You’d be surprised at how tricky it is to find the ideal cottage.
For the last few years, since we lost access to our favourite summer rental (Grrr…the owners retired and wanted to use it themselves. Greedy bastards!), we’ve been trying out a different cottage every year. The hope of finding a place that met all our needs was quickly dwindling.
This year, our friends G&C – the couple we rent with every summer – started looking early. They also suggested upping our price range. We spent a little more this year, but we kind of hit the nail on the head this time with our little chalet near Bouchette, QC.
We all agreed we’d like to come back to this year’s cottage.
- It’s clean.
- It’s only a 90-minute drive from home and close enough to a couple of small villages for easy access to groceries and booze.
- It’s quiet, with very little boat traffic.
- It’s fairly private, making skinny-dipping an option.
- It has a variety of spaces for relaxing – two floors indoors, a deck, a dock, a campfire area – making alone-time easy to achieve, if you want it.
- It has WiFi, a real luxury.
- It’s got a beautiful, clean lake with a nice deep entrance off the end of the dock.
- It’s got a kayak and a canoe.
Aside from the minor inconvenience of a small oven and a too-low stove hood (seriously, the number of times I banged my head…) the place is damn near perfect. And with the owners investing their rental income back into the place, it only promises to get better.
We actually had friends staying nearby, too. Lise and Diane were at a cottage only 20 minutes away – so as a bonus, we got to visit with them twice! That was unexpected, and a real treat.
Lise’s family has cottaged in this part of Quebec for decades. She knows this neck of the woods well and was able to give us a bit of advice. Map at hand, she showed us the lake we were staying on (Roddick Lake) and pointed out a portage route between Roddick and the next lake. She told us about the bay on our lake where we would find a gentle waterfall; a stream of water coming down from the next lake over, about half a kilometer away. And she said she had portaged it by herself as a young woman.
That got us thinking: could we manage to portage our canoe to the next lake? She told us there’s a path by the stream. Challenge accepted!
We paddled over to have a look. We found the waterfall and agreed we would go back the next day to try our first portage! We were both excited as we set out the next day. We paddled right up to the stream… and promptly got pushed around in the swirling eddies, even taking on a bit of water as our canoe threatened to tip.
We backed off.
We couldn’t see any sort of a footpath beside the stream. Did Lise mean we were supposed to walk IN the water? That can’t be right…we would surely slip and fall – possibly breaking the canoe… or a limb! We climbed out of the canoe and took a look around… but no path presented itself.
We noticed a nearby public entry to the bay from a gravel road. We decided maybe the road ran all the way to the next lake, so we hauled the canoe out of the water and hoisted it overhead. But the steep incline over the next few hundred feet put a kink in our resolve.
Our problem was that neither of us had done this before and we had no idea how difficult portaging was meant to be. If we knew for certain this gravel road was the correct route, we would have continued. But carrying a heavy canoe an unknown distance only to face the very real probability that we were wrong and would have to turn around and carry it all the way back again was too much of a risk.
In the end, we aborted the portage.
Defeated, we carried the canoe back to the bay and set off for our cottage. We both felt the weight of our failure, but in the end it was really our only option. Without someone more experienced to guide us, the consequences of our actions might have been too severe.
The good news is, since we plan to go back to the same cottage next year, we can try again. We’ll need to do some research on portaging before our next visit – about how to actually carry a canoe with two people, about where this particular portage route is supposed to be, about what to expect.
So not so much mission failed as mission delayed.
Oh well. There was plenty of relaxing still to do. As you can see from the photos below, the cottage was gorgeous. You can see all the photos at our SmugMug page.