Adventures in my own backyard

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.

Jared at the Grotto. The only one insane (or awesome?) enough to go swimming in the frigid waters.

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.

Dad and Dianne loading up the strawberries. Of course, we kept a couple baskets up front for ourselves.

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.

Sooooooooo good.

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?

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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.

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10 Responses to Adventures in my own backyard

  1. Rob says:

    Agreed! Cue music: Ontariooooo, there’s no taste/place like home!

    Looking forward to more summer adventures,

    Rob

  2. Anonymous says:

    You could also come to our cottage. Not so full of adventures, but your nephews and niece could be there. There are walks to take, mazinaw experiences, bon echo park, and an ancient monopoly game …

    • I’m definitely going to have to get up that way soon. One of the great things about cottages is all the old school board games and yellowed paperback novels.

  3. Dianne Martin says:

    It was a great day and lots of laughs. We still have lots to show you……

  4. Andrea Martin says:

    Point Pelee is awesome! damien and I spent our second anniversary there and saw the monarch butterflies stopping en route on their annual migration to Mexico. Two nights were spent on Pelee island car-less. We biked all around the island and discovered all sorts of interesting things (like vin villa- the site of (I think) the oldest winery in Canada. Would love to go back one day with the kidlings.

  5. Bryna says:

    Nick and I went camping in the 1,000 Islands this weekend, and it was absolutely amazing! It’s wild what we have in our own backyards (in this case only an hour from home)! Ontario is a wonderful place to live. I also hit up the farmer’s market in Belleville and came out with a ridiculous amount of fresh produce, maple syrup and flowers – all for under $40. I would’ve easily spent over $50 at any chain grocery store for the same amount, and it wouldn’t have been nearly as fresh.

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