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Heading Off The Beaten Path

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Heading Off The Beaten Path

• Credit: Virgil Knapp

Finding Solace on the road less travelled

 “The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” - Gilbert K. Chesterton



Safely discover Ontario when the time is right. For the most up-to-date information on where and when it is safe to travel please visit: covid-19.ontario.ca.

Do your part by following public health advice. It is important to wear a face mask or covering, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

There are times when I’m not really in ‘the mood’ for riding; those are often the times that I have the best trips on my bike.

Sometimes, I close my eyes and point at a spot on the map in my home office; wherever my fingertip lands is where we go.

Other times, I just climb on and start her up. Whatever way the wind is blowing, whichever way the bike is pointing, whatever just ‘feels’ right is the direction we head.

And then there are the times when I head out on an ‘anti-trip’. An ‘anti-trip’ is when I choose to go towards nothing in particular but very definitely away from something (or someplace) specific.

I love the Niagara region and wine country, but there was a day this past August when I felt the need for something less familiar.

Less known.

Less ‘tourist’.

I felt the pull of back country roads and the heady scent of rain-soaked earth and the sight of tobacco fields. 

So, maybe we’ll go on a different kind of ‘beverage’ tour, I thought to myself. 

14296 939779006035414 1522908807505487125 nI’d heard whispers and conversations about some interesting places of note up towards the Port Dover area, and thought it was about time I expanded my horizons when it came to exploring my own back yard.

Regional Road #4 (off Highway #24, between Scotland and Delhi) is one of those non-descript roads that really has nothing in particular or spectacular about it, but it’s a pleasant ride through places with names on signs along the side of the road like Teeterville, Vanessa, and Windham Centre. Nestled on both sides between farms and fields of ginseng & tobacco, it is an alternative route to get up to Simcoe, via Delhi and a bit of ‘back-tracking’ on King’s Highway #3.

There are several historic of points of interest along and off of this road (Regional Road #4) including the Teeterville Pioneer Museum

After a short ride into Delhi and finding my way to Swimming Pool Road (#37), I arrived at the first destination on my ‘Beverage Tour’ for the day: Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm.

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Ramblin’ Road is Ontario’s first and only Brewery Farm, located just south of the small town of La Salette in Norfolk County - a remarkably fertile part of the province known as Ontario’s Garden. Ramblin’ Road is an actual working farm with crops growing, a hop garden flourishing and plenty of activity. They grow their own hops on the Brewery Farm, draw pure spring water from their land, and use the finest Canadian barley & yeast. 

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They have five premium quality, small batch beers: Pure-Bred, Country Ale, Country Lager, Country Pilsner, and their limited edition Dakota Pearl Potato Ale. All five are always available in classic bottles, with three of them (Country Pilsner, Country Lager and Dakota Pearl Ale) available in quick-chill cans. 

Stop in for a tour, do some sampling, and browse through their gift shop, which carries everything from Ramblin’ Road Gear like t-shirts and baseball caps, to food items like crispy potato chip covered peanuts, farm fresh Kettle Chips and sweet treats of every description, including sponge toffee, brittles, caramels and more.

 

 

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Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm is located at 2970 Swimming Pool Road, La Salette, Ontario

Phone: 519-582-1444 OR email: visit@ramblinroad.ca 

Retail Hours 

Monday - Wednesday: 10am - 4pm

Thursday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm

Sunday and Holidays: Noon - 4pm

 

Up next on my ‘Beverages of a Different Kind’ Tour: Silver Lake Vodka…

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Blink once and you’d miss it; a small, unassuming building just east of Green’s Corners (Turkey Point Road and McDowell Road East, just west of Simcoe) is where you’ll find the Silver Lake Premium Vodka shop and distillery. 

According to its website, “In 2004, Dover Enterprises Distilleries was established in Port Dover, Ontario with the intent of distilling and selling fine spirits manufactured locally, with local ingredients, for a wholesome, Canadian experience.” In 2010, Dover became interested in producing vodka and began its distillation of spirits into premium grade vodka, and Silver Lake Premium Vodka was born. 

Norfolk County aquifer water adds to the quality of the vodka. Dover then made further refinements and advancements to the production of SLPV and began selling it in Norfolk and Haldimand Counties, the Niagara Peninsula and the Golden Horseshoe area. As of March 1st 2012, SLPV was finally available in LCBO stores throughout Ontario.  

I met with the President of the company, Ray Hunter, and he was kind enough to give me a tour of the facility and explain how Silver Lake Vodka is made. 

The next time you are in the Port Dover / Simcoe / Turkey Point / Port Rowan area, make a point to look for this unique facility and pick up a bottle for your next special occasion or gathering – you’ll be glad you did!

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The Shop - 519-426-8030    President: Ray Hunter   email: silverlake@kwic.com

Sales: Carlos Ribeiro   email: crsilverlake@gmail.com  Direct Number - 226-567-8552

I was already halfway through my day of exploration, and it was time for lunch. They say you can’t beat a great little ‘mom & pop’ place to eat, so I took Ray’s advice and continued a short distance down Turkey Point Road and pulled in to The Circus Room Diner (on Highway #24 @ Turkey Point Road). 

