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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

GOLD DARA GOLD -- wasn't that a Party!

 There are 38 million people in Canada.

220 of them qualified for the Canadian Winter Olympic Team in Sochi, and every single one of those 220 athletes did our country proud.  In sports that are decided in thousandths of a second, the margins are so small, the athletes are so superb, it takes your breath away.

One of these athletes -- 19 year old Dara Howell -- is from Huntsville. She grew up at Pow Wow Point Lodge, one of our Resorts of North Muskoka members, located on Peninsula Lake. She learned to ski at Hidden Valley Highlands.  And she discovered a passion for Slopestyle.

Gold at the Olympics is among the very hardest awards to win.  Dara, in this, the first time her sport of Slopestyle was included at the Games, won it in style.  She introduced us to a whole new language:  a 'disaster' - which is a trick done over a kinked rail (at least for Dara... for the rest of us, it may have other definitions); a Cork, which is a backwards thrown off axis spin with the feet never over the head; a Misty, which is an off axis flip thrown forward with a spin. The most 'common' (if you can call it that) is a Misty 5, or 540 degrees.   Just an aside, Dara put down a Misty 9. Yes, NINE.  It had to that point never been done, by anyone. That's how you win Gold.  Oh, yes, and Stomped -- which is what they say when you put it down on the hill, really truly put it all down and make it look easy.  Dara Stomped the hill at Sochi.

So when she came home, Huntsville threw her a party. A big one.  It was great.  After some ceremonies at the Town Hall, including Audi showing up to present her with a brand new car (that's the sort of thing they do for gold medal winners.  They don't, we point out again, have to do it very often...)  Dara rode into Rivermill Park with a police and RCMP escort, on top of a fire truck.  To say the kids in the crowd loved it would be a huge understatement. 

Rivermill was packed. Totally packed. And although it was evening, and in the midst of one of our coldest winters, at Dara's Welcome Home it was not cold, but GOLD!

Joanne Cunnington and sister June had whipped up 1500 special cupcakes for the occasion -- which lured Jacquie in!

All the stores sported posters for Dara -- some printed, some handmade, all brimming with pride and enthusiasm and welcome.

There were speeches, of course...    MP The Rt. Hon. Tony Clement was there. So was MPP Norman Miller. Mayor Claude Doughty, the host of the occasion.  Parachuting in on video link was Kathleen Wynne.  And the mother of Sarah Burke... and that put a tear in the eye, I must say.

And then there was young Kyle Mattice, ten years old, and a slopestyle skier. He's competing on Sunday at the Ontario Games. We bet Dara will be on hand to cheer for him.  Because of Dara, Kyle "retired" from ski racing when he was seven because all he really wanted to do was jump and ride rails, like his inspiration, Dara.  He spoke really well -- it's wonderful to see such poise and hear such excitement from the kids, it really is.  And, at the end of the day, Kyle and the other kids in that crowd, they are what this is all about. 

There were thousands of people jammed in that Park, in the cold, cheering.  Hundreds of the kids lined up to get Dara's autograph on a postcard.

We caught up very briefly with Dara's parents, Doug and Dee. I don't know how long it is going take them to come back to Earth after this wild ride.

The Town even decorated the garbage cans for the occasion...

This crowd, this included those who got up at 1 a.m. to watch the Qualifying rounds... who got up at 4 a.m. to watch the Final Runs... who never went to bed but gathered at Hidden Valley to jump up and down and cheer themselves hoarse.

The crowd was decked to the gills in red and white. They cheered, they sang our anthem. They joined in to sing Dara's own song, Go Dara Go...  They had signs, and flags, and Olympic mittens...

And a shout out to the kids in The Song Project from the High School, who took to the stage and put on a performance as polished and professional as anything we've seen. These gals were outstanding!

Fireworks were set off early enough in the evening that the littlest ones could enjoy them and then get home to bed before the band took to the stage.  The ducks that snooze peacefully on the river under the Bridge got a bit of excitement...

After the fireworks, while Dara signed endless autographs, the crowd geared up to rock out the night with Down With Webster.  Now, they are fun, and had the young crowd up and cheering.  I must confess I am getting old enough that music so loud I can feel it in my bones is no longer my 'cup of tea'... but I must also confess that by crossing the river, we could listen very comfortably, watch the light show, and hear the crowd screaming in approval, so it was a good choice for the demographic!!! (as they say!)

