Jan Ellen Ferrigan


The Island of Happiness and Sunshine

Is it just me or did August just go by at warp speed?

I know that August was here at least for a couple of days because this month we visited Georgian Bay Islands National Park in Ontario, Canada – and I have the photos to prove it:)

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I got the idea to go Georgian Bay Islands National Park from seeing a post on the Backcountry with the Kids blog. (Thanks!) I am originally from Ontario, but had never heard of, or had forgotten about Canada’s smallest National Park. Georgian Bay Islands National Park is made up of 63 islands in Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay and is accessible by boat only. Getting there is part of the adventure. We took the Park’s Daytripper boat over and stayed in one of their new cabins on Beausoleil Island for two nights. Simple, but tres comfortable accommodations.

We had a great time. Canadian cottage country/Muskoka is a national treasure. The park is located near Honey Habour – one of the busier spots in cottage country.  Next time I think we will go to a spot with a little less boat and jet ski traffic – but if you haven’t been to Georgian Islands NP, don’t let that comment stop you. It is a really gorgeous place and quite peaceful, especially if you are an early riser.

We were lucky enough to attend a park ranger’s guided hike where we learned about the natural history and rich cultural history of the park. First nations people were living in the area from at least 7,000 years ago. Amazing! The ranger (who is First Nations) showed us some artifacts including a 7,000 year old stone blade and how to make and throw an atlatl (very cool). An atlatl is a very effective spear-like arrow hooked on to a stick. Even amateurs like us could make the arrow fly pretty far.

Now that we’ve reconnected with Muskoka, we’ll definitely be back! Maybe next August will slow down a bit and we can stay longer.


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Shenandoah’s Forest in the Sky

Remember when you thought it might be possible to walk on clouds because they, of course, were made of a fluffy solid substance similar to cotton balls?

Last Friday, we to Shenandoah National Park for the day. Instead of hot and sunny – our new normal – it was moderate and cloudy, even a little rainy.  I don’t mind hot weather, but much prefer cloudy skies if I am outside all day. Shenandoah is known for its spectacular overlooks, however on cloudy days, you just see clouds. Kind of neat in my opinion. Our six-year-old touched clouds for the first time in my memory. She is now fully aware that clouds are foggy mists instead of cotton balls – a slightly sad, but magical discovery.

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We also ran into this little guy.

Slimy Salamander

Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus) out in the rain

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The Park Behind Us

When we starting  looking to buy our first home a few years ago, we weren’t sure what house features were important to us. As we toured homes, we often found ourselves in the backyards.  As a result, we ended up with a house that needs a lot of work inside but has a great lot. The best thing about our lot is our backyard enters into a wonderful city park.

There are occasional shenanigans that go on the park that I could do without, but mostly the park gives us a sense of privacy. I love looking out the window while I’m working. And if we want to have some spontaneous outdoor fun, we just have to step outside.

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Mr. Baxter’s Park Quiz

lake girl

You may love parks, but how well do you really know them?

to find out. (Click on Mr. Baxter’s Park Quiz to see the quiz)