Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart. www.bondi-village-resort.com
Of course, the answer to the question is, In the Dark.
We were without hydro for 36 hours. We are fortunate in many ways -- there was no damage from trees and falling branches, and Brian's handy-dandy generator was able to ensure that the water sytem continued to work nicely. All the cottages have alternate heat -- either wood or propane fireplaces. When the wind dropped, we handed out bbq's, and Carol had an endless pot of coffee on the go at the main office (on the generator)
We were fortunate also that all our guests proved to be wonderfully good sports, and embraced this as an adventure, checking out books, board games, decks of cards. They spent their days outside playing in the snow, and then gathered around the tables as the daylight faded.
The lights are back on -- Thank you, Hydro Line Workers! You had quite a task. We are told that lots of Ontario is still 'powerless'
There is something about no hydro that can be quite endearing -- although we admit it can lose its charm on day three... but it's quiet, and you have a great excuse to kick back...
Happy New Year everyone! Let's hope that the new year brings health, happiness... and a getaway visit to Bondi sometime during the year!
Leslie was the handyman at Bondi in 1919. He was a nephew of Joseph and Elizabeth Tapley, as far as we can tell. We don't know much about him, just notes left in old diaries. We do know Leslie didn't want to leave Bondi, on the Lake of Bays. How do we figure that? Well, in the 1920's he was working at the farm for $12/month. When Joseph noted that he really didn't have enough work to justify keeping Leslie on, Leslie came back with the offer to work for half wages. Time passed. Again, Joe pointed out that he really didn't have enough work to keep Leslie on. Leslie came back with the offer to work for room and board.
That's Leslie, on the left of the photograph, next to Violet Tapley, her father Joseph Tapley, and young Paul Tapley. This photo dates from about 1930, and is taken facing towards our existing gardens and the three car garage.
What we know of Leslie comes from snippets and brief comments in Joseph's diaries. But we also have a scrap of one of Leslie's diaries, from 1919. This is how he spent Christmas day, all those years ago, at the Lake of Bays.
"Pretty Cold, but Fine. Cleaned Stables. Breakfast. Preparations for a visit to Friends -- Mr. Walmsley. Walk across Lake, 1/2 hour. About 1 hour drive to Mr. Walmsley's. Chicken, Mashed Potato, Christmas Pudding (25 cents in pudding!), mince pie and tart. Gramophone played Christmas Chimes and Cathedral Chimes -- very fine. Father Christmas visits the children. Gramophone once more -- Sang "Homeland" and "Red Rose of England" Ride back to lake. Walk across Lake to home."
So, here on the edge of 2009, with internet and ipods, we hope you have the kind of Christmas that gets written in YOUR diaries, that you find the equivalent of 25 cents in the Christmas pudding (that must have been like winning a lottery for Leslie!), that the day is full or warmth and friendship.
Wishing you all the best of today, good health, peace and good friends in the year to come.
From all of us at Bondi, on the Lake of Bays, Merry Christmas.
Paul Tapley was born at Bondi Farm, December 24, 1918. Shortly after the Armistice that ended the Great War, the war to end all wars (how little we knew).
Joseph and Elizabeth christened him Paul Pax Tapley. Yes, he was named for the Peace. Both the Peace of the War's end, and the greater Peace of the Christmas season. the black and white photo shows baby Paul in his Mother's lap on the wagon with Frank and Hector, the team of horses.
Joseph Tapley's diaries dating back into the 1890's provide plenty of interesting reading and insight. On Nov. 11, 1918, he noted "The news reached here between 11 and 12 a.m. Oh God! Our help in ages past." That was news that travelled with incredible speed in an age that never knew the internet. Phone lines had been installed at Bondi in 1916, but all the same, that's fast news.
Despite the bay being frozen over, a spell of remarkably mild rainy weather removed almost all the snow by December 23rd, and it looked like a green Christmas.
That changed on December 24th, with the advent of a solid blizzard. Dr. Hart was summoned to the farm house in the evening, arriving by automobile through the storm about 9 p.m. Elizabeth climbed out of bed, and fixed a hot dinner for the doctor before climbing back into the bed and delivering her son at 9,45. Dr. Hart's fee was $30.00.
Paul loved to fly -- Brian now pilot's his Piper cub. Brenda Wainman Goulet created a lifesize sculpture of a red tail hawk in full flight that resides on our lawn and commemorates Paul's memory. Of course, everywhere we look here, we see his memory. And on the date of his birth, the eve of Christmas day, we remember him. In his last years, Paul, despite all his travels and adventures, used to maintain that he didn't want to be anywhere but here.
