I love to wander.
In my daydreams. On foot. On Ruby.
Over wooded paths, down mossy trails, on pavement and gravel roads.
Over wooded paths, down mossy trails, on pavement and gravel roads.
When it comes to exploring, I tend to be the complete opposite of who I am in my ‘real life’. I make a living at conceptualizing, planning, and execution. My time at work is measured in seconds and in minutes, with a vision of where (my clients) need to be in one week, one month, one year.
When I’m out with Ruby, I’m simply in the moment. It’s such a sensual experience; the sights, the sounds the smells. Yeah, maybe I’m a bit of a dork, but there are often times when I find myself tearing up with the pure and raw emotions that being in the wind bring to my life. From another biker extending his (or her) hand in greeting as we pass each other going opposite directions to the welcoming embraces of fellow riders when we happen to meet at a Timmy’s or at a rest stop on our way to adventure, this community is as vast and as different as the countryside we explore.
A cat may have nine lives, but this KAT just has two: The person I was before I climbed on the back of a bike, and every moment since then. I’m an enigma of sorts, constantly finding myself battling between fear and courage, cocooning and wanderlust. It’s in the ‘somewhere’ between throwing my leg over Ruby and asking her where we’re headed and pulling out maps & notepads & googling everyplace where I – and many of my fellow riders – find myself stuck at times.
Caught between a need to plan and the desire to just head out with no particular destination in mind, I often end up travelling the same local roads over and over again. Oh, it’s never a ‘wasted trip’ when you’re twisting a throttle, but it can pull you out of the moment and remove the joy from the most ordinary of adventures.
‘Planned spontaneity’…it’s what I’ve developed as a way for me to blend the two very different aspects of my personality and life together. I’ve watched many of you post pictures from your travels, listened to your tall tales, and visited places you’ve been just by sitting in front of my computer. You are creative and interesting at times, moderately crazy and colouring-outside-the-lines at others. And, based on some of your sharing, I’ve learned about some rather interesting things to add to my ‘BikeIt List’.
The five ideas below are a combination of the kind of planning and spontaneity that I crave when it comes to daytripping. They have very definite objectives in mind (or sights to see) but they also allow for a sense of unplanned adventure to creep into the mix, as well as a glorious excuse to explore the backroads and secondary highways of the province. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to approach these endeavors, and that’s the beauty of what makes them a ‘trail mix’ of a different kind….
The Labyrinth Trail
Back in September of 2014, I wrote a piece for What A Ride about one of my favourite places to visit: The Central Park Labyrinth in Burlington, Ontario. I love the idea of labyrinths and what they represent, so much so that I have one tattooed on the back of my left shoulder.
For those of you who don’t know what a labyrinth is, according to a recent press release by the Labyrinth Society: “Existing for more than 4,000 years, labyrinths are mythological designs used for fertility rituals, symbolic pilgrimages, and spiritual practice. In a hyperactive world of constant connectivity, labyrinths are in resurgence as more people seek out sacred spaces that promote insight and inner wisdom. Labyrinths are also found in diverse environments, from schools, parks and prisons to corporate campuses in Silicon Valley. Churches are also building labyrinths as an alternative way to engage their community and facilitate spiritual practice.”
For anyone who is looking for an interesting ‘theme’ or multiple destinations for a day or weekend trip, The Ontario Labyrinth Trail showcases labyrinths of all shapes and sizes throughout Ontario, and is a unique blend of old & new, practical & spiritual, fun & serious. No matter where your starting point, there are many different types of labyrinths to seek out and countless ways (and roads) to travel to find them.
The Butter Tart Trail
For those of you with a sweet tooth, the sweet truth of the matter is that there are multiple places in Ontario that are a part of what some might call a butter tart bonanza.
Promoted as the original ‘Butter Tart Trail’, the trail is a series of 18 bakeries, stores and markets along a 30 km stretch of highway in the Wellington North part of the province. Three hours north of Toronto, there was another celebration of all things ‘butter-tarted’, the Kawarthas Butter Tart Tour. In 2013, after a series of legal wrangling and much ‘our tarts are better than your tarts’ bake-offs, the two events’ relationship somewhat sweetened, and butter tart lovers everywhere rejoiced.
