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Hey, this is NOT Paris was my first thought as I woke up one morning this summer.

 

I was sticky from the humidity, rocking slightly to the ebb and flow of the water beneath, listening to a distant call of the loon, and wondering where I was!

 

As many of you know about me, my idea of an adventure is getting on a plane to Paris as often as I can, and in fact, I have been twice in the last nine months for a month at a time.

 

So, when good friends suggested that this summer I  might want to explore my own country, by spending a week on a houseboat, I was intrigued if a little wary.

 

Less than 10 percent of Canadians venture further than the 250-kilometre | 150-mile strip north of the US border, which accounts for a mere fraction of my homeland, the second largest country in the world.

 

I have also never been on a camping holiday, cooked over a campfire or slept in a tent. Never.

 

So you see, this presented a challenge to be tackled at least once in my lifetime.

 

I dare ya, said that little voice in my head.

 

 

 

Our two houseboats, one per couple, from Leisure Island rentals in Temagami

 

My Houseboat Holiday

 

A huge part of spending a week on a houseboat is the prep.

 

After weeks of making lists and purchases, we headed out, our car fully loaded with clothing, bedding, pillows, towels, toiletries, first aid kit, lanterns, toilet paper, water, food, and plenty of food as there would be no grocery stores to stop in for that quart of milk we forgot. (We were disappointed that our fun snacks were left behind by mistake, stuff we never eat normally like potato chips and a large jar of salted mixed nuts, along with a case of French Perrier water (oh sob!))

 

We arrived at Lake Temagami, almost 7 hours from Toronto in Northern Ontario to light rain.

 

Hmmm…

 

Not great for unpacking.

 

As soon as we were able we were off.  Mon amour took the wheel, and I unpacked as we followed our friends to the first location.

 

Rough waters ahead! Hey, This is definitely not Paris!

 

Mon amour at the helm.

Inside Our Houseboat

 

Neither spacious nor luxurious our houseboat (really just a shed on pontoons) reminded me a little of a Parisian “chambre de bonne.”

 

“Une chambre de bonne” is a tiny tiny room at roof level that served as a bedroom for servants of former French households, reconfigured into cheap apartments.

 

Similarly, squeezed into about 100 square feet, our houseboat had two tables with bench seating,  one of which collapsed into a double bed; a stovetop, fridge and counter, and another bench with cushions on which we would have been able to sit if we had more room. Instead, we needed it to stack all our stuff.

 

The bathroom was minuscule with only a toilet. There was no running water, or sink even in the kitchen.

 

On our first night, we arrived at a location unsheltered from the elements.  The wind picked up and for the next eight hours straight, the metal pontoons of our two houseboats, moored side by side, crashed, and I mean crashed against the rocks.

 

BANG! BANG! BANG!

 

All night long.

 

Little sleep that night and yet mon amour and I erupted into fits of laughter — what had we got ourselves into?

 

 

 

Our second location! Courtesy Rachel May

 

The next morning all was forgiven as the lake was calm and the sun came out — for a little while.

 

Did I mention the mosquitoes?

 

There were ferocious.

 

Or the fact that our new two-seat kayak got a hole in it, on our first outing, and the patch kit did not hold up.  Grrrr.

 

 

Exploring the forest near the shore

 

On our way again!

 

 

All of the inconveniences aside, I could not have been more in awe of this part of the world.

 

The views were breathtaking and vast, stretching out in all directions and appearing to have no limits.

 

There are ribbons of endless shoreline, where the tall white pines grow out of the rock right to the water’s edge.

 

Few cottages blight the landscape as most are respectfully hidden behind the trees.

 

Nothing marred the tranquillity or peacefulness of the place.

 

It was a lesson in stillness — as the only sounds were breeses whistling through the trees and the occasional forlorn call of the loon.

 

Along with our somewhat successful attempts to call out to them!

 

Rachel helping me practice a loon call. She actually succeeded in getting a reply!

 

Our last day!

 

We travelled to three locations that week, each one was more beautiful than the last.

 

The weather was hot, then cold, then rainy but that last day was pure magic.

