November 2, 2017 - Bruce Peninsula National Park, Canada
Kaila and I managed to get away for a little bit.
Our time off was packed with an incredible staycation but something was still missing… a DK adventure, of course!
This time around, we stayed local - well, local Ontario, at least.
Onward to Bruce Peninsula!
It was a long drive last night. From Ottawa to Owen Sound, we booked ourselves in a Knight’s Inn on the main drag knowing we were only a short drive to the tip of Bruce Peninsula today.
We woke up early, had a overwhelmingly mediocre complementary motel breakfast (continental, of course) and headed up Highway 6 toward Tobermory… not before stopping to get some real coffee on the way.
Our first stop on this adventure was Tobermory.
After driving for 6 hours the night before, it was refreshing to be so close to the tip of Bruce Peninsula to begin this exciting day of exploration.
Each and every adventure we have, we make sure to amass a collection of photos that document our trip.
I made a book (DK Adventures Chapter One) that documented (with photos and poetry) the moment I met Kaila all the way to when I proposed. This book was her birthday present.
Today, we keep documenting our travels with excitement knowing Chapter Two is on it’s way for the wedding.
Tobermory was so charming.
Though the population and activity was fairly low, we still had fun exploring this tiny two-road town at the very tip of Bruce Peninsula.
There was a lighthouse, a harbour, and beautifully coloured trees peppered all around.
The ‘scottish mist’ of rain and ~5C weather had no effect on our enjoyment. When we explore, we forget about any discomfort and soak up the beauty. It’s much easier to do that.
Our timing for this impulsive trip couldn’t have been any better.
The forgettable gusts of rainy weather were totally overshadowed by each and every view and experience, and the population of tourists was… well, just us.
After a long wedding season (30-35 in a year) I get pretty exhausted. Picking up a camera is generally the last thing I want to do.
Kaila reminds me every day, whether she knows it or not, to keep the passion alive and continue to tell stories and capture candid moments.
Sharing our adventures and displaying the beauty around us is our passion, and Kaila embraced the role of a muse effortlessly and without fail.
After hopping back in the car in Tobermory, we continued our epic one-day adventure into Bruce Peninsula - and here, we got our first taste of the incredibly blue water.
As I’ve mentioned before, we like to collect rocks - particularly unique rocks that remind us of the exciting nuances of our adventures.
Every single photo I’ve ever seen of the mystical Bruce Peninsula has showcased the Grotto - this was on our to-do list from the start.
Driving into the national park was slow and steady. We were one of maybe three cars.
We impatiently strapped on the backpack of clif bars and camera lenses with so much excitement knowing we had the place to ourselves; one of the best things about this time of year is everyone’s predisposition to staying warm inside. Screw that, we crave adventure.
The forest and landscape was something quite extraordinary - we stumbled across a lot of odd looking trees, like this one: originally rooted elsewhere, it perched upon a new set.
Kaila is significantly more fearless than I am - I’m terrified of heights. I sat on this ledge, she stood.
So far, this view made the whole trip and 7 hour drive worth it.
This place was on one of those brutally ad-ridden click-baited buzzfeed lists about “Top Places in Ontario”. I couldn’t believe that something like this was only a short drive from the nation’s capital.
I’m really glad we decided to hop in a car and visit here during our time off together.
The colour of the water is so overwhelmingly blue - I couldn’t believe it.
Though the grotto (the top on our list) was around the corner, we had to take a moment to enjoy the view.
It didn't even matter that it was overcast. The blue water made up for the lack of a blue sky.
Reaching the grotto posed a challenge - one we felt safer to avoid. Kaila took the steep approach for a few steps, but backed out when the lack of a landing prevented us from going any further.
Thankfully, the trail continued on around the bend - so hopefully, we’ll get to see the grotto from the other side.
The grotto was a challenge to access - and given the fact that we didn’t have any kayaks or rubber boots, it’s probably best we enjoyed the view from a dry vantage point.
Kaila walked as close to the edge as she could, but it wasn’t until I walked around the ledge that I saw just how close she actually was.
We made it to boulder beach - this was a little further on the trail but interesting nonetheless.
Our goal was to continue on the Bruce trail to each vantage point.
Boulder Beach seemed like a suitable place to find ourselves a rock to bring home. With such variety, we were looking for ones that were shaped like hearts.
At the end of our trek across Boulder Beach, the forecasted rain started to drizzle on us. It was more than a Scottish mist, but less than that uncomfortable level of rain that makes you think “why don’t you just downpour already.”
As quick as our boulder-traversing legs could carry us, we scampered into the covered part of the trail that approached overhanging rock: our last destination on this little hike.
The rain had stopped (again), so we got to take our time enjoying the view.
We couldn’t find the portion of the trail that allowed you to walk underneath the overhanging rock, so instead, we perched on top and leaned over to see what it looked like.
I didn’t know what I looked like here - but Kaila showed me afterwards that I was essentially on just as much of a ledge as she was. It almost made my stomach turn.
To cap off our day of hiking, we did some ten-pin bowling back in Owen Sound, around the corner from our hotel.
November 3, 2017 - Blue Mountains & Wasaga beach, Ontario, Canada
On the slow drive back home, we stopped off at Wasaga Beach.
Off season, it’s nothing special... but there were still a few kite surfers taking advantage of the hurricane-level winds.
We still had time - so we did a bit of googling to try and find another hike nearby before we drove all the way back to Ottawa.
We found the ‘Scenic Caves’ in the Blue Mountains (around Collingwood) and heard many good things.
Most of the trails and parks we wanted (tried) to visit were closed for the season; a lot of them are private property and the insurance/maintenance/safety during the fall and winter is questionable.
This was the third attempt to find a trail that was still open this time of year, and when we got there, the caves were ‘closed for maintenance’. Instead, we paid for a discounted park pass to enjoy the view from the trail.
The first view of the caves was from this little metal walkway. It was neat, but we both really wanted to go inside the actual caves. What does “under maintenance” really mean for caves anyway?
The wind was cold but the weather was reasonable. All we needed was a good sweater and jacket combo to keep us warm.
Our time on this trip was dwindling as we had to drive back to Ottawa in the evening, but I’m really glad we got to do one final hike before making our way home.
The view of coastal Lake Huron along the south-east side of the peninsula. It was cool looking down at the sparse little towns scattered along the edge of the water.
I’m glad we chose to take this short vacation out to Bruce Peninsula. We have always wanted to go (granted, it was in the summer) but never got around to it.
In my head, our timing was perfect: there were no other tourists around, we had the place to ourselves, and the weather was just barely on the cool side of late fall.
Here’s to another great adventure for our second upcoming book. May there be many more.