Sunday, July 20, 2014

a three hour tour... {georgian bay boat cruise}

"Just sit right back, and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip..." :)

Well, actually, it wasn't that fateful, and I'm getting ahead of myself.  But it was three hours! :) The above photo happened at the END of the day on which we took a "three hour (boat) tour" of Georgian Bay, Ontario - and this is NOT the boat we took.  Just to switch it up a little, though, thought I'd start at the end of the day this time, and work my way back... :)

The day was actually a "Plan B" - we had intended on covering a bit more of Niagara wine country on our bikes, but woke up yesterday to a not-so-great forecast for that part of the province.  So I was somewhat pleasantly surprised when Rob suggested that we head north instead, for Parry Sound, Ontario, and the "Island Queen" boat cruise, that is indeed, a three hour tour of the region's 30,000 islands.  Just slightly north of the province's Muskoka region, (which is world-renowned cottage country), is the Georgian Bay region.  While both regions are known for their rugged beauty (think countless pristine lakes and rivers, rocky cliffs and shores, and air scented with the aroma of evergreens), Georgian Bay is somewhat more rugged and barren than Muskoka - and the farther north you continue the more this is the case.  If you've never been, perhaps the windswept pines and granite rocks immortalized in paintings by the Group of Seven will help you envision the landscape of Georgian Bay:

Stormy Weather by F.H. Varley (Source)
Of course there's no need to choose which region you prefer - both are exceptionally beautiful - buuuuuutttt...for me, I have to say I lean ever so slightly towards the Georgian Bay region - partially because my family used to have a cottage on a remote island up near the French River (which I miss terribly) :(  and partly because I think the moody (and somewhat melancholy) romantic in me prefers the solitude and barren beauty of this land. Either way, it had been some years since I'd been up this way, and it was real treat to see those familiar rocks and trees again:

This photo originally included a lovely young man gracing the tour boat with a view of his bare behind, but I'll leave that to your imagination... :)
Georgian Bay is a HUGE body of water.  In fact, it is sometimes called the "sixth Great Lake" - and believe me, I can attest to that, after a harrowing boat trip with my family across open water from our cottage to Killarney Provincal Park several years ago - I honestly felt like we were IN the "perfect storm", and we genuinely feared for our lives. Trust me, you do NOT want to get caught in inclement weather in these waters.  That said, the wide open water of the bay is a thing of beauty in and of itself:

As are the narrow glacier-created channels that characterize the region:

Ah yes.  So as you can see, these photos were taken from a boat - the aforementioned Island Queen:

I'm all for being a tourist in my own neck of the woods (especially in the summertime!), and this cruise was simply lovely (and quite reasonable at $38 each).  The boat provided a smoother than smooth ride, there was commentary supplied that provided you with history of the area and information about what we were seeing along the way - but just enough, not too much.  There was a snack bar on board, (although no alcohol is sold or allowed), and three levels to choose from which to view the beautiful scenery passing by.  It really was a wonderfully relaxing way to spend a summer afternoon (and thankfully, the weather cooperated).  We were followed for a good part of the journey by a flock of friendly seagulls (cue music!) :) that I'm pretty sure were used to getting food scraps from passengers:

I don't think they got anything from us, but they certainly provided us with some lovely photo ops! (No, I don't consider them "rats with wings" - I actually think seagulls are beautiful birds - perhaps due to my East Coast (Nova Scotia) heritage...?)

The tour was simply delightful - and I would certainly recommend it.  A few final photos from the cruise:

Not a whole lot of privacy for this cottage-goer... :(

Make way, comin' through!

Through the swing bridge and back to Parry Sound
After the cruise was over, instead of heading into town for dinner in a restaurant, we opted to rough it (but not really) for dinner, and have a BBQ picnic.  We were fortunate to find a little slice of heaven just outside town - a public park complete with a beach, a view, and a dock - and as luck would have it, we had it all to ourselves (with the exception of the people just off shore in the "dreamboat"...) :)

Gotta say, this meal tasted FAR better than any restaurant meal could have...

A lovely end to a lovely day...

I even had a few of these (I know, I know, don't even start - I'm weak when it comes to these things, WEAK, I tell you..):

Which brings us back to this: 

And we've come full circle! :) 

Oh. Except I forgot to mention one little thing - if you're ever near Parry Sound (home of Bobby Orr, and the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame!) and looking for a great spot for a picnic, try searching your GPS for "Nobel Beach".  It really was a gorgeous spot to launch a kayak or paddle board, go for swim or hike, or just sit on the beach, dock, or a rock, and read a book or soak up some Vitamin D.  It even had an anchored raft off shore - all new, completely public, and at least when we were there, not crowded in the least.  I couldn't find a link for it,  but it's located in the small town of Nobel, Ontario - which is named after none other than Alfred Nobel - yep, he of the prize (and the inventor of dynamite).  Who knew?  

And so ends another installment of my summer travels (to date, heh heh).  My hope is that perhaps YOU may be looking for things to do this summer that aren't too far from home (if you live in Southern Ontario, that is), and these posts may inspire you to venture somewhere you haven't tried before.  If you happen to live on the other side of the globe however, perhaps you'll be moved to come visit my little corner of the world.  However you may be spending your summer, hope you're enjoying this fleeting season to the fullest, wherever you may be reading this from! :)

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