--- "Sticking around"
Staycation. Here's a hybrid word which has been given meaning by the pandemic.
We can't -- or might not be wise to -- travel into other regions, so rather than give up on a holiday trip, let's look around for destinations right here. Maybe not so exotic -- no Iguaçu Falls, no Barcelona architecture -- yet as is often the case, a little on-site and close inspection in almost any locale reveals a whole world we had never noticed before. Vacationing in our back yards, we could see things we've never seen before (an Indigo Bunting, say) and we certainly possess, spreading out around us, one of the most beautiful pieces of Canada's geography. Gatineau Park, the Ottawa River and its multitude of noble and historic rivers: the Gatineau, the Rideau, the Coulonge, the Black, the Dumoine, and others. Why leave, except to change the scenery!
This fact smiled on me just last week, with a short stay up on a lake in the Pontiac, in one of the ZECs, easily within a day's drive of Aylmer. The weather was variable, as usual, but the visuals -- the sweep of our great red and white pine forests! The clean, clear lakes, creeks and waterfalls -- these were comparable to ... you name it! And, did I mention, all in less than a day's drive?
That little trip made "staycation" a real word. It opened possibilities, questioning where else we might visit for an equally enriching get-away. Besides the official big-name sites like Gatineau Park, there are the Gatineau Hills, all the lakes up the Gatineau River Valley to the far wilderness -- reaching up to James Bay. The Pontiac, as large as some European nations, offers an incredible menu of farm and forest, white water and calm canoeing -- all just up the highway. No airports, passports, foreign money ... no waiting!
There is an arts-and-rural life movement very much alive in all directions, leaving Aylmer.
Toward Papineauville, the St-Andre-d'Avelin area, offers stimulating arts events week after week. Chelsea-Wakefield-Low, equally so, and the Pontiac, once again a treasure chest -- of the arts. I'm assuming staycations mean getting out of town, but Aylmer itself offers enough to occupy a complete family for a full year's exploration.
There are, up and down the Ottawa River, old cemeteries, old canals and earthworks, logging and forestry museums, surprising churches, even places for a good espresso.
There are beaches, some under the shade of giant white pine, designed by the universe for reading a novel on a sunny afternoon. There is white water rafting, "best in world".
September is just beginning. There's plenty of warm, sunny weather ahead -- and then comes our maple forest showing it's colours. To any of our readers stuck at home (and we don't have to be stuck there, unless health requires it), anyone missing a get-away, please remember "staycation" ... West Quebec, our back yard, owns that word.