The Things I See

I recently went on a one day paddling trip in cottage country north of Toronto with the Seniors’ Club. I often see unusual things that catch my attention, but this trip definitely raised the bar.

Our three hour journey down the Muskoka River started at the base of the dam in Gravenhurst. The stinky hot weather from the previous week was gone and the forecast for the day was simply perfect.

This photo was taken on the dock from where we launched our boats.
The water is remarkably calm once it clears those rocks at the base of the dam.

We set off with three canoes and three kayaks on an easy 10 km paddle.

I saw all the things I would have expected – from millionaire dollar ‘cottages’ to modest summer homes. Regardless of economic status, families were outdoors enjoying their vacation.

However, there were also a few surprises. First up was the Lady Muskoka sightseeing tour boat.

The Muskoka River isn’t exactly a wide waterway. Encountering a boat of this size was completely unexpected.

There were a few happy squeals as we rocked and rolled on the wake created by the big boat. The tourists on the boat seemed equally amused with us, snapping photos as they went by … after all, our little convoy represented the only non-motorized craft on the water.

Then came a mighty blast of a boat horn from behind us. What the hell …. Santa?!!

Along our route we knew there was a popular tourist destination called Santa’s Village. We had passed the parking lot while we were shuttling cars … or perhaps I should say we passed three parking lots, each one was massive and packed with cars.

What we didn’t know was that they also offer ‘sleigh’ rides. That boat passed us several times as it chugged up and down the river.

Again, there was more squealing on the wake with each passing. Maturity isn’t a requirement of aging.

The Muskoka River experienced considerable spring flooding this year. It was a combination of the heavy accumulation of snow from the winter and the endless rain we endured this spring. We saw many docks and boat houses with heavy damage but by far the worst we saw was one cottage that hadn’t survived the flooding.

Mother Nature gives … and takes away. Many properties that used to have a beach no longer have one.

Along the shoreline we saw a wide variety of inflatable bouncy things and even a unicorn. There were slides, swings, and boats of varying shapes and sizes.

However, some docks were more unusual than the others …

I guess that’s one way to beat the summer traffic jams.
Admittedly a very poor photo but I couldn’t leave out a Pirate’s Cove.
Seen at the boat launch, just playing her small harp quietly by the water.

All of the sights – simple or otherwise – made for an interesting day on the water.

108 comments

  1. Ooh, I would love to take up kayaking, although in my case it would be ocean kayaking. I have been on the lookout for a used kayak to fit a small woman. Nice that you have found a group to kayak with. Does the group rent the kayaks and canoes?

    Jude

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    • Our club has several canoes and kayaks (with all the other supporting equipment) that members can use free of charge, however most of the members I’ve paddled with all have their own. The vast majority of them have canoes, but personally I think kayaks are way more forgiving on our aging bodies.

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  2. Lots of interesting sights that day! That’s so sad about the home being lost in the floods. I’m glad to hear the wakes weren’t too crazy! I still have flashbacks of terror about the day we rented a deck boat because we were debating on what type of boat to buy. We were coming back into Naples Bay and entering the no-wake zone as a monster boat was exiting. He decided to go ahead and hit the gas and sent a wake at us so large that I had to grab all three kids from the bow and hit the deck so they wouldn’t go overboard. Needless to say, we bought a bought with a better hull that could take more chop.

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  3. Joanne it looks to me like you had the best watercraft. Looks like the tourist motorized craft are pretty popular. Santa’s summer sleigh. Well who knew that was a thing? Sorry to see what looks like a new cottage taken over by the flooding. I think that was a lot of unusual sightings in 10km!

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  4. Looks like such a fun activity, except for the surprises no doubt…That half sunken house is quite something. What a sight. It looks so new as well.

    I love kayaking its such a great way to get outdoors and get exercise. Seems like a nice group to be a part of.

    Peta

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    • This group has been a wonderful find. They are certainly redefining what it means to be retired ๐Ÿ™‚

      That house looked very new so I’m sure it’s been heartbreaking for the owners. I’m surprised to see it still submerged. It makes me think that there are insurance issues.

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  5. So sad to see the result of the flooding, Joanne. Poor people having lost their home.
    You had a wonderful day out for sure. ๐Ÿ™‚ This is certainly a world totally different to ours and it was lovely to look over your shoulder.

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  6. Oh what a wonderful day, Joanne! Thanks for bringing us along. Santa’s Summer Sleigh — well it slayed me! Love it and the Pirate’s Cove. Such a shame about that very pretty cottage… And of course, given what’s going on at my place, it was exciting to see a riverboat, even if it is motorized. ๐Ÿ˜€ Such a delight. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad the stinky hot weather was gone by the time you decided to journey down the Muskoka.

