RV Road Trip to Manitoulin Island
The road trip’s RV.

A Girls’ Trip to Manitoulin Island

Our group of five is part of a larger group of ladies who meet once a month in Muskoka, Ontario. These monthly get-togethers ensure that we get time out of the house regularly and we all enjoy spending time with friends. Each month, someone in the group takes a turn to plan and host an event. We have already done quite a bit, from playing paintball, beach activities, skiing and hiking to bonfires, dockside parties, cookie exchanges and even a limo ride while wearing prom dresses!

With limited time together in person due to COVID restrictions, we planned this trip for just five people to stay in a bubble. Our whole vacation was meticulously pre-planned, booked and paid for before we left, to ensure we were able to get the most out of the trip in these odd times. The RV was the perfect solution for a much-needed getaway. This trip ended up being the most fun adventure I have had all year.

French River Boat Ride
A morning boat ride out on the French River.

French River

After picking up the RV in Bolton, Ontario, we met up with the rest of our group in Muskoka and headed to our first destination: the French River, which flows 110 kilometres from Lake Nipissing west to Georgian Bay. Although we had decided early on that we were not going to attempt to reverse this beast of a vehicle, that proved to be impossible as we had to back it into our very first campsite! Everyone helped to navigate the RV into place, including the park staff. We chose to stay at a remote private campground where the hosts were friendly and helpful, and they got us settled in and accustomed to the RV way of life. Our first night included a cookout and bonfire before we nestled into our beds.

Manitoulin Island Camping
The girls enjoying a meal by the bonfire.

Morning came early, and we were up by around 7 a.m. We started our day off with some yoga by the water, and we then rented a tin boat to enjoy the French River’s fall foliage, which was breathtaking.

Manitoulin Island - Cup And Saucer Trail
The Cup and Saucer Trail on Manitoulin Island.

Manitoulin Island

The next day, we travelled onwards to Manitoulin Island and had lunch in Little Current. The afternoon was filled with a rigorous hike up the Cup and Saucer Trail. The views were expansive over the colourful fall treetops, as far as the eye could see. We stayed at a private campground once again and were thrilled when we were given a site right on the water looking out at Lake Mindemoya. This location was a great base from which to explore the rest of Manitoulin, and we decided to stay there two nights. We enjoyed bonfires, walking along the water and, when it rained, watching a movie on a laptop in the RV.

Bridal Veil Falls on Manitoulin Island
Bridal Veil Falls on Manitoulin Island.

Manitoulin Island is a gem of a location to travel to. Further adventures enjoyed there included a picnic on Providence Bay Beach, shopping in Gore Bay and hiking at Bridal Veil Falls. Before we knew it, it was time to board the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry in South Baymouth and head to Tobermory.

Tobermory

After having travelled there many times, Tobermory is one of my favourite places in Ontario. Along with the breathtaking views, there is such a variety of things to do.

Georgian Bay Trail Overlooking Lake
Georgian Bay Trail overlooking the water in Bruce Peninsula National Park.

Unfortunately, due to rough waters caused by heavy winds, we were unable to go out on a boat tour of the shipwrecks, or make it to Flowerpot Island. Instead, we hiked Devil’s Monument Trail, where a similar flowerpot structure was hidden among the trees. What is especially impressive is the surrounding water in the area, which is crystal blue—like the ocean! But it is freshwater of course, as Georgian Bay is connected to Lake Huron. The water was too cold to swim, but we hiked to the Grotto for some incredible views and enjoyed a picnic on the Bruce Trail.

Check out the best hikes in Canada.

Big Tub Lighthouse in Tobermory
Big Tub Lighthouse in Tobermory.

The experience of five girls navigating and managing our mammoth RV was surprisingly smooth, but not without a few challenges. As the sink in the RV filled up and would not drain, it was clear we would have to dump our sewage reservoir. This is something we worked very hard to avoid, as no one on the trip was interested in taking on this unappetizing task. Despite that, we did come prepared for this possibility and packed plastic gloves and a septic tank cleaner. “Any volunteers?” I asked hopefully, not wanting to take it on all by myself. Thankfully, there was one gracious volunteer and the task turned out to not be as nasty as we thought. The rest of the gang was eager to take pictures of the stinky affair and laugh as we learned this new skill.

The village of Tobermory is very quaint, with galleries, shops and a great restaurant that had a tropical feel to it. We ate outside on bar stools overlooking the water, despite the cool October weather.

