The roads are clear, the sun is shining, everyone looks considerably less miserable — it’s time to take the queer on the road. There’s plenty to do this summer just a drive away from Ottawa. We spoke with Alan Bell from Lincoln Heights Ford to come up with the top five weekend getaways around Ottawa to check out this summer.
A trip to Nordik Spa
Winter doesn’t ask much of us, appearance-wise — just grow hair all over your body (taking care to wrap any remaining exposed bits with strips of cloth) and wait for it to end. But in the summer people can see our faces — the grime, the blemishes, the remnants of small animals we caught and devoured as we tried to fend off a wintry death. And that is perhaps what makes the short drive to Nordik Spa in Chelsea, Quebec, such an inviting prospect. The massive spa offers an endless array of massages and skin and body treatments. It has seven outdoor baths, eight unique saunas, an infinity pool, lodges for overnight stays — the list goes on.
Gay camping at Plein Bois
There’s already something very naughty about camping — it conjures up thoughts of the handsome older camp counsellors of our youth — but Plein Bois takes it to the next level. Located in Sainte-Marthe, Quebec, the gay, men-only campground is sort of like camping meets big gay resort. So, there are nature trails, but nudity is allowed in some areas (handy map available), and the itinerary includes a sex-themed, demo-filled weekend. An hour and a half drive from the city, the popular destination also has two pools, DJ’ed parties, restaurants, a fair and Wi-Fi — yes, Wi-Fi. It’s not exactly roughing it (unless you include any surprise trysts in the woods under the approving gaze of feisty squirrels).
Ice cream at the bridge in Pakenham
The big events of summer can often be a source of stress. Of noise. Of stink. Of slow-walking people in crowds that you just want to punch in the back of the neck, but can’t. Well, over hill and over dale — or down the highway, in any case — there’s charming old Pakenham, in Mississippi Mills. On one of its quiet streets you can find Scoops Ice Cream. Homemade waffle cone in hand, it’s a short walk to the picnic spot beside the old stone bridge. It’s an easy, therapeutic thing to take some pictures of the 100-or-so-years-old landmark, or just rest and listen to the rushing rapids beneath it — the thoughts of punch-able necks drifting far, far away.
Music and sites in Wakefield
The touristy little village of Wakefield, Quebec, has it all — or a lot of it anyway. Obviously, the main reason to make the half-hour drive north is to visit The Black Sheep Inn, a music venue without pretension. Once a logger’s tavern and roadhouse, the self-proclaimed dive bar is a good place to see local Canadian bands perform — perhaps even edgy pop groups like The PepTides. It’s also worth checking out the village’s various shops, historic landmarks and such cherished local sites as the red covered bridge. Spanning the Gatineau River, the picturesque bridge is open only to pedestrians. Peppy, sporty folks can get into tubing, kayaking, canoeing and horseback riding.
Montreal Pride road trip
Living in the shadow of the Parliament buildings seems to have a sort of sedative effect. It causes some to curl their lip at the mere mention of fun. Dancing? No, I’ll wrinkle my tie. Frivolousness? No, the ambassador might see. Sex? God no, civil servants don’t do that. But if there’s one time of year to let loose, it’s at Pride. Proposal: a Pride double-whammy. That is, a mini road trip to Montreal Pride (which begins Aug 8) — this year’s celebration includes a drag show with seven contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race — and then back again in time for Capital Pride (beginning Aug 15). And we promise your boss doesn’t have to hear one word about it.