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Sabbatical, 2004
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If a Tree Falls in the Woods... continued

(This is Part Two of an account of our cottage vacation in July 2002.  Click here for Part One, the beginning of this year's adventures.  The full saga actually started in July, 2001, when we inherited a very much run down shack in the Québec woods.)

By now we were running comfortably at about 115 km/h along an eight lane superhighway.

Evening traffic out of Ottawa and Hull was fairly heavy, but visibility was clear and the road was good.  We sipped the last of our cokes.

Suddenly Heather cried out, “Tony!!  The motor!”

I remember the next two seconds in slow motion: me, glancing in the rear-view mirror just in time to see the new electric motor in its carton windblown up from the floor of the boat, lifting into the air, rotating once or twice, then falling to the highway behind.

I pulled over, put on the emergency flashers, got out of the car.

By this time the motor was quite a distance back.  Wind from the traffic flashing by buffeted me as I ran.  A truck veered to avoid the carton.  Another one did the same.  It was only a matter of seconds before the thing would be a pancake.  Worse, a car could hit it, lose control, and who knows what would be the consequences!!

Now I was level with it, waiting for a break in the traffic.  It was in the farthest lane from me - the fastest lane - but so far, so good: no one had run over the carton yet.

The break in traffic came.  Now the riskiest part for me.  I ran across the three lanes, and didn’t stoop to pick up the carton - I just kicked it ahead of me onto the margin beside the centre barricade.

I just barely made it before there was another wave of traffic.  I picked up the carton and watched for the next break in the line of onrushing vehicles.

When it came, I lurched back across the lanes (now encumbered by a large box), and having reached the safety of the roadside walked back to the car.

Heather had rearranged the contents of the trunk and the back seat, making a place inside the car for the carton, so I put it in, and in a few minutes we were back on the highway.

We hoped against all hope that the motor was unscathed inside its packaging.  True, the box was only squashed at one corner, so there was a chance this would be the case, but neither of us could bring ourselves to look.

We drove the rest of the way in silence.

It was pitch dark when we got to the parking lot.  As agreed, we left everything in the car, with trailer and boat attached, and carefully felt our way down to the dock.  Surprisingly, we got into the ‘Fisher-Price’ boat without incident, and rowed across to the cottage.

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A Multitude of Projects

I got up early the next day and went across the lake to launch the Jack Aubrey and bring over the fruit of our shopping in Ottawa.  By now I was also ready to open the electric motor's carton and see the extent of the damage.

Not bad... one blade of the propellor had snapped off, but everything else looked pretty good!

I couldn’t resist: I left the boat on its trailer in the parking lot, and drove the 25 km. into Hawkesbury where there is a pretty sizeable marina.  And, yes!  They had that make and model of propellor!  And they had a marine battery of the correct size!

Canadian Tire then furnished a battery charger, and not long afterwards I was back at the lake launching the Jack Aubrey.  When I got in and turned on the motor with its brand new propellor - and the boat surged forward - I felt like someone who had just made it to the top of Mount Everest.
The good ship, 'Jack Aubrey'
The Good Ship Jack Aubrey

The ferrying of goods is finally manageable.  Running across the lake to the parking lot takes only minutes, and my strength is saved for loading and unloading, rather than rowing.  As well, the boat carries enormous loads!  And, stable?  Oh yes, indeed!  No more risk of falling in when trying to get on board!

A variety of chores now claimed my attention.

Over the next few days
  • I tore out some filthy old kitchen shelves;
  • assembled and installed an IKEA kitchen cabinet;
  • installed a shelf and two reading lights over the bed;
  • repaired a chair;
  • assembled the mouseproof chest of drawers for the bedroom;
  • scraped leaves and dirt away from part of the foundation;
  • and began the enormous task of picking up and bagging the old shingles that littered the ground after last year’s roof replacement.

It still amazes me, the enormity of this project we have taken on!  Imagine owning a cottage in poor repair which you can only visit a short time each year!!  In 2001 we came for two weeks, worked frantically to clean out the place and shingle the roof, and ran out of time before we could pick up the old roofing!

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Doesn’t anybody know where the dump is?....    click here to continue

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