Mother Nature alters vacation plans and memories

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Doug and I went up to his cottage at Whitestone last week, he planning to angle for some fish, I to do some reading and maybe visit old friends. The weather altered Doug's dream. Rained every day until Friday, the day to head south.

We opted to take the scenic route on our way north. As someone wrote recently, the freeways are close to capacity. A call for more rail service to reduce the traffic sounds more reasonable than adding lanes that use up land, increase chances of driver rage and collisions. Shades of Los Angeles.

I can't feel comfortable with cars that guide themselves, a work in progress. What if the computer gets hit by a stray alpha particle or whatever, and goes nuts? It's bad enough when it happens in the present vehicles, loss of control of the accelerator or brakes.

We motored through Shakespeare, on to Arthur. Opted to follow 109 and go through Grand Valley to Highway 89. Highway 109 is too crowded for sight seeing.

We took the short cut that misses Shelburne to reach 124 north. I told Doug about going across 124 to Airport Road once, and vowed never to do that again, winding, boring...

We were on Regional Road 17 which runs through the ever-growing forest of windmills when we came to a stop light. "Don't go that way," I said, thinking we were at 124. Though he knew I was wrong, Doug turned north on Highway 10. If it were a rectangle there'd be no difference, but it isn't. Doubles the distance but also doubles points of interest that I missed when I was the driver.

The proliferation of solar arrays is one change along this route, a reminder of the swelling electrical energy costs in Ontario.

Day one we went to Duck Rock for milk and gasoline. I was pleased to find a new book of John Macfie's tales of Parry Sound. John said he was not going to write any more of those but so many people from all over the world sent questions and added information he changed his mind. Good!

Doug asked if I'd been to the museum in Parry Sound. Couldn't remember doing that. So on another rainy day off we went.

We visited Bearly Used Books, a favourite haunt for 20 years. The owner recognized us. I took a chance at a name. "Melissa," she corrected. When we went to settle accounts I was relieved to hear her ask, "What's you father's surname?" She found me in her list, "Martha and George." One of her employees had tagged me George and never got it right.

When we made our way up the mountain to the museum I recognized the massive road grader parked outside the building. Maybe I did visit the museum before.

Inside we came into a pioneer kitchen. The stove and other furniture looks like that of kitchens in my youth, but the mannequin holding a loaf of unbaked bread, I recognized that face, a face to dream of.

Next was a workshop scene. A mannequin, manual in one hand, monkey wrench in the other, he leans over an ancient outboard engine. His shoes triggered the memory. They are a century or more in the future for the rest of the scene. No cobbler of the era would have made them.

On Friday the sun appeared amid fluffy clouds, too late for fishing. We packed our stuff and hit the Bunny Trail. West of Stayner I asked Doug if he's been through Creemore. We turned south and passed through an area of lush crops. Again, free from the driver's seat I was able to enjoy the passing scenes. Creemore lies in the bottom of a circle of mountains. It must have delighted the hearts of the Scots who settled the area.

The road drops steeply as we near the town. We wonder how drivers manage the right angle bend at the bottom when winter ice and snow paves the narrow highway.

Just around the bend I see a log building used as a barn but almost identical to the picture in Macfie's book showing the typical homes of pioneers. John writes of the loss by fire only a year ago of what may be the last of these structures. I wonder if he knows of this one.

My memory of the drive west through Dunedin proves to be nothing like the real thing. Once again I revel in being free from that damned steering wheel!

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