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, April 30, 2015

Early Morning, Lake of Bays

Our good friend Jacquie took this photo from her dock this week, early in the morning. Coffee mug in one hand, camera in the other.  

This is the Lake of Bays, in early Spring.   She is looking at Seagull Island, just off Langmaid's, so farther south than our own bay.

Still... it is an amazing photo.  

Still.  That is what it is.

Be still. Let your Soul catch up.

Ice Gone. It's Official...

April 27th, the last of the ice vanished.

Watching it leave is a fascinating process. As it comes close to the end of its time on the lake, the ice turns from white to gray, and then to black.  Someone said to me, 'oh that's when it starts to sink.'   Someone failed basic science. Ice floats.

What gives it that dark colour is the water moving up through the crystals of ice as it starts to pull apart. The crystals lose the integrity of a worthy icefloe, and while they still have some strength in the horizontal plane, they are fragile indeed vertically.

And then, a bit of sun, a bit of wind, a little tiny push from the water below, and just like that... Open Water.

Welcome back


 It is a sure sign of Spring when Felonius Munk, our chipmunk, pops up in the porch.

Shifting Ground, and shifting Focus

Many of our guests will know The Beacon, the marina and convenience store at the corner of Hwy 60 and Hwy 35.  Kelly Webster Hammond, the daughter of Sharon Webster and sister of John Webster (who currently operates the store his parents Sharon and Dave ran for so many years)  was in Kathmandu when the earthquake struck.  She is a fierce young woman and an even fiercer fundraiser.  A few years ago she trekked to the top of Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity.

This year, she was part of the Dream Mountains Trek to Base Camp.  That never happened, but we are so relieved to report that Kelly is now home, and safe, following an incredible and life-changing experience that was certainly not the one they had all signed on for.

Kelly is re-directing her fund-raising efforts to help Nepal.

Here's a phone interview, one day after she finally got back on Canadian soil.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

the splendor of the turkey

Our cousin Robin Tapley snapped this photo of a wild turkey hen.  This is for any of you who have only seen these birds scurrying off through the long grass or brush, who think they are just big and dark brown and boring of colour.

Not so fast! While they are brown of colour, they come with shades, and iridescence and spectacular beauty.  If only you can get close enough to see!   Right now, they are clustering for the breeding season, the toms fanning their big tails and gobbling in the hills of a morning.   

Ice floes. And flows.

 Where the wind can really get its fingers around the ice, the lakes are now pretty well clear. Wave action will break up the ice faster than you'd think.

Here on Bondi Bay, there is still a coating of fragile ice. Free from anything to hold it, it dances with the wind.

The wind whistles, and in reply the Ice shakes out her skirts and dances across the bay, until she collapses out of breath on the shore.  

The ice crystals chime together in an other-worldly music when the ice is on the move. It's quite beautiful (until it pushes over your boathouse -- although this year, the melt has been kind, and the water low enough that there is no flooding on this lake, and there is not much strength left in that ice.

here are, however, a few worrying signs of climate change.... Like this example, right near the end of our dock...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Shhh.... Spring at Work...

I love evenings in April. The Spring Peepers began their annual chorus two nights ago.  The dusk is filled with frog song.

Jupiter is sailing overhead, the brightest object in the velvety dark sky.

There is a barred owl sitting up on the hill, who-who-whooing.

And a woodcock is spiralling up from the horse pasture, with his mating call -- 'peent, peent, peent'. 

Now we have a porcupine perched in the big elm. He'll probably start to sing for his lady love as well.

And have we mentioned our wolf pack?  They have been quiet here this week, but they are singing around the lake, and will soon be back with us.

Just standing in the parking lot, under the dark sky, no lights on, listening to the sound Spring makes... that is balm for the soul, indeed.

Gentle Melt

 Is it gone yet?

Well, no. Not quite.   A few more of these gorgeous sunny spring days, and maybe a good fall of rain will do the trick though, so be of good cheer.

It's been a good melt -- no flooding this year, which is always good news.

These photos were taken today.  Taffy had a good time exploring the lake bottom -- it is not usually that shallow!

