The First Road Trip

As we prepare for the annual 1600km (1000 mile) drive to the cabin, I can’t help but think of the first time my parents made the trip. It is a story that has been told a number of times and I thought it fitting to tell it here as Cottage Tips also embarks on a new adventure.

A caravan of two vehicles, that of my parents and the other belonging to a couple who happen to be professional road trippers, left southwestern Ontario in the wee hours of a miserable June morning. Their final destination was a newly acquired cabin on an isolated water-access property in northwestern Ontario.

The two day trip was wet but trouble-free, and they arrived in the early afternoon at the local fishing camp where they were greeted by another wonderful couple who had kindly offered to lend a hand and a boat to the strangers from the south.

The weather had gotten progressively worse over the day and the wise thing to do would have been to head into the nearest town, get a few rooms at a local motel and go out to have a good dinner, a few drinks, and get to know the nice people who had decided to risk their lives and boat to help the newcomers move into their new shack in the bush.

But that was not how it all went down. With adrenalin flowing and probably an overdose of Tim’s running through their veins the six adventurous souls loaded up the poor boat. Four of them headed out in search of the cabin while the other two stayed to organize the rest of the gear for the next trip. My parents had only been to the property once, and while the couple who were lending a hand are cottage owners in the region, they had never been to that part of the river system.

Anyone who has visited this area knows that navigating around the islands and through the channels is not for the faint of heart. Even the fishing guides get turned around once in a while. With the wind up and the rain coming down in sheets, the brave skipper and his new crew followed a rough map and somehow found the cabin after a harrowing 35 minute ride.

With the boat unloaded and everyone soaked to the bone, they returned to the fishing camp. As the weather continued to deteriorate they filled the boat once again, switched up a couple of crew members, and set off for another run. The trip was repeated five times. Each voyage was made in ever worsening conditions and, miraculously, without hitting a reef or getting lost.

Once the last load and all six of the crew had safely arrived at the cabin, it was getting on in the evening. A pot of chilli had been heated up and all were in a jovial state, having succeeded in reaching their goal. The skipper, wise to the risks of boating at dusk and into the evening, urged his wife to cut the visit short as they needed to get back to town.

Finally, my father and his buddy made the trip back to the fishing camp with the local couple who had so kindly given their day and boat to help with the move. By the time the goodbyes were said and the directions confirmed, it was dark. Using the borrowed boat, my father and his friend set out to find their way back to the cabin.

At this point, one would think that with the weather being as it was the two wives who had stayed at the cabin would have been biting their nails waiting for the safe return of their husbands. That wasn’t the case. In fact, they were so overjoyed and excited about their adventure that they were well into their second bottle of wine by the time my father and his friend finally came into the cabin a good two hours after they had left.

The boys had managed to slowly navigate their way back, but would never have made it had the front light of the cabin not been turned on. The men thanked their wives for having the good sense to put on the light to help them find their way home. It wasn’t until some time later that my mother and her friend admitted they had no idea the outdoor light was even on.

As for the lovely couple who had helped with the move and loaned their boat, they eventually made it home that night although they had to move a tree off the road to get there.

So, like my parents and their friends on their big adventure to the cabin for the first time, Cottage Tips sets off on its maiden voyage. It’s also uncharted waters for this crew so please be patient. We have the determination, spirit, and sense of adventure and we hope that you, the Cottage Tips readers, will help be the light on the dock that guides us along the way.

Written by: Andrew Walker

Go to the Tips For Driving To The Cottage page.



  • Pam said:

    Enjoyed this story very much.  There is much potential for danger if you are unprepared and/or oblivious. Lucky there was a happy ending!

  • Goldilocks said:

    gotta love the perks that come with having a “water access only” property.  besides, what’s the fun in having a cottage without having to experience a thorough drenching once and awhile.  (though trying to explain water-logged hamburger buns to the hungry family on the other side is not always easy)