Welcome back to the Adventurer Club Series! I’m Sophie, a fairly new member of the Weekend Route’s Interns.
The summer before University is bittersweet. From my experience, it is two months of scrambling to plan every aspect of the next year of your life, all while desperately trying to spend time with your friends, and create memories that you can reminisce on while you procrastinate in your dorm room the coming year.
Griffin and I both leave for university in 12 days. Therefore, the dire need to have one last hoorah before school was suffocating. What we could not have predicted then was that the perfect “daycation” was brewing. Determined to spend as little pocket change as possible due to the inevitability that is being a broke university student next year and hoping to visit Wolfe Island as a way to simulate leaving the country and going to a tropical island; the trip was bound to be exciting. Could we pull it off? Our very own version of the stereotypical “coming of age movie” road trip before one’s first year of university? Continue reading to see if we successfully achieved the perfect trip and if you can take inspiration from our experience to curate your own spontaneous end-of-the-summer trip.
Let me set the scene…
My thermos full of coffee rested comfortably in my hand as I eagerly grabbed the handle of Griffin’s car. We had been looking forward to this trip for a couple of days and could hardly contain our excitement, so much so we had permanent twin smiles etched onto our faces. Our departure time was 8:00 am and for someone who was shaken awake by her mom at 5:15 am I was wired; the endless possibilities of the day to come worked better than any cup of coffee I had ever had. Turning the keys in the ignition Griffin turned to me and said, “Where to first?”
Prior to leaving for our trip Griffin and I had discussed a blurry itinerary. It was simple, but every piece was crucial to what we determined would be the perfect “day-cation”:
- LONG drive with views that would surely force us to pull over and gape
- Discover an otherwise unbeknownst location where we indulge in a local delicacy
- Take at least one ferry
- Rent some form of water transportation whether that be SUP or kayaks
- Spend a minimum of two hours lazing on a beach in Wolfe Island suntanning in such a manner that we both resemble seals fresh out of the water
- Finally, finish off the day with a meal that would make professional chefs cringe but teenagers with a sweet tooth and a big appetite cry tears of joy
After an hour of driving in the general direction of Kingston getting lost in conversation and token road trip songs, Griffin made quite possibly the best decision he has ever made and within a split second had taken the exit ramp 566 to Marysville. After recovering from the initial shock of being taken off route, I regained composure and took in the area around me. The road we were now on was shaded with lush trees that allowed only small rays of the sun to spill out onto the road. After ten minutes of driving, both of us stunned into complete and utter silence we passed out of the archway made of tree branches and upon the outskirts of Picton near the banks of Black River. Artfully placed on the side of the road was Black River Cheese Company. Before Griffin could pass by the establishment without acknowledgement I made it clear that there was no possible way that I could continue on this trip with him if we did not stop to check it out.
Black River Cheese, Historic Plaque
I stepped out of the car not even taking a moment to stretch my legs before waltzing into the store. The cool breeze of air conditioning greeted us but not before we could be beckoned in by the inviting smiles of the workers. While Griffin walked over to check out what they had in store I made my way over to Bev, a kind woman who had been working there for years. Without having to ask she began to fill me in on the extensive history of Black River Cheese Company. It opened in 1901 and was a hot spot for local farmers to store their own produce as they were the only ones with the facilities to do so. Fast forward 120 years later and the company is still a local favourite. They supply the store with tons of local groceries as well as their very own cheese which is manufactured in the back of the store. Overhearing the captivating conversation I had immersed myself into, Griffin had come over to the cash with his choice of products to purchase. Bev took a long look at his selection and with a calculated breath said, “Can I recommend something to you that I think will change your life?”. I turned to Griffin and gave him a look that said, “You better listen to this woman, it is obvious she knows what she is talking about”. She explained that when locals come in throughout the week to get their groceries they always buy the naturally aged maple cheddar and if we had any sort of reason within us that is the one we would purchase. We ended up leaving with both blocks of cheese and after saying thank you and sharing final goodbyes with our new friends, we were once again on route.
Outside the front of the Black River Cheese Company after purchasing the “naturally aged maple cheddar”.
Inside the Black River Cheese Company.
Both of us equally determined to continue exploring Picton and fulfill our dreams of taking a ferry, we began to make our way to the Glenora Ferry docking station. It was hard to not drive 10km an hour, which would have made it easy to soak in the scenery. Some trees had bright green leaves tipped with gold, red, and orange as though fall had come by and kissed them with colour; a preview of what is to be expected in the fast-approaching season. On our right, about 5km later there was a raised deck and a picnic table. Noticing the view that it was placed strategically in front of, there was no question, we had to stop. The beautiful lookout off of PEC County Rd 13, enabled us to gaze over the Waupoos Islands, Long Point, Timber and False Duck Island. The waters surrounding the island are infamous for the shipwrecks that have happened there. Although, it wasn’t the view or lush history that made this stop memorable it was the carefully engraved names in the wood of the deck and picnic table. Each name written in different handwriting, taking up its own square of space, some written beside another, others written inside hearts. They reminded me of the stories that are hidden within each aspect of a road trip or a vacation. Griffin and I each wrote our names down, although my writing was not legible whatsoever. Were we ever lucky to have stumbled upon the secret Rutherford-Stevens Lookout.
Writing our names on the heavily engraved lookout at Rutherford-Stevens Lookout.