    Santa Summer Sleigh cracked me up although I am sure their wake was no laughing matter when you were out there working to stay afloat.

    Heartbreaking to see that pristine cottage having less luck in the water than you did.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Our reprieve from the sticky humid weather was welcomed but short. We’re back into the sweatfest again. However this is summer and I’m just going to enjoy it from the comfort of some shade and do as little as possible ๐Ÿ™‚

      Rolling on the waves created by the big boats was actually fun. None of them were so big that it was scary.

      As you know, experiencing the unexpected makes a day memorable, especially when it can make you laugh ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Sad picture of the cottage claimed by Nature…the power is awesome, isn’t it? In our neck of the woods recent rare tornadoes devastated Cape Cod, and specifically the neighborhood where my parents had their Cape house. We can build, but it’s all only temporary.
    All in all, looked like an enjoyable paddle. Chucked at the pirate boat house…people ARE interesting, but we only go through this life once, why not have fun?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your attitude, Nancy! Yes, why not have fun indeed ๐Ÿ™‚

      I heard only briefly about the tornado in Cape Cod. Sorry to hear your parents were affected. Yes, buildings and belongings can be replaced but it is still heartbreaking.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Somehow, all have a common thread (apart from the body of water y’all are paddling upon) – extremes? dissonance? Though I suppose the harp playing was quite lovely. I dunno. Hey: here it is. The harp = calm among the madness – just like the first pix, still water after the rapids.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Happy you are back on the water. The larger boat going by would definitely have rocked the smaller boats. Too funny on the Santa boat. You adrenaline junkies! The examples of flooding are very sad. Canโ€™t control Mother Nature. Thank you for sharing your interesting day:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Back in my MUCH younger days we would get to waterski at our family cottage. (I use the word ‘cottage’ rather loosely – it was nothing more than a cabin on an island with no running water or electricity ๐Ÿ˜‰)
      Riding the wake and cross waves were always an adrenaline rush. Riding these waves in a kayak was tame in comparison ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Joanne, I can’t even imagine how a plane could take off and land on that busy waterway. What an interesting outing. A couple of years ago I was out paddle boarding with a big group and we got buzzed quite a few times by go fast boats. It was like a game for them to try to tip us over. My only regret was that I couldn’t let go of my paddle long enough to give them the finger. So glad the heat has subsided and you are out and about again. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The river empties into a very large lake (which is where we terminated our paddle). I imagine the plane would taxi (very slowly) out to the lake and then take off from there.

      The boats were actually very courteous. I could hear the smaller boats throttle down as they approached and they gave us a wide berth. The bigger boats however relied on us to keep to the shoreline as much as possible since they couldn’t maneuver as easily as we could.

      It is very irresponsible for boaters to buzz people in the water – or drivers who like to buzz cyclists (I have choice words for them). People can get hurt and even killed. It’s just not cool.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. The things you see, indeed. Quite a collection.
    Here in Indiana, we have the town of Santa Claus. (Not a joke) In Santa Claus, there is Holiday World, which is a loosely Santa-based theme park.

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    • Seriously? Santa Claus? That is odd … however, I would expect to see a holiday-themed park in a town called Santa Claus!!

      On a related note, my home town in the north has a giant polar bear statue as you enter town. From town, you can catch a train called the Polar Bear Express to the James Bay. It took DECADES before someone finally clued in that since the polar bear was the town mascot, maybe, just maybe, it might be a good idea to have real polar bears.
      A polar bear habitat was subsequently created. Polar bears that can no longer survive in the wild and need a home have a place at this habitat.
      Each (successful) town finds a way to draw in tourists.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s so neat. The Mister loves polar bears. We had some at the zoo here for decades. Something happened while we lived away and we don’t know what happened, but my husband was so sad, for whatever the reason was. I tend to think the ones that were being saved at Indy zoo had lived over 20 years in the zoo, and pondered the bear life expectancy…

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  13. Oh, dear. That poor house, and obviously the poor family who owns it. But that Pirate Cove does look like the perfect place to sit on that deck and have a tall cool one. Thanks for taking us along on the ride. – Marty

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  14. Wow, the variety of things you saw paddling in the water – what a post Joanne! I can imagine the fun between the ones on the “big” boat and the paddle boats:) Haha, the Santa one is funny, but in Australia it’s really summer during Santa’s time. Hard to see these houses like ships who have sunk! Hope they had good house insurance.

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  15. What a wonderful adventure! It’s almost enough to get me into a kayak! I really feel for the owners of that cottage. It’s a beautiful, quirky little building. Heartbreaking.

