Point Pelee National Park Review

Review Date: May 2016

General Information / Location / Address

Point Pelee National Park is located in a lush Carolinian forest oasis at the southern tip of Canada.  Point Pelee National Park resounds with migrating song birds in the spring, hums with cicadas in the summer, flutters with Monarch butterflies in the fall and is a peaceful place of reflection in the winter.  (Description taken directly from the website).  

1118 Point Pelee Drive
Leamington, Ontario
Canada
N8H 3V4

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Entry / Layout

A few kms south of Leamington, on Pelee Point Drive, is the beginning of Point Pelee.  At the start of the park is the main office, where you pay for your entry (click for fee details).  There are no parking lots, but just two lanes.  One for people with memberships (left), and the other for people who are coming for the day (right).  Directly after the main office, is a long road that heads to the Visitor Center.  Currently, the visitor center is as far as you can go.  On this main road, you will find small side roads that heads to beaches, trails and lookouts.  I would suggest checking out the map of the park ahead of time, and plan your route.

Here is what the entry gate looks like:

General Discussion

Before I get started on some tips that I have, I want to first let you know that Google Street View has 3D mapped every inch of this place.  If you’re not sure what that is, Google has walked every driveway, path, trail, beach and shuttle ride and captured photo spheres of EVERYTHING!.  Click here to go to Google Maps, and drag the Google Man icon (lower right) onto the map, and check out every inch of this place, before you even get there!  I found this handy to see what the trails are like, or to see where the parking lots are, etc, etc.

This can be a VERY busy place.  I would suggest getting to the park around 9am-10am.  We got to the park at 10am, and there was 3 cars in line, and on our way out at 2pm, there was 40 cars in line.  As well, according to a tripadvisor review, someone witnessed a line-up of 500 cars.  Check here for park hours, and again, get to the park early to avoid the lines.  As well, I would suggest heading directly to the visitor center first, as according to the front office, they reported to me that the shuttle to the “tip” is far less busy in the mornings.  When your at the “tip”, I found it very relaxing when there wasn’t a bazillion people there.  I will discuss more later about what to visit on the way back from the visitor center.

Once at the visitor’s center, there is a round about on the West side, where the bus shuttle stops.  There is covered benches that you can use while you wait.  The shuttle seems to come every 20 minutes.  There is no schedule, or tickets, it’s first come first served.  So whenever you see the shuttle, just hop on, and take a free ride!

Once on the bus shuttle, make sure you keep your mouth closed, as there are fish flies EVERYWHERE!.  The shuttle takes you to another depot closer to the point.

From here, you can check out some of the exhibits, then head to the point.  There are three ways to get to the point.  1) Take the board walk right from the depot, 2) Head west and take a larger path close to the water 3) Head east through the woods, out to a nice beach, then walk along the beach to the point.  3) is what I suggest.  Check it out below:

After you’ve checked out everything at the Tip, just head to the depot, and wait for the bus.  Once it comes, hop on and head back to the visitor center, and check out all their exhibits within.  It’s a really neat place.  I would also suggest watching the 12 minute video in the theater.  This gives you a good idea how the park was developed, and the problems and struggles it’s been through. Highly recommended!

After the Tip is done, and the visitor center is done, you can then decide how many trails you want to go on.  Check out the map above, which shows you all the trails, or go to the parks website to see a description of all the trails.  We decided to head right to the Marsh Boardwalk.

The parking lot here is fairly large, and should be plenty of spots to park.  It’s also the area to rent canoe’s, and paddle out into the marsh.  I highly recommend getting out into the canoes!  The Marsh Boardwalk parking lot also has a small store, with ice cream bars, snacks, and other souvenirs.

We really enjoyed the boardwalk.  You can check out the whole walk below:

A couple other notes and tips.  On the West side of the park, along the main road, are small parking lots for beach access.  There is also spots with a shelter, and bbq’s.  Below:

The majority of the paths are chip and dust based, and are plenty wide.  You can easily fit a large stroller down them, or even a wheelchair.

There is also a bike path that goes from the front of the park, right to the visitor center.  I would suggest taking this trail instead of driving.  More exercise!

That’s all I can think of right now.  Again, if you’re interested in what anything looks like here, just check out Google Street View.

 

Oliphant Beach, Ontario, Review

I wanted to write up a small review or guide about going to Oliphant for the beach.  Oliphant is just north of Sauble Beach about 5 minutes.  I intended to take pictures of the beach, to help explain and review it, but I forgot to take detailed pictures, so will have to just use the ones I have.

I wouldn’t really call this a lush, sandy beach.  The water part of the beach is great, because the deepest it gets is about 1.5 feet.  You can’t get any deeper unless you walk out 1/4 mile.  Great for kids, etc.  There are a couple spots on the beach with sand, but for the most part, it’s short grassy areas, with sand.  Sitting on a chair is fine, but some spots might not be the best with a beach blanket.  I think the reason why this place is so great, is because you can drive right on the beach, and it’s less busy then Sauble Beach.

Here is a photo of our setup the first time we went:

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This is about what the beach looks like for the most part.

Here’s a picture from Google Maps, that shows the entrance, the beach, and some water crossings you can take to get to a more private beach.

beach

The X on the above picture marks the entrance to the beach.  Any car or truck can get to the main part of the beach, no problems.  Some people back their vehicle to the water, some park and on the other side of the path, and walk to beach.

The yellow shaded areas is the beach area.

If you have a truck, or 4×4 (i even saw a honda crv go through), you can continue driving down the beach, but will have to cross a couple water crossings.  The deepest I saw it get is about 1 foot, maybe slightly higher.  If you can get through this, you can access a very private section of the beach, at the end of the above yellow shaded areas.  See below for our setup on this day:

beach2

 

This area of the beach is mainly grassy, but most people setup their chairs in the shallow water anyway.