This year, too, it was raining, and towards evening turned back into snow... There are other similarities, and so many more differences.
The Christmas lights are lit. And we all pray for Peace on Earth.
Outdoor rinks can be difficult... we got so much snow so quickly that the ice didn't get a chance to firm up really well, producing a lot of slush, which is good for nothing in our opinion.
Last week, a one day mild spell that almost brought rain caused the lakes to 'water up', bringing the slush up to the surface of the snow. This then froze down, creating a much better ice surface! Dave and Mike, both on school holidays, tore into the task with shovels -- and a broom of all things -- today, and crafted the beginnings of an ice rink on the lake for the guests we have arriving over the Christmas holiday.
It will need some more work -- flooding to produce a really smooth surface, for instance, but it is a most excellent start! Well done guys! Pond Hockey fans, eat your hearts out!!!
Carol, Brian and Dave took a side trip to Niagara Falls this month -- just a short break before the Christmas season fully hit. They had the chance to spend time with Carol's daughter's family from Buffalo. Sarah, 11, has been struggling with spelling this term at school. (after all, who can keep it straight, these words like site, sight and cite... and words pronounced like food and flood...??? what were we thinking when the English language was being cobbled together???)
Carol, David and Sarah played a word game, with Dave and Sarah scoring points off each other, and Carol tossing in helpful hints on remembering spelling rules.
This week, Sarah reported to her Grandma Carol that she had completed her Spelling Test... Carol guessed she might have had two or three words wrong (they were tough words, truly) but not at all. Sarah was pleased to report she had achieved 100% in this spelling test.
A small thing in the greater scheme of the universe, perhaps, but it was important to us... and we consider Sarah being practically perfect in every way to be definitely 'blog-worthy'. After all, despite playing the word game, we're not sure David would have scored that well on the test!!
It's been a year since a skinny, frozen little ginger cat announced his arrival by door-crashing the cat-flap door into Nancy's bedroom and getting in a fight with Napster the resident cat. Looking at him now, you'd hardly think he could terrorize a cat that outweighs him by about four pounds... and on the whole they are getting along. Sort of. After a nervous fashion. But he's still here, and gives every indication that he intends to stay. The most participatory of cats, Achmed (he got the name because he constantly sprang out to attack Napster -- he probably should have been dubbed Kato, after the martial arts houseboy in the Pink Panther) goes on hikes, rides on golf carts -- and car roofs, comes on all the wolf howls, and gets along famously with all the other animals on the property, two legged or four legged... with the exception of Napster. And the chickens. Who chase him down the stable aisle, wings and beaks extended. Kung Fu Bob the martial arts chicken will take on cats, and dogs! We've never been able to understand why people 'dump' cats and dogs, abandon kittens and puppies. We know this cat lived out in the wild for at least a month before he surrendered to us, frozen, starved and -- of course -- infested with fleas. That's ALL in his past now! It's just over a year since he moved in. Looking at this picture, he's about as 'moved in' as you can physically get, don't you think?
Everybody loves to play in the snow when it's fresh and white and fluffy. There's just something about fresh snow that 'releases the inner child.' The horses are no exception! Coming out of the stable, there is always some squealing and bucking, and lots of feeling good.
Here's Blizzard, making horse snow angels, enjoying a really thorough roll.
An added bonus -- he gets a snow bath while he's at it, and gets up all clean and shiny. That's a huge improvement on the 'mud angels' he was creating earlier in the autumn!
Shirley, one of our neighbours, appeared on the doorstep, almost in tears, with a tiny little trauma victim wrapped up in her scarf. She had rescued a white-winged crossbill, a pretty little bird that weighs in at less than an ounce. These birds flock in the boreal forest, eating conifer cones -- as many as 3,000 seeds a day. No birds have teeth, and all birds collect grit to help them grind up their food, and these little fellows are no different. Come winter, grit can be hard to find. Until the sand truck goes past, spreading a smorgasbord on the road, not just of grit, but of salt.
The problem is, the tiny little forest birds just don't understand vehicles. And people are in a hurry. And a flock of small birds on the road is no match for a truck. Shirley had come on a scene of carnage -- a banquet for the jubilant crows that were sitting in the trees beside the road harvesting the feast, but a very upsetting sight for most of the rest of us.
