As our time at a new area comes to a close, we have decided to put together a review of the region, both for you as a reader, and for ourselves, to help better preserve our memory of the area.
Places we've parked for the night:
1,2 - Kincardine Marina Park
3 - Point Clark Harbour
4 - Goderich's Waterfront
5 - Kettle Point Native Reserve Boat Launch
6,7 - Inverhuron
8 - Chantry Beach, Southampton
9 - Pike Bay Municpal Park
10, 11 - Emmett Lake in Bruce Peninsula National Park
12 - Cabot Head
13 - Malcolm Bluffs Nature Reserve (just south of Cape Croker)
Points of Interest
Bruce Trail Hike - Halfway Log Dump to the Grotto: An amazingly beautiful hike that started out as a fun little challenge and ended up being a long, tough march that ended in extreme dehydration and dizziness. Typically people drive to Halfway Log Dump to view the cliffs and then drive on to Cyprus Lake to view the Grotto. We figured we would hike from one to the next. A quick 9 km hike we thought, no big deal. It turned out to be an "Extremely Difficult" rated trail that took us up and down cliffs lining the Georgian Bay coast. The beauty of the cliffs gave way to views of blue, green and turquoise water that made us think we were in the bahamas. An amazing hike but one that I would slice into two or three parts if we ever do it again. Lyndsay was fine.
Outlaw Brew Co, Southampton: Part of our plan as we head West, and then eventually South, is to support small companies as often as we can. What better place to start than with a good craft brewery. While stopped in Chantry Beach, Southampton, we decided to pick up a few tall cans of craft beer at the local microbrewery. Outlaw Brew Co. is a small brew pub on High Street that features a storefront at which you can purchase cans, growlers and lots of beer swag. In the back, they have a little restaurant/pub with a small menu and a patio off the main street. It was closed when we got there, but the kindly gentleman working inside saw us peering in through the windows and let us in. Smart move on his part. We purchased their flagship Outlaw 21 Lagered Ale, their 2Moon Junction Blueberry Wheat Ale, their Bronco Copper Ale, and their Sheriff IPA. Braden really enjoyed the Blueberry Wheat Ale which was not quite as fruity as Broadhead's version (if you're from Ottawa, you'll know that brew well). My favourite was by far the Sheriff IPA. Nicely hopped, but not outrageous, with a little toasty malts in there to balance everything out. It was great with the BBQ'd sausages and hot mustard we had for dinner that night. If you're in the area, check these guys out. They're worth the trip!
Cape Croker: We had planned to spend the night here with Colby who was driving up from Guelph to visit. Our first night utilizing a place to stay from FreeCampSites.net, this spot seemed like a no brainer. Next to a lighthouse at the end of a gravel road seemed like a spot we would go unnoticed. Unfortunately the locals called the boys in blue to kick us out before things got too crazy. To their credit, the cops were super chill, let us finish our campfire, and vacate the area at our own leisure. With the gentle warning, we were happy to be on our way. There are good cops out there, after all.
Tobermory, Sauble Beach, Grand Bend: Equally Beautiful, Over Rated, Over Populated, and Over Priced. Many other beautiful spots can be found in this area that are peacefully secluded, offer cheap food and friendly locals, and sunsets undisturbed by arguing children or raving frat boys.
Bayfield: A beautiful community that would rather you not stay. "No Parking" signs were everywhere. I wonder, where are we supposed to park our car so that we can get out and SPEND MONEY in your town?
Favourite Spots to Lay our Heads:
Lyndsay's - Inverhuron.
