Bondi Resort Blog

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.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Free wheeling!

Nearby Algonquin Provincial Park is such a favourite with our guests that Bondi Village provides a day pass into the pass for our guests as part of their rental package, and those passes are in almost constant use!

Algonquin Provincial Park's trail system is second to none in the world, and one of the trails in particular is heaven for cyclists. The Bike Trail along the old Railway bed provides 10.8 km. of mostly level going across the old Two Rivers airfield and down the abandoned Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway all the way to the Rock Lake campsite.

The railway was built in 1895, abandoned in 1944.
The airstrip was built in 1935, closed in 1973. There are wonderful signboards along the way that explain the history of the railway, the airstrip and the saw mills that used to be located here.

But at the end of the day, it is just a wonderful place to ride a bike. This week, Frances, Grant and Kyle made the trip. They pedaled right past a mother moose and her calf who were browsing at trailside, and when they got to the old bridge, Kyle made the scary leap out into space! (Mom and Dad stayed on the bridge!) For those less brave, you can also cool off here by way of a small sandy beach!


Every year, about the middle of the summer, the Clams Gather at the beach at BONDI VILLAGE for this prestigious race. This year, despite torrential thundershowers shortly before the start, the skies cleared, and the track was perfect for clams (and people).

For those who've never raced a clam, it goes like this. First, find your clam. (be sure the clam comes from the same lake -- no risking introducing strangers into the lake!). Second, name your clam. Third, bring clam to starters, where a nail polish number is painted on one side, and the clam is lovingly taken to the start line, a line drawn in water about knee deep and marked out with big candles.

While a group of us work to dry the clamshell enough for the polish and record the names, Brian escorts the clams to the official start line, basking in a muffin tin.
It is a Lemans start, with all clams lying on their side. They have to stand up and get going when the race begins.

while the Clams are being entered, we were entertained once again this year by the MUSKOKA MUSIC MEN. There were five of these gentlemen here, in what is known as a Very Large Quartet... singing Barbershop songs, and charming the crowd. Singing acapella (as barbershop quartets do) these boys get totally into the Clam Race Spirit, leading off with their own rendition of "My Wild Racing Clam" and following it with other classical 'clam' songs. You really should have been here. Two years ago, we had to take refuge in Nancy's house when a thunderstorm blew in onto the start, and all the power went off. By candlelight, our guests nibbled on the snacks provided and listened to the Muskoka Music Men tell grand stories and sing wonderful songs. This year, the weather was fine, and they sang outdoors. We love to have them here. This group raises money for people with speech disabilities -- We sing so they may Speak, is their motto. They provide concerts throughout the year, and if you're close to one, you owe it to yourself to attend. They're fabulous.

When all clams are at the start, the race begins with a loud cheer and an explosive firework (last year, Dave almost set fire to the willow tree!) and we all go home for the evening. Watching clams race is like watching paint dry.
But the following morning, about 8.30 a.m., Brian, our resident Clamologist, reappears with the specially calibrated measuring wheel, and the distance each clam has traveled is recorded.

These statistics go to the University of Mass. for a Statistics course, and we have also been told we are the only folk who have records of how far clams go in 12 hours, so the race does its bit to further the lot of humanity.

This year's winner was the entry of a young guest who is here from Korea, Euro Oh. Her clam, Jagoe (which means Clam in Korean), ran 84 inches. Not a world record, but darn good, in an Olympic year! In addition to her medal, her name goes on the much coveted Chowder Bowl. It's getting filled up with names -- we've been racing clams for 27 years!

Second was Kitty Bridges', "Escargo Girl!" who clocked in at 71".
Bronze medal went to Ethan Boivin, with "Clamillion", at 66"
Fourth place went to Breanna Heron's "Green Eggs and Clam" at 64", and
Fifth to Noam Bierstone's "Mussel and Bustle", at 61"

An added interest in this year's race was the head to head political challenge provided by Clams number 45 and 46 -- Barack Oclama and John McClam. It seems somehow entirely appropriate that these two clams ran in circles, bumped into each other, and then went their separate ways. Oclama was the clear winner, however, at 46" to McClam's 18". We'll have to wait to see if Clams can predict politics the way Groundhogs can predict the onset of spring.