She rescued two -- this little crossbill, and a nuthatch, both of them stunned. Brought them back to Nancy's house, where they were put into intensive care. (Nancy seems to run a sanctuary for injured wildlife!) The nuthatch recovered first and was less than happy with being handled, making his displeasure loudly known. The crossbill took a bit longer, but she also recovered and both birds went safely back to the wild.
Shirley was incensed with the drivers plowing through the flocks, and wanted to post big signs saying "slow down." She's absolutely right, and has the high moral ground. These are little lives sitting in the middle of the road, and we should slow down to keep them safe. Crossbills are amazing. They can breed year round, depending on food supply, and specialize in eating the cones of trees like spruce and tamarack and cedar (shown in the picture). Small cones, tightly packed, and hard to open for most birds fall open for these birds with their specialized beaks. Note how the bill crosses -- and then consider that this bill would let the bird only feed in one direction on the cones (sort of like trying to use scissors with the wrong hand).
Birds with the lower mandible crossing to the right are about three times more common than those whose lower mandible crosses to the left (as does our little lady's) -- but this diversity means that some birds can nibble their way around one side of the cone while the birds with the bill crossed the other way can nibble their way around the opposite side of the cone.
They have adapted beautifully to their environment. Except for one thing. Us. Slow down. Take care. Share the road -- or at least the sand spread on it.
Nancy was trudging about on the ice yesterday, contemplating the logistics of creating a skating rink for our Christmas guests. Never as easy as it sounds, the problem this year is that there has been so much snow that the ice beneath it hasn't frozen really well. Snow is wonderful insulating blanket (not as good as as a down comforter on the sofa by the fireplace, but in its own way, really outstanding). The weight of that blanket of snow has pushed the young ice down, forcing water to leak up through it into the snow layer, which creates the nightmare known as slush. If you've ever skied or snowshoed into a layer of slush, you know what we mean. It sticks to everything, freezing around you, soaking into boots, etc. It's not fun. So Nancy was grumbling, and hoping that the mild spell of weather that is predicted for the beginning of the week would work to her advantage by causing the lakes to 'water up', bringing the slush up to the surface, and then letting the whole thing freeze down hard so we can begin to develop a skating surface.
Our fall-back plan (we always have a fall-back plan!) is the excellent outdoor rink maintained in Dorset, and free to users. It's much more posh than anything we can build on the lake, but we do confess that lake skating has its own charm. Witness the hugely popular Pond Hockey Championships that roll into the area every year, based at Deerhurst Resort.
While that much slush was a bit of a downer for Nancy on her exploratory trek, there is always an up side. That was provided by the gorgeous winter sunset spinning everything into gold.
And by knowing that the ski trails are great, snowshoeing is spectacular, and the toboggan hills are, as Dave says, 'awesome.' We're three out of four... that's not bad, and there's still time for rinks to happen!
Steve and Dawn were our first "official" skiers on the trails this winter. I know, I know, some of our local neighbours have already been out there, swooshing through the forests, but these were the first registered guests on skis.
As opposed to snowshoes, or hiking boots... or toboggans... or a combination thereof.
The snow was still falling, and they were carving powder on some of the hills, returning with glowing faces and huge smiles to the cottage.
There are so many great things you can do at this time of year that don't cost a lot of money and can get the whole family on-side.
One of them is happening this coming Monday, Dec. 15th, at Algonquin Outfitters on the Main St. of Huntsville. There are two seminars, one at 4 p.m., one at 7 p.m., on Nordic Skiing.
Bryan Allen, a member of the Provincial and National Ski Teams, Arctic Ski guide, and North Pole ski trek guide (for those of you who really want to ski away from it all) will be on hand. AOcalls him their "go to guy" for all questions on nordic skiing. So, if you're curious about what wax when or the difference between classic and skate skiing, or if you just want to drool over some of the latest gear, you should be there.
It's free, but AOneeds you to please register with them. www.aohuntsville.com will help you with that! Our own ski trails (neither as distant nor demanding as the North Pole trek, but we think even better if you just want some quiet time away) are open, both for our own registered guests and for the general public. And while we don't have polar bears out there, we do have deer... and fox... and rabbits... and sometimes you'll find wolf tracks... And while we have nearly 20 k of trails, you're never that far from the fireplace in your cottage, and a cup of hot chocolate when you're finished skiing.
