How would you like to spend the day combing a beach for artifacts from a long lost shipwreck, or viewing the world from the top of a hundred-year old lighthouse, or climbing the limestone walls of ancient glacier-carved cliffs?
Well, we had the opportunity to do these things and more, and along with my family, I discovered a whole new world in Ontario’s BruceGreySimcoe region.
Our trip started right in our living room, as we scrolled through the endless possibilities on the BruceGreySimcoe website. We began planning for our two-night trip away by focusing on the interactive map of the BruceGreySimcoe area. By using the map, we were able to literally zoom in on a specific area to see the things that were available, including attractions, accommodations, restaurants, and shopping. Since we don’t live very far from the beautiful shores of Lake Huron, and it was an area I had never visited, we decided to spend our time mainly in Bruce County.
Once we decided which area we would travel to, we began to plan in earnest. I had heard much about the legendary beaches of Bruce County, and so we decided that our first stop would be Kincardine. We were smitten with the marine lore of the area, and decided that our time in Kincardine would centre around a visit to the Kincardine Lighthouse Museum. The climb up the 24-metre wooden tower netted gorgeous views of the harbour and Lake Huron, though the steep climb backwards down to ground level awakened a fear steep climbs backwards that I didn’t realize I had.
Many more historic lighthouses dot the Lake Huron and Georgian Bay coast, but I decided that one was enough for me.
After browsing the shops on the adorable main streets, we travelled to our destination for the night, Southampton. Lured by the promise of silky beaches, we spent the evening throwing rocks into the chilly lake and sampling local fare. The next morning was too cold for a swim, so we were very glad that we had planned a back-up trip to the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre. To say that we were impressed with this small-town museum would be an understatement. With an entire wing for kids, the girls got their fill of crafts, stories, and even rock climbing, while Chris read every word of the 1812 military exhibit, and I got lost in a reproduction Bruce County general store and settler village.
Next on the agenda was an afternoon in Sauble Beach, where we ate lunch at an unbelievably delicious Taco Bus, and splashed in the shallow waves of the lake at the world-renowned—and very crowded—beach.
Then it was back in the car for another gorgeous drive up the Bruce Peninsula to our final destination—Tobermory, my new favourite place. There were high-fives all around as we pulled into the very charming Big Tub Harbour Resort, our home for the night. We enjoyed a meal overlooking the harbour, played a few games of checkers on the giant outdoor checkerboard, then hit the hay.
Our day began early the next morning with the activity I had been looking forward to since we began planning—a boat tour that took us to some of the shipwrecks in Fathom Five National Marine Park, and a two hour hike on Flower Pot Island.
Watching my kids climb up, down, and across the limestone cliff-faces of Flower Pot Island probably took 10 years off of my life, but I think we’ll all be talking about it for much longer than that. I didn’t even panic when they confidently climbed over a viewing tower wall to explore one of the island’s natural caves, because by then we were all completely entranced with discovering the island’s secrets. My only regret was that all too soon we had to hike back to the pier to meet our boat to the mainland.
We capped off our day with a late lunch and walk around the town of Tobermory (my new favourite place—did I mention that already?), before the pleasant ride back home.
All in all, our trip was amazingly stress-free, thanks in large part to the ease of the planning before hand. Our itinerary was set enough to keep us busy, but loose enough to inject some spontaneity when we felt compelled to. The result was a mini-break that felt much longer, and a promise to return to BruceGreySimcoe just as soon as we could.
I had no idea that there was a whole new world right in my backyard.
Summer has been flying by. Well, no, not exactly flying, which insinuates not only speed, but also a degree of grace, some precision, and a destination. Summer here has been a whirlwind. A blur, a stumble, a lark, a poorly choreographed dance that delights in its spontaneity even as we trip over each other's feet.
We have days of enjoyment and moments of pure glee and a few snippets of relaxation, but even in the midst of those, I am scrambling for purchase on a constantly churning sea of obligations.
The truth is, I may have bitten off more than I could chew this summer, and I have no choice but to deal with it. Which means my children have no choice but to deal with it.
When we moved to the cornfield two years ago (!), our goal was to live a simpler, more comfortable life than we had in Toronto, while working less. The cost of living here allows for that, but it meant that I had to also bring in some money as a freelance writer while staying home with the kids. I have been very lucky in that avenue so far; with near-constant, satisfying writing gigs coming my way since the moment I quit my fulltime job as a copywriter.
But here’s the thing about freelancing—you don't say no to good jobs. Especially the jobs that will still be around once the kids are back in school. Freelancing is often a feast-or-famine pursuit, and even when you feel stuffed from the feast, you have to remember that at any time, the table may be laid bare. So you keep feasting.
You keep feasting even though you only have a week or two of camp planned for your kids. You feast even though you feel like the TV has been on way too much. You feast even though others are wondering where you are, and if you have forgotten about them. You feast even though the timing, to put it bluntly, really sucks.
My worlds have finally collided this summer, and I am now understanding the very real, very impenetrable issues surrounding being a WAHM. I have begun getting up earlier, working later, and remaining dedicated to making plans with my children, for my children.
But the truth is, I feel like I have spent much of this summer so far, exactly one room away from my kids. I work while they entertain themselves. And sometimes, the distance between rooms feels like it may as well be a city block. Or a city.
I’m not unhappy, and neither are they, it seems. Professionally, I am thrilled. But I need to know if that balance can exist. My kids enjoy each other’s company, and understand the importance of my work. They also know that when I say, in half an hour we’ll go to the library, I mean it. They have been ridiculously good-natured and accommodating. They don’t think I’m being a bad mother. They are giving me a break.
Wish I could say the same.
Do you work at home? What are your tricks?