The Pinery on Lake Huron

July 20-21

It was, indeed, a very long drive. We managed to get away by about 6:30A and caught some breakfast as our first stop, and took several other rest/fuel/food/driver-change stops.

We followed the directions given to us by Jim and Jen and Chris, taking route 7 quite a large portion of the way west: destination The Pinery, on Lake Huron (pronounced like the tree: PYE-nuh-rie).

We got past Toronto without problems, and then went slightly off track and hit some slowdowns as the 407 transitioned to the 403 near Burlington and Hamilton. I navigated us off the 407 too soon by about 7 clicks, and we got into some late-afternoon, pre-rush hour traffic.

Once we got past that, however, and once we jiggered through and around London (a poor, gritty looking place) we managed to arrive at The Pinery around 5:30P. It had been a very, very long day, and I was particularly pleased to see that our site (#280 in the Dunes section) was a pull-through.

While we had discussed doing a “minimal setup” upon arrival, because we were both so tired, we actually did the whole shebang, with screen house and everything.

Went to bed quite early after a quick re-heated sausages dinner, and stayed asleep until nearly 9A—close to a 12-hour sleep.

We headed into the totally-touristy town of Grand Bend for groceries and lunch, and found a place by a marina called Smackwater Jack’s Tap Room. Not as compelling as its name, Smackwater Jack’s had a nice shady waterside deck, but VERY expensive menu. 

We might have known what was coming by the very few patrons at 1:30P. We sat for a very long while before a waiter (not ours) gave us some water; and then a longer time until our waitress came so we could ask about their beers. She was clueless about what they served, only pointing out that this or that was quite popular. She kept asking what we normally like and order, and when we pointed out (again) we like ales and IPAs, or British-style brews, and also told her we were from Virginia, she immediately forgot what we’d said in favor of telling us she visited the states frequently. Doh.

There are quite a few interesting visitors around the dunes savannah (a pretty interesting ecosystem, we learned at the Visitor Center, which is a great place to learn more as well as having incredible wifi) including chipmunks, an entire crow family complete with begging branchers (loud), osprey crying above, and more black squirrels (which are quite bold and brave).

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The clouds began to roll in so we were reluctant to take down the bikes before tomorrow, with the hope that it would be less likely to rain then. Instead of biking we drove out to the sandy beaches (there are rocky and sandy beaches, evidently) and watched the sunset over Lake Huron. While there was plenty of sand at this part of the beach, there were tons and tons of very interesting rocks, too. As the sun set, everything began to be bathed in red.

National Geographic has reported is one of the best places from which to watch sunsets in the world. I took many sunset pix, grouped below, if you’re interested. Or you can skip them if you’ve seen too many sunset photos by amateurs in your lifetime. But it was extraordinary. And fun.

Naturally, I picked up and brought back to camp pockets-full of really keen-looking rocks! My mom will be so pleased. Whenever I travel and find neat rocks, we split the cache and add them to our collections. So mom, here are a few of the ones I picked up from the shores of Lake Huron. We will split them up when I get back.

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Hit the hay early again after a chicken salad and cold cut “leftovers” dinner and slept well again. Hoping for a good “every left turn” bike ride tomorrow.

 

Ottawa, Ontario

July 16-17

What we had imagined would be an easy drive to Wesley Clover Parks Campground just outside of Ottawa turned into a very long day, indeed.

First we snailed along behind a road painting machine for a very long time (although the view along much of our 5MPH pace was quite nice).

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Then we had to hit downtown Ottawa, where repaving was happening. The notices of construction were totally inadequate, and untold numbers of busses, trucks, and cars were backed up for miles trying to fit into one lane. It was hot and tedious and frustrating. And we were so very tired.

But we made it to Wesley Clover, which is an enormous park, a huge part of which was being used for the biggest horse show I think I’d ever seen. Tents and arenas, stalls and cross-country courses, multiple tons of horseflesh and riders and grooms absolutely everywhere. And campers, trailers, and other horse-related vehicles abounded.

Happily, this made for a very quiet campground — while there were a lot of folks sleeping there, most got up around dawn to head back to the horse show and ready their charges for whatever events went on that day. I wish we could have managed a walk-around the show, but we simply ran out of time.

We were in Cluster #1, section C, site #3. The C loop in the cluster was intermingled cabins and campsites, and it was a very small and quiet grouping. The facilities were small, but there were so few folks using them, it was no problem to get a shower or a toilet whenever we got to the bath house. We unhitched so we could use the truck to get around, because we had several obligations set up during the Safari Condo anniversary event with our Ottawa Altoistes.

After doing laundry Tuesday morning near the main gate of the campground (and seeing some black squirrels nosing about) we loaded up the bikes on the truck’s hitch-rack, and headed into the city to see Jim and Dale. 

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They have a lovely in-city home with an undivided back yard that they share with 3 of their neighbors. Parking beside their Alto in the driveway, we got ready to cycle around the city for a sight-seeing tour.

Stopped at an outdoor tap house around 5P for a bit of refreshment.

After a delightful dinner at The Clarendon Tavern, during which we were amused by a father who deposited a second, soundly-sleeping child on its mother’s chest—see pix below), we headed to Parliament Hill for the night’s light show. It was a beautiful evening and the show was fun (narrated history of the province and the country), ending with a rousing rendition of “O Canada,” which many in the audience joined in singing.

I don’t have a super camera for low light, but here are a few pix of the scene on Parliament Hill as the sun set, the moon rose, and the light show itself.

Then we rode back to Jim and Dales’, picked up our truck and headed back to Wesley Clover.

Bike Stats:

  • Ride time = 1:15
  • Stopped time = 7:20
  • Distance = 11.6 miles
  • Average speed = 9MPH