Giddy Up Tales: Part 6 – North in Search of Cranberries
A 9-day road trip in the Advanced-RV Giddy Up takes Andrew and Katharine from Advanced-RV headquarters near Cleveland, OH, along the shore of Lake Erie, and into Canada. Follow along in Part 6 of our 7-part series, as the couple travels north in search of cranberries.
With our course headed to Muskoka Lakes Cranberry Marsh, we flew around CA-407 and onto CA-400 North at highway speeds. Somewhere north of Barrie (near Craigshurst, I think), Andrew needed a break and saw a sign for a chocolate store at the next exit. (Such a smart man!) Clearly, a higher power was at work. We pulled over and stopped at a small, delightful chocolate store and small factory all in one. The young lady making chocolates in the area that consumed most of the building came out into the small store to serve us. Beautiful solid, butter crème, and Ice Wine chocolates were among the choices.
With our chocolate fix in hand, we wandered up the two-lane Penetanguishene Road and then, through the small town of Vasey, before joining back with CA-400 and getting quite close to the Georgian Bay off of Lake Huron—which means we hit three of the five Great Lakes, just missing Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.
We filled-up Giddy Up with more diesel as we left CA-400 and found our way to Cranberry Road, and finally to Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery. Wow! This place is set up very well – trails, shop, and the Cranberry Marsh. We popped into the store to let them know we were here and check our parking. We booked our 3:00 p.m. bog to bottle tour, grabbed a bottle of cranberry-apple cider and went back to Giddy Up for lunch.
The tour was very informative—I’ll never look at a can of cranberry jelly the same way! We learned many impressive things about the lifecycle of a cranberry, how they grow and how they are harvested. We were impressed by Johnston’s use of bees for the pollination process and ducks to help keep the algae down in the bog for natural pest control. Johnston’s also recently added wild blueberries to their farm for various blueberry products, including a cranberry-blueberry wine, which was very good.
The original founders were a man, who picked up several hundred acres of natural bog for $500 in the late 1950s, and his wife, who dug the farm out of the forest, sold cranberries and products, and played in a jazz band to help raise four kids.
We tasted five cranberry wines and enjoyed the white cranberry wine the most; we bought a bottle for dinner. The farm has several nature/walking trails with good signage and self-guided narratives. We took one of the longer ones through the forest and around the new and original bogs. In the winter, they recently added an ice trail for skaters—keeping it smooth with a Cranboni!
While bears and other animals will not eat cranberries, the addition of the blueberries and honeybees has added interest for the bears. We went by the electrified fenced-in area where the bees are kept. Apparently, the bears have figured out how to disconnect the battery—so, fortifications for the bees continue to be a challenge.
We had a nice evening snugly watching the sunset on the bog from the warm inside of Giddy Up. The temperature dropped to 40 degrees, with the occasional wind gust. We discovered a side benefit of using the convection oven to cook our dinner (ham and cheese quiche) was that it, too, helped warm the inside of Giddy Up. The white cranberry wine paired well with the quiche and sugar snap peas—a nice way to camp at a cranberry bog.
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