Friday, July 16, 2010

Waterloo, part 2 shouldn't be the Fellowship of the Ring, but it is

One of the big events that we had planned for our visit was a trip out to what we like to call the Gutoski land holdings. A number of years back, Gus' father, Tom, managed to get a sweet deal on a hundred acre wood of his very own. Greta just wouldn't shut up about how great it was. Wendy was so excited about it that I couldn't sleep the night before. That last bit is entirely fabricated and only and excuse to segue into my next story.

I called my nephew, David, up and asked him to give me a midnight tour of the University of Waterloo campus. He was nervous that he couldn't live up to my expectations from some of our previous adventures. "Can Bri come, too?" he asked. Naturally I didn't mind if his girlfriend was there. I don't know Bri well, but she puts up with David's weirdness, so she gets a BIG benefit of the doubt. I went over to their apartment to pick them up. Bri gave me a hug. Strange.

After a struggle to find parking near campus, we had a lovely walk in the dark. David pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to me. It was a heavy, golden ring, and yes, it was inscribed with words hauntingly familiar. "It's the ring Bri got me for our engagement."

"Your WHAT?"

"Hmmm. I guess you forgot to tell him, David."

I picked my jaw off the floor and grinned, giving them both a hearty "congratulations." And I thought it was only the Diakuw 'grapevine' that was broken. How is it, James Clan, that I can hear the story of Wendy and the cactus a million times, get invited repeatedly to do tricks on the trapeze, but no one thinks to mention that their (grand)son is getting married? Fortunately, I like surprises.

We spent a couple of hours walking, talking and locating an on campus geo-cache. I'll give David points for the geo-caching fun, but Bri takes home the high score for getting her fiance The One Ring for their engagement.

I was tired after a night of wandering but we were up and away all too early. The washing-up was so dismally real that I was forced to believe the party of the night before had not been part of my bad dreams, as I had rather hoped ;) On we go...

The drive to the Gutoski land holdings is substantial (1 1/2 hrs), but there is a balm for this hurt. It is called Mapleton's Organics -- an organic family farm turned rest stop. There I feasted on a double waffle-cone containing a scoop of espresso and one of dandelion. It was heavenly. An added attraction (and fee) is the living maze of cedar trees which we dared to enter. The reward for cheating (no names shall be mentioned) or success (I'll admit to that) is a small playground pirate ship on which I was certainly the captain of my fate.

We arrived at the hundred acre wood and hiked down to the cabins. There were three tiny buildings (each with a wood stove for the winter) in which we slept, a covered food preparation area, generous deck seating and an outdoor composting toilet. All of these features look out on the only thing that really matters...

The waterfall is what you do there. When you aren't doing it, it's because you are eating, playing cribbage, exploring cavelike sinkholes, reading, or sleeping. The falls are about 80m from the campsite and the soothing roar filled our ears for 3 days.

Sometimes it was too dark to play in the waterfall. Gus' parents had an ancient collection of sparklers which the girls delighted in. Especially once I illuminated their minds with the wonders of 10 second shutter times in the darkness.

I was seriously impressed with Leora's reverse writing so it would read correctly in the photo. I don't think I would have fared so well.

Against our wishes we eventually had to leave. The rain that started in the early morning, reminding us that we were in danger of overstaying our welcome in such a pristine environment. It also meant it was too miserable to stop at Mapleton's again for a second round of cones.

This post is getting ridiculously long.

The day before we departed we managed to get a tour of a local family's home. They call their place Little City Farm. You can read the blog or website if you are curious about details. Essentially they seem to be just a little further along the continuum from where Wen and I find ourselves. That and maybe a bit more comfortable with clutter. They were kind and generous with their time and we all enjoyed dreaming about living "the simple life." You know, what our grandparents called "hard work!"

Little City Farm
What a fabulous vacation. Thanks to Lee, Sandi, Greta, Gus, and Max for sharing your homes and time with us.

For the insane or photo obsessed, you can see a couple hundred of my vacation photo's from Ottawa and Waterloo, and the Children's portion of the Ontario Museum of Civilization.