Thursday, August 7, 2014

It's A Date!

September 7th, 2012

A view of the lake and park area seen from the catwalk near the power station.
Overview of lake and park area (Bracebridge, Muskoka)
A couple of weeks ago I got asked out on a date! Imagine that ... being married doesn't mean you can't have a date, right? The truth is that even long-married couples need to have a date sometimes.  I mean most of us go out together, spend time doing things as a couple or family - even day trips, and a day at the local fall fair or just a nice relaxing day at the beach.  But there's something different about being asked for a date, instead of just "let's go to (insert name of local place)".

A small portion of the High Falls area in Bracebridge.
High Falls - Bracebridge
So this particular Monday when my husband asked me what I was doing on Friday, I wasn't really expecting a date, you know?  And since I work from my office at home, my time is pretty much my own, so I replied that I wasn't doing anything in particular. THEN he asked me if I'd like to go on a date with him.

A view of the iron artwork at the power station end of the park in Bracebridge.
Iron Art - Bracebridge
That took a few minutes to sink in, actually. I blinked at him for a few minutes, kinda' speechless (now that doesn't happen too often) and finally told him I'd love to go on a date.

Doesn't seem like much right?  After all, we were just supposed to be going up to High Falls in Bracebridge for the day but somehow, there was still that "anticipation" - it was a date. One he'd thought out, and planned before asking me. I looked forward to Friday all week, simply because of the thought he'd put into the date. On Friday morning when I got up, I prepared for our date.

The power station and damn area in Bracebridge.
Bracebridge Power Plant & Damn
Instead of the usual shorts and tank top (practically live in my jean shorts and ratty old tanks in the summer), I showered and did my hair, put on some makeup and a pair of black dress shorts and a dressy little spaghetti-strap style top in black with a few sequins around the top edge - it was something more in keeping with an evening date, really, but I felt like I was going on a date, so I dressed for a date.

The difference between the average "let's go to Bracebridge for a day trip" and "would you like to go out on a date with me". Getting asked for a date made the entire day seem that much more special, even though we'd been to High Falls before. (psssst ... hey you guys out there - try that sometime, okay?).  As it turns out, we didn't end up at High Falls, although we did go to Bracebridge, and then to Gravenhurst.

The water wheel in Bracebridge park.
Water Wheel at Bracebridge
We went to the little waterfront park in Bracebridge where the power station is - we'd been there before but there have been some changes since our last trip. They've put in a really nice wooden boardwalk across the front of the park, and on the other side of the water, a large new set of buildings, and are continuing the construction with a new boardwalk over on that side as well.

Now there are swim platforms at the edge of the
waterfront next to the boardwalk, making it much easier to actually use the waterfront in this area. There's always been a pathway from the park up to the power station, but it's neat and tidy now, with a small beach area (very tiny) hidden in a curved area of path, just before you come to the waterwheel.

A view of the lake in Bracebridge park showing a condo building on the left, and the power station at the end.
Condos and Power Plant - Bracebridge
Here you cross a footpath bridge and mount the concrete steps and large platforms to view the power station and waterfall from the damn. It's a nice park, and if you have kids (ours are grown, but great for small kids) the park itself has multiple playground areas, benches for sitting and some picnic tables for lunch. If you are lucky enough to be able to go on a weekday in early September (after the kids are back in school) you'll find it a fairly quiet and peaceful outing.
Part of the boardwalk area along the edge of the lake at the park in Bracebridge.
Boardwalk at the Bracebridge Park

On our way to Bracebridge we headed north from Orillia along the "backroads" and stopped in Gravenhurst to grab a coffee. Driving down the main street I noticed a store I haven't seen in a very long time ... I'm not sure, really why I never noticed it before except maybe it was because it's just off the main drag area.

A Stedman's. Yeah, can you believe that? Anyone who has spent most of their life in Orillia (and is over 40) will probably remember Stedman's.  I didn't think there were any of them left. Orillia hasn't had one for maybe 20 or more years. Steadmans used to be downtown ... close to where the Golden Dragon Restaurant was.

I can still remember the large sign over the store with "Stedman's" in big red letters, and below that "5 and 10" (affectionally labeled the "five and dime"). I remember it's old wooden floors, and the lunch counter too.  Anyway, passing Stedman's in Gravenhurst I commented on it to my husband, so on our way home from Bracebridge we stopped in Gravenhurst and went into Stedman's.

A few of the shoreline around the wharf in Gravenhurst.
Gravenhurst Wharf Shoreline
Outside the entrance they had a wire rack with inflatable summer toys - you can still find those in some places, but something you don't see too often in most of the stores in Orillia are those inflatable 3-ring pools for kids. I haven't really seen those since my own kids were very small - not this kind anyways and I stood looking at those packages for a good few minutes, debating whether I should buy one or not ... just because they were there and tickled my memory vault, I guess. I didn't buy one (but they were only $3.99). Inside the Stedmans my eye went immediately to the right, where sat one of the "old lunch counters". I was feeling a little nostalgic already.

The Winonah docked at port in Gravenhurst.
The Wenonah II at Gravenhurst
We wandered through some of the offerings, first looking at the toy section where we found a few Hot Wheels (small metal cars - intended for kids but collected by kids and adults alike) that we haven't seen in any of the Orillia shops. There were a few things we noticed in Stedman's that aren't normally found in places like Walmart or any of the larger stores. The racks of clothing (well, the women's clothing anyway, cause I didn't look much further) were surprising. Higher-end brands and more reasonable prices than you'll find in those higher-end name brand shops. I found half a dozen things I'd have bought in a second - a couple of dresses, a pair of pants, a few tops ... I was already taken with the clothes here, much more so than anything I'd see in Walmart or the (now closing) Zeller's.  One pair of pants caught my attention - they weren't a colour I'd normally wear (mauve) but the style and fabric itself was so nice, that I found myself going back and just "fingering" the fabric over and over ... they felt nice. They were from Alia, where I normally don't shop (I tend to consider those "old lady" clothes, but super quality) partly because they aren't styles I would wear that often, but I've taken my mom and my aunt shopping in the Alia in the mall, and I know the average cost of a pair of pants is about $50 and up. This pair were priced at $17.99.  That's how the pricing was in this shop - some wonderful name brands, but Walmart pricing.

I didn't buy anything that day, but I'm definitely going back.  Stedman's. Go figure.

A few more pictures from the outing:

New buildings at the waterfront in Bracebridge.
New condos in Bracebridge.

A park and gazebo at the edge of the Granvenhurst wharf.
Gravenhurst Wharf Park Area

Sideview of the Winonah cruise ship docked at the wharf in Gravenhurst.
Wenonah II

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