So, our planned early start didn’t materialize, and we were not ready to hit the Tobermory trail until our usual holiday start time of 11am. No matter, I did get a chance to drain the trailer’s waste tanks down, which they were in dire need of, before heading out.
It’s a fairly long run up Highway Six to Tobermory, the northernmost town on the Bruce Peninsular, but the road is wide and straight, and you really can’t go wrong; just stop when the road meets the lake. We’d been there on holiday once before and thought it would be nice to take in its village atmosphere once more.
It’s also one of the terminals for the Manitoulin Island ferry, a boat we had briefly flirted with taking a ride on, but decided it was all too difficult. The reason I mention the ferry is that it’s what keeps Highway Six both well maintained and busy, because there is a constant flow of vehicles heading to and from Manitoulin Island. It’s a somewhat quicker way to get to Sault Ste. Marie from this part of the world than driving all the way around the eastern side of Georgian Bay, and it’s part of the Great Lakes circuit, a monumental drive around lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron that is very popular, especially at this time of year.
The first thing that we noticed on arrival was the “Paid Parking” signs everywhere. I don’t remember whether or not we had paid to park in the past, but we were certainly going to have to today. We couldn’t find a spot down by the harbour, so worked our way back to the town’s Tourist Information Office which had a big parking lot. We still had to pay, though, $3 an hour, up to a maximum of three hours. What’s that all about? Why the maximum? We were well away from the harbour, why not let us park all day? I noticed that all the cruise boat companies had their own, free, parking for customers buying a cruise ticket. It would almost be worth having a short cruise just to get the free parking! Anyway, I did notice some signs in the shops prompting visitors to write to the mayor to tell him what a daft idea it was to both limit the time and charge and arm and a leg for the privilege; I might just do that.
Apart from parking, Tobermory was just as it had been when we were here before. A pretty harbour, a few craft shops, some eateries and a booming business in cruises around the islands a little way north of the town. Everything’s a tad expensive, but then I guess they don’t get a huge number of visitors in the winter, so the townsfolk have to get their money when they can. I’m fairly certain that the ferry stops in deep mid-winter, too, because of the ice. I know that the big hotel in town stays open all year round and I’d like visit one day, when the snow and ice is in full swing.
We mooched around the place for a couple of hours, had a bite to eat, mooched around a bit more, bought some gewgaws and then decided to head home. We did have a run into the National Park Visitor Centre to (possibly) climb the lookout tower, but when I realised we would get gouged again, by the Government this time, I backed off. That $9 parking charge was burning me, more than I knew.
The run back to Owen Sound was uneventful, apart from having the overtaking lunatics tearing down the highway and risking life and limb just to get six feet in front of us. Oh, and I missed a left turn, but took some quick corrective action to get back on the right road.
I did swallow my pride and top the fuel tank off with 20 litres of petrol at Owen Sound prices. That only added $2 to the cost as opposed to driving to Meaford, and I thought I could handle that.
So, a quiet night in is planned, and I shall enjoy watching some of the Thursday arrivals at the Campground. The weather is set fair and I think people will want make a long weekend of it.
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
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