 

By that time, mon amour and I had a system worked out moving about in a limited space, for washing up the dishes and taking regular baths in the lake despite the frigid waters!

 

We had long since forgotten to miss WIFI or being connected to the outside world.

 

Bathing in the lake holding up my bar of biodegradable soap! I put it in a mesh bag and tied it to my wrist so that I wouldn’t drop it!

 

Ok, so we had not become converts to house boating by any means but were appreciative of this extraordinary experience.

 

We felt blessed to live and know a little better about our beautiful country.

 

 

Hey, why didn’t anyone tell me about my hair?? No hairdryer or mirror for a whole week. Yikes!

 

 

I want to thank our hosts and friends Rachel and Don May who were our companions and guides.

 

Don is a gifted raconteur who has spent many summers in the area.

 

It was a highlight when he seated himself on a rock and began filling us in on the local indigenous history. (This was their sixth year renting a houseboat!)

 

 

Don, the storyteller!

 

This is me on our way home, sporting my handcrafted earrings made by a local First Nations designer, (shopping!) and smiling because I was looking forward to a hot shower!

 

 

Win a Book from my Book Club List!

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So Welcome Back Everyone!

What did YOU do on your summer vacation this year?

 

Love to hear your comments …

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27 Comments

  1. Kelly on August 28, 2022 at 7:29 am

    Congratulations on trying something out of your comfort zone! As someone who has done her fair share of week long camping trips, I suggest taking a couple of cute baseball style hats, sunglasses and tinted lipgloss to get you through the week looking reasonably good. “Mon Amour” is quite the handsome captain. I remember in one of your posts during pandemic lockdowns you mentioned that you were rethinking being on your own. I’d love to hear the story of how your relationship came about. Glad to receive your post this morning!

    • Diana Bishop on August 29, 2022 at 10:51 am

      Kelly — well it is quite the story and one I reserving to tell in my next book. (However, I have to keep reminding myself to put time aside to keep writing it!)
      Lot your suggestions. I look horrible in a baseball cap sadly, but on this kind of trip, who the heck cares right! My lipgloss was never far from a pocket.
      Thanks for the comment! You have been entered into the Giveaway Book Draw for August…bonne chance. Diana

  2. Catherine Willis-O'Connor on August 28, 2022 at 9:08 am

    Sleeping in a tent. Thank goodness you still haven’t done that yet!
    Randy and I did a Truck-Camper trip across Canada. 7 weeks of beautiful views and 12378kms later. Home safe and happy.

    • Diana Bishop on August 29, 2022 at 10:48 am

      Oh my, now that IS an adventure. 7 weeks! The stories you and your amour must have to tell. Diana

  3. Susan Copeland on August 28, 2022 at 9:55 am

    Hi Diana, When you said Temagami, my first thought was mosquitos, and my second was black flies. Memories of summer camps and covering stories in the Laurentians north of Montréal. “Le fléau” of our north country in the summer. Any guidance on avoiding bites or dealing with the itch? Sounds like a great trip. Always good to get out of your comfortable zone. Cheers Susan

    • Ilona McAlister on August 28, 2022 at 11:13 am

      Loved your different story- not Paris related! What a great experience you had. I too love Paris and plan to go next year, if it were up to me – several tomes as well. I am currently learning French and would love to be immersed! Our vacation this year is more of a “staycation”. Exploring our beautiful surroundings in Southern California. We live in a picturesque beach town with some beautiful historical buildings. San Clemente a Spanish city by the sea….

      • Diana Bishop on August 29, 2022 at 10:47 am

        It sounds amazing IIona. California is a state I want to explore more.
        I am excited that you are going to Paris next year and learning French — good for you. So much fun.
        Thank you for the comment — you have been entered into the GIVEAWAY draw as have the others who have commented here for the August Book draw!
        Keep ya posted, Diana

  4. Anne-Marie on August 28, 2022 at 12:08 pm

    Loved reading about your adventures in the great White North. Brought back memories of camping on an island in the middle of Lac Simon, QC. This summer, took a trip to visit my family in southern Ontario for the first time in three years. Explored the region around Lac Erie – beautiful area in the middle of wine country! Santé!

