Day 6 – Kingsville to Pelee Island

July 23, 2018

After a very restful sleep in a comfortable bed, I was ready to continue on my journey.   I got up at 6:30 am and by the time I had packed up my things, Lou had prepared a wonderful  breakfast of Spinach omelettes, toast, coffee, pastry, and fruit.   

Their hospitality made it difficult to leave but it was time to go, so after breakfast I said my goodbyes and headed to the Leamington Ferry Dock to catch the first boat to Pelee Island.   It looked like it might drizzle bu I was lucky and the day started off at a cool 18 C ( 65 F ) and overcast.   It was 23 km to the dock and I made it there, 15 minutes before the boat was to depart even though there was a small detour around the entrance to the dock.  

I boarded the 10 am ferry and at 11:30 and after an uneventful voyage, I arrived at Pelee Island to a sunny, warm 22 C ( 72 F) day.   

 

As I got off of the ferry, one of the bicycle passengers had a flat tire.   I pumped it up for him but it appeared that it was a serious leak and would not last long.   I googled the nearest bike shop and fortunately, it was only a few hundred meters away.   He started to ride the bicycle but the tire went flat immediately so he walked it to the Bike shop.   

I checked in at the town hall and information centre before starting my ride.

With the newly acquired information, I headed south.  Pelee Island is not very large, but it is a nice place where the people are all very friendly and helpful.   The locals always wave and greet you with a smile.  The distance  around the Island is about 30 km and the vegetation is similar to the mainland.   I saw soya, grape and wheat crops on the island but there may be others I didn’t see any.  I briefly stopped for a picture at the Pelee Island Winery before continuing on my ride.

As I got farther south, there were larger trees and the vegetation was thicker.

I noticed that there are a lot of butterflies on the island of varying shapes, sizes and colours.  This one stopped long enough for me to take a picture:

Even though there is very little traffic on the island and no one drives very fast, I found this little fellow who hadn’t made it across the road in time:

I continued south to the Fish Point Provincial Nature Preserve and I hiked the 1.6 km to the southern point of the Island, before returning to my bike and riding north to the East Park Campground where I had reserved a campsite.  

When I reached the campground, I checked in, unpacked my things and let them driy them on the picnic table while I took a shower and then rode around the island.   I rode across the centre of the island back to the dock area because the bicycle shop was located there.   I checked my tires and found that they were quite low ( about 40 psi ) so I pumped them back up to 75 psi.   

I continued north until I found this “ shoe “ tree, but I wasn’t prepared to contribute to it:

I continued riding until I got to the north shore where I stopped at the island bakery for something to eat and of course have a Cappuccino and a triple chocolate brownie.  

I then headed east along the north shore until I got to the east shore and then I rode north along a road that used to lead to the lighthouse but after almost reaching it, I had to turn back because the road had been washed out.  There was no path straight ahead through the trees, there was a swamp on the left and the lake on the right, so I turned back and rode to the campsite.   At the campsite there were two travellers on BMW motorcycles.  One motorcycle was a very nice 2008 K1200S but what caught my eye was the classic BMW R 75/6, which is a 43 year old 750 cc, BMW motorcycle.

I talked for a little while with them before returning to my campsite to write my journal.  The weather prediction was for a 30 – 40 % chance that it will rain overnight on the island.  If it does, I will probably get wet.

Day 6 – Kingsville to Pelee Island:

Travel Time: 3 hrs 45 minutes

Travel Distance: 61 km ( 23 to the dock and 38 km around the island.

Conditions: 18 – 22 C (  65 – 72 F ), initially overcast, sunny and then overcast again.

Accommodations: East Park Campground ( $21 )

Day 5 – Blenheim to Kingsville

July 22, 2018

I had checked the weather on my route the night before and there was no rain forecast for the area, however, after I woke up and checked my bike, I noticed the it was drizzling.   I re-checked the forecast and it showed rain along the route until mid-afternoon, so I put the rain covers over the bags, and rode 3 km into Blenheim for breakfast at the Tim Horton’s.   A good nights rest had appeased my body parts that had mutinied the night before and everything was working as a cohesive unit again.  In fact it was starting to feel comfortable on the bike.

