A midsummer getaway

Friday July 29th 2021

Well we are just over halfway through the summer camping season, and to say that it has had some difficult times would be an understatement. So Bonnie and Rich have booked us a midweek getaway, just an hour south of the park at Grand Bend we have a couple of nights booked at the Oakwood Resort.

We had a tee time booked for Tuesday morning but heavy rain had forced a closure of the golf course, so we rebooked for Wednesday afternoon, hoping that the course would be dry enough to be enjoyable. This will actually be our first round of 2021, I’m not just sure why other than we have been enjoying a lot of beach time here at the resort, a lot more this year, particularly because of the extra area with the lower water level. In fact we enjoyed a sunset on Monday evening from the beach at LHR (Lake Huron Resort), and the smoke is back in the air causing the sun to turn red before setting.

Miss Laurie’s birthday was last week, and although it was a workday, lots of people stopped by with best wishes and a few treats for her, my birthday is a little more than a month and a half away, and this getaway is a gift to both of us. Now at this point of the season things should be more routine, but it’s also the time when little thing seem to upset people even more. And as we approach the busiest couple of weeks of the summer this will give both of us a much needed breather as we look toward the last couple of month of the summer.

So after rescheduling our tee time to Wednesday, on Tuesday morning we were able to take a more relaxing start to this getaway. So we set out around noon with our first stop the LCBO for some adult beverages for our trip, our second stop was to be lunch at Bayfield Brewing’s Public House for lunch, they make a plater of won ton nachos which are excellent not to mention they have a couple of brews that normally also get my approval. But alas they decided not to open their restaurant on the Tuesday on one of the two busiest summer weeks and before the holiday weekend in August, after months of being forced closed because of the lockdown, and with the Main Street in Bayfield packed with cars and people, some how it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but there again what do I know. In fact the brewery was open and the bartender suggested buying takeout food up the road and bringing it back to the bar to enjoy, so we said thanks but no thanks.

So down the road we go to Grand Bend, now Grand Bend was a real hot spot for summer weekend parties when I was just young fellow, and it doesn’t appeared to moved past that era yet, we were just looking for a nice sit down meal, for our first in restaurant dining experience after months of lockdown but there just wasn’t anything like that readily available, and take out was not what we had in mind and with check in not being until after 4pm we decided to drive to Exeter to maybe get an oil change on the SporTrac and find some lunch. Well the local TireCraft shop got us in for an oil change while we waited.

As far as lunch we settled for the local A&W to try their new Nashville Hot chicken sandwich, well I guess that now we can say we had it, but it wouldn’t be something that I will order again, but we were able to sit inside which was nice but some people still do not seem to have a real grasp of the whole mask on unless your seated and eating. It’s not that we are living in fear of the pandemic as we are both fully vaccinated but it is just seems ignorant to everyone else and just adds to the restaurant staff’s nightmare of trying to stay in compliance.

Oh ya I forgot to mention that we had a detour because of a bridge construction, and while on the detour route we ran into a road maintenance crew patching the road surface, and while necessary the timing just seemed wrong. Like I would have thought that a little communication and coordination between the road work crews could have saved some annoyance for a lot of travellers. But there again what do I know … jus’saying.

So it is off to the Oakwood Resort, check in time was 4pm and we arrive to an empty registration desk, of course there is a Covid protocol to follow, all of which was basically wearing a mask indoors and filling out a Covid affidavit verification you are not ill and have not been out of province, just like at the park. Of course there was plexiglass everywhere, so between a mask and a wall of plexiglass, conversation is at times a difficult task to say the least. Our room is on the upper level of the Oak Lodge and we have a balcony facing the west, the room I will just call rustic, I will follow up with a review of the Lodge in another blog soon.

We decided to get some pizza for a late dinner, and found the “Riverbend Pizza” just a kilometre down the road, and as luck would have it we were able to get a table by the window and it was also 85 cent wing night so we got a pizza and some wings, the pizza was half the price of the one we just got on the weekend and was better as well the wings were jumbo wings and we ordered a “Forty Creek” bar-b-que sauce on the side, the beer was cold and we left full and content.

Of course in keeping with last weekend we received a tornado warning for the Sarnia and Lambton Shores area as we sat in the pizza parlour enjoying dinner. After all the warnings on the previous Saturday at the park I’m thinking these tornado warnings are coming becoming way to frequently.

So with a little more rain overnight, playing the course here is not looking promising, but we will check on that after breakfast this morning. After we left the restaurant after breakfast we met Jeff the resort general manager, and while talking to him, he told the same story as most managers, you just can’t hire staff, and when they do hire staff, many just never show up to work. We also spoke to him about rescheduling our round of golf in September, which will be after the park starts to slow down. And it will make for a great Monday getaway as the summer winds down, and it’s close to my Birthday, so golf and dinner will be nicer, quieter, and maybe even a little romantic, or as romantic as this old fart gets any more.

