One warm, wonderful week in Prince Edward County to end the summer right.
Seeking somewhere a little quieter to retire to while still wanting to be close to us kids, my parents decided to return to my mother’s birthplace of Picton, Ontario. A wee while ago (say around the 50’s) while the Bowser family was living in Picton where my grandfather was based, they welcomed their fourth daughter – my mother. Yep, my Mom’s an army brat and yes her maiden name is the same as Super Mario’s arch nemesis. But to the present, with some random fortune in timing 4 years ago on a drive back from a trip to Boston/Salem with my wife we met up with my Mother as she was first returning to the county to investigate potential real estate. We both still recall coming down 49 from the 401 and that feeling when you went over the bridge that you were just somewhere else now, somewhere special.
Neither my wife nor I had ever been to Picton so of course rolling on to the main street was an enchanting experience that afternoon. This was how I always imagined a good small town looking. Beautiful old buildings (The Regent Theatre being my favourite), lovely independent shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars (The Acoustic Grill being our hand’s down favourite), but most importantly smiling friendly faces everywhere you look. If you have ever driven down the Picton strip in the middle of a sunny Saturday afternoon you’ll know what I mean – it is absolutely packed bumper to bumper and yet with smiles and courteous wave-throughs traffic flows pretty smoothly and it is rare to hear a car horn. That’s what makes this place truly special, somehow despite the massive influx of new visitors and a blossoming tourism market the locals have kept it their way and you can’t help but slow down and smile when in the county. You’ll be waving and saying good morning to strangers in no time and I bet you will quite like the feel of it.
Lunch at Miss Lily’s Cafe was quite delightful that afternoon and it wouldn’t be long after we said good-bye to my Mother that we got news they’d found their place. Following highway 7 to the northeast edge of the county (past the must-see Lake-on-the-Mountain and must-eat-at Inn) to the breathtaking views of Prinyer’s Cove – the place was perfect for them and by luck, us too. Over the last four years we have shared so many good memories and times with family, friends and sometimes just on our own but this past week was something else – our first chance to spend a full week in the county. A week that I think both of us couldn’t have asked to be more perfect.
No matter what your pace the county has you covered. For instance, we opted to start our week out pretty fast paced, taking to the beautiful roads of the county to train for our upcoming MS Ride in September. No matter what your skill level you can find some amazing routes in every corner of the county, our favourite was exploring County Roads 7 & 8 along with Cressy Bayside and Lakeside Roads (here’s Johanna taking in the view of Lake Ontario on Cressy Lakeside). Keeping up our pace we head up to West Lake and the West Lake Wakeboarding school next for a wake boarding lesson (you’re never too old). While my wife – the admitted former wakeboard bum – popped right up I… did not. While I got close and took a few hilarious tumbles my rickety old knee gave out just as I swear I was getting the hang of it. I’ll be back though and I will get up on the waves next time! Anyway to nurse my ego and knee we stopped by Dave’s Roadhouse in Bloomfield on the way home for a great patio snack and an ice cold pint of Barley Days Dark & Stormy Ale. We’d spend the next few days nursing my injury, pretty well homebound. Luckily there really couldn’t be a better place to be homebound. We filled our days to the brim with reading by the lake, campfires, sing alongs, painting and some short rehab walks around the lovely old farmland of Prinyer’s. To break up being housebound we also made a trip back into town for bags full of farm fresh goodies from Hagerman’s as well as a great lunch at the Acoustic. Once I had mended enough we decided to explore the Dog Beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park early one morning. It was an incredible sight to see the busy white beach nearly completely empty that morning as a storm rolled along the horizon in this distance along the mainland. We closed out the week with the a canoe ride across the mirror-still lake into the sunset before having our own mini-fireworks show at the end of the dock.
As we doused the last campfire that week and looked up one last time at the star filled inky black sky we knew we were going to hate saying goodbye to this trip more than any other. Good thing we’ll be back again soon – summer is great in the county but fall and winter have a charm all their own.
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Just a few shots from our adventures, most thanks to my lovely wife.