Camping

Alvar Bay

Alvar Bay campsite

A few days prior to departure and with luck on our side, we made reservations to stay at a privately owned campground in Alvar Bay Nature Preserve.  As the summer months and warm weather roll into the Peninsula , so do all of the nature-lovers, so making reservations well in advance is suggested if you want to stay in the area.  The National Park was full-up when we tried to book online with them (which, by the way, is a wonderfully quick way to check up on site availabilities).

Alvar Bay rock beach

After a third and final trip from car to site, we venture out to the wave pounded coast and have a gander at our home for the next three days.  Hopping from boulder to boulder, we find a good spot to check out the vast horizon of Lake Huron and the immense, strong tide that's coming in for the night.  It's not too long before the tummy grumbles begin and we realize that we haven't eaten in hours.

Hiking gear over the alvar proves to be a bit challenging, especially with the sun setting at an all too-rapid pace.  The limestone plain between our car and our site is dominated by moss, distinct shrubs, grass and herbs, and little flowers poking their heads out of what seem to be rocky beds.  We feel as though we are crossing some kind of boreal forest-meets-savanna prairie land.  The path is marked by an occasional log pointing us in the direction of our site but by dusk the logs seem less and less visible and blend into the landscape. 

Above-

Our front yar in Alvar Bay-- desolate yet extraordinarily beautiful!

Below-

While we both have no problem roughing it, we also must say that a hot tub, toilet and a shower are more than a welcome surprise when camping.

Alvar Bay hottub
Alvar Bay tiny house
Left-This tiny little cottage greeteds on our way in. Just used for storage, it was still pretty picturesque.
Alvar Bay Pond
Left-Great little pond beside the wate... full of crayfish and frogs (shine a light on it at night!)

After a third and final trip from car to site, we venture out to the wave pounded coast and have a gander at our home for the next three days.  Hopping from boulder to boulder, we find a good spot to check out the vast horizon of Lake Huron and the immense, strong tide that's coming in for the night.  It's not too long before the tummy grumbles begin and we realize that we haven't eaten in hours.

Starting a fire is a science. Being a former girl guide and boy scout, we strain our minds to remember all of the handy-dandy tips that we learned in order to earn those badges.  Old newspaper rolled into twigs, a little bit of cedar kindling, logs in teepee formation, and we have a roaring fire! Truth be told, these nuggets of wisdom come one by one and, through trial and error and the implementation of this resurrected knowledge, we came to have a dazzling fire to use for our culinary pleasure.

We purchased a couple of camp kitchen gear prior to departure, which included a camp cooker that's the travel version of a sandwich maker (those grills that make pocket sandwiches) and a camp fork which is used to skewer hotdogs, veggies or any other food for easy fire roasting. These gadgets prove quite useful when you don't own a camp stove and are a lot of fun to use for cooking. We finish our veggie burger, chicken breast and a couple of marshmallows in record time.

As the Bruce Peninsula is home to Black bears, we heed the advice from a very to-the-point pamphlet from the campground stating that all food must be stored in a vehicle or placed in a bag and hoisted up into a tree far from our site in order to avoid a run-in with our large (and thankfully anti-social) neighbours, and hike our cooler and any other traces of food stuffs back to our car. Without our flashlight, we wouldn't be able to see further than an arm's length in front of our faces.  A good flashlight (with fresh batteries) is an essential device in these woods. Though the patterned landscape with its trees of similar height and identical patches of greenery, seems to play tricks on our eyes as we stumble around off the path every now and again, we safely find our way.

Stomach's full and wine goblet (aka. sturdy 50 cent plastic cup from IKEA) in hand, we relax on our makeshift bench of a plank of wood and two flat-faced rocks. One look at the amazing clarity of the Bruce's night sky and the thin foam rolls that we had brought for sleeping were already in hand for more comfortable viewing. Paying no mind to the micro creatures that could be licking their chops at our decision, we place our foam roll on a patch of flat limestone and begin our search for the Big Dipper. This is a harder task that we thought as the constellation fits in so nicely with the millions that are apparent in the peninsula. The city, with its bright lights and smog cover, hides one of the most magestic sights known to humankind, a view of the cosmos.  We have never seen so many stars, throbbing nebulas, shooting stars and bright orbs in all of the star-gazing nights we've spent in the city.

The fresh air eventually catches up with us and we decide to zip ourselves into our sleeping bags, in the company of a spider or two that have chosen to bunk in with us for the night. Realistically, we figure that it's us bunking in with them. With the crickets chirping and a breeze off the lake rolling in to our tent, we settle in for a good night's sleep in preparation for a full-day of sightseeing in Fathom Five National Marine Park and hiking at Flowerpot island.

It's a quick 10 minute hike to the campsite... just far enough away for privacy... yet close enough to the washroom!
Alvar Bay Plants
We were surprised how life hangs on so tenatiously... this little guy was growing out of solid rock! We think these holes were made by glaciar water running during the ice ages...
Update:

It's a shame, but we can't seem to find Alvar bay on the Net any more... if you know whether they are still open or not, please contact us