Rutherford- Stevens Lookout
After a short drive through Picton, we reached Adolphustown. Driving through Adolphustown felt as though we were driving through a town made for dolls. Every house was so carefully built it seemed as though no detail was missed. If you stared at a house long enough you would notice something you hadn’t before. We got in line for the ferry and were surprised to learn it was free and fairly short. This was our first ferry ride of the day and I loved it. Looking out the car window onto the water and the houses that lined the shores was ethereal. I was surprised to look out the window and feel as though I had been shipped across the world to some European country (keep in mind; I’ve never been to Europe). You could see directly out onto the water from the ferry and Griffin and I rolled down our window to enjoy the leisurely ride. Have you ever felt that a certain season has a certain smell or similarly a memory can be triggered by a certain smell breezing by? Rolling down the windows and exposing myself to whatever scents were carried by the wind that day took me through memories of those final cottage weekends with family before summer comes to a close, or listening to Taylor Swift’s discography while driving down backroads and noticing how the leaves are painted with more fall colours than when we first arrived at the cottage. Perhaps I just romanticize the smallest aspects of day-to-day life, but I strongly recommend that you try this and see if it elicits a similar reaction. The short ferry ride and the emotions it brought were enough to change what might have been a boring ride to Kingston into a short ride through a beach town in a European country (do I sound delusional?).
After a short drive, we were in Kingston and ready to make our way over to Wolfe Island. As you can probably assume, I was eager to once again be on a ferry. It was easy finding our way to the ferry as you could look around downtown and find many signs pointing to the loading dock. If you still can’t locate it you could always keep your eyes peeled for the endless stream of cars that flow through Kingston’s downtown and pause right before the water. This being our second ferry of the day I thought the thrill would be removed, but who knew sitting on a boat with 55 other cars for 20 minutes could be so fun. There is something about being on a ferry and not continuously driving for your whole trip that amplifies the feeling of an adventure in the works. Surprisingly, the Wolfe Island Ferry is free and can be easily located on Barrack St.
Getting off the Wolfe Island Ferry.
Our first stop on Wolfe Island was the Wolfe Island Boat Club. The club is a five-minute drive from the ferry dock and is located directly on Main St, Wolfe Island. Before covid, the Wolfe Island Boat Club was a great spot to learn how to sail, paddle board, kayak, canoe and learn how to use other watercraft. Unfortunately, Griffin and I were unable to book a class where we could learn how to sail and spend time with the workers, although we were able to easily rent a kayak and take them out on the water. The friendly workers were efficient in helping us grab two kayaks and pointed us to the best location to use them, which was right off the dock beside the boat club. It was a sunny day therefore being on the water was refreshing and relaxing. The sun bouncing off the waves forced me to frequently stop kayaking and spend minutes watching the waves roll over and over again. Renting a kayak was only $20 for the hour-plus $5 per person. The hour that we had rented the kayaks for flew by and it was tempting to rent them for a second hour, though we still had many bucket list items to cross off. The Wolfe Island Boat Club is a must-stop shop if you are in the Wolfe island area.
After spending most of the afternoon on the water we were anxious to try the Black River Cheese we had picked out. Deciding it would be better to pair the cheese with bread we drove aimlessly through Wolfe Island deciding we would stop at the first store we saw. The Wolfe Island Bakery was on our left seconds from the boat club and Griffin quickly veered to the side of the road, the blue accents in the decor and the large crowd gathered out front enough to convince him of its worthiness. Upon walking up to the charming door with a bell placed at the top to alert the owners of customers we were greeted with smiles from everyone lounging in the comfortable chairs on the front porch of the establishment. We entered the quaint shop and made our way to the counter to discuss the local favourites with the cashier. According to the employee, their cinnamon buns are the first to sell out in the morning along with their maple bread. We left the “cottage-core” building with a moist fresh loaf of bread and two brownies. The scent of the bakery seemed to follow us back to the car, almost taunting us to take a bite immediately.
Outside the Wolfe island bakery, bread in hand.
The last items on our list we had yet to check off were laying on a beach for hours uninterrupted as well as eating a meal sure to give us cavities. The drive from the bakery to the beach was short and sweet and reminded both Griffin and I of driving on a Novia Scotian road as we had seamless beach views the entire time.
Big Sandy Bay
Once we reached the beach we strapped all our food, cooking supplies, chairs, and a novel I had been dying to read at the beach to our backs and braved the 1.5km hike to the sandy beach. We paid the $15 cash-only entrance ticket and began the hike. Within what seemed like a couple of seconds we were already on the beach. What we thought was going to be a long walk was in fact comfortable and scenic. The golden sand stretched for kms and was soft under our bare feet as we walked to find a spot with the best view of the water and surrounding nature.
Big Sandy Bay
The shore continued to have shallow water far out and the beach was clean in and out of the water. We set down our beach supplies and watched the last hours of sunlight dance on the lake and sand.
Big Sandy Bay
Check out our vlog to see just how we started the fire and cooked our delicious french toast.
Cooking on Big sandy Bay.
It was 7:00 pm, Griffin and I both donned matching sunburns and robust stomachs from devouring an unhealthy amount of french toast. With a shared glance, we knew it was time to pack up and leave Wolfe Island. I kid you not, we had to roll ourselves to a standing position like “rolie polie olies”. We made our way back to Cobourg sad to be leaving the island but confident in knowing we pulled off the best trip of the summer.
Send us your favourite off-the-beaten-track experiences to get featured on the weekend route and in one of our featured route blog posts.
See you next week for another expertly planned trip sure to inspire you into taking a trip of your own.