Crashing Mira’s Family Vacation in Sauble Beach

Crashing Mira’s Family Vacation in Sauble Beach

Also known as Tofa and Natalie’s Hallock family initiation.

After roughing it for three days in the wilderness, as was documented in our Glamping in a Poor Man’s Muskoka article, we made it our summer goal to have at least one positive experience associated with the outdoors. So, when Mira’s father said he was organizing a family trip to Sauble Beach, Natalie knew she had to get it on it. Inviting Nat and another friend, Tofa, to come along on this bonding experience, Mira surprised her family with, essentially, two complete strangers.

The already extensive group comprised of Mira’s two aunts, grandma, uncle, step-mother, father, step-brother, step-brother’s girlfriend, step-mother’s cousin, and step-brother’s uncle, welcomed the two outcasts with open arms. However, what was supposed to be a heartfelt farewell between Mira and her family turned into the ultimate girls trip, filled with lots of beach time, cooking, and sad attempts at various water sports.

Hitting the road on Saturday at 9AM, we made a quick detour to pick up Tofa, and were able to start our journey up north. In convincing Tofa to come on this trip, we embellished a few of its key details, including its location. However, Tofa was left with no choice but to come as she had already gotten in the car. Another secret that was kept from Tofa was that Mira had a three-hour hair appointment booked in the middle of our road trip, which was an hour detour off of the path.

So, the first few hours of Tofa and Natalie’s trip were spent watching a Toronto bank getting robbed while sitting in an un-airconditioned Nissan Rogue while Mira got pampered.

Four hours later, arriving at the cottage incredibly tired and a little on edge, Mira and Tofa’s spirits were lifted when they realized that Natalie was wearing the exact same hat as both Mira’s father and step-mother, pictured below.

After a few hours of socializing with them, the real bonding began with a game of Barbie-themed Uno that we played against Mira’s step-brother and his girlfriend, whom we shared a cottage with– yet another surprise for Tofa. After a few rounds and some really awkward small talk, we decided to go to bed and prepare for the next day.

Sunday being Mira’s grandmother’s birthday, we knew we had to do something special to help her ring in eighty-four years on earth. Deciding to prepare a Mexican feast for fifteen people, a Nigerian, a Sri Lankan, and an Italian set out to the grocery store to attempt to make the most authentic Mexican food that we were capable of making. This obviously included frozen margaritas. These were honestly life-changing, and you definitely need to try making them at home:

For every single can of Minute Maid Limeaid, blend:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of ice
  • 2 shots (plus a little or a lot extra) of tequila

Slaving away all day preparing the food, it really came together at the end and we were actually super proud of our final product– with chicken tacos, sweet potato and black bean tacos, Spanish rice, and guacamole. After dinner, we took the time to relax, watching TikToks until it was time to go to bed.

Our whole summer led up to this next day.

Waking up on Monday at 7 AM, (surprisingly) we drove to the Blue Heron dock and boarded a ferry to Flowerpot Island. Tofa being the water-safe queen that she is, decided to be the only passenger to bring their own life jacket and wear it the entire ferry-ride there. To be fair, she can’t swim.

However, we knew that we had arrived in paradise when Natalie couldn’t think of some sort of complaint about the island. It was stunning, and this moment was truly the climax of our summer.

Spending our entire time there in the water, Tofa got too caught up in the euphoria of the beautiful scenery that she forgot that she is unable to swim– oftentimes floating a little too far out with her lifejacket. Thankfully, we never had to reel her back into shore.

Devastated to be leaving Flowerpot Island, we knew we still wanted to spend our day on the water, so we used Mira’s stepmother’s kayaks and rowboat to putter around on the lake. Our skills even inspired Mira’s aunt to ask Natalie, the retired coxswain, to take her out on the rowboat. While on the water, the joy of being able to row prompted Mira’s aunt to utter “Thank you Jesus” to the sky several times.

Coming back to shore, we ate dinner and prepared our dessert–s’mores and watermelon. With Natalie roasting the marshmallows to perfection, Mira and Tofa prepared the graham crackers and chocolate on a tray, which Tofa dropped several times.

Mira’s step-mother not knowing which dessert to choose ended up “double-fisting,” as she put it, both a slice of watermelon and a s’more. We couldn’t recommend this more.

On Tuesday, we decided to spend our final day at Lion’s Head beach which gave us the same vibes as Flowerpot Island, but with shorter travel time. The water was the best we had been in the entire summer and we were sad to leave.

However, we had to prepare a charcuterie board so that we could have a little beach aperitif while watching the sunset, which we previously wrote about.

Our final noteworthy event was discovering an old karaoke machine in our cottage. Singing forgotten hits like “Timber,” “Wrecking Ball,” and “Say Something,” we were entertained for hours and finally ended the debate on whether it was Mira or Tofa who took the spot as the second-best singer in the group. We’ll let you figure that one out for yourself.

Driving back to Niagara early the next morning certainly felt a lot shorter, however, this could be due to the fact that Mira surprisingly didn’t have a three-hour-long commitment in the middle of our road trip.