A man sitting next to me, commented that he hoped it would rain all week because he needed it for the crops.   From what I had seen so far, the rain is definitely needed in the farming communities.

I left Blenheim at 8:20 and rode down highway 3 towards Leamington.   The rain drizzled on and off the entire time I rode to Kingsville, however the wind was in my favour most of the ride and I was able to keep up a good pace with little effort.    There was never a heavy rain, just varying degrees of drizzle, however it was a little cool.

I had decided to stop if I found a church that was having a service and at 9:40 I saw a United Church along the way whose service started at 9:30 so I pulled over and went into the church.   I came just in time for the message which was about Paul’s letters to the Ephesians about reconciliation and tolerance.  During the pastoral prayer, the pastor prayed for members of the church and some special requests, as well as a request for more rain for the farmers.  

The service ended at 10:15 after which, I continued my ride until I reached Wheatley , where I stopped for lunch at restaurant called Lil Hill’s Coffee Shop.  It was a quaint little restaurant, with a lot of customers and good food.  When I left the restaurant, I headed north on highway 1 and then west on Road 8 shortly thereafter. 

By 1:30 pm I arrived at my destination in Kingsville area, the home of Peter and Lou Trepanier.   I had sold my motorcycle to Peter in the Spring and he had offered to show me the area if I came back so I took him up on the offer.   I also gave him and adapter for  the BMW battery charger that I had forgotten to give him.  

Peter and Lou invited me to stay overnight with them so I accepted the offer.   I took a nice warm shower and we talked for a bit before Peter took me on and extensive tour of the area.   I wasn’t aware of the immense greenhouses that were in the area, the many wineries ( one of which was the Pelee Island winery ) and the diverse crops that are in the area.  Peter grew up in the area but he has also traveled around the world when he worked for Bell as an IT manager.   His knowledge of the area is quite extensive.     After our tour we had a wonderful steak BBQ at their house, followed by home made tarts, ice-cream fruit and a Cappuccino.   It still makes me hungry just thinking about the food.   

After supper, Peter took me for a tour in Windsor of the water front where we saw the portable fountain ( which gets removed and maintained very winter ), 

the tour boat that cruises up and down the Detroit River

and a view of the Ambassador Bridge from the waterfront.

We also saw Windsor University, the distilleries  for Wisers, Canadian Club and Hiram Walker, as well one of the original Ford assembly plants, the Dainty Rice plant, and the Windsor Salt plant.   We saw so much that I couldn’t possibly write about all of them.   It was 9:30 by the time we returned to the house so wrote the bulk of my journal and went to bed.

I have now ridden my bike 448 km in past 5 days.   I have a couple of things I want to see in this area and then I will be riding to Sarnia, before I slowly work my way back home.

Day 5 – Blenheim to Kingsville

Distance travelled: 78 km

Travel Time: 4 hrs

Conditions –  A cool 18 C ( 65 F ) the wind in my favour and drizzling rain most of the day

Accommodations: Peter & Lou’s house of hospitality

Day 4 – St Thomas to Blenheim

Saturday, July 21 2018

After a restful night’s sleep, I was ready to go again, however,  rain was in the  forecast in the afternoon for my route.   I ate the complimentary breakfast that was available at 7 am so that I could get an early start.   The breakfast was quite good.  The food was all very fresh, plus the area was clean and well maintained.

I packed up my bike and put the rain covers on the bags before I left at 8:20 am.   For the first 2 hours of my ride, the conditions were cool and overcast.  My ride started with a steep incline after I crossed the river west of the Elgin area.

I took highway 3 for most of the ride and at 9:30 I saw a small cafe called the Holland House,  so I stopped for a coffee and a muffin before continuing on my way.    Ironically, they had the ‘ Tour de France’ on the TV in the restaurant.