Well, at least that is true in our little village of Baysville, on Lake of Bays. The Santa Claus Parade wends its way down the village streets this Sunday, Dec. 14. It starts at 1 p.m., and offers up some great photo opportunities. Not once, but twice. This is the only Santa Claus Parade in the province, if not the country, where the parade goes around TWICE -- so if you missed the shot, or were grabbing a quick cup of coffee at Miss Nelle's, you've got another chance! A parade complete with a Do-Over!!! What could possibly be better.
So get yourself over to Baysville tomorrow, and enjoy the fun. There's hot chocolate and hot dogs served up at the Community Centre after the parade's final lap.
I dashed off a Birthday card to our cousin, Stewart, who lives near Sydney, Australia. Through the miracle of the internet, I got an almost instant reply!
It was a rainy, cool day down under -- but nothing compared to the winter temperatures we were coping with.
For his birthday, Stewart was off with family and friends to the premiere of a new movie, The Silent Woman. You can check out a trailer at the web site www.thesilentwomanmovie.com
Now, it's not just a fun evening out at a premiere... Stewart is an extremely talented musician (and no, we're not just saying that because he's our cousin!!) and some of his music is featured in this movie.
We frequently have his music playing in the movie of our own lives... When Carol returned from Australia this spring she brought with her all 15 of his CDs! (and she had designs on one of his grand pianos too, but couldn't figure out how to ship it!
Visit his website, www.stewartdudley.com and you can hear some of the incredible sounds he creates! (he reminds me to tell folks that you can order from that website as well!)
We're looking forward to seeing the movie, Stewart, but even more, we're looking forward to getting our ears wrapped around your newest album, Signatures!
Well, the barge that we saw stranded yesterday in the middle of Dwight Bay managed to paw and thump and drag its way to the landing ramp today -- arriving there about four o'clock, and leaving a trail of broken ice in its wake. It looked to be a cold, not so fun, job, with the backhoe smashing up the ice and then the boat struggling its way on through. Not quite the Erebus or the Terror, Franklin's ships that were stranded in the Northwest Passage and crushed by the ice, but probably as close as we are going to get here in the ward of Franklin, which was named after that same explorer...
Congratulations to Mary Elder, who celebrated her 95th birthday yesterday. There was quite a party. Mary has a big family, spread around the globe, (she herself is an accomplished traveler) and they know how to host a party!
Mary is one of the Cunningtons, from Port Cunnington. We've always had a soft spot for this family, and include them among our best friends. We have a long connection: Port Cunnington was where our own grandparents, Joe and Elizabeth, arrived in May 1905. Port was already a thriving tourist lodge at that time.
Mary tells me that she remembered her mother telling her that when she saw Elizabeth getting off the steamer, in a blue dress,in 1905, that she thought her the most beautiful lady she'd ever seen.
That's as may be. We certainly consider Mary to be one of the classiest ladies we've ever met! Happy Birthday, and Many More!!
I snapped this picture at 3.30 on Wednesday. It's a barge, with a backhoe on it, in the middle of Dwight Bay. The backhoe is being used to break the ice, so the barge can wiggle its way through it.
Now, there's a couple of things that come to mind. One, that's a cold lonely job. Two, at 3.30 p.m. you've got about one hour of daylight left, but you've got more than half of the bay to cross... Three... well, three is that most of us are waiting for the lake to freeze, so we can get back out on top of it in the tried and true tradition of using the lakes as highways, for rinks, ice fishing huts, snowmobile trails. And four -- we're glad that job didn't fall to us!
Ken, from England, had a lot of fun with the little snowblower, but when we woke up this week to find nearly 8" of snow in the driveways, and more falling, it was time to gear up.
Big snow calls for big machines. Now, Brian has two trucks that carry plow blades and do most of the work keeping our driveways driveable, but here's the thing: you have to have somewhere to PUT snow. This is the catch that causes so much grief in cities. Despite being Canadian cities, despite the fact that Canadian winters include snow, most city planners set out street scapes that are positively tropical in design, with no place to put the snow as it falls. That's why country roads often have such wide shoulders and ditches (and a side bar, if you're driving such a road, don't believe that the wide shoulder is in fact a shoulder -- it might just be a ditch full of snow...)
So, here at Bondi, Brian ensures that the snow gets moved well back, to allow for room to put more and more snow throughout the winter. Sooner or later, that is not a job for a plow, which can only push the snow, so out comes the snowblower, which can throw the stuff out of the way, and leave us 'snow ready.'
Because there's one thing we know for sure -- it's the middle of December. The snow has only just begun to fall!
