The Downtown of Cottage Country

"Sophisticated wilds" sound like an oxymoron? Not according to this PWC veteran...

How dare I compare Ontario’s most renowned cottage region to the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto? After all, this is where people come to escape the rat race, kick back and unwind. If relaxation is what you're after, there are plenty of opportunities in Muskoka for just that, but when I fire up my Sea-Doo, I’m looking for a full day of exploration: I want places to go, things to do and lots to see.

Our group assembled at the Muskoka Wharf at Gravenhurst Harbour, a perfect location to launch a tour with overnight accommodations, a public ramp and even PWC rentals. With Craig Nicholson, the web-renowned Intrepid Cottager, as our leader, we headed out in to the sophisticated wilds of Muskoka.

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The Neighbourhood

A Sea-Doo tour in Muskoka is much like exploring the different neighbourhoods of a city, but at a much grander scale. Here the neighbourhoods are lakes and towns, and instead of a few blocks, it's 200 km! Lake Muskoka, Rousseau and Joseph are all within reach of a day’s ride.

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Experience

Hmm… where should we stop for lunch—what about the farmers' market? The classic boat show is on—should we check it out? Which lake to explore, which town to stop in? Where but in Muskoka can you have so many options? Gravenhurst, Bala and Port Sandfield are all on route with plenty of chances to fuel up, grab a bite to eat ,and spend the night at one of the many resorts. Today’s lunch stop is Turtle Jack’s in Port Carling: the fish tacos, big thumbs up.

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Architecture

Architecture and cottage country—what’s up with that? Muskoka is renowned for its high concentration of residences of the rich and famous. Movie stars, athletes, big business: spectacular cottages abound. From the seat of our Sea-Doo, it’s all about the boathouse. There are enough of these spectacular structures dotting the shores that a Boathouse Tour is a deserving destination in itself.

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The Law

Just like their big-city counterparts, the Muskoka police practice a strategy of high visibility. We came across two police boats in less than an hour. They are here to keep you safe—after all, Muskoka is one of the most popular recreation destinations in the province. Have your boater’s card handy, required safety gear on board, and make sure you obey the posted speed limits in the go-slow areas. Luckily for us, this stop was just an inspection of our sense of humor.

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The secret to a successful day of any outdoor activity is flexibility. We had plans for a long day on the odometer, but the weather gods had a different idea. Clouds rolled in and thunder rumbled; our long-distance plans were washed away. No need to fret. When in the company of good friends and a knowledgeable leader, the good times are adaptable.

We raced the clouds across vast lakes; we hid from the wind in narrow back channels. Hey, if you're going to get wet, you might as well do it on your own terms. A little playtime was in order.

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All in all a fabulous day. Muskoka did not disappoint. The weather might have messed with our plans, but plans aren’t written in stone—in our case, they're just rescheduled. We will be back.

About Martin Lortz

Martin Lortz is a freelance photographer/writer specializing in the outdoor lifestyle. Whether he is covering adventure motorcycling, kayak fishing or family oriented outdoor pursuits, his passion for capturing the beauty of nature and the people that partake in it, is evident in his work. His photos and articles have appeared in magazines such as Ski Canada, Explore, Bike, Mountain Life, Couloir, Kayak Angler and Family Camping, as well as in calendars, catalogs and brochures.

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