Desperately seeking winter

A few weeks ago, in a fit of spontaneity and desperation, I booked a ticket home in search of winter.  By now you all must be tired of my whining.  But I am a northern girl and I have northern girl needs…one of them is to have snow in the wintertime.  I need to play in it, lay in it and soak it into my veins.  If I don’t I go a little batty (apparently… before now I had never encountered a winter without winter before).

And so Lil’S and I boarded a plane home.  I can’t say enough about what this trip did for my northern soul.  It was glorious.

Where is home? Thunder Bay Ontario. It is nestled in some of the most beautiful topography I've ever encountered. The photo above was taken looking out across Lake Superior at the Sleeping Giant. Click on it to learn the legend.

We arrived after midnight, the snow crunching under our feet as we walked from the car to the house. Lil’S exclaimed “Mom!  I’m walking. In. Snow!”.  It warmed this mama’s heart to know her little one was craving snow as much as she was.

The next morning we got down to winter business straight away.  First up, snow fort:

Thanks Auntie Kathleen for building it!

Okay, maybe snow fort building was first on Lil’S’ agenda.  First thing I did was lay in the snow. Sigh.  I felt sooooo good!

Don't crush my fort mom!

Second on the list was actually conducting winter business like making snow “pizzas” (see below) or snow “shoes”…pretty much anything that that lovely crusty top snow layer will allow you to “cut out” we made…and sold to one another.  Love it!

Your pizza madame. Bon Apetite!

Up next was a magical breakfast at Mrs.A’s, my best friends mom.  It was fun to show Lil’S the room where many a sleepover occurred in my childhood.  Mrs. A always made us feel so special at breakfast with personalized place cards and delicious food.  Sixteen years later she didn’t disappoint.  There were cinnamon cakes, eggs, muffins, orange juice in fancy glasses (which thrilled Lil’S to no end)…Lil’S even had some tea in the tiny little tea-cup Auntie Kathleen used when she was little.  Lil’S declared that it was the fanciest house she had ever been in.  I do believe she is right!

Well fed and hydrated we set off to find the new skating rink down at Marina Park.  I have to say “Well done Thunder Bay!”.  Growing up there was always talk about developing that area.  Being active and outdoors is what Thunder Bay is all about and this rink on the shores of the largest fresh water lake in the world, complete with a fire pit in the centre to warm up those fingers, is pure genius!  Take a look:

Ah, there is some magical about the sound of skates being laced up...winter, I love you.

View from the change room

Quite possibly the most beautiful change room ever built.

Spectacular view of Lake Superior

Showing off her backwards skating skillz

In front of the old train station...

The firepit, perfect for those in the group who forgot their skates. If you look closely you can see Lil'S and I warming our fingers on the other side of the glass. Genius I tell you!

Love little D peeking out the window!

A trip to Thunder Bay is not complete without a visit to the Hoito Restaurant.  A great way to end day number one.

World famous Finnish pancakes. Yum!

I’m going to pause here in my run down of my quest for winter in Thunder Bay.  Because as I was looking up a link for the Hoito (it is fascinating I promise!) I came across this video of “The Rick Mercer Report”.  In it Rick visits the Hoito and then heads off to Orient Bay, my old stomping grounds, to ice climb.  Then to relax after a long day he has a sauna and jumps in some snow.  I’m sharing this because this may help some of you who truly don’t understand my love of snow and ice and winter.  THIS is what I grew up doing!  I spent most winter weekends in high school driving up to Orient Bay with some tourists or TV crews to ice climb.  I was a figure skater.  I’m pretty sure everyone in town owns a sauna or has access to one somewhere.  When I say I want to jump in snow and let it soak into my skin, I mean it, really I do.  Just watch:

Day number two started with a trip to the Canada Games Complex.  Scarlett begs to go every time we visit.  So while it wasn’t a “winter” activity it was a way to catch up with family and friends as the kids swam and we watched my incredible niece in her diving lesson (even jumping off the tallest tower – crazy!).

We rounded out day two with an outdoor bon fire.  Thank you Patty and Kathleen, I was in heaven.

Look closely at Little D's upper lip...there was extra fun going on. Here you can also see my beautiful sister Kim...one of the people I admire most in this world, muah!

Day three was a day just for me.  There is nothing better than cross-country skiing on a beautiful, sunny winter day with one of your best friends now is there?

20km/hr eh? I think I might be a bit slower than that : )

so impressed with Kathleen's skate skiing abilities!

Ah, takin' a break

Nothing says the north better than Birch trees and clear blue skies.

We went skiing out at Kakabecka Falls Provincial Park. It was a tad intimidating.  We pulled into the parking lot and since cross-country is such a big nordic thing we found ourselves surrounded by very serious and seriously outfitted skiers.  I was wearing a borrowed vest, skiing on borrowed skis, sporting old k-way pants from when I was 16 years old.  Classy.  Despite the “I’m no longer from here” get-up I felt like Julie Christy in Away From Her.  Magical.

One more quick trip to the rink and we were back at the airport.  We didn’t get to visit half the people we wanted to  but we’ll make up for that on another trip.  This time really was about packing as much winter into our lives as we could.  As it was we never did go Tobogganing, or have a Sauna, or watch some Curling or ice climb…but I did get some ice into these veins.  And it was so nice to be home.

************

PS  For those of your who love winter, what have you done to cope with the lack of it this year (or at least the mildness of it)?  For those of you loving this Kingston weather, what the heck do you do in winter when there is no snow?  Do you ever get outside?

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