    • Diana Bishop on August 29, 2022 at 10:45 am

      Lake Erie is just lovely too! I hope you have had a great summer exploring your part of Canada! Best to you Anne-Marie, Diana

  5. Christine Kowal on August 28, 2022 at 12:16 pm

    Wow, what an incredible adventure, this is my dear friend the Diana Bishop I know and love on a house boat. Wow! It looks beautiful and your amour, very handsome.
    Me this summer I have been studying the still small voice inside peace and grace.
    So glad you’re back. Looking forward to your Sunday adventures. Love and Light Christine and the Animals

    • Diana Bishop on August 29, 2022 at 10:44 am

      I think you would have loved it, Christine! And so would the animals. Love hearing from you and thank you for the comment, Diana

  6. Gretchen Greene O'Brien on August 28, 2022 at 2:15 pm

    What a unique adventure you just had on a Cdn. Houseboat! Good for you!!! You can now cross that off your Bucket List! Pesky mosquitoes aside, we certainly have some gorgeous scenery here in Ontario!!!

    • Diana Bishop on August 29, 2022 at 10:43 am

      Crossed off indeed, Gretchen! Hope you are loving your new life in Ottawa! Diana

  7. Shardie Stevenson on August 28, 2022 at 3:03 pm

    I loved hearing your stories about the houseboat “ adventure” in person …. hilarious …. and of course, your written version is also terrific! I too initially thought – mosquitos and black flies when you said Temagami! 😩 That was NOT the type of houseboat I thought you were renting 🤪
    While you had some crummy weather and accommodations that couldn’t be farther from a suite at Le George’s V in Paris , if you tried, you did have your lip gloss (😂😂😂), see some spectacular northern Ontario country , had lots of laughs with your lovely beau , and I think , you learned how to play poker! Your hair looked great by the way ! ❤️❤️❤️

    • Diana Bishop on August 29, 2022 at 10:39 am

      Yes, I would have been completely lost without my lipgloss!
      Love the comment Shardie, Diana

  8. Trudy Van Buskirk on August 28, 2022 at 5:27 pm

    Congratulations for taking a risk twice – finding “mon amour” and trying something way out of your comfort zone. I’ve never been houseboating but I do know what it’s like to live in a small space – in the mid80s, my partner at the time and I rented a 39′ sailboat and sailed around the BVIs in the Caribbean for 2 weeks. What an adventure as I’m sure yours was too!

    • Diana Bishop on August 29, 2022 at 10:40 am

      Trudy — well sailing is another activity that is out of my comfort zone! How fantastic a trip that would have been for you. Love hearing from you as usual, Diana

  9. Juliette Wood on August 28, 2022 at 8:30 pm

    I could completely identify with your experience but not because I’ve rented a houseboat ( we almost did, but had to cancel in Lake of the Woods when my son became ill). I’ve done a fair amount of canoe trips, as a teen, young adult tripper and with my husband early on in our marriage, and mosquitoes and black flies featured in every experience! And the lake bathing and simple meals and simpler sleeping arrangements also featured in every experience; I like to think of it as a Canadian summer experience, but one not to be repeated in this certain age, unless it’s in a completely outfitted houseboat, and they certainly exist on the Lake of the Woods!
    For the last few years, now that we live on the west coast, Tofino cabin/house rentals fill the bill in comfort and with a trade-in ocean/seashore for lakes!

