Winter in Canada does have it challenges. What challenges you might ask?
Well, freezing cold temperatures; often more snow than one wants to deal with; and every once in a while a morning of freezing rain to make to commute to work, just a bit more adventurous. And these are just the ones that quickly come to mind.
But, every so often the weather fairies(I assume that there is at least one weather fairy), blesses us with a day of decent temperatures, lightning blue sky and brilliant sunshine.
Yesterday(Thursday) was one of those days.
Lynn had a short business meeting in a town east of us, so naturally I tagged along with it being a day off.
With her meeting only taking about 15 to 20 minutes, I sat blissfully in our car, basking in the warmth and sunshine as it enveloped each part of my existence.
Once all was done, we headed out taking a slight circuitous route to get back home.
A few pictures from the afternoon.
At one point, I mentioned to Lynn that simply getting a lawn chair out and parking it and myself in the sunshined forest and reading a book, was definitely a possibility.
I think we all might be(or at least I am) slightly Vitamin D deprived. In addition, we might be whole bunch of other things as well in terms of our mental wellness levels.
But, yesterday went a long way to helping soothe my soul and fill up, even if it was just a tiny bit, my own mental wellness cup.
An afternoon spent in sunshine, warm temperatures and with a stunning blue sky all located within the Muskoka region, was as good as it gets considering everything that is going on.
I trust and pray that you can take advantage of some “me time” as well.
You deserve it.
— as always with love —
— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —
If you’ve landed here thinking this will be the end all to be all of “butter tart” posts, unfortunately you’re going to be somewhat disappointed. Sorry.
However, if you’re looking for some encouragement and a tiny suggestion to help get through those rough bumps you come across in life and all it may entail this week….well then read on.
To be honest, I’m not sure if butter tarts ask any questions let alone “silly ones” or if they “simply understand.”
I do know this though, they are damn tasty – albeit a tad sweet at times.
On a side note, if you think butter tarts are just a yummy treat, come to our town in June when it is I swear the world’s largest butter tart festival.
If that Saturday is anything close to decent outside(ie sunny, warmish and no rain), upwards of 50,00 visitors show up to buy thousands upon thousand of butter tarts.
For example, in 2019….. 65,000 people showed up with 150,00 to 200,00 butter tarts for sale.
But, I disgress.
To say that the times we are in right now are uncertain; challenging and often downright frightful is an understatement at best.
Wednesday in Ontario, we exceeded 1600 new COVID_19 infections for the day. Projections released by the government of Ontario(on Thursday) suggest we(in Ontario alone) are on track to be at 6000 new infections per day by mid-December, which would put us on par with the worst hit countries in Europe.
Enough of that though.
We owe ourselves and loved ones time to just simply escape the mayhem and craziness if only for a few hours.
For Lynn and I, escape for us is often a simple day or afternoon road trip in the car.
Yesterday, it was a trip through the Beaver Valley area of Ontario. A time spent just gazing out the window at what often at times to me appears as a much simpler existence – rural Ontario; rural countryside.
I get that farming and living in rural areas has its own special set of challenges and such….but to simply let our minds float in an environment where all that life throws at us….just doesn’t exist and or in reality doesn’t matter at the moment as we’re cruising along some rural county road.
A country market although, often containing wares that are far more than “simple”, these spots do harken us back to a time which was I believe to be way less haggard and rushed.
Yesterday, our road trip, included a stop at the Ravenna Country Market, located near Thornbury in Grey County.
You see, it’s exceedingly vital and especially during these times, to care for our own mental wellness and emotional health, as well as those around us.
The upcoming holiday season will be like none we have ever experienced. For many it will be a time of NOT getting together with family and friends. In addition, there will be a host of other challenges and hiccups that we haven’t even thought of yet.
So, my advice is about as simple and easy as it can get. Take time today; this upcoming weekend and simply escape.
Escape to someplace to renew your mind and just forget if only for a few hours, the issues that swirl in our lives. You don’t need to go far; you just need to do.
Oh… and buy some butter tarts and cookies while your at it.
Perhaps butters tarts….do understand.
We scored this small sampling at the country market in the tiny hamlet of Ravenna.
— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —
Although we love to visit communities of all sizes when we’re out on an adventure, we don’t often make the community the adventure so to speak.
What I mean by that is, we might be hiking or adventuring close by and may stop in an adjacent community for a bite to eat or to put a bit of fuel in the car.
