Wednesday, June 22, 2022

June 22nd: Lake Temagami, ontario, Canada


Randy and Cindy's daughter and son-in-law bought an island Lake house on Lake Temagami Ontario. There were numerous projects and upgrades planned and I was invited to come along. Anything I do with Randy and Cindy (R&C) is always fun so of course I was in. Randy was sufficiently recovered from kidney stone surgery that we were able to head north to the island.

Supplies going to
the Island house
We spent a couple days shopping for food and supplies. Cindy pre-cooked a lot of meals because there is no electricity to the island. There are propane stoves, refrigerators, a large generator and solar panels but we weren't sure what to expect. All systems would need to be checked, fired up and figured out.

We would be opening the property for the season so we had a great deal of stuff. Fortunately R&C have a nice truck. But we still couldn't fit everything in the truck bed. So Randy decided we would go up! Cover everything with a tarp. My experience with covering stuff with a tarp on the highway doesn't go well, but he was in charge.  

Loaded truck at Temagami Marina
Randy is a master at packing. I couldn't believe how much stuff we got into the truck. Cindy sat in the back seat in about 2 feet of space while holding her 3 foot tall tomato plant. Fortunately, the trip was only about 2&1/2 hours to get to the marina. Of course, then we needed to unload everything into two boats and transport it to the island, unload again and put all the stuff somewhere.

We arrived at the marina. Nick and Nikki (N&N)'s island house included four boats. We took two of them to the island house. I neglected to take pictures but you can imagine how filled they were. It was pretty windy but we were taking it easy so it was okay. One thing I know is to always familiarize yourself with a boat before driving it. I only sort of did that and set off following R&C. Once we were in deeper water I wanted to put the lower unit lower in the water to ride better. I looked at the dash, saw "Down" and thought that must be it. As soon as I did that the anchor dropped off the front of the boat. Uh, oh, it had a power winch. Before I could stop the engine, the anchor rope wound around the prop and stalled the engine. Not good. R&C were pretty far ahead of me so I tried calling. Went to voicemail. I knew they would eventually look back and notice I had trouble.

The wind was blowing me backwards toward a rocky shore but fortunately the anchor caught. I waited for R&C and they gave me a tow line so they could pull me forward to take the pressure off of the anchor line. That worked but I couldn't get the outdrive high enough to try to get the anchor line off of the prop. Finally I climbed over the transom and sat on the outdrive, wondering about how to get back in with no swim platform. I was able to unwind the anchor line with my foot and was able to get back in the boat. It was quite chilly but I had an enclosed cabin. Disaster averted thanks to help from friends and we proceeded to the island house.

Boat house and unloaded boats

By this time we were all very tired. We unloaded only what was necessary. My boat was completely enclosed and the other boat was in the boat house. We knew all the systems were shut down for winter. No electricity, but we did have a large generator and solar power converted to 120 volts. Also had a propane stove and refrigerator. We came prepared to not need the propane systems which was good because we had trouble getting it started. A nice little butane camp stove served us well and a giant Yeti cooler took care of protecting our food.

It was pretty cold, in the 40's but the buck stove made the cabin toasty. It was a good first day. We only toured the main house. I slept on the comfy couch and R&C had a nice bedroom.

The next day I was given a tour of the island. The property was much larger than I expected. There was the boathouse, the main house, a guest house for R&C when the kids arrived, a "Bunky" for me, a Sauna and shower building, a maintenance building, a lean-to which housed supplies and a snowmobile.

The adventure was under way. We have been very busy. Nick, Nikki, Liam and Mia will arrive Friday and we want to have everything up and running. More to follow in the next blog, but here are a lot of pictures.

Main House living room 

Main house

Main House Kitchen
Open concept, dogsled on ceiling
Screened in porch

Main house front deck

Guest House

View from the front deck
 of the guest house

Guest house

The Bunky

The Bunky, my place
to sleep

The Bunky, top of the hill overlooking the water

View from my window in the Bunky

Sauna and shower building
Outhouse - to be replaced with
 inside incinerator toilets

Maintenance and tool building

Path to the guest house.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

June 12th: St. Louis, JP's high school graduation, the annual paella party and on to Canada!


My sister Terri identified the bird in my blog about the Bambic trip. It is an Eastern Towee.

I flew in to St.Louis at 9:30 PM. Christi picked me up at the airport. When we returned to her home there was a flurry of activity. Will, Kaitlyn and JP all had lists of things to accomplish. Christi had not made a list for me so I mostly watched. I did get involved when it came time to move the furniture to place the new rug. There were many opinions and ideas for how best to do it. 

Not wanting to tell them how to do it, I said, "If it were me, I would just tip the sofa on its back instead of moving it out." Eventually my contribution paid off. Kaitlyn did a lot of math to find the exact center. We all recognized that the path of least resistance was to put the rug where Christi wanted it! It turned out great. It was now about 11:30PM and I said I was going to bed. The work continued well into the night. 

