Northern Ontario vacation – Part 2: Manitouwadge

This is part 2 in the continuing saga of our 2012 family vacation to Northern Ontario. Part one: Ivanhoe Lake and Thunder Bay. Part two: Manitouwadge. Part three: Pancake Bay and then home.

August 12

Rolly's boatWe had a nice sleep-in before we got moving. Our plan was to spend the day sailing on Rolly’s 25-foot sailboat in Lake Manitouwadge, but it wasn’t in the water yet so that was our first project. Rolly had parked the boat at work (i.e. the OPP station), so we went there first and the boys and I had a little tour of the station. We saw the cells (and all the security measures around them), the boys were fingerprinted, and they even got to see the gun locker and hold the guns. When we were done with the tour, we hooked the boat trailer up to the truck and took it down to the launch. I’m not a boat guy (I enjoy boating in general but I know squat about sailing) so I wasn’t sure how much help I could be, but we managed to get everything set up and even had no trouble putting the mast up, which Rolly said could be challenging at times. Rolly backed the boat into the water (and let Ryan drive the truck a little after releasing the boat) and we were off to the races. The four of us sailed around the lake for an hour or two, and he had the boys help out whenever possible, hoisting the thing and raising that other thing and making sure the schmerbler was properly grommled, or whatever. When we started to get hungry, we looked over at the dock where we launched and found that Gail, Jackie, and Candyce had arrived with lunch. After a lovely lunch sitting on the dock, Gail joined us back out on the lake.

This was a sailboat with a small motor, not a “motorboat”, so the thought of water skiing or wakeboarding never occurred to me. And we didn’t… exactly… but the boys tried something similar. Rolly tied a long rope to the back of the boat and then Nicky jumped in the water and swam back until he grabbed the rope. Then when he was ready, Rolly gunned the motor and Nicky was dragged through the water.Nicky belly-skiing He had to turn onto his back now and again to breathe, but he had a blast. After a few minutes he got tired, and Ryan gave it a try. He also had fun, and impressed us all by sliding down the rope until he was all the way at the end and then pulling himself back in again, while the motor was going full speed.

After another visit to the dock to let Gail off, we sailed around the lake a little more and played some cards down below. When dinner time was approaching, we headed back to Rolly’s, leaving the boat in the water. After dinner, Rolly and Nicky headed back to the boat for a sleepover. Rolly had mentioned during the day that he and Candyce sleep on the boat when they go on sailing trips in Lake Superior, and Nicky thought that sleeping on the boat would be really cool. Ryan seemed less enthused, so it was just Nicky and Rolly. After we got Nicky set up with a change of clothes and his toothbrush (Rolly assured us that it would come back unused), the two intrepid sailors headed off. The rest of us played several games of cribbage, and then it was off to bed after a relaxing and yet tiring day.

August 13

After another sleep-in (sitting out in the sun all day really tires one out, even if one is not doing anything strenuous), we got up and ate, and then Candyce and I headed down to the dock to help Rolly with the boat and see how Nicky lasted the night. When we arrived, the boat was docked and Rolly was doing some cleanup while Nicky, still in his pyjamas, was inside watching a movie (Up) on a portable DVD player. He’d had a great time on the boat and had slept pretty well, though his toothbrush was indeed unused. He said that they got to the boat, packed everything on board, and then sailed to the middle of the lake where they dropped anchor. Then they played cards for a while, watched a movie, and went to bed.

View of ManitouwadgeWe backed the trailer into the water, got the boat secured on it, and pulled it out. Then we lowered the mast and secured all the stuff that needed securing before pulling it back to the OPP office. By this point it was lunch time so we went back to Rolly’s for lunch, and then Rolly, Candyce, Ryan, Nicky, and I went on a hike. There is a little trail from the back of Rolly’s house to a gravel road, and then a hiking trail from there up the hill behind the town. Most of the trail was through the woods, though there was a bit along the ski hills which were a little more open, but you still couldn’t really see much. Then suddenly, we got to the top of the hill and there was a beautiful view of the entire town. And I mean the entire town, it’s not that big.

Ready, aim...After we came back down, Rolly had another surprise for the boys – they were going to make slingshots. The three of them went looking for appropriate Y-shaped sticks, and then cut up an old bicycle inner tube and tied the strips onto the sticks. This worked surprisingly well, and after a bit of a lecture from boring old dad (“Remember, these are not toys, these are weapons. You never point them at any person or animal, blah blah blah”), they found some rocks and proceeded to blast an old plastic jug. I even had a go and found that they were pretty powerful and could get a rock up to a surprising speed, but aiming was harder than I thought. The boys played with their new toys practiced with their new weapons until dinner.

After dinner, the boys played cards inside while we chatted with Candyce’s daughter Charrly, her husband, and a couple of other friends of theirs who came to visit.

August 14

Rolly and Candyce are both avid scuba divers, and they thought it would be great for for all of us to give it a try. But Lake Manitouwadge is cold and murky. Lake Superior is an hour away and there are places that aren’t so murky so you can see stuff, but it’s cold as well, so neither is the ideal place to learn. There’s a lake at Wawa that’s warm and clear, and Rolly said that would be an ideal place to learn but that’s 2½ hours away. So we did the next best thing – Rolly rented the local pool. He’s got all the required gear (actually, he could outfit a whole scuba school if he wanted), so he brought that to the pool and we all gave it a try. He had one tank set up with a 25-foot hose, so it sat on the deck while we got in the water. The boys took to it right away – put the mask on, put the regulator in your mouth, grab the weight belt, and sit on the bottom for a few minutes. No problem. Gail and I…. not so much. We can both swim, but it just wasn’t for us. I managed to get underwater, and I could breathe just fine – I even took a few really deep breaths to convince myself that the regulator could give me as much air as I wanted – but I just wasn’t comfortable for some reason and I couldn’t stay under for more than about ten seconds without semi-panicking and coming back up. Gail was the same.

After trying with the tank on the deck for a while, Ryan wanted to go the whole nine yards and use his own tank. Rolly set him up, and off they went to the deep end. They were both under for ages, and when they returned Ryan kept saying how awesome it was. Nicky had the same success, as did Charrly’s kids (one about Ryan’s age, the other a couple of years older). Rolly had an underwater camera that took some pretty nice pictures; here’s our favourite:

Nicky the diver

Rolly had the pool for two hours, and despite the fact that it was pretty cold once you got out of the water and there looked to be rain clouds approaching, the swimmers stayed in the pool the whole time.

Everyone slept really well that night.

In our final installment, we leave Manitouwadge for Pancake Bay and then home.


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