Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Another "Pleasant Valley" Sunday (and Friday and Saturday, too!)

Relaxing on the porch with coffee and the Globe and Mail
Yesterday I wrote about the wonderful Art Fayre in Dunvegan over the weekend; now it's time to tell the story of the rest of our road trip to the Ottawa Valley. It began on Friday morning, around 11AM, when we had finally finished packing and Tim's bag (he cat-sit for us) had been picked up and delivered to our apartment. We fueled up at Timmy's first, then we had to make a stop in Leaside to pick up some fireworks for a Solstice party on Saturday night (at the request of Sarah's mom). We swung back down to our neighbourhood to pick up Tim and drove him up to an interview for Co-op placement for this fall (it went very well) and then we were finally on the open road, headed for the Hawkesbury region. We had more time than we needed so we decided to take a more scenic route than simply Highways 401-416-17 to get there. Part of our scenic route included a jog down to the St. Lawrence along the Thousand Islands Parkway.

The picture on the left (below) appeared on my blog in May and is of my mom and me when I was 2 1/2 years old. I said then that I had no idea where the picture was taken; my dad responded with the information that we were in a rest stop on the Parkway, somewhere east of Gananoque, with the St. Lawrence in the background.
Grumpy P and mom, 1963
Grumpy P, 2012
On our trip last Friday, Sarah and I pulled off at the only rest stop that had a stone wall around it and took the shot on the right (above). Comparing these two photos here, I can't be sure one way or the other whether we found the same rest stop or not; the wall is higher and seems to be closer to the river in the older shot. In any event, this was my best attempt to duplicate my pose in the original picture, taken nearly fifty years ago.

Sarah and the St. Lawrence River
We continued on the Thousand Islands Parkway as far as we could go before reluctantly rejoining the 401 east of Mallorytown. The day was nearly perfect and the view of the St. Lawrence was absolutely breathtaking at times. We pulled off a couple more times along the way to take pictures, listen to the birds and just breathe in the air. For the Friday of a summer weekend, I must say I was surprised by how light the traffic was on the Parkway. I wish I could say the same for the 401 and the 417 north of Cornwall, but at least the middle part of our trip was wonderful.

The frog pond: healthy but not enough water
We got to Sarah's mom's house before she did so we put away the groceries we picked up along the way, grabbed a couple of beers and headed outside to wait for her. My first destination, of course, was the frog pond; it looks a lot healthier this year with so much of that blue liner removed, but the water level is very low and the froggie population is rather scant, compared to years past. However, the ones that do live there this year are quite a bit more "talkative" than I remember. I hope they get some rain up that way soon, not only for the sake of the pond but also to fill up the well at the house which is critically low right now.

As I mentioned yesterday, much of Saturday revolved around Art Fayre - at least the daylight hours. While we were there, Sarah and I also spent some time wandering around the grounds of the Glengarry Pioneer Museum, exploring the various exhibits and buildings that didn't house the art show. At one point our friend Mac showed us his Lambretta scooter (I posted a video about it yesterday) and I snapped off a couple of "pin-up" shots of Sarah with the bike before Mac rode off on it. They were all good, but this one (at left) is easily my favourite!

One of the buildings on the grounds housed a collection of old winter transportation modes, including skis, skates, showshoes and sleighs. (Only after typing all that out did I realize how alliterative the old winters were. Makes me wonder why!) I particularly liked the sounds of the "team bells" on one of the sleighs and I took a very short video of Sarah ringing them:

After we left Art Fayre we headed over to Brenda and Mac's place to meet their various animals, which included a couple of cats named Murph and Smudge (pretty sure I'm not spelling the second name correctly), a dog named Betty, and two donkeys named Bob and Donald, to whom we happily fed some apple pieces through the fence (Bob is the smaller, darker donkey):

Bob (foreground) and Donald
Grumpy P feeding the donkeys
Sarah feeding Bob

Bonfire in the old barn
From there we went to the Solstice party for which we had been commissioned to buy fireworks. Hosted by friends of Sarah's mom (who graciously extended the invitation to Sarah and me when they learned we would be visiting), the party took place on a huge parcel of land not too far from the Art Fayre. Sarah and I relaxed with some old friends and met plenty of new ones, spending most of our time around the big table outside, listening to and watching the many different types of birds that were making their homes on the property. After the sun went down a big bonfire was lit inside the stone foundation of an old, razed barn; after the fire eased off it was time for Mac to put on a fireworks show. There were some pretty impressive early displays (there's a great photo of one of them on Ronna's blog) but the grand finale was spectacular: 25 rockets that went off in five groups of five, shooting out of a big package that even Mac was a little reluctant to light. It was the culmination of a terrific day and shortly after the excitement we made our way back to our "home base" and fell asleep almost immediately.

Cryptic Crossword Corner
Sunday dawned cool and clear, but we could tell it wouldn't last the day. We poured some coffee and headed out on the side deck to do the Globe's Saturday cryptic crossword together, then Sarah took it upon herself to grab a weed-whacker and attack the growths that her mom's mower couldn't get to around the property. When she was done the three of us bustled around taking care of some small chores that were too big for one person alone and then we sat down to a late breakfast together. The day got away from us a little bit at that point and, despite our best intentions, Sarah and I did not make it back to Art Fayre for the final day, which meant we didn't get a chance to meet Natalie's husband Gordon. That was the only blemish on an otherwise fantastic weekend, but I guess it just means we'll have to make another trip up there sooner than a year from now (like our last gap between visits).

Rhapsody in Green
Before we left I made one more visit to the pond to say goodbye to mes amis d'amphibiens. I very nearly (and tragically) stepped on one of the little guys who was out in the long grass around the pond's edge, but he saw the shadow of my foot approaching and flew through the air into the water, safe and sound. I hope what I perceived to be a paucity of frogs this year was merely a case of them hiding in the duckweed better than ever before, but as long as there are one or two of them left to greet me "Fortier Pond" will always hold a special place in my heart.

From there we were homeward bound, through 6 hours of driving rain which - of course - neither fell on our neighbourhood in East York nor (more disappointingly) filled Sarah's mom's well. All it managed to do was make our trip home a lot harsher than it needed to be. But when we did arrive home, after over 1300 km of total driving since Friday morning, and were greeted by a very affectionate kitty, we forgot all about the trials of the journey and started thinking about when we could go on our next road trip. Because what's a summer without road trips?


  1. The donkeys were very sweet animals - I can't even recall if I've ever been that close to one before.

    1. I am so not touching that. I'll bet someone else will, though. :-/

  2. Catching up on blog reading! Love the frog pond. And I've met Donald, but not Bob! I want a donkey. :)

    Not touching Sarah's comment either... :)


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