Sunday, July 03, 2011

Back and Forth... by Barbara (Ruth)

Back and forth, back and forth. Like the tarnished brass pendulum in an old clock, a metronome tapping out the rhythm for a piano student, or a magician's watch swinging from his gloved hand as he hypnotizes you.

The phrase "back and forth" brings to mind something monotonous and repetitive. Our Canadian readers may have heard the Longo's grocery store radio commercial in which a monotone female voice says, "you get up you wake up the kids you get dressed you wake up the kids again you have breakfast you drive the kids to school you go to work..." And it goes on, until the woman goes to Longos and buys Italian cheese that reminds her of that vacation twenty years ago where she met Octavio! And then it goes back to the monotonous drone of her day, back and forth between work and home.

I guess we all have a bit of the "back and forth" syndrome in our lives. I know I do. But there is one "back and forth" that I complete a dozen or more times each year, and it is neither sleep-inducing nor monotonous, although it could be.

I'm referring to my trek from Toronto to our family cottage in Muskoka. Now if you're not a cottager (or an equivalent - a weekend camper or a hiker, perhaps) you probably think people like me are completely nuts. Spending hours in traffic each weekend, burning through gas, seeing the same boring scenery fly (or crawl) by, just to turn around a few days later and reverse the process - well, that is clearly not everyone's cup of tea.
This kind of traffic isn't really ANYONE'S cup of tea.

But don't mind the trek. For a few reasons. First, I know that this is waiting for me at the other end. The dock is the most peaceful place in my world, and I instantly feel the tensions of the week seep away. The water is calming, the sunsets are glorious, and the frogs and the loons sing me to sleep. I sleep VERY well at the cottage.

And anyway, I kind of like the back and forth of it. You can make it all about the traffic, or obsessively timing yourself to see if you can beat your record (2:18). Or you can set yourself little milestones along the way, and note the quirky little sights that make cottage country so loveable.

No road trip is complete without a passenger, and this is usually mine. She's pretty good about it too, and a "must have" at any woodland cottage prone to mice.

My route can be very boring if I'm in a hurry - straight up the 400 pretty much all the way. Not a whole lot to see except the amazing Muskoka granite in shades of pink and grey. My Mum and I used to marvel at how the engineers cut through it to build the highways - it was only a couple of years ago that the 400 completed its two-lane construction all the way to Parry Sound.

I much prefer the route that veers off of the 400 at Barrie, taking you along Highway 11 through Orillia, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge and into my little village of Rosseau. There is always something new to see, and as I thought about this post today, I took a few extra pics from the car (pardon the quality). Someday I'm going to write about yet another route home - the things you see if you're paying attention!

Anyway, here's a taste of my back and forth route to heaven on earth.
Dad always said "the Severn bridge is where we enter the North". It's not, of course.
It's  "central" Ontario, or as we call it, "the near north."

In 1963 Weber's hamburger joint opened along Highway 11 inArdtrea, Ontario. Soon it became a mecca for cottagers both to and from the cottage, creating serious traffic issues as people crossed 4 lanes of traffic for a burger and fries. In 1981 the government fixed that by installing a barrier down the centre of the highway. In 1982 they added a chain link fence to stop people from climbing over the barrier. 

In 1983, Webers bought this bridge that had been a pedestrian walkway
to the CN Tower in Toronto. Now customers could get across the highway
safely. Genius.

This rock formation awaits me as I round "my corner" in Bent River. It's a hairpin turn that leads me to my first glimpse of Lake Rosseau, and means I'm only about 15 minutes from my destination.

The view from the bottom of the rock formation.

The first view of the village of Rosseau.

c. 1874. One of my favourite places. Ever. The screen door slams, the wooden floors squeak,
and there's an ice cream stand that serves ENORMOUS scoops.

The gravel road leading into my lake.

The driveway leading into our cottage.


1 comment:

  1. We don't own a cottage, but Webers is still an institution for us. Every year when we pick up the girls at camp, we stop at Webers for a burger on the way home. Thank goodness for that pedestrian walkway!