We woke up the next morning we met more people that came to the little parking on the lake. One of these people was Mike, and het told us his wife Ruth met us 2 days ago and tried to bring us breakfast the next morning. We couldn’t believe that she tried to bring us breakfast but we had left already. We talked to Mike for a while and he asked us if we wanted to go for a boat ride around the lake with him and Ruth, of course we loved that idea! It was unbelievable to meet Ruth again and go on a boat ride to explore the lake. The lake turned out to be a much bigger water system that we knew, opening up into several big bodies of water surrounded by rocky shores sometime rising out of the water for more than 10 meters. All around the lake amazing houses were build, small wooden cottages that blended in with the forest but also huge mansions that apparently were owned by celebrities.
After the boat ride Mike and Ruth invited us to their cottage that was just up the road, but before going there they said we had to go see the view from the lookout tower overlooking the town. We had seen the lookout tower from our new home at the lake, but when we got there we saw we had to pay so we passed on it. Mike and Ruth had an annual pass so this felt like we beat the system and got up there for free. We drove up the hill where the view was already amazing but we still had to climb the metal frame tower. Desy and me climbed the tower with Paco in my arm, we had to carry Paco because of the open frame steps. These steps don’t only freak Paco out but made me feel a bit wobbly too. The view was amazing, we could see the lake system that we saw from the boat hours before. Mike had also pointed out their street that was only a couple of minutes away from our spot at the lake.
Following Mike and Ruth we arrived at their cottage, we were told it was a work in progress so we did not know what to expect. We drove up the driveway of a beautiful house, it was just finished with real wood all around and it looked really sharp. I am planning to build my own house someday so to hear about all the construction is really exciting to me. Before going into the house we were greeted by their dog Bella, a black labradoodle with a heart of gold. We entered through the basement where the wood construction and ducting was visible, Mike and me spent some time talking about the whole construction and the technical details before going up to the main floor of the house. We were shown around and were told in what room we could stay. That night we ate pizza from a pizza place right around the corner that doubled as a bakery earlier in the day. We drank beers as the night fell and we fell asleep feeling overwhelmed by the generosity of our hosts.
We woke up the next morning and Ruth had gone to get fresh bread and bagels from the bakery that in the night doubles as a pizza place, and she told us to eat the bread with cheese and jelly. This was a weird combination for us but we found ourselves doing the same thing long after we left because the taste is amazing! Mike told us to use their annual pass to go into the park and explore. Algonquin is an beautiful park with an endless lake system, these lakes are the main attraction to people coming to “portage” portaging is a way of exploring by canoe. The word portage refers to the part of actually carrying the canoe and luggage over land from one lake to the next. This way of exploring is really popular in Ontario and specially in Algonquin.
Unfortunately we had to pass on this because we don’t have a canoe or the overnight gear that it takes, and renting this stuff is way out of our budget. We did hike several trails in the next couple days with the beautiful home of Mike and Ruth as our home base.
The comfort and their generosity was amazing but we had to move on at some point, so after 3 nights we had to say our goodbyes. Because of their openness we felt like we really got to know Mike and Ruth in these couple of days so this goodbye was not the easiest. We did a round of hugs, humans and dogs all together before we got back on the road.
We left the beautiful town of Dorset that had been so good to us before the weekend arrived. After the weekend we were supposed to go back to Toronto to get our own gearbox installed again. Half way toward Toronto we would pass by the Georgian Bay, this is a bay of the great lake Huron. We looked up a town called Collingwood for a place where we could stay a couple of days. In Collingwood there is a Walmart so it would be easy to spent our first night there we thought. When we arrived at the Walmart we decided that we could find a better place than the parking, so after we did some groceries we moved on into town to see if there would be a nicer place to sleep. While driving into town we noticed that this was not the cheapest town we had crossed. We drove parallel to the waterfront for a while to find a place when we arrived at a small marina that overlooked the water and had a view on a huge old iconic industrial building. We parked at the marina for the night and went for a walk, on this walk it became clear by a lot of signs and notifications that Collingwood used to be a shipbuilding town.
The sun fell into the water that clear evening and draped the whole scene with and ever darkening orange glow. As we got ready for bed people came and walked the boardwalk around the marina, it was a bit of a romantic setting and we fell asleep by the coming and going mumble of the couples that passed by. We woke up the next morning to a beautiful day and decided to drive a bit further along the waterfront in search of another spot. We had to hang around this area at least for three more nights before Dave would even start to work on the gearbox back in Toronto.
We drove for about ten minutes when we turned on a small street with on the right side huge mansions and on the left a pebble beach. Before the pebble beach started there was a toilet building with a small parking, some spots on the parking where covered by a huge weeping willow that gently brushed the top of the van when we parked under it. From under the willow we overlooked a grass field with a slight hump in it and on that hump a picnic table, looking passed the table it was the first time the clear turquoise water of the Georgian Bay struck us.
The three of us jumped out of the van and ran to the water, it was crystal clear and directly reminded us of the Caribbean ocean that we were so familiar with. We could not believe that fresh water could look so much like and ocean, but instead of a sand beach there the beach consisted out of rounded of rocks that slowly increased in size the further you walked on the beach. The water stayed about ankle deep while we walked in for 30 meters, walking into the water within 3 meters the pebbles disappeared and we were walking on solid rock slates that had the most gentle slope and it took a while before we had to pick up Paco because it got too deep for him. Later on we went for a swim in the deeper water and we couldn’t believe how clear it was, with goggles we would see for dozens of meters away, and when we looked down in chin deep water we could see our feet as clear as when we would be on land. The water was not warm but it didn’t freeze us while swimming and staying in the water for a longer time.
We watched the people come and go while we stayed the weekend, we enjoyed the water chilled in the sun and relaxed in the van. The same people came and walk their dogs daily or did their morning workout in the grass trip along the water. During the day families came to BBQ, big groups of people pitched tents and had gatherings, even a Latin baptism happened while people where clapping and singing. We met amazing people that hang around for hours or for the evening while we had conversations. The weekend passed in a heartbeat and before we knew it, it was Monday morning and we had to call Dave to make a planning on the gearbox dilemma. We got a hold of him later that day and we agreed to come in on Wednesday. After spending some more time in and around the water we made our way back to Toronto.