As anticipated, it was a slow start to the day. Well, we are on our holidays.
Today’s jaunt was a road trip up the eastern side of the Bruce Peninsular, hugging the shore of Georgian Bay.
We started by going through Owen Sound and taking the first right past the river. There are very few signs on Ontario roads, at least not signs telling you where the road might lead to, which is difficult for someone like me who has been brought up in England where you can navigate purely using the direction signs, which say things like “Upper Lowerham 4, Lower Upperham 4”, and point usefully in the direction you need to travel. Here they will (sometimes) offer a sign as to which road number you’re on and, if you’re in a town, maybe a street name, but very rarely will you get a sign saying something like “Lion’s Head 66 Km”. This morning, we were looking for Grey Highway 1, but the only indication we could see was a small, foot-square, #1 sign just before the road took a left at a set of lights. We blindly followed everyone else and were happy to see, about 2km further on, a second #1 sign; luck was with us today.
You could, I suppose, set the SatNav up but, when you want to take a meandering route to nowhere in particular, they’re not that useful especially when they only display a few hundred metres around your current location. However, my old map reading skills resurfaced and off we went, more or less in the right direction.
One thing we’ve noticed in Ontario is that so much of any lakefront is private. Individual lots of land, between the road and the water, have been built on with hardly a gap between them. As a result, you can travel miles along the shore and never really see the lake, which is what we did for a large part of the first 30 minutes on the road. We did, however, discover a small public park that not only had parking, but had access to the stony shoreline. The view was lovely, and the water was cold, as usual. We progressed through places like Balmy Beach, Cobble Beach, Big Bay, Oxendon and then eventually on to the metropolis that is Wiarton.
It’s at this point that I could ramble off on a tangent about Wiarton Willie, but my Canadian friends know all about him and my British and American friends will wonder what on earth I’m on about. So, next stop, Cape Croker.
(If you really want to know about Wiarton Willie, click Here)
The name Cape Croker brought to mind the film The Italian Job, where Michael Caine plays Charlie Croker, the cheeky cockney crook who is a villain, a charmer and a bit of a dunce, in equal measure. Cape Croker is, though, an Unceded Territory, Neyaashiinigmiing Aboriginal Reserve No.27, home to the Ojibway and Chippewas of Nawah.
I had intended to drive out to the lighthouse, right on the cape, but gave up that idea when I realised that much of the trip was going to be on gravel roads. So, we made do with stopping at the Community Centre and looking at the war memorial. Some of the scenery and views were lovely but, as ever, there's never a place to stop and admire them.
Then we were off to Hope Bay, off the Reserve and up the shore a little.
Hope Bay is a charming little bay with a big campground and a small, sandy public beach. The water was cold and the little shop/café was closed, so apart from a brief paddle in the chilly waters, all we did was turn around and make for Lion’s Head.
Lion’s Head is named for a rock formation on the southern side of the little bay it sits on. Time and erosion have meant that the lion’s head is now without a lower jaw, but I guess it’d be difficult to rename your village Lion’s Head Without A Lower Jaw, as it would play havoc with the mail.
The village looked quite smart on it’s main street, where we were able to park, visit a nice gift shop and eat in Rachael’s Bakery and 50’s Diner. Rachael’s scored maximum points because it had a number of vegan options on the menu, and free WiFi, which was a bonus. They’re also showing the World Cup on TV on Tuesday and Wednesday but the reports from the last game shown there was that this little diner became quite wild!
The bay the village sits on has a campground and sandy public beach, but it also has a swanky marina nestled behind the stone breakwater, which is why the place seemed quite lively. Despite the gentle slope of the beach, the water was no warmer here than it had been further down the lake’s shore on the stony beaches, but that wasn’t stopping kids from swimming out to the pontoon anchored a little way off the beach, the mad buggers.
Heading south back to Owen Sound, we took the main Tobermory road, which was comparatively busy. It’s mostly arrow straight, with speed limit of 80 km/h, which is what I set the cruise control at. That, though, simply encouraged the lunatic drivers of Ontario to make some scary overtaking moves on me, often with too little room. I’m sure they were all cursing me for having the temerity to stay on the limit, but the curious thing was that we ended up directly behind most of those risk takers when we arrived in Wiarton. All that risk, and gas, for a 15 feet advantage; tsk.
Back at the ranch, it was snooze time for Mrs. T, and it was so warm that we succumbed to the lure of the A/C. It’s noisy when it’s running, but the outside temperature at 6pm was 30C, so I reckon it was OK to burn some electricity.
We rounded off the night with a DVD, Sunset Boulevard. Mrs. T suggested that I might want to bring the awning and lawn furniture in as there was a storm due at 10pm. Naturally I complied, but 10pm came and went with no sign of the promised storm. Oh well, I can set it all up again in the morning…
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
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