|August 16, 1999|
Muskoka Driving Tips
Everybody is quick to brag that we are a driving culture, something that was ensured by Canada's big open spaces, its complete lack of urban planning, and virtually nonexistent public transit systems. But for all the driving that Canadians do, it is truly amazing how few of them do it well. And nowhere is that more apparent than right here in Muskoka.
With hundreds of thousands of vacation residences and retirement homes up the whazoo, Muskoka has more blue-hairs per capita in July and August than St. Petersburg, Florida. This can make driving pretty frustrating as Lincoln Town Cars, Cadillac Sedan de Villes and Ford Crown Victorias get piloted around at speeds best described as glacial. And I don't complain about that merely because I, personally, have somewhere I'd like to get to - TODAY. It's just that the only thing sadder than seeing a leopard in a cage or a whale in a tank is seeing a Cadillac STS used as a walker. Luckily the Anti-Destination League are easy to spot - look for the puffy hairdo, the fedora, or the lack of any sort of visible head in the car. And if I may offer these guys a little advice: you're probably driving a little too slowly if people pulling Airstream trailers are passing you.
This is not to imply that all of the bad drivers up here are old guys. Most of the people I curse at for Motor Incompetence are well this side of prostate malfunction. So in their case it's not that they've forgotten how to drive - these people never knew how to drive in the first place. To them, the car is just a mobile Barqu-o-lounger that magically gets them from Point A to Point B without much driver interference. The maneuvers these people are capable of are truly astounding:
If you actually CAN drive you should be warned that the O.P.P. (Ontario Provincial Police) are thicker than bugs on a bumper up here and eager to tip their hat to Muskoka's cash-cow tourist tax base by presenting you with your very own moving violation. And it'll be for a hefty sum, too. Most of the secondary highways in the Muskoka area have a posted speed limit of 80 kph which means that pretty much everyone does 90 kph. And that's fine by the O.P.P. But as you approach any given town, that speed limit drops to 60 kph and then 100 feet down the road it's lowered again to 50 kph. So ten seconds inattention will have you being clocked at 40 kph over the posted limit and therefore in for a ticket in excess of $200. Welcome to Port Carling. Have a nice day.
And finally - as much as I hate filling the tank when gas is 63.9 cents a litre it's a necessity if you're going to be driving the loop around Lake Muskoka at night. If the lake were a clock with Bracebridge at 11 and Gravenhurst at 3 there are no - count 'em ZERO - gas stations between 3 and 11 after 8 pm. And even during the day there are only two - one in Glen Orchard and one in Port Carling. When I was a kid you couldn't drive 5 miles around here without passing a gas station advertising 'dew worms'. Now all those stations are antique stores and you'd better have a gas gauge you can trust or you'll find yourself reenacting the Franklin Expedition with mosquitoes. So forget the ten buck top-up. That Expedition drinks more gas than you think. Fill it up. Relax. Enjoy your trip.
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