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Even though it was -14 today with blustery winds, D had his heart set on going to the Orillia Winter Carnival after church.  Like true Canadians, we decided to brave the weather so we got bundled up from head to toe and headed out.  The one good thing about the weather being less than ideal for a carnival was that it held back the less hardy folk and we found that we didn’t have to wait in line very long for most of the attractions.  We started by zinging around a track on a dog sled.  D enjoyed trying out the mini snowmobile and sitting in a real army vehicle learning how to use the thermal imaging equipment.  The ice castle was amazing and it was fun to slide down the giant ice slides to get out.  To warm up a little we went in the petting zoo tent to see, touch and smell llamas, horses, mules, potbellied pigs, goats and an assortment of other critters.  We also tried out the Science North tent and the food tent when the cold winds were proving to be just a bit too much for us.  The day wouldn’t have been complete without the horse drawn ride around the waterfront park. 

The big attraction that ends the carnival is the annual polar bear plunge.  I had never seen one of these for real so I was pretty keen to stick around and see crazier Canadians than I am jump in Lake Couchiching.  I was shocked to see even young kids taking the plunge.  The first and last groups to go in were probably the most memorable and will likely make the evening news.  The first group was from a local pizza place.  Four guys strode forward and took off their bath robes so that we could read the words “Will”, “you”, “marry”, “me?” on their tank tops.  One of the guys flourished a rose and an engagement ring from out of his bathrobe, walked up to his shocked girlfriend, got down on one knee and proposed to her right there.  Of course, she said “yes”, everyone cheered, they kissed and then he jumped right into the freezing lake.  The last group to go in was a mother/daughter combination that had made matching furry bunny bikini outfits for the plunge.  They looked cute and I think that more than one guy was hoping the homemade outfits would have some maladjustments in the freezing water.  Though untested, they held fine and mom and daughter emerged unscandalously from the lake.  I’m not sure that my kids or I would ever do something as foolish as jump in a lake in sub-zero weather, but I would go again to watch other crazy Canadians do it.

The other really nice thing about braving the weather was meeting other true Canadians.  To do some of the attractions, we had to purchase a special button.  I joined another mom to do the purchasing only to find that the button seller didn’t have enough change for both of us.  That kind lady said, “How about if I just buy one for you and then she’ll only have to make change for one of us?”  She did just that.  I kept looking for her the rest of the day, after I did manage to have some change, to pay her back but never ran into her again.  God bless that kind-hearted woman.  Random acts of kindness like that make you happy and proud to live in the place that you do.

The weather took a turn for the worse on the ride home but like true Canadians we managed the trip despite it.  I thought I might have to get pushed as I got stuck in the accumulating snow on one of the side roads, but I spun my tires with the best of them, swerved and swivelled, and somehow made it up the small, slippery incline.  The near white out conditions on the highway had us praying a bit but thankfully we made it to our turn-off uneventfully.

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