My favourite name from this year's entry of 49 clams was "Cockle Doodle Do", Dave Velleman's clam.

This is a slow race -- it starts on a Wednesday evening, finishes Thursday morning, and medals are presented late on Friday. Treasures and Trophies in Huntsville provides the engraving service, and I'm sure he weeps every time we call with this rush job and weird spellings, but it's all in great good fun.

Have to go now... I need to check over the training schedule I'll be drawing up for my clam NEXT summer, since my entry this year, Klameoke, wasn't fit enough, (only ran four inches) and evidently pulled a mussel...

Photos: the Muskoka Music Men, singing My Wild Racing Clam
Brian Tapley and Ben Boivin, in the ceremonial March Down of the famous Chowder Bowl trophy
Brian Tapley with clams ready for the starting line
One of the Start line candles -- which burned until 2 a.m.!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Baysville is one of the hamlets that makes up the Township of Lake of Bays. At the South end of the lake, this little 'go ahead' community is a fun place to ramble at any time of the year, with it's interesting dam (when built, this dam raised the level of the lake about 5 feet), historic plaques, great stores and restaurants. (Be sure not to miss Miss Nelle's Antiques -- you can get a lunch or just a coffee while admiring this wonderful old building that dates right back to the settlement of the Village and checking out their great collection of antiques and memorabilia. Nancy can never go into this store without spending money, so be warned...

Every summer, STUFF happens in Baysville. There's a farmers' market every Friday.
In June, four of the oldest houses opened up for the DOORS OPEN tour -- with over a hundred people coming through.

In July, there is the Walkabout Festival -- a fabulous day with artisans and craftspeople, face painting, entertainment and a hundred other reasons to wander around the parks of the town. We always have BONDI guests that keep the walkabout circled on their calendar and never miss it.

Dave, Michelle and the girls came back this year, suntanned, face-painted, and Dave still decorated wtih a walkabout sticker on his shirt to hit the beach one more time before dinner.

In August, there's an Arts and Crafts Festival in Baysville (on th 8th), a Summer Flower Show (on the 12th) and the 'fantabulous' Classic and Antique Boat Show on the 17th. The Heather Belle, who came to Bondi for the Silent Boat Rally, will most likely be in attendance. Boat aficionados should be sure to stop by for this one!
And you can stay for dinner at the Wendigo restaurant, right by the river, and advertised as the 'best restaurant by a dam site'.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dark skies and Wolf Song

Everytime we go out on the lawn at Bondi to look at Stars with a group of people, something wonderful happens. Once you get away from the city lights, the stars sparkle and dance, and on a clear night in the summer people can marvel at the Milky Way, watch the red/green flash of Antares, see the double star in the handle of the Big Dipper, find the Andromeda Galaxy 12.5 million light years away. So many things that you can't see in the city, because of the light pollution that dims out all but the brightest stars, and makes the heavens meagre.
Nancy spends a lot of the summer outside under the night sky with groups of our guests. Armed with a laser pointer that reaches forever, night vision glasses and binoculars, she does a Star Tour that our guests seem to really enjoy.
And what night outdoors in north Muskoka would be complete without talking about the neighbours -- the owls, loons and wolves that so often sing in the dark.
Sure enough, the evening began with loons, giving their familiar tremolo call while we were looking at the Big Dipper and North Star.
After we moved across the lawn to look at the Summer Triangle, the sky started to cloud over, so we talked about the wolf pack that has been in pretty close this summer. It sounds like a big pack, with lots of youngsters, and Kyle saw a wolf cub run across the road last week. We talked about the Algonquin Park timber wolves, and how every week in August the naturalists take people out for the world famous Wolf Howl. We talked about how the deeper the howl, the bigger the wolf, as a general rule. And then, Nancy gave her best wolf impersonation and howled. Now, she's a rank amateur in Wolf Song Karaoke -- the Park naturalists have wolf-speak perfected. All the same, some nights, it just works.
We got an answering howl -- from the west side of the property, and very close. A single wolf, with a deep voice. An amazing sound, for the group of about 20 people clustered on the dark lawn.
And then, from the east side of the property, the rest of the pack started up in response, and the wolves howled back and forth to each other for several minutes, putting on a fantastic show.
When it all quieted down, we talked about owls, and Owl Speak, hooting for both the Barred Owl and the Great Horned Owl. Tonight, we had no answering owls, but we've got both these species in the woods around us. Lots of the kids had a go at hooting -- Who Cooks for You? Who Cooks for You AAAALLLL??? (Barred Owl) and, Who's Cooking Chicken, Who, Who, Who???? (Horned Owl)
Then, since we'd lost our stars to the clouds, and just for the heck of it, Nancy was talked into trying one more Howl. And -- I love when a plan comes together -- yes, both the lone wolf to the west, and the pack to the east answered again. The lone howl had moved considerably to the north, but the pack was still in the same place, and still very close. And sang most harmoniously.
Now, that's an experience to cherish.