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    • This was my first time in this area and I enjoyed every minute of it. This is one place I hope I’ll get to return to someday. I am really enjoying my paddling adventures although this one was certainly unusual!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. A great series of sightings Joanne – the world can look different from the water. I also believe though that you have to also be aware and in the moment to appreciate the interesting things that go on around us all and you seem to have that ability in spades.

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    • Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ I do try and I think I’m getting much better at it.

      The view from the water is definitely different. Except for the two tour boats, none of these things could have been experienced from the shore.

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  17. Oh my! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ What a dreamlike collection. I’d have to pinch myself for each one. How does it feel to wrestle for water space with huge boats like that? ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s something from my nightmares.

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    • I grew up near water and my father had a variety of boats so being on water feels natural to me. I admit that navigating around big boats like those tour boats is not normal to me but rolling on the wake was fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Oh all your photos are a story in and of themselves. I’ve never wanted to kayak but if I could see things like this I might try it. Although Santa’s Summer Sleigh does make me wonder about the fate of humanity.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. What a day you had! Rockin and rollin with your senior group, being followed by Santa, beautiful scenery, and then that poor house pushed off its foundation. I love how much fun you have with this group. If you ever hear about a NH branch, please let me know. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Maybe you should start your own version!!

      This group has all the right ingredients – a great bunch of people and a wide variety of activities since any member can plan an outing.
      This was my first time on an outing planned by this particular member and he clearly has a winner with this one. Too bad it won’t show up on the calendar again for at least another two years. That’s how they keep the calendar fresh and interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. What a grand day out you had! Santa’s sleigh ride on a BOAT in JULY has to take the biscuit for daftness. Does it in fact tell us something about humanity’s current grasp on reality i.e. along with the poor washed-away house? Apart from that – keep on paddling – more squealing less aging ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Oh my goodness Joanne – I am
    Laughing a bit after enjoying this post! Not what you see every day- the pirates cove – the harp player like that – and the flooded river house –
    Well it is also helpful to know where Santa spends his summers! Now we know for sure…

    Liked by 1 person

  22. That house is a sobering sight. Reminds me of why I’ve always made sure to live on high ground. But what great luck you had on this adventure, encountering a unicorn. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  23. Looks like you had a lot of fun and I bet by the time you were done it felt as if those three hours were done in a flash!?

    Now I must go look for a blogpost by someone on the sleigh or river cruiser who had taken pictures of the squealing seniors!

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    • hehehe!!! It’s funny, but that crossed my mind wondering if any of them might be bloggers ๐Ÿ˜†

      The last 15-20 minutes were in pretty rough water so we were all quite happy to reach our end point. I was pretty tired that night and slept like a baby ๐Ÿ™‚

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  24. โ€œMaturity isnโ€™t a requirement of agingโ€. Definitely a meme in the making! Poor house and poor owners of that half submerged home. Your group has the best outings!

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    • Having a youthful perspective makes life a lot more joyful. Just for the record, for once it wasn’t me who started it. I think that surprised and delighted me the most. It came from a woman I would never have expected ๐Ÿ™‚

      We speculated that the owner was having insurance issues that explained why nothing had yet been done to the submerged home. It was a sobering reminder that nature shouldn’t be trifled with.

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  25. Now I know how Santa spends his summer vacation! Those poor houses. I can so relate…we have that after hurricanes. There is neighborhood dispute about a derelict house that’s been going on for over 10 years. Insurance battle…โ€ฆ Your club does know how to have fun, Joanne. I think we have a bridge club for seniors here…โ€ฆ Zzzzz-zzz-zz

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    • This is a great group and I’m so happy to have found it. Any member can organize an outing so there is a lot of variety. Any particular outing won’t likely show up in the calendar again for at least 2 years so that people don’t get bored with the same-old-same-old. Our Board has a “Program Director” who does a great job of organizing all the activities on the calendar and helping members plan their outing. This is definitely not your average seniors’ club.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Nice photos. I’m sure there was more than one time that you just had to say, “Well, there’s something you don’t see every day….”, perhaps as you paddled by a half submerged house or giant pirate. It is funny, I try to return from my kayaking adventures, even when surrounded by motor craft, with nature photos, but I still like these

    Liked by 3 people

    • haha! You got it right, Trent. I had that reaction more than a few times!

      I’m not particularly a fan of cottage country largely because it’s home after home after home along the shoreline. I just don’t see how anyone is really ‘escaping’ the city except that now they’ve added the element of water. On busy weekends it has to be pretty chaotic and noisy … especially when the beer and wine start flowing.

      Liked by 1 person

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