Discover more hidden gems in Ontario.

Apple Picking In Tobermory
Sandra among wild apple trees.

We made the most of our trip and took advantage of every opportunity, such as the day we stopped on the side of a dirt road on the way back from a hike. We may have been a little lost that day but nevertheless we found what appeared to be wild apple trees. Hoping they were in fact wild, and that we weren’t trespassing, we all picked plenty of apples and used them to make some delicious treats—apple crumbles, muffins and pies just to name a few!

Overall, the trip did not disappoint. We had plenty of quality girl time, did lots of exploring and had fun adventures—there was never a dull moment. We laughed, hiked, shopped, made delicious meals together and enjoyed every minute of our RV experience.

Circumnavigating around Georgian Bay and travelling over 1,000 kilometres in an RV, while respecting COVID restrictions, turned out to be a grand adventure. Vacationing close to home with friends proved to be so much fun!

If you live in Ontario, why not plan your own adventure in Manitoulin and Tobermory? Or if you live elsewhere in Canada and are planning a trip to Ontario, this wonderful region may be something you want to add to your travel itinerary!

Next, check out 10 national parks every Canadian should visit.

The mere thought of your car plunging off a bridge into the icy water below can send shivers down your spine. But with proper planning you can increase your chances of survival. Follow these tips to escape from a sinking vehicle from Jason Lyman, assistant chief of the Islamorada Fire & Rescue Department of Village of Islands, Florida.

Don’t panic

Though it’s a terrifying situation to be sure, the key to making it out of a sinking car is to focus and keep your wits about you. Panicking will only waste time that you do not have.

Skip mobile communication

Trying to call 911 to come and rescue you isn’t your best move because the responders probably won’t get there in time—and time is of the essence.

Unlock the doors

If it’s dark, first turn on your interior lights then unlock your doors. A vehicle’s electronics system should work for some time after your crash.

Plot your escape

Your car will stay afloat for a short time, so use this opportunity to escape. Remove heavy clothing, roll down your windows, and swim away as fast as you can. Do not worry about trying to save your purse, your wallet, or any other personal items; survival is the name of the game. Plus, if it is winter, your risk of hypothermia increases the longer you’re in the water. The quicker you can get out, the better.

Wait to open the door

This sounds scary, but you won’t be able to open the door until the car is fully submerged: rising water puts too much pressure against it. Once the pressure inside has equalized, the doors should open, though sitting and waiting for this to happen can cause panic. Concentrate on your next move instead.

If you can’t open the door, break a window

If the electrical system has already failed, you can try kicking the window out. It is wise to keep a tool like a centre punch or something similar accessible in your car at all times. Many of the products designed for breaking glass can also be used to cut your seat belt. Use it on your windows, not the windshield—it is laminated safety glass, and you won’t break through. Also, some newer vehicles have installed laminated glass on the sides, and/or thick window tinting may have the same properties. Familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of your car before there is an emergency.

Take a deep breath

Once the water has risen to chin level, grip the steering wheel for leverage and take off your seat belt. Take a slow deep breath and hold it in.

Practice becomes perfect

Rehearse this routine as you would a fire drill: this is another case where practice creates muscle memory. Ingrain these steps in your head so that you can save valuable time.

Next, check out 10 driving tips to stay safe in wet weather.

Reader’s Digest Canada: The federal government has set some ambitious targets for electric vehicle (EV) use: 10 per cent of new cars purchased by 2025 must be EVs, and 30 per cent by 2030. How are we doing?

Josipa Petrunic, executive director and CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium.: We are currently between three and four per cent. Our government targets are aggressive but not impossible—if we make some changes. Over the last few years, the focus has been on subsidies and other financial incentives: if you buy an EV you get a tax write-off. That is one piece of the puzzle, but it’s not enough. We have to start pricing roadway, which could be incredibly effective, but it’s politically unsavoury. (Find out 12 things you’re not claiming on your taxes—but should be.)

Do you mean road tolls?

Exactly. You’d have to pay to enter any major city, and you would pay less or not at all if you have an EV. In the U.K., tolls for entering London have been extremely effective, both in cutting down congestion and in reducing car use and getting more people onto transit. If the overall goal of emissions reduction is hitting our Paris Agreement targets and saving the planet, only getting those who can afford it into an EV is not going to move the needle.

We know EVs are better for the planet, but how much better?