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CIRCUS 2 1210A great little place to grab a bite to eat, my quick lunch of a cheeseburger and fries was exactly what the roadside diner gods ordered. Along with the typical diner menu of items, the Circus room boasts ‘Awesome Wacky Poutines, Big Circus Burgers, Fresh Local Chicken Wings, Hot Hamburger Dinners, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches and more’. For those travelling during the summer months, there is plenty of parking for motorcycles, and an ample outdoor patio where large groups can gather. The inside of the restaurant is typical of roadside diners, and it’s decorated with a circus motif, from kitschy posters to cool artwork.

HOURS OF OPERATION: 11am-11pm, Tuesday-Thursday + Sunday, 11am-1am, Friday – Saturday

 

My third stop of the day found me at one of several boutique wineries to be found along Front Road (after a pleasant ride through a part of Turkey Point Provincial Park along Turkey Point Road).

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Burning Kiln WineryBURN 2 1210 has repurposed, and architecturally reconfigured, an original tobacco pack barn to pay homage to the rich history of tobacco farming in the region. Situated on a former tobacco tract, the picturesque winery has been built to preserve the historic charm of its original wooden structure while allowing visitors to view much of the operation from behind giant, contemporary glass walls.

Inside, a wonderfully functional, modern working winery shares its secrets of the complete winemaking process while maintaining the warmth of the original wood structure and the drama of the trusses of the original agri-building. Tours take you step-by-step through the winemaking process, from the kiln drying of grapes (using repurposed bulk tobacco kilns), and to the pressing, fermentation, barrel ageing and bottling of the finished products.

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Perched on the escarpment overlooking UNESCO-designated Long Point Bay World Biosphere Reserve, the property includes a patio, picnic area, hiking and biking trails, and there are other award-winning activities to be experienced in conjunction with its affiliate, Long Point Eco Adventures adjacent to the property on Front Road in St. Williams, Ontario.

Activities at the Eco Adventures facility include the Long Point Observatory (renowned for dark skies free from light pollution, it provides optimum conditions for astronomical viewing), Zip Line & Canopy Tour (a thrilling adventure where the views overlooking Long Point Bay from high in the treetops are absolutely spectacular), kayak fishing, zodiac boat tours, mountain biking, and more.

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Not quite ready to begin the trek home yet, I explored a little further down the road, heading in the direction of the various groups of motorcycles that had come rumbling down the road during my time at the winery. I went as far as Port Rowan, stopping briefly at Port Rowan Harbour for several photos.

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It was time to begin the ride back to Brantford, but not before stopping to take some pictures of Ruby in front of a quaint little house that had caught my eye on the way into Port Rowan. 

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned on my travels, it’s to never pass on the opportunity to stop and take a picture of something that’s caught my eye. Somewhere along Front Road between Port Rowan and Turkey Point Provincial Park, these two fellows beckoned to Ruby & I, and I stopped to snap a quick photo.

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I made one more quick stop once I hit #10 (Turkey Point Road) again. The sign for the Long Point Waterfowl Research & Education Centre had caught my eye on the way into the park, and I wanted to find out a little bit more about the place, so Ruby and I stopped and did a little bit of investigating.

I’m glad I did (stop); I was pleasantly surprised at what I learned.

It turns out that Long Point Waterfowl established the Research and Education Centre near Turkey Point in 2007. The five main buildings located on the 40-acre property are used to provide seasonal and year-round accommodation and office space for Long Point Waterfowl staff, undergraduate students, graduate students, technicians, volunteers and visiting scientists.

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Long Point has many local and regional conservation, education, and research based organizations. Based on this (and the lack of hotels and conference centres in the Long Point area), Long Point Waterfowl has invited other youth, education, conservation and recreation based organizations to use the facility.

Groups that have used the Research and Education Centre include Bird Studies Canada, Norfolk County, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Simcoe Scouts, as well as numerous educational field trips and students visiting from various high schools and universities.

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There’s also a new interpretive trail system that is approximately two kilometres in length, and highlights plants, animals and heritage points present on and around the property (via educational signage).

 

And so, there you have it… What started out as an ‘anti-trip’ daytrip turned out to be a day of discovery and a promise to myself that I would (when I am a little further along on the road to recovery from my heart attack) return to Highway #3 and follow it all the way to somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit: Pointe Pelee National Park

My main objective for that trip?  Experience one of the ‘Point Pelee Dark Sky Nights’. Designated as a Dark Sky Preserve by the Windsor Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Park stays open until midnight one night a month for visitors to experience the magic of the night sky in all its splendour.

Until then, I’ll spend the rest of 2015’s riding season continuing to take anti-trips, day trips, and making a point of finding all kinds of interesting and unique places for you to look for when you’re out in the wind…

 

KAT (aka KimberleeAnna Taplay) is a member of the ‘What A Ride!’ correspondent team, and is looking forward to sharing the next edition of The Adventures of KAT n’ Ruby with you. To reach Kimberlee by email, send your questions and/or comments to kattales@rogers.com. KAT’s next adventure is scheduled to go live on Tuesday, October 8th, 2015

 

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