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During my travels, my compensation for free accommodation for one night, was for me to write a daily travel diary. Of how I got to my next location, the people who would host me, the food I was offered and everything else. Below you find the archives of the highly extensive reports. Know that English is not my native language and most reports were written at high speed around midnight. Enjoy.

Friday, 20 June 2003
Orillia --> Lake of Bays (Huntsville), Ontario, Canada

Today I had to go on the road again. However there was also a lot of water involved. The Lake of Bays is beautiful, baby!

After a sleep-in, I joined Sheila and Evan for a nice and healthy barbequed hamburger in their green and sunny garden. It was clear that one of them loved gardening. "That's me," Evan said. "When we got this house the next door neighbour used our back yard to park his car in his own garden. There was nothing here." Now the garden is full of flowers along a nice green patch of grass with a white fence around it.

I had to move on to my next destination again today, near Huntsville, which is only 200km up north. You can almost guess: that was considered nothing again to Sheila and Evan and they were happy to give me a ride to my meeting point in Baysville, near Huntsville. And for a change, because they knew I liked it, they let me drive their van. It was great, however on this 200km stretch there is not much to see along the road. It's green, there are many trees and it was getting rockier as I was approaching the Canadian Shield.

Sheila and Evan told me my driving was okay. I drove just a bit above the speed limit of 100km/hr. It was only later that Evan joked through an MSN chat that I was driving a bit fast. Oh…

We ended up in Baysville where we met up with my next hosts Brian and Elaine Rose. They live along the Lake of Bays, which is a beautiful area east of Huntsville and part of the Muskoka Lakes.

Muskoka is a region of more than 1500 lakes and hundreds of urbanite cottage retreats. It's named after an Ojibwa chief, Mesque-Ukee, who settled here with his people after helping the British during the War against America in 1812 (one of the forgotten lost wars by the United States, hehe). By the 1890s, the lakes had become the haunt of wealthy families from Southern Ontario and this image hasn't changed much. Many Ontarians and some very rich Americans occasionally retreat here in the warm summer months and many Canadians decide to live their retired life in this beauty.

In Baysville I thanked Evan and Sheila and got my stuff in the speedboat of Brian and Rose. A trip by boat is of course the best way to get to a cottage on the lake.

After going through some narrow parts of the lake, we hit some open water and Brian told me to take over the wheel. Of course! So suddenly we were speeding over the water at 90k/hr, which is of course pretty fast.

Brain and Elaine are both retired school teachers from southern Ontario and they love the life on the lake. There is not much traffic next to your neighbour's, there are no traffic lights and the scenery is always perfect. I can't blame them for retiring here at all!

My hosts live in a nice house on the lake and when I entered it with my pack, Brian apologized for the fact that the house is still for 75% under construction. "We bought it from a guy who probably could not think straight any more," he said, "I used to be four different apartments and than that guy started breaking away walls and didn't know that certain roofs came down if you do that. Then he sold the place and got away."

But the part of the house that looks pretty much completed; the kitchen and the living room, looked great. It gave me the feeling of being at a summer cottage in some fancy resort.

For the summer months their grown-up kids Bob and Lindsey also stayed over at the cottage. I met up with Bob, who celebrated his birthday today, and his girlfriend Paula, who stayed over for a few days. Lindsey works as a hostess at a nearby resort and does the catering for people who play golf on the golf course. She actually drives around in those golf carts with rich people's drinks, sounds pretty neat.

For me they had a guestroom (in the under construction part of the house) and my hosts made me feel very comfortable. (Later this week Brian posted in the guestbook: "Ramon knows how to make new acquaintances and makes people feel at home in their OWN houses. There were never any awkward moments except when he said that he didn't like Shania Twain". So this explains the situation at the cottage pretty well).

In the afternoon I joined Brian and Elaine for a drink on the dock down at the lake, together with some of their neighbours. I couldn't stay on that dock too long, as the sun was burning on me and if I drink alcohol in these conditions, I am a goner in a few hours.

Brian had a look at my sun burned back and today it was the day the skin started to die off. This was actually the day the itching got the worst! Brian advised me to take a mix of Vitamin E cream and Aloe Vera to smooth the skin. With that mix he prepared for me, it actually felt way better!

Lindsay worked until late today and Bob and Paula decided to stay at the cottage. Brian and Elaine took me to the Algonquin Lakeside Inn for dinner, where a couple played jazz music during our meals.

Later this night the family watched some satellite television, while I settled myself at their table for some late night writing.

It was strange, I felt so comfy at this place that it almost felt like vacation. Or is it the scenery? Or the sounds of the nightlife in the woods?

Good night Lake of Bays!