Maple leaf country

O Canada:

We boarded American Airlines Flight AA3857 to Toronto with mixed feelings. Dutchy was looking forward to meeting his modern day penfriend (internet buddy) Denise and her husband Daryl. Denise picked us up at the airport, and we finally found where she had parked the car. Since we were all hungry, sharing a large tasty plate of nachos at a nearby restaurant made sense before making the long two-hour journey to their house in the country.

Stopping at Markdale about 16 kms from their place, we found an ATM to get some necessary Canadian money. It’s funny how every different currency looks like play money, but at least the Canadians have a bit of colour on theirs, unlike the greenbacks of the US. We arrived at Kimberley the Beaver Valley to their house with the amazing windows. It’s reminiscent of the Amityville Horror House, set on six acres.

 

Blue Mountain – the new top:

 

There is a place called Collingwood half an hour away in the Beaver Valley, and we went down there to the shoresof Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, where we visited the LCBO, their version of a bottle shop. Prices of alcohol here seemed quite reasonable.

Then we went to a ski resort called Blue Mountain, which looks pretty in autumn (or fall), and which would look magnificent covered in snow. We are not snow aficionados, and being cold doesn’t thrill us either. As it was, after the heat of New York and Orlando, the temperatures in Canada meant long-sleeved tops, jackets and jeans, although the Canadians were enjoying what they thought was warm weather! It’s all relative, depending on what you are used to and from whence you have come.

Of course if there are shops, one must enter them. It is an unwritten law, usually amongst females. As we came upon a little boutique named Echo Trends, I saw a long-sleeved top in the window that caught my eye, so in we went. There was a rack with some reduced items on it, and I rather liked a white jacket, laughing as I said, “Look, it’s only $235, reduced from $650.” I tried it on, but they didn’t have my size. I thought it’s probably better that they didn’t, at that price. Then I found the top from the window. It was a designer top with really interesting prints and appliqués on it. I just had to try it on, but that was probably where I went wrong. I loved it and had to have it, as it had such a lovely line to it and looked really good on. At $250 it is the most expensive top I have ever bought. Dutchy had to come in and have a look. He usually tempers my spending with realistic thinking, but somehow this time he didn’t. Maybe he was appreciative that I had been open to visiting Canada; maybe I felt like splurging because I had embraced the idea of visiting strangers?! Not only that, but Dana the designer was there, so without further ado I lashed out, deciding that instead of buying a lot of smaller souvenirs from Canada, maybe this would be the only one. Also, with the thought of excess baggage looming, this seemed a good solution. Yes, there’s always a maybe. I announced in the shop, “If I buy this, I promise I won’t buy anything else.. until tomorrow,” which left them all laughing. This purchase was the source of much frivolity and stirring over the next few days, especially when Dutchy described my designer piece as “only a long-sleeved t-shirt.”

Beaver Tail:

As we were heading towards the car, we spotted a stand that was selling Beaver Tails, which are an interesting delicacy. It appears to be made from dough, stretched really thinly and then lightly fried, after which toppings are added. I would call it a twist on a pancake but a little crispier. Others call it a Canadian donut in the shape of a beaver tail. Denise ordered one for us to share, and paid for it herself, as she knew I had certainly spent enough on my “long-sleeved t-shirt.” Apart from the name being a bit suspect, I added to it by asking the guy if I could take a photo of him while he stretched it, obviously meaning the dough, but being deliberately misconstrued by the company I was in, particularly Dutchy. When I had chosen the chocolate hazelnut option, I hadn’t realised that it would be basically a nutella spread over it, with a sprinkling of sugar. I enjoyed it though.

 

 

From a cocktail party to the hot tub:

On Friday evening we accompanied Daryl and Denise to Donna and John’s house to meet a group of their friends in the valley. This is a fairly regular summer ritual they share, because once the snow comes it is harder to entertain. After a very pleasant evening, with drinks and nibbles, we were going to have dinner “in,” after a soak in the hot tub.

Out in the country you can see so many more stars than in the city, and while it was cool outside, the temperature in the Jacuzzi was ideal. Drinks and hot water helped relax tired muscles. The apprehension any of us felt was unfounded, as within a couple of days we were all good pals. The next day everyone felt a little seedy, but we had cemented our friendship and we look forward to their visit one day to Australia.

Country Canada:

The following day Denise took me along the Bruce trail for a walk. They live on the Niagara escarpment, and this trail wends its way through private property so that a long walk, or hike, can be enjoyed by everybody. You only have to follow the white markers on the trees ahead to ensure you stay on the trail and avoid trespassing.

We went to an unusually shaped restaurant called Ted’s Range Road Diner, which looked like the old army bunkers from days gone by to enjoy a hamburger for lunch.

A feature of their area is Old Baldy, which is like part of a cliff face jutting out from the mountain, to which we later drove and then walked above, enjoying the view of the Beaver Valley and the green ski runs.

Trailer trash to a birthday bash:

The following day was Denise’s birthday, so we went up to their trailer at Arran Lake an hour away. In mid October the park closes as the lake freezes over and who would want to go there in freezing temperatures anyway? At this time of year it was very pleasant, and we had a barbecue and met their fun friends Pat and Dennis. Jokes were made about trailer trash, which was nowhere near the truth. Their trailer is more like a small French apartment – everything you need in a compact environment, but with lots of space around it, as they have added an outdoor deck on which to entertain.

We whiled away the afternoon chatting, before returning to go out to dinner with other friends, Kerry and Sue, to Munshaw’s Bistro. Munshaw’s is a restaurant run by Chef Paul and his family, who are very personable and we enjoyed the evening immensely.

A bottle of Champagne as her birthday gift, carefully brought over from France, was much appreciated by Denise, and the good thing for us was that it removed significant weight from Dutchy’s suitcase!

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