Coming up to 100 days of lockdown and Andy and I were going a little stir crazy. With the majority of places entering into phase 2 we felt confident that we could travel safely. We have already been traveling with our face mask and hand sanitizer while respecting social distancing rules so decided to give it a go. With cancelling our East Coast trip this summer we’ve planned on traveling Ontario as much as possible this summer.
Our love for Lake Huron runs deep so decided to head in that direction. We have never been to Sarnia so that was pegged as our overnight stop. After running the kilometres we figured we could easily ride from Hamilton to Sauble Beach and down the coast of Lake Huron to Sarnia.
Planning to be on the road for 8ish on the Friday morning, so we could take our time at our stops and still arrive into Sarnia while still light outside, we checked the weather again in our destinations and everything was good, so off we went. As we approached Guelph and saw some heavy black clouds it occurred to us that we hadn’t look at the radar along our route or pack rain gear. There was one stupid cell that we had to ride through that produced some pretty heavy rain. Our joke for a while was head toward the blue sky which was on our right while our destination was on the left. After about 30 mins we were finally out of it.
We are use to arriving into Sauble and it being packed. Granted it was a Friday at noon but it just seemed deserted for this time of year. There’s a great taco bus here and I was disappointed to see that it was still closed. However, the one thing we’ve learned and done well with is adapting because nothing is as it was in years past. As we continued on down the street to find something to eat we picked a little walk up place down by the beach. Picnic tables were well spread out among some common areas so we ate and watched the water. It was nice to see people respecting the rules set out by the town. Each side of the street had arrows so that everyone was traveling in the same direction and on the most part people were respecting the rules. After spending about an hour and a half we headed back to the bikes and where on our way.
Grand Bend was much busier than Sauble Beach and safety precautions weren’t being followed nearly as well. If a restaurant had a patio is was busy! It was very hot and with the beach not being open I think people were looking for any type of refreshment and shade. We opted for ice cream and a walk down to the water. We sat on the wall seats and watched as vehicle after vehicle came down, drove around the circle and headed back up town. Once again shops were open but not busy at all.
One of the reasons that we picked Sarnia is that there’s a beautiful beach that I’ve seen pictures of for years. Well after hitting an emergency road closure and spending additional time on the road we were arriving into the city later than planned. We were hot, tired and hungry so decided to bypass Canatara Beach and check it out the next morning.
We arrived at our hotel, Insignia Ascend Hotel Sarnia, and when checking in we asked about dinner and were told that patios were only allowed to serve until 8pm, it was 7:40. So, they graciously said to leave our bikes at the entrance and go enjoy dinner. Their on site restaurant, Legacy, had a lovely patio set up and there was room seeing as it was close to closing time. After scanning the QR code for their menu, which brings it up on your phone, Andy and I both chose a steak and a beverage. While we waited Andy was kind enough to move both bikes to the parking area. This way we could have our drinks and not worry about having to do it afterwards. Even though it wasn’t far we’re pretty big sticklers on not drinking and riding. After an amazing dinner we grabbed our bags and headed to our room. It’s a fairly newly renovated hotel so it’s modern and very clean. Our room was amazing. A king size beg, lots of lights, USB plugs everywhere, extra seating, bath robes, large towels and a Nespresso coffee maker!
Lake Huron and the surrounding areas are known for their specular sunsets so we grabbed our water bottles 😉 and headed to the river to walk and watch the sun set – we were not disappointed!
Back at the hotel we both decided that showers were in order to wash away the sweat, dirt and the soreness from a full day of riding. I love when hotels supply big fluffy bath robes so curled up in my robe I poured a drink and settled in to watch some Bobby Flay. If you know me you know Friday night is Beat Bobby Flay night in our house so the 50″ tv went on and we laid in bed and watched lol. Andy’s a good sport about it he pretends to play solitaire on his phone but deep down I know he loves watching the show too!
We didn’t plan to be on the road too early as it was going to be a shorter day of riding. We planned to ride over to Port Stanley and up the coast of Lake Erie to Port Dover and then head home from there. So we took our time getting around. Andy went down stairs to grab our breakfast, because of Covid-19 rules the hotel were handing out brown bagged breakfasts to be taken either back to your room or on the road. The gentleman behind the counter said he bring it up to our room as they were running low on some things. Ten minutes later he showed up with a beautiful tray of breakfast foods and juice. He told us he wouldn’t want to eat out of a paper bag so hoped that this was ok. I enjoyed a couple cups of coffee – did I mention it was Nespresso lol while having breakfast. I think both of us would have gladly stayed an extra night. This will forever be our hotel when going back to Sarnia, which we will need to to because we never did go to the beach!
