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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beauty in Small Things

 We have not yet had a frost this year.  Which means we've still got some really special colour in the gardens.

This passion flower, for example -- it is currently in glorious bloom.

The raspberries are ripe, being picked daily.

Some of the gladiolas are still in blossom.

Sunflowers come into their own at this time of year. They are being harvested by our birds and chipmunks, but are still beautiful, along with some late hollyhocks.

The bees are sluggish when it is cool in the mornings -- you can pet them gently while they sit on the flowers. Or let them sit in your hand until they warm up enough to fly.  And no, they don't want to sting you.

Traffic Jam

Early morning traffic jam on the Fox Point Road.  Sometimes the traffic is just terrible...

The wild turkeys are BIG now! Long gone are the cute little poults dashing about in the underbrush!  They are not the most graceful of fliers, mind you, although they can and do take to the air if frightened, or to get to their night roosts.
They're not good at looking both ways, either, so... slow down out there!  A few years back, I was on my way to a meeting, dressed in a power suit and high heels. For those who know me, this is rare -- I am more at home in jeans and running shoes.  As I pulled onto Hwy. 35 near Marsh's Falls, there was a big turkey hen in the middle of the road. These birds are usually shy, and will bolt if you slow down, open a car window, get out a camera, so for this hen to just sit there as I drove by was unusual. Pulling the car over, thinking I might be able to get a photo, I realized she must be injured because she didn't move. Out of the car... walk over to the turkey... and, yes, lean down and pick her up.  The plan was to see how badly hurt she was and if I could help her. That went swiftly sideways. These birds have long necks, attached to deadly sharp beaks. To protect my face I had to grab her neck to keep her beak away from my eyes. Which left me standing in the middle of the road, holding the turkey with one hand, holding the neck with the other hand, in my high heels.  I had no free hand to check for injury, although there was a small spot of blood on the roadway.  I had no free hand to reach my cell phone.
At which point a police cruiser came by.  I thought they would pull over, at the very least to see what was going on, that they would lend a hand (or two) to the exercise, but no... they did slow down. They did take a close look at this demented woman, dressed for success and holding a wild turkey.  They kept driving.
"So much," I said to a friend later, "for their slogan painted on the car, To Serve and Protect."  
"Ah" she replied,  "but how could they Serve? They had no cranberry sauce."
The turkey survived, by the way. I was able to carry her away from the road to a safe place, and had moved on when I returned to check on her.

Oh, Deer!

There are lots of opportunities to see our local deer right now.  With the kids back in school, it is quieter at the lake, so the deer have returned.  This fawn was quite helpful in unpacking the car for our guests here with the Old Salts Canoe Club.
The crabapple tree is a popular destination for the deer just now, as the apples fall to the ground to be quickly snapped up. 

Anyone for a friendly game of Volleyball? We're not sure how well the deer would "spike" the ball...

Sometimes the best thing of all is to have a nap in the middle of the afternoon. This little one was just outside Wheelhouse cottage.

The bucks are still in velvet, but that won't last much longer. This little spike-horn is probably a yearling.  That's one of this year's crop of spotted fawns right behind him.  For anyone who has any patience at all, they are more than willing to pose for the camera!

This was taken just outside Lantern cottage, where the trees are changing into fall colours and the deer are changing into their darker winter coats.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wet Feet and Big Smiles


I had promised all day to take Taffy hiking. Just a short one, I said, up through the fields, that's all...

I did not speak truly.  We got up into the back fields just before dinner, with the sun gilding the eastern hills as it began to set. We found some deer bones.  And then some feathers that were suspiciously large and did not belong to a raven, a turkey or a goose.  There were some fragile bones with them -- and plenty of wolf scat in the field as well, so somebody had somebody for dinner.  A crow perhaps? Hard to catch, crows...  We heard the pileated woodpecker in the bog, so we wound down there.    I thought we might find some wild turkey feathers for one of the guests at the Resort who has his hat decked out with his collection.

