Don’t we all grumble occasionally about getting to the
cottage? It could be the stop and go Ottawa traffic on a
Friday night or the knuckle whitening traverse through
Toronto. Think about the long drive and hassle of Customs
crossings for our American cottagers. I know that our
family has never been crazy about the commute from
Windsor. We all do it because of the glorious final
destination…our beloved Farren Lake cottages.
This past summer, my husband Gord, and I embarked on an
especially laborious, but unusually memorable trip to the
cottage. We rode our bicycles from Comox, B.C. to our
cottage door…a total of 5,200 kilometers! The journey
lasted 70 days with 56 days on the bicycles. We carried all
our gear, cooking up oatmeal each morning, snacking on
peanut butter sandwiches along the road and chowing down
Ramen noodles and any available veggies at our campsite in
the evening. Each day was a new adventure with an unknown
destination, new challenges and amazing surprises.
We coasted down Vancouver Island, earned our climbing legs
across southern B.C., sweated through the Okanagan, and
powered over the Rockies. The prairies of Alberta, Sask.
and Manitoba offered up endless vistas and excessive heat.
We dropped down to the States crossing northern Minnesota,
Wisconsin and Michigan to travel under Lake Superior before
re-entering Canada at Sault Ste. Marie. We savoured the
pine forests and beautiful lakes of northern Ontario but
cursed the unending hills. We experienced mixed feelings as
we zigzagged down to Lanark County. This had been an epic
journey. We were proud to have reached our goal, but sad to
let the adventure go. Our spirits were lifted by a warm
welcome from our Farren Lake friends as we cycled to
Featherston Lane. It took awhile to get there, but Farren
Lake was where we wanted to be!
Many people have asked what part of the trip was most
memorable. All of us are aware of the awe-inspiring beauty
of Canada and the U.S. The scenery we enjoyed along the way
was picture postcard perfect, but it was the kindnesses of
strangers that will remain engrained in our hearts. Helping
hands appeared in a multitude of forms, from waking up to a
fresh baked loaf of bread on our campsite picnic table to
being invited for a delicious home cooked meal by a lady we
met in the grocery store parking lot. We were offered
refuge (twice!) from inclement weather by a lovely Dutch
couple touring B.C. A hearty dinner, much needed laundry
and a warm bed were provided by a retired couple we met for
two minutes at the Michigan Welcome Centre. To top it off,
a fellow cottager allowed us to stay as long as we wanted at
his Talon Lake retreat while he and his wife flew out to
Edmonton…”enjoy and lock the doors when you leave”…amazing!
This particular trip to the cottage was long and
challenging, but also a heartening testament to the goodness
of every day folks. Each day revealed another opportunity
to give and receive. Although we did most of the receiving
on this journey, we are determined to “pay it forward”.