We have friends in New Zealand (Pat and Robin) who have a holiday cottage at Miller Lake on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. When we knew that they would be there in July of 2015 we made the decision to visit. I also have cousins in Michigan, USA so it seemed logical to see them on the same visit. It involved some to-ing and fro-ing but it was worthwhile! My cousins were at their holiday home in Crystal Lake in Northern Michigan, on the map below the red marker shows Crystal Lake and Miller Lake is north of the ‘6’ on the Canada side. However, travelling by water was not an option so it we were off to the airport again. Paris, Toronto, Chicago, Traverse City.
Our time at Crystal Lake was great, it was small town America in real life and it was good. We experienced July 4th complete with parades and activities.
My cousin Shirley (82) and her husband Art (84) have a daily target of 10,000 steps and we over shot that target every day! We walked all around the local area and learnt its history.
Art’s extended family have been at Crystal Lake since the early 1900’s and it was fascinating to learn their story. We stayed in a cottage right on the lake front and from here we saw squirrels (red, black and grey), chipmunks, red cardinals, blue jays, chickadees. We heard a woodpecker, and on walks near by we saw a deer, a snake and a young eagle. During this week we also attended the memorial for a much loved elderly family member who had died in 2014, went to a art gallery event, ate at the Cherry Hut (a local institution) kayaked and swam in the lake, rode in a 1955 mahogany Chris Craft speed boat, ate with various relatives and enjoyed the company of my cousin Ben and his wife Mary. We packed in enough activities to last a month! Crystal Lake is beautiful and we hope to return one day. We are truly grateful to this extended family for their generous hospitality and hope to be able to host some of them in New Zealand one day.
From here it was back to Toronto for three days. The big event was a trip to Niagara Falls. A long day but so worthwhile, we visited the small historic town of Niagara on the Lake. We would have liked to spent all day there but it was just a short stop before we were off to a vineyard to sample ice wine, as opposed to iced wine which apparently is the cheap immitation. We bought some lovely wine to take to Miller Lake and share with our friends. Then it was onto the falls. I didn’t realise that Niagara Falls is a city as well, beautiful parks but very touristy once you leave the ‘shore line’. We went on the boat trip, it was so much fun. If you go from Canada you wear a red poncho and people going from the USA were in blue or yellow ponchos. I think it is fair to say that seeing the falls from the Canadian side is the way to go as in the USA you are on top of the falls and from Canada you are opposite the falls. Such a worthwhile day, we thoroughly recommend this trip. This was a day we won’t forget in a hurry.
A few mornings later we made our way back to the airport to collect a shuttle van to take us up to Owen Sound on the Bruce Peninsula. In two short hours we were with Pat and Robin and the fun started straight away. This was a very memorable week and will definitely be one of the highlights of this year.
The Bruce Peninsula is beautiful, we did a number of walks/hikes/tramps – different countries call it different things – we went to Flowerpot Island and did the loop track, walked around the shore line and ate a picnic, we went to Devil’s Monument and walked part of the Bruce Trail at Lion’s Head, most of this is part of the Niagara Escarpment. All different and all spectacular.
Apart from this we swam in the lake, kayaked, paddled a canoe, meet with family, cooked, had a BBQ, re-arranged furniture in the cottage, sang at every opportunity, laughed lots and talked! Nature wise we saw a rattle snake, a garter snake, loons (national bird of Canada) trumpeter swan (they get their name from the sound they make), racoon, woodpecker, canadian geese, fox, luna moth, turkey buzzard, horse flies and a lot of very large mosquitoes!
All in all it was a truly special week, we enjoyed the opportunity to see where our friend Pat grew up, to meet her family and to share time with them all. It was with sadness and a few tears that we said farewell and made our way back to Toronto.
Just to keep you on your toes I should add that this blog is very up to date. We are currently in Toronto’s Pearson Airport awaiting our flight to Paris and then a connection to Birmingham, England. We will be in the UK for all of August, two workaways and some family visits plus a little touring around!