Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Muskoka Drive-In

Maybe 10 minutes away, that's all, but for some reason we'd never been to the Muskoka Drive-In until last Saturday.

To clarify, I had been there, once, to take photos for Summer Scene magazine, but I'd never been there for the experience. It's definitely photo-worthy, this place. Carved out of the bush, the drive-in is nestled between a couple of prisons (!), a family campground and a swamp. Trust me, you do not want to go there without screens for your car (and possibly a gun for escaped prisoners). Dave custom-fit some screens for the Jeep using an old dining tent and duct tape, and he put them up before we got to the drive-in. Smart thinking because there were plenty of folks doing the Muskoka wave trying to set up their screens on arrival.

I love this place, I do. It's so retro and the folks who work there are friendly. When we pull in to the admission gate, the gentleman gives us our tickets and a lollipop for Sam. The entrance looks just like I imagine a drive-in entrance should look, with a big marquee and a bunch of tacky signs advertising things like Shopsy's hot dogs. For me, hot dogs are an integral part of the drive-in experience.

I was talking to my mom the other day about going to the drive-in years ago.

"We went two or three times a week," Mom said. "There were three drive-ins close to where we lived, we could pack you kids in the backseat without worrying about a babysitter and it was cheap entertainment. At intermission we'd go and get those foot-long hot dogs."

"In the foil?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, smiling. "They were delicious."

Those hot dogs play a starring role at the Muskoka Drive-In, up on the big screen during the previews and intermission, asking patrons to make a visit to the refreshment stand for tasty treats and refreshing beverages. I don't know how old those intermission clips are but they're probably as old or older than me. Seeing them makes me feel young.

Like everything in Muskoka, the screen is built into the Canadian Shield (just like my favourite coffee place, where the order box comes out of a rock). When you're done hanging out here, you must go to the drive-in's website to see their Flintstone rendition of the screen. So cute!

The movies playing Saturday night were Transformers 3 and The Green Lantern. We'd already seen Lantern but were willing to see it again, especially since the second flick was free. Trouble is, only Dave could stay awake for flim #2. I fell asleep three-quarters of the way through Transformers (all those gears and fight scenes bore me senseless) and wanted to get out of the cramped Jeep to go home to bed but
Sam was adamant we should stay.

"You're sure you want to stay?" asked Dave.

"YES!" hollered Sam, who has two volumes: holler and whisper. "I WANT TO STAY!"

"You're not going to fall asleep, are you?"


"Okay," said Dave. I groaned and tried to find a comfortable spot to go back to sleep.

Ten minutes of tossing and turning later, Dave poked me and whispered, "Cath, are you asleep?"

"No," I said.

"Sam is."

I turned around and looked in the back seat. Sam was sawing logs.

"Home, James," I said.

Falling asleep in front of a flickering screen is an oft-repeated event in our house. Just the night before I took this picture of Dave, Sam and Misty, our dog, all sleeping in front of the TV. Just looking at it makes my eyelids heavy.


  1. Every single time I've been to a drive in (not many) I've fallen asleep. Total waste to take me there.

  2. Boy, does that make me flashback...

    I used to love the drive-in (minus the bugs and humidity, of course). Good thing that you had Red Webster to custom fit a duct-taped screen for the windows. I remember those ads on screen...the dancing hot dogs, etc.

    Man, I'm getting hungry...

  3. I've never heard of window screens for drive-ins, but So California doesn't have a lot of mosquitos. (No forests)
    I'm jealous of Alan constantly changing his moniker...

  4. I love that picture. It makes me smile. :)

    And I love the idea of drive-in movies. I've only ever been to one - sort of. We used to have one here when I was in my teens. I was asked to go to a drive-in movie by a guy I'd just started dating. What he meant was park outside the drive-in area so that we could kinda see the screen, but not hear anything. Needless to say, it was our last date. ;)

    Your experience sounds like much more fun.

  5. I have many fond memories of the Muskoka Drive-In. It was the first drive-in I ever went to. I was about 6 at the time and we saw the summer hit movie "Sinbad". The Cyclops scared the beejeebers out of me for years to come! But worst of all was the fog machine they deployed to get rid of mosquitoes. I'll bet it contained DDT. Then, as a teenager we used to go regularly and even then, they still used the fog machine.
    I suppose the bug spray they were using was a health hazard as they stopped using it by the time we took our kids there. And like you, we fashioned a tent to protect us from the mozzies.
    Good times at the Muskoka Drive-In!

  6. This was great. Really does sound like quite the retro experience. It reminded me of a motel south of Prince George, BC--Quesnel was the name of the town I think. The 50s/60s vintage place advertised "The world's largest TV screen". There was a large picture window in each room that looked out to a drive-in movie screen in the rear of the motel. Sound from the movie was piped into the rooms. It wasn't the most optimal viewing experience since the screen was rather far away from the room. After all we were behind the last row of cars and at a bit of a distance. Also, being so far up north, it didn't get dark until nearly midnite. I was not able to stay up to watch even the entire first movie. But the place was so retro and cool, right down to the furniture and everything.

    Tossing It Out

  7. I miss the Drive-Ins. Well, I'm nostalgic for them anyway. You reminded me of the skeeters and that made me think of, at least here in Florida, the lack of A/C in the summer. Still they were fun when we were young and the car was freedom on wheels.

  8. You're so lucky to still have a drive-in around, Cathy... As for the story? Hilarious... I dunno how you were able to take T3... You're a cool mom!


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