Vaughan and Tim picked us up just before ten. The snow was starting to really come down. The hire car was red. Dan piled up his home-baked lamingtons and muesli bars between us on the back seat. Vaughan set directions into the GPS on his phone – our first stop on the way to Muskoka was a Home Depot. I was glad Vaughan had offered to drive; I am still irked by driving on the right hand side of the road. Vaughan has a very relaxed approach to driving, and using a GPS: we did a lot of back-tracking after missed turn-offs because he was talking or looking at buildings across the street instead of the GPS flashing instructions to turn. We got to Home Depot in the end. Vaughan didn’t find what he was after but I found some new Pyrex containers for leftovers. I hadn’t even known I’d needed them.
For lunch we stopped of at Gravenhurst and ate food at Sunset Grill, a chain restaurant. We were looking for the Muskoka Wharf ice rink but didn’t find it. The snow banks were waist-high. It was difficult to tell where the lake started and the bank ended. There were a lot of ski-doos in the parking lot. These vehicles look like giant mechanical bugs and are as noisy as lawn mowers. I really want to ride on one. Surely there is a rental place somewhere.
We’re staying the night at Algonquin Motel, a small motel off Highway 124 with very brightly painted themed rooms. Ours has clouds pierced by multiple rainbows, with butterflies evenly distributed at eye level across the walls. Tim and Vaughan have a three-eyed (Simpons-esque) fish and duck feet paddling under the ceiling.
When you’ve driven several hours to get somewhere the idea of driving for an hour to find somewhere else for dinner isn’t daunting. We didn’t stop to think twice about spending another hour in the car to drive the 61 km further North (in heavy snowfall) to North Bay. As we drove up Main St I was clicking on nearby restaurants on my TripAdvisor App. We stopped at a Chinese restaurant that looked promising, but it was fully booked for New Year’s banquets. We found another cheap and cheerful looking Chinese place down the road, which had a buffet. It was an experience. I’m glad they had broccoli. The waitress was beside herself with excitement at our Aussie and New Zealand accents.
Driving back to the motel took longer than an hour. We got stuck half the way behind a snowplow machine. Its back section splits off from the front and moves to the side, so it can blow two lanes at once and block off the traffic behind. It was a novelty for us but the guy with the trailer that had overtaken us earlier was impatiently tailgating the plow. We made it back to the motel without seeing a deer, a moose or even a raccoon. We did see one car teetering into the small ravine between opposite traffic directions; it must have spun to end up facing backwards through the snow bank.