Using a zero-emissions vehicle or giving up a car altogether is the most effective thing a person can do to reduce their carbon footprint, other than having fewer children.

Along with expense, one common reason for EV hesitancy is the lack of charging stations.

We have enough stations to handle the number of EVs on the road today, but not enough if we were to see more mainstream adoption. But, also, the vast majority of charging happens at home: you plug in your car at night and in the morning you’re good to go.

Good to go how far?

That depends on battery power, which varies from vehicle to vehicle. Overall energy capacity of batteries has improved, though. The 2015 Nissan Leaf, which is an entry-level EV, got about 200 kilometres on one charge. Now it’s about 250 to 300 kilometres, so enough for day-to-day life but not enough for hopping on the highway and heading out of town.

That’s no small issue, given our national enthusiasm for the great Canadian road trip.

Actually, 90 per cent of driving life is short-range trips—commuting to work, driving to Costco, going to a soccer game. We need to convince Canadians to choose cars that suit those day-to-day needs. Then, for the other 10 per cent of their driving life—say, the rare drive to a cottage—they may consider car-rental or ride-sharing programs.

The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association is spearheading a new project backed by 335 companies to create an all-Canadian EV. Is that a promising sign?

It’s exciting to see new projects getting attention and funding. But I also want to point out that we have been manufacturing electric buses in Canada for over half a decade. Maybe they’re not as sexy as a Canadian Tesla, but if we want to talk about change, transit is the way forward. People buy cars one by one, but cities buy public transit vehicles in mass quantities. With public transit, we’re not talking about a curve that goes up in tiny increments; we can see the line shoot up.

Next, find out what Canada’s ban on single-use plastics will mean for Canadians—and the environment.

How I learned to keep feeling sexy after 60

Still got it

I fear I’m not quite the raven-haired “hottie” I once was. Oh, my hair is still raven coloured, sure, but now when I look in the mirror, I sometimes see the ghost of Alan Rickman looking back at me. Not from Truly, Madly, Deeply. From the Harry Potter films. He really rocked that aging-goth look. But, just like the late Alan Rickman, without my L’Oréal hair colour I’m a silver fox too, which is only natural, seeing as I’m north of 60. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still feel pretty hot sometimes.

Few of us talk about it openly, much less flaunt it, but sexual desire beyond the sixth decade is a fact of life. It’s in this spirit that prominent French psychologist and bestselling author Marie de Hennezel approached the topic of sex among seniors in her 2017 book A Frenchwoman’s Guide to Sex After Sixty. De Hennezel, now in her 70s, has written a dozen books on aging and been translated into 22 languages. She mostly writes about heavy subjects like spirituality and dying, so when she turns her attention to sexuality, she doesn’t take it lightly either.

There’s no age limit to enjoying love, she writes, because “the heart does not age,” and the same goes for lovemaking. She argues that if we adapt sexual activity and adjust our expectations to better suit our aging bodies, we can look forward to rewarding sex.

While this might not sound radical, it still deserves attention. In Western culture, the depiction of senior sexuality has traditionally been abandoned to farce or burlesque comedy, mostly as cringe-inducing, inappropriate or even aberrant behaviour. (Think Blanche, the vain and easily aroused middle-aged southern belle whom no one took seriously in the 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls, or the British skit comedian Benny Hill, who made a career of mostly playing a so-called dirty old man.) It’s almost as though once you are old enough to be a grandparent, you are expected to pass the baton of sexuality to the younger, more fertile generation. It’s the natural, mature, even moral thing to do.

Longing for love

But times are changing. Maybe it’s just that big, bulging baby boomer cohort sashaying its way into old age and recalibrating everything in its path. Maybe it’s just the inevitable advance of the sexual revolution: birth control to LGBTQ rights and, now, senior sex. Award-winning TV shows like The Kominsky Method, starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, and seven-season hit Grace and Frankie, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, have been trailblazers. The shows’ main characters are knocking on their 80s and are still interested in sex and romance. What’s new is that they aren’t caricatures of frustrated sexual desire; they are complex characters with a rich range of thoughts and sensitivities, of misgivings and hesitations, of humour, courage and conviction. They long for love because, even in old age, they are fully human.

De Hennezel is fully aware that many people over the age of 70 are done with sex. Even with the most satisfying sexual history behind them, they’ve reached a point where they are simply more interested in their grandchildren or gardening or Netflix than any new dalliance. They don’t have the physical or emotional energy. Voluntary celibacy can be a perfectly valid lifestyle choice. What’s important is that seniors feel they have a choice and can exercise it.