Instead, we found a plethora of pitcher plants. These are remarkable creatures, typical of bogs.  Making a living in a spruce bog is not easy if you are a plant. There is very little available nitrogen or available chemicals called nitrates made by soil bacteria. There really isn't any soil. The plants float on a mat of plant material that gradually fills in the edges of the bog itself. With no flowing water to bring oxygen or nutrients, growth can be slow and hard.  Desperate times, however, call for desperate measures.  Pitcher plants don't just wait around -- they have developed to actively pursue their meals.  These elegant "pitchers" fill with rainwater, to which a dollop of digestive juices and just a hint of nectar is added to entice an insect to come on down. Once in the plant, the insects find they cannot climb back out the slippery walls, which are lined with tiny spines all pointing down. Exhausted, the insects will drown in the water. The plant then utilizes this 'bug soup' to create the Pitcher-plant proteins.  There is only one insect who has figured out a way to beat this very effective system, and that is a certain type of mosquito -- one, you will be pleased to hear, which does not bite humans.  This mossie lays her eggs in the quiet, nutrient rich haven of water in the pitcher.  These plants are fairly rare, so I was thrilled to find so many of them thriving along the edge of our bog.

The bog is lovely at any time of year, but never more so than now as the colours come. There will be a lot of dark greens from the black spruce, but also golds from the tamaracks, and reds and oranges in the shore vegetation, and plenty of grays in the hanging lichens.

 The maples are adding their own glorious reds into the mix, and the brackens -- which are well over a metre tall are putting on golden brown hues right now.

Taffy gets giddy with the scents of autumn. She considers this her very own personal bog, resplendent with the wonderful aromas that only a dog can detect.  She returns from her forays out of sight with wet paws and a big smile. As do I.   Labrador tea, blueberry bushes, moss by the trainload, mushrooms, ferns, wildflowers all join the mix of rabbit and deer trails, wolf scent, ducks, wild turkeys, spruce grouse, squirrels and chipmunks that simply make Taffy's day terrific

And the woodpecker that drew our footsteps there in the first place? Yes, it did show up, landing about twenty feet away on a dead tree.  I wasn't fast enough to get a picture, but I've borrowed one from stock images for those of you unfamiliar with this huge woodpecker.  The bird shadowed us as we left the bog to come home, rustling in the treetops and calling persistently, but maddenly uncatchable by camera.

Dinner is Served

 Autumn harvest isn't limited to our organic garden.

The oak trees are heavy with acorns this year. The one overhanging the chicken coop is a tad hazardous -- the acorns land on the metal roof sounding like distant gunfire, then bounce off to land among the chickens. Some of whom have respectfully requested hard hats.

The deer, squirrels, chipmunks and -- out in the woods (we have not seen any on the resort property so far) bears -- make the most out of this bounty.    As with the beech trees, it can be a challenge to find a fallen nut that has not already been pried open and nibbled.  The base of the beech and oaks are all roughed up by the deer digging for the nuts amongst the leaves.

Bears don't just wait for the fruits to fall. They will climb up into the trees to strip the tasty treats right from the branches.   Most of our larger beech trees bear the marks of bear claws.   In some of the smaller trees, like this wild apple tree on the Frisbee Golf course, the bears are too large to successfully climb to the top. Instead, the bear will snuggle into a nice secure position from which he will pull the branches in until the fruit can be reached and eaten.  This tends to snap off the limbs -- as you can see in this photo.  If the bears pull in enough branches, all laid one over the other, they can actually form a platform, or a 'bear nest' on which they can safely sit to reach branches that would otherwise be too high.   I remember seeing one of these thick 'bear nests' years ago way up in a huge beech tree near a hiking trail. The branches still had leaves on, which made the nest look very thick.  What made it extra special was the black paw dangling down from one side.  The bear was having a little nap up there, swaying gently in the breeze, stuffed to the ears with beech nuts.

Mind if we play through?

You never know who you'll meet on our Frisbee Golf (Disc Golf) course.  We have four targets on the main resort lawn, for putting practice.  Across the road we have a 12 'hole' course.  Last week, it was over-run with wild turkeys.

This week, it seems the deer are honing up their skills...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pie are Not Square

It starts, every autum, with harvesting the green apples from the ancient tree near Wheelhouse. The tree was there when Grandmother Elizabeth Tapley settled here in 1905.  The trunk is almost totally decayed, the limbs are supported with props, but it still determinedly produces fruit every year.  Wonderful apples they are, too -- huge, green, wonky in shape and tart in flavour.
Ideal for pies.

