Family Vacation

Last week our family left the city and went on our annual cottage vacation week – 9 adults, 2 kids, and 3 dogs, all in one building. And rain every day. Did we survive? Read on…

We began this tradition back in 2012 when we rented a fairly large cottage in Bala and divided the family up into 2 groups – my kids, and Peter’s kids – each group getting 3 1/2 days of the week. We continued this arrangement for the next 2 years, in Orillia and Penetang.

Then everybody complained! They said they wanted more than half a week, and they wanted to be together! I spent a lot of time on the internet that winter, trying to find a large cottage, but it was really difficult.

So I ended up finding a family “resort” near Algonquin Park, with tiny cabins for each family. We spent time together on the beach, we ate outside on our picnic tables all pulled together, and we went hiking in the park. For the next few years we had the same arrangement, in different parts of Ontario: the Kawarthas, Southampton, and Gravenhurst.

Then last year Peter’s son Daniel and his wife Jenny bought their own cottage and invited us to take a look. We went for the inspection and discovered – not just a cottage – it was a compound! The main floor of this “cottage” has 4 bedrooms and a bath, along with a large kitchen, and living-dining room. Downstairs are 2 more bedrooms and another bathroom. And outside – a bunkie with a third bathroom. We were gobsmacked! After we had stopped staring, Dan and Jenny suggested that this could become the family cottage week location. We said yes – how could this not be perfect?

Well life gets in the way, and over the past year we all coped with Covid 19, one family left for a year in New Zealand, and one of the 2 cottage fridges died. Then, in true Covid fashion, 2 of the families got new dogs, well 2 frisky young puppies, to be exact. Our cottage week was looking iffy…But we were determined. All the adults got vaccinated, we spread the guests out so that everyone had access to a bathroom, we agreed to do some of the grocery shopping in nearby towns so the fridge could handle the load, and two of the dogs met ahead of time in a park – a kind of meet-and-greet event.

As our vacation approached, we checked the weather. Another challenge – rain forecast for the entire week. Could we manage being inside all together for 7 days of rain? We bought more junk food, packed more board games, and set off.

Now I know you are waiting for the exciting finish to this story: the adults all ran away and left the kids and dogs together to fight it out. But I’m sorry to tell you that’s not what happened! Instead, the rain was only intermittent with some sunny breaks, the food in the fridge all got organized and eaten, and the bathroom traffic jams were minimal, especially when the guys figured out that there was a big forest nearby. As for the dogs, they learned to live together too and only nipped at each other occasionally.

But the best part was being together! During the sunny breaks we would all rush to the lake to swim or lie on the huge party raft. During the rain we would all gather around the kitchen island while the cooks made mojitos or margaritas. Sometimes a board game would appear on the dining room table and the contest was on. Or the karaoke machine would be set up and the girls would belt out Abba songs. A couple of times we facetimed with the family in New Zealand. In the evenings we would sit on the massive sectional sofa, yell at everyone to turn off their devices so we could get a strong wifi signal, and then watch a family movie together; sharing a huge bag of COSTCO popcorn.

And, before we knew it, it was Saturday again. The fridge was empty, the junk food was all gone, and the dogs were friendly. But best of all? Dan and Jenny invited us back again for next year.


Water sports

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