Kincardine – October 2016 – Horses, Mennonites, and Dunes

2016-10-10-saugeenTravel offers an amazing gift – delivering experiences and impressions that go beyond the expected, not only in number, but also in intensity. We were lucky enough to have this happen during a quick three-day outing to the Lake Huron shores.

Pushing in between a number of Toronto appointments and obligations, our wanderlust told us to get to the ocean, but no coastal sites, either in PEI, Nova Scotia or Maine were accessible within the 10-day window we had chiseled out between appointments. The next best thing to an ocean is a great lake, and Lake Huron is on the north side of the the Niagara peninsula. Being within a day’s drive, this became the our goal for a mid-October getaway. So we aimed for Kincardine on Lake Huron.

Our first surprise was discovering just how many campsites close for the season, either on October 1 or after Canadian Thanksgiving which is usually around the 12th. Many of the sites close to the water were closed, so we chose one further inland called Saugeen Springs RV Park in Hanover. This park is an absolute gem. Beautiful large sites, some even on the river’s edge, and absolute quiet.

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This was our site at Saugeen. Every site was huge.

The Traveler: Before departing Milton Heights Campground, we met up with our neighbour and kindred spirit, Peter, who had just come back from an amazing cross country adventure with his 40′ triple axle 5th wheel and his 3500 Dodge RAM. After crossing Canada and driving up and down the B.C. coast he has come back, with stories I can only hope to match someday.

The Night Sky: A quiet walk around the campsite at 3:00 a.m. revealed a cloudless sky so full of stars that the regular old constellations were difficult to pick out. Anyone who lives out in the country probably takes this for granted, but I stand there transfixed, staring at the sublime beauty of the Milky Way. The stars have an enormous presence that the silence seems to only magnify.

The Horses: I have a great love for horses. Along with dogs, they are thought to be the only creatures who would actually miss humans if we were to all vanish overnight. The campsite has four or five horses, along with goats and sheep. They quietly go about their business, eating, mostly, barely registering Henry’s presence as he tries to crawl under the fence to play with them.

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Liz and the Saugeen horses.

The Mennonites: We headed through Ontario farming country, toward the coast, passing Mennonite farmers working the fields with horses and ploughs and others shopping at the local Walmart. The women wore ankle length blue dresses with a headdress, while the men all had blue shirts, sleeves rolled up with work pants, boots, beards and hats. Their horses were working horses, puling wagons and ploughs.

The Dunes: The waterfront and beach at Kincardine are beautifully kept, with grassy dunes separating the main street from the waves of Lake Huron. We licked out with beautiful, unseasonably warm weather.

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The beach and the dunes at Kincardine

We got lunch at a fabulous coffee shop called Bean’s Bistro – the kind of place that has board games, paperback books and LP records that would make you want to come back in the evening and stay a few hours. The food was generous and fantastic.

On the way back to the truck we noticed the Scottish shop – or a scottish shop – Kincardine certainly does its best to echo its namesake back east. It was the first store I had ever seen that offered kilt rentals and sliced haggis to go.  People tend to scoff at haggis but I rather like it. I just never thought of it as a takeout food.

It was difficult to leave. It is doubly difficult contemplating the next few months back on “dry land” waiting for conditions to be right to get back out on the road again.

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