OTR Wk 5: Cozy Chalet at Wasaga Beach

Cogitation 44/221 Friday 1 November 2019 On The Road Week 5 in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, focused on family. Could we survive, thrive, in this first almost week-long assemblage?

We gathered at a cozy cottage/chalet, prepared tasty meals, turned on the fireplace as needed, told stories, played card games, took walks, did day trips, connected with people locally, some shivered in the high wind and first snowfall, and celebrated birthdays.

Wasaga Beach lies on Nottawasaga Bay, leading off Georgian Bay, leading from Lake Huron in the Great Lakes.

At the start of the week, brother-in-law Murray celebrated 70 years and at the end of the week brother Sandy celebrated 80. Happy Birthday to both!

Brenda Mutter, whose husband Harold was a previous work colleague of two of my brothers, baked two apple pies for dinner at our commodious chalet. Delicious!

A week with siblings could easily become a tradition, but that’s a decision to be made later.

Bruce Trail

On Tuesday, 10 of us walked some paces on the Bruce Trail, four of us did 10 kilometers and Christa did 26 km. Christa is three-fourths of the way to completing the 900 kilometer (540 mile) footpath from Queenston Heights (near Niagara Falls) to Tobermory on Georgian Bay.

Christa and Mark have been on the trail since October 4, staying in their Hymer GT550, a cozy home on wheels. They park at Boondocker-registered homes, a membership program where people share their driveways for a night or two. Mark does some walking and maneuvers the vehicles and bicycles from drop-off to pickup point while Christa covers 25-30 km per day. Mark walked regularly the first three weeks until he turned an ankle. Bravo Christa! Bravo Mark!

Marty and I completed the trail, with Christa and Mark and a few others, over seven weeks of seven summers, finishing in 2007. Bravo!

This occasional sign tells you you’re walking in the direction of Tobermory. If it said Tobermory to Niagara, you’d be going the reverse direction. It’s a handy point of reference. White blazes tell you you’re on the Bruce Trail, and not some side trail or animal path.
Happy trails, friend.
From left, Willard (partially hidden), Joy, Murray, Christa, Kaye, Mark, Vivian, Marty, Sandy, me (John).
Wild apples on the trail. Sour, as expected, but worth the taste.
Mistake of the past–fastening a fence and barbed wire on trees. The trees overcame the human error.
Ridges and caves run alongside part of the trail.
Follow the white blaze painted on trees, the path your feet can feel, and you’ll not go wrong on the Bruce Trail.
The eyes and nose are buried in slumber.
Old style rail fence once probably divided ownership of property.
Christa, Marty, John, Vivian pause on the 10-kilometer section.
See the road that rises up and up? We’re closing in on our destination.
Mark waits in the distance to guide us the last 1.5 kilometer walk to the parking lot.
Pretty River in Pretty River Valley. Christa continued on for 13 more kilometers.
Intertwined trunks and roots remind one of family interconnections. Together we make sense of the world through stories of work, faith, inclusiveness, and courage to move on, remembering those who have gone before, including brother Brian and all of our parents in the extended family of siblings and spouses-in-law. Recently, both of Christa’s parents died, Gustav first, followed by Gerta a week later. May God’s comfort and love go with us as we keep in memory those who loved us.

Other shots

Joy and Sandy’s grandson, Geordan, spent the week with us. On the clearest day he rode his motorcycle for almost 500 km, circling through central Ontario. Among various sights he saw a baby moose. Geordan helped with meal preparation, washing dishes, tech issues. On Friday he joined the brave ones who walked in snow on the trail. A persistent cough keep me indoors. Bravo Geordan!
Brother Will walks along the sea wall at the home of Nancy and Paul, friends of Kaye and Murray.
Milou, a Coton de Tulear, enjoyed some of the Lasagna dinner.

Canadian flag

Canadian flag, flying at the edge of the bay at the home of Nancy and Paul, friends of Kaye and Murray.

The National Flag of Canada was proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on January 28, 1965. It was raised for the first time in an inauguration ceremony on Parliament Hill in February 15, 1965.

