A Day at the Beach

Sometime during the day yesterday, one of us – B or I – got the brilliant and wonderful idea that we should go up to Goderich to the beach today. Fantastico!!! Goderich is always our choice for a beach day. My grandparents had a trailer and then a cottage just outside of Goderich when I was a small child til I was well into my teens, and I have soooo many fond memories of those days! B, too, spent happy times in Goderich as a child as a great-aunt lived up there. Neat coincidence, eh!
Now B and I have our own favourite traditions for our Goderich trips; incredibly, it’s been about five years since we were last up there! All day today we kept commenting, “how could we have let it go so long without a trip up here?” Let me take you on a photo journey…both of childhood memories and of our day today.

When my brother and I were small, the family tradition was that we would leave quite early in the morning for Goderich, then stop at the McDonalds in Stratford for breakfast. McDonalds is still there!

the building wasn't quite so "flash" back in the 70's; but i bet you the breakfast menu is still the same today!

To help with the “are we there yet?” line of questioning, my mom taught us the order of towns that we would pass through on the way. It goes “Stratford, Seabringville, Mitchell, Seaforth, Clinton, Goderich.” I always chant that out to B in the car. 🙂 Today we encountered quite a bit of construction on the road, so the drive up was a bit of a test of patience. Luckily, the journey is as much a part of our day as the destination. Huron County countryside is very pictoresque:

somewhere in the middle of nowhere

(Just to note: B was the official driver today as we took his truck; I was knitting and snapping photos and retelling the tales I ALWAYS tell about me n childhood n Goderich…ahhh!:))

So we get into Goderich and the first official stop is…

still looks like it did in the '70's!

See, in the 70’s, we would go to the laundromat across the street from Culbert’s and Chris and I would get a treat AND a small BOTTLE of pop while the laundry was cookin’ up. This is the sight that greets you today upon entering:

the glass case at the front...

...and the back display...

From Culbert’s B and I must head directly to the beach. Now no joke, today was gorgeous sunshine, but it was CHIL-LY, esp on the exposed beach! We stayed on the beach just long enough for each of us to enjoy a chocolate chip donut. Holy moley, these are divine! As B says, it was worth the drive today JUST for these donuts. (And everything else in the bakery looks just as delicious, I must add).

too bad this is not a scratch n sniff blog! haha, you'll have to trust me on this one!

view from the beach across to the salt mine

Now usually, we hang out on the beach before doing our “Goderich Loop Walk,” but given the frigid rather cool temp and strong wind at that moment on the beach, we headed off for our walk.

 We always leave the truck at the beach and head up the steep hill out of the beach area. The first sight is this park:

note the bandshell at the very back of this photo...

When we were children, we’d come here Sunday evenings for the highland music performances – bagpipes are my strongest memory of these times!

Next, we pass some of my favourite cottages. I love the cosy arts n craft stylings even today. Funny that my tastes remain unchanged after 30 years!

A sign outside the front door states this is the "Lighthouse Cottage" - it's my #1 fave; note the great enclosed sunporch along the left side...

aren't the windows great on this cottage? and another covered porch...

i love the line of windows along the left of this cottage...and another porch...hmmm - maybe i have a "thing" for porches?!

oh-so-cute!...and let's say it all together: COVERED PORCH!! (and this one continues around the right side)...

Interesting to note that while a lot of the original cottages remain, many properties now feature monster homes. It’s actually a wonderful mix of old and new on this walk.

In between the home viewing, we come to Lighthouse Park. Now I get really excited in my storytelling to B!! 🙂 See, the tradition in childhood with this location is that once per vacation, we would stop at Kentucky Fried Chicken (it wasn’t politically incorrect to market chicken as FRIED in the ’70’s!) and pick up chicken and fries and eat a picnic supper at the lighthouse.

KFC is still there today!!

Lighthouse Park - note the picnic table - i think that is the exact one that was there when i was small!!!

Chris and I luuuuuuvvvvved Lighthouse Park because we turned the nautical themed accents into a playground!

we would pretend the cannon was a rodeo horse...

the anchor was our balance beam...

...and we were warned to not get too close to the cliff edge!

Now back to our Goderich Loop Walk….to descend, we take a gazillion stairs down, then I make B hike back up so I can count the stairs. B wishes I would remember the number from the last walk and then he wouldn’t have to “do the stairs” – it’s always a good chuckle!

there are 143 steps - now the number is on record!

