Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Manitoulin Island.

Two weekends ago, Nat and I took our second roadtrip to Manitoulin Island. We had visited the Island once last summer and had such a good time we new we wanted to return this year. Last year we had explored the eastern portion of the Island which is more densely populated. This year we planned to see the western point. We took the ferry to the Island, camped out, and drove around to see all the sights. Nat did most of the driving and I recorded our outing on a newspaper map we found at the information desk on the boat. I had done the same thing the previous year and it was really neat to compare our trips.

Here's the rundown:

Day 1 - Friday, July 17
-leave Guelph at 7:15
-arrive in Tobermory at 11:00. Apparently, if you have reservations you're supposed to arrive at the ferry one hour in advance of leaving. We were only 20 minutes early. Their website is really poorly laid out and tricky to understand, so I'm sure they have a lot of people not following the rules.
-land in South Baymouth at 1:15. There is a ton of tourist literature on the ferry and we found out that an island-wide art tour was on this weekend. We decided we would stop at any of the interesting studios as we drove by.
-snack at South Baymouth Gallery (salsa and chips), browse gallery on Given Road.
-Blue Jay Creek Art Farm and no fruit stand. Guest artist Marc Brzustowski.

One of Marc's paintings, not my favourite, but the best I could find online:

The greenhouse at Blue Jay Creek Art Farm. Made from the remains of an old stone barn and abandoned glass windows:

-Lynstudio 5 painters and a potter
-old mill Edward's Studio, post office museum and mini lighthouse

-Ravenseiyre Studio
-Life's Little Pleasures quilting and knitting store
-Twin Bluffs restaurant in Gore Bay for fish dinner
-Twilight Isle Campground. Out tent, cottages, construction workers. Camped out on the tip. Wake up to rain. Ate breakfast on the porch on on of the cottages. Couldn't start stove = PB and Nat's jam sandwiches and brie. Best showers in a looong time; hot water and good pressure, too bad about all the spiders.

Day 2 - Saturday, July 18
-Mindemoya farmer's market, lots of interesting handcrafts, lots of not-so-interesting handcrafts, no fresh produce. We need to come a little later in the season for this sort of thing on Manitoulin.
-There was a community fair down the street from the market. I bought the book, Birds of Manitoulin for a quarter. We tried to find pie, but there was none so we settled for rhubarb cake. Yum. Good alternative.
-Roadside pseudo-alvars with huge cracks, campanula
-Luc Lachance studio, he paints on black canvas and had about 20 Art Tour signs leading to his house from all different directions. He almost drew us in twice.
-Hawberry farms, samples and preserves. I bought raspberry honey, asparagus spread, and onion chutney.
-We saw Sandhill Cranes in a field. Nat was really looking forward to this and she spotted them right away.

-Farquhar's butter and ice cream snack in Evansville
-Set up camp at the Mississagi lighthouse campground. We had a beachfront site on an alvar. It's so nice to sleep with Lake Huron crashing against the rocks in the background.

-We snacked then headed out in an attempt to find the Queen Mother Provincial Park indicated on the Ontario roadmap.
-On the road out to the main highway we found Lakeside Daisy and Coreopsis in flower on the roadside and a tiny patch of mini wild strawberries.

-Drive to find provincial park, found creepy town of Burnt Island instead. Park not functioning? Big fishery, chicken farm? Hiked into alvar with Indian Paintbrush.
-Tried to see world's largest drum, peace pipe, and dream catcher. They apparently exist only on the billboards.

-Back at the park, we visited the lighthouse museum, campfire cooked times two. Veggies and sausage for dinner. French toast and hashbrowns for breakfast.

Admiring my annual breakfast smore:

An old crochet-covered bottle in the lighthouse museum. All of the artifacts belonged to the families that lived in the house over the years:

Day 3 - Sunday, July 19
-We got up, packed up, hiked along the shoreline, then visited the town of Meldrum Bay. Cute town. Checked out the Netshed Museum, had a tour from a 17 year old local, stopped by his aunt's thriftstore (some promise, no good finds this day), snacked on popsicles and icecream at the general store (Dukes of Meldrum Bay).

-Visited Misery Bay alvars. Had a good chat with the volunteer on duty. He confirmed that the provinical park is not operating. Their interpretive centre is great. I love this place. I bought a Friends of Misery Bay membership and a Misery loves company patch for $15. This morning I received my first e-mail update. We hiked to the shoreline.

-Drove back to catch the boat at 5:40 and made it home by midnight.

We had a fantastic time and we'll definitely be going back. Perhaps we will try driving up and around through Espanola. Several of the locals told us that was the way to go; just as quick as the ferry and much less expensive. There are a few things we didn't get to this year and have on the list of things to do during our next trip:
-at the interpretive centre at Misery Bay the volunteer told us to check out the west shore of Misery Bay. You need to hike across the water to get there and we didn't have time this year.
-walk up to the base of the windtowers. They are completely massive from the road and seeing them up close would be really interesting.

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