After spending Christmas in Ottawa, my brother Tony, sister-in-law Alana and niece Hannah and I flew to Sioux Lookout, Ontario, to visit Alana’s family for a week. Alana grew up in the small town a four-hour drive north of Thunder Bay. Her parents still live there in a beautiful home on a lake.
Alana and her family are all outdoors enthusiasts, and they have a huge collection of gear. Alana’s father, Bob, kindly lent me his cross-country skis and boots. Tony, Alana and I skied across the lake on the lovely trail Bob had created, using his snowmobile. Tony and Alana alternated pulling Hannah along on a little sled, which Bob had used to carry Alana and her sisters when they were babies. Hannah screamed and cried as her parents got her settled in the sled, but as soon as they started skiing, she immediately fell asleep.
We also ventured out on one of the local ski trails through the woods. I’ve only ever been cross-country skiing a handful of times, so I was a bit wobbly. This trail had some tricky (for me!) downhill bits, but I somehow managed not to hug any trees.
My friend and sorority sister Catherine lives in Dryden, Ontario, which is 100 km from Sioux Lookout. But hey, in Canadian terms, that’s “in the neighbourhood!” As such, when she found out I was in town, she drove over to Sioux Lookout to spend the afternoon with me. It was so awesome to see her again! The last time we hung out was in 2012, when Catherine was living in Ottawa for a few months.
The whole gang staying at the house went on a short hike on a different trail in town. Tony carried Hannah, and like in the sled, she fell asleep instantly as soon as he started moving.
I spent many happy hours in Sioux Lookout relaxing by the fireplace and watching Hannah constantly learning new skills. She was in that phase of babyhood where she always needed to be bouncing in someone’s arms. Luckily, there was no end of people at the house willing to hold her.
For New Year’s Eve, Alana and her sisters invited all their friends in town over to the house for a sauna party. In keeping with tradition, Bob chopped a hole in the ice where we could go for dips between sauna sessions. I don’t drink at all anymore, but it occurred to me that these sorts of shenanigans would be far easier with even just a little alcohol in the system!
My brother filmed me dunking myself in the water and racing back to the sauna as fast as humanly possible. Unfortunately, it was too dark, so the quality is rather Blair Witch Project-y. But the sound gives you a good idea of what it was like! Brrrrrrrrrrrr.