 Back down at the bottom, you are at the “new” beach (well, it was developed in the mid-80’s so it was the NEW BEACH for us back then) and YOU MUST ALWAYS BOYCOTT THIS BEACH! You must always beach it at the OLD and ORIGINAL part of the beach (which I will show you eventually). Now, funny enough, the NEW and BAD end of the beach is called…

yes, the same as brother's name - but it's still NOT THE BEACH WE ALWAYS WENT TO!!!

Now there is a lovely boardwalk that goes from St Christopher’s back to the original end of the beach:

there were a few people walking today but not many...

Back at “our” end of the beach…sadly, the original French Fry Hut no longer stands. They honestly had the best handcut, homemade french fries in the entire universe (right, Dad?!). It has been replaced with a concrete structure. The benefit, at least, is that the washrooms are super clean, super modern, and wayyy better than the old wooden, sandy ones. And the hut still sells french fries!

the new structure is in the same location as the old one...

Another childhood play opp for Chris and me: swinging on the “ropes” and trying to step up and balance on them!

original chain links, new boardwalk...

Next, we must visit the pier. The pier divides the beach from the salt mines. Today there were no big ships in port. Chris and I were always beside ourselves with joy and glee as kids if there was a big ship in…

warning part 2: we were always told to KEEP BACK FROM THE EDGE!!!

looking back at the beach...

Here I’ll insert the tale I always relate to B while we’re on the end of the pier: “it was in this location that I blew a bubble for the very first time. It was purple Bubble Yum and our family had come out here for an evening stroll.” (insert B rolling his eyes and commenting “I don’t think I’ve ever heard that one before…”) hardy har har, B!!

as a child and now, it boggled/boggles my mind that they mine salt UNDER the lake!!!can you see the lighthouse, home of the KFC picnic?!

After our walk today, the weather had warmed up enough that we could sit out on the beach. You know it’s still cool, though, if B even keeps on his long sleeve shirt. We marvelled over the crazy kids (high school-ish) swimming and hanging out in bikinis and surfer shorts. Yea, we’re old.
Tangent: I won’t lie to you here: for the first time since I gave up Diet Coke back on April 19th, I totally craved my old ex-favourite beverage…something about sitting out on the beach with my knitting, soaking up the sun…water just is not the same. I honestly debated “just one,” but decided not to. And now later, I am glad I didn’t cave in!
The next thing we must do is go up to the centre of town. Goderich boasts it is the “Prettiest Town in Canada,” and I don’t blame them. The downtown is spic n span, there are no vacant storefronts (a BIG change from the ’70s and ’80s), people are friendly. The downtown configuration is unique: Chris and I named it “The Big Wheel” because it’s configured exactly like a wheel, with a circular road around downtown and spokes radiating out of it:

the courthouse or some such important building is located in the centre of the wheel...

one way only around the wheel!

Today B and I did our usual lap around the wheel. The ultimate destination: Fincher’s!!! Home of the best selection of magazines, ever!

sign looks a bit 1950's, eh! love that!!!

 Usually I buy a magazine, but did not today…

b kept up the tradition by getting "backpacker" magazine today...

 I spotted this display of journals. Notice what caught my eye?!

it was the only cardinal journal there - coincidence? i think not!!!

And after that, we go home.
(Now I should be clear on one thing: the beaches at Goderich will never make a Top 10 Ontario beaches list or anything – both St Christopher’s and “my” original end have grainy sand and are not large…but the memories both from childhood and from trips up in past years with B make it my favourite beach day location).
Both B and I agree that we really should make a great effort to get back up here for a day in August. Because we know that The Big Wheel, Culbert’s, Fincher’s, The Pier await! Plus B just really wants to hear my stories again! 🙂
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  • Deb  On July 4, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    if I told Dave about the donuts he’d be there in a minute! I think we’ll keep that “our” little secret.

  • Mom K  On July 1, 2010 at 11:37 am

    So glad to read that you and Brad spent another wonderful day in your favorite beach spot. The memories you share with Brad are so special for the both of you, especially reliving them each time you are there. I also have so many fond memories of the summers I spent there with my Auntie Edith and Uncle Cecil. Goderich is a pretty town.
    Also love your “new toes”!
    Happy Canada Day
    Love Mom K.

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