We arrived in Orillia on July 25, and opted for a marina stay. The Port of Orillia, the municipal marina is a great location, very close to town and services. Many slips, it’s similar to Port Trent in size, with a new facility boasting modern, stylish bathroom facilities, a beautiful building, and all floating slips. We did note that the staff at Orillia seems unenthused. While at Port Trent we had dockhands at our slip confirming the location and catching our lines, the radio contact at Orillia assigned us a slip number, but no directions. We ended up on the wrong end of the marina, not a big deal. Within minutes of tying in our slip once we found it, a dockhand came by and inquired if we had registered yet. Just not a very warm welcome. Still, a great facility! There’s a large Metro supermarket only a few blocks’ walk, a pet supply store across the street from that, and a thriving downtown only 4 blocks’ easy walk. Lots of great restaurant opportunities, and some specialty stores that Canadian cruisers advised us some of which are not to be missed. The marina offers a 3 for 2 transient special, so we signed up for 3 nights, figuring we’d find plenty to keep us busy. As a bonus, there came the promise of nicer weather!

As we’ve come to learn in our travels, water weeds & “grass” are a common experience in freshwater cruising. They grow wildy in the shallower waters of canals and marinas, creating problems for running gear on boats, and just making things interesting when they get too much to manage. To that end, we’ve found that there’s a maintenance aspect, and saw Orillia’s, as well as other facilities’ answer to the weed problem. They cut them and truck them away! The “mower” cuts the grass to about a 4 ft depth, belts pull the cuttings up onto the machine, and the machine makes periodic trips to the shore where he dumps the cuttings onto another conveyor that moves them up and into a dump truck to be carted away. With the size of the marina, I expect the operation is a full time summer job. I imagine in the winter the operator is plowing snow! Ugh!

Orillia downtown is a delightful small town, with an abundance of shops and restaurants. Again, typical of the small town we’ve seen along the waterway. Conversations with some of the local cruisers in the marina encouraged us not to miss some notable locations, and came with advice on which we positively had to experience along with pointers on which were high on their list of favorites. We did hit the Mariposa Market, a veritable eye-popping presentation of everything decadent or otherwise yummy that could be created from humble ingredients. We actually visited the market more than once, hmmmm… okay, three times, each time coming away with a modest box of wonderful, yet unfamiliar stuff. A park avenue dutchie- a sort of roll with cream cheese filling, glazing, and chocolate and custard goop in attractive dimples. Lots of stuff we’ve never seen, and case after case of fantastic creations!  And then, down the street at Wilkie’s, butter tarts and chelsea buns. We’ve learned that butter tarts are a regional staple, there are endless varieties, presentations, and even festivals where Ontarians can search out the very best of the butter tart world. We were told by more than one local cruiser about Wilkie’s- ‘oh, yeah, Wilkies- best butter tarts in Canada, eh! Well, they’re pretty good, but I think the PA Dutch and mennonites have it over on butter tarts, sorry! Nobody uses sugar like they do in Lancaster County!

We broke out the bikes, the marina fronts an expansive park with well-used bike trails, so we decided to explore. There is a bike trail leading away from the downtown area into a more residential section, we explored that trail for a mile or so, circling around in some lovely residential neighborhoods to pick up the trail again back to the marina. We also biked in the opposite direction to the local Rogers store to resolve an issue with our Rogers phone. That trip was a great way to see more of the town, but not so much to fix the phone problem. The takeaway in short: just don’t deal with Rogers when traveling in Canada! Suffice to say there’s a backstory there that involves Verizon. All just part of the cruising lifestyle experience!

Just part of one day with some rain, the weather’s improving! With a stock of goodies to take us the rest of the way through the waterway, we made plans to move on from Orillia on Friday, the 28th. Even though the plan is in violation of our intent not to travel the weekends, the weather prediction was irresistable, so we’ll deal with the weekenders!

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