lost but it all worked out and we put a two hour drive under our belts to get to the Marriott Residence Inn !!, what a great hotel!!! The idea is to spend a week in the rather rustic setting of the cottage and then hit a bit of luxury. We’ve done that every vacation and it’s worked well for us. The Delta Fredericton (one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever been in) on the way home from PEI in ’04 and to Woodwards in New Hampshire on the way home from Cape Cod in ‘05 (we moved last summer, so no big vacation in ’06). Our plan this year is to go to Ontario Place, etc... but with Caribanna in Toronto this weekend, we couldn’t get a hotel in "downtown" TO until Sunday night... so we’re doing one night here and then moving to the Harbor Castle tomorrow. All we did when we got here was swim in the hotel pool (I still smell like chlorine) and go out to dinner. We went to Swiss Chalet... we could have gone anywhere, but a SC "¼ chicken white with greek salad" is a great meal... Oh, and we packed in lots of fresh coffee from Tims, etc. We watched Enemy Of The State tonight, swam more and basically were completely lazy. The hotel has great "net" but other than BB updates, I’m kinda staying away from all things "on-line". This hotel room is a "Suite" with a separate bedroom, a great kitchen – which we’ll not use at all – and a big luxurious bathroom (I took a long shower the minute we checked-in. :D :D :D). Two more days (Ontario Place, CN Tower, Toronto Zoo??) and then we’ll be heading home. I miss home.
Day 9: Sunday, August 5, 2007
Well, check-out time at the hotel was noon, and the complimentary breakfast was from 7-10, ... so we slept like logs till pretty close to 8:30, got up, and boogied to breakfast... gorging ourselves on fresh fruit, yogurts, waffles, juices, muffins and coffee. We packed up and hit the road from one end of Toronto to the other, making great time and arriving at the Harbor Swanky Castle before noon. What a flipping mad house! I mean... it’s beautiful, all poshy and stuff... but a) you can’t pick your nose without someone wanting a tip for helping you wipe the booger b) everything costs and c) mad mad mad numbers of people! We’re not paying for the costs-extra-net and omg, the water bottle in the room is like 6$ ... um, bite me. We got this room at a killa rate via hotwire, and no, we don’t want to pay more for a "harbor view" tyvm. Any ways... today was totally brilliant. We walked across Toronto to find a McDonalds and ended up in a china town McDeaths assuaging the kids addiction to McFries, and then... we did the tower. Line-ups aside, this was really quite something. I’ve been up twice now... once with suz when she was preggers with Geo (We came to Toronto and stayed at the same hotel and went to see the musical Tommy) and now this time... both times my heart just about stopped dead when I tried to stand on the freaking glass floor and look down. Sweet mercy and pixie-sticks... there is no fear quite as bone melting as the fear of heights. I kinda amp’ed it up by doing a "dead fall" forward onto the glass just for kicks. Swimming in the hotel pool, eating a pizza, watching BB and going for a long night time family cruise through a Carabanna-Fest Queensquay filled the day. Tomorrow – weather permitting (today saw the first real clouds and chills since the moment we left home) – we’re off to Ontario Place. Oh, and on a side note... The Carabanna parade was yesterday and events associated with the Caribbean festival are ongoing. Holy over-done divas in three-inch heels! Total madness on the numbers-of-people thing. :)
Oh oh oh, and one more thing... when we turned down the bed – in this classy posh-monkey hotel, we were greeted with what could only be a dried blood stain... small but never-the-less, totally unacceptable. This was before out night-walk, so I called down to have them redo all the bedding while we were out and to leave a message for the manager to see me when we got back. I put on my best "livid" face and went to the front desk, because these conversations are best had in a place where other customers could possibly over-hear... Having booked through Hotwire there was no "comping our stay" option, but after adding "turn down" service to our stay, they also added a couple of hundred bucks of food-and-beverage credit to our bill so we can dine in style tomorrow night. J
Day 10: Monday, August 6, 2007
K, so a crummy sleep was had by me, for no apparent reason... but that was quickly forgotten as 9:00 turned into 10:00 and we put ourselves together on what appeared to be a windy, cloudy day for a trip to Ontario Place. By the time we got it together... the sun was blazing and a hot day kicked in.
Ontario Place is an IDEAL park for kids our kids ages. IDEAL is even too soft a word... it was bleeding perfect!!! We played on little kid rides, marched around the park checking the lay of the land. By this time the heat had really kicked-in so we doffed our clothes in favour of swimwear and spent the next few hours having twenty-five kinds of fun in the water park. The kids had mental amounts of fun. Immeasurable fun despite the great scientific strides the art of measuring enjoyment!! The only bum’en part was the "fluge" thing that had a deathly slow lineup and when I launched myself down the rocket-tube that spits you out into a funnel the layer of water that is supposed to carry you down the ramp just gave way to my back "burning" on the plastic tube. I entered the funnel hollering in pain. Geo, however, blasted through that part with all the designer’s best hopes for speed and fun. We ate crummy food that cost too much and then spent the afternoon on rides like "slides" and "Log Flumes", watching the kids play in massive "tunnels of fun" zones. One included a clear plastic crawl-through zone that was like fifty feet in the air!!! And all of us playing like mad in this "atom blaster" pavilion that was a huge air-pressure-powered-gun-zone that fired these fist sized soft-soft-foam balls. This was crazy fun and I recommend any visitor get their kids to this while the kids still have energy. :) We made it back to the hotel by 7:00 and after cleaning up, we ate a massive and fabulous meal that used up the entire "let us say sorry with cold-hard-cash" bonus from the hotel. I’m sitting on a cushioned lawn-recliner in the hotel pool area watching the kids burn off energy that have no right to posses. With the weather threatening to be crummy tomorrow and we’re totally tired after ten days of fun, sun and go-go-go-go... so we’re not even considering going to the Zoo tomorrow. We wake up, pack up, and... head for home.
See ya on the flip. :)
Day 11: Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Up, pack it, and drive it... we bailed on the zoo... rain in the forecast and ... frankly, I’m too exhausted. With a couple of rest stops for lunch and coffee, we made it home safe and sound in the late afternoon and began re-inserting ourselves into our home. :)
This was a memorable and truly wonderful family-adventure vacation.
ps. feeling like an editor? I take criticism well...
These posts get turned into Books (usine www.lulu.com) and any feedback on spelling or errors is ... welcome. :)