This is all heady stuff for a nineteen year old -- and it is an experience she will never forget.  Throughout, she was gracious, friendly, open and fabulous with the kids.  Her enthusiasm and energy is contagious.

She has done something in her young life that few people will ever even have the chance to do...  Olympic Gold.  That medal around her neck is heavy, both literally and figuratively, and it has forever changed her life. 

Dara was presented with the Key to Huntsville.  The street leading into Rivermill Park was re-named Dara Howell Way.

Oh, and did we mention? Audi rolled into town, to present her with a brand new car...  they do that for gold medallists, and they don't have to do it very often.

There are always naysayers, those  who will say that money spent on a big party for one person could be better spent elsewhere. Fixing potholes. Donated to a charity. Used to set up a fund for kids in sports.  Money can always be put to better uses -- or perhaps that should read 'to other uses.' 

This money was spent to say thanks to Dara for representing Huntsville and Canada so brilliantly to the World; to Celebrate Great, (which we should take every opportunity to do. Great is rare enough it calls for celebration) ; to remind those of us who are old enough to have almost forgotten and to inspire those of us young enough to grab that dream that if you truly commit to a dream, with all the hard work, sacrifice, tears and trouble that comes with that, if you hold the course, and are brave, bold, and willing to risk, willing to push limits, driven to go farther, faster, higher... It can come true.  From a modest beginning at Hidden Valley Highlands to the breath-takingly huge course at Rosa Khotur in Sochi, it can come true.

And that is worth every penny.

If you've been off on another planet and didn't see the run, you can watch it here.  Keep in mind that that final jump is approximately 45 feet high, and to get to a safe landing zone you have to travel over 75 feet....

Thanks Dara. You have done us proud... You are amazing, and we can't wait to see what you do next.

Twenty Five

 25 is a big year.   Happy birthday to our David, Feb. 27th.  A quarter of a century of pure awesome (at least, we think so)

Here are some pics from his party...
Yes, he is taller than his mom. By lots...

Megan, his fiance, helps check out the balloons...

Brian carries in the cake.  He was the only one qualified to handle such an incendiary device...

 That's quite the blaze, David!

The cake was delicious!  Made by Erika's, in Dwight, so no big surprise that it was tasty!

Among the presents was an Armagillo. Now, for those who don't immediately recognize that, it is a style of headgear that protects those participating in Paint Ball wars...   A series of layered mesh strips spill down the back of the head and neck...  It looks pretty cool... so everyone had to try it on.

Starting with the 'birthday boy', who did his best to rock the look...

I think I look rather 'fetching' (although heaven knows what it is I would be fetching...)

Mike, before he 'flipped' it back over his head, found it quite good camoflage...

But without a shadow of doubt, it was Megan who really 'worked it'...  Of course.

Mike, however, proved he was the only one who knew how to make balloon animals...

All in all, a good fun evening, with a fabulous lamb dinner and all the trimmings, whipped up by Carol, chef extraordinaire.

Happy Birthday David! This is going to be quite the year for you!

Salty. Tasty.

 We are used to seeing deer in the yard, coming in to scarf apples from the tree, or rummage up any left over birdseed under the feeders.

Yesterday, this little chap appeared in the parking lot. We thought perhaps he was checking parking meters... or the straightness and accuracy of the parking jobs, but no...

Turns out he was more interested in licking the salt off the car...  Luckily, the tongue didn't stick to the frigid metal -- don't try this at home...

He did pose every so prettily for the camera though!

To the North Pole!

Just for a moment there, when Squeegee came out of the stable and saw the ladies all kitted out in winter gear and snowshoes, he thought he was going to be heading off for the North Pole as part of an expedition...


The Seniors for Nature Club always come up with brilliant centrepieces and dinner themes, and this year was no exception.   On Tuesday night, Larry gave a tour de force rendition of The Cremation of Sam Magee...
Wednesday was Hawaiian night, and out came these delightful centrepieces!  Not to mention the colourful shirts and leis and grass skirts.  Such fun! 
Thursday, in honour of the Year of the Horse, they got in touch with their inner Pretty Ponies.   Days spent out of doors skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, admiring the deer are topped off by these charming social evenings.  They do it up right, this Club.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

White? Not so Much

For those who think that winter consists mainly of white, think again.