This was the most perfect way to spend our last weekend together before we all head off to school. While we’ll all be apart for a few months, keep an eye out for when we’re back together for our Christmas content. We promise it’ll be worth it.

Glamping in a Poor Man’s Muskoka

Glamping in a Poor Man’s Muskoka

Or so we thought.

Mira and I are two of the least outdoors-oriented people you will ever meet.

From grades seven to twelve, our school forced us to drive four hours up north to Haliburton, Ontario, for a two-day camping trip, where this lack of wilderness knowledge was demonstrated. We would have mandatory bonding sessions on these trips and would have to participate in an endless stream of ice-breaker activities. According to Mira, this was an anxiety-inducing experience that had no benefit whatsoever.

Some of our most harrowing moments on these trips include having a moderate allergic reaction from getting so many mosquito bites, getting scars from falling off of mountain bikes, and sitting on a hornet’s nest– proceeding to get stung a total of seven times. Yes, these were all on the same trip.

Clearly, there is some greater force at work here that doesn’t want us anywhere near nature.

So, when we decided that we wanted to experience the outdoors again, we chose to do it on our terms. With dreams of a waterfront lodge nestled in Canada’s cottage country, we went on Airbnb and found what we thought would be the perfect weekend getaway spot.

Upon arriving at our Airbnb, our dreams were instantly crushed when we realized our cottage was in the middle of a forest– not near any body of water. Before we could set foot in the wilderness to attempt to find our cottage, we came face to face with a bright yellow bear warning sign. This sign made it clear that we were even more out of our element than we thought.

The fuel of our nightmares

Now paranoid that bears would attack us, our one kilometre-long walk to our cottage went by quickly. Or as quickly as possible, considering that I decided to bring a full-blown suitcase containing all of my necessities for the trip– including a bottle of Dom Pérignon and platform heels. Anyone with even a slight background in camping would know that wheels don’t roll well in the forest– resulting in me dragging my suitcase the entire way.

Halfway through our walk, we stumbled upon a very rustic washroom set-up, to say the least, with an outdoor sink and a toilet that reminded Mira of her third grade trip to the Pioneer Village. It also smelled like someone hadn’t cleaned the outhouse since Mira’s third grade trip to the Pioneer Village.

This discovery prompted us to either squat in the woods to pee or if we had time, drive to Tim Hortons and do our business there for the entire trip.

With four mosquito bites each, we finally arrived at our cottage, or as we called it, our “cabin in the woods.” Quickly unpacking, we changed into the least practical outfits for a wilderness retreat and drove to a waterfront restaurant named Dock of the Bay where for an hour or so, we were at peace, eating amazing food and drinking by the lake.

Us, smiling through the pain of a bathroom-free and mosquito filled trip

It became clear that the restaurant’s luxurious and mosquito-free environment was more like what we were expecting. After finishing dinner, we were sad to say goodbye to our lakefront dreams. However, this was quickly overshadowed by our fear of being attacked by bears on the walk back to our cabin. Evidently, we made it back alive.

Though we had expected minimal utilities to come with our Airbnb, we were surprised to find out that basic lighting was not one of them. Turning on the lights truly made no difference to the brightness of the room. So with nothing better to do, we popped our champagne and called it a night, eager to use the Tim Horton’s bathroom in the morning.

When we woke up, we were finally able to appreciate the beauty of the nature that surrounded us for a fleeting moment. As we sat on the porch, we admired the tall trees and greenery that made up the forest and began to enjoy our trip.

With our newly developed wilderness mindsets, we thought we would take a shot at starting a fire. This was clearly set-up to be a fool-proof task because we had a lighter, matches, fire starter, and a fire starter log at our disposal. That being said, neither of us was able to get it started and we both were unable to flick the lighter. As you can tell, we’re not stoners.

Eating our uncooked s’mores, we realized a storm was brewing and ran inside. With the thunderstorm causing a power outage, we had to get ready for bed in absolute darkness, without the assistance of the three pea-sized lights that lit up the room. Setting our alarms extra early with the hopes of getting out of there as soon as possible, we went to bed.

In the morning, dragging our luggage back a kilometre to the car, we accumulated the last of our many mosquito bites. With everything loaded in the trunk, we were finally greeted by the cold breeze of the car’s air conditioning– one of the trip’s highlights.

Advertised as a zen retreat, we truly left more emotionally drained than when we arrived and were happy to not have to worry about when we were going to pee next.

While we did leave with a greater appreciation for nature, this trip reinforced the fact that if we were stranded together in the wilderness, we simply wouldn’t be able to make it out alive– nothing new there. However, our greatest takeaway is the fact that Deep Woods Off bug spray is worthy of a Nobel prize. Seriously, that stuff was our saving grace this entire trip.

Mira and I will be sure to learn from these mistakes we made in anticipation of our next outdoor adventure and hope that you too, enjoyed reading about our mess of a trip.

Is there a clear moral to this story? Probably not. But I think writing about our experience is really just a roundabout way of us saying that if you have a cottage in Muskoka, don’t be selfish. Feel free to invite us. I promise we’ll be a good time.