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A Week Away in Big Bay

A couple of weeks ago I was so fortunate to spend time in Georgian Bay with my good friend and take in a week of pure relaxation.

I drove us up to Big Bay, ON, and couldn’t believe how awesome our little log cabin was. It was built in the late 1800s and boasts some of the original aspects (like the stairs), but has been renovated over the years for maintenance and updates. It faces the water and has no blinds – it’s perfect for being constantly connected to the outdoors… I loved it. Our host’s cottage was next door, and I can’t thank him enough for this opportunity.

Big Bay Log Cabin | kbarlowdesign.com blog

This was the view from the kitchen out to the screened in porch where we spent every evening after being outside on the beach, doing yoga, and swimming.

Big Bay | kbarlowdesign.com blog

I know, right? Absolutely incredible view.

Screened in Porch | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Screened in Porch | kbarlowdesign.com blog

The original stairs from the log cabin – as you walk up them you can feel how the knots in the wood were harder and didn’t wear down as quickly.

1800s stairs Big Bay | kbarlowdesign.com blog

The view from the bedrooms were equally fantastic.

Big Bay viewBig Bay | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Our evening ritual after a day of walking in the area, exploring the beach, swimming, afternoon tea, (and then the bar opened!) was to watch the sunset and have dinner out on the porch, and then colour. I brought my new iPad and Apple Pencil and it was so relaxing to sit and colour. Shelly had a physical book and pencil crayons, but also enjoyed painting some of the rocks on the beach. Total creative freedom – it was perfect and simple.

Screened in porchBig Bay | kbarlowdesign.com blog

I couldn’t get a decent picture of the sun setting. I really wish I’d brought my proper camera and tripod! It was this insane coral colour, sort of like what the reflection in the water looked like, but the yellow dot wasn’t at all what it looked like in person.

Big Bay Sunset | kbarlowdesign.com blog

I took a video of the lake quietly lapping the shore just so I could experience it over and over when we got home.

Big Bay Sunset | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Big Bay Sunset | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Screened in Porch | kbarlowdesign.com blog

This area really does have the most crystal clear water. It was shallow (and cold!), but amazing to look at! There were tons and tons of fossils. I looked everywhere for crayfish under the rocks, but never found any. After a particularly windy/wavy day I did find a few bits around the beach that had washed up, but no luck checking under the rocks.

Big Bay - Georgian Bay water | kbarlowdesign.com blog

One of our little walks around the area was to Keppel Croft Gardens up the road. It was super hot, but we still enjoyed our walk around all the gardens, and visited the aviary to say hello to these guys! Of course this was close to the little store that sold homemade ice cream -which we made sure to taste a couple of times during our trip…

Keppel Croft Gardens Aviary | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Keppel Croft Gardens Aviary | kbarlowdesign.com blog

One of the coolest things we saw was this huge northern water snake! It was about 3-4 feet long (small for the average apparently!). I was watching the water and saw a stick that wasn’t acting like a stick… so I went in for a closer look and we watched the snake swim through the choppy water to shore. It wasn’t interested in being around us, so we took our pictures and gave it space. We saw two other water snakes during the week, just little tiny guys, about a foot long. (And yes, we swam every day even though we knew there were snakes.)

Big Bay Northern Water Snake | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Big Bay Sunset | kbarlowdesign.com blog

The water would change really quickly, going from calm to quite choppy and back again during the day, so when we woke up one morning and it was fairly calm, we took the kayaks out. It’s been about 25 years since I’ve been in a kayak, but I had a great time, and didn’t fall out! Woo! The clarity of the water was even more spectacular as you paddled out to explore.

Georgian Bay Kayaking | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Georgian Bay Kayaking | kbarlowdesign.com blog

During one of our yoga sessions (always great to vacation with a yoga teacher!) we noticed this butterfly had just emerged from its chrysalis and was drying its wings before flying away. It stayed there for a couple of hours. There’s milkweed everywhere, and I loved seeing caterpillars and butterflies all over the place. That was one thing that makes the honey from the area so special – the abundance of wildflowers, and lack of commercial crops. We went to see one of our host’s neighbours, and learned about the honey he harvested, his homemade apple cider vinegar, and ate wild blueberries while he told us about everything. I came home with a lot of honey.