Dan has been coming to Bondi for over 20 years. And every year he brings his unicycle. He is pretty hot stuff on the unicycle -- here he is in front of one of Carol's gardens, making great time. Starting is a bit tricky. While it is possible to just hop on, back pedal, and go, it is a lot easier to start with your back to a building, giving some support. Stopping is also a bit of a challenge, and requires good balance! He has the deer totally baffled: they have no idea what to make of this, and aren't sure what to do, usually opting to simply walk away from him.
He's working on juggling, too... but at the moment is finding three balls in the air to be about his limit. He's working on five.
When asked if he's going to juggle while riding the unicycle, we were informed that the problem is that you have to go where the unicycle is going -- steering is evidently a bit of an issue -- and that is often not where the balls are going...
But we're hoping one day it will all come together!
In the meantime, we say, RIDE ON, DAN, RIDE ON!

Monday, July 28, 2008

What a War Canoe!

It wasn't meant to be a war canoe (with 4 paddlers) but it turned into one... (we have a theory that almost all war canoes, at some point, sink)
The canoe is one of the most stable crafts ever put on water. BUT. You have to be careful how you load it, and how you move about in it! (Nancy found this out the hard way, when her 70 lb. poodle, Holly, disembarked one day after a beaver, in deep water!)
One of our guests, Dave, knew all that, as he set out from the shore with new friends, but someone forgot to mention it to the two smallest paddlers in the middle of the canoe.
It all took place in shallow water, and pride was the only casualty. The second sortie was successful!
Each of our cottages has it's own canoe, so there's always plenty of canoe action on the beach. This was just more action than the paddlers had in mind!

Muskoka Heritage Place Celebrates 50th

The Muskoka Heritage Place in Huntsville is a gem. We rank it right up there with Upper Canada Village for quality, and definitely recommend it as a must see. From the Museum, with its ever-changing displays about life in early Muskoka, through the winding walkways that take you to the houses, schoolroom, church, blacksmith's shop, general store and the farm animals, there is plenty to do and to see. Kids can try their hand at dipping candles, for instance. As a huge added bonus, the Portage Flyer train is located here. This little narrow gauge train originally ran between North Portage, Peninsula Lake, and South Portage, Lake of Bays -- the Shortest Commercial Railway in the world, at just one mile long. When the train was heavily loaded at North Portage, the men would be asked to step down from the passenger cars and walk up the hill! After the railway closed down, all the rolling stock left the area, but the trains were rescued, brought back to Huntsville, and operate at the Heritage Place. You can truly take a ride back in time on this lovely train, running along the lakeshore out to Camp Kitchen.
On Saturday July 26th, the Muskoka Heritage Place celebrated it's Golden Jubilee, and like everything they do out there, they did it up right. High tea, displays on birds, animals, owls, and a butterfly release, along with Savour Muskoka offerings on the Village Green were some of the highlights.
The Museum is currently hosting a display called "Muskoka Creative" featuring arts and crafts from the pioneer days. As part of this display, there is a section featuring our grandfather, Joseph Tapley, who settled here at Bondi in 1905.
Joe had an illustrious stage career -- in England with Gilbert & Sullivan, and then in Australia and New Zealand with Williamson & Musgrove. By 1901, he had been around the globe, making three separate trips "Down Under" and returning across the U.S.A.
On display at Muskoka Heritage Place are one of his costumes, along with several items from his make-up kit, and photographs.
When ill healthy forced him off the stage (he was told that wine, women and song were killing him... and when you are a Comic Opera Tenor, there is not much else out there BUT wine, women and song... so he needed to change careers) he brought his young bride Elizabeth and their two young sons Douglas and Percy to Muskoka to become farmers. He was a globe trotter, but the rest of the family had never been out of London.
Joe wasn't the only opera star on Lake of Bays. Madam Marcotti used to stay at Port Cunnington, about the same time Joe was settling in. She'd climb to the top of the big hill behind the resort and belt out Italian arias over the lake at dawn.
We miss those days...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Team Bondi OWNS the Paintball range

