Cottage Country: Bye-Bye Québec, Hello Ontario.

We left La Mauricie feeling pretty good about all that we’d done in the past week. We quickly forgot about the ferries and the cave motel. We only remembered the amazing week and a half we’d just had jumping from one national park to the next.

 A quick visit to Mont-Tremblant.

A quick visit to Mont-Tremblant.

We did a quick tour of Mont-Tremblant before heading to Gatineau Park. It was in the Tremblant area that Matt's family would ski vacation when he was a kid but he hadn’t been in a very long time. In particular, they would spend many winter holidays at Gray Rocks, where he claims he learned all his gnarly skiing skills. We were so close, he wanted to drive by it. And so we did, but when we came to the area where Gray Rocks’ resort used to sit, there was nothing left but overgrown grasses and weeds. There was an eerie kind of melancholy that hung over the area. We snapped a few pictures and Matt pointed out where the t-bar used to be. 

 Gray Rocks - a once successful ski hill overgrown by weeds. It was here that Matt learned his skiing skills. A bit of a gloomy walk down memory lane for him.

Gray Rocks - a once successful ski hill overgrown by weeds. It was here that Matt learned his skiing skills. A bit of a gloomy walk down memory lane for him.

After a few more minutes of taking in the scene, we got back in the van and drove through Tremblant. The Mont-Tremblant area was charming. The hill was busy because they were preparing for an Ironman event. We didn’t spend much time there, as we were eager to connect with our friends.

From Tremblant, we drove to Gatineau to spend a few days at our friends’ cottage on Meech Lake. What an incredibly beautiful place.  Our kids and theirs, though they had never met before, became instant friends. We had a wonderful visit. We spent time floating on the lake and riding the hills of Gatineau Park. I could only imagine the cross-country skiing mecca it would become in the winter with the quaint little warming huts nestled here and there throughout the park.

 Swimming in Meech Lake.

Swimming in Meech Lake.

 Out for a paddle on Meech Lake.

Out for a paddle on Meech Lake.

 Kayaking buddies paddling Meech Lake.

Kayaking buddies paddling Meech Lake.

 Instant pals! Cottage life is fun!

Instant pals! Cottage life is fun!

We loved our time there and it was a wonderful way to put an end to our satisfying time in Québec. Just as I thought, Québec really was full of beautiful places. Given the mad dash through the province on our way east, I was glad that the opportunity to see it presented itself on the return trip.

The morning that we left Québec, we headed to Ottawa. Our Canada 150 road trip just didn’t seem complete without a stop on Parliament Hill. So from Gatineau, we met up with Matt’s Uncle and Aunt for lunch, then toured the Parliament buildings. We were able to catch a changing of the guards and explore the Hill with all its marvelous architecture.

 The kids photo-bombed this tour group's photo! LOL!!!

The kids photo-bombed this tour group's photo! LOL!!!

 Look, I'm almost as tall as the building!

Look, I'm almost as tall as the building!

 The amazing National War Memorial in Ottawa.

The amazing National War Memorial in Ottawa.

 Feeling the love from Uncle Arch. So nice to see family so far away from home!

Feeling the love from Uncle Arch. So nice to see family so far away from home!

When it was time to hit the road again, we had our aims on Bon Echo Provincial Park. This was special because it was there that Matt’s family spent much of their time in the summers as his Grandmother had a cottage on the Mazinaw. Since she’d passed away, it remained in the family and so we were going to spend a few days there with Aunt Carol and Uncle Richard.

Though it was a little cold in the evenings and mornings, the days were beautiful. From the cottage, Uncle Richard brought us for a boat ride to Bon Echo rock so that we could hike and see the pictographs that remained along the rocky cliffs.

 Looking out on Mazinaw Lake form Matt's family cottage.

Looking out on Mazinaw Lake form Matt's family cottage.

 Bon Echo Rock.

Bon Echo Rock.

 Hiking Cliff Top Trail with Matt's Uncle Richard and Aunt Carol.

Hiking Cliff Top Trail with Matt's Uncle Richard and Aunt Carol.

We hiked up the Cliff Top Trail that climbs 100m above the Mazinaw Lake. As we climbed the stairs on the trail and I watched the kids interact with Matt’s Uncle and Aunt, I was reminded of the great gift the kids received this summer. Not only had they seen a great deal of our country, but they’d had the opportunity to meet and spend time with family that was dispersed from one end of the country to the other. From the many aunts, uncles, and cousins throughout Cape-Breton to the many aunts, uncles and cousins in Ontario. We hadn’t made a plan with anyone until the very last minute, and things had worked out time and time again.

Oh what great fortune!

 One last evening paddle on the Mazinaw.

One last evening paddle on the Mazinaw.

And the fun didn’t end there. After a swim and a paddle and yet another beautiful sunset, we went to bed to rise early and hit the road the next day. We drove to Kennisis Lake and visited with Matt’s cousin at their cottage. I was getting used to this cottage jumping! And who wouldn’t? Another lakeside cottage and yet another spectacular sunset that left me awe-stuck.

 Visiting with cousin Andrew and Karen.

Visiting with cousin Andrew and Karen.

 Beautiful sundown on Kennisis Lake.

Beautiful sundown on Kennisis Lake.

After a fun evening with Andy and Karen, it was time to put some more hard miles down. We had a long drive the next day. We were quickly inching closer to school start so we had to quickly inch closer to Calgary. We got up super early and left the Halliburton region to make it back to Lake Superior Provincial Park. We’d spent some time there on the drive east, and we were going to spend another few days on our drive west. It was our only repeat park on the entire drive but the kids remembered the sunset on the beach and we were excited to go again!

We had a little less than a week but we were looking forward to having a few more days with just the kids to wrap up our cross Canada drive.

 

MORE PICTURES OF COTTAGE LIFE:

 

 Bike buddies, working out a chain issue after building a bike trail and putting it to the test. (Gatineau)

Bike buddies, working out a chain issue after building a bike trail and putting it to the test. (Gatineau)

 Lunch with Uncle Arch and Aunt Joan before our mini-tour of Ottawa.

Lunch with Uncle Arch and Aunt Joan before our mini-tour of Ottawa.

 "Sing us a song you're the piano man..." from the streets of Ottawa.

"Sing us a song you're the piano man..." from the streets of Ottawa.

 Sophie helps Nellie McClung hold up her very important message on Parliament Hill.

Sophie helps Nellie McClung hold up her very important message on Parliament Hill.

 Hiking with Aunt Carol and Uncle Richard in Bon Echo Park.

Hiking with Aunt Carol and Uncle Richard in Bon Echo Park.

 A family on Inusksuks on the Cliff Top Trail, Bon Echo Park.

A family on Inusksuks on the Cliff Top Trail, Bon Echo Park.

 Ben is stoked after Karen brought him for a spin on her jet-ski. (Kennisis Lake)

Ben is stoked after Karen brought him for a spin on her jet-ski. (Kennisis Lake)

 Ellie playing in the sand on Kennisis Lake with beautiful cousin Olivia.

Ellie playing in the sand on Kennisis Lake with beautiful cousin Olivia.

Many thanks to family and friends who hosted us at their cottages.