Sunset was painting the hills over towards Lumina Resort -- and reflecting that colour into the open water.

The ice has moved well away from the shores, and as you can see has taken on that characteristic dark gray hue that means it is saturated with water, and just about to vanish.

Patterns in the Melt

Drifting on the water's surface, now the ice is letting go its grip on the lake, these leaves made lovely shadow patterns.

I could not resist...

Look Up. Way Up.

 Mr. Porcupine was enjoying some sunshine in the treetops today.   Nestled in the big elm on the way down to the hangar, he certainly had the best seat in the house to watch us working on the lawns and beaches with our rakes!

They are a peaceful creature, really. Although you don't want to mess with them.  With 30,000 plus quills that easily detach from the porcupine and just as easily get stuck into whoever has their nose in Porcupine's business, they come well armoured.   Quills have sharp tips and overlapping barbs that make them very difficult to remove once they are stuck in another animal's skin.  Meanwhile, the porcupine will just grow new quills to replace those they expend, and life goes on.  Not always for their attackers, however, as the barbs will work the quills deeper and deeper, and there have been cases of even cougars dying from a quill that worked its way into a critical internal location.  We are hoping that Taffy will show some sense, and leave this prickly chap alone.
nice smile :)

Porcupines use their large front teeth (our model was happy to show us his) to satisfy a healthy appetite for wood.  They will peel off bark, nibble on stems, and snack on buds.  Fruit and leaves are popular menu items as well.  And they do adore a pumpkin if they can get one.

Since none of that is very high in salt content, they will invade campgrounds and chew on paddle handles or anything that has been handled by human salty hands. (or seats -- it's not uncommon to return to a camp in the spring and find the outhouse seat nibbled away)

If our porcupine would like to come down and chat, we could hand-paint his quills into the 41 different colours that are part of the PanAm 2015 mascot, Patchi.  This number was chosen to represent the 41 different countries competing.  Why they went with a porcupine, who is very happy just hanging around, to be the mascot for a totally physical athletic adventure eludes me, but so it goes...   I suspect our resident porcupine will be watching the games at home with his paws up and a nice snack on his plate. But then, his 30,000 quills would take too long to hand-paint anyway.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

One Swallow Does not Make a Spring, but Two?

April 12th.  Two swallows returned today.  This is early.  We are excited.
We are also now reminded to get the swallow nest boxes out and put back up !

The swallows are never wrong. SPRING IS HERE!

Returning Birds

This is an absolutely magical time of year, with new birds returning every day.
Coming home from our hike yesterday, Taffy alerted me to a bird in the leaf litter not far from the road. 

An American Woodcock!  These are shy birds, hard to spot.  We will hear them on their spiraling mating flights soon, but it is very rare to get a good look at one!   The handsome chap wasn't helpful enough to pose while I got my camera out, and flew farther into the woods, so I had to get some stock photos.

These are quite remarkable birds.  They like to hid in the woods, on the forest floor where they use those long beaks to probe for earthworms.  On spring nights, the males perform very conspicuous displays, rising in the air in a spiral, giving very buzzy 'peent' call, then fluttering down in a steep dive to the ground. 

It is often the only time you'll see (or hear) them, and we look forward to them every Spring. They are quite partial to the open fields here, and often display over our big garden, or the horse pasture.  Go here, and give a little listen to their unique call.


 It's been a long winter.  Golf courses up here are still under snow. And mud.

But the bay... well now that is a different story.

A little caveat:  When it comes to going out onto frozen lakes, always KNOW BEFORE YOU GO.  Dave and Mike had been careful to check the ice cover in our bay. There are still, we are a little sad to report, a good 16" of ice.   And today, radiant with sunshine and t-shirt weather for sure, was just too nice to spend working indoors.  

So...    It was time to grab the oldest golf clubs, and take to the bay for the Bondi Masters.  (no green jackets involved.)

We bring you a small selection of photos of the action.   Fun is where you find it, and if you can Make your Own Cheer you are miles ahead of those who need to be entertained by electronic devices.   The bay is the perfect place to work on that swing.

It is important, we add, to paint the golf balls first.  Finding a white golf ball out there becomes a task in and of itself.