The guys went paintballing today, at the MJD Paintball range at nearby Deerhurst Inn.
Located adjacent to their airstrip, the course offers bunkers, huge tires, logs, lumpy terrain and trees through which teams prowl.
David and Mike report that Team Bondi OWNS the paintball range. (and they have the bruises to prove it)
You can rent equipment, including mask, jacket, gun, hopper and CO2 for a small charge, and the game runs nearly three hours -- or until everybody is covered with paint.
There is some concern amongst the players that in 2010 the paintball range will be shut down for the duration of the G8 Summit, which is being hosted at Deerhurst. There is debate about the advisability of having folks in masks, with paintball guns, roaming about the airstrip whilst the delegates are coming and going. (ya think????)
We've suggested to the boys that we can open our back field, beyond the Frisbee golf course, as an alternate venue for them -- it's not as sophisticated, but it's less likely to be shut down for that week!
In the meantime, MJD Paintball offers a fun place for the older kids to get into the great outdoors and blow off some steam.

Marathon Swim

Thursday morning we had fourteen guests participate in the Island Swim. This is another of our long-standing Bondi traditions that began way back in the mists of time. As a youngster, I remember Hector and Henry Smart, who always stayed in Anchor cottage, teaching all the resort children how to swim. Armed with their wives' lipstick tubes, Hec and Henry would dish out a lipstick circle on the shoulder when you could swim to the raft and back, a big X when you could swim to the far boathouse and back, and -- most coveted of all -- a star when you could swim to the Point and Back. The Point is 500 metres away, a big flat rock where you can climb out and rest and recoup before swimming back. Every week we have swimmers tackle that swim.
The Island is another bag of cats. It's a mile away. 1.6 km. That's a long way in open water. Swimmers are transported out to the Island, and swim home to Bondi. For fourteen swimmers, we had seven safety boats -- outboards, canoes, kayaks, rowboats. Nobody gets left alone out there! Zev was the youngest this week, at 12. Arlene would have been the least youngest, with her grandchildren watching closely from her escort canoe.
Shelley is from Mass. and swims regularly for exercise. To keep the pool from becoming boring, she swims "virtual rivers", plotting her course on maps, and researching the area she is 'swimming through'. She's 'swum' the Mississippi -- there was a big party with Cajun food when her distance swum brought her down to New Orleans. She's 'swum' The Rhine, sampling wines all the way along. She started the Amazon, but since nothing much changes along the Amazon for forever, she changed her virtual river, and is currently working her way down the Nile. Always swim with the current, is her motto, and one mile in the pool equals ten miles on the map.
When she arrived, she was eight miles outside of Cairo.
Today, on the swim, she was in urban Cairo, and as she pointed out, MUCH happier to be doing the swim in the clear, cool, sweet waters of Lake of Bays!
We think this is a great way to stay motivated on an exercise program and learn about foreign places all at the same time. And we absolutely agree that there is nowhere better to log swimming miles than here at Bondi.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Walking trails written up in the Muskoka Sun

There will soon be an article by N. Thompson about our trails published in the Muskoka Sun.

