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Sandy Footprints

September 27, 2008

We got back two weeks ago today. It rained for the last 4 hours of the drive home. And it rained all night that night, and all day the next day. Part of it was remnants of Hurricane Ike.  It rained more than it had rained in this area in the whole month previous. Then it stopped. And it hasn’t rained since.  So if you’re wondering where I’ve been for the last two weeks, wonder no more. You have your answer. I was outside, enjoying the lovely late summer/early fall weather. I just can’t sit at the computer in my spare time when it’s so nice out.

So how was our trip? I know Kelly promised details, and since I am quite good at the “what I had for breakfast” type of posts, I’ll do my best to outline how the week went for us. Be warned, this is a monster post.


We left early on Sunday morning, September 7th. The drive up was pleasant. We took the back roads, as I prefer not going through Toronto to avoid all the 140km/hr six lane wide traffic stress mess. Nope, not for me, not on vacation. And Kelly enjoys the country roads too. We get to see so many nice little towns and see things you just don’t see along the main highways. Like a donkey keeping horses company, goats standing on parked cars and Amish people returning from church in their buggies.

There was a stressful 20 minutes or so when, after driving down a gravel road due to a slight detour, the van’s driver side rear wheel started squealing loudly. We stopped and looked it over, nothing obviously wrong, but it wouldn’t stop squealing. I suspected a pebble jammed into the brakes somewhere, but we couldn’t see it. About ten minutes later, back on paved roads, Kelly spotted a car wash, the self help kind with power washers. “Hey how about that” she said pointing. I braked and swerved in, marveling at her cleverness. It worked beautifully. We blasted the rock out of the rear wheel and we even had enough time left to wash the rest of the van.

In our now quiet vehicle, the rest of the drive went very well, despite an hour or two of rain. We made it to the cottage in about 7.5 hours, arriving right around 5:30pm.

The cottage and the property were exactly what I had hoped for. What struck me immediately, as it always does up there, was the cleanness of the air and the incredible silence. The cottage itself was perfect. I had been told it was wheelchair accessible, but I always approach situations like this with a bit of anxiety. Having travelled across the country, I’ve learned you can’t always trust someone else’s idea of what that means. In this case, it was as described. Brian, one of the owners, later asked me how he had done. He said he had done the work himself and wondered if it was ok, as I was the first person to stay in the cottage that really needed it to be accessible. I assured him he had done just fine, and I promised I would e-mail a list of further suggestions if I could think of any. I still need to do that. There’s always something. Even in my own house, there are a few things, but nothing that really matters greatly.

The cottage itself was pretty much a small three bedroom house, with every thing we needed to play house for a week. Fridge, stove, microwave, coffee maker, and all the dishes, pots and pans. It had a gas fireplace inside, and a propane BBQ out front, along with a picnic table and several Muskoka chairs.


The rain stopped as we arrived, so we were able to stay dry while unloading. Carol checked us in at the office. Kelly produced my credit card, but it was waved off. “We’ll even up when you leave, no worries. We like personal good-byes.” You get that in the city. We set up our stuff in the cottage quickly and went out for dinner. A place called “Muskoka on the Rocks” was our choice, as it clearly had a wheelchair ramp out front. As we arrived another gentleman was getting out of his similar wheelchair accessible van. As we left later, we noticed he had left is ramp down and his van wide open, I suspect to avoid getting blocked in by someone parking next to him. It’s a problem we often have too, but I don’t think I can just leave my van wide open down here in Windsor.  I could be wrong.

Monday: It was cloudy in the morning and we woke to find several deer out in front of the cottage. We threw them a few things to munch on, but we didn’t have much on hand.

It started to drizzle not long after we left for Huntsville to get groceries. We stopped at a couple souvenir places on the way. Later in the day when we returned, the sun peeked out and we spotted a beautiful rainbow over the bay. The chickens also came to visit. The owners have free ranging chickens, 24 of them, and they roam the entire property. All of them are named Bob. My favorite had green paint on her back, she had tried to help with some chair painting. These must be some of the happiest chickens on earth. We fed them and so of course they returned daily to pay us a visit.

Nancy came by to visit with her dog Holly and she also brought Napster, her cat, to pay us a visit. I had read about him on the resort blog, so I had asked if I could meet him. She left him with us briefly and he did as cats do, checking out the place to make sure everything was in order.

We let him out a bit later and he went on his way. Later that night Kelly and I went out to see if there were any stars. It was too cloudy, but while we were out there we heard wolves howling. Very cool.