The next day, I knew that we drew the best "Work list" for the day! Will and I picked up his brother's truck so we could put the Torack's Lake house boat in  the water and bring it to the dock. Will suggested I come in the house even though his brother wasn't home. The house was the original house built on the street many years ago. It was quite interesting. His brother had a friend paint the entrance and stairs. Quite striking when I walked in. 

Will's brother is a lawyer and a judge and also an excellent wood worker. He restored and added many wood features. He built these book cases from scratch. Notice the detail at the top.

The Lake house is a wonderful place to relax and get away. Here are a couple pictures from my last visit.  

Putting the boat in was high on the priority list because Christi was anxious to use it as soon as possible. Also she and Will knew I have extensive experience in launching boats and it's a two person job. We put the boat in the water at the public ramp and Will drove the truck back to the Lake house. It was very cold and sort of drizzling so I basically rode around long enough to make sure it was running fine and then drove it across the lake to their dock

Will getting the back yard ready

There were 60 people coming for the party so the main reason for the 90 minute drive was to collect all their tables and chairs to bring them back to their St. Louis home. When we arrived, the preparations continued. My brother John and Daisey were also staying at the Torack home. They showed up Friday. 

Will was responsible for the back yard. 


Kaitlyn directed making a very cool fruit bouquet.

John, Daisy and I worked on the fruit kebabs. 

The entire party was a group effort.

The entire John Franko Family and my cousin Marialice were attending and Christi had planned dinner for everyone on Saturday. Will, Christi and JP went to the baccalaureate mass so Kaitlyn was in charge of dinner. I was designated her assistant. I made some salmon with dill sauce as an appetizer because I know many of us enjoy it. Everything went well. We enjoyed a fun reunion that night.

JP, ready for the graduation Ceremony

JP (3rd from the left) and his friends

The graduation was well done. It was inside a big theater so it was very comfortable. 


Christi beside the Theater

.Outside the Theatre are two large bear sculptures. The graduates were told, "Do not climb on the bears for pictures." Christi decided not to climb on the bear either but it looks very tempting!

Paella chef Ray Muniz
The graduation was scheduled Sunday at 1:00 PM and the Paella party was to follow at 4:00 PM. Good friends, Ray Muniz, wife Trina and Daughter Abbey were preparing the Paella during the graduation ceremony.

Ray has been doing paella for Toracks for JP's whole life. They had a picture of him holding JP as a baby at his first Paella party. Christi thought it would be fun to re-enact the picture. There was some concern, but it went well.

The graduation cake was excellent. The school mascot is a Billiken. I never heard of one so I looked it up. Here is more info. Billiken

All of my great niece's and Great nephews on my older brother John were in attendance. It had been over three years since I saw them in person. They certainly have grown up!

My next stop was Cleveland to visit with the Drouhard family and Julie and Jim. The day after I arrived, I learned that my great niece had contracted COVID. Turned out there was a large increase in the number of new cases in Ashland county where the Drouhard farm is located. We determined to wait for a later time to get together. In particular I was being very careful as I was very anxious to get into Canada.

I enjoyed a few days laying low with Julie and Jim. Jim had been working with a physical therapist and I was happy to see he is doing his exercises and is getting around pretty well. I included this video to give him credit! Good work Jim.

My plan for getting into Canada was to meet my great friends Cindy and Randy in Detroit. They are Canadian residents and were going to be in Detroit for Cindy's high school reunion. They suggested I just meet them in Detroit instead of flying into Toronto and dealing with the crowded customs process. Plus I wouldn't need to rent a car.

Mia Steve and Liam

Cindy told me that they were watching their grandkids, Mia and Liam while their parents Nick and Niki were on a pleasure/business trip to Europe. They would be with them in Detroit. She said we should surprise them with me joining them in Detroit. We surprised them at a restaurant where we met for lunch. Linda and I had a lot of fun boating with them and I missed seeing them the last two summers. They were very surprised. It was fun to finally get together in person. They are great kids.

On the way back to Canada we stopped to see some of Cindy's relatives. At the first stop I saw a work in progress. The couple is restoring an old school house and putting on a major addition. It's quite ambitious. Then we went to a second home that was renovated and modernized by her cousins. It had a great rural setting. 

They had just finished putting a gazebo bar in the back yard. It is made from an old corn crib. It's very creative and fun.

Next we headed to the border. Cindy had completed all our paper work including vaccination records and we breezed through in record time. I finally made it back to Canada. Here is a view of the back yard with the tree house Randy built, and a view out the front yard.

Back yard and tree house

View from the second floor
screened in porch on front

We were watching Mia and Liam until their parents returned from a trip Thursday night. Then we planned to go up to the Island Lake house on Lake Temagami. Randy had been having some stomach pain issues. It wasn't COVID, but it was getting worse. Went to the doctor and discovered he had a large kidney stone. Definitely needed to come out before going to the lake. 