This article is as follows and this is a "scoop" as it has not yet been published.

Trail Talk – Bondi Village

What a summer! The most exercise I have been getting is to swat bugs with one of those electric bug zapper that looks like a tennis racket. Great fun and no shortage of bugs.

However, I must lose weight and have embarked on yet another round of exercises plus much more walking. Rain or shine walking is a grand way to lift your spirits, help your heart and tone your muscles.

This week we visited Bondi Village to explore some (not all) of their 20 km of trails which wind through their 600 acres.

Follow Highway 60 west from Huntsville, turn right on Highway 35 east of Dwight and right again on to Muskoka Road 21. The resort is well signed.

The general public is welcome to use the trails to walk and take pictures but, please, do stop in at the Bondi office for a trail map and to make parking arrangements. A small donation for use of this splendid acreage would be much appreciated. (It all helps to pay the taxes, as Brian Tapley would say.)

Please do not just park along the side of the municipal road and trespass ~ the Tapleys do need to know who is walking on their property and where.

Most of the trails [1]are used primarily for cross country skiing and some are through boggy areas that are really only suitable for winter use unless you are into studying bog plants and feeding mosquitoes. In winter there is a charge of $5.00 per person/day for skiing to help pay for trail grooming. The remainder are good for hiking year round and some offer excellent views from the tops of several high hills, others offer a close up of a beaver pond/meadow and a couple of small lakes.

If some of your party would rather play disc golf ask at the Office. Nine holes cost $5 per person for three discs each.

Please note that wheeled vehicles and motorized vehicles are not allowed.

My husband, Brian and I walked the two kilometre round trip Lookout Trail. It winds up, steeply up, through an old growth hardwood forest.

Characterized by large old trees with a dense canopy and little undergrowth, this type of forest has large fallen trees, moss and fungi covered logs as well as snags (broken but still standing trees) often full of pileated woodpecker holes. We found several differently coloured mushrooms such as the striking green poisonous stropharia aeruginosa (I think) and rosy russula. There are many fine examples of various conchs and blue green stainers, cupules turquoises.

The trail starts out across a wildflower meadow then into a deeply shaded forest. Here we came upon three young deer. They were not afraid of us at all ~ I see why Tapley’s had their gardens fenced.

Once in the trees the path is packed earth with some slippery spots after rain. The main water crossing is over an earth covered culvert marked by two large moss cloaked logs. Then the trail starts to climb. This trail is not only for the young-at-heart but also for the strong-of-limb. I haven’t seen such a stand of large old maple and beech for many years. It is a rare reminder of pre-settlement Muskoka forests. A few of the trees had great slashes down their whole length from lightning strikes. We saw a pileated woodpecker and much evidence of its work.

After what seemed like a very long distance we came to the top and were rewarded with a splendid view over Tapley Bay and the Bondi Village Resort.

Needless to say the trip down was much easier and faster.

We sampled sections of the Hardwood Hills Trail where paralleled and crossed Joseph Tapley Road. The road is an experience in itself but cuts through a much younger forest and is quite flat there. The map shows long hills to the east.

Also had a wee walk on the River Overlook Trail which leads out to the Oxtongue River. We didn’t cross the creek by a large beaver pond but I expect there is good birding there.

All in all the Tapley’s have some interesting trails. In fall the colour must be magnificent and in winter groomed trails will be splendid to ski.

Happy trails,


There is a picture from the top of the lookout too, and it follows as well assuming that I did this correctly... (no guarantee there!)

Brian Tapley

[1] Brian Tapley

nothing trivial about it!