So breakfast was included with our package, and Miss Laurie booked us at the best patio table at “Dave’s Grill & Pub” where we enjoyed an excellent breakfast overlooking the first and tenth hole of the course. And it did provide me with some entertainment, watching people tee up and dribble the shot off of the front of the tee (hey we have all been there). But as with most places post Covid the restaurant seemed to be understaffed which to many would make service seem bad and actually it is, because there were just not enough wait staff to cover the number of tables open. This is where management needs to reduce the amount of tables available, and while I realize that is a hard choice after being locked down, it would be the correct choice for customer experience. We used to refer to that as the uh ha moment, where customer experience becomes as important, as the bottom line, because the customer that has a disappointing experience will most likely never return and you can be sure all their friends will know about it as well, and with social media it is even worse. And it’s not the big things that need to be changed, it’s the little things like when you charge $2.50 for a coffee, and are short staffed, you can afford to just leave a craft of coffee on the table for client to do their own refills, you have to get past “this is how we always did it”, because that just doesn’t work anymore.

So with golf off the menu for today, we will be checking out the beach, although all the no alcohol on the beach signs mean it could be a short lived experience, certainly not like the park. Well the beach was busy with vacationers (the really untanned people) and while it was a sand beach it still drops off quickly and is still the same chilly Lake Huron water, although Miss Laurie said it was warmer than LHR.

Maybe, it’s just me but when someone asks me to do something, I feel that I will do my best to comply so when we were asked to stay off the sand dunes to help protect the shoreline, I find it annoying when others disregard the same regulations. And use the dunes as a play area for the kids, these should be teaching moments, by explaining how the dunes protect the shoreline from erosion damage, again just an observation.

Now as we just snacked on our left over pizza for lunch, finding a spot for dinner has proved a little more challenging, many restaurants seem to be either booked or just not serving dinner. So we are going to walk to a place on the main strip and hope for the best. The pub at the resort has mainly a fried menu and after a fried chicken sandwich and wings on the same day, I just thought I needed something different.

Ro’s Fire Fusion Bar & Grill, menu had an eclectic selection of options, from a burger to Mexican, Indian, even Pakistani, along with a wide selection of cocktails. Just a fifteen minute walk from the resort so maybe twenty for an old fart, but still not to bad. Well dinner came with karaoke, as entertainment, and as always with karaoke entertainment is in the eye of the beholder and I will leave it there. Our food was good, maybe a little spicy, but very flavourful, we left stuffed and quite content, as we headed back to the resort.

A nice walk back to the lodge down the 7th hole of the golf course, made it obvious why the course as restricted because of wetness, but we also got to see the fountain between the 1st and 10th hole which was lighted at night, as well as the tiki torches at Dave’s Pub, and we finished the evening by catching up on the Olympic action from the day.

Thursday we woke to more thunderstorms, I guess we must be in monsoon season. We decided that Tim Hortons would supply our breakfast, quick and easy, well maybe not. As many of you know I’m not a real big “Tim’s” fan, and that has been a long standing opinion, but they were promoting how they have improved their deep roast coffee and have gone to fresh cracked eggs. Well the breakfast sandwich was better without the egg puck things that they used to use, but the dark roast coffee still has a ways to go, unlike the regular brew that I still believe tastes burnt, the dark roast is still bitter and I now remember why I don’t order the hash browns, they are still soggy. We tried the order ahead option on the Tim’s app and that didn’t go well either, but maybe it was just because the store was so busy, I couldn’t even get on the lot.

So we are packing up to head back Thursday morning, we have a couple of stops planned, but just to pick up supplies and check out a furniture store. We both need to get back to work in the afternoon Miss Laurie has the store and multiple trailer showings, and I have pump outs and lawn mowing, followed by pool closing and washroom cleaning. So a quick stop at a Lazyboy showroom, you see we are looking for some new recliners for the coach but after we were told there is over a six month wait for custom pieces, and that certainly doesn’t work into our schedule we headed down the road.

Luckily there was only a short wait in the line up for some fresh corn, followed by a quick stop at Food Basics, where as always during the summer many shelves were bare, so no cream for Miss Laurie’s morning coffee, I may have to make a mercy run to the government milk store for a bottle of Baileys, I won’t tell her bosses if you don’t.

So as I close this blog, it’s early Friday morning, of a long weekend, but as we climbed into our bed last night Miss Laurie’s last words were getaway, what getaway!

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