De Hennezel writes that 12 per cent of people over 60 years old say sex is a source of great pleasure. But she’s more interested in the 36 per cent of seniors out there who say they would like to have great sex, some of whom may lack the confidence to pursue it. They fear they are just too old. They’re wrong, she says, but senior sex is such a taboo subject that they don’t know where to turn for advice and support.

Sure, there are common aging issues that can make the more vigorous sexual workouts of youth a hassle or even a hazard. Who among us over-60 lovers hasn’t found themself wondering, “Is this position going to break my hip?” A long list of factors can throw cold water on Peggy Lee’s fever: bad knees, weak wrists, lower back pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, weight gain, heart conditions and so on. But the good news is, whatever your ailment, there’s a position for that. The point is to experiment. You don’t have to feel like you’ve done 50 push-ups the morning after. And, as with all good sex, an agreed-upon safe word is always recommended, like “ouch.”

In every seniors’ residence, people flirt, develop crushes, have blooming romances, ignite their desires and fall in love, and it feels just as sweet and exciting as it did when they were teens. But, while TV and film may be taking the lead in acknowledging this, wider society lags far behind. Not respecting the sexuality of older people is, to quote de Hennezel, “quite simply a form of abuse.” Much of society still squirms at over-60 sex, often ridiculing it with adolescent humour: see jokes about predatory cougars or the aforementioned dirty old men. Buying into these viewpoints is how we suppress the senior sex drive.

A senior sexual revolution

Another hurdle, though, is that we internalize age shaming. We no longer feel physically desirable. It’s the price we’ve paid for participating in a culture that fetishizes the aesthetics of youth. It’s all fun and games until we begin to notice our own aging. Then, too often, we are appalled. We dread exposing our creped skin, crow’s feet, sagging bellies and breasts and butts to each other. The physical signs of aging can make us feel humiliated or embarrassed, like we’ve done something wrong. This is particularly true for aging women, of course, who often watch men their own age chase after younger generations. No wonder they are willing to pay a high price, quite literally, to fight the evidence of time.

De Hennezel seems to believe it’s time we saw our aging reflections in a new light. With genuine enthusiasm, she reminds her readers time and again of the real beauty found in the seasoned face and body. This isn’t some kind of social-conditioning program designed to convince us that loose jowls are just as attractive as high cheekbones and a pert chin. More like a reminder that attraction has always been a matter of sublime subjectivity. A good thing, too. Otherwise, everyone would be courting the same 10 per cent of the population.

When we get to know someone, they often begin to change before our eyes, and how we see them is gradually affected by how we feel about them. Our memories and mutual experiences shape what we see and don’t see, what attracts us and what doesn’t attract us. As time goes on, beauty is increasingly a work of the imagination, more like an atmosphere than an actual place. Nowhere is that subjectivity more gloriously evident than in an old married couple who look at each other and love what they see.

At the same time, this new senior sexual revolution isn’t being driven by old married couples but their singleton friends. A markedly growing demographic in North America is the single senior; people are living longer, and the divorce rates among retired couples have doubled in the last few decades. For single people no longer preoccupied with work and raising families, it can also be the loneliest time of their lives. Enter online dating sites that target seniors. Internet dating among the aging is a booming business. It’s not all about sex, of course. It’s also about companionship. But those who manage to find a place for sexuality in the third act of their lives are the undisputed lucky ones. There’s nothing like a rush of endorphins to improve your circulation.

De Hennezel suggests aging lovers consider backing away from what she calls “performance-based sex” because it places too high an expectation on the physical strength and endurance of the partners. She thinks that means placing less emphasis on genitalia and sexual intercourse. This is partly in response to some common sexual challenges of aging, such as inadequate vaginal lubrication and erectile dysfunction. Sure, there are solutions for these problems. Even so, she advocates a form of eroticism inspired by eastern cultures, tantric and Taoist, that simply doesn’t get hung up on physical exertion. They’re all about “slower-paced, more sensual, tender and playful sex.” That might even include old-fashioned oral and masturbatory sex and erotic massage therapy, maybe with a little ’60s soul music playing in the background for effect.

