20 Years From Now...

"20 YEARS FROM NOW," Mark Twain said, “you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did.”THIS online journal is dedicated to our next 20 years!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Animal Farm

We're housesitting again, as well as pet sitting. Julie and Brynne are two of the most adorable furry characters you'd ever want to meet, and if you asked them I'm pretty sure they'd say they are THE two most important animals on the farm. When I walked outside to take a few photos, they tagged along. Imagine my surprise when I asked them to sit on the mat so I could take their photo, and they did exactly as I'd requested!

They follow John around like shadows. He spoils them by taking them on two walks a day on the 100+ acres, followed (naturally) by a doggie treat. They also go with him when he heads to the barn morning and night. I caught this pic of them below just after he'd finished the evening chores, and surprise, surprise he'd just given them more treats. I overheard something about them being cat treats, but I doubt either Julie or Brynne will confirm it. (Or care for that matter!)

By the way, if you look real hard you'll see a basket in John's hands. That's for the farm fresh eggs he collects each day. There's nothing like 'em--which is another benefit of farmsitting! 

Speaking of benefits. There is an apple orchard to the right of John in the pic above. I made apple sauce today and the delectable aromas of cider and cinnamon filled the entire house. Mmm! 

That large pot boiled down to four containers that went straight to the freezer. Well, after I sampled some with a spoon, of course. Like Brynne and Julie, a woman's got to eat!

All in all, life is good on the farm.  

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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Travels with Kevin & Ruth

For more than a year we've been following the online blog adventures of an Ottawa couple, Kevin and Ruth. 

Kevin writes the daily post (Travel with Kevin and Ruth) and Ruth does her best to reply to all of the comments. Last summer John and I got hooked reading as they hiked and toured eastern Europe. They stopped along the way to stay in local homes via an incredible organization called Couchsurfing.

They also did some housesitting, and it was their posts that prompted John and I to venture further from just doing what we do for friends to go global. (We're TLC International Housesitters, and have just started another housesitting assignment in southern Ontario, but more about that tomorrow.)

Seven years ago Kevin and Ruth sold their home in Ottawa and hit the road in a motorhome. Only 45 years young at the time, they admitted their first year traveling was hectic and they drove from place to place rather than stop and explore each location. Now, they take their time, and get to know an area as well as some of the locals. 

Last winter they enjoyed the warmth and sunshine of Mexico, and they also hiked to the top of a Guatemalan volcano. In April they headed north to manage a campground in Saskatchewan for the summer. While back in Canada they won a trip to Namibia and will tour that country and South Africa this winter. then it's back to Mexico and while they're not certain in all likelihood they'll return to Canada next spring.  

When they announced they planned to drive back to Ottawa to visit family in late September via Hwy. 17 I emailed and invited them to spend a night or two in Elliot Lake. We weren't exactly certain our schedules would mesh, but they did and we had a wonderful time getting to know this adventurous couple.

Naturally we had to go to Rooster Rock. The fall colours were spectacular and there wasn't a breeze which allowed us to hear the loons as they crossed Quirke Lake. After a leisurely picnic lunch at Dunlop Lake the four of us headed north to Flack Lake and Laurentian Lodge. Again, the leaves were spectacular, made all the more fun due to our guests.

Thanks, Kevin and Ruth. Listening to your stories just makes me want to sell the house and travel non-stop as well! I think John's up for it. Do you?! Btw, let's hope our paths cross again, especially as Ruth and I share a love for Chardonnay. Cheers!  ;-) 

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Monday, 23 September 2013

Wedding Bells in Boston

Congratulations Sarah and Tim! Married in Boston on Thursday, September 19, 2013.

Love and laughter...a great combo for a long, happy life!

Enjoy every single day of the next 20 Years from Now!

And eat lots of cake...as is Tradition...

Love you both. Can't wait to see you next month!

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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Cranes & Chutes

This week we drove south of Massey to see the annual Sandhill Crane migration. Hundreds were feeding and squawking en masse on the various fields.

John and I had our cameras in hand, but little did I know he'd come prepared with a tripod. 

This video gives you an idea of the sound the cranes make. It's quite an experience to hear them all honking at the same time!

From there we drove further south and captured this great view of the La Cloche Mountains, a range of hills that hugs the shoreline of Lake Huron near Manitoulin Island. This lush farmland, such a change to the rugged Canadian Shield that surrounds it, is home to many Mennonites. Seeing their roadside stands filled with fresh produce takes me back to all those years we lived near Stratford and St. Marys. 