Last night, July 23, was TRIVIA NIGHT at the Dwight Public Library. 15 teams, 6 people on a team, hotly contest 6 rounds of 20 questions to win the coveted trophy.
Bondi had two teams entered... and finished the night with BOTH teams tied for third place.
We'd have been scored much higher, but the clock moves quickly on this event, and our mathematician bogged down in the minutia of how many gifts really are received during the Twelve Days of Christmas. Our bible scholars disputed how many books are in the Bible (Old Testament? New Testament? Both? Before or after the Nicene Creed?)
and there was some heated debate about how long food takes to completely digest and exit the system... And one sheet was collected by the scorers while Nancy was still trying to spell Renee Zelweiger...
Nor could we recall the names of certain authors... and Nobody knew that Barbara Streisand is the top selling female vocalist of all time. (with laudable local loyalty, we opted for Shania!)
All the same, we got really, really close to the Masterminds, who have won this event 4 out of 5 years, (they have a secret weapon, however... they have Dan Strickland, who knows everything and is totally charming) and you could tell that we had them nervous.
Zev, our youngest team member at the age of 12, saved us on several occasions, and was our best resource for the Harry Potter questions.
Next year, Masterminds, next year... we're coming after you!!!
Thanks to Peggy and the crew at the Dwight Library for holding this -- such a fun event, complete with pizza, popcorn, and a spirit of fun.

Regatta -- taking the plunge

The 85th Annual Angligan Church Regatta happened Wednesday, hosted at Port Cunnington Lodge. Port is one of the oldest, most historic resorts on Lake of Bays. Now owned by the Wadsworth family, it has been beautifully restored and renewed, and remains one of the lake's showcases. And, generously, it hosts the Regatta. This means tons of people milling about, cars to park, canoes to beach, bake sales to house. Commotion.
Nancy was late arriving -- she is the "commodore" of this event, which means she spends the day on the dock, with microphone in hand, keeping the event moving and entertaining folks with stories of the local lake history. En route, she found a Barred Owl on the road, hit by a car. This beautiful bird had been badly damaged in the collision, but since he was wearing a leg band, it is necessary that the information flow forward to the Naturalists concerned. So the bird went into a recyclable shopping bag in the back of the car. At the regatta site, she asked about maybe parking the car in the shade... and was generously offered the use of a corner of the big walk in freezer, where the owl resided (well bundled in plastic bags) for the duration. The barred owls are the ones we hear on the hills almost every night, calling "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you, aaaaaalllll???"
One of our favourite events happens at the beginning of the Regatta -- the Bishop's Cup Canoe Marathon. Four miles of hard paddling. Now, it seems to be a given that James and Grant from Nor'Loch, another of the participating resorts at the Regatta, OWN the Bishop's Cup. These boys have won it five years running, proving their paddling prowess. They're awesom.
Each year Bondi has new entrants. This year, Rob Kallin and Alex Button battled into the medals, coming a close third. Last year, Brian Tapley and Janiece deJong just missed this placing, by a close canoe bow.
It seems dubious that anyone's going to catch the Nor'Loch Lads anytime soon, but next year, we'll be pulling for the Silver!!
The regatta is held at the end of July or the beginning of August, alternating each year between Port Cunnington and Lumina -- the two big resorts best able to host this event. It is a curious sidebar that despite overcast skies, it never rains on the Regatta. We figure that's because the Minister of the Anglican charge at Lake of Bays knows who to talk to about the weather! This is a big fundraiser for the four Lake of Bays churches, and it's a truly fun way to enjoy the summer. One look at the kids' faces proves that!
Highlights include the silent auction and the fabulous Bake Sale table, with endless goodies provided by the local cooks.
It's a grand lake tradition, from the swim races, right through to the de rigeur sinking of the War Canoes at the day's end.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chicks on the Beach

Our free range chickens really, truly Range Freely. Carol found an article that points out that some 90% of items that make the claim to being organic and "green" are bogus. Free range chickens aren't and don't, at least at the commercial chicken farms. It's simply a matter of scale and convenience.

Our rugged, adventurous chickens, on the other hand, boldly go where no chicks have gone before. This one found her way to the beach, giving some competition to the ducks and other wading birds, and eyeing up the canoes.

