I just got back from a camping trip up to Bruce Peninsula National Park near Tobermory, Ontario. The last time I was there I almost died. I was a teenager and if the rattlesnake, heat exhaustion or drinking gallons of unsafe water straight out of the Georgian Bay didn’t kill me, I was sure that my brother Nicholas, who had a giant duffel bag duct taped to his back, would have. But that’s another story and you’ll need to read my book if you want to hear it (or buy me a couple beers and ask me to tell you about it sometime).
This trip was much less death-defying, which suited me just fine. We had crappy weather on the Friday but it turned nice for us on the Saturday and Sunday. Hikes to the Grotto, sunset over the lake, bocce ball in the woods, no showering and too many peanut butter sandwiches made for a great weekend.
My friend Tony’s cousin, Willie, and his girlfriend, Mary (or was it Sarah? Between the accent and too many beers by the campfire it’s hard to know for sure), were visiting from Ireland. We chatted about the various things they had planned during their 2-week stay in Ontario and it reminded me of all the great things we have to offer in our own backyard.
This past January I was at a resort in Costa Rica. Last summer I made the trek to the Dawson City Music Festival in the Yukon. But this summer the plan is to stick closer to home and I’m very excited about it.
A few weeks ago I visited my Dad and stepmom, Dianne, down in Thedford, Ontario (or Buttford as Dianne calls it—a tiny town in the Grand Bend/Sarnia/London area). Although Thedford has (ahem) loads of wild and exciting things to offer, including their annual “Funion Days” Onion Festival, we decided to hit the road in search of local adventure (and food, of course, my God, the food!).
We packed a lot in. By the end of the day my pants were stained red from eating what had to be a hundred pounds of kick-you-in-the-face delicious strawberries we picked up from a local farm. Our adventure took us from Thedford to Leamington (the tomato capital of Canada) to Point Pelee and every point in between.
Our last stop before heading back to Thedford was Point Pelee National Park, the most southerly point in Canada. Dad and I hiked to the very tip of the point and enjoyed a great view. Since we literally could not go any further (without hiring a boat), we turned around and headed home.
By the time we got back, the trunk of Dad and Dianne’s car was bursting with fresh lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and a bottle of wine I had picked up from the Pelee Island Winery along the way. The fresh strawberry scones we bought at Parks Blueberries and Country Store near Thamesville, however, did not make it home for obvious, melt-in-your-mouth reasons.
It was full day and a lot of fun. It reminded me to not be so quick to hop a plane to an exotic locale whenever I’m planning some vacation time. There is adventure close to home and while I’m not usually one to quote a license plate, Ontario really is yours to discover.
The rest of my summer looks promising. I’ll be camping at the Pinery in Grand Bend in July and up at Killarney Park in August. I’m hoping to get a weekend at my friend Rob’s cottage at some point this summer as well. And of course the siren song of watching a sunset at my Grandma’s beach near Goderich is certainly calling. Huzzah to adventures!
What are your favourite local destinations?
Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is the author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.