The BMD (Bondi Maintenance Dept.), a.k.a. Dave and Mike, showed us that they are not just pretty maintenance geeks. They can cook, too!   Here they are whipping up an apple pie.

And a wonderful pie it was, too! Served with a slice of cheddar cheese and a dollop of ice cream... it was a little bit of historic Bondi heaven.

Autumn, Fall colours and Turkey Time

The fall colours are starting to show, and as always, there are those trees that just take your breath away.

It's not just the trees that are producing 'stop in your tracks' moments -- one of our guests, Sylvain, caught this picture of a Belted Kingfisher sitting in the corner of our bay.
 The flock of wild turkeys have decided it has quieted down enough that they can come out to play on the lawns here.  Not to mention helping themselves to the chicken feed. Getting 15 wild turkeys OUT of the chicken pen so that the chickens could come back IN for the evening, that was entertaining.
Fall is one of the very best seasons. For hikers, canoeists and photographers/artists, you just cannot beat the colours on display, the cool mornings and sunny afternoons, the mist rising from the hills after a rain (and yes, Syl, it is because the Hills are Hot. Well, warmer than the rain anyway. The trees and soil soak up the sun by day, and gradually cool overnight. A dash of cool rain will cause the same fog response that makes the lake so wonderful on an early morning this time of year.  Colours should be coming to their peak by late September and Thanksgiving. 
If you haven't booked a cottage in North Muskoka yet for that time frame, you should be getting on it.  You could also qualify for the Explorers' Edge Fuel and Fun vouchers, $50 for gas, and $50 for attractions (including some restaurants.) Pick up the phone...
We still have space left in the big 6 bedroom LODGE, ideal for a group of from 10 to 18 people for the three night Thanksgiving weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The End of An Era for an Iconic Tree at Lumina

For pretty much ever, the huge white pine has reigned over the waterfront at next door Lumina Resort.

Swimming back from the Island, it is one of  our 'target markers'.  Anyone out on the water on Lake of Bays knows this tree.

Sadly, this summer was its last.  The pine succumbed, we're not sure just why.

Pavey Tree came in to safely remove the tree.  It's not a job you'd want to tackle on your own. We could tell you stories...

Thank you to Phil Pavey for providing us with these pictures of his crew at work.

  Looking at the size of the men gives a poignant scale to the size of the tree.

We know that many Lake of Bays residents read our Blog, and that just as many will be familiar with Lumina, one of the iconic resorts of the region, and our closest neighbour.  This year the resort celebrated its 91st season.

That tree was there for all of them. It was there before that, in the years when Lumina was vacant, and the Bondi cows made free of the barns...

It was there long before that as well.  It made it through two World Wars, the invention of the airplane, moon landings and medical miracles.  Through winters and summers and generations of families with roots to this Lake almost as deep as those of the pine.

It leaves a gap, in every sense.

Loon Looking

The loon was in the bay all day, with her baby.  While the young one dove and fished, Mom cruised along the surface, head down, watching the underwater action.

We went out in the paddleboat -- taking pictures from there is a tad challenging. Waves moving us up and down, legs pushing pedals, wind pushing boat, loons bobbing on water...     In this second picture, the baby is in the shot, to the right of Mom.

We were treated to a short serenade as well as the joy of just watching this amazing birds.

And to a lovely display as well.

The adults will be heading south in the next month or so. The juveniles will stay with us on the lake until late in November, or even early December. It is one of Nature's miracles that the young loons know where to go when they migrate.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Beauty in the Bog

This is a pitcher plant, in bloom.  Now, we've got some of these growing in our own Black Spruce Bog here on Bondi's property, but I have never seen one blooming like this, and I confess it stopped me in my tracks.

We found this one near the boardwalk on the Spruce Bog trail in Algonquin Park this week.  There used to be more of them along the trail, but the idiots picked them. Just don't do that, folks.  They have enough trouble surviving out there without people idly plucking them out of the ground.