There is a natural water hazard near the main dock, but there were no balls lost to that today.

Some pretty fine form was on display, from Kevin, David and Mike.   And on those swings where the form was, shall we say, patchy, the energy and enthusaiasm more than made up for it.

 Taffy got in on the act -- mostly just wandering about checking out the course, but in this case checking that the  golf tee was correctly sited...

And this final drive from David, one he says will never be repeated on an actual course, saw the ball lift up and sail for over 220 yards -- over top of the red roof of the boathouse!

We are never short of things to do up here!

Talk about a Drum Circle, and Woodpecker's Tongue

 The pileated woodpeckers have been busy.  This big cedar is right at the edge of the road, by the stables.  The work the woodpecker is doing here has been stopping traffic.

Small wonder.  The size of the chips he's hewing out is impressive.

And it would appear that he is expecting high water this spring, and has set about to craft out a dug-out canoe.

We are getting used to the cars that are slowing down for a closer look.

It is not great news for the tree.  Lovely cedar that it is, this indicates that the tree is in big trouble.  Woodpeckers don't pound their way into the bark just on speculation -- they only go in looking for insects and grubs that are living inside the tree. Which indicates that there is internal rot going on.

Which indicates that we are going to at some point lose this tree.  And we'll miss it, for it's beauty and the shade it brings.

Still, the chance to not only hear the pounding of the woodpecker, but to catch glimpses of him as he goes about his work plan, that is something.

Hiking through the trails, there is lots of evidence that the pileated woodpeckers are doing quite well, thank you very much.  Several big snags are in the process of being carved out.

 These holes provide habitat for other animals -- often a saw-whet owl will take up residence. Or a squirrel.

There is a lot of interesting science around the woodpecker.  How can this bird slam its head repeatedly into hard wood and not fall off the tree with a concussion?

They are so well adapted to the task. With beaks that are so hard they rival iron, thick spongy skull bones and a rather small brain that floats in cerebral fluids rather than being encased in fluid, they are well set-up to transfer the shock of striking the tree away from the brain. In fact, woodpecker skulls get studied by the fine folks who build better helmets for you and I.

The woodpecker has a secret weapon, however. They possess very long tongues -- a necessary tool, since when you start knocking on the door, the insects in the wood don't come to open it up. Rather, they hightail it deeper into the tree, and the woodpecker has to fish them out with his long, sticky tongue. And it is Long. Some woodpeckers have tongues that are three times as long as their beaks. They are sticky, with a barb on the end much like a fish hook, to help out. That tongue, however, is too long to fit comfortably in the narrow neck of a woodpecker. What to do?

The birds solve the problem very neatly -- while adding an extra layer of shock absorption to their head banging activities. 
The  tongue actually wraps over the top of the bird's skull, fastening into the eye socket. Which means that if a woodpecker has something on his mind, it is probably his tongue...

 And we want to thank our cousin Robin Tapley, of Tapley Nature Trails, for the photo capture of one of the architects of this forest construction.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

FIVE DAYS LEFT to take advantage of the Fuel and Fun package from Explorers' Edge 

Book a minimum 2-night stay with us before April 16, 2015 for a stay anytime between April 17 and June 30, 2015 and you can register to get 1 of 500 Fuel & Fun Packages - $50 gas card and $50 in cash vouchers to spend at participating attractions, restaurants and shops.

 So simple... April is the best time of year to see Moose in Algonquin.

 May and June see the local golf courses opening -- including the chance to Golf legendary Bigwin Island (only open to the public in late May and June). 

In late May, the S.S. Bigwin will take to the lake again -- a fantastic sailing experience on our clear waters.  

There is so much do do, and see here in the Spring!   Call us now, book your stay, and get in on this great promotion!

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Monday, April 6, 2015

They're back!

There is no question, the Canada goose is a truly magnificent and beautiful bird.

While they can and do cause problems when they congregate on beaches and public parks, it is not their fault, and yes, we do our best to discourage them from hanging out on our lawns, but we still appreciate their beauty.

