Disneyworld's got nothing on this
Top 10 Reasons why Pelee Island is Better Than Disneyworld:
10. It doesn't cost hundreds of dollars to get there.
9. Ferries are way more fun than planes.
8. It doesn't matter if you smell like campfire or burnt hotdogs
7. A traffic jam on the island is made up of 3 cars and several birds crossing the street. (I'm still a little bitter about the 2 hour trip to Disney when we were in Florida the last time)
6. You can buy ice cream for less than $10
5. The people on the island actually feel bad when you spend $30 in their stores - apparently this is a "lot" of money and leads them to give you free stuff
4. No crowds of people everywhere (or lines)
3. You can still have fun there during a thunderstorm
2. free wine samples
1. you can stay there for free!!
Yep, you heard it here first! Staying in this gorgeous place didn't cost us a dime (well except for the ferry costs and usual camping expenses).
You have to actually FIND this place before you can stay there for free. If we hadn't looked on the map of the island before leaving on the trip we would probably still be looking for the campground. After driving around for awhile, we asked for directions and were told to "look for the Bell payphone". That's right - no sign, nothing to indicate that there was even a campground at all. Thankfully Jeremy spotted the payphone (which was positioned way down a dirt road, so we figured we were in the right place. We drove around for awhile, scouting out the campsites and wound up settling in the best one since there were literally no other people around at all.
The tent went up right away, mostly because of clouds that were getting darker and louder by the minute. Finally the storm arrived and we hung out in the car, drinking rum and cokes and joking about how we could be in completely the wrong place for all we knew. I never thought it would be so fun to have to hang out in a car in the middle of an empty campground during a thunderstorm.
When the rain ended, we finally got to the real camping. It was definitely entertaining to watch the new arrivals show up at the campground. Each new group of campers would drive by looking utterly confused, making several laps through the campsites before finally settling down somewhere. The lack of signs or any people appearing to collect money was a great icebreaker between us and the other campers - every one of us had been surprised that the owners of the campground (apparently the municipal government) didn't seem to care about us being there.
It was so great to get away from everything for a few days and be out in nature for awhile. It's actually hard to think of what my favourite part of the trip was - the beach, our campsite, the winery, the wine tour, campfires and playing water frisbee, oh and of course the FOOD! Any camper will tell you that nothing tastes better than food cooked on a campfire.
I'd recommend this place to anybody who doesn't mind being in a place with no showers or running water and a fair amount of friendly mosquitoes.
This post would not be complete without a description of...
I should explain that the Pelee Island Winery is not located on the island - it's actually on the mainland, in Kingsville. It's the vineyards that are found on the island and the pavillion (a tourist area, gift shop, outdoor stage and restaurant.
Imagine this: couples, groups of people, families, tour groups, etc., all wandering around a fairly small area, while trying to buy souvenirs, bottles of wine and partake in wine tours. You'd probably expect to hear children crying, see people arguing or getting annoyed with one another for grabbing the last bottle of Pinot Noir. Some kind of agitation is usally found when large groups of people are found in small spaces.
Not here though.
This is literally the happiest place on earth. I swear it's true.
The first time we drove past, there was a couple walking crookedly down the road carrying armfuls of wine bottles. They were grinning like crazy and looked very close to dropping their huge paper bags.
I'm not sure why the winery provides paper bags for their customers to transport bottles of wine since these types of bags are not very strong, and bottles of wine are pretty heavy. Maybe they've got a hidden camera or something down the road because it was definitely fun to watch people try to hold onto their bottles while they ran to catch the ferry.
The first thing we saw during our visit was a group of people in their forties who were singing an unintelligable song as they stumbled to their bus. I didn't question the existence of the bus at first until somebody mentioned how funny it was that a bus was needed to transport people up a road that only takes 10-15 minutes to walk down (about the distance from the vineyard to the ferry). As the last member of the group ran past, tripped over his own feet, dropped his bottles of wine, then jumped up yelling "hold the bus!!" I realized why the bus was so necessary.
Everybody leaving this place was in some state of inebriation. The most sober ones were parents with little kids, but even they looked way too happy on a hot day with kids whining about going for ice cream cones.
During the wine tour, there were two different groups of people who actually opened a bottle of wine and DRANK it as they followed the group. The tour guide didn't appear to take any notice of this at all - until the end of the tour when she asked them if they enjoyed the bottles. We enjoyed several wine samples before and during the tour and happily wandered around taking pictures and talking with some of the other people in the group.
Maybe there's just something in the air at this place because I'd only had a glass & a half of wine (approximate total of the samples I'd tried) yet I still felt like we should wait a little before driving. Waiting was fun too, because there was a musician performing all of these old classics on his guitar - so we listened to that for awhile, when went on our way.
I guess we learned a lesson that day - it's not necessary to spend tons of money to have a great time...
especially when there's wine involved.