Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Canadian Vacation 2011

After much ado...the recap of our Canadian Grand Tour. I've honed the photos down from the thousands we took, and then again (at Neil's urging!) from the 60 I wanted to include. And while I'd love to write out every last detail...every meal we made, every fish we caught (...come to think of it...that one wouldn't take all that long...!), every boat trip we took, all the funny things that were said, the stories, the moments, the memories and all, so we won't forget what a wonderful trip it was...I won't. Because I know that all the details and pictures in the world wouldn't do justice to the great time we had! And I know that even without all the photos and details, that this post will already be too long to hold most people's attention. (Most of you are probably skimming already!) But just know that it's less wordy than it was...and has considerably less pictures than I wanted!

Wednesday at noon we headed off for the Great White North, via the UP and Iron Mountain, Michigan. We stayed over at our standard Holiday Inn Express hotel, swam in the pool, ate pizza and slept like babies. And the babies slept too. Thursday we left as early as we could rouse ourselves, finished the trip (with the traditional stop at the ol' chip stand en route for some "Welcome to Canada" poutine!) and arrived at the cottage just in time for Iain to drive us across the lake in the glorious sunset!

Friday we celebrated Canada Day by donning our reddest duds, enjoying pancakes and pure Canadian maple syrup, barbecuing our dinner, and watching fireworks over the lake. Liam also had his very first "meal", on his half birthday and Canada's 144th. As mentioned previously, he took to it like a duck to water. I think he was just disappointed he wasn't getting in on the pancake breakfast and steak dinner!

Saturday was Brett and Breha's 6th anniversary, so we had a special dinner, complete with a nice bottle of wine of the same vintage as their marriage! We are so lucky to have a brother and sister who don't mind spending their anniversary with us every year!

Sunday we took a longer trip the "the sand beach" a few miles down the lake, forgetting that on a holiday weekend, one of only a handful of beaches in a 20 mile radius might be a little packed! So we hung out on the boat, swam off the boat, and looked at some amazing eagle's nests. We also let Iain try out a sparkler for the first time! Call it early for the fourth or late for Canada Day...we just didn't think of it until the 3rd! He loved it!

Monday the guys moved part of the dock out into the lake onto a sandbar for a swim dock. We shuttled ourselves back and forth (or more accurately, Brett shuttled us!) and we all enjoyed the afternoon swimming, fishing and lounging in the sun and on the sand.

Tuesday we headed to "the other" sand beach, and this time we struck pay-dirt! It was empty, so we had the run of the place; fishing, picking blueberries, lounging and playing Huck Finn in the sand. We left in time for Brett and Breha to pack up and head home, and for Iain to fall and smack his face on the stud wall of the cabin, thereby earning him his first official black eye, or "smackaroonie". (Check out his cowboy picture later on for a good view...)

Wednesday was our only rainy morning, so went into "town" to replenish our supplies, visited the driving range, took naps and laid low. In the evening we headed back to the far-away beach, finding it empty this time and played until almost dark. This fateful decision ushered in our annual "Three Hour Tour". On the way back...we ended up with a broken boat, and a tow home. (Happens every year!)

Thursday we enjoyed our last day by spending the whole of it outside; swimming at the dock, fishing off the boat, and chasing daylight home. Liam had a grand ol' time floating around in the shallows off the dock. And in typical fashion, at the last minute of the last day, Iain finally got brave enough to jump of the dock. He also fished for his first (and last) time of the trip!

Friday we packed up and headed "south" to Mom and Dad's house in Niagara. After unpacking and getting ourselves gussied up (well...compared to the non-showered, swim-suited cottage look anyway!), we met Deborah at Henry of Pelham Winery for the annual "Shakespeare in the Vineyard". This summer's performance was Midsummer Night's Dream and while it wasn't Broadway by any means, for us it was really great!

Saturday morning we had "Big Grampy" over for breakfast. Every time we're there, I'm conscious of the fact that at 95 years old, this could very well be the last time we're with him. He's such an important person in my life, and I so badly want my boys to know him. We took the chance to let him snuggle Liam for a while, and he entertained Iain by bopping a balloon around with him for about half an hour. He's still laughing about Big Grampy and the balloon. It was so fun to watch! That evening we had a barbecue with a ton of friends; close, distant, old and new...where the children very nearly outnumbered the adults. It was fun. And crazy. (Check out all those babies! There were also a couple toddlers and a few preschoolers in the mix, just to keep things interesting!)

Sunday we got up (not as early as we usually do, because we just couldn't bring ourselves to leave...) and made the long and laborious trek back to hot and humid ol' Iowa, with a stop on the way at Beef-A-Roo! (Nothing like a little kitsch (and grease) to console depressed travelers!)

So..that's it. That's what we did. But the things we did don't quite capture the feel of the trip, and that is what made it great. It really was the perfect trip. There's really nothing like it...everyone pitching in to help; everyone laid back and having fun; everyone reading, napping, eating and laughing together! It was a great balance of things to do and nothing to do, work and play, catching up with old friends and spending time with family. We made lots of yummy recipes, snuggled babies, had campfires, read books, fished, swam, sunned and relaxed. It was delightful. Everybody in our family just got to do the things we liked best, with people we loved...and that made it perfect.

Liam did a lot of eating (he loves his oatmeal!), and spent a lot of time lounging around in various stages of sleep and wakefulness, with assorted combinations of props including the bouncy chair, towel, life jacket, soother and bug net. He also swam and was just as good as gold the entire time. We're getitng slightly nervous about what his teen years will be like, because he's certainly never given us a lick of trouble so far! He was so happy to have so many people around, and someone paying attention to him all the time!

Iain swam, fished, ran and played in the sand to his hearts content. He did a lot of driving the boat, "fixin' very hard" with Uncle Brett and Grampy...and a lot of wearing of any and all odd articles of clothing. He also spent a LOT of time exploring and romping with Auntie Beyoo, and snuggling, taking hikes and playing "Grand Old Duke of York" with Grammie although I don't have near enough good pictures of that. He was pretty good, although he had his moments! Guess that's all you can ask for in this stage of life known as the Terrible Twos. Or, to quote a certain witty friend: "Mom...all this entertainment comes at a price!"

Neil spent most of his time fishing, reading and swimming. He also enjoyed being able practice his cheffery and spend time with the kiddos without having to squeeze it in on weekends and evenings. I think he was just glad to be on vacation!

As for me...I obviously spent my vacation behind the camera lens, as there are not many pictures to prove I was there at all! But I love my title as family photographer, so one more occasion of everybody doing as we liked! I also read and napped a lot, and swam and fished a little. I loved it all, but most of all I loved being able to spend time with my family, which I don't get nearly enough of! It was also nice to have so many helping hands around to bathe babies, feed babies and put babies to bed. It was fun to be able to get to do things (like make the delicious cinnamon rolls below!) without a child on one hip! And I love knowing that for them, who don't see their grandchildren and nephews often, helping with them is a treat, not a chore! (And for me...sometimes cleaning up a kitchen while someone entertains my boys is a treat, not a chore!!)

We're so thankful for our family, so thankful for the time we had...and as always, whenever our annual cabin vacation is over...whenever we return from a trip like this...we're already counting down to next summer.

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