And there's something else we know. While we're told that it is rare that two snowflakes are alike, when you pile enough of them in the driveway, it can be hard to appreciate the differences... there is a curious sameness to plowing the roads!
When Ken and Johanna came over from England two weeks ago, they arrived at Bondi seeking "the full Canadian winter experience."
That included Algonquin Park in winter, snowshoeing, wildlife spotting, and a small blizzard. But no Winter Experience can be called complete without the hands on "move the snow" component of winter, would it?
So Nancy gave Ken a quick lesson in Snowblower 101, and turned him loose. He's a natural! Next time they're here, we'll have to get him behind the wheel of the big snowplow!
Thanks very much, Ken, for emailing me the 'action shot'!!
Ruth and Mark brought the kids away for a quiet family weekend together before the season starts to get crazy. They arrived well equipped for the toboggan hill -- which got a thorough workout with Tatum and Eric over the two days -- but they'd never tried their foot at snowshoeing. We got them geared up, and off they headed, towing the kids behind them. They went for a really long trek. Mark was impressed by the bear claw marks on the beech trees, and the kids were delighted that every time they got to a downhill, the sleds (and kids) were cut loose.
Ruth gets the award for the most fashionable hat of the winter. I want one! Heck, I think everyone will want one! It's not only the greatest looking hat, it's warm, too!
One of the things we have going for us up here in Muskoka is that our winters are cold enough that the lakes freeze -- and after that happens, it is a dry cold. Down where the lakes stay open, there's a dampness in the air that lets cold weather cut right through you somehow, and it's not nearly as much fun.
But lakes take time to freeze over. This cold snap is helping a lot, and if this goes on, there's a good chance we'll be able to have a skating rink on the bay for Christmas!
On the way to freeze up, we get days like this, with glorious sunshine, and smoking lakes. The water temperature is much warmer than the air, so where the two coincide, vapour is formed, lifting up from the lakes like tendrils of smoke.
It was 20 below this morning. Sunny, mind you, but what you might describe as fresh. Nothing really -- compare this to an entry in my grandfather's diaries from the 1920's, where he writes "52 below, a Grand Day!" Now that 52 below would be in degrees Fahrenheit. Or in this instance, Fahren-lackofheat, but we're not even going to bother doing the math. Once you get to 40 below, it's all much the same, really. That drop in the mercury let the gang over at Hidden Valley Highland Ski Club swing into action, big time, pulling out the Big Guns. Snow guns, that is.
My English aunt was completely fascinated by these roaring beasts tossing out a continual blizzard. They are pretty cool, in every sense of the word.
The early arrival of winter has let the ski hill open early, and there were plenty of people out there today, well bundled up, enjoying the sunshine -- and the miniature snowgun blizzards. Hidden Valley has hills for all levels of skier and boarder, a great instruction program, and a comfy warm chalet. It's only ten minutes away from us, too!
The organized and forward thinking amongst us began making Christmas cake back in the late summer.
The less organized and culinary untalented among us may have scooped up one of the commercial things referred to as Christmas cake -- but if you've ever had the Real Deal, you know that the commercial ones are best used as doorstops... There are rumours that these can last in the depths of a freezer for about the same time as a plastic bag in landfill.
But for those of us for whom nothing happens without the Last Minute, do not despair -- you, too, can serve up a fantastic Christmas cake if company drops by over the holidays. This is one of my fav recipes, mainly because it can be made the day before -- even the evening before! -- and it's easy. Mind, you do have to take a quick swing through a grocery store, but you'd be doing that anyway!
It's a South African recipe (and sorry, it's not in metric... mea culpa).
Here's what you need:
1/2 lb brown sugar 1/2 lb butter Cream these together until light and fluffy.
Separate 6 eggs. Reserve the whites. Beat the yolks into the sugar/butter mix one at a time and beat well.
Mix together: 1/2 cup run, whiskey or brandy. (for a non-alcoholic cake, take 2 cups of apple juice and simmer it down to 1/2 cup) 1/2 cup maple syrup (the South African recipe calls for molasses, but we're Canadian, eh?) 1/4 cup buttermilk.
If you don't like a particular ingredient from this list, leave it out, and just increase the others slightly to keep the total constant. When these are all mixed together, fold them into the egg mixture and mix well.
Whip the 6 egg whites to soft peaks. Fold into the mixture.
Line a cake tin with waxed paper. (This makes about 2 large loaf pans) Pour in the batter. Put in pre-heated oven, 300 - 325 degrees F (not more than 325!). Put a separate pan of water in the bottom of the oven to keep the heat moist.
