I found myself with some time off and the first hint of a gorgeous day a few days ago so I figured “Let’s go somewhere.” With my newly acquired Parks Canada Discovery Pass burning a hole in my pocket (OK it was pinned to my cork board but that doesn’t sound as good) it was an easy decision to make. And as there are only five national parks in Ontario and a very limited amount of time, it was narrowed down to Georgian Bay Islands National Park. So I loaded the dogs in the car, punched in the park name, and followed the directions from my pushy telephone.
I wasn’t really paying attention as I blindly followed the voice in the phone. I was somewhat familiar with the route since we were headed towards Midland and as we continued north, I saw some ominous clouds ahead of us that had me worried we might have to cancel our trip. But after a few turns, I was back facing the sunshine.
I turned down the last road and eagerly fixed my pass to the rearview mirror as I drove towards where I thought must be the gate. Nope…no gate. An administration building with a ton of vehicles but no gate. Weird. I brought the dogs out of the car and headed towards the first thing that looked like a trail. There were no markings, no maps, but oh wait: there’s a sign that indicates the park border. OK so at least I’m on national lands.
We went traipsing along the narrow but well-trodden trail. I stopped at the edge of a river to let the dogs have a drink and of course they can’t just drink from the shore. Oh no. They have to wade in chest deep and drink that way. All of them. Great. Wet dogs. In fact, Piper wanted to go for a full-on swim and kept trying to wade deeper. Leo dropped into the dirt as soon as he got out of the water and I cringed with every wiggle that sent more dirt into his drenched coat. Jack, well Jack’s got that thick pug coat that holds water like a sponge so I had the pleasure of repeated shakes. After they had sorted themselves out, back on the trail we went.
Then we exited onto a paved path. I turned to look behind me, thinking that I had missed more trail as I was enjoying the sun. Noooooooooo there was nothing else. Huh a ten minute walk and I find myself on a paved trail behind some houses. I knew that there were some small parks but this was a bit much; or not. Oh well, we continued on. There was a placard for the Trans-Canada Trail so obviously we had somewhere to go. It was a nice view out over the water and we walked by some really creepy structure that I think was part of the shipping industry from a bygone era. All I can say is that I would not have been surprised to see a clown peeking out a window, especially since I had just seen the preview for the movie “It”.
Everyone was super friendly and if I didn’t immediately acknowledge someone, like when I was stooping and scooping, they made sure to say “Hi” as they went past. There’s no better way to meet people than when you’re trying to tie a bag full of poop.
The paved path quickly heated up and the dogs stopped pulling to sniff everything which is the universal signal for “I wanna go back”. So we turned around and went back through the park. Thinking the park had to be bigger, we took a few more trails but we still made it back to the parking lot in zero time. I felt a little silly for having brought my big camera pack complete with tripod and hiking poles. Bit of overkill with that. So I left the big pack behind and brought only my camera as we wandered around a picnic area next to the parking lot. There were some old stone foundations and I just could not resist stopping for a few pics. Of course it would have been nice if I had brought my tripod for a group selfie but a wadded up jacket and nearby piece of stone will do almost as good a job. Having said that, there are plenty for a blooper reel.
Feeling a tad bit peckish, we drove into Midland proper. I had only been to Midland once before for last year’s Butter Tart Festival so I wanted to stroll the town without being run over. It’s a very pretty little town with an outstanding coffee shop called “Grounded Coffee Co.” I ordered my usual americano with a splash of cream and bit of sugar and got a blueberry scone because…well I wanted one. I sat at the table outside the cafe on the sidewalk and entertained passersby as I shared itty bitty bites of scone with the dogs. Some people would stop and get some dog lovin’. There was one gentleman who slowly walked by with a cane and appeared as though he had had a stroke or something similar and the dogs were just so gentle, it made me so proud of them. Especially Piper since she is a master of the full-body lean.
After I had refuelled, we continued to walk to the shore where there is a nice waterfront area. And then, I saw it. Always looking for landmarks to pose the dogs I could not pass up the opportunity to get them in front of a giant metal goose. Nor could I miss the seagull sitting on the head of the goose. How cool. Although I was distracted (and maybe a little over caffeinated) when I saw a man sitting by the lake with a red toque and red and white sweater. Holy crap I found Waldo!!!! It must have been quite a sight for the people sitting in their cars (I don’t know why) as I tried to pose the dogs, get a photo of the seagull, and covertly get a photo of Waldo. I managed to get two of the three. By this point, the dogs were bored of my shenanigans and soon sprawled out on the lawn while I snapped happily away.
Once I was done with photos, and Waldo had left, we sat on the end of one of the piers just to enjoy the sunshine and each others company. After a bit, we walked back to the car, stopping for one more picture next to a boat. Dark clouds were hanging low over the water and the wind was starting to blow so we hustled the rest of the way.
I was giving the dogs some water before loading them in the car when I heard the first rumble of thunder. I looked up and saw that the sky had gone from dark clouds to having a green tinge to it. Uh oh. When ever there are green skies you know there’s a real storm brewing and no sooner had I started the car, then the first drops fell. Soon the rain was pouring down and my poor little car was getting pelted by hail and the wind blew us side to side. Fortunately, the worst of it ended quickly and most of the drive was uneventful if too rainy for any side trips.
Oh and the park that I was in? It wasn’t Georgian Bay Islands Park. I’m not quite sure where I was. I’m thinking it’s just a small chunk of land for their administration office and where they park their cars. So it looks like we’re going to have to go back. Only maybe this time with no hail. But I’m not saying I won’t look for Waldo again.