Tonight's sunset painted our bay and sky with pinks, lavenders, blues and greens so deep they looked black.


Carnival in a Blizzard

 The Dwight Winter Carnival didn't fare well in the Weather Sweepstakes this year, with high winds and blowing snow causing a lot of problems for the organizers.  The weather forced cancellation of the helicopter rides, for one. Reasonably so, because it does help being able to see through the rotor wash to where you need to land...

All the same, the people that attended were having a super time.

Congratulations, much deserved, to Lois McCutcheon, the winner of the Bob Palmer Award for community service.  It was an excellent choice. Lois, we salute you!

There was no shortage of food! From the bountiful Lions' Club Pancake Breakfast, through the Pie Contest, to the Lunch Booth manned by the kids embarking on the Me to We trip to Ghana next month -- and not to overlook the cotton candy -- nobody went hungry. Then the evening brought the big Dinner and Dance... although we are not so sure there is enough dancing possible to burn off the calories consumed at the average Carnival.

In the Community Centre, there were a couple of just superb entertainers for the younger set.  A magician in the morning held the kids absolutely spellbound. It was just lovely to see how engaged and actively the kids were participating with him.  In the afternoon, the show turned from magic to science -- and again, the kids were just locked in!

Outside, dog sleds were doing a brisk business taking kids and adults alike for sled rides.

 And a threesome of patient ponies were also happy to provide rides for the little ones.

For everyone else, a gorgeous team of Belgians took sleigh rides along Dwight Beach Road.

Once you got down to the Beach, the Snowmobile Club was set up for Speed Trials. These were, sadly, hampered by the blowing snow that was tricking the radar gun, so it was (you should pardon the pun) heavy sledding to get the runs done.

Station 40 Volunteer Firefighters' Station was on hand -- enjoying some coffee, and flaunting the latest fashion statement for our superb volunteer firefighters.  (Love you both, Ben and Clint!)

 How difficult was the blowing snow on the lake?  Well, this sled is the first of a line of about six. The other five aren't far behind him... headlights on... invisible.

 The time trial run is marked out and professionally timed by Eichler Racing, and there were a lot of sleds milling about to give it a go. This one clocked at 73 mph.   That speed will pin your ears back...

Between the unco-operative weather and the Olympic hockey, attendance was down from last year, but spirits were undaunted.

Much thanks to all those who worked to make the Carnival happen!

Welcoming Dara Home

This is just a tiny part of the Olympic display at Dara Howell's home, at Pow Wow Point Lodge on Peninsula Lake.

I stopped in to congratulate her Mom and Dad, Dee and Doug -- who are still pretty much equal parts exhausted and exhilarated by their Olympic adventure.  What a ride!

The Town of Huntsville is gearing up to Welcome home Dara this Friday, Feb. 28. 5 p.m. in Rivermill Park.

Now, they haven't unveiled all their secrets yet, but we know this is going to be BIG!!!  And so it should be... How often do we get to celebrate one of our own bringing home a Gold medal?   So, if you are going to be in the area, jot this one into your daybook, and don't miss this welcome!


Tiny Treasures

Get your kids outside.  They find a world full of wonder!

Eloise was thrilled with her treasure -- a finch nest woven from dried grass that blew out of a tree with the winter wind and landed on the deck of her cottage.

We marvelled at how this was knitted together, and how it gave sanctuary to a tiny bird family during the spring and summer, when it was completely hidden by the leaves.

Dang, That's DEEP

 Dang... that snow is DEEP! 

You can see why the deer prefer not to slog through it. 

Given the chance, they will jaunt along our packed ski/snowshoe trails -- and who could blame them? Everyone loves those!

Or hunker down in the forest where the hemlock are thick enough to hold the snow off the ground below.

Or criss cross the windswept lake to browse along the shorelines.

Or... and this is the big one... use the roads. And no, they do NOT look both ways. The other evening, I almost had Bambi on a Bumper.

 These pictures let you see just how much a struggle it is for the deer to get around. Think of the energy that consumes.  Think of a pregnant doe floundering through that...  This time of year, more than ever, we need to be careful not to be harrassing them, even unintentionally. Dogs shouldn't chase them. Snowmobiles, same thing...  
Cameras are the way to go.