After a great nights sleep at the motel, day 2 of the roadtrip north of Toronto involved a drive to the top of the Bruce Peninsula. I wanted to see the Grotto (caves) frozen as I seemed to have developed an obsession with icicles. We drove straight past the turning for the Grotto and found ourselves in Tobermory. I knew most things in Tobermory would be closed, but there was just a general store/ book shop, a food shop and a petrol station open. Tobermory was brutally cold. So, so, so cold. I took my hands out of my gloves for seconds to take photos with my phone and thought my fingers would fall off – they were tingling and swollen and then I couldn’t feel them. The town was just desolate and bare. I still enjoyed a short stroll along above the water, but it was a brief visit. I spat on my glove and it froze in under 15 seconds. My hair was frozen and my friend had frozen eye brows. Apparently with wind chills approachin -40c, human flesh can freeze in 20 minutes if exposed – the weather forecast gave -36 wind chills while we were there. Despite this, I had enough layers on that my body and legs were not at all cold. I look forward to returning in the summer to see the other side of this waterside town.
We began heading back south down the Peninsula and into the Bruce Peninsula National Park in search of the Grotto. Unfortunately, we were told that the route wasn’t fully ploughed and we would have to hike around 2hrs to get to the caves. We didn’t go equipped for this and realised we would not be able to make it. We decided to go for a walk towards the Lake whilst we were there. We encountered some people setting up tents to camp for the nights. Utter madness. The walk continued until we saw a path to cut down to Cyprus Lake. As we stepped out to where the trees cleared, the view of the lake was just spectacular. There was just a huge white expanse of frozen lake and snow, deadly still and silent. My friend was convinced that the lake was frozen and stepped out on to it. His foot went through the ice up to his knee. Within a couple of minutes, his trouser leg was frozen solid. We headed quickly back to the car to warm up and headed south again. After an aborted mission to locate Greigs Caves (we couldn’t find them), we realised that a pit stop for fuel and food was called for. We started to make our way to a little town called Wiarton.
On the way to Wiarton, we stopped to say hello to some horses out in a field of snow. They were living on a lovely farm… The farmhouse had a wraparound porch with lots of big country barns and the horses alongside. It was just a lovely set up. We continued on our way with the next stop being to take some photos at Colpoy’s Bay. We were driving along the road and both exclaimed over the view at the same time. There was steam coming off the lake. The pictures just don’t do the view justice. The sun was shining, with the bright blue sky and fantastic snowy views. The houses on the right hand side of the road had these views to look out at everyday. One house had canoes in the garage, another had a big patch of unspoiled snow by the lake shore with two wooden chairs facing out over the water. The life style that goes with living in this place is just a whole other world. It was somewhere I would like to grow old.
We make it, with grumbling stomachs into the little town of Wiarton. A lovely little town with its own character. We were immediately drawn to a brightly painted establishment called Northern Confections. We intended to pop in before finding a pub for lunch. It turned out that it was a sweet shop/ cafe, so we stayed for lunch. I had a very tasty toasted peameal bacon and cheese sandwich and bought lots of sweets and fudge. The place was run by a really friendly husband and wife team. They told us that it was so cold the night before that the steam rising off their hot tub turned into snow just above their heads and fell back down again. Incredible.
Fed and watered, our travels continued with the next stop being a little place called Kemble, home to the oldest active Women’s Institute in the world – running since 1897. We just happened to stop at the Women’s Institute Lookout due to the views out over, well more snow and water. This was another “I think my hands and fingers are actually freezing and could possibly fall off moment”. There was some actual panic where I thought my little finger wasn’t going to regain feeling.
The next stop on our agenda was the Creemore Brewery in Creemore. It closed at 6pm. Unfortunately, due to more snow conditions, getting stuck behind a snow plough and ending up in a pile of snow waiting until someone helped us push the car back not to the road, we were not able to get to the brewery before closing. We had some food at the pub next to the brewery. Creemore is a cute little area that is really lit up even when it is dark, kind of like a fake village on a film set! The snow falling around the lights was picturesque. The pub had my favourite food on the menu – breaded mushrooms. I had two portions for my dinner.
Creemore was our last stop and we headed back to Toronto. There were a few more hairy moments with more snow squalls and slippery conditions. As we got closer to home, the snow was depleting, the air was clearing and things were beginning to look less like a postcard. I was happy to be home and looking forward to a walk on the beach, however, instantly missed the snow. It was great to get out and just drive around the countryside, stopping whenever we felt like it or the views demanded it. We really saw that some of the best sights are not planned and we just happened upon them by chance.
The cold has not put me off Canada. It only made me love the country even more. This is what I signed up for, and I love it just as much as the summer on the beach, if not more. I have realised that as long as I wrap up warm and prepare for it, it is manageable. I have also learned that I should definitely not take my gloves off when the temperature exceeds -20. The snow, the cold, the ice, the countryside, the trees and the lakes…. I spent the day living in a post card.