My husband doesn’t like the heat, so we don’t get to Mexico very often. We are typically a paler shade of white, even during the summer months…and we are not overly fond of mosquitoes and their heftier relative, the horsefly. Where does this leave us? - with fond family memories of fall colours in all of their glory. That’s right, we travel in the autumn. I’m a true sucker for the crispy air, the cozy sweaters, and the children’s giggles as they throw leaves at one another.
As a couple without children, we typically traveled to Sudbury and Elliot Lake, our hometowns. We took day trips, hiked and frequented the last of outside pubs and cafes all across the Toronto and Chicago areas (where we lived pre-kiddies). We even did an autumn honeymoon in Whitehorse, in the Yukon! A little different, but remember my husband’s squeamishness to the sun? If you’re ever there, be sure to check out a free tour of the Yukon Brewing Company … and arrange for a designated driver (www.yukonbeer.com).
Now that we have two wee ones, I’m even more fond of vacationing at this time of the year. Guess what? No one gets a sunburn! With two toddlers, we’ve only ventured to Ottawa and surrounding towns so far; and just last weekend we were lucky enough to get back up to Elliot Lake for a long weekend. The fall colours were in full progression, we noticed shades deepen with each passing day. My son was genuinely surprised to see ‘pink’ trees! It was the perfect time to travel north of Barrie because the colours weren’t really present in Southern Ontario yet, and it was if we had fast-tracked the fall process for my curious three-year-old, who had been enquiring about the season at hand.
As always, we stayed at Dunlop Lake Lodge in Elliot Lake (www.dunloplakelodge.com). We were joined by family and friends the first day we arrived, as the lodge hosted a memorial service for my husband’s grandmother. It was a very special event which honoured the life of a spirited, proud and hard-working woman. It was made more special by the warm sunshine peaking through the lounge windows while we heard the recitation of ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee’, one of Grandma’s favourite poems. I looked out over pretty, painted treetops awash with jewel tones and remembered meeting her during our honeymoon in the Yukon.
The warmth of the day allowed for the gathering to move out onto the patio and deck following the service and lunch. Young and old mingled and shared memories of a strong mother; grandmother; sister; aunt. As the service concluded, my children migrated to the waterfront and adjoining gardens onsite. The kids enjoyed the weather, the waves and even a couple of four-wheeler rides that afternoon.
The following day, our immediate family joined the supporters and participants of the Terry Fox Run down at Westview Park on the shores of Elliot Lake (http://www.elliotlakestandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2768498) . We proudly watched my three-year-old son run his first Terry Fox Run on the 30th anniversary of the event. Again, the weather didn’t let us down and we enjoyed the event route and the adjoining playground at Westview Park that whole morning.
Monday morning came around too soon and we had to pack up and regrettably leave the panoramic beauty of the lodge. I wish we could stay on Dunlop Lake year-round. I wish we could dine at Paradise Found every night. I wish our family could spend a lifetime surrounded by autumn hues and hints of sunshine. I bet Grandma and Terry would feel the same.
By Tricia MacDonald