Saturday, August 24, 2013

I'm Back

Just returned from the annual family gathering in Huntsville, Ontario.

It was nice to visit the folks and see all the cousins, but it's quite the distance away, seven hours without heavy traffic, and since this is towards Toronto and Toronto's route to cottage country, there was heavy traffic.

On the way up last Friday we hit a traffic jam on Highway 400, broke free of that and then after 10 miles or so on Highway 11 hit a traffic jam where it took an hour to go 3 miles. Why? Well, they had one of two lanes northbound closed for construction. But, they weren't doing any work on it, there were all of two workers standing there jawing as we went past, and in fact they took down the cones about 2 hours after we left, according to other family members stuck in that mes at that time. Nice.

On the upside, I had plenty of time to snag this picture of perhaps the most perfectly named firearms and collectibles store:

In addition, we passed by Weber's, a burger joint so popular they had to build a footbridge over Highway 11 to avoid people being struck by cars crossing the highway to get a burger. Both northbound and southbound parking lots were packed.

While good, in my humble opinion it is rather overrated and not worth the long lines. While it's much better than a fast food joint, there are lots of other superior and much less busy burger places about, but its got a dedicated following and it is in an otherwise rather food-less spot on the highway.

Yes, the people you see in the picture near the top right are lined up to buy a burger, and the parking lots on both sides are full on a Friday afternoon.

We arrived up at the cottage and the rest of the family started rolling in. It was good to see all the cousins, including our newest cousin, a 2-month old baby boy who was rather easy-going and angelic the whole time.

On August 17, Leah celebrated her 7th birthday with all her cousins at the cottage and had a great time doing so.

I spent many a day taking the kids and cousins swimming, paddle-boating, kayaking, and canoeing.

On August 20th, After taking various lots of the kids on numerous canoe trips around the bay, I took Abby alone on a canoe ride to the island cottage. This is a cottage sitting put in Lake Vernon on its own little island. It looks rather mysterious set by itself on the small island and the kids always wonder about it. It's been recently renovated so it no longer looks quite so abandoned.

The view of it from the cottage where we were staying:

Doesn't look all that far away, right? It's just outside the bay and should have been a 15 minute or so trip there and 15 minutes back. Easy right?

Well, as we left the bay, there were some waves and a pretty darn good current going that was pushing us way off from the get-go. We reached the island then as we turned around to get back the current really got a hold of us and it was impossible to head straight back. Instead it took over an hour and a half to fight our way through the current around and back to the cottage. We got pushed way out of sight of the bay and the folks at the cottage were almost to the point of either calling search and rescue or finding a neighbor with a motorboat to start searching for us before we made it back.

While I initially had the theme song from Gilligan's Island in my head as the current took us off course, Abby quickly replaced it as she was stuck on a new song her cousins had taught her and she kept singing it: "Dumb Ways To Die".

That cheerful song really helped set the mood for the return trip. Thankfully, there were no lyrics about taking a canoe into a heavy current...

I managed to get us back, and doing so without tipping Abby off that we were in a bit of a bad situation in that we couldn't simply get back to shore and had to paddle through some serious current, I just explained we had a little current so we were taking the long, scenic tour back. Lots of hard, continuous paddling was involved.

But we made it and I had the paddling workout to last me a whole week worth of exercising. Back at the cottage, Yoda congratulated me on getting back and for living up to the adage: "Do or Do Not, There is no Try".

Back from long canoe trip you are, mmmm.

We also did a day trip to Arrowhead Falls, which was a nice hike to a very scenic spot.

While there, the girls found a smooth rock chute and had fun using it as a fast slide down the rocks:

The kids all got along splendidly and everyone had a great time at the cottage.

The drive back unfortunately got us stuck for a couple hours in Toronto traffic so it took over 11 hours to get home very late last night.

Aside from the madness of traffic, it was a lovely family reunion indeed.

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