Shortly after I left the cafe, the rain started.  A slight drizzle quickly changed to a downpour so I ducked under a big tree for a few minutes until it stopped.   For the next 3 hours, there was intermittent rain and each time I was starting to get dry, it would rain again.   At 11:30, I saw a sign for Blueberries and ice cream,  so I had to stop and get a scoop of Blueberry Cheesecake ice-cream.

It started to rain again shortly after I left and at 12:30 I stopped at the Crazy Eight Barn Cafe and Gifts for lunch.  This is a very unique restaurant and gift shop that is worth seeing.   I ordered the special: egg-salad sandwich with sweet potato soup, bean salad and Very Berry Ice Tea.   It was all very good.

When I left the cafe, I noticed that it had stopped raining and the sun was trying  to avoid the clouds, however it remained overcast for most of the day.   After the rest at the cafe, my body started to rebel and I was feeling a bit of discomfort.   I checked my options and there was a decent motel in Blenheim but the next hotel or campsite would be near Leamington which would require me to ride over 140 km for the day.  I had ridden 65 km to the cafe so I decided to stop for the night in Blenheim.

The views remained similar to the previous days.   Most of the spring wheat fields have been gleaned and the hay has been baled.   The other crops are in various stages of growth.  As I got farther southwest, I was able to see the lake past the crops on the south side of the road.

The people living in this area of Ontario tend to drive large trucks and SUVs and a lot  of the trucks that passed me were pulling trailers or campers.    The traffic has been light  and most drivers have been very courteous when passing me by moving over to the oncoming lane when it is clear, however, there are always a few that can’t wait a few seconds and only move over slightly while passing me in order to squeeze between me and the oncoming traffic , sometimes forcing the oncoming traffic to move on to the shoulder.

By 3:20 pm, I arrived at the Silver Motel just south of Blenheim and checked into the last available room.   The temperature had gotten a little warmer so I was able to dry my clothes, tent and sleeping mat outside while I took a shower and rested.   At 5:30 pm, I walked over to the Pub & Grill at the Willow Ridge Golf & Country Club for something to eat before returning to my room to write my journal.

Day 4 – St Thomas to Blenheim:

Distance Travelled: 90 km

Travel Time: 5 hrs

Conditions: 20 – 23 C ( 68 – 74 F) overcast and a little windy with rain from 10:30 am until 2 pm.

Accommodations: Silver Motel Blenheim ( $70 )

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 )

Day 1 – From Home to Rock Point

July 18, 2018

I spent a little longer than I had anticipated at home making sure that I had taken care of all of the important things before I leave, so I didn’t get going until 9 am.

I had installed a new seat on my bicycle that is “ supposed “ to make the ride much more comfortable.  Although I had tried to take along only the necessities, I still had too much stuff.   I need my tent, sleeping bag and ground sheet for sleeping, my computer for journalling, my mobile phone for the GPS and to keep in contact, my solar charger for charging the electronics,  a pair of shoes, bandaids in case of injury, my fishing pole ( just in case I get the opportunity to fish ), some clothes so I don’t chase everyone away and a few toiletries.   I didn’t bring any heavy clothes, a jacket or my razor, but the “ pannier’s “ (saddlebags) are still too heavy and that makes it a little more difficult to ride.  I should have gotten some bags for the front and evened out the weight distribution.   The front of the bike is very light and the back always wants to tip over.

I left the vineyards of Niagara and rode to the bicycle path along the east side of the Welland Canal starting at “ Homer Bridge “.  This is the first time I have ridden along the bicycle path that follows the length of the canal and anyone that has been on it, knows that it is a very nice ride.  You get a good view of the canal and little or no interaction with cars.

Just south of the Homer Bridge is the  The St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre as well as the National Lacrosse Museum, which is definitely worth seeing.   Lock #3 which is next to the museum has a nice viewing platforms that visitors can have a closeup view of the lock in action, whenever a boat comes through.