They have returned to Lake of Bays. These  were resting at the mouth of the Boyne River, one of the few areas where the lake is open, and the river is flowing.  Most of the lake is still well frozen, and less than goose friendly.

They herald the change in the season, and bring with them a promise that the lake will soon be free from ice, so let us be grateful for that!

Signs of Spring. Awake.

The raccoons are awake, and coming out of hibernation.  They leave tracks along the shoreline every night.

And -- because they are hungry -- they will raid the bird feeders at night if you are idle enough to leave them out.   Taffy reminded me of this fact tonight. I bring the feeders inside at night, but hadn't quite made it that far when Taffy came to alert me to the fact that we had company.  A Coon up a tree, as she described it.

Makes a change -- usually it is squirrel up a stick, or dangling from feeder... by daylight, and just out of her reach.

The arrival of the coons is a good reminder that Spring is really here (despite the snow) and that the bears too will be waking up and starting to look around, and all our hibernating animals wake up with an appetite.

Bird feeders -- bring them in at night!

Spring Fling

What a fun day I had at the Lake of Bays Brewery's First Annual SPRING FLING on the weekend.  Gathered together in the brewery were a host of really fun and interesting businesses from the area -- some of them completely new to me, and all good to know.

And several offering services that I didn't know about, either!

For example, did you know that the Lake of Bays Brewery can arrange a private beer-tasting session for you, whether you have a group of 10 or 50 people?  They'll even come to your place.  Check it out. Sounds like a great addition to a Guys' Getaway (or a Gals' Getaway, come to that!)

During May and June the legendary Bigwin Island is open to the general public. That means you can not only get over there to golf one of the best courses in the country, you can also enjoy their tremendous and beautiful dining room, overlooking the lake.  On May 16th they are hosting a special Spring Tasting Menu. Sounds to us like another really good reason to come on up to North Muskoka for the weekend!  Here, they were handing out tasty treats, all imbued with the taste of the season -- maple syrup!

No trip to Baysville is complete without a visit to Yummies in
a Jar.  Lynn was handing out samples, including one of their new varieties of savoury -- a beer sauerkraut jelly that was superb on crackers and cheese!

Great gift baskets and hostess gifts can be had here!

Got a special occasion coming up?  The Brewery can provide you with a unique commemorative cask -- and after you've imbibed the brew, you can re-purpose it... or take it back and get a refill.

Beer not your thing?  How about wine?  The Muskoka Lakes Winery was on hand.  Their Blueberry Cranberry blend is my favourite, but there is a lovely selection of wines on offer.  And there is the opportunity to go throughout the year (not just on the Cranberry Festival weekend in October!) to tour the Marsh and the Winery.   It's a lovely drive from Bondi to Bala.  Learn about the winery, the wines, and the history of that historic area.  Yup, sounds like yet another reason to be heading north.

Speaking of special occasions, the background music for the marche was provided by Adam, of Muskoka Wedding Music.

There was a huge trunk of 'dress up' costumes there as well, provided by photographer Mike, 'BongoPix'.  When you ask for his business card, you get handed an entire record album.  (I have yet to play mine, to find out who's on the platter).
It's a fun idea, and one that means that even if the card won't fit in your wallet, you probably will remember Mike!  The kids (and adults) were having the most fun scooting about in all sorts of great costumes, getting their photos taken, and goofing around.

Sweet tooth?  Whimsical Bakery has the cure for that!  Wedding cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more were all on display here. Christine provides everything from Easter treats to custom assortments to cooking classes. And th

Coffee was on hand as well, provided by Diesel House Coffee Roasters, roasted in Bracebridge,
Muskoka (did you know we had coffee roasters here? We do, and Diesel isn't the only one!!!)

The Lake of Bays Brewing Company hopes this will be the first of many of these Spring Flings -- and since they were also celebration their fifth anniversary, there was of course a ribbon to be cut.  Which brought out those folks who tend to run with scissors...   I was on hand as Deputy Mayor of Lake of Bays, but was certainly outshone by both MPP Norm Miller and MP Tony Clement.  Although I did make it into Tony's twitter feed...

Congratulations to everyone who participated to make this Spring Fling such a success!