Andy had watched a show, Still Standing, about Oil Springs and seeing as we were close we wanted to check it out. We were on the look out for oil related sculptures but we didn’t see any. Oil Springs is the site of North America’s first commercial oil well when asphalt producer James Miller Williams set out to dig a water well in September 1858 and found free oil instead. There wasn’t a lot happening in town so we continued on our way down Highway 21.
The lift bridge in Port Stanley is currently under construction so if you want to walk around you will will need to plan on one side or the other as there’s no walking access between the two. The town was busy but once again – beaches were closed and being patrolled and restaurants with patios were very busy. I finally got my tacos, I will pick tacos every time if given the chance, from Main Street Taqueria. Finding seating was a little more challenging here but we did find some rocks in the shade down by the water to enjoy our food. We also added an order of tamales as either Andy or I had ever tried them – FYI, they’re really really good.
After eating and walking around as much as we could we headed back to the Waterfront Trail and made our way towards Port Burwell.
Things were pretty quiet in Port Burwell and we were also still full from lunch and didn’t bother stopping for ice cream. The ride along the lake was busy with lots of bikes as it’s always a very popular route on the extremely hot days. The Waterfront trail is one of our go to day rides so it was familiar and relaxing. Other than stopping at a vegetable/fruit stand for some fresh Ontario strawberries and asparagus just outside of Long Point we rode through to Dover.
I don’t know when or why Tim Horton’s in Port Dover has become a required stop but it is. A trick I learned through a friend was instead of parking at the side, where the majority of the bikes park, pull in at the back of the building. The building offers some great shade on hot days and it’s easy to pull in and out of. It was pretty hot so my new favourite drink was in order. I love Arnold Palmers (1/2 ice tea & 1/2 lemonade) so I now get a small frozen lemonade in the largest cup they have and a bottle of ice tea and pour the ice tea into the lemonade. It’s yummy and delicious. I’d love it more if it was unsweetened ice tea but that’s not an option at Tim’s.
After our drinks and chatting about which way to go home Andy came up with the brilliant idea of heading down to Niagara so we could add Lake Ontario to the other two Great Lakes we’d ridden over the last tow days. He didn’t need to ask twice, I was game to go.
We ride through Port Maitland all the time and not once have we looped around to see the lighthouse so Saturday was the day. I had no idea that there was a huge boat launch area, pier and large light house there and there were lots of people!
From here we headed to Niagara Falls via Fort Erie as we really like riding that side of the parkway. The road is really nice and it’s never as busy and if we were going to get home late the little bit of extra time was no big deal.
Riding past the falls was ridiculously busy. We’ve been riding past the falls a lot over the last few months and I honestly think we got very use to there being very few people. In the past, if we were going to go past the Falls on the weekends we’d start in Niagara-On-The-Lake as traveling in that direction to the falls there are two lanes past the falls and it makes all the difference in the world.
It was around 9:30 when we arrived so wineries and a lot of restaurants were already closed. We still hadn’t had dinner so grabbed a quick bite, used the bathroom and instead of using backroads jumped on the QEW to head home. Traffic was light and it was still hot as hell so it ended up being a nice ride.
We pulled in shortly after 11, grabbed the bare minimum and headed in the house. The kids wanted to hear about the weekend so we hung out with them while winding down.
All in all it was a great two days of riding and getting away just over night was just the break that we both needed!
I grew up in small town Ontario so of course there were a couple of motorcycles in the drive house. The only problem was that I didn’t ride them I was only a passenger.
It wasn’t until I met me husband, Andy, that I spent any real time on a bike. We had a bike (Yamaha XJ750) before the kids arrived. However, after the kids came along we just didn’t have time to ride anymore so we sold it. There’s nothing worse than a bike sitting around and not being ridden!
Fast forward twenty years and we were once again cruising around on two wheels. Almost five years later and the only thing that’s changed is I now ride my own bike. If only I had understood how awesome it was to ride my own bike I would have done this years ago.