Next, we expect to see her wearing a little chicken PFD (Poultry Flotation Device) and pushing out to sea on a kayak.

The kids at Bondi always have a great time gathering fresh eggs. If we find a nest under the canoe, we'll know just which chicken we have to thank!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ski Trails at Bondi

Well, it sure isn't skiing weather (unless you have water skiis) but despite the heat and summer activity we still continue to work on getting our ski and hiking trails ready for the comming winter.
Hydro One brushed out their lines in this area this spring/summer and left a lot of trees laying on parts of our trails so we are busy cutting these up and clearing out the best routes for the fall.

We installed a large culvert over the creek near the Oxtongue Craft Cabin so skiiers don't have to risk life and limb to cross here anymore.

The beavers have been kind this summer so far and have not flooded any trails or fallen trees over them.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Well, last night, on the beach, with the wind at his back and the advantage of being over 6' tall, David achieved a LIFETIME BEST.
How, you ask?
He spat a popcorn seed 41'3".

Now, we've been spitting seeds at the Wiener Roast since we started holding wiener roasts on the beach... say 50 years ago, give or take.
We've been keeping records on them for nearly 30 years. If you were here, and hoiked a seed, we've got it written down.

Our seed records have been yanked out for the weirdest things. Probably the top of the hit parade was the Seed Spitting Certificate (say that 3 times fast) that went as evidence to the Supreme Court of Canada. Duly notarized, and signed by Nancy as authentic. The prosecution claimed the defendant was in Toronto at a certain time. The Seed Certificate was incontrovertible evidence that he was, in fact, on the beach, full of hot dogs and s'mores, spitting a seed. You rarely see THAT on CSI.

Over the years, the ammunition has changed. It began with Watermelon seeds. In the past several years, however, Genetic Engineering hit the beach. Seeds have been bred out of watermelons. Which will do nothing for their sex lives. We tried sunflower seeds. They are not very aerodynamic. Cherry pits will fly, but are too costly.
Finally, we hit on Popcorn kernels. And let me tell you, those things have wings!

Mind you, the Guinness Book of Records says their best ever spit is 68'9". With that kind of distance achievable, we strongly believe this should be included as a Demonstration Sport at the next Olympics. A pro-tour could be formed... A league of Super Spitters.

But if stays less competitive, we don't care. We've got spitters-in-training of all ages, from the teensy little guys who still need a steadying hand from Dad to keep them upright at the line, to great grandparents who want assurance that if their teeth fly farther than the seed, we'll count that. (we do)

Guests return every year, and they KNOW how far they spat last year. It's one of the great summer traditions.

And the only place we know where you can high five a kid and say, from the bottom of your heart, "WELL SPAT!"

Monday, July 14, 2008

Silent Waters


When you hear phrase Poker Run, the image that goes with it is probably big cigar-boats, or snowmobiles – Poker seems to run on gasoline. But not always.
The Lake of Bays Association has a poker run that is designed to just glide by silently. Their Silent Boat Rally takes place every summer, and is limited to vessels that make no noise. That’s canoes. Kayaks. Paddle Boats. Sailboats. Row boats. Electric.
Not that canoes are always silent – this year there was a stiff breeze blowing, and the sound of grunting and heavy breathing could be heard. Likewise, occasionally you hear some loud noises coming from sailboats when the wind gusts and the sail luffs. It’s not the boat, you understand, but it’s loud all the same.

For the second year in a row we’ve hosted this event at Bondi Village Resort. We set them up on the beach by Brian’s hangar. This gives plenty of room to park cars, pull the boats up on shore. Let the kids run. Enjoy the bbq. And the headland blocks most of the wind that streams onshore from the island, keeping the flies away.

It’s a great day. For a $20 registration fee, participants come away with a gift bag from the sponsors, prizes for the poker hands, mystery gifts for the kids and a great lunch. All this, plus an hour or so on the lake. It doesn’t get any better.
Every year Graeme comes with his elegant Heather Belle. She was built in 1902, and has been retrofitted to an electric motor. This is the way lake travel should be, as she glides past noiseless and beautiful. People crowd down to the dock just to watch her come in to berth.

