Dear Residents of 1906 Prince Edward County Road 2,
Wow. Just wow. I wish I could have met you on Sunday, if only to congratulate you on the best private-residence Halloween setup I have ever seen. You are gifted beyond measure -- or seriously twisted, or perhaps both -- and in a world full of greed, negativity and selfishness your front yard is a beacon of blood-curdling fun. No tricks, just a genuinely terrifying treat.
In short, you give me hope!
With recreational cannabis consumption set to become legal in less than eight weeks, this Mostly Amazing series explores 11 places across the land that are best experienced with a buzz.
Approaching the summit, one final hurdle lay ahead. It wasn't the steep, crumbling slope under my feet. Nor was it the blazing midday sun. As I climbed the dune in Eastern Ontario's Sandbanks Provincial Park, my greatest challenge was the all-dressed bacon cheeseburger, onion rings and chocolate milkshake I had just devoured outside the snack bar.
Just as mountaineers acclimatize to altitude, I stopped and waited for the grease rush to subside. Then, heartened by what awaited beyond the dune's 10-metre peak, I scrambled up the sandy mound, paperback in one hand, towel in the other.
I had seen the view from atop the dunes dozens of times before, either on a sand-seeking expedition out of Toronto, or on "Picton Day," the June exodus of class-cutting teens from my former hometown of Kingston. On this perfect summer Saturday, it encompassed blue skies, calm Lake Ontario waters and white sands framed by stands of eastern cottonwood trees, a picture that solidified Sandbanks as my favourite Canadian beach. The sand and scenery of some East and West Coast beaches may compare — PEI's Cavendish and Vancouver's English Bay spring to mind — but Sandbanks' summer is reliably hot and sunny, and the water is fresh, calm and surprisingly warm. If, like me, you often crave a splashy game of paddle ball — that free-form, co-ed pursuit of the Frisbee-fatigued — you'll only be up to your waist in water more than 100 metres offshore, owing to the gentle, child-friendly slope out of East Lake (which is actually a bay).
Unlike much of surrounding Prince Edward County, which has seen a spate of development in recent years, little has changed at Sandbanks since I first arrived here in someone else's parent's minivan more than 25 years ago. The drive past the main entrance still winds pleasantly through thick maple forest. The aforementioned snack bar still serves up the thickest milkshakes around thanks to the staff's perennial lack of blender-awareness. And on a prime summer weekend, the park's Outlet, Sandbanks and Campers beaches are still busy, but not maddeningly so. After all, there's plenty of real estate: The 11 kilometres of beaches and dunes form two of the largest freshwater bay-mouth sandbars in the world.
Arriving at noon, it was easy to find a sunny spot devoid of errant Frisbees and sand-encrusted toddlers. Spreading out mats and towels, and unfolding lounge chairs — my wife Angela and I are confessed beach-accoutrement addicts — we settled into an afternoon of doing very, very little.
Once again, I noticed that time and sound perform strange tricks when one is prostrate on the beach. A lively conversation among a group of nearby teenagers — "Dude, man, my wakeboard is sick!" — soon became a melodious trickle interspersed with the noise of splashing kids and squawking gulls. This was followed by an irresistible snooze, a groggy awakening and feigned surprise that two hours had passed in what felt like five minutes.
Read the rest of the story in the Globe and Mail.
If we don't take a stand against the lack of milkshakes at Sandbanks Provincial Park, then who will?
Back in July of 2006, I wrote in Globe Travel that the snack bar at the sandy eastern Ontario preserve "serves up the thickest milkshakes around." Last week, I was looking forward to updating that assertion on a family camping trip.
I was happy to see that the ice cream counter was as amply stocked with local Reid's Dairy products as it was nearly a decade ago, before the generic eatery was reborn as Currah's Park Store & Grill. Various blending contraptions still lined one wall, with an extensive menu of flavours, sizes and variations looming behind the teenage servers.
But I knew exactly what I wanted: "One chocolate milkshake, please."
To which the bubbly counter staffer (let's call her Tracy) replied: "Sorry, we don't have milkshakes."
I was aghast. "You don't have milkshakes?"
Tracy shook her tanned, blonde head. "Nope."
It didn't seem possible. "Do you have a blender?" I asked hopefully.
"I think so."
"In that case, can you put some milk and two (read: five) scoops of chocolate ice cream in the blender?"
My request clearly flummoxed Tracy, who flashed her braces apologetically as she sought assistance from her absentee manager.
With a line-up quickly forming behind me, and not wanting to upset Tracy, I rescinded my request and went for a large cone instead. It was delicious, and to be clear, the cafe's milkshakelessness didn't stop me and mine from having a ball at Sandbanks. The campground, beach (pictured) and dunes, which comprise two of the largest freshwater bay-mouth sandbars in the world, are still top notch.
But looking back, I should have pressed the issue. Milkshake omission, after all, is a slippery slope. What's next? No bacon on the quadruple cheeseburgers? Poutine with grated mozzarella instead of curd? This creeping evil must be stopped!
If you feel the same way I do, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and politely demand that milkshakes return to the menu. (Not in a Daniel Day Lewis sort of way, because, you know, we can't actually drink their milkshakes at present.) And if you encounter another establishment that has removed milkshakes from its menu, please make the same demand, or at least share the information in the comments below. Together, we can make a difference. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, himself an obvious milkshake aficionado, "Never, never, never give up your milkshakes."
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