I’m taking a short break from our hiking trip to say hello. Hope you are all well. Unfortunately when we escaped from home, we didn’t escape the news. And I know that the pandemic stories are getting scary again. That is if they ever stopped being scary.

We’re away from home this week, not far, but far enough to offer a lovely change of scene. We’re staying in a small cottage in the Madawaska Valley. Right on the lake. And we’re almost the only people here. Travel in the fall can be so wonderful, especially when everyone else stays home.

View of Bark Lake from our porch.

We left home at the crack of dawn, or almost, on Sunday. Ontario Hydro had planned a power outage from 7:00 am until noon. Sooo. We were up very early making sure we had everything ready, and were dressed, and had the lights turned out etc. before we lost power. Even then, Hubby was wandering around with the flashlight looking for his hat, and me for my hiking boots. Ha.

Then we headed to MacDonald’s for breakfast, and took the scenic route to our destination on Bark Lake. Stopping for a picnic lunch at a sweet little park and hiking a trail near Combermere before we checked into our cottage. We have all the mod cons here, including a jacuzzi tub, a gas fireplace, a barbecue on our small porch, and an outdoor fire pit. All of which we have put to good use.

Lunch stop at Crooked Slide Park.

So we’ve had three days of hiking. Two days trying the Thomas P. Murray Trails near Combermere. Hubby found out about these online and we downloaded a trail map before we left home.

The map didn’t necessarily help us on one day, although I should say it was not a fault of the map. We hiked for over an hour on the wrong trail, and laughed later at how we’d justified our error all the way along. “This must be the trail. Wonder why they don’t have a sign on this one.” “Yes, here’s the fork, the left trail is supposed to follow the beaver pond, see there’s the pond, the right fork must take us up to Tom’s Lookout.” “Yep, see, we must be heading to that escarpment over there,” we said confidently, just before the trail turned in the opposite direction and headed distinctly downhill. Eventually we even cussed out poor old Tom. Where the heck was his bloody lookout, anyway? After over an hour with no discernible gain in elevation, we gave up, went back to the car, and ate our lunch. And then, as we were driving back down the gravel access road, we saw where we should have been hiking all along. Because there was a SIGN! D’uh.

Anyway. Tom’s Lookout was worth the effort in the end. We hiked the second trail and were rewarded with a beautiful view. And even two red Adirondack chairs for hikers to rest in at the top, just like the ones we have at home. Was this a sign, do you think?

Tom’s Lookout, finally.

The next day we hiked in Algonquin Park. The park gate is an hour’s drive away, so we stopped in Barry’s Bay to fill up our travel mugs at Tim Horton’s. Armed with our double-doubles we were on the road again. We spare no expense when we travel, folks. Ha. The view at the top of the lookout trail in the park put Tom’s Lookout to shame. It reminded both of us of our hike into McAfee Knob, near Roanoke, Virginia in 2016.

Lookout trail in Algonquin Park.
I love this shot because it looks like a painting.

Maybe this doesn’t happen for you, but when we travel we often reminisce about other trips. especially when we’re walking. And yesterday was no exception. On the way back down the trail, we laughed about that previous hike in Virginia. How we had read that the McAfee hike was little more than an hour, when it was almost four. How on the way back to our hotel afterwards, we stopped for takeout pizza and a bottle of wine. And then inhaled the pizza in our hotel room listening to American election stuff on television. At the time the 2016 political situation in the states seemed like theatre to us. “Remember that little diner in blank where we had dinner the next night?” I asked Hubby as we walked. “The one that our guide book raved about?” Hubby couldn’t recall. “Come on, you know. The one where the waitress was so rude. And then when she delivered your soup, she had her thumb in it?” Okay. That jogged his memory. Ha. Sometimes you can’t trust guide books. And who cares anyway, because that thumb in the soup story has entertained us for years.

Today is our last day. It’s rainy and cool here in the Madawaska Valley. And we’re hoping the weather breaks just as the sun is setting as it has every night so far. Then we’ll bundle up and sip our wine around one last fire. We go home tomorrow. We’ve had lots of exercise and fresh air. And I do mean fresh. It snowed the night before last, and was only three degrees when we set off yesterday morning. But, you know, walking in those temperatures when one is properly “rugged up” is wonderful.

Today we’ve read our books, napped a lot, and tomorrow we head for home replenished in spirit.

Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to benefit from travel, eh?

Sunset on Bark Lake

That’s it for me, today, my friends. As I said in my opening, I hope you are well. I hope you continue to stay well. See you on the weekend. As usual. 😊😊😊😊


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27 thoughts on “Notes From the Valley”

  1. That’s a lovely area & the view from your porch is magical . How nice to have it all to yourself . It’s very quiet in this little corner of Scotland too , albeit rather wet just now . Nevertheless we are enjoying our rainy walks in the forests full of autumn colour . This afternoon we were sipping flasks of coffee by a little empty harbour when a seal joined us . He was very interested in our black whippety Lurcher Dog , Rory – he does look rather like a walking seal .

    1. We were saying on the way home that we might not be so happy with that cottage if the whole resort had been full. Not much privacy between cabins, although they were quite well spaced. Plus several rows of permanent trailers behind us and up the hill from the lake. I’m sure this place is very busy come summer. Love the image of you and Max, your coffee, the seal, and Rory. Makes me smile.

  2. Fabulous photos, Sue, and it sounds like just the sort of getaway that is needed before we head into winter, a US election and maybe a Canadian one (Jeez, I hope not!)

  3. Perfect getaway! Enjoy the rest of your time travelling. It’s not Africa, I know, but wow! some beautiful country right in your backyard.

  4. Rebecca (in SoCal)

    It certainly sounds like this trip has been good for you! And how much easier than international travel (trying to look at the good side).

    Your pictures remind me that it’s late autumn. It’s hard to remember that when we’re sitting here waiting for the highs to be below 90 (32) degrees (they finally are!) I can start to imagine cool weather, as you head into cold.

    1. Looking at the good side, easy to pack, no jet lag, and no sitting on a plane in a face mask. 🙂 I’m trying to imagine what 32° feels like. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to pack for hot weather when it’s fall or winter here.

  5. Such gorgeous shots for us to enjoy. I am glad you had a wonderful recharge little vacation. It does not matter if you are close to home if the view is that beautiful. We do that too, “remember when we were at…..” and that is about all the travel dreaming we are doing at the moment. We went for an afternoon drive to look at the colours last weekend, and when we got home both said that the colours at home were the best we saw. Looks like the wind will take most of them down this week. The shot at Algonquin does look like a painting, perhaps you should get it enlarged. Thanks for the vicarious vacation.

  6. Ok, I admit it, so jealous. Would love to have a little getaway with my Hubby. Someday, after coronavirus I am going to remember this post and we are going to visit this part of Canada and stay in a small cottage and see those beautiful views. I can’t wait. Thank you again for most wonderful posts.

  7. My husband and I have been traveling across our state to see fall colors and everywhere we go it is super crowded. Just the opposite of where you live I guess. What gorgeous scenery! We love fall hikes.

  8. What a wonderful respite. Your pictures are gorgeous! What fun to get away and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful sights. I wish we dared to do that, but the Covid cases are skyrocketing around here. We are thankful for our backyard and occasional rides in the car. Enjoying your post has helped me feel hope for the future. ❤️

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