The one thing we rarely do but have done from time to time in the past is “urban hiking.”
One definition of urban hiking I happened to stumble across is this, “Urban hiking might be defined as, an active walk taken in an urban environment that goes through parks, uses stairwells, crosses intersections, and meanders through the city’s obstacles of life.”
In addition, Lynn likes to shoot every so often, pictures that aren’t normally nature or hiking related. To keep the creative and technical things sharp, she likes to shoot areas or subjects she might not normally spend much time photographing.
Such was the confluence of these two elements in the past few days. An urban hike to photograph something different.
Having a purpose in mind, we simply needed a place.
And what better place, than Owen Sound and Meaford for the day. Just a relatively short hop from the “old homestead” and both being just down the road from the other.
This looks like it was going to work.
Of the many things we adore about Owen Sound, is its architecture in and around the downtown.
Some shots from here.
An outstanding feature of the many things that make Meaford a great spot, is the waterfront and harbour area.
The spookiest tree we’ve ever seen. It was across the road from the harbour and waterfront.
Urban hiking/walking – is it worth it?
Absolutely it is.
If this type of hike is something that you don’t normally undertake, especially if your exploring time is normally spent out on a trail, having an open mind to what you might discover in my opinion is the best first step. Often larger municipalities have urban walking routes with maps that you might be able to get a local tourist information site.
There are plenty of outdoors types who would never be caught hiking through an urban environment, and I get that. As much as being in nature is to “get away from the noise and busyness of built-up areas”, discovering and seeing new and exciting sights is also part of the mix as well.
So, having an open mind to what might fall across your path, I think, sets a good course for the day. Urban hiking has it’s drawbacks and issues as well. Nevertheless, the same approaches one would apply on a wilderness trail can be applied here. Be aware of your surroundings; don’t head into spots if you’re unsure of. You get the idea.
One of the best aspects of this is, you just might be able to head out in your own backyard for an enjoyable day spent exploring the city you live in. We often live in communities, but never get out and explore what is simply around “the corner.”
Thanks for visiting and hope that you can take an opportunity and explore “the nooks and crannies” in our neighbourhood.
— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —
Being on vacation certainly has its advantages. Now, there’s an understatement if I ever heard or stated one.
But, one nice advantage if you’re not on any specific schedule, is to “go with the flow.” Get up in the morning or decide late the night before, what might be on the agenda for the day.
That’s how it was on the Tuesday of the “old vacation week.” One thing Lynn and I have talked about for a while, is taking a day trip and actually stop in many of these little towns and villages we pass through while on other adventures.
With almost endless possibilities of places to go, we decided that ultimately we would make it to Owen Sound, but our route would take us through south and west Grey County to get there.
So, with Katie in tow and coffee in hand, we locked the back door, jumped in the car and were on the road by 10am.
Our first stop was “The Bakery & Cafe” in the community of Flesherton.
Known or self-proclaimed as the“Gateway to the Beaver Valley”, Flesherton although with only a population of around 700 residents, has a number of quaint shops and restaurants along the main street.
For our stop at The Bakery & Cafe, we scooped a blueberry muffin for Lynn and a lightly spiced Indian samosa for myself. The Verdict – both excellent choices.
If you’re in the area, be sure to check out “The Bakery & Cafe.” You won’t be disappointed.
After a quick pit-stop at the Flesherton Community Park and Pond to let Katie go to the bathroom, we headed west along Grey County Road 4.
Lynn’s father’s side of the family comes from and farmed in this area of Grey County albeit further to the west around the town of Durham. This part of the trip was for Lynn a slight jaunt down memory lane.
Our first stop in Durham was McGowan Falls on the east edge of town.
McGowan Falls, although very gradual as it flows over the several layers of bedrock, is formed as part of the dam used for recreational and flood control uses with the Durham Conservation Area of the Saugeen River Conservation Authority.
After about 30 minutes or so, we headed to the main street to check out what stores were still there. Lynn’s grandparents after they sold their farm, bought a small house in Durham many years ago. In fact, that house is only a few hundred metres from McGowan Falls.
I had been to the house many times with Lynn, but we hadn’t been through Durham for almost eighteen years. We were kind of curious about what business have managed to survive in a small rural community over that time.
To our pleasant surprise, things, for the most part, are alive and well in downtown Durham. One spot we stopped at was the “Chicory Common – Natural Foods and Cafe.”
