For about three years now I’ve been longing to visit Amherst Island. It’s not far from our home, and it’s beautiful in the winter (hundreds of Snowy Owls make it their home) and summer (its an island – summertime paradise). Life conspired against me though so I’d never been; until today, that is.
In typical Perrault fashion, we spent our anniversary apart (it was a Senior Ryder Cup competition that day and nothing, nothing gets in the way of that). Instead, we planned a day date for today, my visit to Amherst Island.
Last night, making our final preparations, the stars seemed aligned for a perfect day out: The weather was meant to be sunny and hot with only a trace of humidity (Tom Brown, you got some s’plainin’ to do!). We’d made egg sammies (our fav), and collected applesauce, muffins and water all ready for our picnic. Tank was full of gas (the car’s not Cam’s). Camera batteries charged, lens cleaned. Clothes laid out ready. Excitement was mounting. Funny how things never work out as expected, non?
Far from the forecast 26℃, the temperature never rose above 20℃, there was a good, stiff breeze, the sky was overcast and yes, there were occasional raindrops, tho’ our spirits weren’t dampened, not one iota, not at first, anyway.
This is not our first car-on-ferry experience. We’ve both travelled from the mainland to Vancouver Island and from Manitoulin to Tobermory, yet the day’s first surprise was the ferry. The cars drive onto the ferry at the side, not the end, but once onboard turn 90° to face either front or back depending upon the loader’s directions. Then, when off-loading, each car has, in turn, to back up past the side opening and then turn 90° to drive off. Who knew?
Despite this seemingly unorthodox procedure, we were quickly loaded and on our way – three nautical miles (≅3.5 land miles) across the channel between Millhaven and Amherst.
Second surprise was the island itself. It was much longer than I’d expected (twelve miles in all) and our first glimpse from the ferry showed it to be very agricultural.
After a short and very enjoyable ferry ride, we arrived at the ferry docks in the village of Stella:
In fact, Amherst Island is very agricultural; once leaving the village we were immediately into farm country – some dairy but a lot of sheep. The sheep provided a bit of an intrigue for us; two had escaped the pasture and were huddled roadside, clearly frightened and wanting to get back with their flock. We drove to the closest farmhouse but no one was home. We went the other way to the next farmhouse with the same result. We left notes in both mail boxes and hope the sheep were rescued before they met with any harm. Sheep are surprisingly timid creatures – not at all like their cousins, the goats.
The third surprise, although we really ought to have expected this, was that the island had experienced the same trouble with flooding as the rest of Lake Ontario ’s shorelines. The park where we had planned to picnic – Lane’s End – was badly flooded and, like Presqu’ile, the mossies were thick, busy and hungry. Other low-lying areas were also quite wet and marsh-like:
We continued our driving tour of the island, eventually ending up back at Stella. The picnic notion was nixed – it was way too cold to sit outside today – we brought it home with us, intact.
As luck would have it, when we arrived back at the ferry docks the Frontenac II was just arriving so we drove back on and began our homeward journey.
Again, the ferry ride was smooth and enjoyable – a large part of which is due to the friendly and helpful crew.
Exiting the ferry at Millhaven, we drove west along Loyalist Parkway ’til we found a nice bistro where we had a very late (but warm, dry and tasty) lunch. Then we grabbed a quick Timmy’s (honestly, is there any better treat than a nice car ride with a cup of coffee to sip along the way???) and headed home. Despite all the unexpected elements of our adventure, I had a lovely day. The thing is, the only the ingredients necessary for a perfect road trip for me are a vehicle and Cam – everything else, even a destination, is unnecessary.
‘Til next time, y’all…