Mark came last year with a Dispro, a disappearing propeller boat. These were famous in Muskoka, designed for lakes that were cluttered up by the logging industry. Logs would escape from the booms, and drift about the lake, just below the surface, causing havoc to propellers.

The Dispro was designed for just such a contingency. Shaped like a classy rowboat, she has the engine located in the centre of the boat, and a special housing into which the prop can retract if it hits anything. This allowed the dippy to cruise in log-infested waters as well as through shallow reaches.

We have one – Brian has almost finished refinishing the original Bondi Dippy. Ours is the only one the Dispro association knows about that has a bullet hole in it. Since the top speed is 6 mph, we doubt it was part of a drive-by shooting. Perhaps someone with really bad aim, trying for a duck dinner? The mystery continues.

This year Mark came with a birchbark canoe. It was the envy of everyone there, despite the collection of cedar strip canoes that also showed up.
For those who don’t have, or don’t want to transport their own canoes, Algonquin Outfitters provides canoes on the beach, ready to go. They aren’t as elegant as the birchbark model, but all things considered, they are wonderful watercraft.

A demonstration from an electric catamaran rounded out the day

We provided a disc-golf target for the kids – and adults – and between whizzing Frisbees, kids playing in the lake, and an almost silent flotilla of ducks paddling past, you really couldn’t have asked for a better day out.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Green Eggs and Ham

Green eggs And ham.

You'd think by now we'd have learned not to let the engineers congregate on the lawn. Last year, it was the atomic balloon, a potent mix of oxyacetylene and oxygen, with a source of ignition and the ability to shatter glass.

This summer, it's the solar cooker.

As Rob says, he can always count on Brian to have a great new summer toy. Brian came home with this, well, this thing. It unfolds and assembles into a lightweight saucer, reminiscent of those used by SETI for searching the> universe for radio signals, only smaller. Easy to carry. Set up on the lawn, the little gadget focuses the sun's rays to an element, which is in truth nothing more than a metal ring where you can set a pot. Or a frying pan. Sun comes out from behind a cloud, and voila, Le Chef de BBQ is in business. And how.

There was nothing for it, but to set it up and give it a whirl. Luckily for us, it was slightly cloudy, and every time the sun ducked behind a cloud we had time to regroup and put out the fires. According to the directions, this will boil a litre of water in one minute.

Scoffingly, Rob Williams set a folded newspaper on the element. Which caught fire, blazing, in well less time than that. As an aside, we discovered that if you stomp on a fire wearing crocs, they melt. (the crocs, not the fire) leaving Rob hot-footing about on the lawn. Ah, fashion. Footwear that is not only ugly, but useless for fighting forest fires. Smokey the Bear take note. Back to the cooker. It took a bit of adjusting to get the focus just right. Some fiddling to angle it just so into the sunbeams. Hands were extended - and rapidly withdrawn. Dave, not content with newspaper, held a stick of cedar kindling over the element. In less time than it's taking you to read this, he had a blazing torch. He began to eye the chickens, with malicious intent. Brian, ever practical, produced a frying pan, some butter, and eggs from the same chickens that were pecking about the base of the cooker.

Things improved markedly with Carol's arrival - out came green onions fresh from the garden, and some ham, and in no time flat, dinner was served.

The engineers figure that this simple device produces 1500 watts of power. Green power. Free, renewable, zero emissions. They are used extensively in China, Mongolia, remote areas where they are so far off the grid they don't know what the 'grid' is. With no emissions except the tasty smell of cooking food, no demands on hydro, coal, propane or oil, this little gadget gives new meaning to the phrase Green Eggs.

It seems impervious to breezes blowing across it, and we can hardly wait to get it to the beach for the next Wiener Roast, where it can join the Potato Cannon as a conversation piece. And, come the next hydro failure up here - which happens whenever we get a storm - we'll be able to make coffee for the masses. Not to mention omelettes.

Now, if we can just figure out how to get it to run Nancy's car...