Tuesday: An odd day weather-wise. Rain then blue sky and sunshine. Then rain. Then blue sky and sunshine. Repeat. And Repeat again. I went to get a few more groceries on my own in the morning, but when I got to the end of Fox Point Road, I looked at the two signs in front of me. In the opposite direction of the way I had planned on going, the arrow said Dorset, and something like 17km. I thought, what the hell. It was a very scenic drive, and I was rewarded with the cutest little town square. Best of all, in the centre of it, is the best General Store I have ever been in, hands down. It’s called Robinson’s General Store, and if you’re ever in the area, and you like this kind of stuff, make the effort, you’ll be glad you did. I was so impressed I went back to get Kelly. We spent some time roaming the aisles and ended up buying some nice sweatshirts and other souvenirs. On the way back to the cottage, there is a lookout tower way up on a hill. We drove up the hill and parked and even though it was windy, and even though she is not so good with heights, Kelly climbed the stairs to get some pictures for me.

She did have to come down slowly, inching her way down the stairs sitting down, but I won’t tell. (oops) That night the sky was completely clear. We sat out on the lawn in front of the cottage and stared up at the millions of stars.

Wednesday: A warm beautiful sunny day. We chose this day to go to Algonquin park and walk along the Old Railway Bike Trail. I only learned of this trail this year while reading the blog of the cottages. From the pictures, it looked both beautiful and accessible, and it was. The only problem is that it’s a 10.5km trail, one way, and it is not a loop.


We went for an hour and 45 minutes before turning back. We had yet to reach the bridge that I saw in the pictures on the blog, but it was a wonderful excursion. Kelly stepped in some type of excrement, and at first we weren’t sure what it was. We thought maybe it was horse poo, but then we noticed the HUGE hoof marks in the dirt. Moose poo we figured, till some research later made it clear the it was likely bear poo.  Kelly stepped in bear poo. Apparently they also do it on trails right NEXT to the woods.

On our walk back to the van, we found a cell phone on the trail. We asked everyone we met if they had lost it, and the message reached the owner of the phone somewhere well to the south of us. An older man on a bike came after us, reaching us out of breath. You see the phone belongs to his daughter. She was back at home in Ottawa. She has ALS and gave her parents the phone to carry with them while they were away on vacation so she can reach them in case of an emergency. I’ve never been happier to return someone’s lost phone. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and reading in the sunshine. As I sat reading, 17 wild turkeys milled about nearby.

Thursday: Another warn sunny day. We started this one by visiting the chicken coop. Nancy had been bringing us fresh eggs, but she offered Kelly to join her one morning so she could experience gathering fresh eggs, some still warm, for herself. I was eager to tag along, if only to absorb some of the fun through osmosis.  We got there a bit early and the chickens were still, well, cooped up. Nancy arrived shortly, advised Kelly to step back and swung the door open. 24 happy chickens came flooding out. Kelly and Nancy went in and gathered up a basket full of fresh eggs. We then visited the horse Barn, and met all the horses. I don’t remember their names. I do remember they are really big. I had never been that close to horses before, so it was quite cool. One curious horse tried to drive my chair when I wasn’t looking, then nudged Kelly in the shoulder. We also met Achmed, the other cat, a gorgeous stray that Nancy adopted. He’s an absolute sweetie who loves to cuddle up to people and purr really loudly.  He also enjoys antagonizing Napster, but the chickens get after him, so it’s all good. Brian left in his sea plane while we were at the barn, and not too long after I got to watch him land in the bay. It reminded me of my uncle Marcel, which made me sad and happy at the same time. I miss him.

We enjoyed the sunny afternoon by playing Frisbee Golf and then Scrabble under a tree.  That night, Nancy came out on the lawn and tried to show us some of the constellations. Unfortunately it was too cloudy. She instead taught us about owls and wolves. She called for owls, but they didn’t want to join in. After several tries at wolf calls, a lone wolf cub responded. She told me it was likely the one that I had seen earlier that day crossing the road in front of my van. She explained that the pack had likely sent if off on his own to teach him to hunt, and so they would not howl back until later, when they wanted him to find them. We were sound asleep by then.

Friday: Friday was not the best of days. It was raining in the morning, so we just slept in. I mean really slept in. It was about 10:30am by the time we got out of bed. Not long after we each had a meltdown and got into a fairly heated disagreement. It happens. Yes even to us. We worked it out as we always do. We communicate very well. I went for a walk on my own when the rain stopped, determined to make the best of our last day. A bit later we decided to drive into Algonquin park again, this time to buy some books from the visitors centre. We honestly just wanted to get out for a bit. The rain had started again and would not let up. When we did get back the rain finally let go. We packed a bit, ate leftovers, and went to bed. 