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Not too shabby for yoga practice!! The gazebo was perfect. Open air, coverage from the sun… we even had a bat flying around one morning! (If you look at the post on the right, just near the joint, you can see the outline of the butterfly in the above picture)

Yoga in Big Bay | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Weather was perfect all week, we had one day that was a bit rainy, but it came and went during the day and we still got out and swam, and enjoyed the day.

Georgian Bay Storm | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Big Bay - Georgian Bay water | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Big Bay Sunset | kbarlowdesign.com blog

This photo is showing only the water…. that’s how clear it is! You can see some bubbles at the very bottom, it was a couple of inches above those rocks.

Big Bay - Georgian Bay water | kbarlowdesign.com blog

My view from bed on the final morning, below. There was very little beach glass which surprised me with the rocky area, but I still managed to find a couple of little pieces. We had an incredible trip, and I’m so glad I’ve made an effort to travel more this summer. It’s not over yet, even with September looming, so I’d better get planning another mini getaway!

Room with a view | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Driftwood + Beach Glass Necklace

A few months ago as I was browsing Instagram, I saw one of my favourite jewellers (@kathrynrebeccajewellery) was having a giveaway and entered, without thinking anything of it – so many other people had entered, but I figured “why not!”. And. I. Won.

Fast forward, I met with Kathryn at her studio on Queen West, and we started talking about the necklace I’d chosen from her collection (Delicate Branch – 3rd image), and hoped to customize. My favourite hobby is beachcombing. I’m always game for going, rain, shine, snow… doesn’t matter! The thrill of finding a rare piece of glass keeps me coming back for more! What better way to represent my love for beachcombing than to add a piece of my beach glass to her branch (driftwood!) necklace! We chatted about options, looked over the tiniest pieces I had in my collection, and found a couple of options… and then chatted for an hour because she’s awesome and so much fun to hang out with.

Last night, I went to pick up my finished necklace. I was completely blown away. It’s perfect. It’s absolutely perfect, and I couldn’t love it any more than I already do. She designed the length so that it could sit just above the two small charms I always wear, we replaced my decade old worn out chain, and I will proudly wear both necklaces daily!

Thank you SO much, Kathryn! Not only do we share the same name (and spelling!), but we clearly both have great taste! 😉😘

Kathryn Rebecca necklace | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Kathryn Rebecca necklace | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Kathryn Rebecca necklace | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Point Pelee Mini Vacation

Point Pelee National Park Marsh | kbarlowdesign.com blog
I’ve been wanting to visit Point Pelee for a while now, so when the timing worked out to take a couple of days to visit this area, I jumped on it! Unfortunately we booked right in the middle of a heat wave, so it meant less exploring than we’d hoped, but we still managed to see a lot (and sweat a lot!)

Our first day we drove in to Point Pelee National Park straight from the GTA, no breaks! We were excited to get out to the park and see the beaches and the scenery. We headed for the point, and decided to hike from the visitor’s centre instead of taking the shuttle. It was only 2.5km, but we didn’t take into consideration the heat (and flies!). Optimistic, we started off on the beach, but with the sun beating down on us, and the heat wave making the temperatures feel like 44C, it was too much, so we switched to a forest footpath. We saw some patches of prickly pear cactus which was really neat – but the stable flies and deer flies were driving us insane, so we went to the road.

Prickly Pear Cactus | kbarlowdesign.com blog

We made it to the point, and checked out the beach area around it. They have extremely dangerous rip currents around the point, so no swimming or even wading is allowed in case you fall. We were just completely done from the sun and heat so we took the shuttle back. It was bliss.

Point Pelee National Park  | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Point Pelee National Park  | kbarlowdesign.com blog

We started back towards our AirBnb cottage, but stopped at this lookout on the way out of the park. You could hear “SHLURP” every so often as the bass sucked bugs off the top of the water from between the lily pads.

Point Pelee National Park  | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Point Pelee National Park  | kbarlowdesign.com blog

We got settled in at the cottage, had a bite to eat (and discovered a family of raccoons were living in the attic), and walked down the road to check out the nearby beach. Unfortunately recent storms had washed a lot of it away, so we hopped back in the car to see what else we could find, and found Seacliff Beach – a big park with a huge sand beach.

road   | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Seacliff Beach   | kbarlowdesign.com blog

The next day we decided to hike Hillman Marsh Conservatory. The hike would be about 5km, but it was two degrees cooler than yesterday (felt like 42C), so we foolishly went for it… Thankfully there was some shade from trees here or there, but it was still way too long of a hike for the heat.