Bogs are tough places to make a living.  They are acidic, and pretty much barren -- a Green Desert. Little water moves through bogs -- so there is little oxygen available, and minimal new nutrients to fuel the plants growing there.  The pitcher plant has found a way around that problem by developing to be a carnivore.  The long slender pitchers at the base of the plant trap water, which in turn attracts insects. The bugs crawl happily down the sloping leaves to get a drink, often lured by nectar, only to discover that they cannot crawl back out -- thousands of tiny spines line the slippery leaves, all pointing down.  Trapped, the bugs eventually drown, and become a Bug Soup for the plant. It's a clever adaptation.  But then, in bogs, you find lots of clever adaptations.

Sunday Creek flows through the middle of this bog trail. The fragile sedges that wave in the breeze at the creek's edge are actually the critical drivers of bog development. Like Hamlet's Mother, they initiate the action, colonizing the water's edge and creating an environment that allows other plants to move in. As bits of the sedge break off with water action, they sink, and become peat. When the layers of peat build up enough, trees can begin to colonize the floating mats of sedge and Bob's your Uncle, you're a bog.  Thanks to the water flow in the creek, the sedge cannot join up in the centre to block the creek.  This is good news for the beavers who live here. They, too, contribute to bog development. As their dams back up water, the bog retreats. When the beavers move on and the ponds dry up, the sedges can move back into the water flow.  Water lilies find the creek a good place - the flow of water ensures that there is a good supply of both oxygen and nutrients floating by.
The Spruce Bog Boardwalk is one of our favourite trails. It is only 1.5 km. long, and it is wheelchair accessible.  That was important to us this week, since Sue has to use a walker, so many of the trails are simply too difficult for navigation.  Syl was up there today, with his motorized chair - this is one of his favourite "must do" trails every time he visits.
This is a closer look at the flower on the pitcher plant. These are the provincial flowers for Newfoundland, by the by.  They can be a deep burgundy colour, depending on the species of plant.  Caught in a beam of sunlight, this one seemed to be spotlighted just for our enjoyment. 
The fall colours are starting to hint at the glory to come. It was a perfect day to spend in the Park, but then, is it possible to have a bad day in Algonquin? We think not.  We finished the day with a great burger at the Canoe Lake Restaurant.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Golf Versus the Weather

We had a large golf group here this weekend.  Their first day was spectacular -- the ferry from Bigwin Golf Club picked the up right at the dock at Bondi Village, and the weather was wonderful. This is a fantastic golf course, a real jewel with beautiful vistas on every fairway.  The dining rooms have recently been refurbished, and held true to the historic roots of the Clubhouse.  If you are not a member, you can only get on the course during September and October in the Fall, May and June in Spring.

The next day the men were picked up by a bus -- from Campbell's Bus Lines -- right at the door, and whisked off to another course. Sadly Saturday's weather was not very clement and even golf umbrellas couldn't get ahead of it, but they made the best of the day, and were off again early next morning in the returned sunshine for one last game before Monday.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Taffy Tubes

Labour Day isn't the end of the fun up here.

Taffy discovered her new favourite thing -- tubing!

You will note that she is wearing an approved and tested PFD (poodle flotation device)

You will also note the sheer joy of having your ears streaming in the wind.
You don't see the loon we sailed past -- but I can assure you that it gave us a very curious look...

Fall Foliage, Fuel, and Fun

Come on up to our place.  We're partnered with the Explorer's Edge -- which means that if you book now for a stay of two nights or longer between, well, between now and November, you are eligible for a $50 fuel voucher and a $50 activities voucher for area attractions from that self same Explorer's Edge.

What a great deal!  We'll include a pass into Algonquin Park to help you see even more autumn colours. And if we get clear nights, we'll toss in a Dark Skies program too.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Downhill Water Skiing

The BMD were getting in one last hurrah before Labour Day drew to a close -- it was perfect weather, and they could not resist that one last Waterski.

For fun, they used a double length rope. Don't ask why. With the BMD it is often better not to inquire too closely.

Because of the length of the rope, they recommended a fish-eye lens.  And here it is -- the photo I have been waiting for for years and years. Ever since I got my first set of waterskis, and spent the entire summer looking for a Lake With Hills!