I just haven’t been feeling like blogging lately, but I do want to keep it up for the very reasons I started blogging last summer: I am hoping that by reviewing my day and writing about it, the details will stick in my mind better. Failing that, I’ll be able to refer back to the blog!
It does take a while to write the blog, process the pictures and put it all together. On longer posts I have probably spent almost two hours. That’s part of the reason I haven’t been posting lately. The other reason is that it seems like not much of note has been happening, although there are several things I could have written abou.t including our window and door replacement and visiting Fanshawe College with Megan. I do like the format of writing a blog with lots of images. Unfortunately, my camera battery died after two images during Fanshawe’s Open House. However, those posts are for another day.
We had breakfast at the hotel again. Owen loved the breakfast buffet with the pancake making machine and wanted to stay forever. After breakfast we headed to the exercise room so Owen and Trystan could play on the machines again and up to the room to pack and watch a little more Teletoon before heading out to Arrowhead where the skating trail opened at 11am.
It should have been a short drive. I hadn’t put the address in the GPS, but assumed we could just follow the highway signs. The park road is very close to the highway exit, but I missed it. We drove for a while and ended up back in the north end of Huntsville. I turned around and we re-traced our route. I couldn’t believe it when I spotted the sign and saw how near it was to the highway. Note to self: put all the addresses in the GPS before leaving home. I don’t have data on my phone or iPad and my TomTom GPS didn’t have Arrowhead Park in it. I should have known better. The same thing happened to me years ago when Patti and I were driving from Ottawa to Gatineau Park. That time we ended up at Les Promenades Gatineau, the shopping mall, rather than the Park. It always surprises me when the TomTom can’t find major parks.
The park access road was beautiful and probably a kilometre or two long before arriving at the gatehouse.
The entry fee was $17 for the car. The skating and tubing was included. We started with the skating. Trystan and Owen are ready to go. They are standing on an ice covered road with their backs to the trail.
Arrowhead begins the process of building the ice trail by plowing the snow off of a circular road creating a windrow along the edges that can be used to contain water. A water truck is then repeatedly emptied as it drives along the road, building the ice up in layers until it is about four inches thick. Finally, a Zamboni is used to give the ice a smooth skating surface.
It was wonderful to be there on a Tuesday. As we arrived a school group was leaving. Once they had left we had to share the entire trail with perhaps a dozen other people. At times there was no one else in sight as we skated through the fairytale woods in the silence of falling snow, the only noise, our skates on the ice.
It has proven very popular, so much so that they have had to limit the opening hours to prevent too much damage to the ice in between times when they resurface the ice with the Zamboni. The trail is 1.5 kilometres long. It is so slightly uphill in one direction that you don’t even realize you have gone uphill until you race down the hill as you return. It was exhilarating for me, as a mediocre skater, to go so fast, so effortlessly.
We were dressed very warmly. It was another day with the temperature starting at minus 28 degrees Celsius, however, it did warm up to minus 7 as the day progressed. Trystan doesn’t feel the cold the way I do and soon shed his winter coat.
Here is a beautiful scene along the road between the skating and tubing. The are many nordic ski trails in the park as well as snow shoeing trails.
The skating trail and tubing hill are a fair distance apart so when we finished skating we drove over to the tubing hill which is adjacent to the gate house. It is also on a park road, but a steep one. The snow is machine groomed into two troughs – one for sliding down, one for climbing up. It was probably a couple hundred metres long. It took about 40 seconds to slide down. It took much longer, and was quite exhausting, climbing back up.
When we got to the tube hill, we found the school group. The hill is not supervised by park employees. All of the tubes (provided by the park, no private tubes were allowed) were in use. In the summer, we often go to Wild Water Kingdom. When all the tubes are in use, the process is for people without a tube to line up at the splash pool at the bottom of the slides and as someone comes down a lifeguard takes their tube and passes it to the first person in line. That person carries it back up, slides down, relinquishes the tube to the next person in line and then joins the end of the line. This way no one has to wait for too long. This is the way the school group was operating. We joined the end of the line. As we approached the front of the line two older couples (in their 60s) without children came up the hill with tubes, by-passed the line and prepared to descend. I called out to them that there was a line and they should pass the tubes to those at the front of the line and join the back. The line was only eight or ten people deep. The woman turned to me and said, “These are our tubes, we aren’t going to share with a bunch of children”. I was shocked at her selfishness. I explained how it should work but she became very agitated. So I told her to do as she saw fit. She and her group went down one more time and then when we encountered them again grumbled about how we had ruined their day and left. Good riddance. The school group happily shared with us and we took about five runs before getting too tired and hungry to keep climbing back up.
We drove back into Huntsville to Subway for lunch passing this fun display along the way.
After lunch we headed back to the park for a few more tube runs.
By 3pm we were exhausted and decided to head home. It started snowing heavily enough that traffic slowed to about 80kpm for the first hour.
We could have made it home in time for dinner, but the boys didn’t want the trip to end. We stopped in Barrie so I could have a quick look around MEC and fill up with gas. Then we stopped at the Vaughan service centre for the final meal of our winter getaway.
It was an awesome two days away. It felt like longer. We would like to do it again next year.