Meanwhile, Cindy and I watched Liam's baseball game and Randy wisely stayed home. Nick and Niki returned home and we enjoyed a couple nice days with everyone. 

Nick and Liam
Nick and Niki brought Liam a new cap and Mia a new necklace from Ireland.


Niki, Mia and Cindy picking strawberries
Niki, Cindy, Mia and I went to pick Strawberries Saturday morning. The strawberry farm also had a nice market. The strawberries are delicious.

Randy had some pain medicines so he was mostly okay except at night. We spent part of the time buying supplies for the lake and packing the truck. We have a lot of stuff to take up because this is the opening of the Lake House for the season. 

It took a couple days to get things arranged, and fortunately the kidney stone was removed this morning. We plan to head to Lake Temagami Tuesday morning.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

June 10th: Leaving Yesterday's Dream for the summer and heading to the Murrays on Edisto Island


Emily and Jay
I had ten days back in Florida before I left for the summer. Fortunately, Mychael is again staying on Yesterday's Dream and continuing with some work. 

I finally had the opportunity to get my first water color painting lesson from my boating friend Emily before I left. Emily is an amateur painter but does beautiful work. Here are some examples of her work.

I was telling her how much I appreciated her work and she said, "Why don't you try it? I have everything we'd need to get you started."

First I needed to pick a picture I would like to paint. I selected one of my favorite pictures. My daughter Rebecca took a great picture of a tree frog that hopped into het hand. Emily sketched it for me so I could paint it.

Next we both painted our own copy of the picture and I tried to follow her example. We mixed the paint to get the colors we chose. You can see them on the side. It was harder than it looked but I enjoyed it. We painted for 4 hours which flew by very quickly. 

Steve's painting left, Emily's right

We stopped for the day. Unfortunately, her father had an emergency the next day and she needed to fly home. I will finish my painting when I get to the Lake house on Lake Temagami in Canada.

I left Yesterday's Dream confident that Mychael would take good care of my winter home! 

Picture from a Canadian trip - From left to right,
Cheryl, Steve Lois (Cheryl's Mom) Peter, Jim Murray 
and Linda Murray

I decided to visit Jim and Linda Murray in Edisto Island, SC on my way to St. Louis for my great nephew's graduation. We travelled a good part of the loop and other trips in Canada with the Murrays. We remained good friends ever since. They are the epitome of "Southern Hospitality". It is always wonderful to visit their plantation home.

One year Linda and I stopped at their home with our trawler on our way to Florida. It was three days before Thanksgiving. We planned to stay one night. They absolutely insisted that we stay for Thanksgiving, especially because only one of their grandchildren's family would be in attendance. We finally agreed. It was quite the Thanksgiving. We wanted to stay on our boat. Easier for them, no bedding, towels, etc. They made it very clear we were staying in their home, on the second floor of a beautiful old plantation home. 

Wednesday, for breakfast, Linda made shrimp and grits with homemade biscuits. Then on Thanksgiving Jim deep fried a turkey in the garage. It was fabulous. Of course that wasn't enough! For dinner they did a Southern Shrimp boil. Corn on the cob, chicken, shrimp, sweet potatoes and I can't remember what else. It was delicious. 

Then on Thanksgiving Jim deep fried a turkey in the garage. It was fabulous. Of course that still wasn't enough! The next day we had a traditional oven baked turkey dinner with all the traditional trimmings. My Linda and I said "We need to get out of here before we explode!" Between the food, the plantation home, the live oak trees and Jim and Linda's hospitality we felt like we were in Gone with the Wind. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving!

View toward the house from the marsh area behind the house
We shared many stories from the past and of course remembered Linda's superb ability to drive Yesterday's Dream. Bringing our boat up a small winding creek in order to dock at their home was truly a challenge.

Jim asked if I'd like to take a ride up to the old cemetery on the plantation. The plantation is roughly 450 acres and parts of it are actively farmed. The small cemetery was quite old. Some of the gravestones dated back to 1801. A short time ago Jim received a call from someone who was researching and restoring old cemeteries. He asked if he could come and see this one. With Jim and Linda's permission he is currently working to repair and restore the old gravestones. It is a very specialized process which prevents further damage to the markers. The gravestone to the left was broken but he has the pieces back together. Next he'll fill the cracks.

The gravestone to the left was broken but he has the pieces back together. Next he'll fill the cracks.

We took a short drive to the Botany Bay and Plantation Preserve Nature preserve. There was plenty of evidence that the waters are rising. The beach is littered with the remains of trees that were formerly growing on shore. Here is a nice link.  Preserve info

It was wonderful to be able to visit in person after three years. I only wished Linda could have joined us in person but I believe she was there in spirit. There is an organization that is maintaining historical records of the plantations. Here is a link to the Murrays' plantation, Cypress Trees Plantation, that give the history and current use of the plantation.

Cypress Tree Plantation

Next stop, St' Louis for JP Torack's graduation.