Chris Hughes, our super-duper Explore the Bruce guide for the Bruce Peninsula was all smiles when we met him in Wiarton. (Home of Willie, Canada’s only albino weather predicting groundhog.) I thought he was happy to see us, because he thought we were really cool, but actually, he was just excited that we saw Wayne Gretzky in our hotel the night before.
“I read you blog, how cool that the Great One was staying in your hotel?” (Erm, yeah Chris that’s right.) Celebrity sightings aside, Chris’s energy gave me an instant pick-me-up, and Carolyne and I were ready to conquer the largest remaining chunk of natural habitat in Southern Ontario, the Bruce Peninsula.
Runners, food, sweaters and cameras are all in. Check. On the agenda? An hours’ drive to the Visitors’ Centre at Bruce National Park, then off exploring the trails for an hour, driving to Tobermory, zipping on a Zodiac to see the Flowerpots and shipwrecks, coffee, and then we’re driving back to Toronto to catch our flight to Newfoundland in the morning. Alright, just another day on the road.
Once on the Bruce Trail, Carolyne and Chris were feverishly trying to get reception, so they could Tweet about the incredible colours of the waters beneath us, and just to be Web 2.0. I was just trying to make friends with the limestone slabs of rock on a cove that were protecting me from a 25-foot drop into the waters below. I’m a bit of a lightweight when it comes to heights.
Moving through the narrow trails on the way to the Grotto and Indian Head Cove, the shallow vegetation was giving way to a few young orchids (the area has more than 40 species) that would bloom in a few months. I wish I had a few pages to describe our day from this point on, but since I don’t, this list of the best way to day-trip the Bruce can give you a good idea. Better yet, just call Chris and he can help you out. One of the most passionate, technologically savvy and just all around cool guys we’ve met this trip. Thanks Chris!
1. Walking the Bruce Trail from the parking lot to the Grotto will take about half an hour or so. You can take the entire route which is 2 hours or customize it. Find a small opening at the top of the Escrapment at the Grotto so you can slide into the open caves. It’s narrow and slippery, but worth it. Once inside, dive into the turquoise waters.
2. Have a picnic at any of the coves.
3. Tour the Visitors’ Centre. Daily demonstrations about the wildlife, and a brand new educational museum thrills even adults.
4. Get to Tobermury before 2:30 pm, and catch the Blue Heron’s Zodiac tour. The Zodiac is an open-air, orange boat that can speed up, fast. It will take you right over the shipwrecks in Big Tub. You can ask the driver of the Zodiac to detour to Flowerpot as well. Learn the legend of the two lovers. (He might even let you drive the boat, if you behave.)
5. Once in Tobermory, grab a latte at the Mermaid Café. A local fairytale-and-spiritual hub, you can even request a soy version.
6. Take a photo with Willie.
Try to visit when the seasons change and crowds aren’t as common (May-June and September-October) and don’t feed the seagulls, because they can get very aggressive and actually take your food from your hands. (Carloyne’s hair was mistaken for food by an ambitious seagull while we were having a snack on top of the Grotto. She freaked out!)
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