Last year we took a break from sailing and visited Guanajuato and Guadalajara to cool off, see some sights and enjoy a Mexico that differs from the coastal world of marinas and sun burned tourists. This year we got a chance to really cool off and to experience an even different environment – we spent a week in Lakefield, Ontario, Canada experiencing the trappings of an Ontario winter (snow, ice and grey slush) and Canadian life in general (wait staff that brings the bill before being asked, stop signs that actually mean Stop, public places without armed guards, expensive beer. . . ).We visited Canada during the winter rather than waiting until spring because Bryce’s mother, heading for her 99th birthday in a few months, needed visiting and our one and only sister, Brenda, was scheduled to receive a Queen’s Jubilee Medal (that would be Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee for our non-Canadian readers) for her many years of contributions to local public service. In one way it was easier to travel in the winter: all the airlines and charter companies are operating at full speed to bring those Canadian tourists south!
We buttoned up Abracadabra and, dressed in our jeans (we have one pair each), we travelled on foot through the village, by local bus from La Cruz to the beautiful Puerto Vallarta Airport, via Air Canada non-stop (amazing!) to Toronto, and in a so-called midsize (tiny) rental car complete with a frozen rear hatch door, to Lakefield. We arrived on the heels of a huge snow storm that had paralyzed much of the northeastern portion of North America, but in Ontario the roads were mostly clear and Brenda had pulled in a favor from a neighbor to snow blow her driveway, so the storm was mostly a non-event for us.And Lakefield is beautiful in fresh snow:
|Lakefield Lock - Trent-Severn Waterway|
Unearthing our cache of winter clothing was a thrill, though Molly had to make a trip to Value Village to buy some used heavy shoes ($13.99!) to augment her winter footwear wardrobe (previously consisting of a pair of heels and her "Mexican hiking boots”, aka tennis shoes . . . ).
Once we were dressed to face the winter, we had a very good visit. Although Bryce's mother is less than sure nowadays who her visitors are (and was quite confused by Bryce’s new beard) we were able to spend some good time with her - Bryce went each day. It was comforting to see her and to confirm the high quality of care she receives, both from the Extendicare staff and from Brenda.The highlight of the visit was Brenda’s award ceremony. Her children, grandchildren and friends crowded a Township of Selwyn (formerly known as Township of Smith-Ennismore-Lakefield -- what a mouthful!) council meeting to witness the presentation of her Jubilee Medal. Nice things were said about Brenda and the other two recipients, the recipients said nice things about others, and Brenda kept her comments short – a big surprise for all that know our sister well.
|Brenda, Receiving Recognition from Her Majesty Elizabeth II|
After the ceremony we returned to Brenda’s home for a reception attended by 40 or so friends and family.
|The Family (This Is The Version of This Picture With The Most Faces!)|
And then it was time to return home to Abracadabra and La Cruz. Never ones to pass up an opportunity to pick up some hard-to-find boat parts we left Lakefield early enough to stop at a West Marine or two on the way to our airport hotel. Then it happened………….. SNOW. As we drove to the mothership West Marine in Toronto conditions rapidly deteriorated -- stop and go traffic, snow covered freeway, just plain yucky for a crappy little rental car driven by someone who only drives in snow every few years. Sadly, there will be no fourth fan or new light switch on the boat this year – we spent our West Marine time creeping through the SNOW. We managed to slip and slide our way to the car return without major incident or accident, though the Captain was more traumatized by the drive than by a night at sea with high winds and swells!
So, that’s it . . . probably more than you ever wanted to know about someone else’s winter vacation in the Great White North. We’re now safely and warmly back in La Cruz and our stories of life in Mexico, wind, whales and sun will resume shortly.