Bake for about 2 hours. Test with a knife. It's ready when the knife blade comes out clean.
Cool on a rack.
Enjoy. I'd suggest you send a slice along to us, but in my experience, there usually aren't any slices left to send.
On the list of things you'd rather not find on the lawn, a huge branch from a white pine that has brought with it the hydro line would have to be right up there.
So when the big tree between Cedars and Clover cottage shed a limb under the influence of heavy wet snow and wind yesterday, it was a signal to rally the troops.
The hydro line's demise meant there was no power to Wheelhouse cottage -- but as Brian pointed out, the fireplace makes a mockery of electric heat. With a small handful of logs, the cottage stayed more than toasty warm.
Early in the morning, the cavalry arrived, in the form of Pavey Tree. Phil and his trusty troops -- Scott and Dylan -- did some weird things with ropes, and then vanished into the tree tops, chainsaws dangling from belts. The object was to limb back any damaged branches, or those that threatened to interrupt the flow of hydro in the near future, while still maintaining the integrity of the tree.
Lake of Bays has one of the most restrictive by-laws when it comes to removing trees near the shorelines, and although this tree is far enough away from the water not to come under that, and although damaged or dangerous trees also don't come under the restriction, we still don't like to lose trees if we don't have to.
While Dylan made tree limbing look simple, we emphasize you should not try this at home! We could tell you stories... oh heck, why not tell one.
The classic involved the dentist who had a huge maple leaning over his mega-cottage. Pricing professional tree removal, he was quoted $1000. Far too much, he huffed, and set out to 'do it himself.' Here was the plan: Wife in big high-powered ski boat, just offshore. Rope fastened about the tree, as far up as he could climb. Same rope tied to the skibar on the boat. Cut into the tree until it started to waver. At that point, holler "Hit It". wife would speed off in the boat, pulling the tree away from the cottage so it would fall harmlessly into the lake.
Quick -- hands up, who spotted the flaw? Yes, you in the front row, you're right. A boat lacks the kind of traction necessary to overcome the weight of a hefty maple. The tree fell all right... Where it always meant to fall: smack through the roof of the cottage. with it, it brought the ski boat -- and the wife -- backwards up over the rocks and the lawn. Did we mention he was a dentist? Good thing... The total bill? Well, more than the original quote...
Which is why we didn't hesitate. We called Phil and the crew. The tree is trimmed, the hydro is back on, the branches have been chipped and gone off to become mulch.
Snow, when the weather gets mild and the snow gets wet, gets heavy. And if it is on a metal roof, and the pitch is right, it likes to slide.
Brian sent me down to Lantern cottage, to check out the 'breaking wave' effect of this sliding snow. The pattern of the metal roof is easy to see. The icicle gently touching the window pane adds a certain something. If you are inside looking out, you can pretend you are (briefly) in the Ice Hotel.
Of course, snow like this will shed off the roof very soon, with a rumble and a thump. For roofs that lack quite that pitch, gravity can't quite get the job done. For that we need the Dynamic Duo! A word of advice, from someone who got snow down the back of the neck: when you hear footsteps on the roof, and it's not eight tiny reindeer, it's a wise plan to look up and say something before prancing out the door...
We had snow. And we had Dave and Mike. And they had some time off between odd-jobs.
Add a hill. And a couple of GT sleds, that the lads have long since outgrown. Although I stand corrected - they tell me you NEVER outgrow a GT.
Off they went, folding their 6 foot frames down onto the GT's, and tackling Bondi's tubing run. We also have an awesome toboggan hill, but this run was closer, and steeper. I think half the point is to see how 'big' you can crash and burn, but then, I fall off these sleds really really early, so I'm no judge...
But Mike and Dave, now, they are conniseurs!
Nancy Tapley Bondi Village Resort - Dwight / Algonquin Park www.bondi-cottage-resort.com
Johanna traded in the snowmobile for snowshoes, taking Ken and the rest of the gang with her. Did we mention that snowshoeing is a wonderful aerobic activity? After tramping about the property, Johanna confessed to feeling (that marvellous English phrase) 'knackered'. Asked if she was heading inside for a cup of tea, and she said 'certainly not! We're off to the next adventure! We want to do it all!' Now that's a spirit we all admire. The following morning, after we'd had another fall of snow, Ken got right into the true Canadian weather experience -- he took over the handlebars of the snowblower from Nancy and 'had a go', the snow streaming in a rooster tail beyond him, and a big smile on his face. Nancy had her hands full of snowblower, not camera, so didn't get the shot... Perhaps Johanna will email one to us!