Saturday: In the morning we finished packing and loaded up the van. I went to find Nancy to buy two dozen eggs to bring home. Yes, they are that good. And it just feels good to eat eggs knowing that the chickens have such a good life. We also packed the apples that Nancy had given us, but you read about those on Kelly’s blog. When everything was packed we left the van open, ramp and all windows down, and walked to the office to settle up. We then stopped in Huntsville for breakfast at a place called 3 Guys and a Stove, and then left for home at around noon. It was only about an hour later that I noticed the footprints. On my instrument panel all the way across, and on the edge of my door. Little sandy footprints. It seems that while we were gone to pay the bill, something decided to explore my van. I suspect Bob. Or maybe it was Bob, or it could have been Bob. Then again, Achmed may have been trying to frame Bob. Hmm…

We had a truly wonderful vacation. In my detailed list of everything we did, I have missed telling you the best stuff. The quiet moments, just sitting in silence reading in the sun, listening to nothing but the Ravens and Blue Jays. The walks around the property, and down by the lake. Feeding deer and chickens every day, and watching the wild turkeys. The cool crisp mornings enjoying my coffee and my book in the sun. I read a book folks. An entire book in 4 days. I know to most of you that seems like no big deal. But I have no free time and it normally takes me weeks to read a book. This was one of the most relaxing times of my life. No desire or need to do anything or be anywhere. And no anxiety about what I wasn’t doing. I could just be.


Some of the apples I used to bake pies, and the rest were made into applesauce today. I had the last two eggs for breakfast this morning. Slowly the vacation is becoming a memory. Perhaps that’s why I delayed blogging about it. This is the last step, and I don’t want it to be over.  It’s also why I’ve yet to clean my instrument panel. Those sandy footprints still make me smile.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2008 1:00 pm

    Well, ask and ye shall receive. Thanks Sylvain for writing this long tome about your and Kelly’s wonderful relaxing vacation. I saw how long it was last night and decided it would be just the thing to read this morning over my breakfast cereal and it was.
    Even with the bear poo! I guess I could have skipped that part, but it was okay. How brave (or stupid) of you to be hiking out there where wild animals could have attacked at any moment. So glad none did. 😉

    I wondered if you would take photos of the Amish or not. I have never seen them in their buggies in person only on TV or movies. Did you see any of their art around? The General Store sounded like a fun run. And all the nature…well how great that you got so many days in there.

    I related to Kelly coming down the tall stairs on her bum. I would have too if I’d been brave enough to climb up it. Me and heights, NOT.

    Loved your relationship to all the animals. Sweet that the man who lost his phone found you.

    And as for the melt downs, yes everyone has them. We had one HUGE one on our long trip this summer, they always feel like the world is crashing down on us, the relationship surely will not survive this one, but inevitably it does and we do…survive. Usually it’s because we have become too over tired or too hungry or both. Or just been in each others company a little bit too long!

    Well again, thanks for sharing. Lovely photos all.

  2. September 28, 2008 8:22 pm

    Sylvain, It was fun reading about your vacation and seeing the pictures. It looks very peaceful and perfect for you two. A meltdown, even you two 🙂 It’s good to know that you are human, not heavenly angels flitting down to earth with us feet-in-the mud creatures down here. Just to spend so much together time testifies to the strength of your relationship. Many people wish they had someone to be alone with together—it is the ideal! Love to you both, O

  3. September 29, 2008 9:04 am

    footprints on the instrument panel… that very much sounds like Achmed, who would LIKE you to believe it was the Bobs. The cat has never found an open door he could resist entering.
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful blog.

  4. September 29, 2008 2:48 pm

    that last picture *sigh*

    the whole vacation sounds absolutely wonderful! And I still get a kick out of hearing about bob..and bob…lol.

    thank you for sharing!

  5. October 4, 2008 6:23 pm

    This is such a marvelously descriptive and inviting tale, Syl!

    By the way, I checked the security video, and it turns out that the perpetrator of the trespass of your van was not Bob as you suspected.

    Turns out, it was Bob! Who would ever have suspected so innocent-looking a chicken? [big grin]

  6. February 12, 2009 12:34 am

    I know, I’m TOTALLY behind.

    Can I have the name of this resort?

    I have a fantasy where I leave the kids for a week. And sleep in. And read books. In the woods.

    I really must get better fantasies. Mine *used* to be racy.


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