Next, we drove to La Cloche Lake, but with the cool autumn wind and overcast skies we didn't stay long.

John suggested we visit La Chutes Provincial Park north of Massey. 

There were still a few campers and the park staff were busy getting ready to close for the winter. The scenery, however, is open year round and is spectacular. 

The amount of water going over the falls was deafening. Check it out...

On our way home John stopped to talk with the Park staff. Why? To ask about kayaking the Cataract River, of course. What can I say? He's a paddle boy on a mission!

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Saturday, 7 September 2013

Spectacular September

I've stated a gazillion times that September is my favourite month in the Great White North. What's not to love about warm daytime temperatures, cool breezy evenings, and NO bugs? The abundant rainfall this summer, however, enabled a few more bugs than normal to survive this long into the season. They're still buzzing around, but otherwise so far September rocks.

Friends invited us to their cottage on the north shore of Lake Huron this week, and we didn't hesitate. We packed an overnight bag and hit the road. Just past Blind River on the north side of Hwy. 17 is this abandoned building. I may be wrong, but I think it's beyond the fixer-upper stage, so be wary if a real estate agent suggests otherwise.

While the guys went kayaking almost as soon as we arrived...

The women hit the shops. Forestland in Thessalon is a ten-minute drive to the west, and the Round Barn is the same distance to the east. The exterior of Forestland is a normal storefront you'd find in any northern community, but the stock inside always impresses.

The Round Barn really is a round barn. Originally home to horses, cows, chickens and pigs, it's now a gift shop that is open from April to October.

The ceiling (below left) shows off the building skills of our early settlers. Fast forward to the 21st century and the rustic interior makes for one of the most unusual shops you'll ever visit. There is always a wide variety of unique and useful gift items, and much to the guys' chagrin we rarely come home empty handed.

Back at the cottage, we lounged on the wide covered porch. The view of the lake and gazebo is breathtaking.

Meanwhile, within a few inches of our heads four or five hummingbirds swooshed past us at the speed of light, arguing with each other while doing aeronautical acrobats to determine who'd have supreme dominance at the feeder. 

After a tasty dinner (with wine, of course) the sun set over Lake Huron. Ah, spectacular September. Life doesn't get much better than this.

Thank you, F&M, for everything. We had a lovely time! 

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Monday, 2 September 2013

Bootlegger's Bay & Blackberries

It was a dull and dreary day here in northern Ontario, so John and I drove south to Hwy. 17 and then headed west toward Algoma Mills. Our destination? 

Bootlegger's Bay on Lake Huron.

This beautiful little bay earned its name during Prohibition. Back in the 1920s, Algoma Mills was a booming port town. Ships travelling through the North Channel would stop, along with their crews. At least one entrepreneur realized there was money to be made, and soon the little bay became a perfect place to deliver not only numerous cases of liquor  but evade the revenue collectors who manned the main docks as well.

Also in Algoma Mills is a boat launch, covered picnic area, and this homage to the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The sign explains that "In 1882, Canadian Pacific bought 200 acres of land in Algoma Mills which they anticipated would become not only a shipping port with terminals, railway years, grain elevators and freight sheds but also an exquisite new tourism site. Algoma Mills was to be a rail passenger terminus where people were transferred to steamers to be carried west to Port Arthur and from there on to Western Canada. In 1883, a 300-room elaborate wooden chateau-style hotel was designed and construction of the stone foundation began. In the winter of 1884, a political decision was made to extend the railway through the Lakehead and the hotel construction was abandoned and the Banff Springs Hotel was built instead. You can still see the remains of this stone foundation on either side of Vivian Blvd. on the point of land east of this site. Hundreds of tonnes of stones were piled in heaps for construction of the hotel's foundations and some can still be seen if you look carefully as you drive east on Highway 538."

Close by is this homage to the CPR, including two steel railroad workers.

The guy on the far left has curly hair and the one on the right is a wiry fellow! Take a look at his closeup...

This is a view of Lake Huron (looking west) just past the railway crew...

And further along this narrow road is this wonderful patch of blackberries. There wasn't enough for a pie, but John assures me there's ample bushes near home that's loaded with 'em so that's our next destination. 

Happy Labour Day, eh?!

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