Beach Challenge Checkpoint 2 – Grand Bend



A cool and overcast holiday Monday is a splendid time for me to be out on the beach, so off we go!

The last time I was in Grand Bend was more than half a lifetime ago, and it was winter. It was a melancholy trip where I was trying to hold together a relationship that I maybe shouldn’t have cared so much about. Of the things that I would tell younger University Me, it’d be “If you’re the only one who’s trying to save a relationship – friendship or romantic, it’s not actually a relationship. Move on.”

So time to paint over that canvas with a different Grand Bend memory.

The drive to Grand Bend is lovely. When I get close enough to Lake Huron, the massive windmills spread across the landscape are striking and beautiful. I love it. That part is worth the drive.

The beach, on the other hand, is entirely… ok.

It’s not as long as Confederation/Van Wagners. Maybe the water is better when it’s hot enough to be in the water. I don’t know. I find it difficult to tune my eyes to filter out the stones on Lake Huron because there are so many different colours. Lake Ontario has bleached gray stones, sometimes brown, and rarely, green. But on Lake Huron (both at Grand Bend and at Kincardine, which is the sum total of my Lake Huron experience), there are beautiful shades of purpley-brown, greens, red, chocolatey-gray, black, and orange. On that kaleidoscope, the glass hides.

I’ve said before that I go to look for glass, and finding it is bonus. As usual, the gifts today went beyond the beach glass. Today, I sat on the sand for longer than I usually do. I listened to the volleyball game going on behind me – boys who were spending their last spring together, maybe, before they scattered to the wind for summer jobs and college or university in the fall. I watched young parents trying to introduce their toddlers to the surf for the first time; slightly older parents trying to introduce slightly older children to skipping rocks; barely-teen girls trying to be conspicuous, (but not too conspicuous)  to teenage boys (and lifeguards). There were sandwich boards advertising Great Lakes fish, and the scent of French fry oil escaping screened order windows. I was tempted into the sweetshop, and left with a half-pound of fudge for my gentlemen associates at home, and one of Grand Bend’s Famous Pecan Rolls (who knew?) for me.

I was going to walk as far up the main drag to the Grand Bend sign spanning the street to take a picture, like I have from Granville Island. Alas, I didn’t make it that far. I didn’t want to run the gauntlet of too-loud music from sunglass-hawkers and giant swan floaties sticking their inflated necks out of store windows. If it was hotter or less overcast, the sidewalk would have been packed. There’d be cranky children covered in ice cream and dusted with sand and sunburned young women who hugely underestimated their SPF needs  and hadn’t quite realized how ridiculous their burn lines would look with their prom dresses. I was glad to be here today instead of amongst that demographic.

With 3 hours remaining on my parking pass, I left. Back through the fields of gracefully spinning wind turbines, through the freshly turned fields of Perth County, past the beautiful architecture of Stratford, and home.

I wasn’t able to leave much of my discontent at the water’s edge today. I know that my discontent is high right now, so the effort of going out of doors still mitigates the worst of it. In the very least, it shores up my ability to get through the next few weeks with more grace than I’d be able to without these excursions.

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