Thursday, October 04, 2012

Family Outdoor Adventure Story in Ontario

We've had a cottage just north of Southampton, Ontario  for 9 years now.  I've always considered myself a bit of an adventurer, although it did take us 4 years to finally drive north past the lights in Sauble, but since then we have done a lot of exploring, or so I thought ;)

Early in July, the kids and I were at Sauble Falls, one of our regular hang outs, and I started talking to a young couple who told me about the Explore the Bruce: Adventure Passport contest. "Yeh yeh yeh .. I know the area pretty well and explore on my own", I was thinking, but then as they explained the program I started to get very intrigued.

The next day while shopping I saw one of the adventure passports and it caught my eye. I picked up a few and decided to investigate a bit further.  I Googled the passport, looked at some of the pictures and videos online, and immediately I was hooked.

The following day, my Daughter was off to camp for a week, and my husband was back to the big city to work for a week, so it was a mommy/son week with just my 10 year old and I.  He was quite excited about the passport so we decided to make this our little adventure.

We started close to home and headed for the Port Elgin North Beach .... Interestingly we go to Port Elgin all the time, frequent the beach and the ice cream shops and all the wonderful things Port has to offer, but we had never been to the North Beach!   This close to home and I've already discovered a little gem that I wouldn't have known about!  We followed the clues along the bike path and got our first punch .. Yay !!!  Heading south now to the Bruce Power Visitor Centre, again a place I've talked about going for years but never have.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, we had the roof down in the jeep and the tunes cranked and my son and I had a wonderful day just enjoying the drive !! Got our second punch.  The visitor centre was my son's favourite stop !! He loved the exhibits, learning about energy and the view from the balcony. We had added a little fun to our adventure by creating our own little photo scavenger hunt. I'm a photographer and my son is a budding young apprentice. We had a list of things that we needed to shoot along the way (Something green that makes you smile, someone wearing a red hat, bizzare mail box, beautiful landscape, 5 flags etc, etc.)  I tell you this because at the visitor centre my son pulled out his tripod and got all set up on the balcony to shoot a picture of what was truly a beautiful landscape.

From there we headed to Kincardine, got our clue at Lazy J's Ranch (Got some yummy honey while there) and then following the clue headed to the lighthouse. We got side tracked exploring the beach, shooting pictures, and walking along the main street. But I think the best part of these adventures is not just the final destination but the journey and the side adventures along the way.

Since our first day out adventuring we have recruited many friends to participate with us.  We've completed 10 of the 12 adventure stops and have made many wonderful memories along the way.  Greig's caves was such a wonderful spot and a hidden gem that we will return to every year. The drive to Sydney Bay lookout took us through Wiarton where we discovered The Green Door Cafe - fantastic food, great service, reasonable prices ... this will be one of our new regular stops!  We drive through Mildmay and Paisley every weekend in the spring and fall and never stop, and now finally I've been into the Cheese Haus and Back Eddies!  Walkerton was another gem, WHAT A VIEW! And on the drive to Tobermory we got side tracked at the Grotto and never did make it to the punch stop, just a wonderful excuse to head back up there next week.

Although I think the craziest stop was at Bannister Park in Sauble Beach. My kids and our dog ran ahead of us down the pathway.  We had no idea what to expect around the corner of the pathway.  Then suddenly I hear screams from my daughter coming from up around the bend. Turns out the boardwalk takes you over a bog, it's a beautiful view but not when your dog decides to run full tilt and jump off the end of the dock into thick, black muck!! He started sinking as if in quick sand and my daughter had to reach in and pull him out by his collar!  We were all covered!  Thank goodness there was a hose on the side of the community centre !!  Just another crazy dog memory to add to our list ;)

I thought I was an adventurer before I started the passport adventure, but what I've learned is you can only explore and adventure when you know where to go, and we were going to all the same places year after year because we didn't know of other new and exciting places to explore.The Adventure Passport program is such a wonderful excuse to start new adventures, visit new places, explore and create new memories with family and friends.  This has been a very special summer with so many new and wonderful stories to tell ... Thanks Adventure Passport !!

The Smith's !!