When I reached the spot where the Allenburg bridge used to be, I watched the small ferry taking people back and forth across the canal.   The bridge was never rebuilt after it was damaged by a ship many years ago and the ferry is the only option for crossing the canal at this point. 

When I reached the Glendale bridge, it was being closed for the day so I was able to easily cross the street, but when I turned back on to the path, there was a large bump in the entrance from the road to the path and the bungie cord holding my right saddlebag stretched just enough to loosen it, allowing it to fall to the ground.   Everything was so tightly packed that I had to unpack some of the gear to get the bag back on the bike.   Note to file – watch out for potholes and bumps!

The bike path at the south end of the canal is very close to the abandoned section of the canal and this area of the canal is used by several of the rowing clubs for practicing and by locals for water sports.

 

Shortly after I passed through Welland my GPS had found a route that was 9 minutes faster so I decided to try it.  It ended up being an abandoned overgrown road and I quickly was surrounded by horse flies that were trying to pick me up and carry me away.  

The ” road ”  continued to get narrower and overgrown with large potholes, so that I had to walk my bike for a short section.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough and after floundering about for a bit, I gave up on the GPS and found my own way along a paved road.   It was a little longer but much better for riding.

It wasn’t much later that I arrived in Port Colborne and I headed along the regional road 3, also known as Lakeshore road.   I knew that the Gabriels has a cottage in the Belleview Beach area and I stopped by.   Its a lovely cottage and it has a view of the lake, however, when I got there, no one was there.  

I talked with them on the phone and they suggested I go to the Hippos Restaurant that was about 13 km away.  I started out that way but I was hungry and I found the Hungry Putter about 6 km away so I stopped there and had a twisted chicken club sandwich and a milkshake.   They were both very good.   This little eatery has high ratings and I would recommend it for a simple meal.

After lunch, I continued riding west and it was about 30 minutes later that I rode by the Hippo’s Lake Erie Perch Restaurant and I saw  a lot of people there, but I wasn’t hungry at that time so I continued on my journey.

I was mid afternoon and I decided to find a place to stay for the night, so I opted to check the Rock Point Provincial Park.  I arrived at about 3 pm, checked in.   I asked the lady at the checkin counter regarding restaurants and she suggested Hippos, but I told her that I had already ridden 75 km and I was too tired to ride back the 8 km ( 25 min ) so I though I would skip a meal.   After setting up my campsite, I took a shower and rested for a few hours, at which point I was getting a little hungry.  In fact, at 6:30 I was hungry enough to ride back to Hippo’s restaurant get a perch dinner and another milkshake.

There was long a long lineup of people and it took me about 30 minutes to get my perch but it was good, even though it was a little greasier than I like.

By the time got back to the camp it was 8:30 pm and although there wasn’t any wifi in the campsite I started writing my journal until it got dark and the mosquitos came out.

Distance travelled: 91 km ( including the ride back back to Hippo’s restaurant )

Riding Time: 5 hrs 20 min

Temperature: ~ 25 C ( 77 F ), sunny to partly cloudy.

Accommodations: Rock Point Provincial Park campsite ( $41 )

Preparation for Biking Around Southern Ontario

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

I’ve always been aware that there are a lot of things to do in Ontario and I have also wanted to ride my bicycle across the country but I am not ready for that kind of effort or time commitment, so I decided to spend a few weeks riding around southern Ontario.

I have a generic plan to ride to Lake Erie and continue along the north shore to the Leamington area before taking the ferry to Pelee Island.

From Pelee Island, I plan to ride to Sarnia, Stratford, Kitchener and then back home again, stopping whenever I am tired or I want to do something specific.

I’m not sure how long this trip will take.  It all depends on the number and length of each stop.   I want to see and experience as much as I can along the way.

I plan on staying at campsites most of the time and I have no reservations, so my plans could change significantly, especially if it rains.   All I know for sure is that tomorrow morning I’m riding to Port Colborne and then I plan to start riding along the north shore of Lake Erie.