Day 3 – Port Dover to Port Stanley

Friday, July 20, 2018

I had a very good sleep and I woke up at 6 am, well rested.   I packed up my things while trying to ward off the mosquitos.   I must have looked like I was performing the Russian slap dance while I was trying to pack but I eventually packed everything back on the bike and I was on the road by 7 am.   I headed west on Front street, which is also known as the Waterfront trail.  With a bit of a tailwind, I was able to make faster progress. I rode to Port Rowan and arrived at Uncle’s Country Kitchen at 8:30 for a very good breakfast and a chance to finish and post my journal for the previous day.

I left the restaurant and I drove to my cousin’s house in Port Rowan and I arrived there at 10 am.  I visited my cousins Toni Penner and Hilda Thiessen as well as Hilda’s husband Bill and their two daughters Monica and Helga for a couple of hours.  We solved all of the worlds problems and discussed a variety of topics in the 2 1/2 hours I was there.   After having way too much to eat ( including the ice cream ) and drink, I was back on the  road by 12:30.

The route had more hills and my speed varied from 53 km/hr down the hills to 5 km/hr at the end of the climbs.   At one point the mosquitos attacked me as I was slowly climbing up one of the hills and it was quite a challenge trying to slap them while also trying to make forward progress.   At 5 km/hr, I felt like Arty Johnson of LaughIn.  I was just on the verge of tipping over, especially with the excess weight on my back wheel.   My guess is that I have about 50 pounds in the bags.

I have seen a lot of wheat, corn and soya crops, but I have also seen a number of other crops.  It was the Dill crops that I found most interesting.

When I reached Port Burwell, I stopped for a while to take pictures of the beach area,

the lighthouse,

and the submarine that is part of the Marine museum

Of course when I saw the ‘ Simply Scoops ‘ ice cream shop, I had to stop for a scoop!

With a bit of a tailwind for most of the ride, I was able to make good time as I headed to Port Stanley.   I arrived in the Port Bruce area on the Jamestown line and I was about to turn onto the road to take me across the bridge but it was closed for repair so I headed to the southern bridge, which was physically gone.   The town was in the process of building a replacement bridge nearby but it was far from ready for use.  The detour added 27 kms to my travel towards Port Stanley.  As I got near the bridge on Highway 45, it started to rain and I broke out laughing as I was lumbering up the steep incline on the other side of the bridge while it was raining when the song ” Raindrops keep falling on my head ” started to play on my iPod.  Timing is everything.

When I was almost back to the other side of the missing bridges, I checked my route and I found that Port Stanley would be somewhat out of the way for going to the Leamington area.   I also noticed that there didn’t seem to be any good campsites in the area, and since it was supposed to rain in the evening, I opted to get a hotel room in St. Thomas and I changed my route.

At 6 pm, I arrived at the Comfort Inn in St Thomas that I had selected and I was able to get a room for the night.

It was a very long day and I was wet and tired, so it felt very good to take a shower and get a bite to eat at Smitty’s Backyard Burgers.   The burger was as good as the ones I have eaten at the Tiki bar in Ft. Meyers.  The meat was excellent and mine was enhanced with jalapeños, hot peppers, habenero sauce and hot mustard.  It was raining again as I walked about a km to the restaurant and back to the hotel.

Day 3 – Port Rowan to St Thomas:

Distance Travelled: 116 km

Travel Time: 6 hrs 20 min

Conditions: mid 20-28 C ( 68 – 82 F ) Sunny, partly cloudy and some rain at the end of the day.

Accommodations: Comfort Inn in St Thomas ( $106 )

Day 2 – Rock Point to Port Dover

Thursday, July 19, 2018

I got up just after 7 am but it took a while for me to pack everything up for the next leg of my journey.   I finally got all of the bags packed and headed out of the park at 8:30 am.  My first stop was the Tim Horton’s in Dunnville for breakfast and to finish my journal for yesterday.

The Tim Horton’s was about 13 kms northwest of the park, but it was along my route since it was near the most southern bridge across the mouth of the Grand River.   I arrived there around 9 am, ordered some breakfast and worked on my journal entry.   I was almost finished the journal when a man sat down next to me and start talking.   I stopped writing my journal as he proceeded to tell me his life’s story.  His name was Maurice but he liked to be called Moe.  He is 79 years old but he is very fit and very hyperactive, which was quite obvious.   He had been quite the ruffian in his early years.  He had been a drinker and a smoker, but he said that he had turned his life around 30 years ago.  he doesn’t drink or smoke and he kept telling me that he now has the ‘trinity’ looking after him now.

An hour later, another fellow sat next to me and started to tell me his story.   He was retired and had moved to the Dunnville area from Oshawa.  His wife had died last year so he had moved to a nice 3-bedroom apartment in Dunnville because it was half the price of the apartment he had in Oshawa.   His dream was to buy and airboat ( like the ones used in the Everglades ) and ride it up and down the Grand River.

It was almost 11 am when I said goodbye to this new-found friend and I returned to finishing my journal entry.  I  had been so distracted that I couldn’t remember what I wanted to add to the post, so I just published the journal entry only to find out later that I had forgotten to add some more information.   It isn’t the first time that has happened.

As I packed away my laptop into the saddlebag of my bike, another fellow walked up to me and asked me where I was coming from and I told him that I left Niagara on the Lake and I was riding around southern Ontario.   He told me that his son had ridden across Canada and he described  some of the things that had happened to him.  He wished me a good ride and as I started to leave another lady wished me luck as well.   It must be the beard that gets people to talk to me…or perhaps they talk to me because I’m an old guy with a Santa Claus beard on an overpacked bike.

Two hours had passed and it was 11 pm when I left the Tim Horton’s, but I felt that it was time well spent.   It showed me that there are a lot of people out there that just want to talk to someone who will take the time to listen.  It makes me think about the lyrics to a song by Alabama:

” I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why. ”

It wasn’t long before I crossed the bridge over the Grand River.   I would have liked to stop and fish for a while but I’m planning to do that on my way back across the Grand River

As I continued down Rainham Road ( a.k.a regional road #3), I drove past many farms.  Interspersed between the soya, wheat and corn fields were the new crops of windmills.

I was in farming country and the road just seemed to go on forever during certain stretches.

I got a relatively closeup view of the Nanicoke power station

and the Stelco-Lake Erie plant that I didn’t know existed.

Regional Road 3 in the Nanicoke and Stelco plant area was terrible.   There were more paved potholes than there was flat road and I spent a lot of time dodging them and trying to avoid the numerous transport trucks that were passing me.

I reached Port Dover by mid-afternoon and stopped to get a bite to eat at the local Tim Horton’s because I knew they would have wifi and I could get started on my journal for the day.  Port Dover is a nice little town as long as you’re not there on Friday the 13th ( which was last Friday ) when the town is overrun with people.   The town does a great job of catering to the influx of people during this event but it is hard to accommodate so many people for a 1-day event.

By late afternoon I left Port Dover and headed to the Norfolk Conservation area where I got a campsite for the night.   The campsites are very simple and this one didn’t have any flat spots which made it a little challenging but I managed.  

I took a shower, called my cousin in Port Rowan to arrange a meeting, worked on my journal and checked out some of my travel options for the next few days before going to sleep.

Day 2 route:

Distance travelled: 73 km

Travel Time: 4 hrs 20 min

Conditions: 20 – 29 C ( 68 – 84 F ) & partially cloudy riding into a slight wind

Accommodations: Norfolk Conservation Park campsite ( $36 )