Hillman Marsh   | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Partway through there was a lookout tower we climbed. I’ve never seen marsh grasses as tall as these, had to be at least 10 feet high! The photos make it look like we’re not a full story up in the air! We looked out over the marsh, and realized we were only halfway into the hike… (the white dot about the centre of the image was where we started)

Hillman Marsh   | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Onwards through the marsh, we hiked and saw the biggest lilypads I’ve every seen in my life – they had to be 2 feet across! The flowers were beautiful and the size of a football! We also got to see a bunch of bobolinks, and other marsh birds.

Hillman Marsh   | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Hillman Marsh   | kbarlowdesign.com blog

When we got back to the cottage, we realized we really overdid it in the sun, so we took a couple of hours to rest in the air conditioning… but not before seeing the temperature! Oops!

Temperature | kbarlowdesign.com blog

After cooling down, we headed out to Wheatley Provincial Park. It was beautiful, and we had a nice walk along the beach, but it was still too hot, so we didn’t spend as much time there as we would have had it been cooler. I definitely have a better idea of how to plan a future trip to the area though, so it was still worth it!

On our last day, we decided to go back to Pelee National Park so we could do the marsh walk (1km), and thankfully it was much, much cooler (30C), because the whole marsh walk is in direct sun. There were swallows everywhere! It was so neat to see them flying around and catching bugs, and flying in/out of their nests – which were everywhere!

Point Pelee National Park  | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Point Pelee National Park  | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Point Pelee National Park  | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Point Pelee National Park  | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Point Pelee National Park  | kbarlowdesign.com blog

We headed out and on our way home, taking Talbot Trail instead of the 401, and stopping at any beaches we found along the way, or had promise via Google Satellite.

Burns Beach | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Since Rondeau Provincial Park was on the way, we figured we might as well add another checkmark to our parks checklist! The beach sand was so soft. On the way out we spotted something… can you see it?

Rondeau Provincial Park | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Rondeau Provincial Park | kbarlowdesign.com blog

A garter snake! It was sunning itself, and quite small – I haven’t seen a beige one before!

Rondeau Provincial Park | kbarlowdesign.com blog

Three down, plenty more to go – loving exploring our beautiful province!
Parks Guides | kbarlowdesign.com blog

New Brunswick Road Trip – Summary

Want to go through the posts in order? Click on the links below, and they’ll open in new windows so you can follow along chronologically!

Day 1 – 2Day 1: Home to Lévis, Québec. Day 2: Lévis, Québec to Bathurst, NB.
Day 3: Bathurst, NB to Beresford, NB to Bouctouche, NB.
Day 4Bouctouche, NB to Hopewell Rocks Park, NB, to Alma, NB through Fundy National Park to Saint John, NB.
Day 5, 6Day 5: Saint John, NB to Rivière-du-Loup, Québec. Day 6: Rivière-du-Loup, Québec to Home!

New Brunswick Road Trip – Day 5 and 6

Day 5: Saint John, NB to Rivière-du-Loup, Québec (490km)

Started off the day by going to Irving Nature Park! We checked out this beautiful beach before heading up the trail to see what other beaches were there. We didn’t realize at the time you could drive to various points in the park… we also didn’t realize the trip around the entire park’s coast was an 8km hike.

Started off strong on the Squirrel Trail!

The sky was split in two with clouds forming an almost perfect line:

From the observation deck, we saw seals hanging out! The Seal Trail did not disappoint!

Can’t pass up checking out the tide pools…

We weren’t sure what these tracks were from, we’ll need to look it up!

This boardwalk looked really nice… but we were already several hours into a hike we hadn’t intended on taking, so we skipped it.

A few minutes later, we found a random car scrapyard of several Minis. It was totally weird and out of place, but the highlight of the hike for my other half, who identified them as Minis based off the rain catch tray from the dashboard, and the air intake. Then we found this one semi folded in half…

Angry red squirrels followed us around hoping for food. This guy had a stash of sunflower seeds in here and yelled at us when we grabbed a few to feed the chickadees that were flying around and happy to land on a friendly hand offering seeds!

Here’s a map of the park – too bad we didn’t look at it before we set out, but it was an excellent hike, especially with all the time we spent sitting in the car the past several days.

