As a parent, you want to give your kids the chance to experience all that life has to offer. But without a family cottage, the opportunities to go boating, fishing, and off-road riding just don’t come up all that often. What do you do when you love cottage country, but don’t have a cottage?
For my family, wife Mehnaz, and daughters Natasha (10) and Aryana (7), that means renting cottages, camping in provincial parks, and waiting patiently for invitations from friends.
So when an offer came in to spend the night at the historic Windermere House resort on Lake Rosseau, followed by a day playing with many of the tools and recreational products Honda Canada has in its lineup, we jumped at the opportunity. What better place to get hands-on experience with everything from outboards, dirt bikes, and ATVs, to a broad array of four-stroke gardening equipment and generators to supply power when you don’t have it, than on one of Canada’s most famous cottage lakes?
Our experience began even before we left home when a brand new Honda Pilot landed in our driveway. For adults, the commute to the cottage is all about getting there comfortably and safely, and the Pilot has both amply covered. There’s a large touchscreen display that controls the audio and navigation systems, multiple outlets for charging devices, including a 115V AC plug, and the two front seats can heat or cool as the season requires.
On the safety side, features range from an indicator that lights up when someone’s in your blindspot to the Collision Mitigation Braking System™ that uses a forward-facing camera to slow down the vehicle to mitigate a serious accident.
For the kids, it’s all about being entertained, and the drop-down 9″ DVD screen provided that. The wireless headphones were a nice bonus for the parents since we didn’t have to listen along to a movie sight unseen. The second-row captain’s chairs with a console between also eliminated any “she’s on my side” conflict. The words “are we there yet?” never crossed anyone’s lips.
The highlight of the weekend for all was when the girls got to participate in Honda’s Junior Red Riders program, which teaches kids 6 to 12 how to ride dirt bikes. Before the riding lesson began, the girls got geared up literally from head to toe—with various pieces of body armour covering everything else in between. They marched out looking like mini-stormtroopers and I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or be intimidated.
Join the Britnells as they learn to ride dirt bikes through the Honda Red Riders program, courtesy of Honda Canada.
The lesson itself was thorough but efficient, full of sound advice for my pint-sized rookie riders such as; “Keep your head up…look where you want the motorcycle to go … and be cautious when applying the front brake. The back brake is your friend.”
After a dry run with the engine off, they were finally ready to ride. Even under their helmets you could see their broad smiles as they zoomed around the course. “This is awesome!” was just one of the many positive exclamations they made as they circled the track. Given explicit instructions to not pass one another on the course, “Go faster Aryana!” was another phrase that Natasha used frequently.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to cottage country without an outing on a boat. But unlike a typical runabout, there was a pontoon boat at our disposal. Spacious and with plenty of seating, it provided a stable platform for fishing from. But with the BF90 Honda outboard on the back, it had plenty of zip as well.
Long before it became trendy—and legally required—Honda’s outboards have been four-stroke engines that burn cleaner and quieter than two-strokes. In fact, Honda entered the market with a four-stroke more than 50 years ago, in 1964.
After a quick jaunt across the lake, we pulled up close to shore to try our hands at fishing. Natasha had recently learned to fish at a YMCA camp, but Aryana got to wet a line for the first time in her life. Unfortunately, there was no beginner’s luck for this clan as we ended our outing without so much as a bite. It wouldn’t be fair if the kids got to have all the fun. So later in the day Dad got to try his hands at something new: driving a four-seat Pioneer side-by-side, off-road vehicle through a backwoods trail.
I’m man enough to admit that after the safety instructions and tutorial, but before we first headed out, I was a bit nervous. But once I got behind the wheel, I found that it was a very stable ride that was easy to handle. Riding in the passenger seat, my wife wasn’t exactly sold on how much “fun” the experience was, but I was already mentally manoeuvring for a guys’ weekend, and even after two loops through a forest trail, the girls wanted to go again.
Honda, of course, also makes numerous four-stroke yard tools and generators. Full disclosure: I’m a push mower kind of guy, and with my city-sized slice of lawn that’s all I really need. But that’s not to say I wasn’t impressed with the self-propelled Smart Drive™ mowers or the lightweight anti-vibration trimmers.
Who knows, maybe one day I’ll own both a cottage and a yard large enough to warrant a Honda lawnmower. It’s never too late for new experiences.