This beautiful spot tops the list for me in the Lake Huron/Bruce Peninsula Area. It is located South of the Bruce Peninsula on the shores of Lake Huron. The beach here stretched on for several kilometers, dotted by tiny cottages on the sand. The sand was soft and piled high, unlike Sauble Beach, which was firmly packed to avoid it being whipped around by the wind. Our home for the night was at the end of a cottage road, adjacent to Inverhuron Provincial Park. The park itself was a wonder, featuring huge sand dunes over fifty feet high, interspersed with evergreen trees. A sandy Savannah for our Savana. A long hike in the woods takes you into another world. Deep in the woods runs the Little Sauble River surrounded by beautiful cedar forest, softly carpeted and springy underfoot. Other parts were more wild and lush, almost jungle like. Another great feature was a water tap located just inside the park at which we could fill up our water bottles and our kettle with water that tasted as if it had come from a spring. An electrical plug was not far away, so we were able to plug in our kettle to boil water for coffee instead of using our own fuel. The locals were pleasant and chatty, and the park warden, J. Speutzel, was friendly and helpful. At the main entrance to the beach was a small park with a jungle gym which we used for our morning workout. We decided to spend two nights at this spot, something we've only done three times so far, each night offering peace and quite, with decent stars and, because of the wind coming off the lake, almost no mosquitoes.
Braden's - Kincardine.
The first we stayed and one of the best. When we pulled into Kincardine we had no idea where we would park to stay the night. We ended up staying in one of my favourites to date. On the beach next to the marina we parked our Golden Van down at the far end where the parking lot transformed into a boardwalk. We were sandwiched between the beach and dunes to the west and a small forest to the east. It felt like we were far from civilization yet we were right next to the great little city of Kincardine. Unreal sunsets across Lake Huron marked the end of each day before the waves put us to sleep. I greatly miss the sandy beaches and long days of Lake Huron as we have now made it around Georgian Bay to Manitoulin Island as we continue our adventure. The hot showers at the Marina were a nice treat as well.
Best Beach: Inverhuron.
One of the best places of our trip so far. The blue green water of Lake Huron forced amazingly soft sand up onto the beach and finally into the dunes behind it. The wind then carries the sand back into the lake and the process repeats as it has for hundreds of years. This natural attraction was just a beautiful place to be. When it was sunny we lounged on the beach and swam in the turquoise water. When the sun got to hot to handle, we escaped to the thick forest behind the dunes to hide from the sun. At night the waves from the Lake and the singing Whippoorwill soothed us to bed. Although this area is not yet tainted by hordes of tourists, this spot has not been able to hide entirely from peering eyes, as its popularity has cottagers putting their little cabins right onto the beach to get hammered by blowing sand, waves, wind and rain.
Best Attraction: The starry skies on the Bruce Peninsula.
The area is mostly unpopulated enough to afford very little light pollution, and if you are lucky, as we were in Cabot Head, you will have a clear night with almost no moon. The stars here were unlike any I've ever seen, the milky way a bright and very evident misty belt across the sky. Strange lights flickering in the sky could not be explained away as shooting stars or air planes. The truth is out there somewhere. Come to the Bruce Peninsula and see them for yourself! Alas, my photography skills are not yet honed enough to capture such beauty! I'm sure there will be plenty more opportunities!
Coolest Vandweller We've Met So Far:
Big Doug, or was it Big Dave? While enjoying breakfast at Point Clark, another vandweller pulled up right behind us in a 1988 Dodge Van that had been professionally converted into a little RV. He passed on his knowledge of vandwelling while showing off his trusty steed. Retired, he and his wife are headed to Newfoundland and then Mexico in their classic beauty. Our conversation with them stuck in our minds as they were exceedingly friendly and talkative. That reminds me, when we get new tires we need to inquire about rated tires for high pressure inflation and better gas mileage. Thanks Doug!...or Dave? We hope when we are their age a spark of adventure still burns inside us.
Nicest Drive: Gravel Road to Cabot Head
Typically, I would say the best drive was full of empty, twisty roads accompanied with amazing views. This drive was not like that at all. More of a gravel path leading from Dyers Bay to Cabot Head Light House and Museum, we thought we may be able to find a nice secluded spot to spend the night as the attraction was closed for 2017. We were presented with stunning views of Georgian Bay to our right and epic cliffs to our left. Unique flag stone beaches gave way to lush forest and vast expansive views of vegetation leading to large Limestone Cliffs.