Couldn’t leave without stopping at more beaches as we passed by them! It was chilly and damp with some rain, but we stayed another few hours later having fun looking along the shore.

We have a competition any time we got out beach combing… and this was the winner, even though I found some pretty great pieces. This bottle was from a broken Fellows & Co Chemist – Saint John, NB bottle! It was fun to hang out in the hotel room that night and try to figure out where it was from.

Even though we left for Québec a lot later than expected, we had a very full and very fun day – definitely worth it. We stayed in Rivière-du-Loup when we were ready to stop driving for the night. Wish we could have explored it a bit too, but we needed to get an early start for our very long 10-11 hour drive home the next day.

Day 6: Rivière-du-Loup, Québec to Home! (1020km)

We spent a solid 10-11 hours driving today. It was long, but not as bad as I expected. We got this gorgeous sunset, and made it home safely – what more could you ask for!

New Brunswick Road Trip – Day 4

Day 4: Bouctouche, NB to Hopewell Rocks Park, NB, to Alma, NB through Fundy National Park to Saint John, NB! (300km)

Over breakfast we met a gentleman from Germany that recommended we check out La Dune de Bouctouche! We’ve had incredible weather the whole week and have been so lucky!

More treasure!

A barnacle:

We checked the tide schedule so we’d know how much time we could spend on the beach before heading to Hopewell Rocks. I hadn’t been in several years, and it’s just as gorgeous as I remember!

In almost every wall you could see snails in holes, patiently waiting for the tide to come back in.

We decided to brave the huge, slippery boulders and rocks to get to Daniel Flats. It was quite a workout, but worth it to see the sun setting over the flats as they slowly drained.

We were making our next plans to decide where to go next, when one of the parks guys came by on a cart to let us know the park would be closing soon. He offered us a ride back up, and we took it. He absolutely gunned it. We both came very close to flying off the back, but it was really fun, and we realized how much of a hike he’d saved us! (uphill too!)

We paused in Alma when we saw this huge long beach where the tide was out as far as you could see. There was a couple playing tea party with their daughter around the middle as they looked in the tide pools and played.

We looked in the tide pools too and found a few little crab friends!

We must have gone out at least a km or two before decided to head out to find some food and get to our next hotel for the night.

This brightly coloured rope stood out in the field of flat brown rocks, and it was worth the puddle I couldn’t avoid to see what it was.

There were a few places like this where the ocean floor was lower and it created rivers.

Off to Saint John!

New Brunswick Road Trip – Day 3

Day 3: Bathurst, NB to Beresford, NB to Bouctouche, NB! (200km)

Got up and explored the beaches around Bathurst and Beresford for the morning, found a few treasures too!

Always eager to explore tide pools and what critters might be hiding in them!

We found a few of these painted rocks! They were so fun to find just by chance! We left them exactly where they were so the next explorers could enjoy the surprise too!

From Beresford, we drove down to Kouchibouguac National Park to look for hermit crabs on the beach!

The wind whipped plants around on the beach, making these neat patterns all over the place:

Hermit crab!

Here’s a moon snail – they’re really huge and beautiful. We saw them all along the beach. Their big footprint helped them stay grounded as the waves pushed them around.

It took us a couple of hours to get to the end of the beach to where we’ve seen hermit crabs in the past, so walking back, the sun was starting to set and it was stunningly beautiful!

Off to Bouctouche as we make our way towards Hopewell Rocks and Fundy National Park tomorrow!

 

New Brunswick Road Trip – Day 1 and 2

Day 1: Home to Lévis, Québec! (818km)

Nothing like a last minute decision to make use of a week off! We decided on Sunday that we’d head out for coast in New Brunswick the following morning. We ended up leaving closer to lunch, but not bad considering we decided less than 24 hours beforehand to head out!

Some nice scenery along the way, including taking the scenic 1000 islands parkway, and we ended up just outside of Lévis, Québec after a looooong drive and a lot of bugs on the windshield. Also – thank you to the lady at Tim Hortons that understood my rusty French while I clumsily ordered our coffees! Since we left late, it was too dark for photos, so we’ll start off with the morning of the next day!

Day 2: Lévis, Québec to Bathurst, NB! (565km)

Yay! The beach… finally. The ocean has always been so calming to me, and just hearing the waves lap the shore was so welcome. We stayed on the beach looking for treasures and enjoying the view until we were both cold and hungry so off we went to find a place to stay for the night and a bite to eat!