94: Our Honeymoon Adventure on Pancake Bay

94: Our Honeymoon Adventure on Pancake Bay

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

Our Honeymoon Adventure on Pancake Bay

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

~Benjamin Franklin

Perhaps I should have been suspicious of the whole outdoor-adventure honeymoon idea when a mosquito flew up under my bridal veil. It buzzed around my ears and nose as I was trying to hold still and concentrate on saying “I do” — an ominous sign I ignored. And what does “rustic” really mean? That was the question I should have asked.

After our reception, we climbed into our little green Vega and drove across the International Bridge to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to begin our wedded bliss. Our first night, only one strange thing happened. When we stepped into our hotel room, we saw two men who looked like bums sleeping on our bed. No problem. We were still in civilization. We got another room.

Late the next morning, we set out for Pancake Bay. On the way, we stopped for lunch at McDonald’s. While we sat at our picnic table, a brazen seagull dive-bombed us and stole our French fries. Another warning sign I naively ignored.

Yes, I thought as we walked up the path to the resort office, Pancake Bay is truly a scenic wonderland. I envisioned romantic strolls along the clean, sandy beach and secluded, intimate hikes along trails winding through the forest, just me and my beloved. Perhaps we would spot some peregrine falcons, moose, or black bears (in the far distance, of course). Actually, we did experience wildlife, but none of that sort.

Once we got our key, we happily explored our rustic cabin. It had a front porch overlooking the bay, beautiful knotty pine floors, and a kerosene stove in case the weather turned chilly. What it didn’t have was electricity or running water — unless having a toilet that flushed with some kind of chemical solution counts. But there was no place to shower, no place to cook. A week of cold food wasn’t what I had had in mind. That afternoon, we did discover a shower house down the trail, but our excitement died when we learned the resort provided no towels. We hadn’t counted on that, either. But we were young and in love — as unprepared as we were, we would manage cheerfully.

Our first night, a dramatic storm hit, with thunder, lightning, and pelting rain. We snuggled in the dark, feeling as though we truly were having a grand adventure. I realized that if it rained all week, however, we would be stuck with nothing to do. We hadn’t considered that we might not be able to spend our free time outside. Canoeing in the rain wouldn’t really be all that romantic.

But the next day dawned fresh-washed and glorious. After a cold lunch of bread and peanut butter, we decided to hike along the beach with no particular agenda other than to commune with each other and with nature. It was there that my husband was attacked. Bears? No, not mere bears. The creatures were far more ferocious and voracious. They ate my husband alive. Soon, he was covered with itchy red bumps. “Aye-yuh,” said an old geezer passing by. “No-see-ums.” When we mentioned our problem to the lady at the resort counter, she just shrugged and said, “Burn a coil.” Yeah, right. Like we had thought to bring coils with us. But at least the weather was warm and sunny, so warm in fact that my husband turned off our kerosene heater before we went to bed that night.

By the middle of the night, we were being suffocated by the terrible smell of kerosene. My husband manfully got up and tried to take a look at our heater, but without a flashlight in total darkness, there was obviously nothing he could do. We had to open our windows. And while fresh air could then get in through the screens, so could the no-see-ums. As we pulled the sheet over our heads, I said to my husband, “I hope the fumes give them all a headache.” We started giggling like a couple of kids at a slumber party.

In the morning, after another round of bread and peanut butter, we discovered with the resort proprietor that whereas my husband had turned off the flame of our heater, he hadn’t turned off the kerosene, which had leaked out and pooled under our cabin. We were embarrassed, but there was nothing for it but to apologize for our mistake and hope the fumes would dissipate eventually. We couldn’t hope the same about the clouds of biting bugs, however. We were beginning to wonder if perhaps we should have thought through our honeymoon plans a little more carefully.

That night, we were awakened by a cracking sound and a jolt, and the strange tilting of the bed on my side. What in the world could have happened? Without a flashlight, we already knew it would be pointless to try to investigate. We waited uneasily to see if anything else would happen, but when all was quiet, we eventually drifted back to sleep.

In the daylight, we were dumbfounded to see that one leg of the headboard had actually fallen through the floor. What, oh what, would the resort proprietor think when we confessed that we, the honeymooning couple, had caused our bed to break right through the floor? I was mortified. The kerosene incident had been bad enough. Was there enough kerosene still left in the ground that we could just burn the cabin down so we wouldn’t have to confess to him? Only a fleeting thought.

“He might see the humor...” said my husband, taking my hand to comfort me, looking at me hopefully.

In spite of my chagrin, I giggled. “Maybe he could use our experience in his promotional literature.”

“Red hot vacation spot for lovers…”

“So hot your bed will fall right through the floor.”

We had a good laugh and then a long hug.

Once my husband inspected our bed more closely, he discovered that a knothole in the pine floor under one leg had given way.

“You know,” he said tentatively, “it wouldn’t be a crime to change our plans.”

“Actually, they’d probably be relieved to get rid of us,” I said.

“They might even pay us to go.”

We spent the last half of our honeymoon in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and had a delightful time. Hot food and hot showers never felt so good.

As I look back now on this experience after thirty-eight years of marriage, I can see that in many ways, our adventure on Pancake Bay was a perfect introduction to our married life. We were venturing into foreign territory and having new experiences that we weren’t entirely prepared for. There have been plenty of tough times along the way, plenty of times when we’ve had to make adjustments and change plans. But we’ve found that no matter what, it always helps to focus on our love and to see the funny side of life. So far, married life has been a great adventure, just not always the adventure we thought we were signing up for.

~Ann McArthur

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