Many believe that fire, the wheel, air conditioning etc… are some of the world’s greatest inventions. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to sit and enjoy what I think is near the top of the list – the Finnish Sauna. We have a wonderful cottage on a lake inhabited by very few other cottages. Its outside Ignace, Ontario which is about a two hour drive west of Thunder Bay, Ontario along Hwy 17. The lake is about a 30 minute drive from Hwy 17 along a very bumpy and rough gravel road. Being so remote, the cottage has no electricity and rustic in just about every way you can think of. It was built about 30 years ago by Finnish loggers true to their craft stripping every log by hand. They worked on its construction during the cold of a Northern Ontario winter and we have wonderful photos of their progress. While rustic, its far from ‘roughing it’ being outfitted with a small solar panel on the roof to recharge the battery for the boom box. Its beautifully furnished with leather sofas and carpeting. We even have running water now thanks to the generator powered pump carrying water from the lake to the 500 gallon tank atop the hill next to the cottage. Its a beautiful and special place. I have many fond memories of it from my days spent there as a child, but my favourite thing about it is the Finnish Sauna. We have a sauna at our other cottage – and while its very lovely – its not the same as the sauna at Ignace. A couple of key differences: the sauna at Ignace is wood fired and is in a small cabin built of pine logs. Our sauna at the other cottage is an electric sauna and is in a small building with a cedar lined room. The effect just isn’t the same as Ignace. Something about being wood fired and in that log cabin just makes it all that much better. You also get a lovely steam off the rocks at Ignace that just isn’t the same at the other cottage. Don’t get me wrong – I love both and am happy to have even ONE! But I realized the other day that I haven’t been in the sauna at Ignace for 9 years and that was far, far too long. I even took the kids in with me and they LOVED it. It did get a little hot, but I could watch them in the water outside the sauna through the lovely window overlooking the lake. It was a beautiful, beautiful time and I absolutely loved every second of it. My only regret was that I couldn’t have one at our house in Austin. Though I think part of the experience is the cold lake next to the sauna which provides a wonderful opportunity to cool off after a hot steam. Heavenly.
We arrived in the ‘Great White North’ (aka Canada) last Thursday and have had a wonderful time in spite of lousy weather. It was clear but cool on Thursday afternoon and the kids enjoyed a dip in the lake in spite of the cool weather. The water was warm and they enjoyed every minute of it! We even got in a toodle around the lake before Grandpa put a beautiful roast on the rotisserie over the BBQ. It was delicious! (We are still eating it 5 days later there was so much of it!) Friday was miserable – very rainy. But we had a great time hanging out inside the cottage and keeping ourselves occupied with reading and relaxing and hanging out by the fire. On Saturday it got a little nicer, but was still pretty windy. We all did work around the yard and helped split wood with Grandpa’s hydraulic wood splitter. It was hard work – but not nearly as hard as when we had to split the wood by hand some time ago! The partly cloudy skies provided a lovely day and although it wasn’t great for being on the dock, it was great for just getting outside and spending some quality time in the fresh air. We also managed to get a walk and a short hike in earlier in the day. Grandpa, Joanne and the kids walked about a mile or so to the Baldy trail head and we made the short – but steep and slippery – hike up to Baldy. From the top you can see a beautiful vista of the lake. Joanne and ‘I’ decided to walk back to the cottage while Grandpa, ‘E’ and I drove (I had driven the car over as Grandpa predicted his knee wouldn’t be good enough to walk there and back). That night we had some heavy winds and thunderstorms roll in. It was very windy overnight. Early Sunday morning I was awoken by the phone ringing (about 5:45 am!) and the sound of the alarm going off (sad, but true, we now have an alarm here because of a winter break-in a year ago – but its nice to have the alarm when here on our own!). I was groggy but somehow managed to make it to the alarm pad to enter the code and turn off the alarm. We had lost power and the alarm system was letting us know. I missed answering the phone, but had managed to figure out that the phone call must have been the alarm company calling to find out if everything was okay. We headed into town to drive Joanne to the airport for her trip back to the ‘Peg and go to mass. We arrived back in the early afternoon to find the power had still not been returned. About 2:00 in the afternoon it came back on and we were back in business. It was another windy day and I managed to get in a run while the kids went out around the cottage to pick up twigs for Grandpa. They managed to clear out most of what had been blown down while I got in my hilly run. The run was nice, though I was pelted with rain by the heavy winds on the way back which wasn’t too much fun. We had a yummy dinner of spaghetti and meat sauce last night at the request of the kids. We all chowed down and had an early night. This morning I managed to get a run in before Grandpa took off for Upper Scotch Lake. He’ll be there for a day or two and then in the Peg until he returns next Sunday. Our neighbors next door, the Bodacks, will arrive tomorrow. It will be very enjoyable to have the company! For the rest of the day, we plan on parking our butts on the dock and the kids have asked to swim, swim and swim some more!