It’s just a neat place to come, and get in the water!

 

2013 Ford F-150, FX4, 5.0L – 1000 KM Report

I’ve finally got over 1,000 kms in my 2013 F150, and want to write a short report / review of it so far.

I Love it… STILL!  Every time I get in it, is like the first day I drove it.  It’s just so quiet, comfortable and smooth.

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DRIVE-ABILITY

Since I’m still “breaking in” this engine, I haven’t gotten to deep in the throttle.  However, I’ve been gradually going deeper, 50%, 60%, 75% ect, ect.  I’m enjoying the power this 5.0L makes, and still enjoy the sound.  One thing that stands out, is how easy this F150 is to accelerate slowly.  Let me explain.  It seems that with very light throttle, I can effortlessly accelerate at a pace that’s acceptable, but fuel conservative.  I enjoy driving this truck slowly.  I couldn’t say the same with another truck I used to own.  However, when you need to get on it, it will shift down quickly, to a proper gear for the current throttle application, and haul pretty quickly.  I’ve had other trucks where you would press down on the accelerator, and it would try and get to the desired speed by maintaining that gear, and not shifting down.  This is annoying.  If I press the accelerator down in a quick matter, shift down, and giddie up and go!  Which the Ford does!

So far, the engine in this F150 is VERY quiet.  I’m used to truck engines sounding loud, and ticky, but this engine just purr’s away on idle, and acceleration.  The transmission also shifts very smooth, without any jerks.  So far so good!

I’m averaging about 16 L/PER100 with 90% city driving.  I haven’t taken a highway trip yet, but looking forward to getting it on the highway, and cruising quietly and comfortably.

I’m an avid Camper, and can’t wait to get up past 1600 KMS so I can tow my 4500 lbs trailer.  I think it will pull it great, and looking forward to it.  Soon, the trailer below will be hooked up for it’s maiden voyage!

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I’ve had this truck out in the muddy fields already, as I enjoy a Saturday morning goose hunt.   The rear locker comes on effortlessly, with a pull of a switch, and does give some added traction in the mud.  I was hesitant at first about the OPEN rear differential, but recently learned the truck uses ABS to basically turn it into a LSD.  I’ve also used the 4×4 system a few times, and for the most part, engages quickly, and quietly.   A few times I’ve noticed that the message “Shifting in progress, OK”, stays on the screen.  After reading the manual, I think this is because of “gear block”, and it suggests driving forward 5 meters, which the message goes away.  I’ve also heard a few clunks from the hubs, but have also read that is normal.  Other then that, the 4×4 system has gotten me through a wet muddy field without issues.  It will be a great companion for this years Duck, Goose, and Coyote season!

I havn’t had to turn off any traction controls yet.  For my applications, the stock setup works perfect.  I have tried out the Hill Descend, and it works as advertised.  You can really hear the ABS doing it’s job when the Hill Descend is on, but you get used to it.

For the most part, the truck rides fairly smooth… for a truck.  I came from a RAM, with rear coil springs, and this FORD is definitely harder in the rear then the RAM.  However, this is a truck, and can live with it.  I actually prefer the stiffer rear, as I’m sure it handles the trailer better. However, this is untested.

The truck overall feels less floaty then my other trucks.  It feels tighter in the corners, and more stable.  Because of this you get a slightly stiffer ride, but again it’s a truck, and feels like a truck.

One other thing that impresses me is the steering.  It’s effortless!  You could steer this truck with your finger.  I’ve read some negatives regarding the steering, but I think it feels great.

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INTERIOR / EXTERIOR

I LOVE the 4.2″ center screen on the dash.  It displays all the information I want, and it quick to scroll through the different screens.  The Fuel Mileage screen is great, as it gives you your current average, as well as current MPG.  One click up and you’re on the OFFROAD screen that gives you your pitch, and angle of the truck.  This is handy if you’re doing any hills, etc, etc.  Another screen which is beneficial is the TRIP 1, TRIP 2 screen.  I will try and never reset TRIP 2, so I can see what kinda averages I’m getting over lifetime.  Resetting TRIP 1 after every gas fill gives you a good idea of your mileage.

The sync system has worked perfectly for me.  When I enter the truck, it automatically pairs my iPhone 5 with no issues.  I get text messages without problems, and it even reads them out to me.  One option I’d like to have, is the system default to the last option I was using.  Everytime I shut the truck off, and back on, it goes back to the LINE-IN option, and I have to speak to SYNC to get back to bluetooth audio.  This gets annoying after a while.

I think the radio takes a little getting used to.  I’m not a huge fan of all the different menu’s in my radio (non-touch).  It seems like there is alot of dead ends.  In order to go back to the root menu, you have to find the menu option called “return”, which takes too many extra clicks.  But, I’m getting used to it.

The seats are comfy.  Really no issue there.  One huge PRAISE is the back seat room.  The rear flat floor, with no transmission hump, is one of the reasons I bought this truck.  TONS OF ROOM!  Need to transport a dresser inside the cab? No problem!  I think it could use some more secret cubby holes back there, but I’m not complaining.

I like the steering wheel controls, but wish the cruise control was on the opposite side.  Maybe it’s just that’s what I’m used to.

OVERALL

So far, I love it.  I haven’t had any issues yet, and hope it stays that way.   I came from a Dodge Ram, where Chrysler Canada was forced to buy it back because of all the issues I had.  I could really use a break with this truck, and so far it’s performing as I expect.  I really like the looks of the truck, the way it drives, and how comfortable it is.  Really no complaints so far.

I also am enjoying my overall ownership experience with FORD.  I’ve got some FORD Swag that I Love to wear, and show-off.  I’m really starting to become a FORD-FAN-BOY!

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