The night on the beach had been fantastic. Isolated and ultra quiet, save for those sonorous insects and quiet waves. Around 11PM I peeked outside to see who was shining a light on my tent, and found only the moon, now exposed from behind some clouds. It glowed above the lake making a gorgeous reflection, which somehow just made me content.
I awoke to Jesse’s stirrings – he sure likes to get up early. Around 7AM my mind told me to start rising but the rest of my body told me to lean back into the pillow. The mind won out. This time.
We rolled to the marina and picked up a decent breakfast, watched the morning fishermen launch their vessels, examined the seagulls, and chatted for some time with the cook. Jesse took off while we ate, with a plan to use a route taking him through more populated towns, rather than our intended route along the coast of Lake Erie. His aim was to locate a motel for tonight.
I rode sluggishly this morning and even got a little bit dizzy, and I knew why – dehydration. Last night was one of those nights when all my bottles were dry and I just didn’t feel like rising out of the tent to go fill them. And then breakfast with just coffee. Duh.
In the first town we stopped for Gatorade and sat down next to 2 retired farmers, real nice guys. One of them swore like 4 sailors rolled into one, but did so in a humorous way. They were interested in our trip, trying to find out what kind of trouble we’d had or seen, and we talked about Ontario as well.
We discussed something that was confusing to me. A newspaper I’d seen called this area the South Shore of Ontario, which makes some sense. Except for the fact that it is on a lake. I mean, think about it. In Hawaii, you have the North Shore, or in America you have the Eastern Shore, because both are on oceans. But on a lake it’s different. There you have the northern shore of Crystal Lake, or the eastern shore of Lake Winnepesaukee, for example. Anyway, one of the farmers called it the North Shore of Lake Erie, which probably had something to do with his being from Ohio.
We ran into 2 touring cyclists heading from Buffalo to Michigan, now only 3 days into their trip. One had gone to school at the Univerity of Alabama. We exchanged travel tips ahead of each of us.
Around the 32 mile mark we reached Port Stanley, and headed in to a bakery recommended by the cyclists. Jack and I each picked up a crème-filled doughnut plus a carrot muffin with cream cheese frosting. All for later – a substitute for tent pie. We then headed down to the lake front to find Mackie’s, another recommended food spot.
Reaching the lakeshore, I was really surprised. Sandy beach, blue water, people sunning on towels, girls in bikinis, children splashing in the water, lifeguards, hot dog and ice cream stands. We could have been in Ocean City Maryland. Who knew? Port Stanley Ontario – this place is like a secret up here. We went into famous Mackie’s for our lunch, famous for French fries and for orangeade. And the fries were really good, although maybe I enjoyed the catsup even more. We hung around the beach taking photos and soaking up the scene for over an hour. A great stop.
We endured a very steep climb away from the town, maybe 150 ft but something in the range of 15% grade, then rolled another 15 miles or so in to Port Bruce. Descending down the lake bluff, we found only a muddy marina crammed full of boats and a crowded RV park. It took us quite a while to snake around the roads to eventually find the beach and town pier. Sweet! Smaller than Port Stanley but the same type of beach scene. This definitely called for ice cream. I had key lime flavor in a waffle cone – excellent. He server even took this photo of us.
It occurred to me that on many trips between guys, the regular treat to enjoy together is beer. But on a bicycle tour, the regular treat to share seems to be ice cream. Jack wondered if we now actually had a beer would that now be considered an ice cream?
Another climb away from the water, another 13 miles, and to our goal for the day: Port Burwell Ontario. We found The Lighthouse Restaurant for dinner, watching a Canadian channel crammed full of news and sports and weather and traffic and stock information, all on one screen. Both Lake Erie specialties, perch and pickeral, were on the menu, so I had a fish dinner split with both kinds. Lightly battered and fried, served with tartar sauce and lemon, both fish were delicious although I liked the perch just a little better. Mashed potatoes and gravy on the side. A couple of Rickard Red beers (made by Molson) went really well with it all. One of my better meals while on tour.
We found the Port Burwell Provincial Park for camping, and paid a whopping $36 for a site. For this amount we got what Jack tells me is a very typical state park family camping site, one that is a combination of Romper Room, Kiddy City, and Church Camp. There are so many kids wailing about that all the squealing sort of blends together and cancels itself out. After the pristine and serene camping on the beach last night, all this is a little tough to swallow (and pay so much for) but we are making the best of it. We sat at our picnic table and thoroughly enjoyed our bakery treats. In fact, that carrot muffin with icing was downright fantastic.
The good news is that, now at 9:30PM, the place is quieting down some and we are enjoying the aromatic smell of cedar wood fires around us. Ah, someone is playing a guitar in the distance… Kum-by-ya my Lord….
62 miles today. Tomorrow is a shorter day, on paper at least. Jack and I plan to rise up slowly, but prior to that we plan to get a solid night’s sleep.