But different strokes for different folks. I confess I find the advice to shift away from coitus, well, premature. As a Canadian living in a colder climate, I’m happy to enjoy a little friction under the covers for as long as I can. I’m not saying that “slow sex,” “soft penetration” or “making affection” won’t ever cut it with me. Absolutely, I’m looking forward to tantric sex someday, lying still, side by side for hours, simply touching each other’s bodies with fingertips. Though, right now, I fear the only thing that would be buzzing after an afternoon of tantric touching would be the to-do list on my kitchen counter. So maybe when I have more time on my hands. Like when I’m 90.

Next, discover 13 secrets your urologist wants you to know.

As kids see it - child in armour


When I was a teacher, I’d ask students to find a word in the dictionary, give the meaning and use it in a sentence. My favourite answer was: “My word is pregnant. It means carrying a child, like the fireman went up the ladder and came down pregnant.” —Orville Cole, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia


My six-year-old couldn’t remember the word “tomorrow” so she called it “nexterday.” @kbrough


We gave our grandson a fishing pole for his fourth birthday. When he opened his present he exclaimed, “Wow! A fishing machine.” —Bonnie Hughes, North Webster, Yukon


My daughter has just learned how to wiggle her eyebrows. She asked me if I could do it, so I did. Then she said, “Wow, you can do it so fast! It must be because you only have one eyebrow so it’s easier.”@sharrzeor


You know you’ll be subjected to many years of practical jokes when your toddler swings open your washroom door and points a pair of binoculars right at you. —Ashley Ashfield, Hampton, New Brunswick


My seven-year-old asked if I could get him something so he could send a letter the old-fashioned way. Paper? An envelope? A stamp? No, he wanted his own email address. @mommajessiec


I was babysitting my five-year-old granddaughter and as a treat I took her to McDonald’s to get an ice cream cone. When she finished, I asked if she enjoyed it. Her response was, “Yes, but now my tummy’s cold so I think I need fries to warm it up.” —Joyce Hellewell, Windsor, Ontario


When my son was young, he became vegetarian for a year, and we always thought it was because of his kind heart and love of animals. He’s a teenager now and just revealed it seemed like the only way out of eating the meatloaf they served at preschool.Jessica Holmes, comedian


After our special Mother’s Day breakfast, I heard my three-year-old say to his sister, “Have you heard of Brother’s Day? It’s where you make your brother a really special breakfast to show him how much you love him.” —Tammy Tsang, Toronto


My son begged for a sibling for years and then it finally happened. When my daughter was one, she would pull toys out faster than we were able to put them away. I looked at her six-year-old brother and said, “What are we going to do with her?” He replied with a very serious face, “Keep her. I worked hard to get her here!” —Shawna Mathieson, Watson, Saskatchewan


During a conversation with my nine-year-old granddaughter, I told her that when I was her age our house was the first on the block to have a colour TV. She asked me, “What colour was it?” ­—Deborah Brettell, Williams Lake, British Columbia

Here, more grandparents reveal the funniest things their grandkids have said.


Funny little girl

My 10-year-old daughter asked if we have to pick up her brother from school, noting, “He has to go to school tomorrow anyway.” —@bunandleggings


While playing with my four-year-old son, I picked up his Batman action figure and said, “I’m Batman, the Dark Knight.” He then picked up Superman and answered, “I’m Superman, the Sunny Day.” —Charline Agulto, West St. Paul, Manitoba


My kid tonight at bedtime, after I paused a beat when opening a storybook: “Turn the sound on, Mama.” —@cdellamore


I came home one day to find my then-three-year-old daughter watching TV with her father. She said, “Mommy! You’re a princess in a movie!” They were watching our wedding video. reddit.com


My six-year-old daughter just told me she wanted to stay up later. I told her, “Okay, 10 more minutes.” Then she countered, “How about 40 more hours?” I think we need to work on negotiations. —@curiositybooked


It’s hailing. Or as my kid calls it, “crunchy rain.” —@lydiaykang


My 11-year-old son’s fingernails were neatly trimmed except for his thumbs, which were unnaturally spear-shaped. When I asked him about this, he said he needed them to play the ukulele in music class at school. —Maria Baranowski, Winnipeg


Every day my daughter regales me with the best stories about recess, and when I asked her once why recess is always so dramatic, she said, “Daddy, one recess can change the world.” —@dad_at_law


My four-year-old grandson: That tree is dead.
Me: What does that mean?
My four-year-old grandson: That means you have to charge it. —@esteestimler


When I asked my daughter why she didn’t like her school’s guided meditation, she said, “Because I don’t want people telling me when to breathe, that’s why.” —@jessicavalenti