Add an event touted as Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival (the largest butter tart celebration in Ontario taking place in Midland on June 11th) into the mix, and you’ve got the makings – or is that ‘bakings’—for one heck of a sweet series of daytrips. Check out the facebook pages / websites for all of the above events and plan (or don’t plan) accordingly.
The Purple Road
According to the pamphlet I picked up at Weir’s Lane Lavender Farm and Apiary during the Farm Crawl I covered for What A Ride in June of last year, “The Purple Road" is the public face of the Ontario Lavender Association and not only highlights a wide variety of lavender businesses, it is also the vehicle through which people can learn about the versatility of the amazing herb we know as lavender. From farm facilities to processors to artisans and retailers, lavender is displayed beautifully either through the plant itself or finished products.
The Purple Road is your ‘guide’ to lavender festivals, agri-tourism, special events, products and services throughout Ontario. The program is run co-operatively by a number of lavender businesses that make up the Ontario Lavender Association. No matter how you plan to experience lavender in Ontario, the farms and businesses along The Purple Road are here to welcome you.”
When it comes to lavender, the province is divided into 5 main areas:
It’s my goal, albeit an ambitious one, to visit at least one lavender farm or business in each tourism area during my travels in Ontario this summer. The growing and harvesting season for lavender varies in the province, but plan on visiting any of the places listed throughout May, June and July for the best possible experience. Call ahead and check to see the status of each farm’s crop (which will vary depending on the region).
The Craft Brewery Trail
Ontario Craft Brewers is an association of over 60 small brewers dedicated to making great-tasting, high quality beer in Ontario. Ontario Craft Brewers brew their beers locally using fresh, all natural ingredients in communities throughout Ontario - from the Ottawa Valley to Windsor and Niagara to Muskoka and as far north as Kenora. Handcrafting over 450 premium beers, Ontario Craft Brewers employ well over 1,400 people (FTEs) in Ontario, accounting for over 30 percent of the direct brewing industry jobs in the province. Craft beer continues to be the fastest growing segment within the LCBO's beer category. The OCB's longterm vision is to make Ontario a North American Centre of Excellence for Craft Brewing.
From Niagara to the Ottawa Valley, from Lake of the Woods to Toronto, each member of the Ontario Craft Brewers is as unique as the beer they brew. The province is divided into 14 distinct and separate regions when it comes to OCB breweries:
The Kawarthas & Northumberland
Want to plan your daytrip or roadtrip to coincide with a special event like a micro-brew or a craft beer festival? According to their website, June seems to have the most events planned (at this point in time). Check it out here.
Haunted Places Trail
Last, but certainly not least, I came upon a great piece on Toronto.com by Craig Clark and Jeff Cottrill about different places around Ontario that are ‘reportedly haunted, and even if you don’t see a ghost, these sites are seriously creepy.’
They divided the province into 4 different areas to travel:
The word ‘trail’ doesn’t have to mean a specific route or systematic series of roads; a trail can be created out of places or events that have a common denominator like labyrinths, butter tarts, lavender, breweries or haunted places. It can be a route that you take to give you maximum exposure to geographic features like rivers, rock formations or waterfalls. Or it can be something deeper, more personal that means something only to you.
Take the road less travelled, more travelled, or never travelled at all, as long as it brings you joy and fills you everything it means to be a child of the wind. Consider those kinds of ‘trail mix’ a special kind of ‘food for the soul’….
KAT (aka KimberleeAnna Taplay) is a member of the ‘What A Ride!’ correspondent team, and is looking forward to sharing the next edition of KIMbits and KATtales with you in March. To reach KAT, send your questions and/or comments to email@example.com.
12-Pack of Canadian
This week: Doug Hunt
From left to right: Dave McKee, Brantford Town Crier; Doug Hunt; MPP for Brant and Speaker of the House, Mr. Dave Levac; fellow rider, Mr. Brent Goodnough; MP Mr. Phil McColeman