Natural foods, organic products, bakery and restaurant all rolled into one. The menu looked delicious, to say the least. There are only a few tables in the restaurant, but most were occupied by the lunch crowd.
We didn’t leave empty-handed though. The smell of the bakery, while at the same time viewing the choices with wild anticipation of delectable yumminess, resulted in a large oatmeal raisin cookie for me and a raspberry/almond square for Lynn that was so rich, it took her until we got home at night to finish it. It was THAT GOOD!
Leaving Durham, we headed west again along Grey County Road 4, to the towards the Town of Hanover. I find it somewhat remarkable, that with all the road-tripping and adventuring Lynn and I have done, we’ve never really been west of Durham and into this area of Ontario.
We made a quick tour of Hanover and much to Lynn’s surprise(but not really) we made a quick stop at MacLean’s Ales.
With the idea of picking up some locally brewed suds and after a short consultation with the gal working the counter at the brewery, I left with a sample of “Luck & Charm Oatmeal Stout.” Okay, it was more than just a sample.
As it was getting later in the afternoon, we detoured through town following the simple and straightforward signage to head north on Grey County Road 10 towards Owen Sound. Getting out of Hanover, was one of the most complicated “follow the detour sign” excursions we’ve been on. Yikes.
We arrived in Owen Sound around 4pm and headed straight to Harrison Park in the south end of town. Harrison Park is always one of our go-to spots when we hit up this area.
If you’re not familiar with Harrison Park, it is one of the best municipal parks we’ve ever visited. It’s 100 acres set in an urban environment. Beautiful grounds and facilities. It connects to the Bruce Trail, as well as a short side trail to Weaver Creek Falls. It’s probably best to read about the park here.
At this time of year, chinook salmon leave Georgian Bay and head up the Sydenham River which passes through Harrison Park. The salmon migration up the Sydenham is part of their natural life cycle to return where they hatched in order to spawn and eventually die.
Arriving at Harrison Pak we checked out the salmon working their way upstream, as well as many of the ducks and other waterfowl that congregate along the river as well.
Cormorants resting on a log.
Salmon working their way upstream to spawn.
Harrison Park also has a wonderful waterfowl enclosure filled with a variety of ducks, geese and swans. When we arrived, two Great Blue Herons were visiting the park as well. One was strolling along a small tributary in the park, while the other was out in the river.
The Great Blue Heron that was originally out in the river, decided to fly into the duck/geese enclosure to hunt for food. Over the years, Lynn has worked on getting pictures of a Great Blue Heron in the wild, but it has more often than not resulted in the bird flying away or not being able to physically get close enough to get a decent photo.
So, technically this was a shot of a Great Blue Heron in the wild who decided to feed in a waterfowl display.
Looking for dinner.
Bingo – got it!
A few more pictures from the park.
The park also has a pheasant enclosure as well, with a variety of different pheasants and other birds. Very cool.
When I first spied these little guys, I would have sworn they were tiny wind-up toys placed in the pond. Nope – the cutest little yellow balls of fun. Mom would bring them down to the pond every 30 minutes or so; head out for a short paddle, then march the troop back up to their nesting spot. Very neat to watch.
We left Harrison Park around 5:30pm or so and went to get a bite to eat.
While munching away on dinner, we thought we might be able to make it to Meaford and the waterfront on our way home to photograph the sunset. A quick check of the Weather Network suggested the sun would set by 6:35pm. There was no way we would be able to get to Meaford in time.
I thought the eastern side of Owen Sound harbour that faces west might work and was just a few minutes away. We found a great spot adjacent to the local arena.
A few sunset pics.
With the sun finally dipping below the horizon, we packed up and got Katie back in the car and started east for the 2-hour drive back home.
A long day out and about, but a super time checking out some parts of Grey County we’ve never been to before.
Looking back, it seems our day was as much as a bakery run as it was a road trip. And we’re okay with that! If someone has to check these places out and sample some along the way, I figure it might as well be us.
That area of south and west Grey County has a ton of things to see and do, as well as neat places to check out. It seems the day turned out to be a reconnaissance trip for the next time we get out that way.
Once again, Owen Sound and specifically Harrison Park made for a perfect stop. The salmon run, a Great Blue Heron, fuzzy yellow balls of fun and lastly the waterfront for the sunset. Not too shabby.
Be sure to check out this area of Grey County. Great places to visit; great restaurants and lots to keep you occupied.
After getting home around 9pm, and settling onto the couch….. it was worth the trip.