In 1964-65 I was doing an exchange visitor year in Germany. I had a letter from Barney Faber with a few details about his family of origin in Germany and a drawing of the proposed Canadian flag to replace the Union Jack in preparation for the country’s sesquicentennial in 1967. Barney was a traveler in a small area of south central Ontario, occasional hired help among area farmers, a collector of whatever, a raconteur, something of a loner, sidelined but sustained in local society.

From a flyer related to the city of Sackville, NB, I learned that the flag was designed by Dr George F.G. Stanley, long-time Sackville resident, professor of Canadian Studies at Mount Allison, University (rated #1 undergraduate university in Canada by Maclean’s 2019), and at one time Governor General of New Brunswick. Alan Beddoe, retired naval captain and heraldic adviser to the Royal Canadian Navy, was also involved in the design.

From the Government of Canada History of the National Flag of Canada website: “The flag is the symbol of the nation’s unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion.”


For Mark, their weeks on the trail have been cozy and fun. They’ve put 3,000 kilometers on their truck. Getting used to their small house on wheels has been a cozying-up part of the experience, he said. Having access to showers this week has been a plus.

Christa said their experience on the trail has been “absolute freedom.” It’s the kind of freedom they had during 10 years of teaching at an international school in Germany. They interacted with people, entertained visitors, but did much on their own. Now, to go off for six weeks without chores and everyday drudgery has been so good. “We can do what we want to do,” she said.

Planning for the week with extended family did make her nervous, she said. Just imagine, you’ve spent weeks on the trail, often without seeing another soul, and then being confronted with a hungry, happy, holiday crowd; well, that’s a significant change of pace. Fortunately, the congenial group pitched in in various ways to make the week at the chalet work. Christa and Mark did beautifully with the breakfast preparations, including the birthday breakfast for Sandy, while the rest took turns preparing the evening meal and washing up.

I recall, 10 years ago, going for groceries after a week on the trail. It was culture shock. Cars bopped about the parking lot and people drove their shopping carts like tanks. I had come from a world of serenity in the wild to a war zone of weekend shopping frenzy. I can just imagine how Christa and Mark felt the day we arrived. Hope they miss us as much as we’ll miss them. Thanks, Christa and Mark!

First snow

On Friday, Christa, Geordan, and Will braved the first snow to walk 8.4 km on the Bruce Trail.

Meanwhile back at the chalet

Friday: Aircraft-like roaring winds incessantly drove waves toward shore of Nottawasaga Bay, leading off Georgian Bay. Breathtaking and beautiful. Marty, Vivian and John walked on a path near the bay.

And the birthday dinner

Friday night birthday dinner in celebration of Sandy’s 80th.

Memories. More stories to ponder and share. The road soon leads home. Distance we’ve walked this year to the end of October: 1,193.5 miles (1920.8 km). Best!


6 thoughts on “OTR Wk 5: Cozy Chalet at Wasaga Beach

  1. What a delightful description of your family interactions and pursuits, John! What fun it must have been to be together, yet having time to make individual choices. Does the chalet/cottage belong to Mark and Christa? How nice to celebrate two birthdays while there. Thanks for facilitating my ability to hear and watch the streaming of Annie’s funeral. Everyone looked too small to really see on the cell phone, but it was great to experience it!

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10



    1. Fun, indeed, Marcia. We’d never done such an extended time together before. May have set a pattern. We’ll see. Catching up right now with all things “home.” Best!


  2. Thanks, John. It won’t be long before daily hikes in Cornwall!


    My iPad says that a smile always increases your Face Value!



    1. Indeed. Plans are in place for a Cornwall sojourn. As the Cornish say, it’s “home from home.” Best as you plan your Florida escape.


  3. Hello John,
    Just received your blog from Sandy. What a great adventure you all had at the cozy chalet! Amazing that you were able to connect with all your siblings. Both of us really enjoyed reading about your various experiences.
    You can put us on your blog list of people. We’d enjoy that!
    Grace & Don


    1. Hi Grace and Don. So good to have you on the readers’ list. You simply signed up with your email address in the upper right corner, right? I’ve been doing one blog a week. I’m working on a summary of the five-week trip for this week’s posting. Best!


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