Nancy thought this a great idea, too... sort of like Huckleberry Finn and painting the picket fence, she got the job done without the exertion! Thanks Ken!
Nancy Tapley Bondi Village Resort - Dwight / Algonquin Park www.bondi-cottage-resort.com
The weathermen were predicting the arrival of a snowstorm, due to arrive late in the afternoon on Sunday.
They were right. You could see it coming. This picture shows the 'toe' of the storm front, rolling in overtop of us.
The snow came in a few hours later. It's an interesting thing, watching the weather.
And, if you don't have a meterologist handy, you can figure a lot of out on your own. Backing winds (winds shifting in a counter-clockwise direction, such as southerly winds shifting southeast) generally indicate that bad weather is on its way. On the other hand, veering winds (winds shifting in a clockwise direction, such as southwesterly winds shifting west) generally indicate the ending of bad weather and good weather is on its way. This has to do with the way that the air rotates with approaching low pressure systems and retreating low pressure systems."
Corinne and Johanna came over from England (London and Hartfordshire) to attend a wedding. They stayed on in Canada for a 'look see', and after two weeks near Cambridge, came up to visit Algonquin Park. We turned the snow on for them, and they thought it was wonderful.
Their relatives, living in Canada, were up to date on snow. In fact, last winter they visited the Ice Hotel in Quebec, went dog-sledding, and are snowshoe wizards.
Not so Corinne and Johanna, both attuned to English winter conditions. They packed a lot of snowtime into their visit. Something they had never experienced was riding a snowmobile.
Brian took both the ladies for a whirl. They reported it was "brilliant", and Johanna remarked, "if I lived here I'd have to have one of these!"
After lunch, they traded the sled for snowshoes... it's all good.
I know this picture is a little late, a little out of season -- our gorgeous autumn colours have given way to the more monochromatic palette of early winter. Still, I just got it from our ace photographer, Brian -- and it is too beautiful not to share!
You can see Bondi, with our horseshoe-shaped bay (we take our name from the famous beach in Sydney, Australia, which has a similar shape). In the bottom right corner, you can see our neighbours, over at Lumina, another of the great north Muskoka family resorts. Like ourselves, the Hungerford family is moving into the fourth generation operating their resort. They operate from May to October, as a full meal plan resort, and are popular not only with families, but with wedding parties. Their dining room is open by reservation to outside guests as well.
In the background, you can see Dwight Beach -- that long strip of sand that is one of the finest beaches on the lake, and open to the Public. The Oxtongue River is also clearly visible flowing into Dwight Bay on the right hand side, from its headwaters in Algonquin Park.
The dark shadow on the mountain to the left of our bay leads up to our Lookout Point. The way the sun is playing with shadows here, you can see it is quite a climb. Our Lookout provides a wonderful view back to the resort.
But when we're talking about a view... you can't beat this one.
Brian has been working incredibly hard to get the ski trails ready for the season. Since they got home from College, both David and Mike have been pitching in too, -- picking up branches, packing the trails in, smoothing and flattening the toboggan runs, etc. Saturday the three of them spent five hours on the task, with the final touch being the smoothing of the trails with the drag groomer, prior to having the ski track set in.
Ski trails need to be different from snowmobile trails. Our local snowmobile club, the Algonquin Snowmobile Club, works hard to maintain their extensive network of trails. They work really hard to get agreements with property owners to permit the trails to cross private property. Nancy works with them at the Council level to ensure they are able to continue to access trails on public lands. It's a slow, almost we could say, painful process, to ensure that the Snowmobile Club trails interconnect, and offer an amazing network for sledders to enjoy. These trails are groomed very wide, and packed in very hard.
Ski trails are not as wide, nor as hard packed -- in fact, they require a fluff of snow to be perfect. They don't look the same, or feel the same -- and that's because they are doing quite a different job. The two sports don't work well on the same trails, for a huge variety of reasons.
We're not going to comment on the pros and cons of skiers versus snowmobilers. Nancy likes nothing better than spending silent time in the woods, with just the swish of the skiis or the tramp of the snowshoes on the snow. David, on the other hand, feels the need for speed. He loves to sled. Different people like to get outside in different fashions. That's fine. And without the 'workhorse' snowmobile Brian uses for maintenance, we'd have no trails for anyone, so we're happy to co-exist -- on separated trail systems.
