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Hollyhocks & Thee:  Cycling in Ontario & the 1000 Islands, Canada

In vibrant hues of purple, pink, yellow, and red—tall, stately, flowering hollyhocks adorned the passing landscapes on our bike trip this summer.  With this colorful backdrop, we explored miles of scenic back roads and water view lanes in Prince Edward County (PEC) Ontario.  Breaking with our tradition of carrying packs and having no reservations, we decided to forego that adventure in favor of a less challenging, but not less enjoyable trip that included 3 base sites and day rides to explore each area. It was a wonderful change of pace.

Number 1: Picton, Ontario:  Canada is a favorite place of ours, and we go there often to tour.   On this return trip to Picton, we decided to stay a full week.  Wow!  We didn’t want to leave, even after a week, but that did give us a chance to do 8 great rides; here are some:

**the Hay Bay loop—a nice ferry ride and loop around scenic “Hay Bay”

**the Big Island ride—to Bloomfield, then north and west to the “island” loop

**the Three Towns loop--Picton to Wellington, Bloomfield (lunch) and back

**the County Cider loop—quiet roads, wineries, and the County Cider Co for lunch

**the Creasy loop—more wineries, scenic roads, and the Black River Cheese Co

There’s so much in PEC to experience, like Sandbanks Provincial Park, known for its dunes and white, sand beaches.  It’s a huge park, with so much to offer, but we just donned suits, brought snacks, and enjoyed an evening swim in Lake Ontario.  Other sites include 40 + wineries and the oldest United Methodist Church in Canada and much more.

Meeting up with old friends was a highlight.  On our first trip to Picton—9 years ago—a couple (cyclists themselves) stopped to see if we needed any help when we were looking at maps by the roadside.  It was a chance meeting and wonderful.   We stayed in touch and were able to spend two delightful evenings in their company this trip.  That was very special.  Thanks, Joan and Dennis.  Hope we’ll be back soon.

Number 2: The 1000 Islands, Ivy Lea:  We happened on this “village” when trying to book a room in Gananoque, a lovely town, but very busy.  Lo and behold, the village of Ivy Lea was just up the road (on the St. Lawrence), and we found a great place.  The Capricorn Motel Royale, owned by Karen and Rob, with its 12 rooms and communal kitchenette, and “for overflow once in a while” a 30 foot trailer, fully equipped.  We enjoyed 2 nights in the trailer and 2 in the motel—all wonderful.  Loved the cycling and paved bike trail right there.  We rode to Rockport, another river hamlet, Brockville, and the Fulford House & Gardens, and also cycled past Gannanoque to catch the “cable” ferry to Howe Island—and did a super scenic 16 miles around the island.  That was a delight.  Didn’t want to leave Ivy Lea either. ON TO THE US

Number 3: Auburn, New York, Lake Owasco, Finger Lakes:  We love Auburn for its natural beauty, history, and great location--situated between Skaneateles (east) and Geneva (west), NY.  The cycling around Lake Owasco, with stops at the Fillmore Glen State Park, the boyhood home of John D. Rockefeller, and Tom Thumb, for a yummy soft-serve, made for wonderful days of cruising around the lake.  Besides cycling, we visited the Harriet Tubman home and Fort Hill Cemetery (where she and also William Seward are buried).  Auburn is a lovely, walkable, fun town, and we enjoyed it as much this trip as we have in the past.

This year’s trip was different for us—without our packs and moving every day, but the adventure was just as meaningful and fun.  We immersed ourselves in the culture of each place, met new people, and explored new places by our favorite means of transport—the tandem.

Happy cycling!  Evie & Mike Reinsel