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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dill potato chips, a Lake Muskoka cruise and a giant Muskoka chair!

Greetings from Muskoka!

And so our Canadian adventure began.

Air Canada has really cool seat-back video flight trackers.

Our flight to Toronto took exactly four and a half hours. My father-in-law picked us up at the airport and whisked us to Orillia, Ontario located two hours north of Toronto.

The first few days of our Canadian adventure included staying in Orillia and visiting North Bay and Muskoka. We were there to visit hubby's side of the family and enjoy the local scenery.

I'd been to Orillia once before in 2007 on our way to Quebec where hubby proposed. It's a really nice small city surrounded by beautiful trees and lakes. In fact here it is September and when you look off the highways everything is green and verdant, kind of like driving around Seattle, Wa.

Even in Orillia my fascination with food was fulfilled.

On a trip to the grocery store I couldn't help but notice that Lays sells dill pickle potato chips here in Canada! But they don't sell them in the states.

I used to love Tim's Cascade Dill Pickle Potato Chips but I haven't been able to find them for years. A little online sleuthing and I discovered they stopped making them in 2005.

So imagine how happy I was to see not one but two dill pickle options in Canada. One is very similar to the old Tim's chips. They're kettle cooked, thick chips with natural flavours. The second is thin like a lot of classic Lay's flavours but they're artificially flavored.

I am using the "u" in flavour because I am in Canada and that's how they spell it here.

The thing that struck me as funny is that in Canada they call them "simulated flavour" as evidenced in the package above. The lower image is of the "all natural" package of the kettle cooked chips.

I bought both to see if I could taste a difference. Turns out I liked the naturally flavoured chips way more than the simulated flavour thin chips. I will have to bring a stash back with me when we leave Canada.

Visit www.Segwun.com for history about the ship and to reserve tickets.

The next day we took a really fun day cruise on Lake Muskoka on the Segwun, North America's oldest operating steamship. Built in 1887, the Segwun currently holds the status of a Royal Mail Ship with the Canada Post.

The ship flies the Ontario Provincial Flag

As we entered we stepped into the galley.

Then we headed up a flight of stairs that led to the Promenade Deck.

There we found plenty of bench seating and safety equipment that included child and adult life jackets and life preservers.

There was a bar that sold drinks, snacks and T-shirts.

And the Islander Room, a small private dining room in the fore (front) of the ship on the Main Deck level.

On deck we saw lots of islands. Some, like this one, had small cottages on them. It seemed to be close enough to shore one could canoe back and forth. On the back side was a small dock. How cool would that be to live on an island? I guess some would hate the isolation but I think I'd love it as long as I had a phone and internet connection.

And there were many really large houses and lots of Canadian flags.

We spotted two sea planes for those who want to reach their summer (or perhaps even year round) homes as quickly as possible.

One thing that I found rather amazing was how fancy the boat garages were. Where I grew up the lakes all had wooden docks where people would tie up their boats. But on Lake Muskoka it seems most people garage their boats on the Gravenhurst side of the lake.

A boat garage with a deck on top.

Two more garages that complement their homes perfectly.

And here was a bright aqua house, cottage and boat garage combo!

After spending around an hour on deck we then had lunch on board the Segwun. There were two seatings and we were in the second seating so we headed down to the main deck to eat.

The larger dining room is in the aft of the ship. That means the rear. It was spacious and set nicely with white, and black, tablecloths, wine glasses and silverware. Very classy!

Lunch for most consisted of a hot turkey meal with all of the traditional Thanksgiving sides of mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, veggies and a roll. I received the vegetarian lunch pictured above which was Eggplant Parmesan, mashed potatoes, veggies and a roll.

For dessert we had a really yummy apple crisp.

By then the ship had turned around and we were heading back to port.

After lunch we walked down the starboard passageway and took a peek at the cylinders of the ship's engine.

This is a picture of how the steam engine system works.

The brass objects are the tops of the cylinders.

Upon close inspection you can read that the engine was built by Doty Engine Works of Goderich, Canada.

There were lots of knobs and gauges on the wall.

The boiler room and Kentucky Coal used to power the Segwun.

It was kind of interesting to me that the first day cruise I'd been on back in July was on San Francisco's Hornblower Hybrid, one of, if not the most, eco-friendly ferries in the country. It's the nation's first hybrid ferry utilizing solar, wind, grid electricity and diesel generators to power the ferry back and forth across the bay. My second ferry ride on the Segwun is as original and authentic as a ferry can be using coal to make its trip around Lake Muskoka.

Back on deck we enjoyed the view and the day. The ship is loved by many of the lake residents who will stop and wave as the ship passes by. I'm not sure if they were waving at us or the crew but it certainly made the day more fun to know that the residents don't mind the Segqun floating by especially when it would blow its horn each time it approached a narrow inlet alongside one of the many islands we passed that day.

If you're in Gravenhurst on vacation I'd definitely recommend the cruise if the weather outlook is good. You can cruise and dine or just take the cruise and dine at one of several restaurants in the dock area. Thanks to our hosts for for the very special treat of taking us on this excursion.

After we got back to Orillia hubby needed his afternoon mocha so we headed to Apple Annie's Café on Mississaga Street.

It's a cute coffee shop with small window tables that sit on either side of the main entrance. I grabbed one because the light would be nice for photographing my mocha for the blog.

This was my fourth cafe mocha since trying my first one in June. It was foamier than most of the others but quite tasty. At this point I'd been ordering caffeinated mocha's with no whip cream.

After, we went next door to the Apple Annie's bakery and gift shop and I found a cute cookie cutter to buy. Then we walked up and down Mississaga Street and I found two, teeny, tiny spring form cake pans at Hudson's Kitchens and Homewares. They weren't large purchases but it felt nice to help support some of the local small businesses.

So after three days in Orillia we moved on to London, Ontario to visit one of hubby's best friends. More on that to come. . .

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