    • Diana Bishop on August 29, 2022 at 10:43 am

      You are so right Juliette. It is a Canadian summer experience through and through. The mosquitoes and black flies should have been well over when we went at the end of July — but it is have been a wet summer here in Ontario so no such luck. Did make it tricky to sit outside in the morning with a cup of coffee, and that I had been truly looking forward to that. Ah well, I will never forget the experience. Thank you for your comment. Love hearing from you, Diana

  10. Laura Campbell on August 29, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    Really enjoyed your adventures Diana on the houseboat up north. I’ve never seen that area nor rented a houseboat. Currently I’m at the Alaskan border in northern BC and have been camping in the Yukon and Alaska with my son and daughter. I haven’t done any tent camping in over 40 years, so the equipment sure has gotten better! No bugs since it was too cold, but amazing scenery. Took the historic white Pass\ Yukon train up the chilkoot pass that was the Klondike trail, saw Dawson, top of the world highway, have hiked tombstone parks Grizzly trail to the summit and have gone bear hunting. No bears cited fortunately. I would highly recommend travelling this part of the north renting a camper van instead of camping. Will do this next time since camping is hard, but I really got a taste of the North. It’s a must see. But I do hope to visit Paris again soon…….

    • Diana Bishop on August 31, 2022 at 9:30 am

      Laura, this is amazing that you are up in northern BC. That must be an amazing experience. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
      Diana

  11. Kimberley WALSH on August 30, 2022 at 10:07 am

    I cannot believe how you managed to turn mosquitoes, crazy weather and cramped space into a glorious sexy holiday. I tried to think about what did I actually do this summer. I had a very hard time trying to figure out what did I do???. And then it happened….. the floodgates opened and i remembered that the rebel in me went off to Mexico in late spring. The trip was interesting to say the least. NOT what I expected. But….. the real story was in getting out of, then back into Canada, That’s where the real excitement was lol. I also seem to negate that I have a beautiful AirBnb in the Kawarthas. It has been wonderful exploring the little towns/villages in the area with their festivals. Mosquitoes have been the bain of my existence. I am always their buffet of choice. I lasted 2 years and then I made a life decision….my property, my rules. you don’t pay rent, you must go. I spray the property so I no longer have to dance with the mosquitoes and I have to say……i don’t miss them for a second. Once again I can enjoy my morning tea outside and marvel in the beauty around me. Lovely to hear your stories Diana and even more lovely to see your mon amour.

    • Diana Bishop on August 31, 2022 at 9:34 am

      Wow Kimberley — so great to hear from you! I love Mexico for sure and also the Kawartha’s. Glad to see you have sorted out the mosquito issue. Smart.
      It can really hinder the enjoyment of the place. I do wonder how the First Nations people coped and the first settlers when there was no bug spray.
      Your post takes me back to our days at BNI. Do you remember Hal Keiser who was a member for a few years? He lives up here and we have formed a folk rock band.
      But that is a story for another blog! Best to you, Diana

  12. Kimberley WALSH on August 31, 2022 at 10:08 am

    I do not recall the name. I love that you have an outlet for your creative musical talents. i remember something about you working out to old disco tunes or something like that. it makes me laugh now when i hear some of out music in the grocery stores etc. we have become the MUZAK. i would love to hear the “other stories” we need a good pail of wine, baguette, cheese and dips and a few hours to share. it would be lovely to grab Kelly and maybe go to the airbnb for a night or 2. I was thinking yesturday, you might want to consider taking a group to France, now the boarders are somewhat open again. It would be lovely to see France through the eyes of Diana Bishop. xoxo

    • Diana Bishop on September 4, 2022 at 4:01 pm

      That would be fun!

  13. Grace Prince on September 5, 2022 at 10:21 am

    Hey this is Canadian style travel and how to enjoy one of the many ways to get to know the wild side of our country.
    As a child our camping excursions were at the least to say Wild, there were seven of us children, no cabin,no tents just the back of an old station wagon, but amazingly waking up to the Sun and the squirrels chattering, and jumping into the Mira River for your morning wash before spending the rest of the day rafting and roasting marshmallows on twigs; I can honestly tell you it was the highlight of my childhood.
    No fancy glamping, no house boats. Just fun , finger food and friends who loved the wilderness,
    Glad you got to enjoy what our natural resources have, cold water, weather and sunshine.
    A.A. GM Prince

    • Diana Bishop on September 12, 2022 at 10:05 am

      Grace, thank you so much for the comment. My parents were definitely not campers or wilderness people. I did not have that experience as a child which would have helped! Haha
      Best to you, Diana

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