Freedom to Beach

This is going to be a different sort of post. It’s a little bit about personal growth. If this doesn’t interest you feel free to skip ahead to the pictures.

At 43 years old September 2020 during the Covid-19 crisis. It was 6+months in, I hadn’t done anything besides home, work and occasionally eat to support some local Waterloo Region businesses. I’m sure this was most people’s life at about the same time. I was happy I could help other people keep their dreams afloat. Unfortunately my dreams were stagnant, I felt trapped, I was getting severely depressed.

You see I have a spirit that has a constant need to be on the move. I constantly have a want to always see something new, do something new, eat something new, Its where my motto comes from: See+Eat+Do. I was tired of being home when all I wanted to do was hop a bus and watch the world pass by while going to that place I’d never been. Greyhound had not yet pulled out of Canada but the busses were stopped. Not that I would have got on a bus just then. I didn’t really want to be around people. I thought, how do I go places if I only want to be around people on my own time.

The statement was no longer, I don’t NEED my license, It was I NEED it to live again. So I started reading the drivers handbook online. Watching YouTube videos and doing free practice tests online. It was time, I was going to get my license. Written Test Pass G1 (Learners Permit)

Fast forward to Sept 2021 I did my second test, the first Driving portion of the 3 step process to getting your full license here in Ontario. And passed! G2 (2nd step, first step I’m allowed to drive alone).

I needed an escape. Remember that’s why I started this journey. Passed my test on a Friday by Monday I had arranged for a rental car through a peer to peer service called Turo (this is not a paid ad, but they definitely made getting a car easy for us tech savvy kids) and a basic plan to head south with a single stopped planned for the trip down and 2 stops on the trip back, one for lunch and one just cause. To the Lake Erie coast on my first of many solo Provincial Park visits.

Every good Ontario Roadtrip starts here..

Sam`s Place Farm Market!

Like every good road-trip one requires snacks. Since I’m a huge supporter of locals, I found a farm market just south of a small town called Scotland. That I used as my first rest stop and snack stocking location. I ended up purchasing some pears (from Niagara), peanuts (grown and roasted in Waterford), pepperettes (Simcoe), and a bottle of root beer (Burlington).

Snacks stocked, I headed off again.

Norfolk County

Soon it was well known that I was no longer in Waterloo Region and had already passed the neighboring region of Brant, I must have missed that sign. But it was known that we were now entering Norfolk County, Ontario’s Garden. I decided to pull over and snap a photo of the welcome sign before continuing my drive.

I’m really going to have to get used to pulling over to grab a quick photo instead of just being the passenger, I’ll have to figure out how to do this efficiently. The bonus was I didn’t have to ask whoever was driving to stop. Now that I’m driving I can decide that for myself but it’s going to take time to get used to.

Onward to my next stop on this day’s road-trip.

Passing through fields of Fall crops of Corn, Pumpkins, Tobacco, small farm stands selling piles of every kind of squash you can imagine. This is exactly what I thought a road trip through sections of southern Ontario should be. Different areas, different crops. These are the lands that sustain us here in the province, I guess that’s why it’s called Ontario’s Garden huh?

Long Point Provincial Park

Due to Covid some Ontario Parks allow you to pre-purchase a park pass for entry so they can maintain visitor numbers at a level that stops overcrowding and promotes physical distancing within the park spaces and not be disappointed getting all the way there only to learn that the park is full. Pre-purchasing my day pass online was super simple which I had done the day before so I didn’t have to worry when I got to the park.

In my haste of planning this getaway (a record 24 hour from idea to fruition) I didn’t do enough research on what to do here, as I planned on part beach, part hike. I found out the Park is located in a world biosphere reserve, a natural protected area for migratory birds and other natural things. So besides the campground it has no hiking trails (that I could find). And none were listed on the official park map.

Long Point Bio Reserve

Finding parking was easy as there were not many people at the park due to it being a Monday, and September. You can’t see the lake until you crest the giant sand dune that looks to be a constant battle to push back by the park services as there was a tractor doing just that in the section next to where I chose to park. And walking over the dune is made a little easier by some flexible plastic walkways. Cresting the top l all you see is water as far as you can see. It was a bit windy so the waves were plenty. The beach here is stunning!

I quickly learned I’m way out of shape and walking on sand is way more work than this girl had energy for. So instead I just laid down my blanket, took off my shoes and just enjoyed the beautiful beach that was almost devoid of people this late in the year even though the day was nearly perfect, sunny and warm. I even went up to my knees in the water after taking off my shoes

After a few hours of drinking Root Beer, and eating pears and pepperettes, soaking up a ton of sunshine and listening to the waves lap the shore I decided it was time to go before I turned into a crispy lobster. Stopping at the Park Store before I left, hoping to get my very first park crest sticker and patch, only to learn they had sold out. The nice park ranger advised they did order more but won’t be available till next year.

Next Stop Late Lunch, a taste of Port Dover

Picking my lunch spot was tricky as it turns out most of the small towns restaurants close on Mondays so I decided to head to Port Dover (another first for me) for food. The drive from Long Point Provincial Park was about 45minutes. I didn’t plan on staying long in Port Dover just due to timing, there will be a return trip to fully enjoy this town, but I really wanted to at least go see the lighthouse at the end of the pier build in the late 1800s its a Historic site along with my choice for food. So I parked between food and the pier, on a side street as the smaller main lots were full. I wasn’t all that far away from either location and headed off to see the Lighthouse.

Port Dover

Knechtel’s Port Dover

I was given a handful of recommendations for restaurants in Port Dover but I decided on Knechtel’s On the Beach. This place has apparently been around since the 60s, they don’t have a lot of online presence besides a rarely used Facebook page and their google reviews from what I can find. But it came with praise from friends. You order take out outside at the window, they have a good variety of old-school choices, burgers, fries, poutine. Standard beach restaurant fare. I didn’t come for any of those. I came for Fish and Chips, and not just any fish and chips. They specialize in Lake Erie caught fish. Perch and Pickerel. I chose the 1 piece pickerel snack dinner. It came with fries, coleslaw, and a dinner roll. I just got fountain cola for my drink so nothing fancy there. 

The fish was perfectly fried, the pickerel inside was flaky. The fries were basic but well fried and seasoned. The coleslaw was creamy. I didn’t eat the roll as I try to not eat too much bread in my diet. You will not be disappointed in this container of food. It hit the spot and the view was pretty awesome right on the beach with Lake Erie splashing within earshot.

I had made one additional stop before I headed back to Kitchener at a Lavender/Winery about 10 minutes north of Port Dover in Waterford however I didn’t take enough photos to even put together a section about it. I will save that stop for another time when I make this trip again with more organization.

What a fantastic day. And now an experience along with other great life events like first flight, first time in the ocean. First solo drive!

I plan on heading back down to this area early summer for a birthday getaway.

Till the next adventure.

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