And that said... today, after the five hours the guys put into the trails (because yes we have enough snow to open many of our trails, and yes, we've got guests --here from England -- who would like to enjoy them) just as our own machines were being put away for the day, along came three sleds, from down Fox Point Road. They hesitated where the ski trail leaves the road by our driveway. And then, oh yeah, you got it... they went roaring off up the hill, hooting, hollering, and spraying snow. Took part of the hill down to the dirt. Destroyed utterly the work done during the day. And drove past not one, not two but FIVE different signs that said useful things like "Ski Trail Only", "No Snowmobiles" "No Trespassing" "No motorized vehicles"... They tell me you need a license to drive a snowmobile, but I guess that doesn't mean you need to be literate.
Brian blew his stack, and went after them. Caught up with them near the Firehall, stopped them, and pointed out their error. One yelled profanities at him and just drove away. One was polite. The third wouldn't even give his name. As Dave says, 'usually we'd just talk to them', but their careless disregard has made the guys a mountain of unnecessary work, and we were not amused.
It's people like this that ensure that the Snowmobile clubs have to work overtime to work out trail access agreeements with landowners. They are the reason so many landowners are shutting down the trails across their properties. They can delight in the fact that they are the folks who give snowmobiling a bad rap.
And that's a darn shame. Because there should be a place for all of us. Because the Snowmobile clubs work as hard as we do to provide safe, enjoyable trails. And because behaviour like that displayed today will make all of that so much harder, all round.
Brian was working on the ski trails -- after the heavy snowfall, a lot of limbs and branches came down, and these all must be cleared so the trails are at their best! It's a slow process, becuase we have almost 20 km. of trails, and sometimes, as the evening approaches and dinner beckons, he begins to work on auto-pilot.
He was working his way through a stand of hemlock. These are big trees. Deer love them, because they hold the snow up off the ground, leaving an easy area beneath where the deer can congregate. That should have been a clue. Brian picked up a healthy branch, and slung it off the trail.
Right smack up against the trunk of the nearest hemlock. There was a silence, then a soft sound, like an exhalation. Brian looked up, seeking the source.
And, like Wiley Coyote in the cartoons, he vanished under the total snow load of the hemlock. Once the snow starts to come down from these trees -- whether by a sharp impact on the trunk or a breeze up in the treetops -- it comes in a domino effect bringing everything with it.
Nancy snapped this photo of a cedar tree letting go it's own snowload... it's a localized blizzard, a white-out, or (colloquially) a dump, to give you an idea.
Brian emerged, unharmed except for some snow down the back of his neck. Rocked the snowmobile free from the snowload, and carried on. Muttering. These big hemlocks can carry quite a load. We have trees along our trails that are well over 200 years old. They made it through the logging operations in the early 1900s that took hemlock bark for the Leather Tannery in Huntsville.
Heck, they were around when Napoleon was conquering Italy, and Beethoven was cranking out some light dinner tunes. They were here when the first French railline began to carry passengers , and the first horse-trolleys began to operate in New York. They were here for the first use of the word 'evolution', and Samuel Colt's invention of the Colt revolver. They made it through the two World Wars, and all the rest that followed, through the formulation of Vitamin A, the atomic bomb, and men walking on the moon. They were here when Martin Luther King had his Dream, and they were here for Barak Obama's election.
And they were here to dump all the snow they could on top of Brian. He should consider himself in good company.
We'd love to hear from you. The experiences our guests have are precious to us. If you have photos you took at Bondi, we'd love to have those as well. You can email them to Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us on Facebook!
"like" us? Please share this with your friends. Ah... social media...
We are very proud of Napster, our tail-painting cat, who uses his lovely artwork to raise money for charities. This lovely little creature passed away July 2015, but left a huge legacy, having raised over $12,000 for various charities through the sale of his artwork. That artwork, through prints and notecards, is still available. Click here to visit Napster's Blog and visit the gallery of his tail-paintings.
Now sold around the world, he was honoured to have his artwork sold around the globe -- he even has a print with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Click on the following links to enjoy a 'virtual ski' round some of our 15 km. of groomed track set cross country ski trails. Thanks to Altitude and Attitude, North Muskoka gets the kind of winter you can really enjoy. Huge thanks to Eric Prince, the creative mind that made this videos happen!
Click here to enjoy seeing a variety of our trails.
And Click Here for another cross country ski adventure.
and this one, in 2014, just days before the snow vanished, from Hawke Lake on down. Click Here
And Click Here for just one more...